So we are now preparing to take our leave of Borneo, after a fun few days checking out the oranguatans, snakes, birds and insects of the jungle on a Kinabantangan river tour and at Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary. At Sepilok we stayed at Labuk B&B; a really lovely place with an outdoor jacuzzi and just ten minutes walk to the sanctuary. The jungle trip we went on to the following day was a two night/three day job with a company called Nature Lodge, and included four river cruises and three jungle treks; two at night time. It was pretty good; we were lucky enough to see wild Orangutans on the river’s edge and we saw some beautiful birds sleeping on the last night walk.
Archive for the ‘Borneo’ Category
Here’s a couple of pics from our short diving trip to Mabul and Sipadan, off the east coast of Borneo. Apparently we didn’t get the best day of diving the area has to offer, but it wasn’t too shabby either – we saw loads of colourful fish (that we don’t know the names of) along with nudibranches, a good few turtles (including one absolutely huge one!), some sea snakes, lots of sharks and a pretty mean looking giant moray eel. The seascape around Sipadan itself is pretty spectacular – unlike most of the Malaysian islands, Sipadan doesn’t sit on the continental shelf but is the tip of an underwater volcano that drops around 600m to the seabed. The walls are spectacular to see with the trough between Sipadan and the other islands dropping to around 1000m deep!
We went with Seaventures, whose base is a converted oil rig just off the coast of Mabul. They were pretty good (just bring your own dive tables). The night before and after we stayed in the lovely Sipadan Inn in the poor (and smelly) town of Semporna. It cost a bit more than our usual accommodation, at 85MR per room- about 15euro- but was a great bit of luxury! We spent both nights relaxing in our room watching movies on HBO! Anyway, here we are in action!
Ever since seeing a Channel 4 documentary called ‘Into The Abyss’ about twelve years ago, I’ve been fascinated with Low’s Gully, so when I heard that it was less than two hours away from Kota Kinabalu where we were staying, I knew I had to go and see it!
Low’s Gully is a 1600m deep rift that hit the headlines in 1994 when a group of five British soldiers got caught up in its depths for thirty one days. The Malaysian army came to their rescue after three weeks of searching and just in the nick of time as many of the badly trained group were on the brink of starvation (even though they were surrounded by all sorts of food – tapioca, sugar cane etc. according to a local woman we spoke to). Despite their best efforts, the army team had still only managed to descend about one third of the gully – it wasn’t actually bottomed until four years later when two of the original army team returned with a new group and threw as much equipment as they could at the rift – they rigged it with 5000m of fixed rope and successfully sneaked through. Known locally as ‘the place of the dead’, locals believe that the gully is a kind of purgatory where the souls of their ancestors pass through on their way to heaven or hell.
Well we’re in Malaysian Borneo and we’re liking it so far! It’s quite different from Indonesia, a bit dearer for one thing, but also more developed than I expected. For some reason when I thought of ‘Borneo’ I thought of wild jungle land and indirectly, abject poverty. It’s only now that I’m here I realise the importance of the word ‘Malaysia’ before the word ‘Borneo’. I didn’t actually realise until we started out on this trip that Borneo is not a state itself, just an island made up of three countries: The northern strip (Sabah and Sarowak) is part of Malaysia; there’s a tiny bit on the north west coast which contains the rich kingdom of Brunei and the remaining majority is Kalimantan, which is part of Indonesia. We’re in one of the most visited parts, Sabah, as there’s lots to do here and it’s a bit more developed than the Indonesian bit so it’s easier get around. Don’t get me wrong, its not like Europe or anything, it’s just not as poor as Indonesia. Its not as hot either, which is actually very welcome after a month of profuse sweating!