Sulphurous springs (Tawau Hills Park)

Hot spring
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Every Sabahans know Poring Hot Springs, but few know that Tawau also has hot springs, in fact, more. The least famous and most beautiful springs hide deep inside Tawau Hills Park. In 2006, I tried to go there but the heavy rain overflew the river and cut off the trail.

Trail to sulphurous spring
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However, the idea of exploring Tawau sulphurous springs was always on my mind. Finally I made up my mind and went to Tawau Hills Park early this month. In the park, you only need to walk about 3.2 KM by following the “Kolam Air Panas” trail, which will be a jungle trekking for about an hour. Since I walked very slow to enjoy and photograph around, it took me 3 hours to get there. Later I will blog about the interesting creatures and plant I saw on the way. When you see the suspension bridge at 1.5 KM, you are halfway done then. Just follow the signage to proceed.

Kolam Air Panas 0 Meter
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When I saw the “KAP 0 MTR” (Kolam Air Panas 0 Metre), I thought I had reached the hot spring and I smelled something like rotten egg (sulphur) in the air.

river
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But I only saw a river looked like photo above. It was a bit different from the beautiful hot spring photo I saw on the leaflet, though this site had a big rock too.

End of trail
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Probably I needed to go further. But very soon there was no trail and signage for me to proceed, seemed like I had reached the end.

sulphur pond?
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Not sure if this was the site, I walked around and saw something like a sulphur pond. Well, quite a big disappointment, I guessed perhaps it was not the right season. I snapped a few photos and didn’t stay long. When I returned to the park and showed the photos to the park guide. He said there was not a hot spring! I was really pissed off and almost shouted why there was no trail and signage. He kept on denying that’s their fault and insisted the trail and signage were there, making me more angry. May be it has been a long time the park didn’t check the condition.

First sulphurous spring
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Anyway, I had to go back again in second day, as it was late. On the second day, I came back to look for the trail and it was really not there. Luckily I knew the hot spring was along the river, so I tried to walk further up along the river. Finally I found the hot spring was only about 200 Metres away, but that took me more than half an hour to walk through the dense wood and hilly landscape. You know it is the right place if you see it, as it looks so beautiful and different. I never saw anything like this.

Snowy stream of sulphurous spring
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First thing you will see is the “snowy white” stream from the sulphurous spring. The white color is the result of sulphur sticking and deposited in the stones and river for long period of time. It is so unreal and pretty. Compared to crowded and commercialised Poring hot springs, this spring is unspoiled and so pristine.

Sulphur thread of sulphurous spring
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“Wow!” was my only response. I was excited and explored around. In the flowing water, I saw hair-like sulphur threads. They moved with the current, like water weed.

First sulphurous spring
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The water in sulphurous spring is crystal clear with cyan color due to the minerals, a calm and shallow pool under a mass body of silicified rock.

Sulphur deposit in sulphurous spring
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The sulphur deposit blankets in the calm water is in cotton-like shape.

Sulphur deposit sulphurous spring
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Most photos you see here would be the only collection on the Internet. Before I came, I searched the Net and didn’t find many photos, so I was surprised by what I saw.

sulphur jelly
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I grabbed a small pieces of the sulphur deposit to take a closer look. It is very soft like semi-liquid jelly, like a small amount of sulphur particles being held loosely by water.

First sulphurous spring
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Another angle of the spring. The water is calm and shallow. I would like to take a dip but I didn’t want to stir up the bottom and destroy the look. I photographed around happily. The locals believe the spring water can cure skin diseases.

Floating sulphur foam
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There were some yellowish sulphur foam floated on the water. It is something creamy and sticky when touched.

Silicified rock
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Above the spring is a mass body of silicified rock, with a few trees grow on its thin layer of soil on top. I don’t know what you think it looks like. I felt that it was “staring” at me, a bit scary…

Bubbling in sulphurous spring
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See the bubbles and stirred sand above? An evidence that thermal process is still active. The fart smell is from the conversion of dissolved sulphur in water to H2S by anaerobic bacterial activity, which suggests the water is from deep underground.

Bubbling in sulphurous spring
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Very little is known about this sulphurous spring. In fact, I dug the library to find out some information for writing this blog. People should learn more about this attraction and promote it as a geotourism site.

Unknown bug in sulphurous spring
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There was no fish in the spring but I saw some unknown small bugs, with many legs, swam in this acidic spring (pH 3.68-4.10). Anyone knows what they are?

sulphur-coated stones
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The sulphur in the stream turns boulders and stones in the water into white colour (sulphur-coated boulders).

sulphurous spring water flows to river
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The water is lukewarm (25-30 C) because it mixes with the river water (That is why I do not call it a hot spring). The scientists say the chemicals from the sulphur spring has very minor effect to the river so it won’t pollute the water.

Other sulphurous spring
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Moving further up along the river and you will see other sulphurous springs.

Smaller sulphurous spring
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Here is another sulphurous spring at the river. You can tell easily from the sulphur-coated stones.

sulphurous spring along the river
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There are about 10 sulphurous springs along this 100 Meter stretch of river, but they are smaller and less impressive than the first one. I hope you are impressed. In future I will blog about the real “hot” springs of Tawau.

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Tawau Hills Park (Taman Bukit Tawau)

Photos taken in Tawau, Sabah Malaysia

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  • Emily

    They are indeed beautiful. Hopefully the people that chose to visit it will follow your example in preserving its natural beauty 🙂

  • Kaye Negron

    Hi! Tadpole,

    Tadpole, what an interesting new name.

    But I still prefer your old name Smoke Head.

    Tadpole is more suitable for a small boy.

    But you are a professional adventurous blogger.

    Bye.

  • MySabah.com

    Hi Kaye, haha, u really think so? my old name is not well interpreted by most readers, so i changed..

  • Angelina Seals

    Smoke Head Tadpole – this sound batter.

    You have the gute to go against the authority, so Smoke Head is more meaning name to you. But a Smoke Head Tadpole sound attractive to reader.

  • MySabah.com

    Angeline> haha… u can call me whatever you like, as long as u don’t call me smoked salmon 🙂

  • Shah

    Wowww… This place looks really out of this world. Was at THP last weekend but after some heavy rain the trail too muddy. Tmrw must go again & check out the hotspring lar… Thanks for the pics & info

  • MySabah.com

    Hi Shah, you are welcome. I knew what was happening coz I’m also a fan of your blog. All the best to your exploration. pls let me know if they have installed proper signage to the spring.

  • Shah

    Hiya Tadpole 🙂

    Wow u read my blog too? It’s an honor – I always visit your blog to find interesting places to explore… Was at the hot spring today – still no proper signs to point to the hot spring. Didn’t even find the 0 meter marker actually. Lucky i read your entry & went on further to find the spot.

    BTW sori la I tercuri your photo angle la from your first pic in this entry – wanted to show the bridge & signboard so that was the best angle – jgn saman ya hehe.

    Great job on the blog & keep the entries and photos coming.

  • MySabah.com

    thanks Shah, i also get travel ideas from your blog, lol. i noticed your blog when i looked for info on Kasih Sayang Resort.

    after i complained, i tot sabah parks should have installed the proper signage. probably i should write in to them.

    abt the photo angle, ok bah. i also look at flickr & “borrow” their angles. 🙂 glad u found the hot spring.

  • Alex Green

    Hey I saw that largest flower, Rafflesia arnoldii which was huge and around more or less 1 meter in its diameter. Then I had gone for Canopy Walk which was hypothetical to be a track walking path. Then the 2 different waterfalls. Bathe within the Japanese-fashion baths. I took a look at Butterfly Farm. Following url provides the information on “Things to see at Poring” http://www.expeditionasia.net/poring-malaysia.html

  • MySabah.com

    Hi Alex, glad that you enjoy Poring and thanks for the link. The rafflesia that you saw was rafflesia keithii. there is no arnoldii species found in Sabah.

  • Smoke Head SENIOR

    The colour of your photos is artificial. You need a good camera.

    Otherwise good works well done.

  • mysabah

    Thank you. I think what I need most are better photography and Photoshop skills.

  • Lumin Chang

    I grew up in Kota Kinabalu. I am now residing in Shanghai. I miss Sabah so much. Please share more new photos of Sabah!

  • Haha Lumin, I’ve been busy lately so I stop blogging for a while. :-p You may Like my page at: http://www.facebook.com/Borneofrog Sometimes I post new photos.