Unique Facts About Sabah You Probably Didn't Know

How much do you know about the Land Below the Wind aka Sabah? Our Taylorian from Sabah, Sonia shares some interesting facts about Sabah!

“Where are you from?”

“Ohhh, I’m from Sabah!”

“Woahh, you must be enjoying the beautiful beaches and sunsets there.”

Whenever I hear people telling people I’m lucky to be able to watch beautiful sunsets at the beaches in Sabah, I would always feel happy and grateful for the fact that I’m a Sabahan. Technically, I wouldn’t just feel grateful and happy only when people tell me this, but it’s an honour to be a Sabahan and I’ll always appreciate the Sabahan identity that has been integrated within me.

However, there are circumstances when people would ask ignorant questions being a Sabahan which would sometimes hurt my feelings. At that point, sometimes I just wish Sabah could’ve been as advanced as some states in Malaysia or I just wished that people would educate themselves more on current issues and hoping the media would just stop nitpicking on the flaws of Sabah. 

That’s why when people compliment Sabah, it would just give me a natural sense of reassurance of how lucky I am and I don’t have to feel down because each one has their own flaws and strengths. 

As we are in the month of celebrating Malaysia Day, I’m going to share some interesting facts about Sabah and how you too could be included as a Malaysian.

Living in Harmony


Customers eating in Sugarbun

Firstly, Sabah is known as the Land Below the Wind because of its location being in the southern area of the typhoon-prone region in Philippines, making Sabah free from the typhoons. In a sense, Sabahans are lucky to be able to live peacefully together.

Moving on, although there are a number of different races here living in Sabah including the natives, I personally think Sabah is a harmonious state. Well, this is because the people here get along just well and they see you as a human being before anything else. The communities here are quite laid back and slow-paced which could probably play a role in terms of the harmony in Sabah. 

I’m saying this because Sabahan is simply fond towards enjoying whatever they are doing at the moment. To give you a glimpse, it’s quite normal to see different kinds of ethnic groups dining in the same restaurant regardless of what they serve. Another scenario is most of the Sabahans would always drop by the Tanjung Aru beach to watch the sunset and take pictures while strolling whether it is the weekdays or weekends. And if a friend is in need, they would always offer to help out no matter if they know you or not. 

PS: According to Amazing Borneo, there are more than 30 ethnic races living in Sabah, with over 80 local dialects spoken. Talk about diversity!

The Sabah Malay Dialect


The Sabah Flag

Image source: Wikipedia

Now, the Sabahan accent is quite interesting I would say. This is because when you first hear it, it might seem like Indonesian dialect although we’re speaking the same language which is Bahasa Malaysia. 

However, do take note that the Malay language varies in different states throughout Malaysia and it should be something we should embrace because at the end of the day it’s still the Malays language. To give you some context about the words that might differ from Malay and technically can be only heard in daily conversations among Sabahans, here are some words/phrases which you can learn and store it in your dictionary.



Sabahan Malay

Are you going to school tomorrow?

Esok, kamu pergi ke sekolah kah?

Bisuk, kau pigi skola kah?

What’s your name? 

Apakah nama kamu? 

Apa nama kau?

My name is…

Nama saya ialah 

Nama sia/sya ialah…

Have you eaten?

Kamu sudah makan? 

Kau sudah makan kah?

Where do you live?

Kamu tinggal di mana?

Mana kau tinggal?

How are you?

Apa khabar kamu?

Apa khabar kau?

I’m fine.

Khabar baik. 

Khabar baik.

No problem!/ No worries!

Tiada masalah!

Buli bah kalau kau!

Who told it?

Siapa beritahu?

Siapa kastau tu? 




So the next time you visit Sabah, do try and see if you can tell if anyone’s speaking in a Sabahan accent!

A Melting Pot of Cultures


The different cultures of Sabah

Image source: Wikipedia

Sabahan has got quite a mixed culture I would say which also played a part in their harmonious communities. So, why would I say this? This is because Sabah already has quite a number of natives groups such as Kadazan-Dusun, Murut, Bisaya, Bajau and many more. Not only that but in the early days, Sabah has already had non-indegenius people settling in, mostly Chinese people with Hakka descent. Thus, the people in Sabah never really had an issue regarding living with different ethic groups with different cultures as the natives themselves are already quite diverse in terms of their culture.

With more and more people settling in Sabah and receiving their PR, Sabah has become more diversified and friendly towards newcomers to enjoy their time here. In short, as there’s quite a number of cultures here, there’s no doubt that interracial marriages and interculture marriages have quite a number of them which played a role in uniting everyone here and, hence, probably that’s why many of us are quite laid back.

Interesting Places to Visit


View of Kuching

Image source: Wikipedia

Here are some places that you can visit should you ever come to Sabah or if you’re a Sabahan but haven’t been to these places yet. Remember to add them in your places to visit list.

  • Cabana Retreat, Kota Belud 

What to do here: Try out the waterpark, horse riding, glamping, ATV ride, rivercruise & fireflies tour, bbq session with friends and family, walk the suspension bridge 

  • Airport Lounge in Shanghai 1950, Kolombong 

What to do here: Ever wonder what it's like to go cafe hopping in the late 90s? Well here’s one palace that you can go to!

  • Shangri-La Rasa Ria Tuaran 

What to do here: Catch the best sunset picture here. It's also quite a big resort compared to the ones in Kota Kinabalu!

  • Kampung Pukat Fishing Village, Sandakan 

What to do here: Give their food a try as it’s really delicious but do take note that it’s non-halal. 

  • Tip of Borneo, Kudat

What to do here: The name says it all which means you’re at the tip of Borneo. It’s time for you to take that short vacation here. 

I hope the article was interesting for you if you read all the way here and gain some insights about Sabah which not many people do talk about or focus on when it comes to the beauty of the state. 

In case you’re still wondering about what I love about Sabah, I personally love Sabah simply for the fact that it is Sabah along with the progressive growth through the years despite the slow paced lifestyle. You’ll know what I mean once you’ve seen it for yourself. Do come visit Sabah anytime of the year because we’ll always welcome anyone but just a gentle reminder to check on the monsoon season if you’ve plans on going diving or any sea activities.

Want to learn more about our Eastern Malaysians? Read fun facts about Sarawak here!

Sonia Rachel is currently pursuing Bachelor of Social Science (Hons) in International Relations at Taylor's University. She is also a committee member of Taylor’s University Student Council.

Need more contents to keep you mused? Sign up to be part of The Risers community!