I often find myself having to explain to people that Borneo is an island that is divided among three countries: Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. When people say they’ve been to Borneo – the world’s third largest island, the majority would have been to the Malaysian part namely the state of Sabah where the famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and the world-class diving spot Sipadan Island are located.
On our recent trip to Borneo, we spent 4 days in Sabah and one day in Brunei – country no: 104 for me.
We spent a night at the Nepenthes Lodge with views of the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia in the near distance.
At 4095m high, Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Borneo’s Crocker Range and the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. It is also Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site which boasts more than 4’500 species of flora and fauna.
Desa Dairy Farm
Covering an area of 199 hectares, the Desa Dairy Farm is loacted at the Mesilau Plateau in Kundasang. It offers unrivaled views of Mount Kinabalu and is a popular spot for wedding photoshoots. The ice cream and pudding sold there however weren’t great.
“Tagal” Fish Spa at Kampung Luanti
About an hour away from Kinabalu Park, Kampung Luanti in Ranau offers an interesting massage experience. “Tagal” in the local Kadazan-Dusun dialect means “no fishing”. It is an area of the river where fishing is forbidden to prevent over-fishing.
The above sign prohibits guests from hurting / catching fish, lifting the fish out of the river, kicking the fish, throwing stones or wood into the river, throwing trash into the river, taking stones, sand and plants, bringing outside fish food, smoking, bringing pets. It also says to please throw trash into the provided trash cans, that each session lasts for 15 minutes and to please follow the instructions of the guide.
Two types of tickets were sold: feet only or whole body. We went for feet only.
The number of fish that surrounded our fish immediately was uncountable! One of the different species there would really bite at you. Overall an outstanding experience!
Sabah Tea Garden
The only organic tea farm in Borneo and one of the few in the world, the Sabah Tea Garden sits on a sprawling 6’200 acre land at 2’272 feet above sea level.
Unfortunately it was a disappointing sight. The tea plantations I have seen in Munnar, Kerala and in Cameron Highlands are much more beautiful.
Magellan Sutera Resort
We spent 3 nights in Kota Kinabalu at the beautiful 5 star Magellan Sutera Resort. There was much to love about this place: the different pools with bouncy castles and slides, the amazing array at the breakfast buffet, the kids clubs (you can leave your kids above the age of 3 there for free!), the sports facilities (tennis courts, table tennis, bowling, badminton, etc.), cinema, spas and the range of cafes and restaurants to dine from.
Seremban Seafood Restaurant
This restaurant is famous for its chili crabs and that was just what we ordered when we got there for dinner one night. We also had clams, mantis prawns, some other big prawns, squid and steamed fish.
Glam Station’s 3 – near Handicraft Market, Kota Kinabalu
We had an excellent seafood dinner at Glam Station’s 3, the corner stall nearby the Handicraft Market. I ordered clams, squid, steamed fish, sweet sour fish, dry small butter prawns and creamy big butter prawns.
Growing up hearing stories about this rich little country in Borneo and having heard that there isn’t much to do there in terms of tourism, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. My sister later mentioned that a friend of hers probably describes it best – Brunei is like Kemaman (a city in Terengganu, a Malaysian state close to Thailand) 20 years ago.
A friend and her husband picked us up from the impressive new airport. We visited a mosque before driving through the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.
Lunch was at Soto Pabo which overlooked the famous Kampong Ayer – the largest stilt settlement in the world, home to around.
See my other posts on Malaysia here.