Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Sabah On a Shoestring 3: Aida's Dream Hotel

There is always a purpose in a journey. Aida has been drooling in wanting to stay and experience this accommodation. I haven't got any idea and all I heard was Aida's rambling on how good and impressive this place was.

Since I was on holiday and there were two attraction spots nearby that I wanted to check out; so I told myself to go with the flow! 

After a night of mozzies camping along the Kinabatangan River, it was a nice treat to stay in something cozy. Another reason I agreed to go with Aida was because the price met my limited budget.

Welcome to Paganakan Dii...

A journey by a local bus from Kampung Mengaris to Sepilok took us almost two hours. We were sitting close to the rear of the bus and then I heard the bus conductor shouted, "Sepilok!!" Sepilok!!". I was disorientated and then I heard another call "Sepilok!!". We fell asleep. I quickly woke Aida up and we grabbed our backpacks to get off the bus. I felt a bit embarrassed because the locals sitting nearby were staring at us.

We were picked up by a van after a call made by Aida and the van was new, comfy with air-condition. About 5 minutes of the van ride, we were surrounded by oil palms and mini recreation facilities were tucked in between the palms. The van ascended a slope that took us on a higher elevation and I saw the lowland rainforest below amidst the oil palms plantation. Midi, the quiet and stocky van driver ushered us to the reception area. A friendly, soft spoken gentleman, Yus; greeted us and showed us to the "longhouse". 

Aida and I initially had some problems pronouncing that "Pa-ga-na-kan" word. Sabah has the largest indigenous community known as the Kadazan-Dusun and Paganakan Dii literally means "The Family". 
I saw Aida's eyes were full of enthusiasm admiring every corner of the architecture of Paganakan Dii. The "longhouse" is actually a dormitory style with bunk beds and we were lucky that only a few were taken. So, we were able to have choices of which bunk beds for us to lay our tired bodies on. As I opened the doors behind our bunk beds, I was relaxed to be able to view the secondary rainforest on the balcony.  

While stepping on the balcony, I was amazed with the additional features they added on. Safety net! Wow! A bonus point for this longhouse.

The picture was not well taken to show the safety net clearly. Well, I am sure you can find it.

Wherever I go and stay whether it is in a resort, hotel or a backpacker's, the utmost important room that I must be satisfied with will be the TOILET and SHOWER ROOM! I did an assessment by randomly checking the toilets and the individual shower rooms. Toilets... clean, no rubbish strewn around and there were bum papers available. Sniff, sniff... hmm... OK. Shower rooms, clean, not much hairs gathered on the floor, there is a water heater for each room (even though I don't use water heater) and sniff, sniff, sniff... no smell. Great... all checked and ISO-WCHINNER approved!

It was an evening for us to just relax and do nothing. We took our own sweet time to unpack, shower and get ready for dinner. Aida went crazy with my camera and started to take pictures in almost every corner she saw on our way to the dining hall.
Aida went crazy and did her bouldering
Woks as bathroom sinks
A spot to relax and unwind

This is a perfect place for us as there are breakfast, lunch and dinner available, otherwise it will be a hassle for us because we totally relied on the public transportation. Our beds per night came with a complimentary breakfast and the cost for a bed per night was RM30 (Thirty Ringgit). 

The warm lightings in the dining hall and the quietness of the night with only a handful of guests were just what I wished for; a perfect dinner ambiance. I love those classic, simple wooden tables, stools and chairs that made the entire place matched with the feel of the jungle. There were tables under the roof and outdoor dining area. We went for the outdoor dining area where we sat under the stars. Also, we were attracted to the tables which were reused wooden cable reels.  
Dining hall and reception (below), lounge (above) and outdoor dining area at night
An outdoor dining table was a wooden cable reel. Cool, heh? This image was taken from
Yus, our friendly receptionist wore a different hat now by being our server, brought us the menu and took our orders. In a hospitality industry, every staff must wear more than one hat. For the staff here, they wore more hats than any other staff in a luxury resort and this made them multi-skilled. I know because I was once there; been there done that!   

Their reasonable priced menu came with a selection of Asian and Western cuisine. Yus told us that during the peak season, this place will be full and we must be patient with the chef and the servers. We were lucky that we came at the right time. After filling up our tummy, we went up to the lounge to discuss our plan for the next day. 
Another section of dining area below

Aida spoke about how she was impressed with the owner on his designs and the construction of this place. Anton Ngui, the owner, constructed some sections of this place by recycling wood taken from an an old school in the 60s and an old barn. Another bonus point to Paganakan Dii for their commitment to conserve the natural resources as much as they can. Another reason to why Aida was impressed with this concept because she has her dream to build a tree house using recyclable items like plastic bottles. She was close to achieving that a couple years ago but... Perhaps, Aida will realise her dream in Sabah and not in Langkawi. I wish Aida a better luck the next time and working with the right people with a genuine heart for conservation. 

We walked around Paganakan Dii before mid night to see if we have any luck on owls. No owls, no night birds and it was "good night" for us. Catch me again on my next blog post on our morning in Paganakan Dii and to the exact spot where the Man of the Forest gathers...

1. Amidst The Foliage of Sepilok (Read more on the stories of Paganakan Dii Tropical Retreat)
2. Paganakan Dii Tropical Retreat (Official website)
2. More great comments from a blogger... (I didn't take any picture of toilet and bathroom, so please click here for more pictures of the interiors)


  1. That looks like a great place. Not sure about the safety net though!

  2. Now that's really affordable! RM30 for the dorm is fair enough and from the looks beyond the safety net, there seems to be a rainforest frontage. In my terms, that's luxury!

  3. Hi Snail,
    Yes, I wondered too. At least if a piece of garment fell over the balcony, it can be picked up easily.

    Hi JK,
    Their services from the friendly staff were 5-star too! In fact, even better than some of the luxury resort that I know. I felt the Paganakan Dii staff were genuine.


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