"Borneo" Borneo by Josilver

Borneo Travel Guide: 83 reviews and 286 photos

Borneo 2004

My friend Jayne and I spent 10 days in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo in July 2004. Although short this was a great trip. We did an intrepid independant trip which included a climbing mt Kinabalu, watching turtles lay eggs and releasing hatchlings on turtle island and a trip to Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary. the following is experpts from emails sent to firends.

Jayne and I arrived at 2.30am after changing planes in KL and waiting for 2 hours in the freezing air conditioning of KL airport and checked into our hotel to find that they had stuffed up and I had to share a bed with my friend Tammy ( who arrived earlier) , but luckily we fixed this up in the morning, believe me the staff paid for this mistake as we hassled the poor people every single day (for towels, meal arrangements, transfers, taxis, extra tours etc) it got to the point where they would all suddenly be really busy when we arrived at the desk. The first day we just slept, tested out the pool and the local supermarket. Sunday we went to the Kota Kinabalu markets where there was all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff, live eels, fruit veges live chickens, craft , pearls etc. the weather was really hot and humid, but all of a sudden the people started gathering all their things together for no apparent reason and 2 seconds later there was a torrential down pour and every one including the rats, the chickens and us jumped under cover and waited for about 20minutes til it stopped and every one went back to their business. In the afternoon we travelled about 2 hours south to the Kilas river where we went on a boat cruise spotting proboscus (the ones with big noses) monkeys. When it got dark there was a spectacular sunset over the river and the fire flies came out and make the trees sparkled like fairy lights on Christmas trees.

Mt Kinabalu

The next day we started our trip up mount Kinabalu the highest mountain in sth east Asia (4095metres) We were supposed to be able to see it out our hotel room window and had been unable to decide which mountain it actually was, about half way there our guide pointed to a bank of clouds and said “there’s the mountain” we still couldn’t really tell what we were looking at when we suddenly realised it wasn’t under the clouds it was the ginormous black shape looming above the clouds. When we arrived at the park we were teamed our guide Anthony and began our climb UP. There were stairs and stairs and more stairs. We passed people on the way down who told us we didn’t want to know what was coming and that ignorance was bliss, but I did score a walking stick which improved things greatly. About every kilometre there was a rest stop, but these were the longest km I have ever encountered. As we got closer to the top the vegetation thinned out and it got really windy and very cold and the path got rougher and rockier near the end the fog rolled in and even though our guide kept telling us it was only a little bit further we couldn’t see where we were going so we didn’t really believe him. We finally arrive at the lodge located at 6km up the mountain it took us about 5 hours to get there. We climbed about 1500metres up in 6 km so if you do the maths it’s really steep. After thawing out and eating we went to bed about 8.00pm as we were told it would be freezing we turned the heater up full blast which resulted in us all boiling the entire night. I don’t think any of us got much sleep between being too hot, and listening to the rat scurry up and down the hall way come into our room and try to go through my bag before I chased it away. We got up at 2.00am and went down for a hot breakfast only to find our vouchers weren’t valid until 7.00am so we had to climb the mountain on an empty stomach. The combination of no sleep, no food, malaria medication and me working my self into a nervous wreck about not being able to do the climb resulted in me feeling nauseous the whole way. We started off in pitch black in the wind and rain at about 3.00am up more stairs and more stairs only in the dark this time, we passed people on their way down who had given up. Finally the stairs ended and we came to the rock face that has a rope attached to it which we had to climb up with just the rope to hold onto which was wet and every time you grabbed hold the water soaked into my gloves. After 11/2 hours we came to a hut and were told we had gone less than 1 km. So about 20 wet freezing people were crammed into this little hut while it was discussed whether it was safe to continue, we decided to wait until light. I definitely didn’t want to continue I have never been so cold and wet in my life we decided we should go down. There was a language problem with our guide and we kept asking if we could leave and he kept shaking his head and saying it was not safe, we finally convinced him we wanted to go down not up and he was much happier, outside the hut the rain stopped and there was a spectacular sunrise, we were 400m from the top but it was close enough for me. Going back down to the lodge was much more fun (except when I slipped on the rock face and nearly fell off the side of the mountain, OK thats an exaggeration, but I got giant bruise on my knee) and we stopped and took lots of photos of the view, but the biggest shock was seeing in daylight how steep the rock face that we had climbed up actually was. We got back to the lodge had our promised hot breakfast and started back down the mountain. It was murder on the knees, especially for Jayne who lost her balance half way down and went splat onto her knees, it was also really muddy and slippery due to the rain. Even though it seemed so much longer than the climb up, it took us 4 hours to climb down. When we arrived back at the hotel, we walked through their marble foyer looking like something the cat dragged in we were covered in mud and probably smelt really bad. The photo was taken by Jayne

Turtle Island and Sepilok

The next morning we could barely move, our quadriceps we so sore the only way to walk down stairs was backwards, yet we had to catch a plane at 7.00am over to the other side of the island and had to keep explaining to people why we were shuffling like penguins. In Sandakan we had an hours boat trip to turtle island (there are actually 5 islands 3 owned by Malaysia and 2 by the Philipines) it is the only place in the world where turtles come ashore to lay eggs every night of the year. The only problem is we didn’t know what time they would come, sometimes they come at 8.00pm sometimes they don’t come till 3.00am. We really hoped they would come early as we were still very tired from the mountain. Luckily they came at 10.00pm and we all rushed out and watched one lay her eggs which were then counted and put in the hatchery to keep away from predators. Then we got to play with the baby turtles that had hatched that night, they were so cute, we got pictures of us holding them. Then we let them go on the beach and watched them swim away into the sea, I think the baby turtles were the highlight of my trip. Next day we went back to Sandakan and went to the Sepilok Orangotan sanctuary and saw the Orangs and the cheeky Macac monkeys being fed. After a trip around the city and a visit to the Australian war memorial (where the death marches started) we flew back to Kota Kinabalu and got some photos flying over the Mountain. Next day Tammy departed to go and stay at an eco resort on one of the islands and Jayne and I went island hopping which was so relaxing after all our other activities. We lay on the beach and went snorkeling with thousands of fish including nemo, after lunch Jayne and I went parasailing which was really cool. The last day we did some last minute souvenir shopping and packed. I flew to Brisbane and Jayne flew back to Sydney.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Fantastic wild life
  • Cons:There are only so many noodles you can eat
  • Last visit to Borneo: Jul 2004
  • Intro Updated Aug 12, 2005
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