Are you familiar with the old network of salt trails crisscrossing the
? Some of these
trails are more than a hundred years old and were the only means of
communication between Tambunan, in the interior, and the coastal towns of Crocker
Range North Borneo. For countless generations, Dusun barter
traders of Tambunan carried produce to the tamu at Inobong where the trails
end, and returned home with salt, dried fish and other items from the coast…hence,
the term ‘Salt Trails’
|The Inobong-Tikolod trail; follow the stars|
One such trail runs from Inobong (in Penampang) and ends at Tikolod in Tambunan. This particular trail is now being promoted by the Sabah Parks which—in 2002—established the Inobong Sub-Station.
I was among a big group of senior citizens given the chance to visit the place last week. A steep road led us to the Inobong Station. It’s on the
but the road isn’t as steep as the
one leading to the Kokol Hills where we went twice. Crocker Range
|A small tree marks the starting point of the trail|
The start of the Inobong-Tikolod Salt Trail is marked with a tree. It is 35.8km up and down the
to Tikolod. (By
road, the distance to Tambunan is twice that of the trail.) For a fee, trekkers
are guided by Park Rangers all the way to Tikolod and back with night stopovers
at three villages. It takes four days and three nights to make the round trip. Crocker
|Two blocks of hostels and a single chalet|
Two blocks of hostels and one chalet are available for paying guests. There’s even a barbeque pit at the side of a gazebo. From here one can admire a panoramic view of KK and the South China Sea—the same view that must have signaled to those long-ago barter traders that they had almost reached the end of their trek and could soon rest their tired legs as well as unload the weights off their backs.
|Rain clouds over KK|
Now the bad news…
The Inobong-Tikolod trail happens to be in the valley where the government plans to build the Kaiduan mega-dam. If the dam is built, all this area—along with the villages in it, all traces of civilization such as stone markers, oath stones, graves, historical and cultural sites going back several generations—would be wiped out. And what a tragedy that would be!
The people in the many villages here are subsistence farmers planting mainly rice and tapioca as staples. They are happy to be where they have been for several generations. The older residents could still recall what life was like before the war and during WW2 when many Chinese from the coastal towns made their way to the river valley to escape the atrocities of the Japanese occupation.
If the dam project is scratched, not only villages and buried ancestors be prevented from drowning but countless species of plants and animals would be preserved too.
Okay, back to the Inobong Sub-Station…
I mentioned about the visit on Facebook. Apparently, not many people know about this nature haven although it’s just several minutes outside KK! Could this have been a well-guarded secret? If it was, the cat is out of the bag now! I’m definitely going there soon. Who wants to come along? Susan? Rosemary? Frank? A friendly tiger would be good company. Don’t forget to bring your camera!