The warmth of the locals and the exhilaration of white water rafting in a rural setting made for a memorable day for the 24 finalists of three national beauty pageants who were in Kiulu, on Thursday.
For 26-year-old Theevya Nathan from Kuala Lumpur, she felt fortunate to have visited Kiulu and praised the welcoming nature of the kampung people.
“I’m overjoyed to see the villagers’ genuine joy, something I wouldn’t normally get to witness in the city. Their hospitality is impeccable, and even the food is superb,” she said.
The 26-year-old lass who will be competing in Miss World Malaysia also expressed her desire to return to Sabah and learn more about the diverse ethnic communities.
Janilda Navya Tiong Rui Fen, 19, from Johor said she was captivated by the traditional performance and water sport activity that Kiulu provides.
“I love adventure and Kiulu is definitely the place to be for adventure seekers. The rafting trip was fun because we got to see more of the beautiful scenery in Kiulu as we floated along at our own pace,” she remarked.
Janilda, who will be competing in Miss World Malaysia and Miss Supranational Malaysia, expressed her hope that the community would keep up its efforts to protect the environment and grow its community-based tourism.
Competing in Miss World Malaysia, 19-year-old Anya Kimberley Kow found her trip to Kiulu enlightening because it gave her a chance to learn more about the rural destination and its culture.
“Some of us have decided to do water rafting and it was our first time. I was anxious at first, but after a thorough safety briefing from our guides, I had complete faith in the Kiulu people.
The Sabahan lass went on to say that she hoped both locals and tourists would make the trip to Kiulu to experience the eco-tourism attraction near Kota Kinabalu city.
The three beauty contestants were among 24 Malaysian beauties competing in Miss World Malaysia, Miss Grand Malaysia and Miss Supranational Malaysia with the grand finals taking place on Aug 27 at the Sabah International Convention Centre.
The Kiulu trip was part of their programme leading up to the coronation night. During their trip, they worked with the community to beautify homestays, upgrade footpaths, and plant trees at Kampung Mantob.
Their visit to Kiulu was hosted by the Hilton Hotel as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative.
Meanwhile, Sabah Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Environment cum Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai expressed hope that the contestants would learn something meaningful during their visit and spread the word about Kiulu.
“I hope by coming here, the pageant contestants will gain a better appreciation for the Kiulu people and their cooperative efforts to improve the economy and village through tourism,” he said, while encouraging them to use their influence to promote Sabah.
Joniston, a Kiulu assemblyman, was on hand to observe the activities of the pageant finalists. Also present were Sabah Tourism Board deputy chief executive officer Julinus Jeffrey Jimit and Hilton Hotel general manager Andrew Nisbet.