Monday, July 20, 2009

Up North in The Big Island, Banggi

I've always proudly thought my geography knowledge was very good (one of my favourite subjects in school), until I read recently that the biggest island in Malaysia is Pulau Banggi, in our own backyard.

And I did not know that?! So I embarrassingly admit that I thought wrong of myself (*quick slap to the wrist*). My Malaysian geography sure needs to be improved. This makes me even more determined to make sure I go around all of Malaysia and not be ignorant like this.

Arrived Kudat at noon on Saturday, and went round town to look for the ferry terminal as we had the information that it departs at 1:00 pm to Banggi. When we found it near the Jalan Imigresen, apparently the information is outdated. There are now two ferries servicing Kudat-Banggi route : Outward to Banggi is at 9:00 am and 2:30 pm, and return to Kudat is at 7:45 am and 3:00 pm. Be sure to be there earlier though as it will depart as soon as all passengers have boarded, both times we left 15 minutes earlier.

We got our tickets for 2:30 pm and spent time around the small Kudat town, had cooling drinks and sampled some local ABC (watermelon in ABC? weird taste) at this nice cafe called Selera Ria, located on the ground floor of Hotel Ria.

The journey took just about 1 hour 15 minutes, including docking time.

Here's some pics I took, not that many as I forgot to bring my battery charger ;P :

The ferry, Kudat Express - RM18/RM15 per way.

Arriving at the jetty in Pekan Karakit.

Long jetty towards Pekan Karakit.

Our first agenda was to find the resort; only a few minutes walk from the jetty. At the end of the jetty, turn right and walk straight on till you reach the small roundabout. Take the turn between two rows of mini-shops, turn right again.. will see the building. It's definitely not a resort and nothing like Bali :) despite the name.

The 'reception'

This was the room - aircon RM65/fan RM45.

I love this shot of the old jetty..

Kids were playing and doing some fishing on the jetty. I did not dare to walk on it as it looked so very fragile and had missing planks here and there..

Obligatory brown selipar shot..

A Bonggi tree-house on the grounds of the resort. I read that the local natives of the island used to stay in these kind of houses built on trees.

Everything is made of wood, rattan and palm leaves.
It's quite high up from the ground level..

Seating place inside the treehouse..

Sitting on the first level veranda

Attap and walls made from leaves from a type of palm - not the usual attap..

Up the treehouse ..

On the way down..

Afternoon tea after walking around the pekan - ikan belais panggang RM1.50, and putu ubi 50 sen. Not in the picture - Maggi Kari RM2.00 :)

The short cut to the warungs. After dinner we used this path, and abruptly turned back (I practically ran!) as we saw a log sea-snake. No wonder they put up a sign there : beware of poisonous sea-snakes.

Late afternoon, we walked along this almost completed road that sloped gently upwards and saw the schools and clusters of houses..

The row of 'floating' warungs on stilts..

The warungs..we had dinner here and got to watch some news on TV. The 'breaking' news was the result of the football match between the Malaysian Team and ManUre.

This is the Banggi Environmental Awareness Centre under WWF, which was sadly unkept and looked abandoned.

Side view of the BEAC, just next to the resort.

These signboards are quite new. Note building on the hillside; district office?

Main Street, Karakit. The multi-purpose open hall is on the left, and the pasar is on the right.

Banggi is mostly in the news in past years as it has been identified as having one of the highest level of hard core poverty in the country. In 2007, an RM167 million Agropolitan project under Felcra was launched (by no less than the then PM) as part of the 9th MP.

The island has a police station, an army base (lots of machine-gun-toting uniformed men), two primary schools; supply of electricity and treated water are also available (although I did see some villagers bathing from wells).

There is good potential for tourism in Banggi as there are a number of islands close-by; however there are no obvious efforts in this area for now. There's nothing to do for tourists or visitors right now, apart from trekking to the highest point and island hopping which need to be pre-arranged. I am sure the other side of the island which we did not venture into, has its own attractions. There isn't much to do yet in Karakit itself, sadly.

Hopefully once the development is in place a few years from now, Banggi will be ready to open itself up to tourists.

Any place with a hammock is alright with me :)

1 comment:

  1. I plan to go to Pulau Banggi next January: so I am happy to find your very nice pictures about this islands - thank your very much for this impressions.