posted March 1st
After conducting our programs in various institutions around Kota Kinabalu, (capital of Sabah in East Malaysia), we traveled on to see other parts of this unique state that’s just next door to the Philippines. In particular, we wanted to get away from the tourist trail & see the real ‘Malaysia, truly Asia’! Well, we’re happy to report that we found it on the island of Maliangin!
Although Pulau Bangi is a lovely slice of real Malaysia, it’s seldom visited by tourists as it doesn’t have much in the way of beaches. While there, quite by chance we were able to meet Aziz & Noni who told us about another island just a half hour away by boat that never gets any visitors at all. Seeing our interest, they invited us for a visit & so we had a unique opportunity to explore the really remote tropical island of Maliangin.
This island is a real paradise with beautiful beaches, but only 4 large families live there. There is no electricity & there’s only rainwater to drink. Fish is plentiful, while they grow their own fruits & veges, and keep some domestic animals for other produce.
That sounds fantastic, but the other side of the coin is that the islanders are really poor & although they produce a few handicrafts—promoted by our friends Aziz & Noni– & sell some fish, finances are in very short supply. In particular, fuel for the boats costs a lot as children need to go to Bangi for school, not to mention trips to find supplies. The houses need repairs, as do
the boats, one of which recently caught on fire due to a faulty engine….
There are ideas to start an eco-tourism lodge or hotel, but it’s difficult to see where the funds for this will come from. Any millionaires out there like to help?