Swimsuits In Borneo

The search for South African Swimsuit Model 2013 reached the coast of Borneo last month where the contestants took part in a photo-shoot at Gaya Island, off Kota Kinabalu. Hmm … how could everyone in Borneo — save for the host at Gaya Island Resort — not aware of this?

Nevermind, to cut the long story short, it was Cape Town model Careen Truter who emerged the winner of the inaugural SA Swimsuit model search.

Other videos of the swimsuit photoshoot in Borneo:

Read all about the competition here.

If You Only Have 7 Days In Borneo, Where Would You Go?

There is a new discussion going on over at TripAdvisor regarding a question posted by tanewman of England. She says she only has seven nights to be spent in Borneo during which she wants to see orang utans, sea turtles, experience culture, relax and sunbath.

Malaysian Borneo’s Sabah could be the best option to do all these. Of course, I’m saying this because firstly, I’m from Sabah, and secondly, I haven’t had the opportunity to explore the neighbouring Sarawak, or Indonesia’s Kalimantan, to be able to suggest other options. That is a disclaimer, by the way :)

So here is an itinerary which might fit this requirement. I would say there are three areas to visit to see all those — Kota Kinabalu, Kudat and Sandakan.

Day 1 — Go to Bavanggazo in Kudat to see the Rungus Longhouse in Kampung Tinangol, about 140km from Kota Kinabalu or about two hours of driving away. Return to Kota Kinabalu in the afternoon.

Kota Kinabalu - Rungus Longhouse in Bavanggazo, Kudat

Kota Kinabalu – Rungus Longhouse in Bavanggazo, Kudat

While in Kudat, why not go further north to the Tip of Borneo, about an hour away from Bavanggazo?

Day 2 – Visit the Monsopiad Cultural Centre in Penampang. Located about 20km from Kota Kinabalu, the centre is named after the legendary headhunter Monsopiad. Here you will be able to see a glimpse of Sabah’s headhunting past… there is a skull house that houses these trophies. After the visit, fly to Sandakan in the afternoon.

Monsopiad Cultural Centre, 25km from Kota Kinabalu, named after the legendary headhunter

Monsopiad Cultural Centre, 25km from Kota Kinabalu, named after the legendary headhunter

Day 3 – In Sandakan, visit the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, about 25km from the east coast town. It is the biggest such facility in the world. However, to make the trip fruitful, visitors need to be there during the feeding time at 10 am or 3 pm. After the feeding time, visitors will be able to watch a movie about the rehabilitation works done at the centre.

This can be followed by a visit to the adjacent Rainforest Rediscovery Centre nearby.

Sandakan is 40 minutes of flight from Kota Kinabalu

Sandakan is 40 minutes of flight from Kota Kinabalu

Day 4 — Still in Sandakan, visitors can proceed by boat to Langkayan Island or to Turtle Island see sea turtles and relax and sunbath.

Day 5 – Still at Langkayan or Turtle Island – more relaxation and sunbathing.

Day 6 — Take the 8.15am flight back to Kota Kinabalu (it’s a 40-minute flight), arriving by 9 am. At noon, proceed to one of the nearby islands at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park for more sunbathing and relaxing.

Day 7 – Fly out of Sabah to via several direct flights available (source: Wikipedia) namely to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on Royal Brunei Airlines; Angeles, Philippines (Clark) located 2 hours north of Manila on AirAsia, Hong Kong on Dragonair, Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia; Jakarta, Indonesia on AirAsia; Shenzhen, China on AirAsia; Manila, Philippines on Cebu Pacific Airlines and Malaysia Airlines; Seoul, Korea on Asiana Airlines, EastarJet, Jin Air, Korean Air and Malaysia Airlines; Singapore on AirAsia, Silkair; Taipei, Taiwan on Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia (Taoyuan), Mandarin Airlines (Songshan); Tarakan, Indonesia on MASWings; and Balikpapan, Indonesia on MASWings.

Borneo Catepillar

A Borneo caterpillar that looks like it is part of the shrubs it is crawling on, is the latest creature to be featured in National Geographic’s “Photo of the Day”. The photograph of the lichen-colored caterpillar was taken in Sarawak, Borneo.

Slow-moving and vulnerable to attacks, camouflaging itself to match its surroundings is the most effective means of defence against predators.

Top 5 Malaysian Borneo Destinations

Hmmm… not sure why Sarawak’s Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is picked over Sabah’s Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre as one of the top five places to visit in Malaysian Borneo — if the purpose of travel is to see the primate in their natural habitat, that is.

But of course, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is more accessible than Sepilok. It is located 25km from Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak that is served by the Kuching International Airport, as opposed to Sepilok, which is about the same distance away in Sandakan, the former capital city of Sabah in the state’s east coast and served “only” by a domestic airport.

By Julielangford (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Orang Utan photo by Julielangford (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Nevermind about that. The more Orang Utan rehab centre the better as far as I am concerned.

Anyway, back to the top five places to visit in Malaysian Borneo, News.com says the other places on the list are Nanga Delok in Sarawak as well as Tunku Abdul Rahman Park off Kota Kinabalu, Kinabalu National Park and Maliau Basin — the last three of which are in Sabah.

Hop over to News.com to read more information about these five places including where to stay and eat. I’m sure there are many other places of interest in Sabah and Sarawak but if you only have a week to spare, these five places should give you a glimpse of what Borneo has to offer. You may need more time if you really want to experience the “Lost World” Maliau Basin though.

Blog on Borneo

It is always enlightening to read what other people write or say about Borneo and in this era of connected world, it is not too difficult to find content written and shared online by those who have visited the island.

A series of blog entries by a senior leader of a birding tour company based in Tucson, Arizona, USA is one of the more recent content available online on Borneo.

In these articles, Richard C. Hoyer, Senior Leader at WINGS Tour, talks about his visit to places like Danum Valley and Mount Kinabalu.

Horned beetle

Horned beetle

In one of the entries, he describes Lahad Datu as the “Hilux capital of the world,” observing that “every fourth vehicle in the city’s congested streets is a Hilux.” Double cab trucks are indeed a common place vehicle in Sabah.

He expresses dismay at what he describes as “utter destruction of unimaginable riches of biodiversity,” saying, “Upon approaching the city, all I could see for miles and miles was African Oil Palm plantations.”

Follow his journey at Birderandnaturalist blog, which contains four entries from the trip:

1. Borneo Blog: My First Acquaintances with Pittas, Gibbons, and Wren-Babblers.
2. Borneo Blog: Square Pegs and Round Holes.
3. Borneo Blog: Travel Day Travails from KK to Danum Valley.
4. Reflections on My Three Days At Mount Kinabalu.

Mount Kinabalu as seen from Kundasang town

Mount Kinabalu as seen from Kundasang town

Petronas’ Kaamatan Journey – A Glimpse Into Borneo’s Best-known Festival

May is perhaps the best time to visit Sabah if experiencing the culture of the people of north Borneo is what you are yearning for. It is during the month of May that the native Kadazandusun people celebrate their best known festival called Kaamatan, literally means after-harvest festival. This is also mark the end of a planting season and the beginning of a new one. In a way, it is a celebration of a new “year.”

There is a legend associated with the Kaamatan, one that revolves around the sacrifice of the daughter of the god Kinoingan (more on this here).

Anyway, here is a series of five web episodes featuring celebrity host Pamela Chong who embarked on a journey to get to know more about the celebration. This was shot in May this year where she went to Kampung Luanti Baru in Ranau and experienced numerous aspects of the festival. The web episode is produced by the Malaysian oil company Petronas.

What is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Borneo?

Well, it depends. Borneo is an island with lots of rain. If hopping on a 4WD ride and experiencing the muddy road in the interior of Borneo is your idea of adventure, then perhaps you may want to come here between December and February or between June and July.

If culture is what you are here for, then perhaps May and June is the best time, as these would be the months the natives of the two Malaysian states — Sabah and Sarawak — are celebrating their best-known festivals: Harvest Festival or Tadau Kaamatan. It was during these celebrations that visitors to Borneo are able to truly appreciate the culture of the native people in the two states

Imbak Waterfall located in the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area in the heart of Sabah. The road condition to this area during rainy season can be quite perilous during rainy season. Ideal for a 4WD adventure

Imbak Waterfall located in the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area in the heart of Sabah. The road condition to this area during rainy season can be quite perilous, which what makes it appealing to 4WD adventurers

In any case, there is a discussion over at Fodor’s on the best time of the year to visit this part of the world that include Indonesia and Malaysian Borneo. Perhaps you may want to add to the discussion so that visitors would have a fruitful trip.

If I Can Quit My Job, I’ll Quit and Spend the Rest of My Life Travelling Across Borneo

Life is short really and because of that you might not have much time to live your dream, that is, if travelling the whole of Borneo without having to worry about coming to work 9 to 5 is the kind of life you have been dreaming of.

As for myself, if I can quit my job, I’ll quit, pack my things and hit the road in a leisurely travel around Borneo, going to as many places as I can.

Imagine spending the night somewhere deep in the jungle of Borneo without having to worry about getting that presentation pack done or completing those reports from countless of meetings or following up a decision that requires the nod of a multiple agencies or sections or departments.

If I can quit my job, I’ll quit and escape into the countryside, partying with the native one fine Saturday night or hopping for a ride off the beaten tracks.

Natives Given Digital Cameras to Shoot “The Heart of Borneo”

A group of native people in Indonesia’s Kalimantan were recently taught photography and provided with digital cameras to shoot their everyday life in the vast Heart of Borneo, through their own eyes. The result is pretty astounding, both the still photographs and video.

The project is facilitated by WWF. More here:

Borneo: Through a local lens.

Blog Under Reconstruction

I just thought I had to inform you this — in case you notice a design mash-up on this blog, it is because Borneo Blog is under reconstruction and I am still trying to figure out how to deploy the News Theme on Genesis Framework on this blog.