Board in Sabah

Words by Hong Di-Anne
Photos by Hong Di-Anne

“Di-Anne, have you figured out your soft story yet?”

“Oh, I guess it’s going to be about cats or board games.”

“Really going out of your comfort zone, eh?” Continue reading “Board in Sabah”


God, the Mountain, Sunsets, Stars and other Signs

Words by Chrishandra Sebastiampillai
Photos by Hamza Delbar, Jasbir Singh, Chrishandra Sebastiampillai and Tan Meng Yoe

One of the first things you will notice about Sabah is the many signboards that announced the names of churches along the road. The further you go out from Kota Kinabalu, the more churches there are. For a lifelong Catholic used to seeing fewer churches in Semenanjung, the experience was all the more gratifying. Sabah is the site of a thriving Christian community that is unique. As a child, I was privileged to briefly be part of this community in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, KK. In this article, I will explore my memories of church experiences in Sabah over the years and some of my encounters with Catholic Sabahans in Petaling Jaya. Continue reading “God, the Mountain, Sunsets, Stars and other Signs”

The ISO Series: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Words by Franklin Tan
Photos by Franklin Tan

In this article, I have interviewed individuals that have all been on previous trips in the ISO series, asking a various number of questions that had pertained to their experiences and things they have noticed or learned.

I have interviewed three current students in the School of Arts and Social Sciences; Norman and Hannah who had both been on last year’s ISO series study trip which was ISO Laos (2016), and Janice who had been on two of the previous ISO series trips – ISO Yangon (2015) and ISO Laos. And I also heard from Chrishandra, who is the chaperone of this year’s ISO series study trip and she has been on three ISO series trips; one as a student during ISO Iloilo (2013), one as an alumnus in ISO Yangon and one as a chaperone for this year’s ISO Sabah (2017). The last person I have interviewed is Jasbir, the risk manager of Monash University Malaysia who has accompanied the travellers on three of the ISO series trips which were ISO Yangon, ISO Laos, and ISO Sabah. Continue reading “The ISO Series: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”

Coffee, Tea Or Mee?

Words by Aw Yuong Tuck
Photos by Hamza Delbar

Sabah is also called the “Land Below the Wind”. It is the second biggest state in Malaysia after Sarawak. There are many traditional Chinese coffee shops in Sabah that incorporated Muslim eateries, serving halal food.

Having said that, the segregation between races are much less evident here in comparison to the Peninsular Malaysia. To understand this phenomenon, the ISO Sabah crew interviewed the owner of Yuit Cheong Coffee Shop to learn more about the racial harmony that can be found in local coffee shops. Continue reading “Coffee, Tea Or Mee?”

A Local Perspective on the Impact of Chinese Tourists in Kota Kinabalu

Words by Norman Harsono
Photos by Hamza Delbar and Hannah Reshma

Kota Kinabalu has witnessed a massive influx of mainland Chinese tourists over the past decade which correlates to China’s strengthening economy. Walking down the Heritage Walk, these tourists are generally distinguishable, other than by speaking mandarin, by a tendency to travel in tour groups and having a penchant for chic and urban fashion with brightly coloured accents. The city has adapted by providing mandarin translations for several street signs in tourist hotspots, many hotels and restaurants provide Chinese translations of their signs and brochures, and even GrabCar has adapted by introducing a special option of ‘GrabCar (Mandarin)’. But as with all forms of development, there is debate as to the impact these tourists have had in Kota Kinabalu.

Continue reading “A Local Perspective on the Impact of Chinese Tourists in Kota Kinabalu”

Daily Diary: Day Five

Words by Nanna Dybdal
Photos by Yeo Li-Sha and Hamza Delbar

After yet another late night yesterday (for productive and responsible reasons), many took advantage of not having a packed program and decided to sleep in shortly longer than had been possible so far. With no sessions planned for the day, we were free to write soft stories, catch up on missing work and enjoy our last full day in Kota Kinabalu. We went collectively to Gaya Street, from where we went on to have our lunch. Someone tried Durian (in the form of jam) for the fist time, and it was described as tasting like strong cheese, 2 years over expiring date, covered in mold (if you haven’t guessed yet – that someone was me) and in hindsight – reflecting on the taste, I would like to add a mixture of rotten egg to the description in order to fully cover the flavor. However, describing my personal culinary experience is a sidetrack, and I should get back to reporting our fifth day in Sabah. After lunch, most went to the waterfront, to enjoy the view and snap a few photos. Continue reading “Daily Diary: Day Five”

Truth Be Told

Words by Yeo Li-Sha
Photos by Yeo Li-Sha

  • The word ‘Tapun’ by the Dusun people (Interviewed Gordon from PACOS)

Tapun’ is a sacred word used by the Dusun people to decline food politely when offered in order to avoid any bodily injuries by the evil spirits. They believe that if you or reject a meal without saying ‘Tapun’ you will face physical harm, such as falling down the road.

So the way of using ‘Tapun’ is that when you are offered food and you are not hungry, kindly decline the offer by gently touching the tip of the food or the tip of the plate and say ‘Tapun’.


Continue reading “Truth Be Told”

Takkan Lari Gunung Dikejar, Hilang Kabut Nampaklah Dia

Words by Chrishandra Sebastiampillai
Photos by Hamza Delbar and Chrishandra Sebastiampillai

*Malay proverb: A mountain that is chased won’t run, when the fog clears it will be seen. Don’t rush to chase a certainty.

It all started in Kampung Kiau in 1851 when two local Kadazan-Dusun men, Gunting Lagadan of Bundu Tuhan and Lemaing of Kg. Kiau, led Sir Hugh Low on a nine-day trek up Gunung Kinabalu. Years later, the summit of the mountain would be named for the colonial administrator and an industry of climbers would follow; providing a livelihood for generations of Kadazan-Dusun men and women, working as mountain guides and porters. The sight of tiny women skipping agilely along the trail, in rain or shine, with gas tanks strapped to their backs and wearing cheap rubber slippers are a common and mind-boggling sight to the struggling climber. As a child, I lived briefly and happily in Sabah for a time while my father was posted to a government department in Kota Kinabalu. And even in the short time I was in Kundasang, I experienced a minor earthquake while staying in Kinabalu Park.

Continue reading “Takkan Lari Gunung Dikejar, Hilang Kabut Nampaklah Dia”

Dusun Women’s Traditional Costumes: Then And Now

Words by Yeong Hui Min
Photos by Yeong Hui Min

**Please note that terms used are in the Dusun language. Some items are named differently in other native languages.

Girls costumes groupA group of Dusun girls in traditional costumes of different tribes posing in a group photo

Continue reading “Dusun Women’s Traditional Costumes: Then And Now”