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Malubang, a beautiful fishing village in Pitas

stargazing in Pitas

When I was on a quest to explore the legend of Supirak, I found myself another wonderful seaside vacation at Malubang Village (Local Name: Kampung Malubang), a remote fishing village in Pitas near the tip of northern Sabah. Spend a few days there and you will experience a simple village life without electricity, Wifi, water heater, air-conditioner, asphalt road, etc.

Malubang Village (Kampung Malubang) in Pitas, north of Sabah

Malubang Village (Kampung Malubang) in Pitas, north of Sabah

Kampung Malubang (Malubang Village)

Malubang Village is located at a beach in Marudu Bay. Most villagers are Sulu people who mainly work as a fisherman. Every morning you can see their fishing boats depart for fishing trip.

Every house owns a boat in Malubang Village

Every house owns a boat in Malubang Village

Malubang is facing Kudat town and Tip of Borneo is clearly visible at the horizon. In fact, Kudat is less than an hour away by boat, and Banggi Island takes about 20 minutes.

A fisherman repairing his fishing net

A fisherman fixing his fishing net

a well in Malubang

Some houses are still using well for water supply

Though tourists seldom come here, the friendly villagers are ok with outsiders taking a stroll in the village. They are shy but smile a lot. It’s a small fishing village with about 30 houses. Foreigners would find the fence-less stilt houses there interesting.

A house with colorful hanging clothes in Malubang

A house with colorful hanging clothes

During my visit, there was an open house wedding reception (of Mizrul and Mastura) in the village. They were kind to invite me to have lunch with them and watched them dancing and celebrating.

Married couple Mizrul and Mastura

Married couple Mizrul and Mastura

Group photo with the shy and friendly village girls

Group photo with the cute village girls who dressed up for wedding function

This village is a close community, in contrast to city. I confess I don’t know most of my neighbours and never visit their home too. May be it’s not only me.. Nowadays kids in same neighbourhood don’t mix around. In old days, I went cycling, fishing and climbing tree with my young neighbours, so Malubang brings back memory.

I enjoyed every moment in Malubang. The only thing I don’t like is that a lot of rubbishes washed up to the shore there.

Supirak Legend

Supirak Island and its surrounding legendary rocks are the main attractions of Malubang (as well as Pitas district). Legend says Supirak Island was a ship turned into a rock due to a curse by mother to her ungrateful son.

Cruising around Marudu Bay

Cruising around Marudu Bay

At Malubang, you can charter a small boat easily (for less than MYR80) to visit these island and rocks around the bay, as every villager owns a boat (life vest may not be provided).

Rocks and wells of Supirak legend

Rocks and wells of Supirak legend

Besides Supirak Island, there are many other places of interest in Pitas, to name a few, traditional fishing platform named Bagang, long-nosed monkey in mangrove forest of Bengkoka River, and Esplanade Bengkoka. Due to limited tourism facilities and lack of promotion, Pitas isn’t a popular destination.

Accommodation

Malubang Homestay is the only accommodation in Malubang Village. At the edge of Malubang, the lodge is a longhouse style accommodation with 6 Rooms. The rate is MYR40 to MYR50 (about USD$10 to 12.50) per room per night. It could be fully booked during peak season such as school holiday.

Malubang Village, the Malubang Homestay is under the yellow pointer

Malubang Homestay is the blue building under the yellow pointer

Rooms of Malubang Homestay

Rooms of Malubang Homestay

Each room is big enough to fit a group of 3 to 4 people, and it comes with attached bathroom cum toilet, beds, and fan. You can cook in common kitchen area, but you need to bring your own cooking utensils.

food served in Malubang Homestay

What we ate in Malubang Homestay

Please note there is no restaurant in the village. You can request the lodge to prepare the meals for you (Fee per head: Breakfast MYR4.00, Lunch MYR10.00, High Tea MYR2.00 and Dinner MYR10.00).

Enjoy meals with sea view

Enjoy meals with sea view

Everything in this lodge is basic. Power supply is only available from 6pm to 6am (by power generator), which provide lighting and sufficient electricity to charge your phone and camera.

The view in front of Malubang Homestay

The view in front of Malubang Homestay

But hey, the nice sea view makes up for it, and beach is less than 20 Meters away. Some beach resorts want guests to pay thousands for such view. The little rocky island at the left is Bum-Bum with a half-completed jetty (lack of fund to finish).

Malubang Homestay and its beach

Malubang Homestay and its beach

There was no mosquito net in the room. To prevent mosquitoes eating me, I had to position the standing fan to point to my bed to blow those buggers away.

Malubang Homestay in Pitas

Malubang Homestay in Pitas

For booking, you can contact Mr. Moktar at cellphone: +60 19-8212597 (Whatsapp available). Moktar is Orang Sungai married with 5 kids. He starts the lodge in 2008. The GPS location of Malubang Homestay is 6.956184, 117.060140 (see Location Map). Moktar also can arrange the tour and boat transfer to visit the attractions nearby.

Crab feast, a treat by Moktar!

Seafood feast, a treat by Moktar!

Most guests are families from Pitas and Kota Marudu. Moktar will be happy to receive some international tourists. He understands that his lodge could be better, so he plans to improve his accommodation.

Fat crab with juicy meat

Fat crab with juicy meat

When we were ready to check-out, Moktar was missing in action for nearly an hour. Then he suddenly showed up and brought a covered plate, with mysterious smile on his face. He cooked us a big plate of yummy and steaming fresh crabs. Thank you Moktar! You are such a nice guy.

Sunset

Malubang Homestay is facing west, so you can enjoy watching giant yolk sinks into sea every day. I need not to say more.

Beautiful sunset at Malubang

Beautiful sunset at Malubang

Magic hour of Pitas

Magic hour of Pitas

After dusk, the brightest thing at night here is the city light of Kudat at the horizon. Power line hasn’t reached this village yet.

Fishing

You might think that this peaceful fishing village becomes even quieter after nightfall. Wrong. Many villagers, both young and old, are busy fishing at the jetties at night. FYI, Malubang Village is famous for fishing giant squid (Sotong Gergasi), which can weigh up to 6 Kilograms and abundant from Oct to Feb every year. Now I understand why every visitors brought a fishing rod.

Local anglers got busy after sunset

Local anglers got busy after sunset

Malubang is so lucky to have 3 jetties that extend a few hundreds Meters to the sea, so the people can fish anytime, even during low tide. I didn’t bring a fishing rod, so I was just busybody and check out what they caught. There were mainly stingray and fishes, some are over 2 Kg, quite big.

anglers and the caught

Many locals come to Malubang for fishing holiday during weekends

FYI, my Maxis mobile phone got one bar of signal at the end of the jetty, enough for me to check Whatsapps and emails.

Milky Way

It’s quite windy in the evening. I felt so relax laying on the platform of jetty and enjoyed the sea breeze. The sky was full of stars and shooting stars appeared almost every few minutes, some are quite big and last 4 or 5 seconds.

stargazing in Pitas

Pitas is a good place for stargazing

That’s crazy that by 7:30pm I already could see Milky Way spanned across the sky like a silver belt. I didn’t know Pitas is an excellent place for stargazing.

Kampung Pansuran

I also walked around Kampung Pansuran (Pansuran Village), a smaller fishing village about a stone’s throw from Malubang Village. Most residents there are Bajau Sama people.

View from Kampung Pansuran Village

View from Kampung Pansuran Village

Visit the water village of Kampung Pansuran

Visit the water village of Kampung Pansuran

The villagers there are also equally nice and friendly. They were busy with fish caught and dried some of them under the sun to make dried seafood.

A young fisherman in Kampung Pansuran Village

A young fisherman in Kampung Pansuran Village

Dried fishes on boardwalk of Kampung Pansuran Village

Dried fishes on boardwalk of Kampung Pansuran Village

They still use traditional fishing methods such as fishing net and fishing line. Pitas is famous for its dried seafood.

Dried stingrays and fishes

Dried stingrays and fishes

Talking about village life, you might visualize I become a shirtless muscle guy playing soccer and laugh with the local kids, a cliche scene common in many movies. No, I didn’t do that, LOL.

Mondou Hill (Bukit Mondou)

To make sure I didn’t miss out any attraction near Malubang Village, Moktar took me to Bukit Mondou, a small hill only a few minutes drive from the village.

Mondou Hill (Bukit Mondou) in Pitas

Mondou Hill (Bukit Mondou) in Pitas

Though Bukit Mondou is the highest point in Malubang, it is less than 80 Meters high, and it took us less than 30 minutes to reach the top. The trail is mostly flat and not challenging at all.

Climbing Mondou Hill (Bukit Mondou) in Pitas

Climbing Mondou Hill (Bukit Mondou) in Pitas

However, the trail is not tourist-friendly and covered by long grasses. Please don’t go there alone.

view of Berungus from the top of Mondou Hill (Bukit Mondou)

You can see Berungus from the top of Mondou Hill (Bukit Mondou)

The view on top of Bukit Mondou is nice, as you can see Supirak Island and have a panoramic view of Malubang and Marudu Bay.

How to get there

From Kota Kinabalu City (KK), you need to drive about 5 hours to reach Malubang Village. The first 3 hours drive from KK to Pitas town is on 140 KM of paved road in good condition. The last 60 KM further north from Pitas to Malubang Village will be a bumpy 2-hour ride on gravel road.

road trip from Pitas to Malubang Village

The distance from Pitas town to Malubang Village is about 60 KM

Therefore, you need 4-Wheel Drive to enter this remote place. Though small sedan such as Kancil also can make it, it’ll be a pain to move around the potholes, mud ponds and uneven surface. The GPS Coordinates of Kampung Malubang is 6.956184, 117.060140 (see Location Map).

Gravel road from Pitas town to Malubang Village

Gravel road from Pitas town to Malubang Village

It’s advisable you stop by Pitas town to have lunch and fill up the gas tank. For first timer, avoid to drive there at night because there is no street light along the way. Please also note that Uber and GrabCar aren’t available in Pitas district. Internet and mobile phone coverage are limited in most part of the journey.

Moktar pointing at Kudat town

Moktar pointing at Kudat town

Shopping for dried seafood (e.g. dried shrimps, salty fishes) in Pitas

Shopping for dried seafood (e.g. dried shrimps, salty fishes) in Pitas

Btw, one the way home, you may buy some dried seafood from the roadside stalls around Pitas, for great bargain.

Photos taken in Pitas, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Stargazing in Sabah

stargazing couple under the starry sky

“Hey, do you know where to see meteor? I want to make wishes.” At first I was dumbfounded at her question, then I realized that there is no more starry sky in our city. “Lasau Podi,” I replied, “the sky over there is full of stars and it got so many meteors that you can make wishes all night long. Probably next day you would become the prettiest, richest and healthiest person in the world, if these are what you will wish.”

stargazing couple under the starry sky

This photo generates a lot of interest in stargazing.

Sky filled with twinkling stars was used to be a everyday thing at my home decades ago. Sadly, due to increasing light and air pollution, one-third of world population can’t see the Milky Way. The night of modern cities such as Singapore and South Korea is vibrant with colorful neon lights, but they have no more scattered diamond dust in the sky. Now children would sing “Twinkle, twinkle, little star… I wonder where you are..”

camping tent under the Milky Way

The Milky Way contains between 100 and 400 billion stars

Stargazing at Lasau Podi

Lasau Podi is discovered by Sabah Stargazers as an excellent location for stargazing. It’s a countryside about 20 KM away from Kota Belud town, and the approximate location where I shot the stars is 6.359675, 116.559431 (see Location Map). 95% of the road from Kota Kinabalu City (KK) to Lasau Podi is paved so it’s very accessible.

Mt. Kinabalu under the stars

Mt. Kinabalu under the stars

Last month I was drooling when my friend showed me the stunning photos of Milky Way that he took in Lasau Podi, so a BIG Yes to him when he asked if I wanted to join him in second trip. We departed at 8pm from KK. After we passed by Kota Belud town and headed to Lasau Podi, we entered the countryside without street light along the road. Our car bumped into herds of cows sleeping on the road. Drive carefully if you go there.

Herd of cows blocking the road

Herd of cows blocking our road

We reached the destination around 11pm, I was mesmerized by the breathtaking view of starry sky, with silhouette of Mount Kinabalu as the backdrop. The number of stars that you can see on a clear night in a total darkness is about 2,000, and I think I saw them all there.

starry sky behind 4 wheel drive

When we got out of our car and saw the starry sky, we went gaga.

After we setup the camping tent, we shot until 4am in the morning. I slept under a blanket of thousands of stars, lovely, but I was also attacked by thousand of mosquitoes.

Thousand-Star Camping

5-Star Hotel and Thousand-Star Camp, which one you prefer?

Did you know when we look up to the winking stars, we are looking at a scene of the past? Light from a distant star can travel millions of years to reach us, it may be long gone by the time we see it.

Mount Kinabalu in the morning

Mount Kinabalu in the morning

capturing the sunrise view of Mt. Kinabalu

Second photography session to capture the sunrise view of Mt. Kinabalu

When we waked up in the morning, we could see our surrounding better. We were on a high ground overlooking a plain with Mt. Kinabalu far away. It’s a scenic dawn.

Sunrise lit up part of the hill

Sunrise lit up part of the hill

Despite sleeping for only 2 hours, we took out our tripod and camera again for second round of crazy clicking. We bagged more beautiful photos, tired but happy.

The misty plain of Lasau Podi in the morning

The misty plain of Lasau Podi in the morning

Anyway, Lasau Podi isn’t a romantic location for dating. There is no toilet and comfortable accommodation. Instead, you can try Tegudon Tourism Village (TTV), which is only 30 minutes away from Lasau Podi and have toilet, camping ground and amenities for visitors.

Behind the Scene

Behind the Scene (in Lasau Podi): it’s quite a mess lol

Guys slept in open space

Guys slept in open space. It’s me at lower left. I covered my head because of mosquitoes lol

camping at Lasau Podi

Without any accommodation nearby, camping is the only option at Lasau Podi

Best Locations for Stargazing

If you search online for best stargazing sites, you will find some ranking of top star-hunting locations in Sabah. Some says Kudat is the best, and other would say No, Kundasang is better… Well you can forget these reviews. In Sabah, as long as you are in a countryside far from city light and air pollution, you will see starry sky. Your best bet is at the beaches and fields which has nothing to obstruct the star views at the horizon.

Photographer at work

Photographer at work

Below is some photos I took in other places of Sabah:

Kudat longhouse under the starry sky

Kudat longhouse under the starry sky

Beautiful night sky in Kiulu

Beautiful night sky in Kiulu

Milky way in Pitas

Milky way in Pitas

I also saw a lot of stars in Kuala Penyu, Beaufort, Keningau, etc.

What’s Milky Way?

Guess you enjoy the movie “Guardian of the Galaxy”? But what does a galaxy look like? You would notice the “star river” in my star photos. It is Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our Solar System (where we live). Below is the disk-shaped structure of Milky Way.

Side view of our galaxy (Milky Way)

Side view of our galaxy (Milky Way)

The following is the top view of Milky Way, it contains between 100 and 400 billion stars and probably at least 100 billion planets!

Illustration of our galaxy

Illustration of our galaxy. Note the location of our sun and planets.

If you are really interested in stargazing, you can join the activities of Sabah Stargazers group:
Website: sabahstargazers.wordpress.com
Facebook: SabahStargazers

camping at Lasau Podi

The number of stars that we can see with naked eyes is about 2,000

Tips for Stargazing

  1. Go in moonless night for best view, more stars are visible in total dark sky.
  2. Avoid cloudy and rainy days. Common sense.
  3. Stay far away from any light. Countryside is good place to start.
  4. Watch out for your safety in remote area. Go in group if possible.
  5. Bring torchlight and insect repellent

Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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