Monday, March 23, 2015

The Tip of Borneo

After returning from Singapore, I stayed in KK for a night and picked up Jason from the airport the next day. Jason and James (Sandy’s fiance) were here to visit for the holiday. On the first night, we got dinner together alongside Marinette and her husband, since they happened to be in the city.

We ate at a bustling Chinese restaurant famous for its chicken herbal soup. I couldn’t eat much but the vegetables, but the broth was really tasty. Sandy, James, Jason, and I then roadtripped up to the northern Tip of Borneo together (or Simpang Mengayau, as the locals call it).

It took us about 3-4 hours to arrive at Tampat Do Aman, a Rungus longhouse/nature reserve/resort in Kudat. We had to call the owner several times, but we finally found the place after navigating a series of confusing turns in the dark.

The reserve/resort was founded by Howard, a British guy who had started the orangutan sanctuary at Rasa Ria, then decided to open his own nature reserve/resort and work with the local community after marrying a Rungus woman.

Upon arrival, Howard greeted us and gave us a quick tour of the compound. He was very friendly, though a little irritated because we had arrived so late. Typically guests arrive in the morning/afternoon, since it’s a small, intimate resort, not a large place you just check into. Whoops. :X

The reserve/resort was snug in the jungle and comprised a traditional Rungus longhouse (the native communal hut of the Rungus people, who are part of the indigenous Kadazandusun tribe), several private huts, compost toilets, outdoor showers which were enclosed but open to the stars and trees, a restaurant/dining area, a Rungus museum, a common space hut, rice paddies, and more.

We dropped our stuff off in the little huts we were staying in (which were super tiny with only enough room for a large mosquito-netted mattress and powerful wall fan. There wasn’t even enough room to stand up straight! But I thought it was such a cool experience).

With the chirping night air literally steps from the bed, it really felt like we were in the jungle. After a quick shower, we drove over to the northern tip about 5 minutes away. The view at night was breathtaking. The sky was bright with hundreds of twinkling stars, and there was a wonderful, cool sea breeze.

Borneo literally ends in a rocky, cliff-like tip, with the rocks smoothed over into interesting wavy, layered formations and lots of holes where shallow pools of fish and crabs had collected. We navigated our way around the holes and climbed down as far as we could in the dark.

Continue reading at: The Tip of Borneo