Tag Archives: resort

Kiulu Farmstay at the Valley in the Mist

Kiulu Farmstay

Countryside is always stereotyped as a backward place for the poor. However, as a city grows big, urban people have to deal with more traffic jam and pollution, high living cost and smaller space, and now they envy the Orang Kampung (villagers), who enjoy a richer and healthier life because of fresh air, clean water and organic food in rural area.

Kiulu, one of the most beautiful villages of Malaysia

Kiulu is one of the most beautiful villages of Malaysia

I read somewhere that says Kiulu is the second most beautiful village of Malaysia and also known as the Valley in the Mist. In fact, Kiulu is a kingdom of villages because it consists of 103 villages. When driving on the winding and hilly road in Kiulu, you will be mesmerized by the lush hills, clean river, scenic plantation and peaceful villages.

Kiulu, the Valley of Mist

Kiulu, the Valley of Mist

Therefore, I was so glad to visit Kiulu Farmstay in April to experience village lifestyle for 2 days in this magnificent place. Kiulu is only 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu City (KK) by car, very convenient for me to reconnect with nature and to appreciate what are gone in city, i.e. fresh air, clean rivers and starry sky.

Tamparuli Town

On the way to Kiulu Farmstay, my guide, Pius and I stopped briefly in Tamparuli Town for a walk at Tamparuli Bridge and local market. FYI, Tamparuli Mee, a homemade local noodle, is a must-try if you eat in this town.

(left) Tamparuli Bridge and (right) view of Mt. Kinabalu in Kiulu

(left) Tamparuli Bridge that looks like a Natgeo logo, and (right) view of Mt. Kinabalu on the way to Kiulu

I saw people feeding fishes under the bridge. There are probably thousand of them, most are fat fishes over 1 feet long! According to a local, the river is under Tagal system (no fishing), so the fishes can grow really big.

“Village is a place where you can find peace, unity, strength, inspiration and most importantly a natural and beautiful life” – Minahil Urfan

The Fig Tree Eco-Lodge

After 45 minutes of driving from Tamparuli, we arrived Kiulu Farmstay. I was excited when I saw the crystal clear river from the hanging bridge. The emerald color of the river is a sign of natural water, something healthier than chlorinated blue swimming pool.

Hanging bridge to Kiulu Farmstay

Hanging bridge to Kiulu Farmstay

River under the hanging bridge

River under the hanging bridge

Kiulu Farmstay is surrounded by greenery. The bamboo lodge blends very well into the nature. I saw no big cement structure.

Bamboo houses of Kiulu Farmstay (Fig Tree Resort)

I overnight in the building at the right. The small building at the left is common bathroom and kitchen for campers.

In contrast to warm and sunny environment of beach resort, the riverside Fig Tree Lodge is tranquil and refreshing. I always dream of owning a house next to a river, so I can go swimming and fishing anytime. Staying in Kiulu Farmstay makes me desire it even more.

Bamboo house accommodation of Kiulu Farmstay

Bamboo houses of Kiulu Farmstay (Fig Tree Ecolodge)

The Fig Tree Lodge itself is an attraction. It’s so well built and designed, you can tell that they spend a lot of efforts to details. Except the roof, most items such as furniture and wall are made of locally sourced bamboo and wood. Some big bamboo poles are 20 years old. It’s an unique traditional house with some contemporary elements.

Dining area in the bamboo house

Dining area in the bamboo house. Nazllie (left, journalist), Pius (2nd from right, tour guide), and Jumadi (middle) & Esther (right) are our host

The lodge has two rooms that can accommodate about 4 to 6 people, big enough for a family group. They plan to build 8 more rooms in future. Electricity is on 24×7, so fan, light and hot water are always available. The lodge is also complete with a kitchen, bathroom and dining area.

My bedroom and the paddy grinder outside

My bedroom and the paddy grinder outside

The bedroom is clean and neat that I had no problem sleeping deeply. The split bamboo walling and flooring make this lodge looks like a cozy home of farmer. They add layer of rice husk waste between the walls to regulate the temperature.

This fig tree is the icon of Kiulu Farmstay

This fig tree is the icon of Kiulu Farmstay

Near the lodge is a big fig tree. Locals believe fig tree is spiritual (never swear or curse under fig tree), so some traditional rituals are performed under fig tree.

Fresh organic food in Kiulu Farmstay

Fresh organic food in Kiulu Farmstay

Esther is our cook who can make very nice local dish from fresh fruits and vegetables such as banana buds, tapioca, maize, pumpkin and sayur manis (Sabah vege). Worrying that we were not used to village food, she always asked, “is it good?” She should know that we are happy by looking at our empty plates lol.

Hiking

After a fulfilling lunch, Jumadi and Pius took us to explore the jungle nearby. Actually the so-called jungle is “forested orchard”. Instead of clearing the land for plantation, they let the fruit trees grow scatterly and wildly among the wood.

Plantation in village and forest

Plantation in village and forest. Can you tell what these trees are?

That’s why at first I was puzzled when Pius pointed here and there to introduce variety of crops, herb, vegetables and fruits that he spotted along the way, when I thought we were walking in a forest. My late grandfather also used to have such orchard in Tamparuli, and I often saw fowls, pangolin and other wildlife foraging in his plantation.

Variety of edible plant and fruits

Variety of edible plant and fruits. From left to right, top to bottom: Pineapple, edible fern, cempedak, salak

Just to list some crops that we saw, mango, durian, bambangan, rambutan, cempedak, rubber, peanut, maize, tarap, fern, sayur manis (Sabah vegetable). The best month to visit is September, which is the start of fruiting season, and they say you can eat so many free fruits that are almost worth as much as the tour.

Liposu fruit

Liposu fruit

Among the dense undergrowth are some herb and spice plant too, like gingers and tuhau. We also walked around the farmland of villagers. They are really friendly and don’t mind we roam in their territory.

Edible ginger

Edible ginger or tuhau

No matter how developed a country is, agriculture is still extremely important for a nation to achieve self-sufficiency on food. A healthy environment is crucial to sustainable farming, so it shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Trekking along the river

Trekking along the river

Even first world countries such as Japan and UK send their students to expose to farmstay, to learn the relationship between agriculture and mankind.

Mantub Waterfall in the forest

Mantob Waterfall in the forest

During jungle trekking, we also crossed a few streams and went upstream to see Mantob Waterfall. Watch at the video below and see how clean the water is, as if we can drink it unboiled.

The clean river isn’t by luck. The villagers of Kiulu love their environment, so they keep the water source free from pollution and deforestation.

Unpolluted river of Kiulu Valley

Unpolluted river of Kiulu Valley

River

We sweated a lot after 2.5 hours of hiking. Kiulu has one of the cleanest rivers in Sabah, so it’s a shame not to take a soak there.

Hanging bridge and the river

Hanging bridge and the river

I camped in Kiulu more than 20 years ago. I’m happy that the river still remains clean and chilling until today. Now Kiulu even becomes the most popular destination for white water rafting.

Crystal clear river of Kiulu

Crystal clear river of Kiulu

In America, 40% of the rivers are polluted and are considered unhealthy for swimming, fishing or aquatic life. The same thing will happen to Sabah, if we don’t protect our rivers.

Enjoying the clean water

Enjoying the clean water (but too shallow to do tubing)

I wanted to try tubing, but too bad the water was too shallow that time due to prolong drought. Further downstream there is a spot where you can snorkel and see many fishes. The world populations of freshwater species have declined by 55% between 1970 and 2000. Fortunately, many rivers in Sabah have tagal (no fishing) system in place to prevent over-fishing.

buffalo skull next to the bridge

Buffalo skull next to the bridge

buffalo skull next to bridge

Buffalo skull has replaced human as sacrifice for bridge construction

To locals, river is the source of life and the origin of civilization, and it is also viewed as the guardian. In our history, people were sacrificed to appease the river god, whenever a new bridge was built. Nowadays, buffalo skull is used instead.

The Stars

Kiulu Farmstay is formed by three villages: Kampung Mantob, Kampung Pinagon Baru and Kampung Dumpiring. City people can live at a place many years without knowing who is their neighbour, but nobody is a stranger in a Sabah village.

Party with villagers at night

Party with villagers at night. Thank you Saidin, Sikong, Johari, Pius and others for the wonderful time.

In the evening the villagers shared some food and liquor (Montoku and Lihing, the local rice wine) with me. We drank and played music until late night. Some local stories, history and folktales were told, the most interesting one is a snake-like eel up to 5 feet long could be found in their river in old days.

Milky Way in Kiulu

Milky Way in Kiulu

I ended up quite tipsy going to bed, so it’s a miracle that I could wake up at 3am to take some photos of Milky Way. Though starry sky is nothing special to our villagers, light pollution prevents 1/3 of world from seeing Milky Way. 80% of North Americans and 100% of Singaporeans can’t see Milky Way in their cities.

Quad Biking

Somehow I managed to get up on time in next morning and tried quad biking the first time. Initially I thought it would be something leisure like cycling in a garden. Oh my lord, the quad bike really rocks like a mini 4-wheel drive and able to conquer any terrain.

Quad biking in Kiulu

Quad biking in Kiulu

Quad bike can go really fast and furious. The braver you are, the more fun you can get out of it, and it’s really addictive. I would say it is the highlight of this trip. The deeper part of Kiulu is the best playground for quad biking, as it has many rugged road in undulating slopes, with scenic forest, hill, gorge and village view along the way.

Quad bike is quite easy to operate. Before we hit the road, they let us practiced in a field first. We started at 8:30am and had fun riding 22 Kilometers until 11:30am.

Gorge in Kiulu

Gorge in Kiulu

Quad biking is more powerful than scooter, so it can cause severe injury if we are not careful. However, I didn’t know what happened to me. I’m not a risk taker, but my personality changed when I was riding this bike. I was so reckless and fearless in speeding on bumpy and steep road. Anyway, it’s really fun.

Quad biking in Kiulu

Quad biking in Kiulu

Quad bike is a beast and seems like having a mind of its own. You have to fight a bit hard with it to fully control the stiff steering, or it’ll take you to hell. Don’t worry. Just go slow and get used to it in the beginning.

Big Foot Point in Kiulu

Big Foot Point in Kiulu

After 11 KM, we stopped by Big Foot Point in Kipunti Village for a break. Locals say footprints of big foot were seen around here, when they constructed the new road. Kiulu is also the Valley of Mystery.

Rumour says there is big foot around here

Rumour says there is big foot around here

Kiulu has gradually become a popular place for people who want to experience village lifestyle and outdoor adventure in nature. You can book the tour online. Other activities you can do include rice processing, rubber tapping, cooking, buffalo riding, BBQ, fish spa, camping, etc.

You can contact Kiulu Farmstay for more info:
Website: kiulufarmstay.com
Facebook: KiuluFarmstay
Tel: +60 88-438300
E-mail: info@kiulufarmstay.com
GPS: 5.975465, 116.302143 (see Location Map)
See more photos of Kiulu Farmstay

Photos taken in Kiulu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

You might also like:

Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Kids playing with sand

When school holiday approaches, parents would think hard where to bring their children for some quality family time. Guess what, there were two places that I really hated my parents sent me to when I was a kid. First is tuition class. What The Fish, the children are deprived of break time they desire. It’s a child abuse!

Children running on the beach

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Let your children play.

The second place is relative’s house. Usually it ends up like the adults mingling and having a great time among themselves, but leaving me bored to death (unless my favorite cousin is around).

Tempurong Beach in the morning

Strolling on Tempurong Beach

Awesome parents will put some thoughts on making their children enjoy hanging out with them, which is important for bonding. Among some popular choices for family vacation are “Jalan-Jalan” (walk around) trip to Kundasang highland, islands off Kota Kinabalu City (KK) or staying in beach resort.

Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

There are a lot of options for a wonderful family trip in other locations. Just for sharing. If you want the trip packed with fun activities in nature, you may consider going south to Kuala Penyu.

Tempurong Golden Beach Resort in Kuala Penyu

Tempurong Golden Beach Resort in Kuala Penyu

Tempurong Golden Beach Resort is located at Tempurong Beach (or Pantai Tempurung) about 15 Kilometres away from Kuala Penyu town. It targets at family groups which want to unwind themselves with leisure stay and having some activities.

Seaside chalet of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Seaside chalet of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Besides accommodation, they offer outdoor activities package for family and company too.

Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Big coconut shell statue at Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Tempurung means Coconut Shell in Malay. About 200 years ago, the villagers found a coconut shell engraved with holy verses of the Al-Quran on the beach, so they renamed this village from Tanah Merah to Tempurung.

Watermelon near the chalet

Watermelon in front of the seaside chalet

Just look at the photos of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort I post here and you shall get a good idea what you can do there.

Double Bed Room of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Seaview Bedroom (2 queen size bed)

Family Room of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Riverside Bedroom (1 queen size, 1 double decker)

The resort has 15 basic rooms with air-conditioning and attached bathroom cum toilet. Their highlight is the nature-based activities such as fishing and island survivor program.

Beach of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Beach of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

A study conducted by two PhDs found that exposing children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to “green outdoor activities” reduces symptoms significantly.

Tempurong Beach is a few Kilometers long

Tempurong Beach is a few Kilometers long

The white sandy beach is just next to the resort. Tempurung Beach is not a touristy beach so it is not crowded, your family can have the whole beach most of the time.

Activity hall near the beach

Activity hall near the beach

The visitors can use the activity hall next to the beach for gathering and group activities.

Volley Ball field near the beach

Volley Ball field near the beach

Volley ball is one of the great past time activities.

Hammocks at the beach side

Hammocks at the beach side

Or you can choose to take a nap in hammock. The wind was quite strong at Tempurung Beach during my visit. I didn’t really feel warm.

Camp fire at Tempurong Beach

You can have camp fire at night here

Camp fire at the beach can bring back a lot of memories. This place is far away from city and free of pollution, so you can see starry sky at night. The resort can prepare BBQ or steamboat dinner for you upon request.

Tempurong Beach of Kuala Penyu

Tempurong Beach of Kuala Penyu

Your children will enjoy a stroll on the beach and run like wild horse. The resort can bring you out to the sea for snorkeling and fishing.

Seine Fishing at the shore

Seine Fishing at the shore

In the morning, you would find local fishermen catching fishes in the sea. They are very friendly and won’t mind you joining them or busybody with their caught.

Fishermen at Tempurong Beach

Fishermen at Tempurong Beach

Though Tempurung Beach is big, only a dozen houses are built along it. It’s a peaceful and underpopulated village.

We human are biological being, and our body system is linked to nature. Biophilia hypothesis says humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. That’s why we are always happy when we are in the wild.

Strolling on Tempurong Beach

Human is part of Nature, and Nature is part of Human.

However, nowadays kids are isolated from nature because both parents and teachers think outdoor is full of hostile things for kids, like UV, bacteria, bees… Many shcools have strict policy of not allowing students to get near the water in school trips.

Tempurong Beach

Tempurong Beach. The dark things on the beach are seaweeds washed to the shore

Therefore, our society has cultivated “strawberry generations” which are overprotected and overly dependent on technology. If you put a kid in the wild, they won’t know how to get around and will cry for mommy very soon. It’s just not right if human is uncomfortable with nature.

Batu Luang Beach

Batu Luang Beach

The beautiful Batu Luang Beach is only 1 KM away from the resort. It has one of the best sunset view in Sabah.

Small river at Small bridge of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Small river at Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

There is a small river next to Tempurong Golden Beach Resort. It’s connected to the sea during high tide, and you can see lot of fishes.

Small bridge of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Small bridge of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Mangrove river near the resort

Mangrove river near the resort

The river is part of a mangrove teeming with fishes, shellfish and shrimps.

Fishing and rowing boat

Fishing and rowing boat

You can do fishing and rowing boat in this river. Kids love this because they never have a chance to do this in city. At first they would be a bit worry sitting in the wobbly boat, but soon they will enjoy the experience.

Hunting for mud lobster at night

Hunting for mud lobster at night

At night you can have a little adventure at the riverside to see what comes up in the dark. Have you ever seen a Mud Lobster before?

Trying out traditional food

Trying out traditional food

Don’t let your mom cook. The resort can prepare special meals such as traditional food and steamboat for your family.

Dining area of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

Dining area of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

I have tried some of their nice food during my stay, for example, tom yam steamboat, sago (Ambuyat), seafood buffet. They also have a small shop to sell cold soda drink and beer.

Island Survivor

We are getting smarter living in city but become stupider in the wild. It’s highly probable that people can die of hunger in the wild, even if there are plenty of edible things around them. You can take part in Island Survivor program of the resort. An instructor will bring your family for a taste of adventure in a wood area near the resort.

Learning about survival

Learning about survival

Some of the skills taught in the survival program includes using knife, setting trap, making shelter and starting a fire.

Outdoor survival course

Outdoor survival course

The course caters to the comfort level of your family and company. It’s designed to be relaxing, so everyone from kid to adult will find it comfortable and enjoyable.

Setting up trap

Setting up trap to catch bird and small animals

If you want it more stimulating or challenging, of course you can discuss with your instructor beforehand, to make the experience more thrilling. Company could organize team building and competition for their staffs too.

Starting a fire

Starting a fire

Some may think outdoor survival skill is unnecessary, until one day they find themselves a victim of earthquake and flood (touch wood!), and don’t know what to do. Like it or not, natural disaster does happen unexpectedly, so there is no harm to equip ourselves with some survival knowledge and that may save our lives one day.

Survival course in forest

Building a shelter in forest

During survival challenge, it’s the best time to observe the strength and personality of your mates. A big guy with six-pack abs in your office can turn into a wuss, and a clerk may show better leadership than her boss in pressing environment. For survival, mental strength is matter more than muscle.

Education tour at Rumbia Information Center

Education tour around Kuala Penyu

At the resort, you also can arrange education or group tour to nearby destinations such as Rumbia / Sago Information Center, Pulau Tiga Island and Kilas Wetland.

Download Brochure of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort

↓ Download the Brochure

The following is the contact of Tempurong Golden Beach Resort if you need more info:
E-mail: borneonaturetour@gmail.com
Tel: +60 16-831 3163
Facebook: TempurongGoldenBeachResort
GPS: 5.531031, 115.536236 (see Location Map or Street View)

Photos taken in Kuala Penyu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

You might also like: