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Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to go to Kundasang?

First of all, thank you for arriving into my blog.

Whether you will arrive in Kota Kinabalu by an airplane (Terminal 1 or Terminal 2), sea or land, I would like to welcome you to Sabah Below the Wind and also welcome to Kundasang, the home for Sabah vegetables and Mount Kinabalu. I know my page is not really informative but hopefully can benefit to you.

My blog receives quite many references from search engines looking for "Kundasang map", "peta kundasang", "how to go to Kundasang from KK" and some other similar keywords. Thus, I will try as possible to briefly explain how to go to Kundasang from Kota Kinabalu. It’s a bit sad actually that Sabah’s public transport is not yet fully developed to integrate all important destinations at the moment. However, I’m hoping that the Sabah Government will work out on this issue as soon as possible to provide better public transport links to popular destinations especially Kundasang.

Normally, when friends ask me about a vacation to Kundasang, I would suggest they go directly to Kundasang after their arrival at the airport before getting back to Kota Kinabalu for city and islands sightseeing. From there you can take one night accommodation at Kundasang and experience the cloud free Mount Kinabalu in the morning.

Where is Kundasang?
Kundasang highland which the best place to get near to Kinabalu is located 90km and approximately 2 hours driving from Kota Kinabalu. One can take a bus or taxi from Jalan Padang Bus Terminal for approximately RM17.00 per person and  RM160.00 to RM300.00 per taxi from Ranau Taxi Stand (located beside the Padang Merdeka).

Most easiest to view the location of Kundasang is using Google Map. A is Padang Merdeka taxi terminal and B is Kundasang:

Panorama Kundasang
 Kundasang panoramic view

What to bring to Kundasang?
Kundasang is a bit cold during the night, thus you may have to bring an extra jacket. Lip balm could be needed to avoid dry lip.

What to do in Kundasang?
  1. Checkout homestay events.
  2. Visit to Kundasang War Memorial
  3. Visit to vegetable farm 
  4. Visit to vegetable and fruit market
  5. Visit Mesilau Dairy Farm
  6. Visit Kinabalu Park 

Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu International Airport

How to go to Kundasang?
There are few options depending on your convenience. Possible best option is rent a car for self drive so that it will be easy to move around or hire a tour van for one day journey to Kundasang. Other options are by taxi, bus and motorcycle hire.

A. By taxi 
First option to go to Kundasang (without rent a car) by taxi. If you are not able to rent a car, here is the first option assuming you are arriving from any airplane terminals.
  1. Find the taxi counter inside the terminal and ask for a taxi to Kota Kinabalu City Center taxi terminal to Kundasang/Ranau (currently near Padang Merdeka). They will quote you the fare. The taxi fare is approximately RM30.
  2. At the Kota Kinabalu City Center taxi/bus terminal, go to the taxi/bus counter and ask for the journey to Kundasang/Ranau. Taxi fare will be a bit higher than bus but takes you to Kundasang faster than the bus services. The taxi fare is approximately RM160-300.  
  3. The journey to Kundasang takes about 2 hours.    
B. By bus 
Second option by bus.
  1. Find the taxi counter inside the terminal and ask for a taxi to City Bus Terminal (long distance bus station currently located at Inanam).
  2. Check bus counter to Kundasang/Ranau. Bus fare is RM17.
  3. The journey to Kundasang takes 2-4 hours depending on the out-bound time and stops made by the bus.
C. Rent a car 
Third option to go to Kundasang (with a rental car) and probably with your GPS in hand.
  1. Book from a rental car prior to your arrival in Kota Kinabalu. Rental cost ranging from RM60-RM300 daily depending on the type of car you rent.
  2. Normally car rental provider will bring the car to the terminal where you disembark from.  
  3. Drive out from the terminal and heading towards Kota Kinabalu City Center.
  4. Drive out of Kota Kinabalu heading towards the road to Tuaran/Kudat and then to Kundasang and you should arrive at Kundasang approximately about 2-3 hours depending on your driving convenience. 
D. Tour van 
Fourth option is to hire an operative guided tour van. For this option, you need to check additional information if you are interested.

E. Rent a motorcycle
Fifth option is to hire a motorcycle.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tamparuli TA4XDC New Year 4x4 Challenge 2011

Sabah has the most active 4x4 challenge held locally every year apart form big event such as Borneo Safari.  In fact, there are more challenges to be organized in months to come. The year 2011 for this extreme sport, Tamparuli Adventist 4 Wheel Drive Club (TA4XDC) starts the heat of the challenge with Hardcore 4x4 competition at Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli on 16 January 2011. Personally, this is my 3rd year shooting 4x4 event just for fun and at the same time promoting what we have especially the challenge to the world to know. The roaring power of even standard vehicle or heavily modified with more powerful engine with 13BT, 15BT, 1J, 2J, and QD32 are really the music to the ears. The sweat, mud, technique and skill of each competitor are the entertainment for the eyes.

In my 3rd year shooting 4x4 event, I have gained some photography insight of what to look for in such action packed competition. I'm not taking photo for something else but for fun and hobby instead. In each event I attended, I saw increasing number of fellow enthusiast photographers and this shows good sign for spreading the excitement and photos of our local 4x4 event. Even the girls like it.

TA4XDC New Year 4x4 Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli - Sumandak Canon

I tried my self to take photos which define "action" in a photo other than classic freeze that moment.  For me, corner-to-corner tack razor sharp in action 4x4 is less concern but to include some motion even it  would results in some blurry part of the photo. Thus, panning is one of the techniques to do. I remember the first time I did this was total failure. With more and more trials, I got some skill for the shutter speed panning the 4x4 actions. The biggest problem is one need a steady hand and burst shutter for this. The camera shutter count will be easier to increase though. That's why I'm using old camera Olympus E-1 without fear of shutter count reaching the maximum shutter life. My E-1 had already reached its maximum shutter life (reported as 150K) and broken while taking photo at Kundasang Novice/Semi-Hardcore 4x4 Challenge in January 2010. It cost me RM290 to replace the shutter unit from Olympus Malaysia. I wonder how the Olympus E-5 performs in 4x4 photo shooting condition.

The actions in 4x4 are not as fast as F1 race or some other track race, therefore shutter speed need to be as lower as possible for panning the camera to get a motion blur while subject is in focus (or partially sharp). Of course action photos are not necessarily to be limited but in many styles. It’s up to you to take such photos with creativity and may be different from others. Do take a look at pro photographer photos to learn from them. I did that.

However, this kind of photography is somewhat tiring because you need to move here and there and almost standing all the time. You will also need to prepare for weather condition and may have fun playing with the mud. I always expecting rain than hot sunny day during 4x4 event, you know why.  

TA4XDC New Year 4x4 Challenge 2010 - Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli
Ok, enough my crappy story. Camera gear in use: Olympus E-1 (5MP), Olympus ZD ED12-60mm & Olympus ZD ED 70-300mm.

Some photos to be shared:
Series of photos panning the competitors running to their vehicle.

TA4XDC New Year 4x4 Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli

TA4XDC 4x4 New Year Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, TamparuliTA4XDC New Year Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli
TA4XDC New Year Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, TamparuliTA4XDC New Year Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, TamparuliTA4XDC New Year 4x4 Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, TamparuliTA4XDC New Year Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli
TA4XDC New Year Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, TamparuliTA4XDC New Year Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli
TA4XDC New Year Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli
TA4XDC New Year Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli
TA4XDC New Year 4x4 Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli
TA4XDC New Year 4x4 Challenge 2011 - Kampung Bawang, Tamparuli

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Olympus ZD ED 70-300mm Bokeh

With suitable distance and open background, one can get pretty good bokeh in the background. This photo was taken at Tanjung Aru for simple birding.

Pantai Tanjung Aru
Olympus E-1 @ f/5.6 300mm

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Olympus new compact camera: Olympus XZ-1

Announced Olympus XZ-1 is indeed an exciting camera from Olympus. My first digital camera was the Olympus mju400 which bought in 2004. It was a great experience with the camera until I discovered that I need a better compact camera. My second digital camera is the little bit higher spec camera, Panasonic FZ30. The mju400 was still with me  but it died in  2008. Then, I bought cheap Samsung S760 compact camera. After few years with Samsung S760 for my P&S going everywhere camera, I think I need a good new point and shoot camera. In fact, the S760 already started to make weird  fault. As usual,  I have to wait for the camera to be available at the camera shop for testing, while friend with easy access and well known by Olympus Malaysia have the opportunity to test the camera directly from the company. 

Having an e-system camera, this XZ-1 surely compliments the need for a backup camera. I'm on my saving (hopefully) to own this camera. Equipped with Zuiko Digital lens 6-24mm f/1.8-2.5 (equivalent with 14-56mm in the 4/3 format, 2.3x crop factor or 28-112mm in 35mm term), XZ-1 is on top of the P&S in its class. I'm not too worried about the depth-of-field of such camera because I know it somewhat similar to the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6.

Photos from: Olympus Malaysia

The large and high-sensitivity 1/1.63" CCD sensor also an extra value to the camera which is considered big enough for compact. Thus high-iso shooting condition can be possible up to ISO800. Now, lets wait and see how this camera performed when I have the opportunity to test it. However, I still have no luck to test E-5 till now, other than playing the toy.. how? =)

Other important info excerpted from forum:
1. Expected street price around RM1699 (Olympus xz1 Malaysia Price RRP: RM1799)
2. Closest focusing distance: 1cm

Information and specification of the camera is available at Olympus Malaysia website at http://www.olympusimage.com.my/products/compact/x_series/xz1/

Monday, January 03, 2011

Yellow SJ410

The recent upgrade of this SJ410, not much but slowly will transform into semi offroad vehicle in the future.

Suzuki SJ410

Suzuki SJ410 & Sungai Longkoidon

Suzuki SJ410

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