PART 1, General Information
PART 2, BLOG Pictures and Gallery
PART 3, VIDEO CLIP
PART 1, GENERAL INFORMATION
Capital city: Kota Kinabalu
Population: 3.4 Million
Currency: Malaysian Ringgit
Km travelled: 1380km
Days in Sabah: 21
Languages: Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese & Mandarin)
Sabah is a state in Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Borneo is the third largest island in the world and largest island in Asia. The island is home to 2 Malaysian states Sarawak and Sabah and the nation of Brunei. The island of Borneo is home to some of the oldest rainforest in the world, however the logging and palm oil industry is a real threat to the pristine rainforest. The well-preserved Borneo Rainforest is also one of Malaysia’s biggest attractions. Sabah, located on the northern point of the island of Borneo is the second largest state in Malaysia
Sabah is known for some very rare and protected endangered species, including the Sumatran Rhinoceros, the Orang-Utan, the Mousedeer, the Flying Squirrel and the Barking deer. Considered a ‘botanical heaven’, it contains some of the rarest plants on earth, such as the smelly Rafflesia. It also has the highest mountain in South East Asia at 4,101 meters (Mt. Kinabalu)
The capital of Sabah offers tropical islands, lush rainforest and close by Mount Kinabalu. Most of the town was destroyed due to bombings during World War II, hence there are not many pre-war historical sites around the city. Due to ever increasing visitor levels it has become the gateway to East Malaysia. Some places to visit are Signal Hill Observatory, Islands around Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, the Mengkabong water village and Chinatown
Sandakan is an important town to Australian and British WWII veterans with the infamous Death Marches happening in 1945. The town does not see too many foreign tourists and especially non-Asian tourists. There is a two-lane paved road from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan and road conditions are generally good but pay attention to sizeable potholes and areas of road that have been damaged by the movement of the clay soil underneath. Must visit place is Sandakan Memorial Park located 11km from the city. The memorial park is situated on the original site of the Japanese Prisoner of War camp. The memorial park is dedicated to the men who lost their lives in the Borneo Death Marches during the Second World War. Over 1800 Australians were held in POW camps and we are told only 6 survived. Also of interest is the Puu Gih Jih Chinese temple on top of a hill overlooking the bay.
The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is where orang utans rescued from plantations and from being kept as pets are re-adapted to living in the jungle. This is often considered the best spot in the world to see wild/rehabilitated Orang Utans.
BORNEO SUN BEAR CONSERVATION CENTRE
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is the only sun bear rehab facility in the world. Established in 2008, its purpose is to rescue sun bears from deforestation, commercial poaching and the pet trade with an aim to rehabilitate them. Bears that can re-adapt to the forest are released while those bears that are unable to fend for themselves are provided with long-term living environments. The bears themselves are the smallest bear species and most arboreal. Their love of honey gives them the alternative name ‘honey bear’. The bears at the centre come mostly from people who have kept them as pets. It is estimated that there are only 10,000 sun bears left in the wild. This is the only sun bear sanctuary in the world and is the best, if not the only, way to see healthy sun bears.
TURTLE ISLANDS PARK
Three islands in the Sulu Sea where you can see turtles laying eggs and turtle conservation at work.
The massive cave is home to swiftlets and their nests are harvested as a Chinese delicacy. The harvesting processes involves people climbing to the roof of the caves with bamboo poles and ladders.
LABUK BAY PROBOSCIS MONKEY SANCTUARY
Located near Samawang Village 38km out of Sandokan. The journey to Labuk Bay is very rough; once you turn off the main road, the unpaved road and jeep tracks of plantation estates will make you wonder where you end up, but it is worth it. You are guaranteed a sighting of these monkeys in the middle of the mangrove forest.
RIVER CRUISE ON THE KINABATANGAN RIVER
A great way to see the wildlife and interesting villages where the river is still the main highway. There are opportunities to view pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys and Orang-Utans
REMOTE JUNGLE TRAVEL
Jungle driving/exploring in remote Borneo is both challenging and fascinating; challenging because it involves travelling through some of the more remote corners of Borneo away from tourists where the roads may not be at their best. The trip can also be fascinating because you will get to see the real Borneo and meet local people in traditional costumes and eat local food. The many tracks and diversions are endless and through many small settlements. Make sure that you have enough food and a satellite phone as the jungle in Borneo is remote and help is not always available immediate. Most people are nice and friendly if treated with respect and a smile, but be prepared to be stared at by everyone and to be the constant target of laughter and jokes by youngsters if you are from a different race.
2 seasons: the wet and the dry. Rain can be expected year-round. Wet season runs from October to March, with April to September the dry season, but even when it rains, hardly ever a whole day is spoiled. Downpours last 1 or 2 hours and can most often be expected in the afternoon or evening. Average temperature Year-round is around 23 degrees at night and 35 degrees during the day. In the mountains it can get down to 15 degrees at night and the coldest place in Sabah is Mt Kinabalu which at 4,095m above sea level where the temp can drop to just below freezing at night.
Part 2, BLOG Pictures and Gallery
We turned around and continued into Sabah. The funny thing is that all custom officers sit in an air-conditioned office, can`t see who sits in the car nor do they come out and check the car! I expected them to be tougher than that in border control. Anyway, we have now been told that we need an entry visa for Sabah, which we do not have. We never saw anyone! So now we will see what happens when we leave Sabah on Tuesday for our flight to Kuala Lumpur and South Africa. We drove all the way to Kota Kinabalu as we were unable to find a hotel enroute from the border. This is the major tourist town in Sabah with tourists a plenty, especially Europeans and Japanese. All are here for two attractions: 1. Mount Kinabalu and 2. the monkeys at Sandakan (1-hour flight from Kota Kinabalu). We only stayed the night and after a walk around the night markets and a good feed of sate $6.00 AUD (24 sticks) it was time to go to bed after checking the emails. We are still trying to solve our insurance in Africa i.e. theft and damage or no insurance at all, except third party? We stayed at a five star hotel in Kota Kinabalu and only paid $69.00 including breakfast (low season). It was an early departure for the long drive to Sandakan. First a quick look at a beach resort 40 minutes north of Kota Kinabalu as we are told they have good deals i.e. normal rate 700 Ringgit, however on standby rates of 250 Ringgit including breakfast – it sounds good. No deals like this tonight, however, if we call them on Saturday night they may have some on Sunday night.
Off we went to Mount Kinbalu Sabah`s and Borneo`s highest mountain. Only one-and-a-half-hour drive to the turnoff, this is where we paid our entry fee. (Malay citizen pay 25% of what we poor tourists pay! I reckon we should do the same in Australia. The track up the mountain ends abruptly at 1899 meters. It is a one-lane track and to turn at the top, competing with 10 or more taxis, is a real issue with a large 4WD. As they say, `do what the locals do`. Park wherever you like and partly block the road. By the time we were on the platform, the mountain was in the clouds, but as we drove up we had a very good view. People run up and down this mountain in 2 hours and 40 minutes, while the fit and healthy walk up and down in 2 days. In the afternoon we continued to Sandakan, the town where over 1800 Australians were held in POW camps during WWII and we are told only six survived after they were marched to Ranau at the end of the war. In fact, more Australians died here than on the Burma railway line. Having driven through the jungle today it is hard to imagine how those Aussies must have felt while they were marched from Sandakan to Ranau. Many had no footwear and were starving. Next, we played tourist amongst another 400 tourists while looking at six Orang Utans at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. No doubt the people do a very good job at looking after endangered species but the whole thing was a bit of an anti-climax after seeing them in the wild in Sarawak. Today we booked in at the Jungle Resort for the huge amount of 170 Ringgit, including breakfast.
After the Sepilok Rehab Centre we spend four hours around the pool doing nothing. At 3pm it was off to another rehab centre. This time for the Proboscis Monkey. Really another anti-climax after you have seen them in the wild. We returned to Kota Kinabalu, but not before visiting the Kinabatangan river. The river covers almost 23% of the total land area of Sabah. The lower basin of the Kinabatangan River is the largest forest covered floodplain in Malaysia (4000 sq. km in total). It also contains some of the few remaining freshwater swamp rainforest and lakes in South East Asia.
The river is one of only two places known where 10 primate species can be found, and few are only local to Borneo e.g Proboscis Monkey, Maroon Langur, Borneo Gibbon and the Borneo Pigmy Elephant (which we did not see) the Proboscis Monkey with its pot-belly, long tail and outrageously bulbous nose are very hard to miss. The male leaders of the pack are usually found on the highest part of the tree. Another animal roaming the Borneo jungle is the Sumatran Rhinoceros.
It is one of the smallest of the five-remaining species of rhinoceros. It grows up to 4 feet tall and spends the day searching for leaves and fruit (we never saw one). Unfortunately, hunters threaten the survival of the species. We are told 25km south of Kota Kinabalu you can see the Sumatran Rhino, Borneo Pygmy elephants, Borneo Clouded Leopard and Malayan Tiger.
This zoo is managed by Sabah Wildlife and forestry. As we depart late this time but are not zoo people we did not visit, however it does help to raise awareness to endangered species. Very late that night we booked into the 4-star Imperial Hotel (170 Ringgit or less than 65 AUD).
PART 3, VIDEO CLIP
(Video Sabah under Construction)
COMPILATION VIDEO THAILAND TO EUROPE including Sabah