borneo’s secret ingredients
Sabah’s ultimate taste-bud sensation is the famous hinava tongii. A combination of Spanish mackerel, chilli, ginger and shallots in lime juice, with grated bambangan seed. This indigenous variety of mango is the secret ingredient, and Intrepid Express reader Gay Everitt lifts the lid on more local delights in Borneo…
“The bustling markets of the capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, are crammed into acres of waterfront warehouses bursting with exotic foods and artefacts, all competing for space in the dimly-lit, but thankfully cool, interior. Street hawkers from nearby villages pursue you on the fringes and families watch with amusement from the decks of their fishing barges tied to the wharf.
Every evening open-air barbecue stalls sell skewered chicken, prawns and mackerel at trestle tables adorned with floral plastic tablecloths. Coke is the preferred drink, as the multicultural population includes many Muslims who shun alcohol. The city mosque appears as a pristine wonderland alongside the highway, a space of charm and serenity amidst the fumes and noise.
Escape into the hinterland to Mount Kinabalu, a towering peak which hosts an annual mountain run, and take a dip in the mountain spring-fed swimming pool at Poring Hot Springs to cool off after your trek.
On the eastern coastline bordering the Zulu Sea, at Palau Spidan marine reserve, scuba dive with giant parrot fish and greenback turtles, under the protection of guards whose job it is to deter poachers and pirates. You will manage to sleep in a bungalow on stilts above the water, even on nights when a hurricane blows rain sideways, after three dives and as many sumptuous meals a day.
Finally, visit the orangutan refuge to see these gentle giants hanging onto their very existence in the only home they have, the tropical rainforest of Borneo, the ‘land beneath the wind’.”