The ferry of Sabah is neither high-tech nor luxury, but some tourists find it very interesting. If you drop by Kuala Penyu town, may be you can try the free ferry ride, which operates until 3pm. There is another bigger ferry in Menumbok (going to Labuan) too.
Kuala Penyu Ferry
(Note: This ferry is No Longer in Operation. The following is just old story)
Kuala Penyu town is about 115KM away from Kota Kinabalu city. This area is not well-developed. The only reason tourists come here is heading to Pulau Tiga (Survivor Island), the snake island.
Above: old shoplot of Kuala Penyu town.
For tourists who return from Pulau Tiga trip, you may drop by Kuala Penyu town to check out the 50+ years old wooden shoplot. The huge bird nests in the shoplot is also quite a view because the house swifts come back to build their nests generation after generation.
Above: The Membakut River is about 200 Meters in width. There is no bridge so ferry service is the only mean to connect both sides.
You would see a long queue of cars waiting to board at the ferry behind the Shell petrol station. The ferry is small and slow, and only able to take 7 to 9 cars per trip. You will have to wait for your turn for over 20 minutes (it would take longer time especially in weekends when there are many cars). If your car crosses to other side (Ulu Membakut area) by ferry, it will cut down the travelling distance back to Kota Kinabalu by 15KM?
Above: there is no gate barrier at the front and rear of the ferry, look scary to me.
Finally it’s our turn to board the ferry. In the 4-minute video below, you can see the ferry is powered by an engine to move along a metal chain to other side. The cars are also tightly parked, only inches to one another.
We reached another side safely in 15 minutes. A tourist smiled and said, “It’s a nerve-wracking experience to be the first car in front”. But we were rewarded by the scenic countryside and mangrove views along the Pimping road of Binsulok and Membakut.
Above: if you can’t wait, you can pay a small fee to get a “water taxi” to send you to other side.
Update (year 2012)
This ferry had stopped operation since the opening of the new bridge to cross the river. However, some villagers are still using water taxi to cross the river.
Menumbok: Ferry to Labuan
Note: The photos below were taken 5 years ago, they might be outdated.
About 40KM at southwest of Kuala Penyu is the Menumbok ferry terminal.
Above: Labuan is only 8KM away from Menumbok. You can even see Labuan from Mempakul Beach of Menumbok.
Above: the ferry travels between Labuan and Menumbok is far more bigger and it is not free. To transfer you and your car to Labuan, the cost is RM80 one way if I am not mistaken.
Someone even proposed to build a bridge to connect Labuan and Sabah. Personally I don’t see such need. I guess such bridge will only benefit the contraband smugglers the most, lol.
Photos taken in Kuala Penyu and Menumbok, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo