Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Walking on the Dragon, Lugas Hill More »

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Ship Rocks on Ruhiang Hill More »

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Mount Wakid, the Green Mountain More »

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Mt. Silam and Sabah Crabs More »

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Treasure Hunt on Skull Hill More »

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Bukit Gundul, the Bald Hill More »

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Expedition to the Center of Sabah More »

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

See Philippines from Senambung Hill More »

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Beautiful Hills & Mountains of Sabah

Batu Punggul the Cursed Hill More »

 

Supirak Island, an Island of Sorrow

During low tide, you can walk to Supirak Island from mainland

Are you a tourist who loves sightseeing at popular attractions, or a traveller who enjoys exploring destinations off the beaten path? If you are a traveller, visit Pitas, a remote area of Sabah that even Internet doesn’t know much. If you google Pitas, you will find a round pocket bread named Pita instead lol.

Ragam and other occupants on the ship were turned into rocks

Supirak Island is the most popular attraction in Pitas now

Kampung Malubang (or Malubang Village), a peaceful fishing village in Pitas, has the saddest legend in Sabah. This story debuted in musical theater of Sabah Fest 2017 and received overwhelming responses. Tickets were sold out to people who wanted a good cry.

The Supirak Legend

Supirak Island is amazing because it resembles a petrified big ship. Locals say it was a ship turned into a rock due to a curse from a mother to her son. It’s really shocking because mothers would never want to harm their son. Why did such terrible thing happen?

Supirak Island

Si Ragam and other occupants on the ship were turned into rocks

Ok, the legend goes like this. Long time ago in Kougun Village there lived a couple. The man was a fisherman, who went missing in a fishing trip and left behind his pregnant housewife, Supirak (or Odu Gerawang). She gave birth Si Ragam, a boy grew up as a responsible and hardworking man who really cared about his mother. He built a small hut for both on the seaside of Torong Puteh. To Supirak, Si Ragam means everything to her.

Ragam wanted to leave home to explore the world and promised his mom that he would come back

Si Ragam wanted to leave home to explore the world and promised his mom that he would come back

One day, a ship docked at Torong Puteh to be resupplied. Being ambitious, Si Ragam asked for his mother’s permission to work on-board for better prospect. He promised Supirak that he would return home one day. Before he left, his mother took a strand of his hair as a keepsake.

Ragam fell in love with princess Dayang Dundunai

Ragam fell in love with princess Dayang Dundunai and married her

Due to his diligence and intelligence, Si Ragam became the captain of the ship. A few years later, his ship landed on an island called Pulau Intan. He met the king in Istana Bahkiah with his merchant boss. During the visit, Ragam fell in love with the princess, Dayang Dundunai, and married her months later.

Supirak and villagers were so happy to see Ragam coming home

Supirak and villagers were so excited to see Ragam coming home

One day Si Ragam was on a voyage with his wife and parked his ship at Torong Puteh. The villagers were so excited when they recognized Si Ragam. They held a big party to welcome Si Ragam. Supirak was so happy when everyone told her that her beloved son was back.

Ragam didn't acknowledge his mother and chased her out of the ship

Ragam didn’t acknowledge his mother and chased her away

She boarded the ship to meet her son. Unfortunately, seeing Supirak in ragged clothes, Si Ragam was too ashamed of acknowledging her as his mother in front of his royal wife, and he chased her out of the ship.

The heart-broken Supirak cursed her son

The heart-broken Supirak cursed her son

Devastated and disheartened, Supirak rowed back to the shore. She was then mocked by the villagers. In deep resentment, Supirak took out Ragam’s hair and cursed her son. Suddenly, a heavy storm came to rock the ship. Ragam regretted his wrongdoing and cried aloud begging for forgiveness. It was too late too little. The ship and its occupants turned into stone.

Ragam, his people and ship turned into rock

Ragam begged for forgiveness. He and his people were turning into rock with the ship

In the next morning, Kougon village turned into canals and small gulfs. The villagers who were dancing a day before had turned into stones forming islets. Si Ragam’s carriage and three plates used for the meal had also turned into stones. Odu Gerawang’s small hut also turned into a stone arch.

The Rocks

Even today you can see the six “relics” of the legend, which are located near to one another in Malubang. FYI, Batu means “Rock” in Malay language.

Supirak Island

The ship, Supirak Island, is the highlight of the legend. It’s accessible as you can hire a boat from Malubang Village to send you there.

Supirak Island really looks like a ship

Supirak Island really looks like a ship

The boat ride to Supirak Island takes less than 10 minutes from Malubang Village. In good weather, the shallow sea is in beautiful emerald color, like something from the world of legend.

Supirak Island is near to Malubang Village in Pitas

Supirak Island is near to Malubang Village in Pitas

Jetty of Supirak Island

Jetty of Supirak Island

The district government tries to develop this island as a tourist destination, so jetty and structures were constructed on the island.

Local fisherman family unwinds at Supirak Island

Local fisherman family unwinds at Supirak Island

When I reached Supirak Island, there was a local fisherman family fishing and swimming around the jetty. Though they are not used to tourists, they are very friendly to outsiders.

Modern version of Ragam

Modern version of Si Ragam lol

We walked on the 30-Meter wooden boardwalk to enter the island, followed by a 12-Meter steep staircase that helps us get to the top of Supirak Island.

The boardwalk and staircase lead to the top of Supirak Island

The boardwalk and staircase lead to the top of Supirak Island

When the government developed the island, a few 2,000-year-old skeletons and relics were found. I don’t know whether these are Si Ragam and his followers.

The observatory platform that looks like a mainsail of a boat

The observatory platform that looks like a mainsail of a boat

In the centre of the island, there is an observatory platform with some exhibition about the legend in English and Malay languages. However, the pictures are faded and the text are barely readable.

The bow-like structure at the head of Supirak Island

The bow-like structure at the head of Supirak Island

Then we walked about 200 Meters on a paved path under the tree shade to reach the bow (front) of the island. I saw a few Megapode nests along the way.

You can see Banggi, Balambangan and Maliagin Islands from the top of Supirak Island

You can see Banggi, Balambangan and Maliagin Islands from the top of Supirak Island

The tip of Supirak Island is pointing to the north of Sabah, so you can see Banggi, Balambangan and Maliagin Islands from its top. In fact, Banggi Island is only 20 minutes away by boat ride.

Supirak Island is about 250 Meters long

Supirak Island is about 250 Meters long

There is no toilet and other recreational amenities on the island, so nothing much you can do there, except playing Titanic pose and pirates of the Caribbean. The view up there is nice anyway.

sea cave in Supirak Island

This is a sea cave in Supirak Island

Batu Gerawang

At the beach facing Supirak Island, you can find the house of Supirak, which is a stone arch now.

Batu Odu Gerawang on the beach. The bathtub-like structure far behind is one of the freshwater wells

Batu Odu Gerawang on the beach. The bathtub-like structure far behind is one of the freshwater wells

Imagine she was standing there looking at the ship with broken heart. What her son did to her was unthinkable. Abandoning parents is simply an inhuman act in any culture.

The Batu Odu Gerawang rock in different angles. The one at the right looks like a sad woman

The Batu Odu Gerawang rock in different angles. The one at the right looks like a sad woman

Freshwater Wells

Not far in front of Batu Gerawang are three freshwater wells, which were the water supply for Supirak.

The freshwater wells are in front of Batu Odu Gerawang rock

The freshwater wells are in front of Batu Odu Gerawang rock

During my visit, these waterholes were submerged in high tide, so I wasn’t able to taste it to tell if it’s freshwater. Anyway, it’s confirmed freshwater by the locals.

The three freshwater wells in the sea

The three freshwater wells in the sea

One of the wells is enclosed in cement structure which is meant to preserve it (see pictures no.1 above). However, the wall obstructs the flow of the freshwater, causing sand piled up and cover the opening, not good.

Batu Talam

Batu Talam is said look like a food cover.

Batu Talam, the rock turned from the traditional food cover

Batu Talam, the rock turned from the traditional food cover

You can land on it and make funny surfing pose under its wave rock lol.

Surfing under wave-like wall of Batu Talam

“Surfing” under wave-like wall of Batu Talam

Batu Berunsai

Next is the Batu Berunsai islet that looks like a group of people.

The village people in the party were turned into rocks of Batu Berunsai

The village people in the party were turned into rocks of Batu Berunsai

The locals said these standing stones are the villagers who were turned into rocks in the party for Si Ragam.

Stones of Batu Berunsai

Stones of Batu Berunsai

This is a beautful islet with mangrove trees grow between the rocks. At one side of the island, I saw rocks that look like killer whale and shark fin.

Another side of Batu Berunsai

Another side of Batu Berunsai. Notice the rock that looks like orca?

One of the rocks looks like a woman in grief. Could it be Supirak?

This stone on Batu Berunsai Islet looks like the sad mother of Ragam

This stone on Batu Berunsai Islet looks like the sad mother of Ragam

Batu Dulang

These three rocks with flat surface were the plates or containers for the food, our guide said.

Batu Dulang, which was the plates of Ragam

Batu Dulang, which was the plates of Ragam

You can climb onto the rocks to take some interesting shots. It’s kind of cool, like a music album cover.

Standing on Batu Dulang

Standing on Batu Dulang. Look like a photo of music album cover haha

The following video gives you an overview of these rocks:

These six rock wonders are in the sea. You need to get a boat to reach them.

The locations of all rocks and island related to Supirak legend

The locations of all rocks and island related to Supirak legend

Just ask around in Malubang Village. Most villagers own a boat, so you can easily charter a boat for less than RM80 (about USD$20) for a half-day cruise. The small boat can take about 5 passengers, so each person pays less than RM20 after sharing the cost.

How to get there

A day trip to these rocks is possible, though overnight stay is recommended. From Kota Kinabalu City (KK), there are two ways to reach Supirak Island and other rocks. Try to arrive Malubang before noon, so you can have more time to enjoy the tour.

1. Easy and Fast Way (4 Hours)

In KK city centre, you can get a long distance bus / van / taxi readily near Padang Merdeka (Merdeka Field, see Location Map) to Kudat town, which takes nearly 3 hours one way. Then go to the harbour at the edge of Kudat town to charter a boat. That would cost around RM500 (about USD$125) per boat, and it can reach Malubang within an hour (one way).

On the way to Supirak Island

On the way to Supirak Island

2. Long Way (6+ Hours)

This requires you to drive a total of 220+ KM (5 to 6 hours road trip), so consider this option only if you plan to overnight in Pitas or Malubang. You need to own (or rent) a transport, preferably 4-wheel drive. First drive from KK to Pitas town (160 KM) on asphalt road, then drive another 60 KM on gravel road to Malubang (and enjoy 2 hours of free butt massage). At Malubang Village, you can hire a boat to visit the rocks. For accommodation, you can stay in Malubang Homestay in Malubang Village.

During low tide, you can walk to Supirak Island from mainland

During low tide, you can walk to Supirak Island from mainland

The GPS Coordinates of Malubang Village is 6.959509, 117.060136 (see Location Map). Please keep in mind the village is so remote that it has no data and Internet connection. You would have problem if you navigate with Waze or Google Map.

FYI, the plot of Supirak legend is 90% similar to story of Si Tanggang, which is very well-known in Peninsular Malaysia. However, you only can see these legendary rocks in Sabah.

Photos taken in Pitas, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Climbing Bukit Lugas (Lugas Hill) in Tambunan

Miss Tambunan

The photos of Bukit Lugas (or Lugas Hill, Bukit means Hill in Malay language) in Tambunan were spreading like wild fire on social media last year. How does a small hill, which was never listed as an attraction, become a hot destination overnight? Just look at the photos below, and you will know why.

Ready to climb to the peak

Bukit Lugas is on the bucket list of every Sabah hikers

Look like the back of a twin-humped dragon, Bukit Lugas is one of the most awesome hills in Sabah. Some hikers from Kota Kinabalu City (KK) even drive 103 KM to visit Bukit Lugas. Such geological feature resembles what is called “dragon spine”, a king-maker terrain in Chinese Feng Shui. Cool huh?

Bukit Lugas looks like a dragon back from the air

Bukit Lugas looks like a dragon from the air

Besides its unique landscape, most people think it’s thrilling to walk on the narrow trail on the ridge with cliff only two steps away at both side. Acrophobia (fear of heights) finds even looking at the photo is frightening enough.

Profile of Bukit Lugas

Location: Kampung Kitou, Tambunan (Sabah, Malaysia)
Opening Hours: 7:30am-4:00pm daily, includes public holiday
Height: 600 Meters (1,965 feet) above sea level
Hiking Distance: 1.7 KM one way (Return trip takes about 4 hours)
I would rate its difficulty 2 out of 5, which means easy, because it’s 92% walking and 8% climbing. The climb is more like a mental than physical challenge.

One for the album after the climb

One for the album after the climb

The best time to climb is in early morning. After 9am, there is no shade on the hill for you to hide from the scorching sunlight. Though Bukit Lugas is 600 Meters, the starting point in Tambunan is 430 Meters above sea level, so you only need to ascend 170 Meters. Hope you get what I mean.

Going to Bukit Lugas

In a Saturday morning, I drove 2 hours from KK to the starting point of Bukit Lugas. This was my second visit, and I brought a drone and friends this time.

The entrance to Bukit Lugas is at the road side of Tambunan - Keningau highway

The entrance to Bukit Lugas is at the road side of Tambunan-Keningau highway

Signage with info on guide's contact and opening hours (7:30am-4:00pm daily, include public holiday)

Signage with info on guide’s contact and opening hours (7:30am-4:00pm daily, include public holiday)

After I parked my car, we descend about 40 Meters via a steep slope trail in the wood to campus of SK Kitou, where our guide was already waiting in the bamboo hut named Pondok PIBG.

Going to the registration centre next to SK Kitou school before the climb.

Going to the registration center next to SK Kitou school before the climb.

After registration and took our number 1 in a school toilet, we started hiking to Lugas Hill. I checked the signal strength on my phone. My Maxis line got good signal (3G), so is my friend with Celcom. Digi doesn’t work well there.

group photo of climbers

Everyone’s spirit is high

The 1st Kilometer is an easy walk on flat soil trail of countryside. This area is sparsely populated area with plantation of rubber, oil palm, banana, pineapple, tapioca, papaya and other crops along the way. We met a few friendly villagers who were busy harvesting latex and vegetables in the morning.

Start hiking to the hill

Start hiking to the hill

We crossed three streams and a small bamboo bridge. The water is very clean, and there was no rubbish. It was quite a wonderful stroll in the cooling morning of Tambunan highland.

Countryside and village view along the trail

Countryside and village view along the trail. Lower Right: The villagers were cleaning the rubber latex in case you wonder what those black stuffs are.

Start of Climb

After 25 minutes, we reached the foothill of Bukit Lugas, and went for a steep ascend on an uphill soil trail. It’s not really tough, just tiring.

Going to the foothill. The yellow arrow points at the start of Bukit Lugas

Approaching the foothill. The yellow arrow points at the slope of Lugas Hill

View from the slope

View from the slope

Climbing the steepest section

Climbing the steepest section

After 100 Meters, we entered a forested zone and rest under the shade for a few minutes. Congratulations! The hardest part of the hike was over. Everything is easy from this point on.

The forested top of Lugas Hill

The forested top of Bukit Lugas

Taking a break after the steep climb

Taking a break after the steep climb

We continued our climb after the short break. This part of the hill is quite densely forested. We walked in the shade for another 150 Meters, then we arrived to a fern path with soft and spongy ground.

Walking through the wood

Walking through the wood

The fern indicates the soil on the hill isn’t fertile. After walking near the end of 150-Meter fern path, we came to an open space, where we could see the exposed yellow rocky peaks of Lugas Hill.

The fern path on Bukit Lugas

The fern path on Bukit Lugas

At this point, what remained was only a 200 Meters ridge walk on the hill. The trail was quite narrow, so I walked slowly and carefully, as if I wanted to avoid awakening a sleeping dragon.

double hump of Bukit Lugas

You can see the double hump of Bukit Lugas from here

Climbers stood on three high points of Bukit Lugas

Climbers stood on three high points of Lugas Hill

Part of the trail is only wide enough for one climber. I can’t afford to miss a step. I avoid looking at the edges or my feet would turn jello. Luckily, the iron bars and rope support gave me peace of mind.

Start of the ridge of Bukit Lugas

Start of the ridge of Bukit Lugas

Anyway, the trail on the ridge isn’t very steep. Just be careful and you shall be fine.

Climbing over the steep section

This is the only real climbing section on the ridge.

The only problem is the hot sun. Heatstroke is a greater risk than falling, so do apply sunblock lotion and bring enough drinking water.

Enjoying the view on Bukit Lugas

Enjoying the view on Bukit Lugas

You can see two climbers on top of the hill

Two climbers on top of the hill

I’m not sure why the top of Lugas Hill is almost bald. Probably it is too steep that all plant falls off, just kidding.

deep drop at the sides

It’s a deep drop at both sides. Doesn’t look forgiving..

falling from hill

I would end up like this if I’m not cautious.

You can bring children to climb with you, as long as they listen to instruction and not running around.

Iron bars and rope support to prevent falling

Iron bars and rope support to prevent falling

Going to the highest point

Going to the highest point

On the top, I could have a panoramic view of surrounding green hills and plantation. It took us about 1 hour 16 minutes to finish the climb.

Approaching the peak of Bukit Lugas

Approaching the peak of Lugas Hill

Reaching the top

Reaching the top

The hill is composed largely of sandstone with interbedded mudstone and dominated by Acrisols and Cambisols soil. The soil is of type Lokan Association (Thanks Dr. Arthur Chung for the info).

Group photo on the highest point

Group photo on the highest point

Descending from Bukit Lugas

Descending from Bukit Lugas

At last we descended and took less than an hour back to the starting point. The whole tour takes only 8 hours (includes road trip hours).

How to get there

The starting point of Lugas Hill is highly accessible by paved road. It is about 103 KM away from KK and 23 KM from Tambunan town. When you reach Tambunan town, take the Tambunan – Keningau highway, pay attention when you see the milestone with blue label that reads “27 KM Keningau”. You shall see the Bukit Lugas signpost at your left shortly. The GPS coordinate is 5.515174, 116.274475 (see Location Map).

Bukit Lugas looks scary but interesting

Bukit Lugas looks scary but very easy to climb

Bukit Lugas is part of Kampung Kitou (village) and not a park. However, you need to hire a local guide to climb with you. Just call one of the cellphone numbers below to book a guide before you go:

Disclaimer: Listing of guides’ contact here is FYI only, it doesn’t mean that I recommend them.

lady climbers on Bukit Lugas

Yay! we make it!

The guide fee per group is MYR30 (about USD$7.50). A guide can take up to 10 people. If a group of 10 climbers share a guide, it’ll cost only MYR3.00 per person, so bring more friends with you.

Things to Bring

Wear a pair of comfortable hiking shoes and bring the following things:

  • Drinking water
  • Raincoat / Umbrella
  • Snacks such as energy bar
  • Walking stick
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock lotion
  • Jacket (it’s chilling in early morning of Tambunan highland)
  • Insect repellent
Aerial view of Bukit Lugas

Aerial view of Bukit Lugas

Photos taken in Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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