Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Celebrity travel: Brian Blessed turns wild man of Borneo

Have you ever yearned to run barefoot on a sun-kissed beach, dive into emerald-green water, trek through mist-shrouded mountains or trudge through mysterious primordial jungles?

If the answer is yes, Malaysia is the land for you. This place is home to the unique proboscis monkey and, of course, the wonderful orang-utan. Towering over it all is Mount Kinabalu, at 13,435ft the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea and the focal point of Kinabalu Park.

It was the Malaysian High Commissioner, His Excellency Datuk Abd Aziz Mohammed, who invited me to visit his exotic country. 'You can even climb Kinabalu,' he suggested.

'It's not quite as high as Everest but it is awesome in its own right and a magnet for the adventurous.'

I was thrilled to receive this generous offer and seven months later I was on the plane with Matt Dickinson.

I first met Matt, a tall, slim, handsome film director and mountaineer, on an expedition to Everest in 1996. We were tickled pink to be embarking on a new adventure, this time in Sabah, the Malaysian state located in northern Borneo.

We were flying to Kota Kinabalu via Hong Kong and the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. After an overnight stay, Matt and I were being taken to Mount Kinabalu.

After the mountain challenge, we would be taken to Sandakan to tour the city and visit the nearby Sepilok orang-utan sanctuary.

We would be treated to a boat trip on the Kinabatangan river before returning to Kota Kinabalu for a city tour. And all this had to be achieved in eight days.

At Kota Kinabalu airport we were greeted by Tengku Adlin, our guide for the Mount Kinabalu section of our adventure. Refreshed after spending the night at the magical Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, Matt and I headed to Kinabalu Park.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Celebrity travel: Brian Blessed turns wild man of Borneo

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