Tag Archives: Kota Marudu

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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Serinsim and something about Sabah Rivers

Enjoying the flowing water of river

Serinsim (or Sorinsim) is a nature park and substation in northern part of Kinabalu Park (in Kota Marudu, Sabah, Malaysia). Once you enter Serinsim, you can tell its main attraction is the river because many families swim, camp or picnic at the river side.

Camping ground and picnic site of Serinsim

Camping ground and picnic site of Serinsim

Serinsim lies between the Serinsim and Kinarom rivers. Kanarom River (Sungai Kanarom in local language) is just 10 Meters away from the car park near the park entrance. The river is unpolluted and straight from the fully protected forest, so swimming in this crystal clear and cooling water is like bathing in mineral water.

Cooling and clean water of Kanarom River

Cooling and clean water of Kanarom River

During weekends and school holiday, many locals come to frolic in the wide and shallow river, which is kid friendly and not swift. I met a family who drove 130 KM from Kota Kinabalu City (KK) to this place.

Sungai Kanarom River

No lifeguard around so swim at your own risk

Another reason Serinsim becomes a local family choice is due to the cheap entrance. For example, a local family of parents with 3 children spends less than 10 Ringgit to enjoy the Chlorine-free river. If they go to theme park such as Sunway Lagoon, it can cost them half a thousand Ringgit (but of course the facilities there are far more better and fun).

gazebo and benches at riverside

There are a few gazebos and benches at riverside

The amenities in Serinsim are fairly basic. They have changing rooms cum toilet and gazebos with benches and table near the river. The place is not crowded as it is far away from big city and not a popular tourist destination.

family and kids swimming in river

Many families come here to swim during weekends and school holidays

Sabah is blessed with many clean rivers. According to a report of the Department of Environment (DOE) in 2013, about 42% of the 473 rivers in Malaysia were under stress of pollution. In some urban area, the only clean source of water is from the tap.

Cute sisters coming from Kota Kinabalu City

Cute sisters coming from Kota Kinabalu City

However, this can change, especially downstream that are under constant environmental threats by poorly-managed development and farmland, rampant illegal sand mining, and indiscriminate dumping. More and more rivers turn into milk tea color, or worse, smelly blackish bacteria soup.

Colorful rocks in the river

Colorful rocks in the river

Ask the elders who have lived in KK for over half a century, they can share their childhood stories of swimming and fishing in crystal clear water of Sembulan River. But look at this river now, it’s so filthy and has become a conveyor belt to transport floating rubbish to our sea.

floating on the river

Most locals come to Serinsim to swim during hot day

While posting the photos of Serinsim here, I also share some random fun facts about our rivers.

River is Good for our Health

Nobody says swimming is bad, unless you swim in dirty water. Indeed, swimming can serve as a medicine, stress reliever, therapy, exercise, immunity boosters, etc. all good for physical and mental health.

clean natural river in emerald color

The sign of a clean natural river is its emerald color

“Natural waters are full of life, biological energy from plants and different creatures, minerals, enzymes, and many other beneficial substances. Swimming in natural waters has been prized as a therapy for many health problems for centuries.” – moulindebeny.com

swimming in river

Sabah is lucky to have so many clean rivers

The funny thing is – except human and apes, almost every other mammals can swim instinctively, that includes heavy elephant and cats which hate water.

Freshwater Ecology is Magnificent

Even if we close our eyes, our ears would still expose to many conservation messages about Loving our Ocean, to name a few, don’t eat turtle eggs, shark is endangered, plastic kills our marine lives, corals are under threat. Furthermore, we are always awed by the amazing photographs, videos and experience in diving, and determine to protect our marine ecology. Good.

get your feet wet

When you visit Serinsim, make sure you get your feet wet

However, compared to ocean, very little is said about river conservation. I would see news about beach cleaning occasionally but not river cleaning so far. To be fair, we have Tagal system (No Fishing) to protect fish stock in Sabah rivers, but it mainly targets at over-fishing.

You know, no water, no life, so no river, no wildlife. Our rivers have been supporting many iconic Borneo wildlife such as Proboscis Monkey and Bornean pygmy elephants. They help our tourism to rake in a lot of cash, so we know it’s imperative to take care of their well-being.

Clean water of Kanarom River

Clean water of Kanarom River

However, we forget the animals live in the rivers. Populations of freshwater species have declined by 76% since 1970, a lot faster than land or marine animals. I was told by my aunt that 50 years ago, the river was so clean that she saw something like sponge corals.

In Sabah rivers, there are 150 native freshwater fish species and 36 of them are endemic (24% of native species), according to the paper titled “A working checklist of the freshwater fish diversity for habitat management and conservation work in Sabah, Malaysia, North Borneo”.

Kanarom River teeming with fishes

Kanarom River teeming with fishes

Did you know friendly Irrawaddy Dolphins, monster Largetooth Sawfish and child-eater Tapah Catfish were used to be common in Kinabatangan, the longest river of Sabah? But now what is left are only some interesting stories about them among the villagers.

Some fishes of Borneo rivers are eco treasure too. A giant empurau fish from a Sarawak river was sold for a whopping RM7,900 (nearly USD$2,000). The market price of empurau ranges from RM400 to RM1,000 (USD$100-250) per Kg.

Tyre buoy is in the shop near to park entrance

Tyre buoy is available for rent (MYR5.00) in the shop near to park entrance

Though Sabah has no empurau, our Ikan Pelian (Malaysian Mahseer) is doing well too, it is priced for RM80 to RM100 (USD$20-25) per Kg. Both Empurau and Ikan Pelian are belong to same species (but I’m not sure if they are different sub-species).

Therefore, rivers shouldn’t be treated as less important than ocean. Time to do more to save our rare and endemic fishes. River pollution is currently threatening the survival of many rare species. Rivers are more prone to pollution, as they are smaller water bodies than the ocean. One selfish act of a company or village can compromise the health of a river.

Forest & Rivers

If forest is the lung of our planet, then river is the blood capillary of nature. Protecting our forest comes with two significant outcomes, clean air and water, which we can’t live without.

Enjoying the flowing water of river

Enjoying the flowing water of river

Humid tropical rainforest can add water to the atmosphere (through transpiration) thereby forming more cloud and bring more rain. The forests in Southeast Asia can influence rain patterns in south-eastern Europe and China. Lose of moisture due to deforestation can lead to drought.

Furthermore, forest (especially riparian vegetation) can filter sediments and other contaminates (e.g. pesticides, fertilizer, chemical waste) from the water in the soil before it reaches rivers.

The warning sign that reads, Fishing is prohibited in this river. Fine: RM5,000.00 - RM50,000.00

The warning sign that reads, “Fishing is prohibited in this river. Fine: RM5,000.00 – RM50,000.00”

Forest also regulates the flow of water. The leafy canopy of forest intercepts rainfall, slowing its fall to the ground and releasing it slowly into streams and rivers. Therefore, the water from undisturbed forest is in high quality.

Misumpak Waterfall

If the river in Serinsim is too ordinary to you, and you want to see rivers in true wilderness, you can try jungle trekking to Misumpak Waterfall.

Interesting fauna and flora along the jungle trail to the Misumpak Waterfall

Interesting fauna and flora along the jungle trail to the Misumpak Waterfall

The distance to this 12-Meter waterfall is 6.5 KM one way. Normally a return trip takes about 9 hours.

Bud of rafflesia

Bud of rafflesia, the largest flower in the world

You must hire a guide to go with you. This can be arranged easily with the park. The guide fee is RM90 (about USD$22) per group, and one guide can take up to 5 people.

rare and special fungus

An expert told me that this fungus is very rare and special but I forget its name.

You will cross a few rivers and streams on the way so be prepared to get wet. The water quality will impress you, it’s so clean that it’s almost transparent. You would not see the water if it does not move and reflect.

Dense rainforest of Serinsim

Dense rainforest of Serinsim

As the forest is in pristine condition, leeches are lurking everywhere. You can wear anti-leech socks if you are not keen to donate some blood.

Misumpak Waterfall

Misumpak Waterfall is about 12 Meters high

The waterfall is far away and the trail isn’t tourist friendly. Unless you are really interested in appreciating the beautiful fauna and flora of rainforest, I don’t really recommend it.

Fresh water from Kinabalu Park

Chilling fresh water from Kinabalu Park is the cleanest in Sabah

Anyway, you will be rewarded by cooling waterfall ponds. Very, very few people venture so deep into Serinsim, so you can have all these for yourself.

Crystal clear pond of Misumpak Waterfall

Crystal clear pond of Misumpak Waterfall

Misumpak Waterfall

Misumpak Waterfall is 6.5 KM away from the park entrance

Entrance Fee

The following is the ticket fee to enter the park:

Item Fee / Rate
Conservation Fee Malaysian: MYR3.00
Foreigner: MYR15.00
Below 18: MYR1.00 and MYR10.00 respectively

Photos taken in Kota Marudu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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