KAMPUNG Luanti Baru, a village in Ranau is a tranquil and quiet village some 130km from Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. It is a place that casual passers-by may notice through the signboards along the road towards the east coast of the State.
This village however is not only a typical hamlet but one that is frequented by tourists, both domestic and international for its natural fish spa. Natural fish spa means the fish are not confined in tanks or pool but in their natural environment, the river.
Spokesperson for the establishment, Norhayati Assry said the river that meander through the village was promoted as a tourism product after the ‘Tagal’ system was introduced several years ago.
The tagal system is actually a system where no fishing is held in the river for a year. The fish will multiply due to the system which actually means no fishing. This system aim to conserve the environment and ecosystem to ensure there is no over-fishing and that fish are allowed to grow big enough to catch for food. Of course this also ensures that future generations will still be able to enjoy a river teeming with fish.
Once every year or two years, the Tagal is ‘opened’; this is where the villagers come together to harvest the fish in some designated spot in the river. The catch is usually divided among the participants to be brought home as food, while some are eaten together at the festival by the river.
Norhayati shared that due to regulated fishing the fish grow in size and as nature will have it, they will teem around places where food abounds. Inevitably, they also became ‘friendly’ with humans due to familiarity as the villagers use the river to bath and wash clothes.
The fish will come and nibble on their legs and feet for dead skin and thus the fish spa came into being. Now the Moroli River of Kampung Luanti, is widely known for its Fish Spa experience.
“We get many visitors here to experience the natural fish spa. Our tourists are mostly Malaysians but we also have foreigners dropping and visiting,” she shared adding that the entrance fee is RM5 for adults and RM2 for children.
The ‘masseurs’ are very friendly. As soon as visitors dip their feet in the water, the fish rush forward and frolic with them fearlessly and in the process, they start their massage by sucking off dead skins and scabs from their customers’ exposed limbs. They are only attracted to dead skin however so there is no fear of being ‘eaten’ alive by the fish. Some of them are big.
Besides the fish, visitors can also make purchases of souvenirs to remind them of their visit to this place. There are handicrafts stalls available at the grounds as well as some food and drinks. During the fruit season, guests will be able to enjoy various types of fruits such as Durians, Mangosteen, Langsat and rambutans.
Meanwhile, those wishing to camp out in this area can pitch their tents on the camping ground about 150m by 80m big, and thus can accommodate quite a number of medium size tents.
Homestay facilities are also available around the area. Information can be acquired from 016 8066598.-ce/BNN