About a decade ago, an earthquake occurred in the South-East Asia region. Following a tremor which was reported near Mt Kinabalu, villagers from Kampong Rugading found a two-inch-wide crack in the ground, which they filled in. However, it seems that this tremor, and the crack which resulted, is not the only evidence of seismic activity in the area. In the 1930s, a villager by the name of Kulangus discovered a hot spring near his farmland, on the Liwagu River.
For several years, the son of Kulangas, Jamirin Kulangas, a community leader of Rugading village, tried hard to develop the village as a destination for adventure tourism, without success. Then, in early March 2008, he showed the hot spring, which is situated beside a waterfall, to Tham Yau Kong and his TYK team, who were at that time undertaking a Sandakan Death March Rafting Adventure down Liwagu River with Dr Othman, the owner of Slagon Homestay in Ranau. Tham describes the small valley leading to this unique site, where a hot spring emerges from the rock wall near a tumbling cascade, as a ‘mystery mini-gully’.
According to local legend, the spring and the waterfall are guarded by two jungle spirits and therefore whoever comes to visit must show respect. In past days, the mother of Jamirin Kulangas, whose was a “Bobolian”, came frequetly to the site to perform rituals to heal sick villagers. In the nearby Liwagu River is a rocky outcrop, which resembled a native boat, called ‘Padawu Ngabai’. Legend has it that the boat was cursed and was turned into a rock.
About a fortnight after seeing the hot spring for the first time, Tham’s team returned to the area. This time, however, they went overland, visiting the village itself before continuing on to the hot spring and waterfall. The journey was such an interesting and challenging experience that that TYK Adventure Tours has now created the RUGADING ADVENTURE TOUR.
This tour, which includes an overnight stay in the jungle and lessons in jungle survival, combines mountain biking and trekking. Alternatively, visitors can enjoy a homestay in Rugading Village, and then visit the hot spring and waterfall. It is hoped that by encouraging people to come to Rugading to see the hot spring and enjoy the natural environment, the primary forest, and the all-important water catchment area, will be protected. Tourism can, indeed, lead to greater conservation of precious natural resources.
created on 19 March 2008