Tag Archives: Photography

Batu Luang, the Rock that ate the Bride

Batu Luang at Tempurong Beach

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.

Nice sunset at Batu Luang

Nice sunset at Batu Luang (high tide)

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.

Walking to Batu Luang

Walking to Batu Luang. The hills at both sides look like a giant gate, or the parents of little Batu Luang

beach and hill covered by stones and pebbles

The beach and hills are covered by cobbles and pebbles

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.

The pebble beach of Batu Luang

The pebble beach and cave around Batu Luang

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).

Small caves at the base of hill

Small caves at the base of hill, created by coastal erosion

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.

twilight hour at Batu Luang

Splendid twilight hour at Batu Luang

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.

Batu Luang rock in the morning

Batu Luang rock in the morning

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.

Beautiful ladies at beautiful beach

Ladies at Batu Luang Beach (better stay away from the cave LOL)

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.

View of Batu Luang rock from inside a cave

View of Batu Luang rock from inside a cave

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.

Beach covered by pebbles

The small shrub on Batu Luang reminds me of Batu Burung (Bird Rock)

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.

Interesting rock formation and rocks covered by green algae

Interesting rock formation and rocks covered by green algae

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.

Tempurong Beach during sunset

Shingle beach of Batu Luang

Most of the rocks at Batu Luang Beach are cobble with round edges, after being moved and tumbled by sea waves over time.

Batu Luang and surrounding pebbles covered by green algae

Batu Luang and surrounding pebbles covered by green algae

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.

Cool rocks near Batu Luang

Cool conglomerate near Batu Luang

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.

rockface and caves of Batu Luang

The rockface and caves of Batu Luang are unique

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.

Batu Luang during high tide hour

Batu Luang during high tide (with conglomerate rocks in foreground)

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.

Mimic the expression of the stone

Mimic the expression of the rock |-O

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.

Batu Luang during sunrise

Batu Luang during sunrise

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.

Sunset shot at Tempurong Beach

Sunset shot at Batu Luang Beach

If weather permits, you can have wonderful picture and welfie moment during sunset.

Beach around Batu Luang

Beach around Batu Luang

Part of the beach is rocky, so you better wear shoes.

Villagers fishing at Tempurong Beach

Villagers fishing at Tempurong Beach

There are a few villagers living near to the beach. You might find them catching fishes in the morning.

Children stroll on the beach

Children stroll on the beach

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.

Family fun at Tempurong Beach and Batu Luang

Family fun at Tempurong Beach and Batu Luang

Beautiful rockface and cave

Beautiful rockface and cave

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.

There are many small caves around Batu Luang

There are many small caves around Batu Luang

Big cave near Tempurong Beach

The biggest cave at Batu Luang Beach

Exploring the big cave

Exploring the big cave

How to get there

Batu Luang is about 120 Km away from Kota Kinabalu City (KK) and 14 Km away from Kuala Penyu town. Its GPS location is 5.524541, 115.523986 (see Location Map or 3D Street View).

Turtle roundabout before Kuala Penyu town

Turtle roundabout before Kuala Penyu town

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.

Junction to Batu Luang

Junction to Batu Luang

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).

Location of Batu Luang

You can see Batu Luang from the road

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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Traditional Food that makes Sabahans drool

traditional food of Sabah

As necessary as the air we breathe and just as instinctive as going to sleep. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say it’s been around since the dawn of man, but looking at the food we consume in day to day, one does start to wonder – how did our forefathers live without that finger lickin’ good stuff. Every now and then, we should really lay off the grease and try something more natural. In this article, we give our taste buds an adventure and explore our traditional food.

Bambangan

Bambangan is a seasonal wild mango fruit which the local indigenous people enjoy. The bambangan is a spherically-shaped, orangey fruit covered with brown skin. When ripe, it can be peeled and eaten similarly to how you would a mango fruit.

Bambangan fruit
Pic: Bambangan fruit

What makes it special is the variety of ways it can be consumed. Commonly, the bambangan is pickled or cooked with fish. The unripe bambangans are usually made into “Pinasakkan” (steamed) with fish and the ripe ones are fried with salted fish. The bambangan seed is usually grated, mixed into the flesh, and eaten.

Bambangan pickle
According to the locals, there is a significant change of taste when eating the bambangan with grated seeds. The bambangan is a seasonal fruit, thus you won’t be able to get it all year round. When it is in season however, they can be found in the local wet markets.

Bambangan fruit cordial
Pic: Bambangan fruit cordial is available for sale. Now you can enjoy Bambangan juice.

Tuhau

The tuhau is not a dish per se, but think of it as an ingredient. It is a type of ginger which is shaped like a small stick-like figure. First time eaters might find the tuhau’s odor very repelling, but many who have endured the smell find that they become very fond of the taste, in a very weird way the smell soon behaves as the precursor to the deliciousness of the tuhau.

Tuhau

stems of Tuhau for sale
The tuhau stem is used in many dishes, mainly fish. Tuhau is usually minced into smaller bits, it can then be fried with salted fish or mixed into the “Pinasakkan” fish. The tuhau can be bought at almost all local wet markets and are available all year round unlike the bambangan.

Tuhau pickle

Hinava

Think of Hinava as the Kadazan / Dusun version of sashimi. The Hinava is mainly made of minced fish marinated with lime long enough to “cook” the fish. The citric acid kills the bacteria in the fish, and “cooking” it at the same time. Pretty smart for a traditional dish don’t you think?

Hinava, Kadazan food
The hinava is usually mixed with other ingredients such as onions, grated bambangan seeds, or ginger among other things. Hinava is usually available during festive celebrations.

Hinava
Unfortunately, because of its short shelf life and stock of ingredients, the hinava isn’t sold. If you’re lucky to visit Sabah on Kaamatan or participate in a Kadazandusun celebration you might be able to get your hands on some hinava. But do not fret! We at breeze have another way for you to to get your hands on the hinava during non-festive seasons.

Hinava fish salad
You can contact the people at Tagal Tinopikon Park and request for some hinava to be prepared for you. Placing your order a week early would be preferable as they will need time to gather the ingredients.

This write-up is contributed by Andro Matthew Anthony Sandor (Thank You Bro!). You may visit his Youtube channel “Bah palan palan” for more content:
Andro A. Sandor

Tuhau and Bambangan pickles for sale
Pic: Tuhau and Bambangan pickles are available for sale at countryside stalls along the roads to Ranau, Kundasang, Tambunan and Keningau.

Tuhau and Bambangan pickles for sale
Pic: Tuhau (red) and Bambangan (yellow) pickles. Please note Bambangan is seasonal.

Traditional Food Drawing

The following are more beautiful illustrations of traditional food in Sabah drawn by Tan Sheauling (陈俏绫), a talented Sabah artist and an old friend of mine. Please click the drawing for bigger picture and more detail.

Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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