Eight Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About Sabah & Sarawak | Life
PETALING JAYA, September 15 – Along with Malaysia Day celebrations that mark Sabah and Sarawak’s accession to the Malaysian Federation, Malay Mail has put together a list of fun facts about East Malaysia.
From a little-known Sarawakan fast food restaurant that has enjoyed worldwide success to the perfect spot to watch a beautiful sunset, here are eight things about Sabah and Sarawak every Malaysian on the peninsula should know.
Why is Sabah called Leeward Land?
Sabah’s location 6 degrees north of the equator strategically shields it from tropical cyclones as it lies just below the Tropical Typhoon Belt.
This is why the neighboring Philippines, located on the Pacific Typhoon Belt, is prone to devastating typhoons that cause torrential rains and flooding.
Borneo’s rainforest is twice as old as the Amazon
Estimated to be around 140 million years old, the rainforests of East Malaysia are twice as old as the famous Amazon.
You will find an incredible array of wildlife that inhabit Borneo’s rainforest, including 15,000 identified plant species, 3,000 tree types, 222 land mammals and 420 birds.
In 2019, the largest known tropical tree in the world, the majestic yellow meranti tree (Shorea faguetiana) which stood 330 feet tall was found in the Danum Valley Conservation Area in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
The National Rainforest is one of the best protected and least disturbed areas of the lowland rainforest of Southeast Asia, according to National Geographic.
Forget ceviche, hinava or umai is East Malaysia’s raw fish dish
As a nation obsessed with food, Malaysians are always quick to embrace cuisines from other cultures.
But sometimes you don’t have to look very far to find inspiration for your next meal.
Ceviche, the Peruvian raw fish dish for example, has achieved worldwide fame, but did you know that Malaysia has a similar dish?
In Sabah, the Kadazan-Dusun people are known for an appetizing dish consisting of sliced raw fish salted with lime juice, bird’s eye chili, shallot, ginger, and seasonal ingredients.
Using the same technique and ingredients, the dish is called umai in neighboring Sarawak and is eaten by the Melanau tribe.
Sarawak has its own fast food chain known as SugarBun
Founded in 1979, SugarBun fast food restaurant is Sarawak’s answer to McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut.
It started out as a humble ice cream maker that spawned 79 outlets serving fast food dishes such as fried chicken and burgers, and what he calls Borneo Asian cuisine.
Iconic dishes include Sarawak Laksa and Garoupa Fish Noodles as well as other favorites such as Chicken and Mushroom Stew and Fried Mackerel with Rice.
Outside of Sarawak, SugarBun has also enjoyed international success in Brunei, Bangladesh, China and Australia.
There are also plans to open outlets in Jakarta, Indonesia and Auckland, New Zealand.
Welcome to the biggest flower in the world
Known as the largest flower in the world, Rafflesia is found in Sabah and Sarawak, and rare plant species can grow up to one meter in diameter.
The reddish-brown flower, which happens to be the flower of the state of Sabah, is a parasitic flowering plant that emits a foul odor of rotten flesh hence its nickname, the “corpse flower”.
It is harder than you might think to spot a blooming Rafflesia flower, as these flowers bloom unexpectedly throughout the year and only last less than a week.
World class sunsets
The coastal town of Tanjung Aru in Kota Kinabalu is the place to go for epic sunsets that are out of this world.
The best part is that there is no entrance fee and the two-kilometer-long beach means you don’t have to nudge other tourists for that picture-perfect image.
The first Unesco World Heritage site in Malaysia
Malaysia got its first Unesco World Heritage Site in 2000 when Kinabalu Park in Sabah received recognition.
The national park that surrounds Mount Kinabalu covers an area of 754 square kilometers which is home to thousands of animal and plant species.
Here you’ll find the carnivorous pitcher and one of the rarest and most expensive orchids in the world, the Rothschild or Kinabalu gold slipper orchid (Paphiopedilum rothschildianum) which takes 15 years to grow and flower.
Headhunters had to cut off at least one head before marriage
The Borneo headhunter tribes were not to be disturbed in their heyday, which sowed fear in the hearts of the early British colonialists.
Young men from the Murut tribe of East Malaysia had to cut off at least one head if they wanted to get married and it was a crucial rite of passage into adulthood.
If they failed, they would be banned from the community.
The Ibans claimed chiefs to prove their masculinity, a valuable trait for marriage and status in the community.
The tribe also believed that cutting off a head would allow them to possess the person’s mind, which would make the headhunter more powerful.