A Weekend in Sabah – Malaysia

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Travel Earth Digital Influencers Convention at Sabah, Malaysia

“Firsts” are very special. Especially when it’s an international FAM trip, with fellow Travel Bloggers, Vloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers  . It was the 1st ever Digital Influencers Convention and Awards organised by Travel.Earth in Sabah, Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.

The moment I heard about this, trust me the whole day I was singing – Malaysia truly Asia. That age old advertisement which is literally stored in, I guess every Indian’s mind.

So without anymore delays, let me introduce to you Travel.Earth, give a brief about the Digital Influencers Conference, and take you all through my 5 day Malaysia escapade.

#Weekends done right in #Sabah #Malaysia #TravelDiaries #TravelInspiration #SouthEastAsia

About Travel.Earth

Travel.Earth is an Indian based travel media company. They officially signed a joint marketing campaign with Sabah Tourism Board to host, and award, leading digital travel influencers from India , with the main aim of convention being to provide a platform for different travel content creators to connect and network with travel industry professionals.

 

Digital Influencers Convention

The convention and award show took place from June 25-28, 2019 at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa, in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. It was a 4 day event that comprised of 2 days of FAM Trip focussing on the different shades of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu and 2 days of the Digital Influencer Convention, ending with awards night. The convention hosted approx. 70-80 Indian participants, panellists and eminent speakers of the Travel and Tourism Industry. The event was co-hosted by Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB), Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), Malindo Air and Air Asia.



The 2 Day Sabah Experience

There were around 54 influencers and content creators who participated in this Digital Influencer Convention by Travel.Earth, and were divided into a group of 8-9. Every group was given a different itinerary to follow, each highlighting a different shade of Sabah. Ours involved a close tryst with Mother Nature, as there was  a waterfall trek  starting from Tamaza village in Sabah followed by some rafting, planned for us.

Our tour was organised and managed by Alicia who runs her tour and travel company under the name Avasi Borneo.

Day 1

We started our journey from Sabah at 8 in the morning and our 1st stop was Manggatal where we had our breakfast. Not to miss, we checked out few local shops there and got fascinated by the different varieties of fruits and vegetables available. There after, we stopped at a point from where, one can enjoy a panoramic view of the five islands.

We reached Adventure Cultural Village (headed by Terrance) in Tamaza in the next 1.5 hours. After some warm up activities, we started our trek to the waterfall which included crossing rivers and a couple of bridges. It was a 1.5 hours trek, where we enjoyed the rawness of nature. After enjoying getting wet and taking some pictures by the waterfall, we made our way back to the base camp in the evening and had some yummy local food, before calling it a night.

Day 2

Day 2 started with an early morning visit to the picturesque Paddy fields in Tamaza. There after we made our way to the basecamp which was the starting point for some white water rafting experience, which was planned for us for the day. The grade of rapids was 1-2, making the whole experience, suitable and enjoyable for someone who is scared of water (like me). If you feel like, you can stay overnight at the basecamp (from where rafting starts), and wake up to one of the most gorgeous sunrises. It’s a pretty good location with river view.

We then reached our home for the next 2 days, took some well deserved rest and geared up for the main event – The Digital Influencers Convention.



The Convention and Awards

As shared before, the convention took place at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort and Spa. There were some insightful sessions covering Photography, Digital marketing and influencing and Social Media Marketing and Management, by industry experts.

It continued for good two days followed by the Earthy Awards

There were both onsite and self-nominated awards, that were judged by, well known personalities in the Indian Travel Fraternity like,  Shivya Nath, Siddhartha Joshi, Ramesh Srivats, Bobby Joshi, Dinesh Krishnan, Partha Sinha and Jessie Paul.

Earthy Awards 2019

Earthy Awards 2019 were awarded to fellow content creators as mentioned below:

Best Travel Writer – Vijay Nagaraj Rao (IMVoyager)

Best Youtuber – Priyanka Chandola (DesiTraveller Girl)

Best Instagrammer – Sunny Gala (Worthashott)

Rising Star of the Year – Aakash Malhotra (Wander With Sky)

Travel Photographer of the year – Navaneeth Unnikrishnan

Travel Blogger of the year – Amrita Sen (Tale of 2 Backpackers)

Travel Influencer of the Year – Saumya Rai (Road to Taste)

These were just the main awards, and there were awards also handed out for a variety of categories like Best Story (Wildlife) | Best Photo-Story | Best Short Story on Travel | Best Vlog | Best Photo (Environment) | Best Photo (Food) | Best Photo (People) | Best Story (Culture) | Caption Queen | Best story on website, and a couple of Onsite Awards for Best Post on Sabah | Overall event coverage | Best Story on Airline | Best Sunset Photo | Best Photo at Rasa Ria | Best Caption Story on Sabah | Best Food Picture | Best Story on a Tour Activity, which were announced across different social media channels of Travel.Earth as well.

Heartiest Congratulations to all the awardees, you guys deserved it!

Enough said about the Travel.Earth Digital Influencers Convention and Awards 2019, as now its time for The Sabah Travel Guide, where we have tried to summarise enough information for you to take a trip to Sabah and experience the different shades for yourself.

The Sabah Travel Guide

Sabah, Malaysia:

Sabah is a Malaysian state in the northern part of the Borneo island. It is popular for the 4095 m tall Mount Kinabalu, which is the country’s highest peak. Sabah is all about beaches, wildlife, rainforests and rich cultural heritage.

If you wish to know more about Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, there’s no source more authentic than Sabah Tourism

It goes without saying that if you are an outdoor person and love being in nature, then the Borneo Nature Tour should be at the top of your priority list.

How to reach Sabah:

You can reach Sabah by flight with a layover at Kuala Lumpur. If you are flying from India, then keep in mind that it takes around  5-6 hours from Delhi to Kuala Lumpur and then another 2-3 hours of flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu. 

India is well connected by flights operated by Air Asia, Malindo Air and Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lampur from all major cities like New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Amritsar, Mumbai.



Do I need a VISA?

If you hold an Indian Passport, YES, You do need a VISA to enter Malaysia.

However, the process is quite easy.

You can either apply for an eVISA (Valid for Multiple Entries) via the Official Malaysia Visa website, 

OR

You can get a single entry visa known as eNTRI almost instantly. However, eNTRI is valid only for 15 days.

I got it within 3 hours of applying and I paid approx. 2300 INR for the same. I strongly recommend this website for getting your visa as it is easy, authentic & economical.

 

Things To Do in Sabah, Malaysia

Sabah is one place which has multiple shades for you to see and experience. Depending on your interests, and liking, am sure you can choose your pick form the plethora of activities on offer in Sabah. 

While I couldn’t explore the different shades of Sabah this time, but here are some of the most awesome Things To Do In Sabah, which will definitely make your vacation a memorable one.

Take a Free Walking Tour in Kota Kinabalu

Exploring a new city on foot by taking a Free Walking Tour, is one of the best ways of exploring a new European city for sure. But did you know, that you can explore the city of Kota Kinabalu in a similar manner too?

All you need to do is, get yourself to the meeting point at 9AM, which is the office of Sabah Tourism Board in Gaya Street.

The tour runs 3x a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), starting at 9AM, for 2-3 hours. More information can be found here – Free Walking Tour – Sabah

 

Visit the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque – Sabah, Malaysia | © CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

Get a picture clicked at Pillars of Sabah

While, “Pillars of Sabah 1” focused on a selection of Sabah personalities who have achieved significant success or played a role in the state’s development, Pillars of Sabah 2”, on the other hand was launched in conjunction with Earth Hour 2019, with 30 selected Sabah artists showcasing 30 different endangered animals from the state.

Pillars of Sabah is an excellent project showcasing the work of local artists, which you should definitely visit to appreciate the effort put in by the artists.



Go Diving in the pristine blue waters surrounding Sabah

With its sandy beaches, tropical islands, blue waters, coral reefs and atolls, Sabah has several dive sites rated to be amongst the top ten in the world and many more yet to be truly explored.

There are plenty of dive sites around Sipadan Island, Kapalai Island, Tun Sakaran Marine Park and many more islands in Sabah, Malaysia, where the chances of spotting turtles, barracudas, different species of sharks are quite high.

Get your adrenaline pumping with these adventure filled activities around Sabah

With the option of indulging in high adrenaline pumping activities like white water rafting, mountain biking, Via Ferrata, or exploring the rawness of nature by trekking through the jungles, hiking to reach different view points, Sabah is a destination, which will not disappoint you in this area.

Visit the Tip of Borneo

Evenings at the Tip of Borneo | © Frahman Photography

Did you know that Borneo is World’s Third Largest Island? Interesting, isn’t it. Which is why, visiting the Tip of Borneo, should definitely be on your things to do.

The ‘Tip of Borneo’ sits approximately 180 kilometers (112 miles) northeast of the capital in Kudat Town, and makes for an amazing destination for a day trip from Kota Kinabalu.

Go Local | Get Involved in the community – Stay in a Home Stay in Sabah

An interesting and unique way to really get to know Sabah is by participating in a homestay programme. Staying with the local families and experiencing their actual lifestyle first-hand and how they prepare and eat their meals, go about their work, their leisure activities and much more. Even a family’s daily routine can become a fascinating experience.

The Sabah Homestay Programme is a relatively new tourism product, but has already shown enormous potential, as it covers almost every district of the State of Sabah. From the Tip Of Borneo to the west coast and the interior, around the foothills of Mt. Kinabalu to the East coast and along the banks of the Kinabatangan River, one can experience any of the different lifestyles of the local families living there. Participating Homestay houses are certified by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and monitored by Sabah Homestay Association in their management, development and promotions.



Get up close to the Probiscus Monkeys in Sabah

Let the foodie in you come alive as you discover the local delicacies of Sabah

The first thing you’ll notice is the presence of rice in every dish. Rice also known as Nasi, is a staple food in the region, and dishes like Nasi Ayam, Nasi Lemak, Nasi Kuning are quite popular. Some other dishes to try are the Bah Kut Teh, Ngiu Chap, Amplang, Fresh Seafood etc.

If you are a foodie, and are open to exploring the different flavours, then your palate is surely going to love the spicy local food.

And yes, DO NOT

I repeat, DO NOT, miss the sunsets at Sabah.They’ll be one of the best that you’ve seen, for sure.

Sabah is a great place for someone who likes to explore the unexplored. From beaches to mountains, it has everything to offer. 

As this trip was majorly about the Digital Influencer Convention, I didn’t get to explore much of this beautiful place but someday I would love to visit Sabah again.

Until then,

Terima Kasih & Selamat Tinggal

Heena Raheja

Disclaimer : No compensation was received for this article, however Travel.Earth took care of the the different experiences in Sabah, Malayasia , as Eat | Travel | Live | Repeat was selected as one of the Influencers to attend the Digital Influencer Conference and the 2 day FAM Trip organised in partnership with Sabah Tourism Board and Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board.

Heena Raheja represented Eat | Travel | Live | Repeat throughout the event and all opinions expressed in this article belong to her!

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