Epilogue: A Different Malaysia

Words by Dr Tan Meng Yoe
Photos by Hamza Delbar, Yeo Li-Sha and Tan Meng Yoe

Sabah is many things to those who are not from Sabah, including West Malaysians. Among other things, it is often romanticised as a mysterious and exotic place of mountains and beaches, or in more recent times, reviled on social media by some for its supposed political naivety for keeping the ruling coalition in government. These views are grossly simplistic, and will remain so, unless time is taken to experience the land and its people.

The study trips organised by the School of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS) at Monash University Malaysia is designed to do just that. Since 2004, the ‘In Search Of’ travel series has provided students with the opportunity to immerse themselves, even for a short time, in the everyday lives of local communities. These interactions, often far away from tourist routes, provide a fresh perspective into the lived realities of the people who inhabit any particular place.

It was no different in our visit to Sabah. The student travellers, through the formal sessions and informal exploration of the Western region of the state, were exposed to issues of land rights, undocumented immigration, river management systems, the role of native courts, corporatisation of agriculture, environmental concerns, impact of tourism, inter-religious and inter-ethnic harmony, revitalisation of indigenous tradition, and more. They experienced a different Malaysia.

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Chief Editor’s Last Words: Reflections For Recollections

Words by Janice Ng
Photos by Janice Ng, Hamza Delbar and Yeo Li-Sha

Travelling: it leaves you speechless; then turns you into a storyteller.

PhotoGrid_1500271550685The three successive ‘In Search Of’ study trips the author has participated in (from top-bottom): In Search of Yangon 2015, In Search of Vientiane and Luang Prabang 2016 and In Search of Sabah 2017

Has it already been three years, three ‘In Search Of’ (ISO) study trips?

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To Stroll, To Gather And To Bond Down Memory Lane at Gaya Street Market

Words by Janice Ng
Photos by Janice Ng and Yeo Li-Sha

As many travel aficionados would repeatedly exclaimed, no trip will be wholly complete without a visit to the local market. As for this author, markets personally resonate and reside a dear place deep within. It is as though they exude a certain wanderlust vibe that she simply adores. The general hustle and bustle, encountering the friendly locals. With any other locales, Sabah also has a distinctive marketplace of its own. A highly must-see lying in the commercial district of the city, it is the Tamu Market, also equally renowned as the Gaya Street Market.

Continue reading “To Stroll, To Gather And To Bond Down Memory Lane at Gaya Street Market”

A Night to Remember

Words by Yeo Li-Sha
Photos by Hamza Delbar

Date: 1/7/2017

Time: 7 pm – 9 pm

Venue: Chilli Vanilla

Travellers: Dr Tan Meng Yoe, Hong Di-Anne, Chrishandra Sebastiampillai, Jasbir Singh, Li-Sha, Hui Min, Tuck, Janice, Hannah, Fadzrin, Franklin, Norman, Nanna, Hamza

Special Guests: Puan Anne, Andrew, Rojieka, Gordon, Nasiri, Sintiah (PACOS Trust);

Rupert and Carol Augustin (Friends of Dr Tan); Jasmine (Monash Alumni)

Absent: Booze Continue reading “A Night to Remember”

Koonduan Kiau Nuluh Enterprise: Saving Livelihood, One Pineapple Jam Bottle a Time

Words by Hannah Reshma and Nanna Dybdal
Photos by Yeo Li-Sha and Hannah Reshma

When the earthquake struck the village of Kampung Kiau Nuluh in 2015, claiming the lives of 18, the villagers’ livelihood was also significantly impaired. Ms Aireen Gumbih, the head of production at the pineapple jam and chutney processing centre, reveals that the trauma from the quake had disenfranchised women from farming, as they were plagued with the fright that another earthquake might occur. In the aftermath of this tragedy, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and other organizational bodies came to the aid of the villagers, attempting to re-establish their livelihood.  As pineapple farming is a large part of the villagers’ livelihood in Kampung Kiau, Good Shepherd Services (GSS) suggested alternative ways of production of pineapple in order to generate high income and revenue for the ladies involved in the production, and thus, the Koonduan Kiau Nuluh Enterprise (KKNE) (Koonduan, when translated from Dusun to English, means women) was formed in order to restore the spirit and passion of the village women, empowering them through entrepreneurship.


Aireen Gumbih, explaining the workings of the jam and chutney processing centre

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Food, Festivities And Warm Hospitality At Kampung Kiau’s Kaamatan

Words by Chrishandra Sebastiampillai
Photos by Hamza Delbar and Tan Meng Yoe

Like some of the best things in life, we ended up at the Kaamatan festival of Kampung Kiau Nuluh earlier today by accident. Our guide Sintiah told us that his village would be holding their celebration of the harvest festival on the 30th of June when he first picked us up at the airport. It was particularly interesting to be able to attend a festival we had read about in our school textbooks for years, and so the entire group was excited to be there. Our first taste of the festival came the night before when we arrived at Kg. Kiau and heard the sounds of the gongs drifting down the hills as the musicians practised for the big day. Revelry for the event was already taking place, with several villagers in high spirits and drinking tapai or lihing, the traditional rice wine.

Kids at playChildren at play during the festival. Some are wearing their costumes for their performance

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Kiau: Chilly and Hilly

Words by Mohd Fadzrin
Photos by Yeong Hui Min, Yeo Li-Sha & Hamza Delbar

Sabah contains many different cities, towns, and villages; each of them with their own unique history and culture. Today, we had a small tour around the village of Kiau, located near Mount Kinabalu. One of our tour guides for today have made time for us to see for ourselves the realities of this small community, in the cold weather of Sabah’s highlands.

Kiau village is located 1,600 feet above sea level, with a population of about 800 people. Majority of them are Christians, with a small number of animists. These people live in 90 houses scattered across the area. A majority of them are Dusun. Most of them are farmers, though there are those who work in private and governmental sectors. In 2015, the village was hit with an earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Malaysia, that had damaged the area and taken 18 lives in total.

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The Untold Stories of Mount Kinabalu Guides

Words by Yeong Hui Min
Photos by Yeo Li-Sha

Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest mountain, is attracting many enthusiastic mountain climbers around the world. With many local and foreign tourists coming into Sabah to climb up to the peak of Mount Kinabalu, mountain guides play a crucial role in making sure the climbers complete the trek safely. There are more than 200 guides, with only five female guides.

Being a mountain guide is not a job that everyone can take up. A mountain guide requires good stamina and great strength. Guides must also be at the age of 18 and above, undergo medical check-ups and pass their interviews to be qualified for the job. The seven guides that we met with today in Kampung Kiau do not just fulfil these requirements but also have learnt hiking skills from their fathers. Continue reading “The Untold Stories of Mount Kinabalu Guides”

Kinabalu Park: A World On Its Own

Words by Hannah Reshma
Photos by Hamza Delbar

Kinabalu Park aka Taman Kinabalu was named a national park of Malaysia in 1964 was later designated the nation’s first World Heritage Site in 2000, thanks to the role the park plays as a primary and vital biological site of the world, holding thousands (almost 4500!) of species of flora and fauna.

Boasting high biodiversity, Kinabalu Park fully lives up to the claim, being home to many endemic species – species that occur nowhere else. The uniqueness of the species belonging to Kinabalu Park is possibly attributed to multiple factors, adaptation – lowland ancestors evolving due to cold weather, travel – species arriving from other cold regions, such as the Himalayas, and climate change – the migration of lowland species into the mountain regions as a refuge for species that prefer colder climates.

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Remembering the Death Walk

Words by Jasbir Singh
Photos by Yeong Hui Min

Although the fighting in Sabah during the Second World War was not as intense as elsewhere, the worst ever atrocities against Australian soldiers was witnessed here – the Sandakan Death Marches.

DSC_0126 kopi

The ISO Sabah group posing for a group picture with Mr Sevee at the Kundasang War Memorial entrance

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