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I was astonished when a famous photographer from West Malaysia showed me some stunning photos of Batu Luang, a bell-shaped rock located in a beach of Kuala Penyu. Batu means “Rock” in Malay language, and Batu Luang means “Luang Rock” literally.
Batu Luang is surrounded by mossy green rocks, sea, pebbles, rusty-red rockface, and caves, when one or more of these being framed into a photo during orange-hued dusk, you will get one of the most amazing sunset shots of Sabah.
It is funny that it’s non-Sabahan who introduced Batu Luang to me. Anyway, I’m excited to check out Batu Luang near Tempurong Beach (or Pantai Tempurung). The rock is very accessible and near to the main road in Tempurung Village.
Batu Luang Beach
The view is better than what I saw in the photos online, which show only a small part of the beach. The beach and rockfaces are covered by pebbles in different size and shapes. There are 5 or 6 caves at the base of the hills there. The biggest cave can fit in 10 or more people, other caves are more like a hole.
Batu Luang may look small in photos. Actually it’s over 12 Meters high and the only big rock standing in the sea (as far as we can see).
Though Batu Luang is a new hot spot for local photographers, there is no hotel, restaurant, parking lots and toilet nearby. Occasionally you would see some local youngsters frolicking there in hot days, or a few photographers taking photos during dusk, Most of the time you would be the only one at the beach.
Therefore, Batu Luang Beach retains its beauty of untouched nature. It has some special geological features which are uncommon in Sabah. For example, the rustic-red color of the rockfaces are so magnificent when they are painted over by golden sun ray in late afternoon.
Legend of Batu Luang
The beautiful Batu Luang has a tragic story about a newly-wed couple. Many years ago in Kuala Penyu, after the wedding celebration at the bride’s home, the couple walked to the house of bridegroom with their families in a fine morning. When they were approaching Batu Luang, the sky turned dark, and they were hit by heavy rainstorm.
Therefore, they ran and took shelter in a cave at Batu Luang. When the storm was over, the group moved out from the cave. The couple was the last to exit. Suddenly, the cave collapsed and closed, the bride was the last person on the way out. The bridegroom grabbed her hands trying to pull her out. Unfortunately, her hands slipped and left the wedding ring in the hand of her husband. She was sealed in the cave forever.
The locals say sometimes they can hear woman crying inside the rock at night. So sad… On positive side, the bridegroom doesn’t need to buy a new wedding ring if he remarries.
According to a local blog by Muzaffar Libon Jueh, there is a part two for this story. The bride was trapped in the cave and alive. The villagers tried everything to open the cave but unsuccessful. Then a bird flied by and chirped, like saying, “Poke with a needle then it’ll open.” However, the people there just scoffed and ignored it. After 7 days of trying, the villagers gave up, so was the bride. She handed over the wedding ring to her husband through a small opening, asking him to forget her. She was then locked inside forever and marry to the guardian spirit of the cave, and became an angel named Kasum. If you bump into a pretty girl playing at Ara tree on top of the hill near Batu Luang, she could be Kasum.
However, this sounds like a “modern” legend because Sabah had no such thing as wedding ring a few hundred years ago. Very likely parents make up this story to scare children, so they won’t go playing around Batu Luang, which can be dangerous due to a few reasons. The water at Batu Luang Beach can be quite deep during high tide, and the current is strong.
Furthermore, they could be hit by falling rocks from the loose rockface above. Our people also believe exploring cave would disturb the “Bogeymen” dwells inside, hence the warning they would be eaten alive by cave and become the next Batu Luang.
A Beach that Rocks
Batu Luang is not the only interesting rock here. Just look around and you will be fascinated by variety of rocks at the shore.
Most of the rocks at Batu Luang Beach are cobble with round edges, after being moved and tumbled by sea waves over time.
The most intriguing rocks are those covered with green algae. These rocks are only present from January to June, the months when monsoon washes away the sand that buries them.
The conglomerate deposit on rockface and the beach is another highlight of Batu Luang Beach. Conglomerate is made up of rounded pebbles glued together, formed by the lithification of cobble-size rocks and gravel.
To me, the conglomerate cemented with round pebbles looks like dinosaur eggs fossils. This is the first time I see such rock formation in Sabah.
The conglomerate is really nice, like a piece of art, so I joked to my friends that I wanted to bring some home. The moment I finished talking, a few rocks fell right in front of me. We have to watch our mouth in the wild, because “something” might be listening. Ok then, I took nothing but photograph.
Tour around Batu Luang
Batu Luang is a public beach, so anyone can go there. It’s safe for children to explore around under the care of adults.
The only problem is the tiny blood-sucking sandfly. Its bite can stay itchy for days. Try to cover as much exposed skin as you can. There are not many sandfly anyway.
If weather permits, you can have wonderful picture and welfie moment during sunset.
Part of the beach is rocky, so you better wear shoes.
There are a few villagers living near to the beach. You might find them catching fishes in the morning.
At another side of Batu Luang is a vast area of sandy beach. The waves are quite strong, so don’t go too far away from shore.
The old folks say there was used to be a deep cave at Batu Luang in the past, which they believe hidden with a lot of treasures, but the cave has disappeared. You may try your luck there. Just watch out for falling rocks when you explore the caves.
How to get there
There is no public transport that reaches Batu Luang, so you have to get a taxi or drive on your own for 2 hours. If you depart from KK, you will reach a roundabout with turtle statues (about 10 Km before Kuala Penyu town). Turn left to the direction of Menumbuk.
After 1.5 Km, turn right to the junction with the signs (see photo above) that read “JLN Kasugira BT Luang” and “Selemat Datang ke Kg. Gorowot” (opposite to Rumbia Information Center).
Then follow the road sign to Tempurung Golden Beach Resort, and you will see Batu Luang at your left after 4 to 5 KM. The place is highly accessible by asphalt road in good condition. You can park your car at the roadside and walk 100 Meters to the beach.
Photos taken in Kuala Penyu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo
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Travel back in time and delve into the stories and legends surrounding Sabah’s caves through AGOP (means Caves) – this year’s Sabah Fest presentation. The musical performance AGOP will be held from the 1st to 3rd of May at the Auditorium of Kompleks JKKN Sabah at 8:00pm.
The following photos were taken during the final rehearsal.
This three-day event will also highlight Sabah’s rich cultural heritage through a handicraft and traditional food showcase from 4pm to 10pm at the venue’s grounds.
The focus of this year’s Sabah Fest is a celebration of another important icon of ancient Sabah which thrives today as a living tradition and that is none other than Sabah’s mysterious caves. Widely known as AGOP by many communities on the east coast, ‘AGOP’ translates to the word ‘cave’ in the Orang Sungai, Dusun Begak and Dusun Subpan dialect.
Pic: the legend of golden deer of Madai Cave
Pic: arrival of Chinese fleet to Sabah. Great performance by KK High School
The celebration of Agop this year takes us on an expedition mostly to the east coast of Sabah to sample the charms of the communities – Ida’an, Orang Sungai, Dusun Begak and Dusun Subpan- who identify with the ancient cave culture and related on-going traditions and practices.
Pic: Dusun Melangkap from Kota Belud
The musical theatre also highlights the role of Admiral Cheng Ho of the Ming Dynasty who came across the highly valued birds’ nests and presented them as a gift to the Emperor.
Other rarely seen groups such as the Tidong of Tawau, Dusun Sandayoh of Paitan and Dusun Melangkap of Kota Belud have been invited to perform and display their culture and musical traditions at this year’s Sabah Fest.
Pic: romance triangle. Who will win her heart?
This year’s production is made possible with the involvement of some 350 people, including 140 performers from 7 ethnic groups who hail from 5 districts around Sabah.
From Lahad Datu are the Dusun Subpan from Kampung Segama, Dusun Begak from Tungku and Ida’an from Kampung Sepagaya.
Pic: Ida’an from Lahad Datu
Also represented are the Orang Sungai from Sandakan, Tidung from Tawau, Dusun Sandayoh from Paitan and Dusun Melangkap from Kota Belud; each showcasing their cultural identity through song and dance.
Sabah Fest is made grander with a 100-strong welcoming troupe playing the tagunggak and Murut gong as guests arrive. Also performing are 80 dancers from around Kota Kinabalu private and non-governmental organizations, schools and universities, namely Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), KK High School, SK Stella Maris Tanjung Aru and SM Maktab Sabah.
Pic: Sabah Fest 2015 uncovers the local rituals, legend and belief about caves
Don’t miss this annual premier event, showcasing Sabah’s vibrant cultural heritage, history and tradition in the form of thrilling theatrical performances, dance and music. Find out more at www.sabahfest.com.
Tickets for the stage performance are available at RM50 per show. Show starts at 8:00pm. Tickets are available for sale at the ticket counter of auditorium. For more information on the event, please contact Francesca Lydia, Event Executive, Sri Pelancongan Sabah at +60 88-232121, email email@example.com.
Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
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