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Food Hunting at Menggatal Plaza

Juara Express

A traveller said, “I won’t have the memory of a city, if I don’t remember how its food tastes like.” Smell is the sense most closely linked with memory, and it can trigger a memory. We tend to recall more happy things while we enjoy great food. Agree? That’s why our food quest is a lifelong journey. Thanks to EatBah.com, I found some great stuffs at Menggatal Plaza (see Location Map or Street View), about 20 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu City (KK).

Relax Cafe

My first impression of Relax Cafe is a home-like cozy place filled with nice aroma of coffee.

Relax Cafe

Relax Cafe

The most ideal picture of my life is reading a book and relaxing in a cafe. Besides coffee, I love the smell of books. Coffee and books are prominent elements in the trendy interior design of this little cafe, so yea, I like its identity.

Interior of Relax Cafe

Interior of Relax Cafe (Click to Enlarge)

This cafe makes smart use of spacing and soft lighting to create many “small worlds”. You can find a little personal corner that belongs to you and your friends. In city, most cafes want to stuff as many desks as possible in a small area, making us feel like sitting in an open public area.

Relax Cafe: Oreo Lover (MYR12)

Relax Cafe: Oreo Lover (MYR12)

Most other cafes sell mainly cakes and dessert. Relax Cafe has some stomach fillers. The following are some of the items (*Serve No Pork):
– Oreo Lover (MYR12)
– Hot Commando Latte (MYR10)
– Cappuccino (MYR8.50)
– Hot Relax Chocolate (MYR7.50)
– Relax Signature Cheesy Snacks (MYR12.90)
– Cheesy Chicken on Papan (MYR28)
(Prices as of Nov 2016)

Relax Cafe: Cappuccino (MYR8.50) and Hot Relax Chocolate (MYR7.50)

Relax Cafe: Cappuccino (MYR8.50) and Hot Relax Chocolate (MYR7.50)

Relax Cafe: relax signature cheesy snacks (MYR12.90)

Relax Cafe: relax signature cheesy snacks (MYR12.90) (avalanche of cheese!)

Relax Cafe: cheesy chicken on papan (MYR28)

Relax Cafe: Cheesy Chicken on Papan (MYR28)

When I was looking around, I saw a pretty girl smiling at me. I took a deep breath, walked to her, and said, “Sorry Miss, would you please move away? I need the power points behind you.” Ok, I’m just kidding. She is Kimberly Vung, the Miss Sabah Tourism 2016, in our food hunting group. I’m just trying to say that it’s very thoughtful this cafe has many power points, something that I always search high and low in other restaurants.

Relax Cafe

Relax Cafe (note the power points behind her lol)

To find out more about Relax Cafe, check this out:
Facebook: RelaxCoffeeCafe
Tel: +60 19-8231127
E-mail: relaxcoffeecafe@gmail.com
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm daily

Juara Express

What’s for lunch / dinner? For food, I’m very lazy to think what to eat, so Nasi Ayam (Chicken Rice) is my default choice.

Restoran Juara Xpress (Halal)

Restoran Juara Xpress (Halal)

Therefore, if the price of chicken rice rises, that’ll affect my income. In KK, most chicken rice costs MYR7 and more. In Menggatal Plaza, you still can find cheap chicken rice at Juara Express:
– Nasi Ayam Goreng (Fried Chicken Rice) (MYR5.30)
– Ayam Kon Lou Mee (Noodle with Chicken) (MYR5.80)

Restoran Juara Xpress: Chicken Rice (Nasi Ayam Goreng (MYR5.30))

Restoran Juara Xpress: Chicken Rice (Nasi Ayam Goreng (MYR5.30)). Thank you Eilvane for holding the bite so we can take photos.

The quantity of the chicken is not bad, at least the meat is more than cucumber. You can have noodle there too.

Restoran Juara Xpress: Chicken Noodle (Ayam Kon Lou Mee (MYR5.80))

Restoran Juara Xpress: Chicken Noodle (Ayam Kon Lou Mee (MYR5.80))

There are 9 other Juara branches in Sabah:
Tel: +60 88-433653
Opening Hours: 10am – 9:30pm daily

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁)

Our next stop is a Chinese restaurant called Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) next to Upperstar.

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁)

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) opens from 5pm to 11pm daily

We tried the following dishes:
– Pork Belly with Salted Fish 咸鱼花腩煲 MYR12 (S) MYR20 (M)
– Nam Lu Chicken Wing 南乳鸡翼 MYR10 (S) MYR20 (L)
– Fried Tom Yam Meehoon 炒冬炎米粉 MYR10
– Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish) from Paul Ikan Panggang (separate stall in this restaurant) MYR4/100gram

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Pork Belly with Salted Fish (咸鱼花腩煲) MYR12 (S) MYR20 (M)

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Pork Belly with Salted Fish (咸鱼花腩煲) MYR12 (S) MYR20 (M)

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Nam Lu Chicken Wing (南乳鸡翼) MYR10 (S) MYR20 (L)

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Nam Lu Chicken Wing (南乳鸡翼) MYR10 (S) MYR20 (L)

I like their Pork Belly with Salted Fish and Nam Lu Chicken Wing, very appetizing.

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Fried Tom Yam Meehoon (炒冬炎米粉) MYR10 (meat / seafood)

Phoenix Restaurant (名凰阁) : Fried Tom Yam Meehoon (炒冬炎米粉) MYR10 (meat / seafood)

Paul Ikan Panggang: Ikan Bakar (Grilled Stingray) MYR4/100gm

Paul Ikan Panggang: Ikan Bakar (Grilled Stingray) MYR4/100gm

More info of Phoenix Restaurant:
Facebook: PhoenixRestaurantkk
Tel: +60 13-9720333 (Eddie Law, 阿聰)
Opening Hours: 5pm to 11pm daily

Ikan Bakar Nicholas (Grilled Fish)

We tried Grilled Fish of Ikan Bakar Nicholas in Kedai Kopi Memang (美满).

Ikan Bakar Nicholas

Ikan Bakar Nicholas

The grilled fish we had was a flounder, which costs MYR14 (MYR3.50 per 100gram)

Ikan Bakar Nicholas: MYR14 (MYR3.50/100gm)

Ikan Bakar Nicholas: MYR14 (MYR3.50/100gm)

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

MYR30 for a steamboat buffet sounds too good to be true, but I find it at Menggatal Plaza. Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet serves no pork and the following is the rate:
– Adult MYR30
– Child MYR15
– Under 5 is Free Of Charge

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet (Adult: MYR30, Child: MYR15)

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet (Adult: MYR30, Child: MYR15)

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Though the buffet isn’t expensive, the food is not cheapo. They have good variety of meat, seafood and vegetables, and soft drink and ice cream are included.

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Ladleful BBQ Steamboat Buffet

Facebook: Ladleful
Opening Hours: 6pm – 11pm daily
E-mail: yunhong111@hotmail.com
Tel: +60 16-5122111

Photos taken in Menggatal (Kota Kinabalu), Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Rohaimin’s Rock Gallery, a wonder that rocks you

Rocks that looks like grumpy old man (back) and fish head (front)

When is your last time picking up a stone and have a good look at it? Cavemen from stone age probably know rocks better than us because they constantly look for the best ones to make axe and cutting tools. Nowadays the only rocks that piqued people interest are rock concert and gemstones.

The Sakag Rohaimin Unique Rock Gallery (Galeri Batu Unik Sakag Rohaimin)

The Sakag Rohaimin’s Unique Rock Gallery (Galeri Batu Unik Sakag Rohaimin)

Though rocks are everywhere, each rock is unique. For 20 years, Mr. Rohaimin Ariffin has been collecting special rocks in Keningau, and he is rewarded by thousand of intriguing rocks, which are beautiful, weird or ugly.

face of demon on the rock

Can you see the face of a demon?

90% of his collection come from Sungai Pegalan (Pegalan River) near to his house, and the rest are from Banggi Island, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Kinabatangan, etc. His friends also give him some rocks from New Zealand and Indonesia.

A rock with the word Allah in Jawi

A rock with the word “Allah” in Jawi

In 2008, Rohaimin spent RM40,000 (≈US$10,000) to build a Rock Gallery named Galeri Batu Unik Sakag Rohaimin next to his house. From this, I can tell he must have a very nice wife who doesn’t nag at his hobby (just kidding). To hobbyists, rocks are priceless. To those who don’t appreciate, a rock, eh, is just a rock.

Clam and coral fossils from Sabah

Clam and coral fossils from Sabah

Anyway, whether you are a collector, you will be amazed by his Rock Gallery. I would say this is the biggest gallery dedicated to rocks in Sabah so far. And he doesn’t sell any ticket to guest, it’s free to visit. Based on how he places the rocks, I roughly categorize his rock collections in following groups.

Music Rocks

Batu Gong (Gong Music Rock) forms one of his major collection. When you hit it, the rock will produce a gong like metallic sound. I had seen Batu Gong in Tambunan, but Rohaimin has larger collection!

Galeri Batu Unik Sakag Rohaimin

This rock gallery costs more than RM40,000 to build and is totally self-funded

The stage of the gallery

The “stage” of the gallery where you can perform a rock concert with music rocks.

There are hundred of Batu Gong laying around. He labels some rocks in different tones and group them on a stage. Below is a short video of Rohaimin playing “Rock Music” with Batu Gong:

Rohaimin can play very nice Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Mary had a Little Lamb song with these rocks. A guest was so impressed by the music that he wanted to buy this rock music set.

Religion

One of the most famous rocks he got is the one with the word Allah in Jawi. He also has other rocks with figures of praying muslims, Buddha, Mary, and Satan.

Al-Quran verse on the rock

Al-Quran verse on the rock

According to him, the best time to hunt for rocks is after flood and storm, which expose new rocks under the soil. His rocks are not for sale. He even buys rock from others if it’s a nice addition to his collection.

The face of Mary, Mother of God in the rock

The face of Mary, Mother of God in the rock

A stone that looks like a Buddha

A stone that looks like a Buddha

Growing Rocks

Personally I think the most bizarre rocks in his gallery are the “growing rocks”. Over time, some hair-like substance would grow on these rocks, like some kind of crystallization. The “hair” is fragile and can break into powder when touched.

The growing rocks

The “growing” rocks

needle-like crystals keep growing on these rocks

The needle-like crystals keep growing on these rocks, probably a form of crystallization, like how fuzzy rocks formed.

According to Rohaimin, even the box that stores these rocks also has hair grown on the surface, so peculiar. He welcomes Tourism Ministry, Sabah Museum and Geoscience Department to find the answer of this odd phenomenon.

White crystalline hair or fuzz growing on the rocks

White crystalline hair or fuzz growing on the rocks. It is very fragile.

Fossils & Petrified Wood

The next eye openers are fossils and petrified wood. All the seashells, clam and coral fossils are from the center of Sabah. This proves that Sabah is under the ocean in the past.

fossil shells

Sabah has a lot of fossil shells even in interior, because our land was underwater millions years ago

I used to collect some fossils of Sabah, but they are not as impressive as his collection.

Fossil shells found in Sabah interior

Fossil shells found in Sabah interior

Petrified wood is actually fossilized wood, and its organic part is replaced by other minerals, so only the shape of wood stays. That’s really cool.

glittering petrified wood

This Petrified wood glitters if you light it with torch light

Petrified wood

Petrified wood is fossilized wood

beautiful petrified wood which costs Rohaimin RM800

A beautiful petrified wood which costs Rohaimin RM800

Animal Heads and Shapes

Occassionally you would notice some rocks that look somewhat familiar to an animal. Rohaimin has some animal rocks that don’t need much imagination for you to tell they are puppy, proboscis monkey, fish, gorilla, Flowerhorn cichlid, sheep and chicken.

Rocks that looks like animal heads

Rocks that looks like animal heads. I see a lion head among them.

Bulbasaur Pokemon rock

Rohaimin says this looks like puppy, but it looks like Bulbasaur Pokemon to me lol

Nature Art

Rohaimin started his collection with a few odd and small black stones in 1996. Beautiful stones that have special shapes, materials, colors or patterns are also his target.

Various types of unique rocks

Various types of unique rocks

Stones with interesting shapes

Stones with interesting shapes

Some of his most prized collections are stored in drawer or locker to prevent thievery. He would show them to you if he is around and you ask. Currently his rocks are laying around on the floor or being placed on surfaces of chair, desk and rack. He really needs adequate funding to setup showcase and display stands with proper lighting, to present his collections like art items.

stone with Olympic logo

Did you see the stone with Olympic logo?

Bone-shaped rock from Indonesia

Bone-shaped rock from Indonesia

Other Non-rocks

Besides rocks, Rohaimin also have other interesting items such as fossil deer horns, WW2 bombshells and old coins. The most impressive is his Bonsai that he has been nurturing for 20 years and some are award winners.

Other items and WWII bombshells

Other items on display. Note the WWII bombshells

Unusual horn of deer

Unusual horn of deer

“I don’t want the wives to feel bored, when their men are looking at rocks. These bonsai shall keep them busy,” Rohaimin says. That’s very considerate.

Bonsai tree cultivation at Rohaimin place

Bonsai tree cultivation at Rohaimin’s place. The unique rocks really enhance their artistry.

A remnant of bomb from WWII

A remnant of bomb from WWII

Rohaimin is planning to move his rock and bonsai gallery to a place near to SK Binaong school, which is more accessible by big bus. He would need to apply for another loan for the new gallery building.

The antique cloth washer

The antique bark cloth beater. In old days, people made clothing from tree bark, and this beater was used to beat the bark to make the material soft.

At the moment he is not collecting any visitor fee, so this is totally a self-funded project. If you visit his gallery, it’ll be nice if you would donate some money, no matter how small it is, that’ll bring him closer to his dream.

How to get there

Galeri Batu Unik Sakag Rohaimin (Rohaimin’s Rock Gallery) is about 12 KM away from Keningau town. It’s located in housing area of Kampung Baginda (Baginda Village). There is no direction signage and not all villagers there know this gallery.

Signage to Baginda Village at roundabout

Signage to Baginda Village at roundabout

However, you can find his gallery easily if you read the guide here. When you drive away from Keningau using the road heading to Tambunan town, you will reach a roundabout after 9 KM (see Location Map or 3D Street View). Take the road to Kampung Baginda (the sign is just next to the big blue sign of St. Mary’s Church).

Cows and dung on the road of Baginda Village

Many cows and landmines (cow dung) on the road of Baginda Village

You will enter a small and paved countryside road. Drive carefully to avoid the roaming cows, dungs and speed bumps along the way. Follow the main road for about 3 KM and you will reach a Y junction at the end of paved road. Turn left to the road labeled as JLN. Binaong Baginda (see Street View).

house of Mr. Rohaimin

The rock gallery is at the house of Mr. Rohaimin

Keep driving on the gravel road. In a minute or two, turn left to a small path before a downward slope. You will enter residential area with a few houses, and Rohaimin’s house is at the end (GPS Coordinate: 5.375564, 116.204871, see Location Map)

house of Rohaimin

The house of Rohaimin. The entrance to the Rock Gallery is where the yellow arrow points.

Rock is more important than we think. For example, without ultrabasic rocks that promote the growth of endemic plant, Kinabalu Park would not become an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hope more people will find some fun in this little wonder of geotourism. For more info on the gallery, you may text (Whatsapp available) or call Rohaimin at +60-13-8730559. Please note this is a personal number and he has a daytime job, so use it discreetly and don’t disturb him.

Photos taken in Keningau, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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