|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 7, Issue 02, Tuesday, January 10, 2012|
Kinabalu National Park
During my trip to Borneo Island, I was pleased to have stopped by at Kota Kinabalu city. Kota Kinabalu is a popular tourist destination in South East Asia. The city is famous for the tropical beaches and off-coast islands. The famous Kinabalu National Park is just a one-and-a-half hours' drive away from the city.
The park was declared a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO in December 2000 for its "outstanding universal values" and the role as one of the most important biological sites in the world with more than 4,500 species of flora and fauna, including 326 different types of birds and around 100 mammal species. Established in 1964 it is one of the first national parks in Malaysia.
Situated in the middle of the park is the Mount Kinabalu. Towering at 4,095.2m above the tropical forests it is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and the snow-capped peaks of New Guinea. Ever-changing, it is a mountain of colourful blossoms and golden sunsets, but also dark and violent storms.
Kinabalu Park was established to protect Mt. Kinabalu and its extraordinary plant and animal life. Its 754 km terrain stretches from lowland rainforest to montane forest, cloud forest, and subalpine meadow, before finally reaching a crown of bare granite.
The trail to the highest peak winds around the southern side of the mountain. It is an 8.5 kilometre trek to the top. For most people this journey takes about two days. The longer time one spends there is better as the breath taking views from the peak are only a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The Park Headquarters is located 90 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu city. Almost a million visitors have enjoyed the park since it opened. Of these, about ten percent have successfully reached the summit. It is indeed a remarkable number if someone considers the fact that it is one the highest mountains in the region.
Starting early in the morning with an authorised tour guide we managed to reach Kinabalu Park in about an hour and a half. The first sights of the mountain indeed amazed me. The granite top of the mountain is highly visible on a day with good sunlight. On our way to the park we managed to stop by a small town with a watchtower to view the spectacular mountain.
I quickly snapped some photographs of the mountain from the tower top. From the top I could also see a few localities of villages in the valleys of Mt. Kinabalu.
In the town were several craft shops selling various sorts of local indigenous products to tourists. After reaching the park headquarters there are some nice restaurants for travellers. For those who do not have the time or energy for the thrilling climb there are a few trails around the park entrance and near the headquarters.
Another source of enjoyment can be a small jungle walk or going through the botanical gardens. I managed to visit the Park Museum to acquire knowledge about the park's ecology, history and flora and fauna.
Poring Hot Springs is located 43 kilometres from the Park Headquarters on the south eastern side of the park. This was our other mentionable destination to visit. Within a three acre area there are five hot springs with temperature ranging from 49to 60 degrees C. Soaking in a hot water bath is an ideal way to recuperate from an arduous mountain climb. After a cool dip in the pool one feels completely refreshed.
There are several kilometres of forest trails around the Hot Springs. They lead to plummeting waterfalls or spooky bat caves. In the middle of the main trail is the famous Canopy Walkway. There are four walkways which in total are 157.8 metres long and are 41 metres above the ground.
Walking on a piece of wood with the help of ropes to hold on to seemed a very difficult task but with some determination and strong will we managed to make it through to the end. The bird's eye view of the lush overgrown forest, looking out to the picturesque hills and the sound of water splashing below made the surrounding serene and tranquil.
One can forget the strain and frustration, the hustle and the bustle of city life when they are here, close to nature.
Being one the six Parks established in Sabah, Kinabalu is preserving natural heritage for present and future generations to enjoy. The preservation of the forest and wildlife also results in protection of Sabah's Watershed. Eight major rivers originate on Mt. Kinabalu and provide many towns with pure water for drinking, fishing and irrigation. Such parks are truly invaluable in protecting bio-diversity and conserving the beauty of our beloved planet Earth.
By Tamim Sujat
If the past few winters are anything to go by, Dhaka weddings are lakhs worth of elegance and extravagance condensed into five days of feverish fun. And come January of every New Year, if you know enough people, chances are you've been to four or five weddings already. While you must appreciate the sheer glamour that Dhaka weddings have come to be in recent years, your tastes can little be blamed for wanting a little respite from all the glitz - the eye dazzling stages, the Indo-clad brides, the cake layers of make-up.
The good news is, a want for respite seems to be catching on, albeit hesitantly, and more couples are now seeing sense in (comparatively) simpler, more prudent and more hassle-free ceremonies. This week, Lifestyle takes a look at some simpler choices for January brides, because whoever said simple couldn't be tasteful?
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