Safe Traveling in Sabah with Jennifer Pedersen

Kudat Riviera.

Jennifer Pedersen is an optimistic, open minded, adventurous & in touch with nature!

Follow her on social media:

1. Tell us about yourself.

Hi! I’m Jen, a free spirit with a big appetite for life! I like to cook, read historical fiction, host parties, practice yoga, explore new food and places with my family. I was born and raised in K.K by my Danish & Sino Kadazan parents. I started modelling in my teenage years and had my big break when I won the Estee Lauder Model Search in 2009 in KL.

Soon after that, I moved to Singapore to pursue my studies and got my Bachelor’s Degree in Arts Management which landed me a job as an event organizer in the music scene in Singapore. That’s where I met my husband, Nick. We took a leap of faith and moved to Houston, Texas and immersed ourselves in the culture there and did a lot of travelling together. 3 years after we got married, our daughter Maya was born. She changed our lives for the better and we love exploring with her in K.K where we currently reside.

2. What do you love most about Sabah?

The islands! I grew up by the seaside and it’s always been a comforting feeling when I am close to the ocean

3. How long have you been in Sabah (since you first landed here for this trip)?

We arrived in February with our 5-month old baby at that time from Houston and then we traveled to Adelaide to attend my husband’s sister’s wedding and flew back to K.K just before the MCO started. What timing huh!

4. How many different districts have you visited?

11 in total. We have been spending the most time around the West Coast division. Districts such as Tuaran, Kota Belud, Kudat & Ranau are our favourite spots.

5. What do you always pack when you go on a trip?

Sunscreen, a book, diapers (not for me) and a positive attitude.

6. Do you prefer to travel by plane, car, or boat?

Before the pandemic started, I enjoyed flying the most but there’s just something about boat rides that always hits the spot. It reminds me of my childhood.

7. Who is your favourite travel buddy?

Nick, my husband. We’re usually on the same wavelength when it comes to travelling and exploring.

8. What’s the longest road trip you have ever taken in Sabah?

At this point, it would be to the tip of Borneo in Kudat.

9. What’s your favorite thing to do during a long ride?

We listen to podcasts or play our favorite playlist on Spotify and just cruise. If we see anything interesting on the side of the road, we’d stop to stretch our legs and maybe do a bit of shopping. I can’t help myself with all the well-made rattan baskets here! My husband thinks we have enough but my mom and I think otherwise. Haha.

10. What are your top three traveling essentials?

A swimsuit, sunscreen & mosquito repellant. Always!

11. What is your favorite Sabahan dish?

Pucuk ubi cooked by my talented mom! Not forgetting belacan and ikan masin on the side. I even cook this in America.

12. What’s the scariest thing that’s happened to you while traveling in Sabah?

I don’t think I’ve ever been scared travelling in Sabah. The closest thing would be getting stuck in a flood during the rainy season.

13. Which songs are on your travel playlist?

Bakerman (Soul Clap Remix) by Laid Back, Esperar Pra Ver by Poolside, Netzwerk (Falls Like Rain) by Klangkarussell, Get Back by The Beatles, I’m A Kid by Jadu Heart, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover by Paul Simon, I Like It Like That by Pete Rodriguez and a current favorite, Miniagal Oh Sinsing by John Gaisah (all the fun karaoke sessions in KK got Nick hooked on this Sabahan classic).

14. Which district have you never been to but have always wanted to go?

I would love to visit Danum Valley in Lahad Datu. A 130-million-year old rainforest? Yes, please!

15. What do you love the most about traveling?

Exploring new places to eat! Food plays a big part in where we choose to travel.

16. What do you like the least about traveling?

The amount of luggage we have to bring now that we have a kid.

♥ Best beach in Sabah.

Kudat. Private and pristine. 

♥ Best vacation spot so far.

Glamping at Ara Dinawan Island.

♥ Most romantic place.

Shangri-La Tanjung Aru 

♥ Most adventurous place.

Kota Belud for camping.

♥ Most expensive place.

Spring Garden in Kundasang.

♥ Most Insta-worthy. 

Kudat Riviera.

♥ Budget-friendly getaway.

Langkah Syabas Beach Resort.

♥ Where to next?

Borneo Kiim Resort.

What’s it like traveling with your baby girl?

Gaya Island Resort

We are lucky because Maya is pretty easy to travel with. We love exploring with her, it feels like we are reliving our second childhood. No doubt, it can get a little stressful sometimes because of all the things to get prepared for her like food, sleep essentials and making sure she is in a safe environment to roam around. But other than that, we love it!

Any tips for young parents?

Plan everything in advance! I usually start planning a week before a trip. I have a checklist that I carry with me to make sure I have everything we need. Also, travelling can get stressful with or without children. So what always helped us is to handle things in phases. 

Does your husband like traveling as well?

Absolutely. We can’t wait to sit down and plan our next trip together every other weekend. 

What does Nick think of Sabah?

He loves the food, the culture and the accessibility; there’s so many things for him to do and the people and places are so nice.

What does Maya think of Sabah? 

She loves it! I can tell by the excitement in her face when she is at the beach and when she’s outdoors exploring our exotic Borneo flowers. 

Would you re-visit anywhere you went? 

Ara Dinawan Island.

I’d be happy to return to all the places we’ve been. Especially the ones by the beach such as Kudat Riviera, Ara Dinawan Island and Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa.