Category Archives: Wildlife

Serinsim, a different face of Kinabalu Park

Misumpak Waterfall and its pond

A family is having a hard time to plan a holiday trip at a destination that makes everyone happy.

Grandfather: “I want to learn some local history and legend.”
Mother: “How about a BBQ feast?”
Father: “Let’s climb a mountain.”
Son: “Camping and jungle trekking will be fun!”
Daughter: “I love swimming in river.”

Location of Serinsim and Kinabalu Park

Location of Serinsim (Sorinsim) and Kinabalu Park

Finally they decide to visit Serinsim (or Sorinsim) in Kota Marudu, which has all these. There is no second place in Sabah where we can find river, waterfall, forest, cave, mountain and historical site in one park.

Signage to different attractions inside Serinsim

Signage to different attractions inside Serinsim. It’s ok if you can’t read Malay. I’ll tell you what they are later.

Serinsim is a substation in northern part of Kinabalu Park, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site of Malaysia. Lies between the Serinsim and Kanarom rivers, the river of Serinsim is straight from the undisturbed rainforest and mountain, so its water is crystal clear and almost as good as Spritzer.

Kanarom River in Serinsim (Sorinsim)

Kanarom River in Serinsim (Sorinsim)

You may be familiar with the mountainous zone in Kinabalu Park HQ in Kundasang highland. Serinsim is at opposite side of HQ, which is dominated by lowland rainforest, shows different face of Kinabalu Park. Most locals only come here to enjoy the cooling river, without knowing that Serinsim has the following special attractions:

1. Mount Nombuyukong (Gunung Nombuyukong)

With a height of 1,603.57 Meters, Mt. Nombuyukong is 976 Metres lower than its sister peak, Mt. Tambuyukon, the third highest mountain of Malaysia. Mount Nombuyukong can be conquered within a day.

Mount Nombuyukong in Serinsim

Mount Nombuyukong in Serinsim

» Read about the challenging climb to Mt. Nombuyukong…

2. Bat Cave (Gua Kelawar)

Gua Kelawar is a small cave about 200 Meters long, and it is for the adventurous you who like the idea of exploring the unknown. *Hint:* many creeping critters in the darkness. I saw rare mushroom and endemic begonia outside the cave.

Bat Cave (Gua Kelawar) of Serinsim

The rocky wall of Bat Cave (Gua Kelawar) in Serinsim

» Read my scary story inside Bat Cave…

3. Misumpak Waterfall

Serinsim is more than a park for swimming and picnic only. Do a jungle trekking to visit the 12-Meter Misumpak Waterfall. Soaking in its cooling ponds will be one of the best nature experience, I promise. You would see hornbill, civet, red leaf monkey, orangutan and other wildlife on the way.

Misumpak Waterfall and its pond

Misumpak Waterfall and its pond

» Read more about Misumpak Waterfall…

4. Gambaliu, the Tallest Man in the World

According to the local legend, a giant named Gambaliu lived here about two to three thousand years ago. With a height of 24 feet, Gambaliu is taller than giraffe. He was a gentle and helpful giant. However, what his people did after he died was sort of… heartless.

Tomb of Gambaliu, the tallest man

Tomb of Gambaliu, the tallest man

» See the Tomb of Gambaliu…

5. Sigunting Graveyard

Sick of those cliche movies about superheroes saving the mankind? Let’s hear the story of real Sabah hero, Si-Gunting, who fought British imperialism for 7 years.

Graveyard of Sigunting, a Sabahan hero

Graveyard of Sigunting, a Sabahan hero

» Read more about Sigunting…

6. Deer Farm

About 120 Meters from the hostel (Asrama Kanarom) is a 0.5-Acre of fenced and forested Deer Farm. The best time to visit is the feeding time at 2pm, the time about 10 Sambar deers show up for jackfruit, tapioca leaves, banana, and fruits given by the Park.

Deer Farm of Serinsim

Deer Farm of Serinsim. Visitors can walk up to the tower for better view.

Below is the trail and layout map of Serinsim. Please note that for most jungle trekking activities, you are required to hire a guide from the Park, which can be arranged easily one day in advance.

Trail map to different attractions in Serinsim

Trail map to different attractions in Serinsim. Translation: Pejabat = Office, Galeri = Gallery, Pondok = Gazebo, Pelawat = Visitor, Tapak Perkhemahan = Camping Ground, Tandas Awam = Public Toilet, Dapur = Kitchen, Sungai = River, Sg. = River, Anak Sungai = Small River, Jalan Raya = Road, Jambatan Kerata = Bridge for Car, Air Terjun = Waterfall, Makam = Grave, Puncak = Peak, Kem = Camp, Ke = To

Accommodation

Three chalets and one hostel are available to accommodate three families and 24 people respectively in the Park. Below is a quick comparison of the price. The rate is as of July 2017, and GST tax is included.

Accommodation Type Rate per Night
Camping Adult: MYR5.30 (≈USD$1.32)
Below 12: MYR2.15 (≈USD$0.53)
Hostel (Asrama Kanarom) Adult: MYR42.40 (≈USD$10.60)
Below 18: MYR31.80 (≈USD$7.95)
Chalet 1 Chalet: MYR318.00 (≈USD$79.50)
1 Room: MYR106 (≈USD$26.50)

Notes: Check-out time is 11:00am. Non-halal food such as pork is forbidden in the accommodation. The accommodation is not well-maintained. Before you unpack your luggage, make sure everything in your room is functioning (e.g. water supply, light, air-cond). Just in case anything is broken, you can change to other room quickly.

Asrama Kanarom Hostel

Asrama Kanarom Hostel is a dormitory-style one storey building which has four bedrooms, common toilet + bathroom and kitchen. Each room has 6 bunk beds, so this hostel can host about 24 people.

Asrama Kanarom Hostel in Serinsim

Asrama Kanarom Hostel in Serinsim

Interior of Asrama Kanarom Hostel in Serinsim

Interior of Asrama Kanarom Hostel in Serinsim

The fee for each bunk bed in hostel is MYR42.40 for adult and MYR31.80 for kid (below 18 years old). The room has air-conditioner, and pillow and blanket are provided. It’s an economic choice for budget travelers and student group who don’t mind to share room.

Bunk beds in Asrama Kanarom Hostel

Bunk beds in Asrama Kanarom Hostel

The kitchen has gas stove, cooking and dining utensils for use by the guests. Electricity and water supply are available all time.

Kitchen of Asrama Kanarom Hostel

Kitchen of Asrama Kanarom Hostel

However, there is no private bathroom. Guests can share the common unisex toilet and bathroom. Sorry, no water heater for a hot shower, but you can boil hot water in kitchen like what I did.

Toilet cum shower room, cooking area, utensils and refrigerator in Asrama Kanarom Hostel

Toilet cum shower room, cooking area, utensils and refrigerator in Asrama Kanarom Hostel

One nice thing about this hostel is that it’s located next to the starting point of trail to all nature attractions.

Chalets

There are three chalets in the Park. You can book the whole chalet for MYR318 per night, or rent a room for MYR106. Each chalet has three rooms (two of them are single bed). Each chalet is limited for 6 people. For additional guests, you need to pay extra MYR30 per person.

3 chalets in Serinsim Substation

There are 3 chalets in Serinsim Substation

Chalets of Serinsim

Chalets of Serinsim

Each room has an attached bathroom cum toilet. Heater for hot shower is not available. Soap and towel are provided for the guest. Every room has air-conditioning.

Chalet of Serinsim (or Sorinsim). At the left is Mt. Nombuyukong

Chalet of Serinsim (or Sorinsim). At the left is Mt. Nombuyukong

Bedroom, living room and kitchen of Serinsim Chalet

Bedroom, living room and kitchen of Serinsim Chalet

Camping

Camping ground is also available to those who desire a more nature experience. For adult, the camping fee per night is MYR5.30 and MYR2.15 for child below 12. You can rent a camping tent for MYR30/day at Sabah Parks office, or bring your own.

Camping ground of Serinsim

Camping ground of Serinsim

Gazebo and benches at camping site

Gazebo and benches at camping site

The campsite is just next to the river. There are gazebos, benches, public toilet and kitchen nearby that area.

Campers in Serinsim

Campers in Serinsim

Kitchen near camping ground

Kitchen near camping ground

There is no lighting at night, so you better bring your camping light and torchlight.

Barbecue party at the hostel

Barbecue party at the hostel

There is no TV, karaoke and night life in the park, so you will get bored in the evening. Do plan some fun activities for the night, for example, board games, BBQ party, strip poker, watch movies on laptop.

Gaming in the hostel (Asrama Kanarom)

Playing Uno in the hostel (Asrama Kanarom)

By the way, Kota Marudu is famous for its maize. You can buy some along the way and grill it, it’s delicious.

Layout Map of Serinsim Substation

Layout Map of Serinsim Substation

Don’t be impressed by the facilities listed in the map above. Everything in Serinsim is basic, nothing 5-star. For example, the so called soccer field is just a grassland. The restaurant never opens and there is no gallery.

How to get there

Serinsim is about 32 KM from Kota Marudu town and 130 KM away from Kota Kinabalu City (capital of Sabah). This substation is now highly accessible after asphalt highway is complete in 2013. The GPS coordinate is 6.293915, 116.707986 (see Location Map).

Asphalt road to Serinsim in Kota Marudu

Asphalt road to Serinsim in Kota Marudu

In the past you needed a 4-wheel drive to get in. That might be the reason why Serinsim is one of the least explored parks in Sabah. There is no bus goes directly to Serinsim.

Marak-Parak Village and Sorinsim Village before Serinsim

You will pass through Marak-Parak Village and Sorinsim Village before you reach Serinsim

You also can go to Serinsim from Poring Hot Springs, the 46-KM road is in good condition.

Signage at the entrance. Translation: Welcome to Kinabalu Park, Serinsim Sub-Station, Kota Marudu

Signage at the entrance. Translation: Welcome to Kinabalu Park, Serinsim Sub-Station, Kota Marudu

Things to Note

For a better travel experience at Serinsim, please take note of the following:

  1. There is no restaurant in the Park. You can prepare your own food in their kitchen, buy food from villages nearby (The shops are usually roadside residential run by villagers with signage such as Gerai Makan (Food Stall) or Kedai Runcit (Grocery Store)), or drive 30 minutes to Kota Marudu town looking for restaurant.
  2. The mobile line coverage is none or poor in the Park. My Maxis line got 0 bar. Celcom may work. Anyway, let’s prepare to be offline there.
  3. Bring insect repellent. There are mosquitoes in shaded area during dusk and dawn.
  4. There is a grocery shop and cafe outside the park entrance.
  5. Most area in Park has no light. Bring a torchlight if you would move around in the Park at night, especially campers.
Sabah Parks office and car park of Serinsim (Sorinsim)

Sabah Parks office and car park of Serinsim (Sorinsim)

Entrance Fee

The following is the ticket fee to enter the park. They only accept cash in Ringgit Malaysia (MYR).

Item Fee / Rate
Conservation Fee Malaysian: MYR3.00
Foreigner: MYR15.00
Below 18: MYR1.00 and MYR10.00 respectively
Ticket counter at the entrance of Serinsim (Sorinsim)

Ticket counter at the entrance of Serinsim (Sorinsim)

Serinsim is managed by Sabah Parks. For more information about Serinsim, you may browse www.sabahparks.org.my or call the head office of Sabah Parks in Kota Kinabalu at +60 88-523500.

Photos taken in Kota Marudu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Bat Cave of Serinsim: Home of Thousands Worm

Climbing to the cave

Whenever you see people go caving in a movie, you know something terribly wrong is gonna to happen next. Soon they would find some skeletons laying around, then they become the dinner of some unknown monster, or accidentally awaken a thousand-year-old demon. To most, cave is a dark and hideous world full of creepy and creeping dwellers.

going to Bat Cave (Gua Kelawar)

Hendrick is my guide who took me to Bat Cave (Gua Kelawar)

On the other hand, exploring cave is thrilling to the adventurous hearts, as one may expect to find treasure inside. Well, you can make a fortune from saliva and dung. I meant the edible bird nest (US$2,000 per Kg) and guano fertilizer (good quality as it’s rich in nitrogen, phosphate and potassium), which are the real treasure from a cave. To me, whether it’s a monster or Batman inside, cave is always a mysterious place that draws me.

Dense rainforest of Serinsim Park

Dense rainforest of Serinsim Park

In Sabah, only a handful of caves are really huge, for example, Gomantong, Madai, and Japanese War Tunnel. Most other so-called caves listed in tourism brochure are more like crevices between boulders less than 20 Meters deep, with some smelly guano, noisy bats and stinky cockroaches that wait to be screamed at.

Therefore, at first I didn’t expect much from the Bat Cave (Gua Kelawar) in Serinsim Park (in Kota Marudu, Sabah, Malaysia). When I checked it out, I was really excited to see something new and special. And for the first time, the video of this cave is available online.

Going to Bat Cave (Gua Kelawar)

Gua Kelawar (translated as Bat Cave) is located in Serinsim Park (or Sorinsim), a substation at the north of Kinabalu Park about 130 KM away from Kota Kinabalu City (KK). In the park, you need to walk 5.5 Kilometers (one way) on a jungle trail to reach the cave, and you must be escorted by a guide. You can request Sabah Parks (management of Serinsim) to get you a guide. The guide fee is MYR60 (about USD$15), you can hire one guide for your group and share the cost among yourselves.

Guide clearing the trail

Guide clearing the trail

A round trip is 11 KM in distance. FYI, I departed around 7:30am and arrived the cave about 11:30am. You better go in the morning, so you can come back before nightfall. Do bring water, packed lunch and raincoat with you. Dry bag is optional but good to have because you will cross two rivers. Hendrick is my guide. Though he looks very serious in my photos, he is really friendly and helpful.

Genat, a friendly village dog wanted to follow us but stopped by a river

Genat, a friendly village dog wanted to follow us but stopped by a river

A village dog named Genat (means flash or lightning in Dusun language) was following us. Genat was always running 10 Meters in front of us. He would stop and wait if we were too slow. Sometimes he would go missing in action, then suddenly pop out of the wood next to us. According to Hendrick, Genat had followed the tourists to the peak of Mt. Nombuyukon (Height: 5,550 feet!) a few times. Sadly, after 3 KM, he was stopped by a river. After barking at the river for a few minutes, he headed back to village in disappointment, poor dog…

Interesting plant in jungle

Interesting plant in jungle

The jungle trekking is not so tough. The first 3 KM is mostly flat area, with some short walk on gentle slopes, followed by a walk on undulating terrain for the last 2.5 KM. Blood sucking leeches are present in this warm and humid rainforest, so you better wear a leech socks. I saw some interesting mushroom and plant along the way, and happy to see two hornbills flied over the canopy.

Different type of fungi in Serinsim Park

Different type of fungi I saw. Note the mushroom at upper left is like having a drop of blood on it.

Hendrick is a very responsible guide who has been guiding tourists since 2006. I’m sure whatever shit happens to me, he will make sure I go back in one piece. He is 44 years old and a Dusun lives in Serinsim Village.

Crossing the Serinsim River

Crossing the Serinsim River

We had to cross a few streams and two rivers. One of the streams is called Thomas River, because a white man missionary died there during World War II. The rivers are about 2 to 3 feet deep (Be careful of the uneven depth). To avoid getting wet, I crossed with my underwear only lol.

Bull eye fungus (edible)

Bull eye fungus (edible). Some local girls use its “jello” as hair conditioner or facial mask

After we crossed the second river named Sungai Serinsim Gibang, Bat cave is only 200 Meters away.

Outside the Cave

As we were approaching the Bat Cave, I could smell the ammonia of the guano. This is a bat zone, evidenced by their dropping on the vegetation.

Mushroom near the Bat Cave

Mushroom near the Bat Cave

Interesting rock formation near the cave

Interesting rock formation near the cave

Then we saw a beautiful rocky knoll, which is about 20 Meters high and mainly constituted by dark colored conglomerate.

Rock wall that looks like man-made structure

Rock wall that looks like man-made structure

Dark rock wall before the Bat Cave

Bat Cave is behind this dark rock wall

My first impression of that knoll is – it looks like a rock castle of a vampire, and something belong to another world.

Begonia at cave area

Begonia at cave area

Though I was near to Bat Cave, I was so enticed by the peculiar surrounding, so I spent more time around to explore more. The cave area is a flourishing zone for begonia. More than 190 species of begonia are found in Borneo and more than half are endemic species.

A small cave outside Bat cave

A small cave outside Bat cave

Colorized rocks in a small cave

Colorized rocks in a small cave

Probably due to some chemical reaction, the bat dropping “dyed” some rocks into green, orange and purple colors.

Rock wall outside Bat cave

Rock wall outside Bat cave

Mold-like substance on the rocks

Mold-like substance on the rocks

Some rocks seem to have mold growing on them and turn whitish.

The spot where the rebel Sigunting slept

The spot where the rebels slept

More than a hundred years ago, this place was one of the hiding places of Sigunting and his followers, a guerilla group who rebelled against the British colonial government.

Exploring the Bat Cave

The entrance to Bat Cave is about 12 Meters above the ground and doesn’t look inviting. Frankly I was a bit scared because I had 0 info about this cave, and didn’t know what was waiting for me inside.

Climbing to the cave

Climbing to the cave

Hendrick and I climbed over some boulders with bare hands and came to a 15-feet aluminium ladder that led to the opening of the cave. The aluminium ladder was covered with mud and probably bat shit, quite disgusting, but I didn’t plan to flinch once I started.

Hendrick standing at the entrance of Bat Cave

Hendrick standing at the entrance of Bat Cave

The smell of guano got stronger, and from the loud volume, I could tell there were a lot of bats in the cave.

Narrow passage to Bat Cave

Narrow passage to Bat Cave

After I climbed up the ladder, in front of me is a narrow passage that is only 4 to 7 feet wide, enough to cause some panic attack to those with claustrophobia (Fear of Confined Spaces).

Near the entrance of Bat Cave

Near the entrance of Bat Cave

I entered the tunnel. It’s quite steep, with 30 to 50 degree of slope. I moved up slowly on pile after pile of rocks with uneven surface, and had to use the rock wall as support. Hendrick was about 10 feet behind me. I worried some loose rocks would be freed by my footsteps and hit his face, so I asked him to stay closer.

Earthworms crawling everywhere

Earthworms crawling everywhere

Even though it wasn’t raining outside, the cave was really wet with water dripping from the top. Thanks God we reached a relatively flat and wider area after 25 Meters. It gets really dark and dingy, so I turned on my torchlight, then I noticed something like snake crawling next to my foot.

Earthworms all over the cave

Earthworms all over the cave

It’s a… no, thousands of big and long earthworms everywhere! Most of them are over one foot long, with disgusting red segment rings. Aren’t earthworms living underground? I can’t explain why they lay around on exposed rocks from the ground to the wall as high as 10 feet.

Big earthworms in Bat Cave

Big earthworms in Bat Cave

There were some cockroaches ran away from my light. Compare to earthworms, they are like a minority in this cave.

Cockroaches lurking in the dark

Cockroaches lurking in the dark

My spidey sense kept pressing me to leave the cave, but I ignored my tingling goosebumps and moved further in and faced another steep climb.

Deep layer of guano

Deep layer of guano

When I looked up and pointed the light to the top, Oh-My-Gosh, I saw a dense dark cloud of restless hanging bats. Their echolocate may have detected intruders, so they jittered. The deeper I went in, the more intense and louder the bat screeching, it’s getting almost unbearable. I knew for sure that I was not welcomed.

Bat dropping on the ground

Bat dropping on the ground

Thousands of bats in the cave

Bat tornado on top of my head

Suddenly they all took off and flied in panic. It’s like turning on a giant fan and create a strong turbulence of air in the cave (I’m not exaggerating here). My heart was thumping like crazy.

Rock wall of Bat Cave

Rock wall of Bat Cave

I didn’t see any stalagmites and stalactites, so this is not a limestone cave I guess. After walking for another 20 Meters, we came to an edge of a 10-feet drop to a trench filled with guano. I could see light at other end of the cave. I estimate this cave is about 200 Meters long.

Guano pool near the end of cave

Guano pool near the end of cave

I had no idea how deep is the guano pool, so I better didn’t try to walk over it for the sake of safety.

Deep inside the Bat Cave

Deep inside the Bat Cave

Hendrick says I’m the first tourist who goes inside Bat Cave. I would not recommend you to try this, as it carries some risk. It is not a touristy cave which have boardwalk for you to explore the cave illuminated by colorful light. If you really want to explore, bring a very powerful torchlight or LED headlamp.

Yellow bat dropping, brown dirt stain and red blood stain (leech bite) on my pants

Yellow bat dropping, brown mud stain and red blood stain (leech bite) on my pants

My body is full of stains of bat dropping, mud and leech bites. This is the filthiest trip that I have experienced so far, but fun.

Photos taken in Kota Marudu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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