We spent three years in India and one of the highlights was escaping from the heat into the elevated tea plantations in and around Kerala. So it was a treat to find the Sabah Tea plantation in the foothills of Mt Kinabalu, Sabah. And afterwards the hot springs of Poring.
Sabah Tea is the only organic tea farm in Borneo and one of only a few in the world. But you don’t have to like tea to appreciate the stunning surroundings.
Although it’s more exposed than Kinabalu Park, the plantation and gardens still benefit from the surrounding cool rainforest and offers a number of treks around the plantations.
We stayed at the Sabah Tea Plantation and Resort, a simple group of small cottages and traditional Rungus long houses on a hill overlooking the plantation. There’s nothing much there except plantation workers, workers’ cottages, farm buildings, a factory, a restaurant and bits of farm equipment along the tracks. And the spectacular view.
Its peace and tranquillity is the beauty of Sabah Tea Garden. One night wasn’t long enough.
Night-time at the Sabah Tea resort is remarkably peaceful with no light pollution, just the stars to illuminate the view. We sat outside the whole evening, drinking tea of course as Jamie experimented with some night photography
We got up early to catch the mist rolling through the valleys. A simple restaurant specialises in tea (of course!) with a large menu of different flavours. The signature breakfast dish is green tea pancakes.
Originally run by the government, Sabah was privatised in 1997 to allow greater development. The factory was closed to visitor because of covid, but it’s still a popular spot with local tourists. The Yee Lee Corporation, which now owns it, has added a few attractions to keep children (and us!) amused, and we were happy to hand over a few pennies to climb up the shortest canopy walkway we’ve encountered so far on our travels.
Before heading back to the heat of the coast, we spent another two days in Kinabalu Park, this time at the Poring Hot Springs in the rainforest.
There are two waterfalls in the park, and at 120m the larger of the two (Langganan) is one of the tallest in Sabah. Unfortunately it was closed, so we trekked to the closer and smaller Kipungit Waterfall. Despite the morning heat, most of the walk is covered by tall, shady trees and although it was the weekend, we met no-one else along the trail.
Between the waterfall and the hot springs are the underrated yet peaceful ethno-botanical gardens, and the jungle fruit orchard. Never underestimate the respite spots like these offer the weary trekker from the relentless heat and humidity of the forest.
Suckers for exercise, we headed over to the canopy walk. This one is more than 175m in length and over 40m in height, and is not for the faint-hearted. First off, the steep trek to the beginning of the canopy walk has you snaking your way up into the forest. Since there was no-one else around, and therefore no queue, we had the opportunity to follow the path without stopping. Fortunately there are shelters along the way where we caught our breath.
We were already exhausted before we’d even begun the canopy walk, but it was worth it. The views from inside the canopy across the 100 million year old forest were spectacular.
After a day tramping around in the heat, we relaxed in the pools and after a dip we returned to our cottage to find a little surprise in store for us. We had been upgraded to the Jungle Lodge at Poring Hot Spring!
We have to thank Sutera Sanctuary Lodges for upgrading us to their Jungle Lodge. We got to spend a night in complete luxury. The lodge was so big (for those of us who live on boat, at least) that we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Liz especially appreciated the massive bath in the semi-open bathroom.
We can’t recommend the Jungle Lodge enough, so if you find yourselves visiting Poring, try to grab it.
Watch the full video here…
Thanks for popping along to read our blog
Peace and fair winds!
Liz and Jamie
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