Tag Archives: history

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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Serinsim, a different face of Kinabalu Park

Misumpak Waterfall and its pond

A family is having a hard time to plan a holiday trip at a destination that makes everyone happy.

Grandfather: “I want to learn some local history and legend.”
Mother: “How about a BBQ feast?”
Father: “Let’s climb a mountain.”
Son: “Camping and jungle trekking will be fun!”
Daughter: “I love swimming in river.”

Location of Serinsim and Kinabalu Park

Location of Serinsim (Sorinsim) and Kinabalu Park

Finally they decide to visit Serinsim (or Sorinsim) in Kota Marudu, which has all these. There is no second place in Sabah where we can find river, waterfall, forest, cave, mountain and historical site in one park.

Signage to different attractions inside Serinsim

Signage to different attractions inside Serinsim. It’s ok if you can’t read Malay. I’ll tell you what they are later.

Serinsim is a substation in northern part of Kinabalu Park, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site of Malaysia. Lies between the Serinsim and Kanarom rivers, the river of Serinsim is straight from the undisturbed rainforest and mountain, so its water is crystal clear and almost as good as Spritzer.

Kanarom River in Serinsim (Sorinsim)

Kanarom River in Serinsim (Sorinsim)

You may be familiar with the mountainous zone in Kinabalu Park HQ in Kundasang highland. Serinsim is at opposite side of HQ, which is dominated by lowland rainforest, shows different face of Kinabalu Park. Most locals only come here to enjoy the cooling river, without knowing that Serinsim has the following special attractions:

1. Mount Nombuyukong (Gunung Nombuyukong)

With a height of 1,603.57 Meters, Mt. Nombuyukong is 976 Metres lower than its sister peak, Mt. Tambuyukon, the third highest mountain of Malaysia. Mount Nombuyukong can be conquered within a day.

Mount Nombuyukong in Serinsim

Mount Nombuyukong in Serinsim

» Read about the challenging climb to Mt. Nombuyukong…

2. Bat Cave (Gua Kelawar)

Gua Kelawar is a small cave about 200 Meters long, and it is for the adventurous you who like the idea of exploring the unknown. *Hint:* many creeping critters in the darkness. I saw rare mushroom and endemic begonia outside the cave.

Bat Cave (Gua Kelawar) of Serinsim

The rocky wall of Bat Cave (Gua Kelawar) in Serinsim

» Read my scary story inside Bat Cave…

3. Misumpak Waterfall

Serinsim is more than a park for swimming and picnic only. Do a jungle trekking to visit the 12-Meter Misumpak Waterfall. Soaking in its cooling ponds will be one of the best nature experience, I promise. You would see hornbill, civet, red leaf monkey, orangutan and other wildlife on the way.

Misumpak Waterfall and its pond

Misumpak Waterfall and its pond

» Read more about Misumpak Waterfall…

4. Gambaliu, the Tallest Man in the World

According to the local legend, a giant named Gambaliu lived here about two to three thousand years ago. With a height of 24 feet, Gambaliu is taller than giraffe. He was a gentle and helpful giant. However, what his people did after he died was sort of… heartless.

Tomb of Gambaliu, the tallest man

Tomb of Gambaliu, the tallest man

» See the Tomb of Gambaliu…

5. Sigunting Graveyard

Sick of those cliche movies about superheroes saving the mankind? Let’s hear the story of real Sabah hero, Si-Gunting, who fought British imperialism for 7 years.

Graveyard of Sigunting, a Sabahan hero

Graveyard of Sigunting, a Sabahan hero

» Read more about Sigunting…

6. Deer Farm

About 120 Meters from the hostel (Asrama Kanarom) is a 0.5-Acre of fenced and forested Deer Farm. The best time to visit is the feeding time at 2pm, the time about 10 Sambar deers show up for jackfruit, tapioca leaves, banana, and fruits given by the Park.

Deer Farm of Serinsim

Deer Farm of Serinsim. Visitors can walk up to the tower for better view.

Below is the trail and layout map of Serinsim. Please note that for most jungle trekking activities, you are required to hire a guide from the Park, which can be arranged easily one day in advance.

Trail map to different attractions in Serinsim

Trail map to different attractions in Serinsim. Translation: Pejabat = Office, Galeri = Gallery, Pondok = Gazebo, Pelawat = Visitor, Tapak Perkhemahan = Camping Ground, Tandas Awam = Public Toilet, Dapur = Kitchen, Sungai = River, Sg. = River, Anak Sungai = Small River, Jalan Raya = Road, Jambatan Kerata = Bridge for Car, Air Terjun = Waterfall, Makam = Grave, Puncak = Peak, Kem = Camp, Ke = To

Accommodation

Three chalets and one hostel are available to accommodate three families and 24 people respectively in the Park. Below is a quick comparison of the price. The rate is as of July 2017, and GST tax is included.

Accommodation Type Rate per Night
Camping Adult: MYR5.30 (≈USD$1.32)
Below 12: MYR2.15 (≈USD$0.53)
Hostel (Asrama Kanarom) Adult: MYR42.40 (≈USD$10.60)
Below 18: MYR31.80 (≈USD$7.95)
Chalet 1 Chalet: MYR318.00 (≈USD$79.50)
1 Room: MYR106 (≈USD$26.50)

Notes: Check-out time is 11:00am. Non-halal food such as pork is forbidden in the accommodation. The accommodation is not well-maintained. Before you unpack your luggage, make sure everything in your room is functioning (e.g. water supply, light, air-cond). Just in case anything is broken, you can change to other room quickly.

Asrama Kanarom Hostel

Asrama Kanarom Hostel is a dormitory-style one storey building which has four bedrooms, common toilet + bathroom and kitchen. Each room has 6 bunk beds, so this hostel can host about 24 people.

Asrama Kanarom Hostel in Serinsim

Asrama Kanarom Hostel in Serinsim

Interior of Asrama Kanarom Hostel in Serinsim

Interior of Asrama Kanarom Hostel in Serinsim

The fee for each bunk bed in hostel is MYR42.40 for adult and MYR31.80 for kid (below 18 years old). The room has air-conditioner, and pillow and blanket are provided. It’s an economic choice for budget travelers and student group who don’t mind to share room.

Bunk beds in Asrama Kanarom Hostel

Bunk beds in Asrama Kanarom Hostel

The kitchen has gas stove, cooking and dining utensils for use by the guests. Electricity and water supply are available all time.

Kitchen of Asrama Kanarom Hostel

Kitchen of Asrama Kanarom Hostel

However, there is no private bathroom. Guests can share the common unisex toilet and bathroom. Sorry, no water heater for a hot shower, but you can boil hot water in kitchen like what I did.

Toilet cum shower room, cooking area, utensils and refrigerator in Asrama Kanarom Hostel

Toilet cum shower room, cooking area, utensils and refrigerator in Asrama Kanarom Hostel

One nice thing about this hostel is that it’s located next to the starting point of trail to all nature attractions.

Chalets

There are three chalets in the Park. You can book the whole chalet for MYR318 per night, or rent a room for MYR106. Each chalet has three rooms (two of them are single bed). Each chalet is limited for 6 people. For additional guests, you need to pay extra MYR30 per person.

3 chalets in Serinsim Substation

There are 3 chalets in Serinsim Substation

Chalets of Serinsim

Chalets of Serinsim

Each room has an attached bathroom cum toilet. Heater for hot shower is not available. Soap and towel are provided for the guest. Every room has air-conditioning.

Chalet of Serinsim (or Sorinsim). At the left is Mt. Nombuyukong

Chalet of Serinsim (or Sorinsim). At the left is Mt. Nombuyukong

Bedroom, living room and kitchen of Serinsim Chalet

Bedroom, living room and kitchen of Serinsim Chalet

Camping

Camping ground is also available to those who desire a more nature experience. For adult, the camping fee per night is MYR5.30 and MYR2.15 for child below 12. You can rent a camping tent for MYR30/day at Sabah Parks office, or bring your own.

Camping ground of Serinsim

Camping ground of Serinsim

Gazebo and benches at camping site

Gazebo and benches at camping site

The campsite is just next to the river. There are gazebos, benches, public toilet and kitchen nearby that area.

Campers in Serinsim

Campers in Serinsim

Kitchen near camping ground

Kitchen near camping ground

There is no lighting at night, so you better bring your camping light and torchlight.

Barbecue party at the hostel

Barbecue party at the hostel

There is no TV, karaoke and night life in the park, so you will get bored in the evening. Do plan some fun activities for the night, for example, board games, BBQ party, strip poker, watch movies on laptop.

Gaming in the hostel (Asrama Kanarom)

Playing Uno in the hostel (Asrama Kanarom)

By the way, Kota Marudu is famous for its maize. You can buy some along the way and grill it, it’s delicious.

Layout Map of Serinsim Substation

Layout Map of Serinsim Substation

Don’t be impressed by the facilities listed in the map above. Everything in Serinsim is basic, nothing 5-star. For example, the so called soccer field is just a grassland. The restaurant never opens and there is no gallery.

How to get there

Serinsim is about 32 KM from Kota Marudu town and 130 KM away from Kota Kinabalu City (capital of Sabah). This substation is now highly accessible after asphalt highway is complete in 2013. The GPS coordinate is 6.293915, 116.707986 (see Location Map).

Asphalt road to Serinsim in Kota Marudu

Asphalt road to Serinsim in Kota Marudu

In the past you needed a 4-wheel drive to get in. That might be the reason why Serinsim is one of the least explored parks in Sabah. There is no bus goes directly to Serinsim.

Marak-Parak Village and Sorinsim Village before Serinsim

You will pass through Marak-Parak Village and Sorinsim Village before you reach Serinsim

You also can go to Serinsim from Poring Hot Springs, the 46-KM road is in good condition.

Signage at the entrance. Translation: Welcome to Kinabalu Park, Serinsim Sub-Station, Kota Marudu

Signage at the entrance. Translation: Welcome to Kinabalu Park, Serinsim Sub-Station, Kota Marudu

Things to Note

For a better travel experience at Serinsim, please take note of the following:

  1. There is no restaurant in the Park. You can prepare your own food in their kitchen, buy food from villages nearby (The shops are usually roadside residential run by villagers with signage such as Gerai Makan (Food Stall) or Kedai Runcit (Grocery Store)), or drive 30 minutes to Kota Marudu town looking for restaurant.
  2. The mobile line coverage is none or poor in the Park. My Maxis line got 0 bar. Celcom may work. Anyway, let’s prepare to be offline there.
  3. Bring insect repellent. There are mosquitoes in shaded area during dusk and dawn.
  4. There is a grocery shop and cafe outside the park entrance.
  5. Most area in Park has no light. Bring a torchlight if you would move around in the Park at night, especially campers.
Sabah Parks office and car park of Serinsim (Sorinsim)

Sabah Parks office and car park of Serinsim (Sorinsim)

Entrance Fee

The following is the ticket fee to enter the park. They only accept cash in Ringgit Malaysia (MYR).

Item Fee / Rate
Conservation Fee Malaysian: MYR3.00
Foreigner: MYR15.00
Below 18: MYR1.00 and MYR10.00 respectively
Ticket counter at the entrance of Serinsim (Sorinsim)

Ticket counter at the entrance of Serinsim (Sorinsim)

Serinsim is managed by Sabah Parks. For more information about Serinsim, you may browse www.sabahparks.org.my or call the head office of Sabah Parks in Kota Kinabalu at +60 88-523500.

Photos taken in Kota Marudu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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