48hours of Bongawan – Ranau Road Trip

Earlier this year I have started my Bullet Journal with some goals for 2019. One of them is to have my own version of COURT (it stands for Camping, Outing and Road Trip) at least once a month.

I did the first unplanned court to Polumpung, Kota Belud.

It was again the unplanned trip I did on the 2ndday of February. It was unplanned because my good friends and I had just decided on having the trip one day before. It was also unexpected because Ahoon just came back from Bali, and Sylvia just came back from Kuala Lumpur.

It was impromptu, as I typed out the very brief itinerary on our Whatsapp group.

2ndFeb 6am – KK to Bongawan for a BBQ picnic near the river
2ndFeb 3pm – Bongawan to Ranau for Durian Fest (overnight)
3rdFeb 8am – Ranau to Kudat for Simpang Mengayau and back to KK

Three of us in the group made it for the itinerary but unfortunately, we had to skip Kudat.

2ndFebruary, 6am – Ahoon and I departed from our place as early as at 6am in the morning. It took us 2 hours to reach to the small town of Bongawan. It was my first time in the town. Thank goodness that I made it this year before I get any older. I just loved my early morning experience in Bongawan. where I can see those pre war, colonial shop houses. The Japanese army, the Australian forces were once occupied this small town.

Bongawan name is taken from the local word of egrets – Bangau

Ahoon suggested that we should get ourselves the Kopi Lang. It’s the black coffee drink in a bottle, and it’s chilled in the refrigerator before it is served to the customers. That’s Ahoon browsing to her phone. And, that’s my hand holding a bottle of Kopi Lang.

We had the Kopi Lang at Kedai Kopi Sam Hing, one of the old wooden shoplots built in 1922. The coffee shop was once featured in the local newspaper. A paper cutting is placed on the table we sat. I was lucky to have some insights about the history of Bongawan.

What a scene to enjoy as early as 8am in the coffee shop. I had the chance to listen to the chatty customers next to our table talking about what’s reported in the printed newspaper – the husband and wife sitting face to face waiting for their menu to be served – the old man with his tobacco pipe – the family of five having their pau (the white round pastry stuffed with meat). I’m glad that I woke up so early and didn’t miss that opportunity to witness such a peaceful environment.

After Kopi Lang, we visited the weekly market of Tamu Bongawan held every weekend where you get to see fresh vegetables and most important is that you get to see friendly locals with their generous smiles.

After buying some stuff from the market, we then headed to Sylvia’s home for the BBQ picnic, which took us 20-30 mins drive from the town. I just loved the fact that her house is not far from the river where we had the small and simple BBQ. We had some fishes, prawns and chicken wings. I’m not going into details on this part, I’m letting the picture to do the story for itself.

I do not want to be so dramatic to describe the feelings of awesomeness for this event, but it was indeed satisfying. I love everything about being close to my good friends. Laughing to each other and being tired for the day. How can it not be one of my most memorable adventures in my life?

Let me continue with my sharing and I’ll let you to imagine the kind of adventure you want from here.

We departed for Ranau exactly before 4pm from Bongawan. We reached Lohan Damai Eco Ranch just before 10pm. We had simple dinner before we checked in to our room where we got it for complimentary stay. Thanks to Sylvia’s previous connection in the district. We were tired and all we wanted was a good night sleep to have our things to do the next day. Lights out and off we went to the dreamland that first night.

3rdFebruary – We woke up quite early not because we wanted it. If I wanted to point out the distressing moment during the trip is of course our good sleeps that were disturbed by the crying sound of a baby next room. Ahoon and Sylvia are so going to agree with me on this. We had no choice but to get ourselves from the bed for bath and breakfast. Despite the crying baby, we totally had a blast for our second day in Ranau – Kundasang.

We’ve made it to Sylvia’s family place in Ranau for durian, rambutan and langsat! And delicious lunch. Too bad, we were enjoying that moment and forgot about taking photos.

We’ve made it to Ranau Rabbit Farm (photo below).
From left; Sylvia, Ahoon and I. 

We’ve made it to Rosary Hills (photo below).

We’ve made it to BW Bus Restaurant, Kundasang (photo below)

We reached home (Kota Kinabalu) by 6pm. It was the complete 48 hours of making friendship memories.

In life, we do not want to make enemy, we do not want to judge and hate people just because they sinned differently than us. We just want to be good to ourselves and the friendship we have. I hope and pray you would have a blossom friendship as well. Cheers!END/

Road Trip To Polumpung, Melangkap – Kota Belud

The best trip is always the unplanned trip, at least for me. Oh by the way, Happy New Year 2019!

My friend, Ahoon and I had some small talks via WhatsApp few days before the end of 2018. She was on vacay to Kuching.  Ahoon came back from Kuching on January 1st 2019 and texted about going somewhere. I suggested for a camping night out and both agreed. I then booked a spot for camping at Polumpung, Melangkap – Kota Belud.

Then came the day of 2nd January 2019. Ahoon and I departed for our first COURT in 2019. (COURT – Camping~Outing~Road Trip). That was pretty much how the unplanned trip taken its place. You won’t be reading a complicated how-to-plan-your-road-trip-to-Polumpung in this post, what we did for the trip was impromptu and follow-your-heart kind of gateway. Have a good reading 🙂

2nd January 2019
We started the drive at around 10.15am in the morning. A one (+-) hour drive, we reached Kota Belud Town at 11.00am-11.15am. We took few hours for lunch, chit chatting and bought few stuff to bring to the campsite of Polumpung. Just for the record; we bought Maggie cups, canned food, biscuits, buns and bottled water. We wouldn’t want to buy those if only we had known it earlier that the campsite do provide a cafe 🙂

From the small town of Kota Belud, we drove for another 35-40mins (29km) to Polumpung, Kampung Melangkap Baru. I used Waze for the earlier part but followed the roadsigns most of the time. I am pretty sure that you won’t get lost to the village/campsite.

The village has quite a few campsite operators. You can see it along the village road when you are already in the village. We made our way to Polumpung Campsite. According to some infos, it was the first campsite opened for public.

I had a chat with one of the campsite owners, the campsite was originally a place full of trees. Polumpung means small island. The earthquake at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu followed with the big flood in 2015 had changed the landscape of the place. No more trees, no more two rivers and the small island. It has changed to a flat land full of sand and only one river left. According to the Uncle I talked to, it was a blessing in disguise, the place now offers a breathtaking view for outdoor enthusiasts. And, I agree with him! I love the place so much that it gives me my inner peace that I needed the most. Away from the city, and with the DIGI connection that is not available for internet; this is the place where I should be.

I love the big signage showing “I LOVE Polumpung” at the entrance of the campsite. It makes thing easier for a driver to find a place. We drove in from the entrance and went to the registration counter to confirm the booking under my name. All was good. We had our camp tent, a canopy, sleeping bags and a mattress; the mattress is the thin one just to keep the body at its best comfort. I would want to have the smiley with two tears at the side emoticon to compliment the mattress part. LoL!

After paying all fees, we went straight to the campsite. Had our tent ready and putting all our stuff in the tent. We didn’t want to waste so much time. We went to the cold Melangkap River close to our tent. It was raining but I didn’t care much of catching a flu and fever. I was shivering but I carried on sitting in the river and let those unnecessary feelings on my mind be flown away following the river. I just love the moment. Really, I do. Thank you Polumpung!

I spent the night with the not so stargazing moment. My blurry eyesight wasn’t helping. I ended up with writing/setting up my Bullet Journal. I also read the writing about “My Helplessness” by Mahatma Gandhi from his book. And, oh yeah…nothing beat the hot black Kopi O with some crackers, I just LOVE it!

You can choose how you want your night out at Polumpung to be.
If you opt for barbecue, you may have your chicken wings marinated overnight before. If you opt for an easy night, just bring your canned food and Maggie cups. We bought rice from the cafe at the campsite. So, if you don’t want anything to dirty your hands – just get yourself to the cafe and take away food from there. The earlier the better, the cafe is close at 7pm.

All those basic needs for toilet, bathroom, chairs, table, BBQ pit, canopy, tent, portable gas, pillow, sleeping bag, mattress etc is provided at the campsite. You can next time bring just your good-self, things are easy and will make your life and mind easier at Polumpung.

3rd January 2019
We woke up with our tent facing to the majestic view of Mount Kinabalu. Breathtaking as it is! Pro tip: Don’t put your tent where there are tents in front of your tent. This was the only thing that spoiled the moment I must say.

I had to fix it. I got up from the tent and went straight to the river for a better view. I took my time to meditate as well on the big rock in the river. After a moment of peace, I decided to take the last swim before we drove back home.

Polumpung Campsite is pretty much a place where I wouldn’t want to mess my mind with all other stuff. I wanted a quiet place and moment of heart-to-heart conversation with a good friend. The camp out at Polumpung suits to my whole ride journey for my inner peace this year. And, what I think about Polumpung is the moment of peace it offers. I can just be happy not thinking for anything else. Polumpung helps to rejuvenate the goodness, kindness, and happiness in me. Thank you Polumpung!/END

Not Just The Ordinary Beauty

The first and foremost reason I am keeping this blog is to keep my own writings. I put so much hope that miracle happens everyday so I can write about them and keep this blog going. And, I want to inspire you dear readers that there are good things happening in this world, hoping that it sparks that fire in you to do the same, and that’s second.

One very exciting moments working in a hospital specialised in women and children is that I get the chance to meet kind hearted visitors like Michelle; a kind, soft spoken, and beauty with heart lady.

It is pretty normal to have visitors to the hospital and visit the warded patients. Michelle and her parents did their second visit last Saturday after the first one they did on Easter, earlier this year.

What Michelle did by distributing face masks and crocheted beanies to the children warded in the Oncology Ward seems to be the simplest way to show kindness to others. When I started to ask myself, “what makes them wanted to do it”, I couldn’t help myself but putting out my so-called a-writer’s-desires-to-know-for-everything; by gathering all informations from the 10 minutes chat with Michelle and her mother, Florence; write about it and hoping what this daughter and mother did would inspire you to do the same.

Brought up by loving parents to the only child in the family, you can actually expect the hundred percents of everything would be given to the child. Love, attention and everything positive to it, is what nurtured Michelle to do good things in her life.

Michelle runs a beauty salon, and at the age of 28, that’s quite an achievement. Mr Wong, her father told me that she studied Software Engineering but I bet the influence from Florence, her mother made a shift to her career to become a beautician.

“I’ve met a lot of nurses and doctors coming to my salon and they tell me about their daily life in the hospital. That’s what made me to come and visit the hospital because I want to see it for myself,” Michelle said.

When asked about the difference between her first visit and the recent visit to the hospital, Michelle confessed that it was hard during the first one. “It was my first time seeing all the children like that. And how I see the parents accompanying the children and go through the pain with them is what had taught me about love,” she said.

Michelle wanted to find something to give back to the community. And for her, monetary donation is not her kind of way of doing charity. “Instead of giving money, food or cloth that don’t really needed by the people; I prefer to give something that has personal touch just like the beanies we distributed to the cancer patient children. I chose that way of helping which I can really see the benefits to the children and feel for myself,” she said. I agree with Michelle on this, and seeing the children smiling after receiving those small yet meaningful gifts from Michelle is what the world needs more from us. The world needs more people to care and love for others.

Besides running a beauty salon, Michelle also ventures into the soap making business which founded by Florence, her mother.

Beauty With Heart…(left) Michelle & Florence

3 years in soap making business has given Florence the chance to share and educate her customers the benefits of using all natural and organic products.

Florence started using cold processed soap which is different from the soaps sold in the retail stores. The soaps are made from vegetable oil namely olive oil and coconut oil. Adding in raw ingredients such as aloe vera creates more goodness and benefits when using Florence’s handmade soaps.

There are many reasons for the things that we do in life. And Florence started the soap making business because of the sensitive and dry skin she has especially on her hand and heel. “I bought handmade soap from a soap maker and I’ve found out that my skin has improvement after using it. Slowly from there, I started to learn to do it myself from online. It was fortunate that by learning it myself, I achieved a success learning,” Florence shared the story of how she had started the soap making business.

Florence and her family started using only the soap made by herself. And Michelle brought up the idea to sell the soap in their shop. Gradually and slowly the business is growing by introducing more items such as skincare, lip balm and other cosmetics. How they gained confidence and trust from customers is by using the product themselves first hand before introducing to others.

Florence during Jesselton Artisan Market

Small steps lead to bigger goals. At the age of 54, Florence is hoping to expand the business and getting approvals from relevant authority. Besides selling the handmade soap in the shop, she also offers soap making class. Florence and Michelle often having a booth during Jesselton Artisan Market, a curated showcase of Kota Kinabalu’s skilled artisan and their creations. Just in case you missed the event, sopandco is on Instagram.

Michelle and Florence share the common values within them; kindness, love, persistent and believing in good things. I just love them both. At the end of the meeting, Florence told me that she always tells herself that if she has the chance, she wants to help other people more in her life. She proves herself that she is not just the ordinary soap maker in town or just the ordinary beauty like her daughter, Michelle. “When the business gets better, we want to contribute more to the people,”she said.

Heart of gold; Michelle and Florence rocked my Saturday by being the miracle I hope to happen everyday./END

Instagram users share yoga stories

This writing was published on a local printed newspaper Borneo Post in 2014. And it was also the very first time I had my byline on a paper. I am putting it in this blog just to remind me that I can do good in writing and hoping to improve from time to time. I hope you all dear readers enjoy this piece.

By, Kenny Thomas

“Sharing my yoga progress and gets feedback from others who share my passion empowers me to learn and dig more,” says Instagram’s avid user, Caroline Charles who was first used to be so cynical about yoga.

Carol starts yoga with home-practice by learning via the internet in July 2013 after seeing it trending among blogger friends on Instagram.

Four months later, she decided to join a yoga class because of the urge to have a certified yoga instructor to guide her physically and expected to learn the techniques, alignments in a healthy way.

“This way, I can practice at home safely!” stressed Carol, an Unduk Ngadau winner for Keningau district level in 1997 and also a teacher at a primary school.

Little did everyone knows that it is a whole load of possibilities to get the daily mojo to boost your self confidence from whatever photos share on Instagram.

Instagram, according to the Wikipedia, is “an online mobile photo sharing, video sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them on a variety of social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.”

Like Carol, she has been using Instagram with her handle @chegucarol before starting yoga and the amount of time she spends on Instagram is more than that she is on Facebook pr any other social platforms.

“I post more on Instagram. While the other way around, it’s also easier to find yoga inspiration and motivation from the photos shared by the people I followed. Likes on my photos? Who doesn’t fancy getting many thumbs up on the photos?” said Carol when commenting on why she hooked on to Instagram.

“I am proud to say that I have more good feedbacks than bad. That of course makes me happy. It’s like you have given something back in return.

“I know this because I see a lot of my friends who have inquired about yoga from me turned up in yoga class that I recommended. Or some who started by doing home-practice. All the same, I feel wonderful that I have played my part albeit a tiny one,” she added.

The same things happens to Sheen Apin, a homemaker of two who is a gym fitness junkie and also a yoga self-learnt practitioner.

Using her handle @avanus and her own hashtag #nunutyoga on Instagram, Sheena has been very active to share her yoga progress photos.

She gets so much satisfaction by sharing her yoga progress photos which allows her to get direct feedback from her followers on practicing techniques.

“I hope to inspire others with my passion,” she said and she did it.

“My followers on Instagram are motivated to start practising yoga and the connection via the mobile app helps to maintain the motivation to keep going,” she added.

Another yoga lover, Stella O Kunjan (@stellaclaire_r on Instagram) who just returned from the UK, shared her yoga-Instagram stories.

It all started in June 2013 when she had learned some yoga postures from her online friends on Instagram.

“I love to join the yoga daily challenge on Instagram hosted by yogis around the world.

“The yoga communities on Instagram are very supportive. It’s very exciting that I am meeting (virtually) yogis around the world through the social networking service,” said Stella, a former civil engineer who quit her job to be a superb mom to her son.

Why taking it to Instagram is very simple for Stella.

“It’s amazing to see my progress photos on Instagram. It makes me happy. So in that sense, happiness must be shared,” she added.

There are thousand of ways to inspire and be inspired.

For Carol, she still finds herself peeking at other people yoga photos and wonders if she can do as good as that person. Thus, learning to honour thy self is what matters the most.

“In life, it is not about us competing with others. You are your own competition,” Sheena said.

When Things Happen For A Reason

Things happen unexpectedly most of the time.

I came back from a mobile Blood Donation campaign last Friday straight to my office; it was hot during the mobile and it was cold in my office building. I left my blazer in my car earlier before departing for Kepayan where we had the mobile; and I couldn’t stand the cold like always; and I planned to go to the car and get my blazer to save me from the cold.

The plan didn’t happen. When I was heading to the car park, I saw a mother and her newborn baby; no other family was with her. What made me to stop by and ask her if everything is alright, it was when I saw her baby was put on a table wrapped with a pink baby towel while the mother was standing beside it and adjusting her shirt. I was worried and asked if there’s any problem.

The mother looked at me and said,”I was stopping by to breastfeed my baby.”

Upon looking at the mother and her eyes, the eyes were half closed..and I knew that she couldn’t really see properly. She was telling me she wanted to pay for hospital bill and I showed her the way..no, I didn’t actually show her but I told only the direction because my mind was being selfish and only thought to get my blazer. I knew I had to get the mother, that’s maybe my nature to offer my help.

I turned my way back from going to the car park and straight to the Revenue Unit. I saw her and attended to her needs.

I talked to her nicely and had the privilege to hold her newborn baby. The baby boy is 3 days old. I had to ask questions because I was concerned.

She is a 32 years old lady, her parents died, she stayed with an uncle but no longer has the privilege to stay in the house because she decided to look for her only brother. The brother doesn’t wants to know anything about the only sister he has, so she starts living her own life.

It is her first time pregnancy, and first time having a child on her own. When I said no other family was with her during the labour, that meant she was on her own. Where’s the husband then? I choose not to answer this.

It was on Friday when I encountered this incident, and because I had other commitment on the same day, I had to cut short the plan to help her and her baby. I drove her back to her place after my working hour at 5pm, I recorded her number on my phone and I promised to call her the next days. Today is Sunday.

Things happen for a reason, people might just need our help at that moment of time. If I don’t be aware of my surroundings and close my eyes not wanting to know about others, the mother and her baby will be left with no one to help them out.

What happened that day was extraordinary. It reminded me of the cause with Aunty Lahai Paren when I had my first solo journey to Miri, Sarawak last June. I never wanted to be a special chosen person to help others. But those moments came to me where I couldn’t really resist myself to offer what I can do to help.

Most of the times I share those moments on my other social media site. I neglected this page I own for so long. I feel the urge to write what happened on Friday on this blog. I feel better now.

To date, writing is really the best therapy. I feel better now. Yes, that’s the second repeat. I feel better now!/END