Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Borneo (Part 2)

The Malaysian province of Sabah, whilst one of the poorest economically, is a veritable wealth of natural beauty. Stretching from the capital Kota Kinabalu in the west, around the Tip of Borneo to the north and along the east coast to Sepilok and Sandakan. Its biodiversity, from virgin rainforests to unexplored mountain valleys is a city slicker's perfect antidote.

Well, you may rightly ask, if we didn’t get up to any of that Indiana Jones nonsense, what did we do in Borneo? We got what we came for and what we came for was off the coast of Semporna. In two words:

Island style.

Does it turn you a darker shade of green? It should and if it doesn't you're a heartless, jaded and cynical person whose time on earth is best spent ruminating in your basement, burning effigies of your boss and throwing darts at a blown-up, vandalised photo of his face.

Waking up to a cup of kopi in a wooden stilt house built out over the Celebes Sea on Pulau Mabul, wondering which tropical island’s world famous coral reef or sand bottom to snorkel or scuba.

Watching colourful and weird fish you’ve only ever seen in aquariums, white-eyed moray eels and giant green turtles, all from the comfort of your balcony or kicking your feet up, with a smuggled 26-peso Filipino Red Horse beer and a game of cards.

Or just throwing your towel on palm tree-clad Pulau Sibuan with a good book and only being disturbed by one of the island’s 20 inhabitants asking if he could fetch you a coconut from 50 feet above your head.

Or being 50 feet under the water off Pulau Sipadan floating in an outer-space-like world with reef sharks and prehistoric turtles the size of little cars, with nothing above but bubbles and below 600 metres of murky, inky wetness.

So, we didn’t get to touch an orangutan. They keep those funny primates a good distance from tourists. We didn’t climb Mount Kinabalu. We didn’t get to white-water raft the renowned rapids of the Padas River. We did, however, get what we came for: a good tan and the kind of holiday which I can recommend to anyone looking to get as far from stinky Saigon as possible.


Tamara said...

So it was all worthi it in the end then... you found a slice of paradise.

henno said...

Yeah we did, it was pretty wicked. Definitely also spoiled scuba diving for me as nowhere else is gonna be this good. Comes highly recommended.