Our much anticipated Visit to Tambunan last year was planned 3 months before the journey. Waa….why so long? You might ask. Because a journey involving more than 10 people and include kids of various ages requires lots of thought. And to ensure that we have a place to stay, I booked the accommodation at 7Lodge Tambunan about 1 month in advance.
We commenced the journey to Tambunan from Kota Kinabalu City and the first place to visit on our itinerary was the Tagal Tinopikon Park, located about 12 km from Donggongon Town and about 30 minutes from KK City.
Reaching Tagal Tinopikon
To reach Tagal Tinopikon is no easy feat, for those who have never been there. Not because of bad roads or anything, but because there are so many junctions left and right on the way that it’s easy to miss it. We chose the road from Kota Kinabalu to Donggonggon, so upon approaching the iconic Donggongon roundabout, we turned left and drove straight on.
Along the way we passed Kasigui Water Treatment, Shell Petrol Station, Jalan Inobong and Moyog Water Treatment Plant.
Honestly, we were not at all familiar with the Tinopikon Park because none of us have ever been there. And I couldn’t find a perfect map anywhere. So, we paid close attention to road signs and when we saw the Kampung Babagon signage, we slowed down a bit and kept a lookout for Taman Tinopikon signage on the right hand side.
Fortunately, we were driving behind my sister, and guided by my brother who are both very good with directions.
If it were up to me, I would definitely have missed the spot as the signage was not very prominently displayed – not to me, anyway.
We were greeted by pretty little flowers blooming on the parking grounds. My fingers were itching to pick the dainty pink flowers but I had to abandon the idea as the kids were excitedly rushing down the stairs leading to the Park.
Climbing down the stairs to reach the hanging bridge requires care, especially after a rain as the stairs could be slippery – that’s where sports shoes would come in handy. Sights of plants and vegetations on the way down claimed my attention and slowed my steps. An on-and-off terrible gardener (yeah right!), I am easily fascinated by the sights of healthy fruit trees and vegetations – which filled my heart with admiration for the unknown persons who planted them.
Walking on Suspension Bridge
The way to the Tagal involves a few minutes of walking down wooden stairs and crossing a sturdy suspension bridge.
On the way towards the hanging bridge, we also encountered a few photographers with impressive photography equipment sitting on a clear path and also on other spots. Some of them were shooting at the river, while a few were sitting quietly in the woods and waiting for what…? We could only guess. They looked so focused that we were hesitant to greet them, only managed to smile a bit.
A few metres after the stairs, stood the suspension bridge over the river – definitely not for the faint-hearted. Although the bridge appeared way sturdier than the stairs, to those who are afraid of heights (like one of my sons), walking on the bridge posed quite a challenge. Therefore, the crossing also demands understanding from other braver souls especially when the bridge moves and sways whenever anyone steps on it.
Unfortunately, on that day, excitement overcame sympathy so when there were more than a few pairs of feet excitedly marching (and even running) on it – well, let’s just say that someone held on to the ropes of the bridge for dear life!
It was quite hilarious, really.
Before I stepped on the bridge – I breathe the air and stopped for a while to take in the view. It was picturesque, to say the least. Tagal Taman Tinopikon of Kampung Noturuss is an impressively clean river teeming with fish.
During my research prior to proposing the visit to the family, I learned that in the local KadazanDusun dialect, ‘tagal’ means ‘no fishing’ or ‘prohibited’.
You could be fined if you fish in a Tagal area without permission or dirty the river.
Tagal Taman Tinopikon is part of the Moyog River and is under the supervision of the Malaysian Fisheries Department. Looking at the surrounding areas, pristine waters and droves of big, fat fish in it, I would say that this Tagal area is a success story of an environmentally protected and preserved area.
The community running the Tagal area deserves to be proud of their efforts. Kudos to all the parties involved! 😀
In this serene site, we can experience fish swimming towards humans instead of away from humans – the fish know that we will not harm them and actually anticipate us feeding them.
And why not, when visitors are encouraged to feed the fish and fish food are sold for RM2 per pack. Visitors can sit on the rocks and enjoy a fish foot spa – well, at least once they’ve conquered their fear of the bite from the toothless Pelian/Kelah fish.
Hahaha, it was rather ticklish, actually!
I believe that if I had the time, I would sit on the huge river rock and meditate for hours, surrounded by the green trees and plants, with sounds of the water flowing down river and abundance of cool fresh air filling my lungs – really invigorating.
One of our kids ‘slipped’ into the water, so it would be a good idea to bring extra clothing, towel, anti-slip slippers, etc., just in case. I wore sport shoes, but I think bringing along anti-slip slippers is a good idea if we want to enjoy the water and don’t want to wet the shoes. ‘Falling’ or ‘slipping’ into the water also happened during our second visit (yes, we visited it again not long after) – don’t know how the kids always manage to ‘accidentally slip’ into the waters every time we visit the beach and the river….???
In my experience, no amount of precaution, nagging and warning can stop it from happening – so better be prepared.
If you want to experience a wholly authentic village hospitality (including kampong meal cooked using firewood (I guess the menu includes fresh fish from the river), jungle trekking, tour of village houses, traditional dance performance, river spa, etc, visit Sabahtourism.Com for more info.
There are tour services available for those who wishes to experience authentic Noturuss Village kampong life while in the area.
Anyway, I was informed by the villagers that it’s ok to have a swim in the river and they even pointed to me the areas that are good for a swim.
Perhaps next time….
Imagine – it’s so near to KK and yet I only found out about this jewel last year, while researching for places to visit on the way to Tambunan!
I guess the Tagal in Kampung Luanti, Ranau is more popular with folks around here.
The Park is open daily from 9.30am – 1pm and 2.30pm – 6pm.
Our next stop was the Kipandi Butterfly Park.