The hidden secret of Tanjung Simpang Mengayau : The Tip of Borneo

 Tanjung Simpang Mengayau also known as The Tip of Borneo located in Kudat district of Sabah, Malaysia. Kudat is well known for good food due to its location with fresh seafood available year round. Tanjung Simpang Mengayau’s location is the northernmost in Borneo Island other than that this location is a mark meeting point of Sulu Sea in the East and South China Sea in the West and North side. 

Local community residing this peninsular are from Rungus ethnic, a subgroup of Kadazan-Dusun. In Rungus language this place is called Tanjung Sampang Mangazou (Junction to the battle) which is refer to a battle by their ancestors in 18th and 19th centuries defending their land against Moro Pirates from Sulu Sea. According to the legend the Rungus warriors had used this cape as a strategic point to observe incoming pirate attacks. While to Chinese people from Mainland China, they called this place as Den Foh Liew in Hakka language which means “lighthouse” and this refer to lighthouse located in Kalampunian Island nearby. The Chinese merchant especially Chinese Muslim often used this route to bring Islam to Sulu and to do trading. History finding shows that a lot of Chinese ceramic and porcelain found in Sulu. A Chinese shipwreck also found less than one kilometer from Simpang Tanjung Mengayau Beach. Historian believed that this shipwreck is the oldest shipwreck ever found in Malaysia waters.  They believe that this ship is from Song Dynasty China (960-1279) the dynasty that first to know use of gunpowder as well as the first discernment of the north using a compass.

The Tip of Borneo also a provisioning point for ships that needed water and fresh food. The first circumnavigation by Ferdinand Magellan (Magellan-Elcano Expedition) in year 1521 had stopped at this place for forty-two days to get food supply and to repair The Victoria and The Trinidad Ship which at that time under command Captain Duarte Barbosa and Captain Juan Sebastian Elcano. Two out of five ships survived in Ferdinand-Elcano Expedition. They are in the final stage of expedition to find the Spice Island sailed from Mactan, Philippines and stop at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau and then to Brunei.  I will explain in detail regarding the expedition, Panglima Awang or known as Enrique of Malacca and other related history happened between years 1511-1521 in my future edition.

Geographically Tanjung Simpang Mengayau offers nice and beautiful beach with wind blows directly from South China Sea. From the bronze monument you can see vast rock formation surrounding area. As you go down the cliff you will see a lot of tafoni if you are lucky you can see crab live in the tafoni. Tafoni are small cave-like features found in granular rock such as sandstone, granite, and sandy-limestone with rounded entrances and smooth concave walls, often occur in groups that can riddle a hillside, cliff, or other rock formation. The process called tafonization which is the salt weathering on sandstone wall. 

Other than tafoni formation, there are two caves on the east side of the cape facing Sulu Sea. Based on study conducted by Universiti Malaysia Sabah shows that 95% land formation in Tanjung Simpang Mengayau are from lower sand unit (it’s a lithological unit). If we study the water sea level 500 years back which is water level much lower than the present day we can see large formation of stone bedding surrounding the area.  This reinforces the fact that the ship could have sunk or damaged if sailing through this area.

My last visit to Sabah during Ramadhan on May 2017 gives me plenty of times to plan and explore these places.  To experience the local culture, I choose to drive from Kota Kinabalu to Simpang Mengayau and it takes 2 to 3 hour to reach there. My advise is you no need to rent 4WD which is much expensive, choose ordinary sedan more save and more economic. The road condition is very good except few kilometers before arriving the place is offroad but flat surface.  

Before we reach to the place we stop at Kota Belud Town. The town famous with Pasar Tamu, this weekly market is a local product market all the traders and producers gather here to sell their product from leafy greens to delicious local cakes. Here you can bargain for a better price. Kota Belud will host annual event called Tamu Besar (Big Market) literally the biggest Tamu ever organized in Sabah which will be held from 28th until 29th October 2017.

Then we continue our journey to Tanjung Simpang Mengayau. Once you entering the Kudat Peninsular from junction to Kota Marudu you can see the beauty of flora and fauna along the road. Before reaching the cape there are a lot of interesting places you can explore such as:

  1. Rungus Traditional Longhouse in Kampung Bavanggazo (Bavanggazo Village). It a traditional longhouse builds on stilts, even though in modern days longhouse getting rare but you still can experience this fascinating communal lifestyle. This longhouse was built entirely from traditional material. 
  2. Gong Making Industry in Kampung Sumangkap (Sumangkap Village). Here you can find biggest gong ever made in Malaysia which is the size is about 4 meter in diameter. There are 4 types of Gong Tawang, Seludon, Canang and Kulintangan. Every type of gong produces different type of sound. Here you can learn gong making process and learn how to play gong. If you visit here in group, the villagers of Kampung Sumangkap will hold cultural performance in Kampung Sumangkap Comunnity Hall. Visitor also can expect to find tiny souvenir ones with different shapes and unique designs. 
  3. Gombizau Honey Bee Farm. Here you can observe how bee farm is managed and you also can taste raw honey straight from the honeycomb.  
  4. Kampung Tinangol (Tinangol Village). In Kudat district, there are 4 craft villages, every village have their own craft specialty. For this Kampung Tinangol their speciality is beadwork. Here you can see how Rungus woman making beads and you also can learn about beads design and concept.  Beadwork ornamental items includes rings, necklaces, bracelets, bangles and many more 

In month of July 2017 The Matunggong village people will organize annual event called Magahau Festival or Magahau Rungus. This one month thanks giving event will showcase Rungus Culture, all guest are welcome with Mongigol & Sumundai Dance, Traditional Sport called Hontira, Monurizak the singing competition Kiansamung the beauty pageant competition. From these area it took about 15 to 20 minutes drive to Simpang Tanjung Mengayau.

My first impression once I arrived at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau. Subhanallah, I was speechless enjoying the nice sea view from Tanjung Kelambu to Tanjung Simpang Mengayau. As soon as you arrive at the seaside you’ll find a lot of coconut trees along the way. A great view seems to be in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. At the time of our arrival the wind were very strong, but before we start the journey I checked the weather and it was forecasted that wind speed 10km/h but I think it stronger than that. Tip for photographers, if you shooting with a tripod in this area please be extra careful because strong winds can cause the camera from falling. 

Upon arrival at the parking lot in Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, you need to walk around 200m to the monument square. This monument is the mark of the northernmost point of Borneo Island with the exact coordinate is 7°02′14″N 116°44′32″E. In this monument square there are bronze globe and Malaysian Flag pole. The Sabah government had developed this area into a public park as tourist attraction. The Malaysian Flag (Jalur Gemilang) was brought from Papar District of Sabah (274km away from here) by horse riding and it took 4 days for convoy to reach this place. From my observation the park is fully equipped with park facilities and sign for safety zones. All the plants and grass are well maintained, congratulation to local and state authorities. 

Other than sightseeing and sunset photography there are a lot of recreational activities can be done here such as surfing, leisure dive, scuba diving, snorkeling, banana boat ride, fishing, canoeing, cycling and many more.   

If you interested in special event, there are annual events conducted by Sabah Tourism Board such as: 

  1. Sunset Music Fest at the Tip of Borneo, Kudat (Late June/Early July) the event serenades audiences with classical favorites and contemporary tunes as the sun sets on the horizon. 
  2. Coconut Fest (29 June to 1 July). Coconut is grown extensively here covering an area of more than 5,741 hectares. The Coconut Fest is celebrated in a special festival at Tomborungus in the northern district of Kudat. The festival highlights the coconut industry and recognition of its significant contribution to the social and economic welfare of the rural folks in Kudat. Its launching date coincides with World Coconut Day and a host of exciting activities are lined up for visitors including the highly entertaining coconut shoe race, squeezing coconut milk competition, food and drink exhibition, handicraft displays, coconut fashion show and a wildlife exhibition for the entire duration of the festival.
  3. Pesta Gong Matunggong (24 – 25 October). The gong is one of the quintessential musical instruments of Sabah and is produced by craft makers at Sumangkap village in Matunggong. 

That’s the end of my trip for today to Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, I hope that all the information given are useful to all the readers. I found that peoples on Sabah especially in Kudat and Kota Belud are very friendly, helpful and very welcoming. This will encourage more local and international tourist to visit this place in future. For Muslim traveller in term of halal food and place to pray don’t worry its easy to find. If you are interested to joint our trip to Sabah in future just gives us a call or email us and we will take a good care of you. 

 

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