Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Borneo Highlands Resort - A resort where spirits roam and hornbills soar

KUCHING: Sitting on top the Penrissen Range some 2,000 metres above sea level and 50km from the buzzing city life, is the Borneo Highlands Resort.- a result of the pioneering vision of Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, who transformed what was logged land into an exclusive wonderland of golf course and bungalows snuggled in the midst of flora and fauna of a rainforest.

Just as he had raised the present-day ‘Mines Resort’ in Selangor from disused tin mines into a Malaysian success story, Lee was here over a decade ago on Sarawak’s invitation.

The developer was to decide if his Midas touch could yet work another wonder, and stood gazing across 1,000 acres of timber over logged jungle straddling the border with Indonesian Kalimantan.

As the story goes, Lee said he would pick up the gauntlet if he could call through to his wife on his handphone, this, in the days when mobile phone reception was near-miraculous in remote parts, where ‘Borneo Heights’ was. Amazingly, the call went through, and the beaming Lee made his decision… and the rest is history.

The Borneo Post adventure team ascended the steep winding road from the base of the range to the resort in a test drive of Isuzu MU-X yesterday.

It was not drive for the faint-hearted but the powerful 2.5 litre engine of the Isuzu SUV made light work of what would have been an arduous drive up the mountain.

The location of the resort has a rich history of legends with its own version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ romance in the midst of a war among the tribes of who lived on the range.

Marketing and IT Manager Bernard Tiang related that long ago when during the tribal war marriage between the different tribes was forbidden.

“But a couple originating from two tribes fell in love,” Bernard explained. “when their love affair were exposed they were chased by their own people. They were cornered at the ‘rumah panggah’ (a house where headhunters guarded prized skulls) and while it was taboo for women to enter, the desperate couple in grave violation, hid in it.