Every year, Sticky Rice Travel dedicates a time for all team members to take a short pause from work for a much needed break. Company trips are much-anticipated, as it is an opportunity where Stickies can gather and spend time going through fun and memorable activities. This time our team heads to one of Sabah’s hidden gems – Orou Sapulot.
For most of the Stickies, especially those based in our Kota Kinabalu workplace it was their first visit to this community-based tourism destination. A company trip that is part a familiarization trip, they have a chance to see Orou Sapulot’s positive impact towards the local community and partake in activities first hand rather than hearing about it from on-site team members. On a beautiful and early Friday morning, everyone met to pack their stuff into the vans. With high spirits, we headed for Orou Sapulot.
From the picturesque drive heading to the region of Keningau to the warm welcome of the Murut community in Orou Sapulot, the atmosphere was buzzing with excitement as everyone was looking forward to an adventurous weekend. While taking in the tranquil nature scenery, we were served a scrumptious and hearty lunch cooked by the local chefs from the Orou Sapulot community. After having our fill, we settled into our accommodation at the Romol Longhouse and Romol Eco Lodge.
The first activity was caving at Pungiton Cave. The team braved through multiple levels of the cave and marveled at the amazing rock formations. It was a daunting experience for some of us, but definitely a memorable one. At night we enjoyed yet another delicious home-cooked dinner prepared by the local Murut family. We sang and danced the night away, looking forward to another venturous day in Orou Sapulot.
The second day came and a much bigger challenge than Pungiton Cave awaits – rock climbing the 800ft limestone pinnacle, Batu Punggul. Anxious yet excited, we went on a 20 minutes boat ride to reach Batu Punggul. The lush jungle that surrounded us during the boat ride was breathtaking, and as soon as Batu Punggul came into view we were stunned by its beauty. Once we arrived, we trekked for about one hour to reach the foot of Batu Punggul. The climb was physically and mentally challenging, but we pushed through and the spectacular bird’s eye view from the top made it all worthwhile.
We had a refreshing swim in the river after the climb and had lunch before heading back to our lodgings. For those that didn’t climb went fishing at a pond where locals breed fish to serve their guests and for their own consumption.
We then got our competitive side on and was split into groups for a cook-off!
Using ingredients that were sourced locally and gathered from within Orou Sapulot, our teams prepared to make winning dishes that will be judged by the local chef at Romol Eco Lodge and Virgil Joon Gunting, one of the founders of the community-based tourism project at Orou Sapulot. In the end, the team who cooked soy chicken with tuhau (local ginger), pickled tuhau with a bit of ambarella, and banana blossom with coconut milk and turmeric won the competition! The dishes we prepared then became our dinner, and we ate to our heart’s content before going to Romol Longhouse for the next activity
For the final night, the local Murut community in Orou Sapulot delivered a vibrant cultural performance. The graceful yet strong dance of the Murut people had us all mesmerized. We even joined in and tried the Magunatip dance. We spent the rest of the night singing with the guitar, drinking from the Tajau, dancing with each other and telling stories.
And just like that, the trip came to an end as we packed up to leave for Kota Kinabalu the next day. Needless to say, we left Orou Sapulot closer than before and gained many fun and awesome memories. We create meaningful adventures for our guests all year long, and to experience them ourselves is eye-opening. Quotes about the trip from some of the Stickies were interesting, here are their thoughts about in Orou Sapulot!
“Batu Punggul was a death defying adventure, it gave a whole new definition to the word ‘YOLO’!” – Mag
“Physically and mentally challenging. Batu Punggul was my highlight. Proud of myself!” – Hasma
“A guide, my little mate Jepun was super shy on the way up at Batu Punggul. Then came out of his shell on the way down and taught me some Murut.” – Liz
“It was my first time joining a company trip with Stickies. It was amazing!” – Reniela
“The caving activity was spectacular! The Gunting family are awesome people – especially the head chef a.k.a. the judge of food competition, the aunty chef!” – Herda
“The most memorable thing about the trip at Orou Sapulot? Winning the cook-off *mic drop*” – Rachel
“I loved the dance performance during the culture night at modern Romol Longhouse. And Tajau!” – Eva
“Ikan tilapia is the bomb!” – Wendy
“Being a Travel Consultant, this trip gave me a deeper understanding of Orou Sapulot and I can share my own experience with other travellers.” – Erica
“The Murut culture is passed from generation to generation in Orou Sapulot, it’s amazing to see.” – Jones
“I went caving with the team. I thought it would only be leisure walking but I was wrong as it was challenging with the heat, humidity, and the darkness. But I am happy that I managed to do a full loop of the cave with the support of my fellow colleagues and inhouse guide.” – Jeremy