TIME – gmt + 8 hrs
FLIGHT – There are no direct flights to Borneo from the U.K. The best
way to get there from the U.K. is to take a14 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur and from
there get a 1 hour flight to Kota
Kinabalu in Borneo.
CURRENCY – Malay Ringit
VISA’S –Not required for U.K. citizens
TEMPERATURE –No lower than 20C but not usually hotter than 32C.
Humidity is between
85% and 95%.
CLIMATE – Hot and humid all year. Strong winds and frequent showers
affect the east coast during
the north-east monsoon which blows from December to March. The west coast is generally dry
and sunny during this period, but receives its share of rainfall between July and
October. Whenever rain falls it is heavy and but short-lived.
LANGUAGE – Bahsa Maly and English is widely spoken.
OFFICIAL RELIGION : The official religion is Islam, although
Muslims are now out numbered by
Christians and Buddists.
HEALTH – Malaysia,
including Sabah is one of the cleanest and healthiest South
East Asia countries.
Standards are very high but it is still best to drink bottled water. Immunisation: No
injections are officially required but you would be wise to be up to date with hepatitis A
and B, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and typhoid. For people staying in the jungle
areas, it is a good idea to have a Rabies injection. Anti- leech socks can be bought in
FOOD - The food is an ethnic
mix of Malay, Indonesian, Chinese, Indian and Philapino, and is absolutely
Borneo is at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean and
is the world’s third largest Island (after Greenland and New Guinea). It lies between the
South China Sea and the Salu
Sea. Most of Borneo is in the Indonesian state of Kilimantan. Sabah is
in Malaysia (30% of Borneo)
and sharing 3% of the island of Borneo
is the independent state of Brunei.
No alcohol is to be taken into the State of Bruneii and no alcohol is to be drunk there
There are no direct flights to
Borneo, but the easiest way to reach Borneo from the U.K. is via Kula Lumpar (KL). This
is a 14 hour flight from the U.K.
From KL you can then take a flight to
Kota Kinabalu, which is another 1 hour flight. The runway at KK’s
airport runs right along the edge of the sea – on landing it looks like you are
going to crash into the sea. Malaysian airlines
usually have the best deals. Flights are
also available via Hong Kong and Bangkok.
K.K. is a fast developing city
with lots of modern buildings springing up.
has something for everyone. It is a paradise for adventure seekers, wildlife
lovers, beach bums, & culture vultures alike.
SABAH - means ‘Land Below the Wind’. It is called
this because it lies safely south of the area’s typhoon belt. It is a land of
lush rain forests and holiday-heaven beaches. Sabah is on the west coast of Borneo
over-looking the South China Sea. It was once
known as North Borneo until it gained it’s independence in 1963 and then it
reverted back to Sabah.
Sabah is Borneo’s
natural paradise – a land of majestic mountains and lush tropical rainforest.
The flora, fauna and wildlife in Sabah is
stunning. It is home to the endearing and endangered Orang Utan, which can be
seen in the sanctuary at Sepilok on the outskirts of Sandakan.
At this rehabilitation centre, captive animals are retrained for life in
The state capitol of Sabah is
Kota Kinabalu (K.K.). It was known as Jessletown until 1963. K.K. has a very relaxed
way of life and is a good base to explore Sabah
from. We stopped at the Shangri-La Rasa
Ria Resort just outside Kota Kinabalu and a 40 minute drive from the airport.
Having it’s own nature reserve, the Rasa Ria overlooks the Panti Dalit
Bay The beach was
beautiful but as it was a conservation area there were too many sand-flies on
the beach and they were not allowed to spray the area to get rid of them
because being eco-friendly they would not use insecticides. Also most days there were too
many jelly fish for us to swim in the sea. In the Rasa Ria nature reserve was a
small orang- utan sanctuary.
SABAH has an 800-900 mile coastline with superb beaches. Most adventures
and expeditions are best done with the aid of a local guide and ground
Off the northern coastline is
Sipidan island which is one of the top 5 dive centres in the world.
Kinabalu National Park
is one of Sabah’s major attractions, with medieval jungle, hot
springs and Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountains in South
East Asia. The climb via the scenic trail requires no special
abilities but is physically strenuous and reaching the summit gives you a real
feeling of achievement.
Mount Kinabalu Without doubt, any adventure-seeker
heading to Sabah must put the ascent of Mount Kinabalu
at the top of their ‘to do’ list. It is 13,500ft
summit. Every year 100’s of athletes from around the world congregate at the
foot of Mount Kinabalu. The super human record to the top is 2 hours 40
The trek to the top is usually a
two day walk, stopping at 10,700feet in the Laban Rata mountain hut (a spacious
hut where trekkers stop before tackling the summit.) Some times the trek to the top is abandoned because the steep path turns
into a waterfall. The jungle here can
get cold at night. Make sure you have warm gear, waterproofs, a head torch and
an emergency blanket as these items are essential. You can hire sleeping bags
at Laban Rata.
We spoke to some 20-30 year olds
who had already climbed the mountain and they said that they were absolutely
exhausted, and although they were used to doing lots of strenuous walking, the
walk to the top was really hard. However they were glad they had done it as the
views from the top were spectacular.
The forest surrounding Mount Kinabalu
can look mysterious and misty. Natives used to think the mist was smoke and
that dragons and spirits inhabited the mountains. It is a botanist’s mecca.
Here you can see worms as long as your arms, frogs as tiny as a fingernail and
plants that feast on insects.
PORING HOT SPRINGS
These are a must for those suffering from aching muscles after a Mount Kinabalu
descent. Poring Hot Springs
are hot mineral baths temperature-graduated from pool to pool. Not only famous
for it’s sulphur baths, poring has a unique walkway built high up in the forest
canopy. There is a cabin and hostel
accommodation at Poring.
We took an easier option to
Climbing Mount Kinabalu and that was a guided trail walk in the five acre mountain
garden followed by lunch in the Sutera Sanctuary
Kinabalu has 1,200 species of
orchid, and many of them grow here, so if you do not have the energy to climb Mount Kinabalu,
a wonderful alternative is to take a guided walk in the Mount Kinabalu
Park following the Silau
Silau Trail. Here you can see the richest and most remarkable plants in the
world. You may even see the largest flower in the world , the Rafflesia . This
flower is very difficult to find as it can take over 15 months to bud but only
blooms for 7 days. The Park posts a notice as to whether the plant is in bloom
or bud. Besides the orchids garden there are 9 species of pitcher plants in the
For this amazing walk you will
need a pair of heavy waterproof walking shoes as a lot of the time you will be
walking through slushy mud. A waterproof hat and coat is also advisable, after all,
this is a rainforest.
An hour flight from Kota
Kinabalu airport takes you to Sandakan on the
east coast of Sabah over looking Salu
Sepilock Orang Utan Sactuary
A short drive from Sandakan is the Sepilock
Orang Utan Sanctuary, a 43-square-mile rehabilitation preserve of lowland
rainforest established in 1964 to rehabilitate orphaned or wounded animals.
They are protected from logging, allowed to roam free, and infants are trained
to live in the wild again. Orang-utans are the largest tree-dwelling apes. They
are shy, rare, astoundingly gentle and solitary.
The Orang utan only exists in
the wilds of Borneo and a small number also live in Sumatra. The word ‘orang utan’ is Malay for ‘man of
the forest’. There is a possibility of this beautiful primate being extinct in
15 years time. Over the last 20 years much of their habitat has been destroyed
and palm oil trees have been planted in the forests place. In Sabah,
almost 90% of the lowland forest was lost between 1975 and 1995.
The most important reason for
the destruction of the rainforest has been the spread of palm-oil plantations
in Borneo and Sumatra. One in 10 products in Britain’s
supermarket includes palm oil, but it is usually labelled vegetable oil.
Margarine, ice cream, pastry, chocolate, crisps and chips all contain palm oil
as does beauty products such as mascara and body wash.
On visiting the sanctuary I was
looking forward to giving these remarkable orang-utans a cuddle but as they are
going to be rehabilitated back into the forest this was not permitted as the
keepers were trying to make them have as little physical contact with humans as
possible. We walked into the jungle for about 15minutes (The path wasn’t muddy
as a wooden walkway had been built to led us up to the feeding station) The
only item you were allowed to take with you to the viewing platform was a
camera. The reason for this is that the orang-utans would snatch bags, hats
etc. from you if they had the chance. Also you were not allowed to feed the
orang-utans and the only food they were allowed was bananas. This was so that
they would get bored with this diet and start foraging for themselves for more
interesting food in the jungle. A lot of
orang-utans had been ill treated, some kept in cages as pets. It is actually
illegal to do this, but a lot of people living in far out villages didn’t realise
that this was the case. Anyone now found keeping them as pets are now in big
trouble from the authorities.
TEMPLE - This beautiful Chinese
Bay and harbour. Facining
the sea and backing onto the mountains this is considered good feng shui. The
original temple was destroyed during WW11.
The current ornate temple was built on stilts.
AGNES NEWTON KEITH HOUSE
- An interesting stop is Agnes Newton Keiths house. This
House overlooks Sandakan Bay. This American lady was married to a
British Colonial administrator in 1940’s Borneo.
Caught up by World War 11, she and her young son spent three years in Sandakan’s death
camp. Her story became a best seller and
later the film “Three Came Home” was released starring Claudette Colbert
playing Mrs. Keith.
is one of the finest harbours in the world (26miles). From the Sandakan
jetty you can take a 2 hour drive along the Kinabatangan River,
passing mangrove swamp, wetland andrainforest habitats and watch for wildlife
along the banks.
We took a walk around Sandakan’s water village.
The house here are built on stilts.
SANDAKAN WAR MEMORIAL
North Borneo suffered badly at
the hands of the Japanese in World War 11 and Sandakan was totally demolished.
Our day trip in Sandakan
included a trip to SANDAKAN MEMORIAL
GARDENS. We were told
very bluntly by our guide that if anyone on our coach was Japanese they would
not be welcome here, and could possibly be liable to be attacked. This garden
was built on the old prison of war camp and is a memorial to Australian,
British and local civilians who died at Sandakan POW camp and on the death
marches. In 1942-1943 the Japanese brought about 2,700 Australian and British
POW’s to this camp. Over 1000 sick and
weak POW’s were forced on three death marches under brutal physical conditions.
In 1945 they moved POW’s 260 kilometer’s into the small settlement at Ranau. On
the three marches 2,400 died and the remainder died. Only 6 people survived, (all Australians). They had escaped
into the jungle and had been hidden by the local people until the end of the
Throughout the Pacific campaign
of World War11 more than 6,000 Indonesian civilians slave labourers and Allied
prisoners were killed.
There are 2 other memorial
beside Sandakan Memorial
Park, one on the foothills of Mount Kinabalu
and another in Kandasan.
If you are a keen cyclist, an
interesting trip would be to cycle the
‘death route’ from Sandakan
25 miles north of Sandakan is The Turtle
Island Park. From July to October, the Green and Hawksbillturtles come ashore
and lay their eggs. The turtle hatchery has been set up since 1966.
– For the true diving enthusist’s. This is oneofthe world’d best dive site and
is off the east coast of Sabah.
KINABATANGAN RIVER -
Experience the pristine rainforest and a plethora of animals like the Clouded
Leopard , Asian Elephant, Crocodile’s, Civet Cats etc. etc. Th emost amazing
spectacle is the bizarre Proboscis Monkey, found nowhere else in the world
except Borneo. You may even sight an Orang
SABAHS WHITE WATER RIVERS – The best time to sample these
rivers are from August to January. The Papar River
flows through a rustic rainforest setting and provides some of the best rafting
- the region.
Hotels and guestrooms – There are all standards of rooms for as
little as £8 per night to 5* luxury hotels.