Borneo and the Man of the Forest

waterfront at Kota KinabaluWe landed in Kota Kinabalu (the state capital of Sabah) on the Malaysian side of the island of Borneo. Turned out to be a pretty nice little city. We even found our favorite restaurant from Kuala Lumpur…Old Town White Coffee. Unfortunately, when we rolled into town everyone had a touch of the poopsies and if you remember a previous photo of the public washrooms around these parts, you don’t want to be out and about with this particular problem…still trying to master the art of peeing without splash back! And just try peeing into a hole in the floor of a moving train. NOT FUN! After a day of recovery in the hotel room we were all set to see the town. Kota Kinabalu has a beautiful waterfront walkway which leads to a fish market where you can have any local fish you desired, prepared fresh.

fish market at Kota Kinabalu Borneo MalaysiaThe hotel we stayed at in Kota Kinabalu (KK) was hopping with the buzz of Chinese New Year and we were lucky to have a dragon dance right at our hotel.

Chinese New Year Daron DanceAfter a few days in KK, we hopped on a bus and headed for the jungles of Borneo and some time on the kinabatangan River. The views while traveling over Kinabalu Mountain were absolutely stunning, but quite windy and proved too much for Callum and Paul. Once over the mountain pass it is back to the typical Malaysian landscape of Palm Plantations. In total, the bus ride is only 6 hours, but given how the guys reacted to the trip we opted to purchase flight tickets back to KK.

Greenview B&B Sukau Borneo MalaysiaOur connecting bus from Sandakan to Sukau and the Kinabatangan River was more of the same…Palm Plantaions for as far as the eye can see. Then you hit the Jungle and at the end of the road you reach the village of Sukau situated on the river’s edge. We stayed at the Greenview B&B which was basic, but very comfortable and the food was good. The middle pic is of the water storage system. The only down side to our stay was Paul and Lydia had broken out in a rash (started before we traveled to the river) and Callum was definitely under the weather. Paul’s rash spread all over his body while Lydia’s was confined to her chest, but both were extremely itchy. Callum struggled with nausea and a sore throat, but he was a trooper and came on every excursion, taking time to rest in between.

Kinabatangan River Sukau Borneo MalaysiaOur Chariot

Kinabatangan River Sukau Borneo MalaysiaThe River

jungle treck in the Kinabatangan Forest Reserve Sukau Borneo MalaysiaWe got our feet pretty muddy during our jungle trek and even though we didn’t see any wildlife, we had fun exploring the jungle. I was hoping for an elephant sighting during our visit to Borneo, but no such luck. We did however, hear them in the jungle, saw elephant tracks and found elephant dung. It is my mission to see a wild elephant before we leave Asia. Once back from the trek, we had to give ourselves a thorough once over to check for leaches. Luckily, we were clean!

Proboscus and red leaf MonkeyThe river cruises were spectacular as we saw so much wildlife including; Red leaf Monkeys (photo by Paul Williams), Proboscis Monkeys, Short and Long Tailed Macaques, Orangutans, Crocodiles, Pythons, Yellow Black Banded Snakes and oodles of birds. One of the highlights among many, during the river cruises, was the fireflies dancing in the night sky against the backdrop of the Jungle. I looked at Lydia and said, “I do believe in ferries, I do believe in ferries, I do, I do, I do!”.  Again, quoting Disney.

Short Tailed Macaque in the Kinabatangan River Forest ReserveThe Rangers in the Forest Reserve have strung ropes to allow the Orangutans to traverse the river as they do not swim, but all the monkeys seem to appreciate the new crossing system. I would to, knowing there are crocs in those waters. This Short Tailed Macaque walked out on one of the ropes and hung out and watched us, as we watched him and his family.

city of Sandakan, sabah on the Malaysian side of BorneoOut of the Jungle and into the harbour town of Sandakan for a couple of nights. Our hotel (IBIS Styles) was waterfront and right smack dab in the middle of things. Great location! Also, gave the gang time to recuperate and get over what was ailing them. Luckily the rash passed and Callum is on the mend

Orangutan at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandikan, Sabah Malaysian side of Borneo

Orangutan at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandikan, Sabah Malaysian side of BorneoFrom Sandakan we visited the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Such a great day visiting the semi wild Orangutans and I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to see these auburn haired beauties in the wild and at the Rehabilitation Centre. Lydia was so excited and said it was the best day of our holiday so far. They are just amazing to watch and while doing so you realize why they got the name Orangutan, which translated from Malay is “Man or person of the forest”. These beauties share 96% of the same DNA as humans. Unfortunately, the Orangutan population continues to drop due to habitat loss and the pet trade. Thankfully organizations like the Sepilok rehabilitation Centre are working hard trying to educate the public while saving orphaned Orangutans.

This past week was truly special and Borneo proved to be everything I dreamt it would be.

Completely switching scenes…today we left Borneo and flew to Johor Bahru. The home of Legoland. Woo Hoo!


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