Borneo is an island off the coast of Malaysia, I didn’t really think much of it when Alex suggested it to me. But I am happy to admit that I was wrong about this, Borneo (Sabah region) has everything you need to vaction here. Beaches, Shopping, Nature Walks and many more, what I don’t understand is the lack of caucasians that come here. Since I have been here I can count under 20, groups of European or American’s that I saw. I have yet to see any New Zealand or Australian counter parts. Maybe the island is too remote for us white folk, I dunno but you are missing out on a little gem of a place!
So what can I tell you about Borneo, well the weather is great! I am not a big sun junkie myself and I get a bit irritated by heat but Borneo’s temperature is just enough for me to handle.
After the first night we booked tickets to go explore the little islands of Borneo. We got our tickets from the Jesselton Point Wharf on the day, it came to about 50 Ringgit for two people. The islands we went to were Mamutik, Manukan and Sapi, we did have a delay in the boat getting there but remember everyone in Borneo is on Island Time, meaning not rushing for anything.
Mamutik was our first stop and to be honest this place was ruined. There was beautiful white sand beaches, if you could get past the rubbish everywhere and I mean everywhere! Even in the ocean where we tried to snorkel, all we saw was dead coral and rubbish. But as we swam further out we finally saw fantastic tropical fish, different shapes and sizes, along with some stunning colours. After we had done some snorkeling we headed over to the next island Manukan.
Now I was a little apprehensive after the first island, but Manukan is a resort and you can tell straight away when you hope off that this island is taken care of. Sapi was I believe protected by the government, so there were people around to keep an eye on rubbish control. I think coming from New Zealand and being used to following the phrase “be a tidy kiwi”, it was quite hard for me to cope with seeing a whole island destroyed by tourism. The dead coral really got me as I know that it is critical for sea life to have, and the fact people had stepped on it and it had died really grinded my gears.
Please make conscious decisions when you do activities such as snorkeling or diving, those ecosystems are essential to ocean life!
Now after that belate here is what else I did in Borneo, a little bit of food shopping at the city grocer and night markets. Walked around the city of Kota Kinabalu and got to know our bearings. Took a bike tour with Borneo Bike Adventures, which I highly recommend as you get to see more of Sabah and with someone who has lived here for about 10 years.
Other than that you are never short of malls and places to eat here, in Kota Kinabalu most people eat out for every meal because it is so cheap! Use Trip Advisor for activities if you get stumped on what to do and just go get lost, its the best thing you can do and people are really friendly and helpful here.
Next stop Thailand!