Tag Archives: Borneo

A Hobby That Takes You Worldwide

Going through all my mails and reading all the letters and cards I received brought back loads of memories. Receiving a hand written letter or card from someone kinda makes you feel special and I love the surprise I got when I open my mailbox and there would be a letter waiting for me.

That is how Postcrossing is like. You send a postcard to a random person anywhere in the world and be surprised to receive a postcard from a random person from anywhere in the world.

At the time of writing, there are 464,575 registered users from 216 different countries. Since the Postcrossing project started there have been 21,678,492 postcards received. In Malaysia alone there are 3,292 members and 165,097 postcards sent.

I signed up for a Postcrossing account four months ago when I met a Postcrosser Gladys David on Twitter. A Postcrosser is someone who sends postcards to all over the world through Postcrossing. I saw her updates on Postcrossing and decided to check it out. After four months of having Postcrossing account, I only sent my first batch of postcards to Russia, Germany and China last week.

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Miss Gladys David.

While eagerly waiting for a postcard from a stranger from anywhere around the world  I decided to ask Gladys on her experience becoming a Postcrosser. Introduced to Postcrossing by her cousin, she started being an active Postcrosser since 2013, last year.

Why did you signed up for a Postcrossing account?
I love sending and receiving things through snail mail. Letters take too much time but postcards are simpler. 

So far, how many have you sent and how many have you received?
I’ve sent 70 postcards and received 73. I have a colleague who registered later than me but she has sent hundreds of postcards already.

Wow. Her postcards must’ve arrived their destination fast. That’s why she can send many.
[Laughs] I think I’m the one who’s lazy. If I’m busy, I put Postcrossing on hold and only start to send postcards when I have less workload.

For first time users, each user is allowed to send five postcards and when the recipient receives the postcard and enters the Postcard ID written, and then only a user sends another. The number of postcards allowed to travel at any single time goes up the more postcards a user sends.

How do you feel when you open your mailbox and there’s a postcard waiting for you?
Of course I feel excited.

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Usually how long will a postcard reaches its’ destination?
It depends on the destination. It doesn’t take too long if the destination is in the South East Asia like Thailand or the far east like Japan. Postcards to Russia will take some time though, according to my friend, @yAn123. [Laughs]

I see. Where have you received your postcards from?
Everywhere! But I haven’t received any postcards from the Middle East.

Gladys shares her statistics.

Did you become friends with the person you sent postcards to o the one you received postcards from, like adding each other on Facebook?
So far I haven’t add any Postcrossing friends on Facebook but there are some whom I became friends with for a regular swap. Basically regular swap is two friends sending postcards to each other without using the Postcard ID.

I see. The extent of your relationship with Postcrossers is sending each other postcards?
Yes. I haven’t had a Postcrosser friend whom I really became friends with.

Where do you get your postcards? Do you buy or your print them?
I bought my postcards most of the time. I print occasionally and I made a handmade postcard once.

Oh. I would like to go back to your previous answer, “I haven’t had a Postcrosser friend whom I really became friends with”. What are the points of the postcards if you haven’t made any friends?
I didn’t spend time nurturing my relationship with other users on Postcrossing. Maybe the point is to have a great personal statistics? [Giggles] You get to know some tidbits from the sender’s country or hometown and I like to see my postcard collection growing. That’s why I keep at it.

Some users have preferences on what type of postcards they like to receive and don’t like to receive. Do you send a postcard that meets the user’s preference or you just send any type of postcards?
[Laughs] I once send a user a postcard he dislikes. Usually, if I have a postcard that a user wants or if I can do something about it, I would meet the user’s preferences. I stick lots of stamps if a user stated that he/she likes stamps. For instance, normally I would use a RM 0.50 stamp, if he or she likes stamps if would use RM 0.10, RM 0.20, RM 0.30, RM 0.05 stamps that equals to RM 0.50. Different images on each stamp.

Postcrossing gave me a user’s address to send my postcard to and in her description box she stated that she is afraid of standard, touristic city views, monuments and art postcards, written in capital letters. Why would someone be afraid of a touristic city view postcard? I’m not sure why. 

What happened with the user whom you sent a postcard he doesn’t like?
Nothing happened. He didn’t say anything in the message box when he registered the postcard I sent.

Do you have any preference on what type of postcards you would like to receive?
My only preference is, the cards must be 4 inches x 6 inches in size so that the postcard can fit in my folder. [Laughs]

[Laughs] No wonder when I look at all your postcards, they’e about the same size. What do you usually write on your postcards before you send them?
Sometimes I write about the weather or any events that’s currently happening. Sometimes I write random stuff pretty much like tweeting.

Gladys’ postcard collection.

Speaking of stamps, how much do you usually spend on stamps for a postcard?
RM 0.50. Maybe more if he/she likes stamps but not more than a Ringgit. So far, I haven’t had any postcard that doesn’t reach its’ destination due to insufficient stamps.

RM 0.50 is quite cheap for a postcard travelling anywhere around the world. Adding that to the price of a postcard, the cost of sending a postcard all around the world is only RM 1.50. That’s what I had in mind when I was at the post office. I was surprised when I was charged RM 2 for a postcard travelling to Russia but I didn’t bother to ask why. While sitting at the corner sticking stamps on my postcards I heard a couple who ask the officer in regards of the price of sending a postcard.

“Why does it cost so much to send a postcard to Singapore?”

It turned out that any postcards that are 15 cm x 10 cm in size or smaller, stamp price will be RM 0.50 to all destinations. Any postcards larger than the size mentioned, the price of stamps will depend on the destination.

Top Left: Mt. Kinabalu postcard; 15 cm x 10 cm in size. RM 1 from Borneo Books, Wisma Merdeka.
Top Right: Random photo postcard bought at the post office for RM 1.
Bottom: KLCC postcard. Much larger than the previous two which stamps cost will depend on the destination.

Do you know any KK Postcrossers? Have you sent any postcards to someone in KK or anywhere in Sabah?
I’ve exchanged postcards with @rungitom who is also a Postcrosser but not through Postcrossing. Some of the Postcrossers I know are @glaydavid, @y4n123, and @sorbesque. Mariah Doksil is also a Postcrosser too.

After having that conversation with her I can’t wait to see the reaction of the user who’s afraid of certain postcards because I sent her a quite an artsy postcard I bought in KL. I would like to receive a postcard from the Pitcairn Islands. But unfortunately, with only population of 46 people (at the time of writing), there are no Postcrossing users from the island yet.

Want to start sending postcards? You can get your postcards from most bookstores at RM 1 each. There are stores you can get six postcards for RM 5 like Just For You in Wisma Merdeka. Most of the postcards being sold in KK are the typical touristic, scenic and cultural if not, orang utan postcards. There are various animal postcards in Times and Tai Yang Bookstore but they cost a lot. As for the artsy fartsy ones, so far I haven’t found any of them in KK.

Or you can always print a postcard by yourself or develop a picture you took and use it as a postcard. Opt for a more environmental friendly approach by reusing old boxes or envelopes and turn them into postcards. There are some concerns as well on Postcrossing leaving an ecological footprint. However, there’s a list of making Postcrossing a greener hobby on the website. Phew!

Fancy a postcard from me? Well give me your address then!

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Injin Puput: Passage to the Heart of Borneo

I was lucky enough to get a free media pass to attend the media preview on the 3rd of May at Sabah’s JKKN Complex, from Nova, who was so supernova enough to give me one. I was ecstatic because I’m keen about the Sabahan culture that never cease to fascinate me.

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Injin Puput tells the story of a grandfather, Aku Arusop and his grandson, Aaron going on a train ride along the west coast of Sabah. While at it, Aki Arusop reminiscences his father, Aki Gounon’s love story with a Chinese girl, Mei Ling. The musical started with a Murut warrior having a premonition of the arrival of British which was also a forecast of the  appearance of Vulcan trains which is extended into the heart of Sabah.

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What I loved about this musical is the forbidden love story between Aku Gounon and Mei Ling which would be a cliche in movie theaters unless you add pale vampires, horny werewolves or aliens. This, I thought, was just classic.

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Falling in love over glutinous rice wrapped with bamboo leaves. Romantic eh?

Watching Injin Puput gave me a revelation, a reminder of how beautiful the cultures we have in Sabah. It was also an educating experience as I’ve got to learn some of the customs/traditions or rituals that I’ve never seen or heard before, especially the Bosilat Mandung – Mandung and the Sazau Modsuhung of the Kadazans of Papar.

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Bosilat Mandung – Mandung.

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Limbai.

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It would be unfair though, if I were to compare this production with the musicals and plays I’ve seen in Istana Budaya.  There were some things I thought in Injin Puput were ‘off’.

For instance, I thought that the screen which portrayed the visuals were over used that to me, seemed to be sort of a short cut to create the scene’s setting. If physical props have been used to create the setting, it would give a sense of awe and would be more realistic compared to just depending the visuals on the screen.

I’m not going to touch on the choreography of the traditional dances because my knowledge is not to that extent. But I did find that the fighting choreography during the scene with Mei Ling’s brother was quite weird and funny. At the back of my mind was ‘Ah, itu seja? Lawan, mati and then lari?’. It was just plain to me and I didn’t give any excitement of ‘wow, these dudes are really fighting’.

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Easy, breezy duel. Notice of bare the stage was without any physical prop create the setting? Instead, the visual on the screen created the setting. The stage felt empty.

At times as well I find the stage was too crowded especially in the scene where Mei Ling sells her glutinous rice. The stage blocking was poor, the extra actors were scattered without any apparent motive, well, other than wanting a piece of the glutinous rice.

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Everybody was waiting for kao chung. It look scattered. The scene would be more interesting there were stalls where some of the actors sell fabrics, fruits or fish, in other words, the local activities of the community. Takkan the activity of the community is just to wait for Mei Ling to jual her kao chung kan?

The story line on the other hand, it was just okay for me. It would have been more dramatic if the tension of the story was build up from the beginning when Mei Ling and Aki Gounon met. Then only the conflict would become stronger, when the conflict is strong, of course the love birds will try to do everything just to resolve the conflict.

I can’t really say if this is the best Sabah Fest production for I cannot make any comparisons as I haven’t attend last year’s Sabah Fest. Last time I went was when Sabah Fest was still held at Sutera Harbour, which is around 2009. But viewing from the whole production, the cultural aspects of Injin Puput is always an amazing educational experience. Production wise, it can be improved, from the story, to stage design and acting. Only then I believe, it would a solid act. Or maybe, this was just the preview night, therefore, the production didn’t went all out?

During this part, the Argus pheasant feather was missing on the actor's headgear and there weren't any tattoos that shows that he is a Murut tribesman.

During the marriage ceremony between Aki Gounon and Mei Ling, the Argus pheasant feather was missing on the Aki Gounon’s headgear and there weren’t any tattoos that shows that he is a Murut tribesman. A friend of mine posted a picture of this scene during the last night of the show and surprisingly, the male’s costume was complete, with tattoos as well. Hhmm.

Despite what the ‘offs’ that I mentioned, I congratulate the team behind Injin Puput for their efforts, hard work and ideas into making this production, a reality. I look forward for improvements on next year’s Sabah Fest. Thanks once again to the supernova, Nova, for the media pass.

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A Preservation: Historical Structures

Just recently, after the Art For Grabs event at Central Market, my friends and I took a walk from there to the Merdeka Square. Since we are near the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery, I said, why not we make a visit. So we did.

Source: KL City Gallery Website

The gallery is a resourceful place for Kuala Lumpur’s historical structures portrayed in a creative way that awes visitors. With 3D models of historical structures made from wood veneer and precise and concise information, you just feel amazed and a sense of appreciation for architectural heritage is developed. You’ll start with learning about the history, then you know, how important it is to protect and preserve these treasures.

Jamek Mosque

Indeed it is an interesting place to learn about Kuala Lumpur’s history.

And then I thought, what if KK has something like this? A gallery dedicated to historical architecture/structure, the development of North Borneo.

Sadly, many of Sabah’s historical sites have been destroy and there are only a few left that are still visible. A clear example, the Atkinson Clock Tower.

Having a gallery like this would educate the citizens about the history and development what was once North Borneo. Aside from that it would raise a sense of appreciation among them, thus, having the awareness to protect and preserve these historical sites. It would make them understand and see the beauty of these historical architectures. Visual presentation always works!

Plus, it would be a good tourist attraction.

Here are some of the historical sites/architecture that I think should be included in the gallery.

1) Atkinson Clock Tower

 After surviving the second world for, this clock tower stands for 109 years. Built in 1903 in the memory of Francis George Atkinson, the first District Officer of Jesselton who dies from tropical disease.

2] Sabah Tourism Board

Did you know that this was once a post office?

3) St. Michael’s Church, Penampang.

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St. Michael’s Church in Penampang was initiated by Fr. August Wachter. The Foundation stone was laid on 29th September 1936; nonetheless, the construction was postponed during the Second World War only to resume in 1947 – Sabah Tourism Board.

And I’m sure there’s more.

Since the restoration of some historical sites are impossible, they can still ‘live’ and be appreciated by the citizens if an effort like KL City Gallery is executed. Architectural historical remains can be ‘revived’ not in concrete, but in 3D wood veneer structure.

Now wouldn’t it be interesting if we can see see all the structures that once stood tall in North Borneo like,

1) Old Welfare Building.

Of course you have seen the ruins in front of Suria Sabah. With graffiti art, it’s not hard to notice. Before it became ruins, look at the picture above. That’s how it looks like. Click here for more info on the Old Welfare Building.

3) Kinarut Mansion

It’s in ruins and not many know about it. This mansion with a Greco-Roman architecture, built between 1910 and 1914, belonged to W.F.C. Asimont, the then Kinarut Plantation Manager. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we can see how this mansion looks like?

3) Sacred Heart Cathedral

What? How did this cathedral made it in my list? Okay, before the current Sacred Heart building you see today, Sacred Heart looks different. Describing buildings is not my forte but, I would say it looks very English. I tried to search for a picture of the then Sacred Heart building on the net but couldn’t find any. So, if anyone of you who are reading this and happen to have a picture of the then Sacred Heart building, do share at the comment section below.

And I’m sure there a many other building structures out there that are destroyed/demolished that deserve to have this kind of treatment. Recognition and appreciation.

When the British came back in the days, of course, every aspect of Sabah is influenced. Be it administration to lifestyle, architecture is in the list as well. But many of those historical architectures are either destroyed by the war, demolished or replaced by more ‘current’ structure for the sake of development.

All these historical structures have  aesthetic values. Each of them has a story. It could be either from those who build them or from those who made memories with it. Carefully designed, where function meets beauty, these structures, as I have said, deserve the recognition and appreciation that they deserve.

Will a gallery like KL City in KK come true? With citizens who are having concerns about this matter, who know it will.

Any KK based site that’s dedicated to architectural heritage? Sure. Just visit Heritage Sabah. It is an NGO that’s dedicated to the architectural and cultural heritage conservation in Sabah Borneo, Malaysian

Or you can visit North Borneo Historical Society on Facebook, where efforts in archiving history of North Borneo are made via social networking and digital media.

Well that’s about it. I hope you readers gain some input from this article. Thanks for reading and, if you do have pictures or, structures that you think should be in the lists above, just leave your suggestions at the comment section.

 

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The Kadazandusun Story

I always love to get my hands on materials or documentations that touches on my own cultural heritage. The Kadazandusun heritage. It’s because knowing and learning your heritage is to love, to appreciate, to be proud and to have that identity that makes us unique.

I always go to the book store to get a copy or copies of books that touches on this subject and now, I was glad to know that a documentary of the Kadazandusun culture was released. Finally a visual documentation of the indigenous.

Print screen of the documentary’s DVD menu.
Director: Johan John

The issue brought forward in this documentary is the generation gap between the elderly and the young in terms of cultural customs and way of life.  With the hopes of sparking cultural awareness and preservation, the documentary features Sabahan from all walks of life such as the musician, Datuk Justin Stimol and others who share their views on the Kadazandusun way of life. It serves as an informative source of the culture of the Kadazandusuns to the young generations and to those who are interested in learning the culture.

Personally, I think it is a great effort by Vinoun Films but as for me, it could have been better, especially in terms of the direction of the documentary.

When you are writing or doing a documentary of the Kadazandusuns, you have to realize that the perimeter of the topic itself is huge. You bear the responsibilities carefully portraying the natives. From what I can tell after watching the documentary is that, I only see Kadazans, where are the Dusuns?

I favoured the scientific facts of the origins of the people but what about how the story about of how we came to exist as told by our ancestors? The Nunuk Ragang. The left a big hole on that.

And instead of ‘dividing’ the documentary into topics such as ‘Ninggat’, ‘Bobohizan’ and others (which makes the documentary ‘scattered’) because the topic that they focused on is very general, they should be focusing on specific topics such as food, folklore, dance, way of life and traditions which ‘Ninggat’ and ‘Bobohizan’ can fall under. And those random stories or experiences made me wonder, where will this documentary take me?

A thorough research should be made on every aspects on the Kadazandusun culture. For instance, the Sazau Papar, featured in the documentary, what are the significance of the movements of the hand and feet? What do these movements represent?

Touching on attire, especially the traditional costume, why is black chosen? What are the significance of the black colour what does it represent? What do the golden laces mean? What do the motifs represent? The linangkit especially. The headgear. Why must something (himpogot or tangkong) worn that way? Are there any differences of the traditional costume between single ladies, married and the elderly? And before black velvet fabric is used, what type of fabric(s) did our ancestors used back then? Handwoven maybe? And if so, why the transition from handwoven fabric to black velvet?

‘However, many indigenous people wear these modified and adapted forms and accept them as traditional. In fact, most of the traditional costumes worn by Sabah’s indigenous people are really modern adaptations of the original attire‘ *

What about traditional games? Mimpulos (arm wrestling) or rampanau (bamboo stick walking)? Aren’t these worth the attention? Aren’t these traditional games deserve to be preserved? Those handicrafts; beaded necklaces and the pinakol, how to make one? How long for a necklace to complete? In terms of the loss of a loved one. Why do we have to wait three days before the body can be buried? Why is the coffin positioned facing towards the sun? Tattoos? Before our ancestors adapted Christianity and Islam?

‘The progressive covering of the body also discouraged another traditional form of decoration and beautification – tattooing – which also used to be an indicator of social status’ **

And, of course the various folklore tales. Do you know the Tale of Two Suns or Tanaki? We grew up with the likes of English fairy tales, Hollywood blockbusters and we, the younger generations are not exposed to stories that are close to us as Kadazandusuns.  With the elderly numbers getting fewer and fewer, the effort of getting stories told by words of mouth must be put into documentation. Don’t get me started on riddles.

These are the things that the younger generations, should know.

The title ‘The Kadazandusun Story’ suggests that (at least for myself) the Kadazandusun topic is explored widely not just what we see everyday and the stories/experience told by those who were interviewed in the documentary. It also should be about our identity, what makes a Kadazandusun a Kadazandusun, the aspects that the younger generation today, tend to neglect and not know anything about. And after watching it, even though it’s okay, it wasn’t what I expected. Everything was general, the things, I know, the things that I can just key in words in the search box. I expected to watch something that I have never known before, though there we some but it wasn’t enough for me. Maybe the crew didn’t do a deeper research, a proper structure of the script, or inadequate budget (a common problem faced by all productions), I don’t know.

But nevertheless, despite of what I have said, it’s a great first effort (though it could have been better), to feature the Kadazandusuns. Maybe this first effort will spark many other effort to preserve the Kadazandusun heritage.

‘To know is to love. To know is to appreciate. To know is to be proud. To know is to preserve.’

Fancy a copy of The Kadazandusun Story, visit Vinoun Films website or on Facebook or visit North Borneo TV.

* & ** Rita Lasimbang, Stella Moo-Tan. 1997. An Introduction to the Traditional Costumes of Sabah. Kota Kinabalu. Natural History Publications in association with Department of Sabah Museum.

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The Meeting Pool: A Tale of Borneo

Now why don’t you lay down those books you see on the shelves of major bookstores and opt for something more local, more Borneo. Introducing, The Meeting Pool: A Tale of Borneo by Mervyn Skipper.

It is a story about a group of animals, living in Pulau Daat, setting up a plot against the White Men who are taking down their forest. With a surprising twist at the end, combined with characters each with their own personalities, filled with lessons for the young and old and beautiful illustrations, this book serves as a great read for those who wants to ‘get to know’ the animals of Borneo. I can see a 2D Disney production while reading it. It’s fun and you just can’t put it down.

“This children’s book is a very lively collection of animal stories told by the Borneo forest animals to one another as they gather at their meeting-pool in the evenings to plot a strategy to get rid of the White Man who is cutting down their forests to plant rubber trees. Though this book was first published in 1929 it reads like a book written in 2007, both in freshness and relevance (just substitute oil palms for rubber trees!). It is a delightful introduction to the animals of Borneo, enhanced by the beautiful line drawings.” – Natural History Publication (Borneo).

Go get yourself a copy at Borneo Books, BG 26, Ground Floor, Phase 2 Wisma Merdeka, 88800 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. That’s where I got mine.

Or you can always order online at Natural History Publications (Borneo), Amazon, or The Penang Bookshelf.

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The Borneo Incident

Stars: Henry Golding, Fay Hokulani, Mitch Ross, Rob Gilliland featuring Dennis Lau, Hansen Lee, Daphne Iking and Carmen Soo (Facebook).

Director: Michael Helfman

Release Date: Summer 2012

This adventure trailer tells the story of five young fun loving travelers are documenting their travels from New York to Borneo via Malaysia on the journey of a lifetime. The purpose of the trip is to discover their friend Henry’s familial roots from the Iban head hunting tribe in Borneo. Only to discover the tribe has crossed the border into the unfamiliar territory of Indonesian tribes. As the group heads deeper into the jungles they begin to realize unfamiliar territory is not somewhere you want to be on the island of Borneo (source). It’s like Paranormal Activity but minus the suburban life of a decent family living with ghost and add lush green forest of Borneo.

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The Upside Down House of Borneo

Why not spend your Saturdays with your family at the Upside Down House of Borneo or as Sabahans call it, Rumah Terbalik.

Rumah Terbalik

Located in the district of Tuaran which is around 45 minutes from the capitol city, this upside down house features the architecture of a traditional Sabahan home. What’s interesting is, the house has its’ own story to fascinate visitors, enabling them to imagine the scenario of ‘people’ residing in the house.

Apart from that, the hospitality of the employees are very pleasing. With a big smile welcoming you and your family and friends, you just can wait to get to see how it looks inside. The tour guides are very well trained and informative as well, briefing you and taking you for the tour with facts, scenarios and questions that just makes you go ‘ah, now I know’. And before we were allowed to enter, one of us was asked to knocked on the front door, which makes it kinda intriguing.

The tour guide; instead of wearing a sarong and a t-shirt which makes her look post-pregnancy, it would be great if she wears a kebaya top with atraditional Sabahan motifs and pants.

Unfortunately, we can’t take pictures inside the house. After tour, you proceed to the gift shop where they sell various Rumah Terbalik merchandises such as t-shirts and key chains and, local citizens get a 25% discount if I’m not mistaken. I got myself a key chain and a magnet as memorabilia.

Merchandises.

Feeling thirsty? Go ahead to the cafe just beside the gift shop. But you can’t use the upside down loo though! Haha.

Entrance fee? RM 10 for adults (local) and RM 5 for children (local). If you’re a student and happen to have your student card with you, show it and you’ll get a discount.

And after the tour, you can go take pcitures of and upside down Kancil, pretending it would fall on you.

A bunch of friends that I went to Rumah Terbalik with.

So, if you’re planning on doing some light activity or sight seeing with your family and friends, this is one of the places in Sabah that you can go. Travel by car or you can use the bus though I don’t know which bus goes along that route.

For more information, you can go to Rumah Terbalik‘s;

Website: http://www.upsidedownhouse.com.my/

Facebook: Rumah Terbalik

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