Tag Archives: Penampang

Kiss of Fishes from Tinopikon Park of Moyog River

Tagal Tinopikon Park

Water is the source of life. However, keeping a river clean and thriving with lives is one of the most challenging tasks. Nowadays, most rivers are polluted and their ecosystem is unsustainable, as most people is only interested in being a taker. You will see how nature rewards “givers” when you visit Tinopikon Park (Tagal Taman Tinopikon) next to Moyog River, located in Kampung Notoruss, a village 12 Kilometers away from Donggongon town (see location map).

dog on hanging bridge
Pic: a friendly village dog welcoming me at the hanging bridge

Tinopikon Park is less than 50 Meters away from the road and highly accessible. Last week I drove about 30 minutes from Kota Kinabalu city, parked my car at the roadside, walked 5 minutes, crossed a suspension bridge and the park was right in front of me.

Tagal Taman Tinopikon at Moyog River
Pic: Tagal Taman Tinopikon at Moyog River

Most of the population in Kampung Notoruss are Kadazandusun (largest indigenous group of Sabah) and Murut (headhunter tribe in the past).

Tagal = No Fishing Zone

On the bridge, I noticed something astounding in the river. There were dozens of big fishes swimming near the shore. Due to over-fishing, river teeming with fishes is really rare in Malaysia.

fishes in river
The secret word for this success is Tagal, which means “prohibition” in Kadazandusun language. The river is managed by local community / village and fishing is prohibited. You will be fined if you are caught fishing in Tagal area.

fish massage at Moyog River
Pic: Besides me, there were other visitors who were also impressed by such view and came by the river for a closer look.

Tagal system is a simple concept initiated by a few riparian communities of Babagon in 1997, fishing and littering are prohibited in protected section of river so it allows the fishery to flourish. Villagers are also not permitted to cut the tree and extract stones around the river. As a result, the fishes came back after 2 years and the river was restored to near-pristine condition.

kids feeding fishes
Pic: fishes went frenzy when children fed them with fish pellets

Tinopikon Park covers an area of 15,000 Sq. Meters, all the fishes here know that they are safe and not afraid of human. Instead, they all swam to us wanting us to feed them. To be practical, Tagal area is divided into three 1-KM-long zones, namely, Green Zone (fishing is allowed for own consumption), Orange Zone (fishing is permitted at an interval set by Tagal committee) and Red Zone (as generator of fish stock, fishing is totally prohibited).

playing with the fishes
Tagal is such a successful conservation and rehabilitation project that Sabah Fisheries Department also implements 511 Tagal zones in nearly 200 rivers in 17 districts of Sabah since 2000! This is a perfect example of how local people can manage and protect the natural environment. Sadly, Tagal never takes off in Peninsular Malaysia.

big fishes swim around my feet
The fishes are so tame that you can touch and even catch them by hand. When seeing swarm of fishes coming to them like piranha, some visitors were scared at first. Then they found that those fishes are toothless Pelian (official name of Kelah fish in Sabah, a type of Mahseer. Species: Tor duoronensis). The fishes suck our skin with soft mouth, so it is like kissing us. Soon everyone walked into the water to enjoy the “fish massage”. Pelian fish only lives in clean river and it tastes really good, so it is also known as the Gem of the River.

Below is a video showing us having fun with the fishes:


After we were busy feeding the fishes, the villagers also prepared a lunch buffet to feed us. Everything we experienced in Notoruss Village is 100% “kampung” (village) style. The people are from local community and not actor. They are very friendly villagers and soon we mix well together.

villagers cooking food
The villagers cooked some delicious food consisted of rice, fresh meat and vegetables. They used firewood so the food has nice aroma, the smell and taste that reminds me of the food cooked by my grandparents in old days.

villager serving traditional food
Pic: traditional food served in coconut shell.

village food buffet
Pic: lunch buffet near to Moyog River

traditional food in coconut shell
Pic: my food in coconut bowl. Note the rice is hill paddy, more healthy.

enjoying lunch at riverside
Pic: enjoying fresh food, fresh air and fresh water next to river.


With so much energy to spend after lunch, we tried some traditional games such as blowpipe and lastik (slingshot).

Pic: blowpipe was used to be the hunting tool and weapon of headhunters

jungle trekking
We also walked 20 minutes on a nature trail to a waterfall nearby. The village is surrounded by lush forest so itself is a park. When I was a boy, I was used to explore the wood with my cousins like “wild kids”. The big nature was our playground, in contrast to young people today, who spend most time exploring virtual world with fingers.

waterfall pond
Finally we reached Tombokou Waterfall. Frankly the scale is not impressive, but the waterfall pond looks so inviting. During hot day, it’ll be really refreshing to soak myself in this pond and enjoy a couple of beers with friends. The villagers told me that there was a big waterfall named Wasai Waterfall about 15 minutes away from this pond. They will open the trail soon.

Experience Kampung Life

visiting village houses
We also toured around the village and visited some houses. It is a very peaceful place and our presence is welcome. All houses here are build on high stilts to avoid flood and prevent unwanted animals to enter. Most villagers are farmers and many work at office in town too. Every house has a piece of land and I don’t see any fence, a typical Sabah village but foreigners would be surprised.

animal trap
Pic: The rats in village are so big that they need a giant mouse trap. Just kidding, it’s a trap for squirrel. To you, squirrel is cute. To farmer, squirrel is a pest which can drill a big hole in Durian.

rubber tapping
Pic: rubber tapping demo by villager. The white latex from rubber tree was the “platinum blood” of Malaysia in the past.

pineapple and sugarcane
Pic: pineapple and sugercane from the village. The villagers let us had a taste of their fruits, when we moved from house to house lol.

plucking pickle fruit

pickle fruit
I drool whenever I see the photo of this green pickle fruit. It is super sour with a slight taste of fresh grass, best if taken with a bit of salt or belacan (shrimp paste). I strongly recommend you to take one if you feel sleepy in a meeting, sure will wake up all your senses, haha.

playing gong
Want music? Just hit the gong. From the expression of the locals, we know we need more practice.

dancing Sumazau
Dancing Sumazau would be easier. Sumazau is a Kadazandusun dance that imitates the movement of bird in flight. Master it and you can call yourself a half-Sabahan.

Relax & Swim

Moyog River is one of the most beautiful rivers in Sabah, so I spent some time checking it out. Despite the hot day, the tree shade and cool breeze at the riverside make this a nice spot to relax.

shelter next to river

stream of Moyog River

rocky river bank of Moyog
The big rocks on river bank indicates that this is an upstream river. Note the water is a bit greenish due to the natural minerals, a sign of clean river.

swimmers at Moyog River
The river further upstream at Tinopikon Park is shallow (up to chest level) and suitable for swimming. It is like a huge swimming pool with running water, but without Chlorine.

small waterfall of Moyog River
There is a section with cascading mini waterfalls, where you can sit and enjoy the natural Jacuzzi.

people at river side
Thank you Janice and Hock Song for inviting me to this wonderful trip.

AJ Best Travel is the authorised operator who offers this 3.5-hour experience (9:30am-1pm) to be a kampung folk at Tinopikon Park. The tour will be available in April 2014 and you may contact AJ Best Travel for detail (see contact below):
Address (office): Lot 7, 2nd Floor, Block SH9, (MDP SH9-7-2), Taman Suria Shop Apartment Phase 1B, Jalan Penampang 88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Email: ajbestsb2013@gmail.com
Tel / Fax: +60 88-702878
Mobile Phone: +60 17-8623833
Facebook: ajbesttravelsb (many nice photos)

The fee is RM160 (≈USD48) for adult, RM140 (≈USD42) for child and free for 4 years and below. The program includes entrance fee, Fish SPA, Kampung games, visit kampung house, trekking to waterfall, kampung meal with sumazau dance performance.

More Photos

You may check out my photo album if you want to see more pictures:
photo album of Tagal Taman Tinopikon

Photos taken in Penampang, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

Mee Sup Pipin: in Love with Sabah Noodle Soup

Mee Sup Pinpin noodle soup

In Sabah, if you cook really good food, no matter how far you “hide” your restaurant, food lovers will find you. Though soup noodle is very common in Kota Kinabalu city (KK), the only place that can make me drive over 10 KM for its soup noodle is Mee Sup Pipin.

entrance to Mee Sup Pipin
Pic: Mee Sup Pipin 1

“Mee Sup” means Noodle Soup. Pipin is the name of the restaurant.

customers of Mee Sup Pipin
You would be surprised to see such a plain setup for this famous eat out spot. No fancy decor, just some tables and chairs under the zinc roof, a very village style environment. The place is clean and quiet, and their customers also look very laid-back and enjoy their food slowly, unlike the noisy and busy restaurants in the city.

food menu of Mee Sup Pipin
Pic: the food menu and pricing (Note: USD1≈RM3). The Noodle Soup is RM5 (≈USD1.70) for regular size, RM6 (≈USD2) for extra serving.
*Price as of Nov 2012

Besides Noodle Soup, you can order other side dishes such as Tauhu (Stuffed Tofu), Sup Tulang (Bone Soup), Cucap (Mixed Pork & Ear) and Kaki Ayam (Chicken Feet). I wish to order ALL!

the cook of Mee Sup Pipin
Pic: the friendly cook busy preparing food

Ok, enough with the introduction, let’s EAT!

Pork Noodle (Cucap)

Mee Sup Pipin makes many great dishes, the first item that I strongly recommend is their Pork Noodle (or Cucap Mee Hoon, 猪杂米粉 in Chinese).

pork noodle soup / cucap mee fong
Pork Noodle (Cucap) consists of rice noodle (also known as Mee Hoon) served with sliced pork meat, heart and (clean) intestines in hot pork soup.

pork noodle soup of Mee Sup Pipin
The soup is clear, without thick layer of floating oil, and the meat is fresh too. My stomach told me that the serving was not oily.

close-up of pork noodle / cucap mee hoon
Pic: close-up of Cucap Pork Noodle

You can see that the ingredients are simple. However, the meat and noodles are cooked with good timing to bring out their best taste. In other places, I often got noodle soup with overcooked or undercooked noodle.

pork for noodle soup
Pic: fresh pork meat for making cucap

Ngiu Chap Noodle (Mixed Beef)

Another item that also appears in words of mouth about Mee Sup Pipin is Ngiu Chap (or Ngau Chap, 牛杂/牛什 in Chinese). Ngiu Chap is different parts of cow cooked in beef soup. Tendon, tripe and tongue have little taste by nature, but they become a delicacy with interesting textures, after they absorb the delicious beef soup.

ngiu chap / ngau chap
Pic: I always order Ngiu Chap Mee Hoon (Mixed Beef with Rice Noodle Soup).
Note the green Calamansi fruit at the edge of the bowl. When I’m half-done, I will squeeze a bit of sour Calamansi juice, to give the Ngiu Chap Noodle Soup a new taste.

close-up of ngiu chap / beef noodle soup

mixed beef noodle / ngiu chap mee fong
Their Ngiu Chap is pleasing to eyes as well as tongue. Every item tastes different but complement well to one another. The meat is well-marinated, so it looks dark, tender but slightly salty though.

fried pork oil (猪油渣)
Pic: you may add aromatic fried pork fat chips into Ngiu Chap for thicker taste. I always do.

Stuffed Tofu

The best selling side order which goes well with your noodle soup is Tauhu (Stuffed Tofu, 酿豆腐 in Chinese).

making tofu (bean curd)

stuffed tofu (酿豆腐)
I’m not kidding you. They make hundreds of Tofu every day to feed the hungry customers.

pork tofu

close-up of stuffed tofu
You can tell from the photos above that it’s extremely smooth and soft.

Direction to Mee Sup Pipin

Mee Sup Pipin is in Kampung Inobong (Inobong Village) of Donggogon, about 10 KM away from KK. Below is the location map:

View My Sabah Map in a larger map

road to Mee Sup Pipin
Pic: If you head to Tambunan on Penampang-Tambunan road, you see will this junction at your right, about 4 or 5 KM after Donggogon town. (Update (Mar 2014): the signage is no longer there)

junction to Mee Sup Pipin
Pic: Turn right to the junction, you will enter a narrow village road. Just take second left turn.

Mee Sup Pipin restaurant

There are two Mee Sup Pipin next to each other. The first Mee Sup Pipin that you will see is open by the family of the owner. They only open from Monday to Friday, 7am to 3pm. Both restaurants are selling the similar dishes. Some says the taste is different but I haven’t tried theirs yet.

Mee Sup Pipin 1
The one that I talk about is Mee Sup Pipin 1. They open every day, from 7am to 3pm (may open before 6am during weekend). Their phone no. is +60 16 8302088 (Contact Person: Christina @ Onong).

kitchen of Mee Sup Pipin
Goodness… I want to go to Mee Sup Pipin again after I write this. :-P~ *mouth watering*

Photos taken in Donggogon, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo