Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sabah trip - Kundasang

I was given less than a week's notice to travel to Kundasang and Ranau to report the effects of the earthquake on local businesses. This could be one of the rare chances I'd get an all expenses paid trip to the land below to wind, so I jumped at the opportunity despite having other activities that weekend.

Mount Kinabalu as viewed from Kundasang town. The 6.0 magnitude earthquake displaced tonnes of rock, resulting in the whitish streaks that you see here on the mountain's surface.

We stayed at Cottage Hotel, a small inn in Mesilou. It is built and owned by our guide - Mr Koh.

From afar, you wouldn't be able to ascertain the extent of damage caused by the earthquake, until you go closer and view the rivers.

Mountain debris from the earthquake flowed downstream, destroying riverbanks and bridges.

Several farming areas and guest houses in Kundasang were cut off for two months until this new steel bridge was built.

 Again, from afar, everything looks normal for this vegetable farm.

 Mr Koh is the manager of the largest vegetable farm in Kundasang.

However, his business is facing a substantial loss as a result of intermittent water supply and a shortage of workers who have kept away after the earthquake.

Because of insufficient water and workers to take care of the vegetables, insects have come to attack the crops and eat them up. These wombok could have been sold for a healthy sum in the market.

A typically vibrant tourist industry at the Mount Kinabalu vicinity came to a standstill in the months of June and July after the earthquake. This boutique hotel, H. Benjamin Residence in Mesilou was badly affected and has just reopened for business.

The hotel staff were cleaning up the restaurant adjacent to the hotel. It had a strong stench.

One of the entrances to Kinabalu parked is still cordoned off.

The rocks and mudslide have decimated roads and bridges in the park.

 Build your house on top of the hill, next day it ends up at the bottom.

Disrupted water supplies means a small scale strawberry / guesthouse entrepreneur has no choice but to let her plants die.

 I could feel the pain and sadness in her as she spoke about her plants.

Famous Desa Dairy at the foot of the mountains.

You can see the effects of the erosion more clearly in this image.

A view of the Kundasang shop area with Mount Kinabalu in the background.

Tun M's brainchild, Project IC means that many foreigners are permitted to open legitimate businesses in Sabah.

 The locals don't seem to have any issues with their foreign friends though.

A typical family outing in Sabah is bringing your whole household to a kopitiam or mamak for a simple meal.

The Kundasang shophouse square has been forsaken since it was first launched by the then deputy minister Tun M in 1980.

 Buffet steamboat in Cottage Hotel. Fresh ingredients, limited in selection but it costs RM 40!

The Kapitan of Kundasang town has given up on requesting for government assistance to reconnect water supplies for his crop. He laments, every man for himself.

A souvenir of Mount Kinabalu at the hotel reception.

A worker taking a break while sorting and packing vegetables.

Despite all challenges, tourists are expected to return to Sabah soon when Kinabalu Park reopens in early September, hence alleviating the problems facing businesses in the aftermath of the quake.



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