Tag Archives: Keningau

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.


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

Guide to Climbing Mt. Trusmadi (Mt. Trus Madi)

Mount Trusmadi

Mount Trus Madi (or Mt. Trusmadi) is the second highest mountain (2,642 Meters or 8,668 ft) of Malaysia. Albeit 1,453 Meters lower than Mount Kinabalu (4,095 Meters), climbing Mt. Trusmadi is more challenging, so it offers a thrilling experience for adventure seekers. Many tourists who have conquered Mt. Kinabalu are also keen to give it a try. If you are physically fit and exercise regularly, you would find Mt. Trus Madi is very climbable even though the trail is less tourist-friendly.

The peaks of Mt. Trus Madi

The peaks of Mt. Trus Madi

The facilities of Trusmadi have improved tremendously in past few years (especially the Tambunan side), so it has become a hot destination. Mt. Trus Madi is located in Trus Madi Forest Reserve (Code: FMU-10 = Forest Management Unit No.10), so you need to apply entry permit from Sabah Forestry Department for the climb. This article provides the most complete and updated information to help you planning the climb.

Overview of 3 Summit Trails to Mt. Trus Madi

Climbing Mt. Trus Madi can be done in 2 to 4 days, depends on the trail you pick. There are three summit trails that lead to the highest peak of Mt. Trus Madi, i.e.:

  1. Kaingaran Trail in Tambunan
  2. Mannan Trail in Keningau
  3. Mastan Trail in Sook
Location map of Mt. Trus Madi & starting points of 3 summit trails

Location map of Mt. Trus Madi & starting points of 3 summit trails

These trails have different climbing distance, starting point, road accessibility, level of difficulty and facilities on the mountain. Picking the trail is your first step to plan the climb. Kaingaran Trail (Tambunan) is the most popular choice because its climbing distance is shorter (4.9 KM) and the facilities are the most developed. Mannan Trail (Keningau) is the second best choice. Though the climb takes 4 days, the view along the trail is more beautiful and you don’t need a 4-Wheel Drive.

The following table is a comparison of three trails (can click to enlarge):

Table: Comparison of 3 summit trails to Mt. Trus Madi

Table: Comparison of 3 summit trails to Mt. Trus Madi

Since these three summit trails are connected to one another on the summit, you also can choose to ascend and descend to different points for more fun. For example, you can climb up the mountain via Kaingaran Trail from Tambunan, but climb down via Mannan Trail to Keningau, if you are able to arrange your return transport waits at other end.

Below are more detail reviews of three summit trails to Mt. Trusmadi:

1. Kaingaran Trail

Kaingaran Trail is the oldest and most developed trail. I climbed Mt. Trus Madi via this trail in year 2010. However, the climb is much more enjoyable and easier nowadays because of upgraded trail and accommodation.

Kaingaran Trail of Tambunan

Kaingaran Trail of Tambunan

Climbing Distance: 4.9 KM (require 2 day 1 night)
Location: Tambunan District
Starting Point: 27 Km (2.5 hours drive) from Tambunan Town (mainly gravel road. The last 6 KM road trip needs 4-Wheel Drive)
Accommodation: Mirad Irad Base Camp (foothill), Rest House (at 2.9 KM of mountain trail)

Mirad Irad Base Camp of Mt. Trus Madi in Tambunan

Mirad Irad Base Camp of Mt. Trus Madi in Tambunan

You can spend one extra night at Mirad Irad Base Camp of Mt. Trus Madi (7 KM before starting point (20 min drive) and 900 Meters above sea level), if you want to start your climb very early in next morning. The accommodation at Base Camp can accommodate 24 people, and camping (Fee: RM10) is allowed. The room rate is RM20 per night per person. Please note you MUST book 1 month in advance.

Starting point in Tambunan (Kaingaran Trail)

Taman Kitingan: Starting point in Tambunan (Kaingaran Trail)

If you start your climb on day 1 from Kota Kinabalu City (KK), you need to drive about 4 hours from KK to starting point in Tambunan, very likely you will start your climb around noon, which is kind of late. That’s why some climbers prefer to stay an extra night in Mirad Irad Base camp or hotel in Tambunan.

Plank walk & boardwalk in summit trail at Tambunan (Kaingaran Trail)

Plank walk & boardwalk in summit trail at Tambunan (Kaingaran Trail)

The first 3 KM of Kaingaran Trail is boardwalk. It’s leech-free and makes climbing more like hiking.

Taliban Point of Mt. Trus Madi

Taliban Point, which is named after OKK Taliban, the 1st native chief of Tambunan and has nothing to do with terrorist.

Toilet in summit trail to Mt. Trus Madi

Toilet in summit trail to Mt. Trus Madi

One of the shelters in Kaingaran Trail (Tambunan)

One of the shelters in Kaingaran Trail (Tambunan)

Summit trail to Mt. Trus Madi (Kaingaran Trail, Tambunan)

Summit trail to Mt. Trus Madi (Kaingaran Trail, Tambunan)

Mt. Trus Madi Rest House (only available for Kaingaran Trail)

There is only one accommodation on Mt. Trus Madi and about 2.9 KM away from the summit. The Rest House has 5 rooms, each with 4 bunk beds, and able to host 20 people at a time. The fee per person is RM20-RM100 per night per bed. The amenities are quite basic, water supply and lighting are available.

Rest House on Mt. Trus Madi

Mt. Trus Madi Rest House looks like a long house

Accommodation on Mt. Trus Madi

Accommodation on Mt. Trus Madi. Guide and Porter camp under the Rest House if the rooms are full.

Rooms of Rest House on Mt. Trus Madi

Bunk beds in Rest House. It costs RM20-100 per night per person.

Kitchen of Rest House

Kitchen of the Rest House. only tour operator can cook.

Toilet of Rest House

Toilet of the Rest House

Mt. Trusmadi Rest House, the only accommodation on Mt. Trus Madi

Rest House on Mt. Trus Madi

The following video gives a good overview of Kaingaran Trail, with a lot of aerial views of Mirad Irad Base Camp, Mt. Trusmadi Rest House and the summit:

The next two trails are relatively new and located in Keningau District (Sook is a sub-district of Keningau).

Mastan (left) and Mannan (right) Trails at Keningau District

Mastan (left) and Mannan (right) Trails at Keningau District

There is no accommodation in Mastan and Mannan Trails, so you will need to bring your own camping and cooking gears. This means you need to carry more weight, making the climb tougher. You can hire porters to share your burden. The camping fees are RM3 and RM5 for Malaysian and foreigner respectively.

2. Mannan Trail

Though Mannan Trail takes the longest time (4 day 3 night), many adventurers love its scenic view and pristine route. Another advantage is – you don’t need a 4-wheel drive to travel to the starting point.

Mount Trus Madi

View of Mt Trus Madi from Kg. Sinua (KM2.4 point to summit)

Climbing Distance: 11.6 KM (require 4 day 3 night)
Location: Sinua Village (Kampung Sinua), Sook (Keningau District)
Starting Point: 103 KM of paved road (3 hours drive) from Keningau Town. Good road condition. No need 4-Wheel Drive.
Accommodation: Camping and Resting Platform only

K.S. Khiong Point (4,200M) of Mannan Trail

K.S. Khiong Point (4,200M) of Mannan Trail, one of the camping sites

The GoPro video below gives you a good idea of trail condition in Mannan Trail:

3. Mastan Trail

Mastan Trail is very “raw” and the least developed. I have very little information about this trail. Judging from the map, Mastan Trail is the shortest (4.3 KM) but the steepest. You see, Mastan Trail is only 600 Meters shorter than Kaingaran Trail (Tambunan), which has far better trail and facilities, of course most climbers will go for the more relaxing option.

Taman Bunga (Garden Peak) of Mastan Trail

Taman Bunga (Garden Peak) of Mastan Trail

Climbing Distance: 4.3 KM (require 2 day 1 night)
Location: Apin-Apin, Keningau District
Starting Point: 76 KM (4 hours drive) from Keningau Town. Bad road, accessible only by 4-Wheel Drive.
Accommodation: Camping

Toilets in Mastan Trail

Toilets in Mastan Trail

Some village folks there have been doing day climb via this trail. Anyway, if you have only 2 days and want to see the most of Mt. Trus Madi, you may ascend via Kaingaran Trail on day 1 and descend via Mastan Trail on day 2.

The Summit

The flora of Trusmadi is very diverse and fascinating, where almost 600 species of 160 families of plants have been recorded here. Remember to get your certificate if you make it to the top (RM10 fee applies).

Nepenthes Trusmadiensis of Mt. Trus Madi

Nepenthes Trusmadiensis is a pitcher plant endemic to Mt. Trus Madi

Nepenthes trusmadiensis is the natural hybrid between Nepenthes lowii and Nepenthes macrophylla, you would see it when you are close to the summit.

The peak of Mt. Trus Madi (2,642 Meters)

The highest point of Mt. Trus Madi (2,642 Meters)

View of Mt. Kinabalu on Mt. Trus Madi

You can see Mt. Kinabalu clearly on Mt. Trus Madi

When you reach the summit of Mount Trusmadi at dawn, if the weather is good, you will be mesmerized by a breath-taking view of Mount Kinabalu, which lies about 40 KM to the north.

View tower near the summit of Mt. Trus Madi

New! 5-Meter Viewpoint Tower 100 Meter from the summit of Mt. Trus Madi (at Jiran Point)

How much does the climbing trip cost?

The total fee varies greatly, depending on the trail and services that you select. Below is a list of basic fees (in Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)).

Malaysian Foreigner
Climb Permit 30 80
Entrance Fee 5 15
Vehicle Permit 100 100
Accommodation (1 night)* 100 100
Forestry Guide (2 days) 100 200
TOTAL: 335 (≈USD$95) 495 (≈USD$140)

*For Rest House only. Replace this with camping fee if you don’t use Tambunan trail

The final cost can range from RM400 to RM800 per person, after you include other variable and optional fees such as rental of 4-Wheel Drive (RM800/day per car), insurance, transport (gasoline), food & personal supplies, porter, certificate (RM10), etc. You can save more money by going in group, so you can split the cost on transportation and guide fee.

Enjoying the mountain view from the tower

Enjoying the mountain view from the tower

If you have more questions, you may contact the Forestry Officers listed below:

1. Tambunan

Contact Person: Mr. Saleh Intang, District Forestry Officer (“DFO”) of Tambunan
Address: Pejabat Perhutanan Daerah Tambunan, Peti Surat No 64, 89657, Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia
Tel: +60 88-899589
Fax: +60 88-899588
E-mail: saleh.intang@sabah.gov.my

2. Keningau / Sook

Contact Person: Mr. Azman Said, District Forestry Officer (“DFO”) of Keningau
Address: Pejabat Perhutanan Daerah Keningau, Peti Surat No 88, 89007, Keningau, Sabah, Malaysia
Tel: +60 87-331203
Fax: +60 87-338721
E-mail: azman.said@sabah.gov.my

Tour Operators

If your budget permits, you should consider hiring a tour operator to arrange the climbing trip for you. The cost will be higher, but they will save you the problems on paperwork (permit), 4-wheel drive transport, camping, cooking, etc. I strongly recommend the following tour operators, who are experienced in adventure trips:

1. TYK Adventure Tours

Address: Block E, Lot 38, 2nd Floor, Damai Plaza IV, Luyang, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Tel: +60 88-232821
Website: www.tykadventuretours.com
E-mail: thamyaukong@gmail.com
Fax: +60 88-232827

2. Mount Trusmadi Travel & Tour Tambunan

Address: Lot No. 5, Kedai Tepi Sungai Tondulu, Majlis Daerah Tambunan, 89657 Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia
Tel: +60 87–771312
Mobile Phone: +60 19-8831568
E-mail: widuresorttbn@yahoo.com

By the way, currently Sabah Forestry Department only has 16 mountain guides. During peak season, they may not have enough manpower to guide the climbers. They would disapprove your climb in that case. Therefore, I advise you to register a few months before the climb, to secure the limited capacity.

Useful Slides

Most of the information here is extracted from the following slides by Sabah Tourism Board and Sabah Forestry Department. You may download them for further reading. Also special thanks to Mr. Tham Yau Kong and Mike Miki from TYK Adventure Tours for contributing the photos. (Note: some info is inconsistent in different slides. I’ll correct them once I confirm the details).

Overview of Mt. Trusmadi, e.g. photos of road condition, starting points, accommodations, facilities, itineraries.

Useful info for planning the tour, e.g. booking and reservation procedures, various fees (permit, entrance, forestry guides), application forms and checklist of Things to Bring.

This slide contains some latest photos of the trails.

Please feel free to leave your question in comment section below, I’ll try my best to answer.

Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo