Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Exploring Tenom Town, Sabah

Travelled all the way from Kota Kinabalu to Tenom, my main reason is to give my last respect to a friend who just passed away. Tenom is her hometown and I would like to thank her for letting me explore Tenom Town. Tenom is a small town, famous with its Agriculture and one of the tribes in Sabah which is the Murut tribe.

“Formerly known as Fort Birch during the colonial period, the Interior Division town of Tenom is primarily an agriculture zone with soy beans, maize, vegetables and cocoa being the major crops. Tenom is also where the Sabah Agriculture Park is located. Tenom is one of the most scenic interior locations in Sabah, with the Crocker Range towering magnificently as the town’s backdrop. Also known as the “gateway to Murut country”, the town comes together each year to celebrate Pesta Kalimaran—a festival celebrated by the Murut community in Tenom.” - Source: Sabah Tourism Board

We took a taxi from Bandaran KK, which is near to the Padang Merdeka Kota Kinabalu. Bargaining with a few taxi drivers and we finally settled in MYR30 for one way per person and at the same time the taxi driver gave us a cheaper rate because he is heading to Tenom where he stays there permanently and it is the last transfer of his work for the day. Normally, taxi rates will be MYR35. Don’t be shocked because it is not a private transfer so possibilities that you will get to mix around with other people who you met at the taxi station. But never get to worry, Sabahans are friendly and we love to talk when we share the same interest. For safety reason, do jot down the taxi driver’s car plat number for your record and SMS it to a friend or two.

Passing through the Kimanis road, I was impressed of the improvement of the infrastructure. Thumbs up to the related bodies! Bear in mind that there might be lack of mobile signals along the way. You will realise it after a toilet break. Oh, remember to buy some junks or you will be singing in the taxi killing your boredom.

It takes about 3 hours to reach Tenom town. Once the taxi arrived at the taxi station which is on your left, you will see KFC on your right. The stadium is located at the back of the taxi station. Well, there’s something that I don’t really like about Google map while checking on Tenom district. I can only see white clouds! Now you try searching Tenom with Google Map. I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun ;) But if I’m able to draw one map for you, I will but you just have to wait. I promise :)

In Tenom town, I don’t think you need a cab. My friend and I walked to and from the town and Perkasa Hotel Tenom (uphill). Well something did happen on that day. Here it goes. The food service in Perkasa Hotel Tenom was slow than I expected; we waited for our breakfast for almost an hour before we head to the funeral service. It’s almost time and we had no choice but to cancel the menu. Eventually, we walked to the back kitchen just to tell them politely for the second time that I wanted to cancel the order but I guess they thought I am just another tourist who doesn’t understand Malay, so they talked to each other rudely about us for cancelling the food. With this, things must have been spreading fast internally because I couldn’t get the in-house transport to go back to the hotel about 2.30pm. So, we walked, accompanied by our delicious cold drink named MOK (I love Peppermint, so it’s recommended. Give a try!) and once we reached the hotel for about 30minutes walk, there is the car parking there unmoved. Oh well, that’s the story.

Now back to the no-funny-case write ups. What is good about Hotel Perkasa Tenom is that they are well known and they will provide transfer for you when you are out at night because it’s quite dangerous to walk back to the hotel from town as it is VERY dark and it’s an EMPTY road.

At Tenom town, you can walk around the town but there’s nothing much to see. I explored, and saw the train station (Sabah Railway) which you might be interested in. It is an old train station but of course, it has been renovated. The route of the train started a long time ago when Sabah was British Colonised. For those who would like to travel back and forth from Kota Kinabalu to Tenom by train, YES you can and it takes HALF DAY per way. I will try it out next time. So, tell me if you want to follow me because I’m still planning! Formerly the railway extended to Melalap. The journey through the Padas Gorges is still an awesome adventure where at times the jungle closes over the antiquated wagons, and at times you look straight down into the churning waters of the Padas River which cuts through the Crocker Range. White water rafting is organised between Kg Pangi and Kg Rayoh.

Lucky daring me, I asked a lonely uncle who sit there at the train station. ‘Uncle, where can I go for a short visit here in Tenom?’ and he told me there’s a lot to see which is the Tenom Agricultural Park, Murut Cultural Centre, Coffee Factory and others. Then I asked him back, ‘Can I walk there?’ Definitely NOT. Each tourist destination takes about an hour to reach from Tenom town itself and definitely you need a car to go there. Suddenly I remember there’s a museum at Tenom town itself, so I asked, he recall, and he pointed the way by using Sabah style, 'tu nah!' with his lips showing the kissing gesture. Terima kasih, uncle!

Took the wrong way, we came to the Market (Pasar Tenom). Lovely place, it’s clean too. Selling vegetables and fruits, which Tenom are famous for. Asked another auntie who stood outside the market where the museum is, it’s just beside, with a few pointy roof structure.

Tenom Gallery is located beside Orchard Hotel. It is under the Sabah Museum and the gallery displays the history of Tenom including the infamous Rundum revolt led by warrior Antanum Ontoros. “In 1915 Ontoros Antanom, a Murut warrior, lead Pensiangan and Rundum Murut against the English. It came to a bloody battle at Rundum where Ontoros and his men were utterly defeated, having no chance to stand up against the modern fire arms of their perceived enemies. Ontoros remains a local hero. According to the locals he was born in 1885 and possessed exceptional leadership qualities which enabled him at the age of 30 to lead the ill-fated Rundum revolt. A memorial to Ontoros Antanom stands in the heart of Tenom, and the remains of his fort at Rundum, now overgrown by secondary rainforest, are still clearly visible.” By the way, just a kind reminder. No pictures taking inside the premise. I did it on purpose just to promote and share this destination for you. Definitely will write another blog post about the Tenom Gallery because it is quite interesting there. Wait for it!

Note to all:
1. You can’t Google map there. Not even before you step a foot at Tenom.
2. If you are staying at Perkasa Hotel Tenom, ask for their business card once you have checked-in. It’s for transportation purposes at night.
3. If you are staying at Perkasa Hotel Tenom, don’t order ala-carte when you are in a rush.

Tenom received more attention under the British Chartered North Borneo Company (BCNBC), when coffee and other plantations were established there. A railway line from Melalap - a still existing estate - linked Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu) already in the late 1890. The construction of the railway line, which began with the appointment of William Clark Cowie as the Managing Director of the BCNBC in 1894, was one of the most challenging tasks the company undertook: Cowie appointed an English Civil Engineer, Arthur J. West, to build the railway line from Bukau north to Beaufort and south to Weston. This town was named after Mr. West, and there was supposed to be a new port of the BCNBC at Brunei Bay. However, upon completion of the railway in 1890, Weston was discovered to be too shallow for a deep-sea wharf.
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