For the last few centuries, many of us have chosen to live in the city instead of staying at the country side. As more and more cities are built, millions upon millions of human beings are coming for the vibrant life that these cities have to offer. Yet at times we miss the beautiful nature of the country side like hills, lakes, forests, trees, plants, flowers, and birds which are all very dear to us. No wonder cities all around the world build parks to keep us in touch with nature. Today a stroll in the park is going to do our hearts wonder. The trees give us clean oxygen, flowers make us happy, birds and insects sing to us, and not forgetting the exercise we gained by walking around the park.
Although not mentioned in most of the travelling guide books, one of Kota Kinabalu best kept secrets is Tun Fuad Stephens Park (Bukit Padang). Located about 15 minutes away by car from the city centre, Tun Fuad Stephens Park is the only park in Kota Kinabalu that has a lake, which is surrounded by hills on three sides except at the front entrance. The lake was a reservoir (for drinking water) in the old days, and the park was only built in the late 70s.
fishermen village seafood restaurant and the hawker centre
The entrance to the park is dominated by the Fishermen Village Seafood Restaurant and a hawker centre. Both of these places have open air building structure that allows one to enjoy the beautiful green forest of the surroundings, especially the reflection of the trees on the lake which acts as a mirror. The Fishermen Village seafood restaurant is very popular with tourists, for its seafood steamboat cuisine and the nightly cultural dance shows. At the Beijing Open Air, BBQ steamboat buffet is their specialty. The hawkers centre has more budget foods like fried noodle, fried rice, and satay. The Water Theme Park, next to the Beijing Open Air, has a twin three storeys tall water slides which is also its number one attraction. Other facilities include Tarzan Net, Water Basketball and a big swimming pool with more slides and water cannons.
The Tun Fuad Stephens Park is centred around the green lake, green in colour as it reflects on the trees and plants around it. A beautiful wooden bridge, with two porches in between, cuts through the centre of the lake making the park even more picturesque. Many Japanese carps about a foot long with red, orange, and white colours are seen swimming under the bridge. Children love to throw in small pieces of bread into the lake which will attract these fish to come up to the surface as they scramble for food.
One can also take a walk at the 2km track that goes around the lake, and the track also leads one through the green forest. About 70% of the track is shaded by the many species of tall trees that grow around it, making it a pleasant walk at any time of the day. On late afternoon many insects and birds can be heard humming away with their favourite songs along the track. This track is especially popular with KK Lites. As early as 4 am many early risers come to walk or jog, and by 7 am a few groups would have gathered to practice Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese martial art, at numerous places at the park. In the late afternoon from 3pm onwards the track starts to fill up again, since more and more people are opting for a healthier lifestyle. A few small shelters, were built around the park, creating good resting place for the tired joggers, as well as for weekend picnickers.
For the more energetic individual there are a few trails at the park that head up to the Bukit Padang hill top at a height of 477 feet, and these trails have an average distance of 1 km. Many KK Lites use this hill to train for an easier climb on Mt. Kinabalu. Some of the stairs are very interesting, constructed by using car tyres and glass bottles being the more unusual ones. Many parts of the trails are just nature path way, so during rainy seasons they can get mudding and slippery.
The hill top has a small flat area about 1,000 square feet, and from here a good panoramic view of Kota Kinabalu and it’s suburbs can be seen. From the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on the west all the way to 1Borneo Hypermall on the north are visible by naked eyes. The Manukan Island and Sapi Island are clearly visible, but one can’t see the KK city centre from here, because it was blocked by the Signal Hill. This is also a great place to see the fascinating sunset. After sunset one must go down quickly, as the forest can get dark very fast, and there are no street lights on these trails.