Sunday, 26 June 2016


The Gombizau Bee Farm fascinate me. The farm is located at Matunggong, a sub-district and 43 kilometer from Kudat. Visitors had the opportunity to see how a community of locals managed their bee farm. They used to allow visitors to taste raw honeys straight from the honeycombs but nowadays they won't allow that. They told me, it will disturb the bee's production cycle thus causing it to collapse or swarming (bees leaving their hives). If we have opportunity to taste the honey from the hive, it would have been a wonderful experience because of it's freshness.

The farm reared the Asiatic honeybee call Apis cerana. These bees from a distant look exactly like a common housefly. It is found all over Asia including some parts of the Pacific islands. It seems docile, and if disturbed, it does give a mild sting. But no matter how mild the sting are, it will become painful if they attack in huge numbers. The farm here also harvest the honey from wild giant honey bees call Apis dorsata. These bees, also found all over Asia, are aggressive and cannot be tamed. It live in forest canopies deep inside the jungle. The farmers here told me the bees have ample flowers from the acacia magnum, rubber, coconut, palm oil and mangrove trees to feed on. But the rate of trees been chopped off going around this place, I am not sure what will the bees feed on in future.

Bees are insect related to the wasps and ants. They do have a very important role in our ecological system because they pollinate plants which are essential to human survival. The nectar and pollen they feed on are rich in energy and protein. That is why honey is an important food source. Many believe it contains healing properties. Collecting honey from the wild started 15,000 years ago, while domestication of bees began in Egypt 4500 years ago.

The world is also facing a big problem about the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The problem is this; foraging bees cannot get back to their hive because of navigational failure. Thus the colony disappeared leaving only the queen and a few nurse bees to look after the hive. The worst affected area is Europe. In some part of China, fruit farmers now have to use paintbrush to pollinate the flowers of the fruit trees because of the disappearance of bees. Scientists around the globe are concerned that the CCD will caused food supply to be reduced all over the world. Many theories are forwarded what causes the CCD, but none is conclusive. Among them are Varroa (bee mites), pesticides, lost of habitats and global warming.

At Gombizau, I asked the farmers, did they ever experienced CCD. Not knowing what I meant, I explained to them the meaning. They told me that they experienced sudden reduction in bee colonies in 2011, but nowadays, it seems the bees are back in numbers. That was why they forbade consuming honey from the honeycomb. It was a good experience coming here. Since we cannot taste the fresh honey, buying the bottled one will do.  

Sunday, 19 June 2016

TIP OF BORNEO: Kudat Town (Part Two)

Sidek Esplanade
Strolling along this promenade, I marveled the vastness of the seafront, and looking further east watched another peninsula not that far away. The sea in front of Kudat Town is actually sandwiched by two land mass and all this area is call Marudu Bay. Imagine looking at a two dimensional picture of a dog with a pointed ears. The dog is facing right and in the middle of the right edge of the left ear there is a small dot. That dot is Kudat. That picture resembled the map of North Borneo.

Coffee shop in Kudat

Many of us experienced back in Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu), the capital of North Borneo decades ago, there were many coffee shops that offered cup of coffee or tea and a plate of assorted cakes. Whatever we consumed, only those would be charged. This typical style is not easy to find anymore there; but we still experienced this in Kudat. Sitting here is so nostalgic.

Bak-Bak Beach
Many told me that the Bak-Bak Beach near the Kudat Town is beautiful. Before seeing this place, I imagined it would be stretching with white sandy beach and thousands of tall coconut palms. I was disappointed. The beach is silty, rocky and also dirty. However, I admit that during low tide, the beach does revealed itself to be attractive; by looking at the interesting rock formations. I believed it is sandstone being shaped by the waves and current.

So indeed Kudat Town is a wonderful place to visit, and those who had never been here should try out this place. There are quite a number of cheap but clean hotels, wonderful golf course, delicious foods and friendly people. Most of all, before the government tears down the historical wooden building at Lo Then Chok Street.  


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

TIP OF BORNEO: Kudat Town (Part One)

Historical shophouses of Kudat

I love Kudat because it is a serene and quiet town; but lovely. Like most small town in North Borneo (Sabah), it still have this iconic building made of wood which emphasized it's link to the British Empire. But sadly, we do not know how long these buildings will stand as both the people and the government were more concerned with concrete jungle. To my opinion, these buildings at Lo Then Chok Street should be preserved at all cost.

Fishing trawlers
Kudat can be considered a fresh seafood heaven because, to my opinion, the town fishing community have access to the vast South China Sea in the west and the Sulu Sea in the north. There are numerous seafood stalls along the Sidek Esplanade which serve delicious seafood. Even fresh meal could be tasted at a restaurant at Kudat Golf Club. I was made to understand much of the fish are sold in Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu), the capital of North Borneo. However, with the massive over-fishing going on as well as the fish-bombing epidemics, I don't know how Kudat could sustain itself with this wonderful gift from God.

Another view of Kudat Town
The Kudat Town was founded by the British on 7th December 1881, exactly 60 years before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, which made United States entered the Second World War. In 1882, it was declared the capital of North Borneo until the British decided to move the capital to Sandakan.  Traveling from Jesselton to Kudat, we will notice the vastness of grassland which I believe is unique to both Kudat and Kota Belud, another small town south of Kudat. From a distance, these grass will be mistaken for padi field. Century earlier the British too were puzzled about it, and asked the native tribe, the Rungus, what is it. The Rungus told them it was Kutat. So, that was why the town was named Kudat!

Clock tower at the Sidek Esplanade
Kudat is about 190 kilometer from Jesselton. The roads are good and traveling will indeed be convenience, despite it's single lane. Occasionally we will bump into road hogs that will slow us down, but most of the two and half hours trip will be fine.

The first English romance-thriller from Borneo

Sunday, 5 June 2016

TIP OF BORNEO: The Sunset Music Festival

Music comes from the word Mousike, a Greek word meaning; the production of making harmonious noises. It is considered an art and cultural activities which originated from the Paeliolithic Era. Combine that with a beautiful sunset in the background; presto! You have the Sunset Music Festival! The sight was so awesome. While your ears focused on the wonderful rhythm, your eyes were feasting on the sun setting on the horizon, producing the orange light penetrating the darkening sky.

The Sunset Music Festival is held at the Simpang Mengayau located at the tip of Borneo. It is an annual event that had been started ten years ago. The nearest town is Kudat, a very pristine and peaceful place for a visitor to stay. Music here were performed by local as well as international artists presenting classical, cultural, jazz or pop music. You can be sure the crowds loved the performances as the singers were given thunderous applause and standing ovation. Many, I believed, will returned and watch the festival again next year.

Frankly speaking, I have heard about this event going on but never bothered to check it out. But this time I made it a point to see it myself and found out it was indeed an event not to be missed. It took me almost three hours to reach Kudat traveling from the capital, Jesselton (Kota Kinabalu). Then it took me another forty minutes to reach Simpang Mengayau. But the journey was worth it. Thousands of people came to watch. Before the sunset music start, tribal dancers showed us the Runggus dance. Runggus is one of the Borneo ethnic groups.

First English romance-thriller from Borneo