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Borneo, Sabah: Sinurambi


Headline: Sinurambi: Country Living in a Jungle Abode


Date Posted: 4/10/2006

With sweeping views of the coastline, surrounding hills and vast expanse of sky, Sinurambi is an oasis of sheer indulgence. Sinurambi (meaning a jungle abode in the native Kadazandusun language) was conceptualised way back in 1999 when its owners, Terry and Rose Mills, were on the look-out for the perfect location to build their dream home. Ironically, the present location was passed up because of the almost impassable access to the property. A land broker was then engaged to continue the search for the desired location. As fate would have it, the broker led them to the exact same property one year later. “You can say that the land found us,” summed up Rose about their home located near the Inobong area of Penampang.

Perched on the edge of the Crocker Range National Park which forms the backbone of Sabah, it is located at 1,000m above sea level. From here, almost the entire southern west coast from the Klias Peninsula, across the city landscape and into the mountainous range eastward is laid out before your eyes. The dramatic change from lowland to forest covered hills before finally culminating in the towering granite peaks of Mt. Kinabalu is the perfect backdrop for an ambitious desire to create a luxurious home in the country.

Despite it’s the humble origin of its name, Sinurambi is by no means a jungle abode. It has turned out to be an amazing architectural feat that blends local designs and materials inspired by the people, culture and natural beauty of Sabah. The search for an architect – the one who would bring the vision to life – was a process in itself. With no takers to their advertisement in the newspaper, the Mills approached six of Sabah’s top architectural firms. Two were not interested, three had ideas of their own and finally, one who would literally be – the one.

Ling Fahshing suggested the L-shape of the house to suit the landscape of the eight-acre site and its terrain. It has five bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a dining room, an entertainment room, a small office on the top floor and an outdoor swimming pool. The outdoor timber deck where you can entertain guests or just indulge in some quiet time by yourself is made entirely of salangan batu, a local hardwood species. The use of wood throughout the house, whether it is part of the structural frame or furniture, gives the house a warm and cozy feel. Large framed windows of aluminum and glass balances the warmth of the wood with the cool of the surrounding green hills. The rooms are arranged in such a way to take advantage of this so that you can soak up the scenery as you curl up in a comfortable chair in the living room with a book or whip up a wicked spread for family and friends in the kitchen.

The most structurally impressive part of the house has got to be the living room. Inspired by the shape of the wakid, a traditional Kadazandusun basket, it is not only aesthetically pleasing but the framed glass walls that face outwards offer the most spectacular views. The sun’s rays warm the room in the morning as it brushes off vestiges of the night’s mist and bathes it in glowing colours as the sun sets. On less than perfect days, Mother Nature puts on a brilliant show of rolling thunder and clouds that you can only look upon in awe. Then at the break of dawn, the storm clouds dissipate and reveal one of the most stunning sights in the distance – Mt. Kinabalu.

Sinurambi offers the opportunity to experience this truly unique home and exclusive lifestyle. The newly introduced Country Stay Programme is a blend of homestay and bed & breakfast. It is a niche market that has the potential to develop even further with the existence of Sinurambi. The programme can be very up-scale where you can organize trips on a yacht, fly in a helicopter or ride a motorbike through Sabah’s rugged terrain. Or you can choose to have a more relaxed tour of the nature parks, islands and open air markets. Whatever your options, you know that at the end of the day, you will come home to the warmth and tranquility that is Sinurambi. For more info, please visit

Source: Feature article on



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Photo Credit: Mills collection