Tuesday, 13 September 2011
taking a ride on a steam train ......
The North Borneo Railway runs 36 miles between Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, and Papar, an agricultural town, known as the rice bowl of Sabah.
Passengers board the train at Tanjung Aru Station at the designated platform. At the station, passengers are greeted by well-appointed train stewards. They receive their train passport and boarding pass at the counter and proceed to the platform. As the whistle blows during departure time, the train will commence its journey while, passengers are pampered by the train stewards and treated to some of the unique and interesting sceneries in Sabah.
As the train pulls out of the station, the development of kota Kinabalu begins to slip away. Time and history begin to take over. After Putatan, the train veers into the countryside, away from the modern day trapping of Sabah society. The train hugs the coast of Lokawi Bay and offer passengers an opportunity to take in the picturesque view of the South China Sea.
The train then leaves the road and edges towards Kinarut, a traditional trading village. A school stands proudly in the forefront, reminding everyone of the importance of education. A mosque also stands near the station, highlighting the influence of the national religion. An interesting Buddhist temple appears at the foot of the nearby hill.
After Kinarut, the train passes through Kawang, home to Kawang Forest Reserve. Gazetted as a Second Class Domestic Forest Reserve, its main purpose is to supply clean water for locals in the Vicinity. The centre also offers a myriad of activities from jungle trekking, camping to cave exploration.
The train veers again and crosses the Papar River over a steel trestle bridge as Papar town comes into view. A quaint township, Papar is wedged in the valley between the Crocker Range and the coast. Here, everyone is a neighbour and the intimacy is clear with their dispositions and smiles. The local market or Tamu is a reflection of life in Sabah - simple and alive with the sounds and smells of recurrent daily routines.