What with moving house, changing jobs – and a lot more besides – all of which has happened in the last month, it feels like my little trip to Borneo (a thirtieth birthday present to myself) was more than a lifetime ago.
In reality, just a few short weeks have passed since I spent 7 days drinking in all of what this magical country has to offer. Here, in no particular order, are my best bits:
1. Visiting the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
This is what Borneo is most famous for; the Bornean orangutan – a species native to the island. Together with the Sumatran orangutan, it belongs to the only genus of great apes native to Asia.
Orangutans share approximately 97% of their DNA with humans, but Bornean Orangs are a critically endangered species, with deforestation, hunting and ever-expanding palm oil plantations posing a serious threat to their continued existence.
Seeing these guys relaxed and happy within the confines of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve (which covers more than 10,000 acres of mostly virgin rainforest) was an absolute privilege, and an experience I will never forget.
2. Staying at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Hotel
Set on the white sands of Pantai Dalit Beach and surrounded by 400 acres of lush tropical vegetation, the Shangri-la's Rasa Ria Resort & Spa
is ideal for nature lovers who also want their holiday to include more than just a touch of luxury. It’s pricey – but there are certainly bargains to be had, if you’re prepared to shop around for a great deal (see my blog post on this, here).
We absolutely loved the tropical swimming pool & jacuzzi which is exclusively for the use of residents staying in the Ocean Wing – if you’re planning a trip here, you’re going to want to make sure that’s where you stay, not least of all to avoid the hordes of kids in the Garden Wing pool!
When it comes to the food, we were thoroughly spoilt for choice, with a selection of eight pay-as-you-go dining and drinking venues to try out. We often went for traditional Malaysian ‘street food’ at the Tepi Laut Makan Street restaurant, followed by cocktails at the laid-back Sampan Bar on the beach.
The hotel is a great base to stay if you want somewhere to really relax and have your every need taken care of, but be mindful that it is a good 40 minute taxi ride from the centre of Kota Kinabalu, so you do need to factor in the costs (and time taken) to travel around during the days.
3. Watching endangered proboscis monkeys play in the wild
The proboscis monkey or long-nosed monkey, is a reddish-brown arboreal Old World monkey that is endemic to Borneo. As a species, they co-exist with the Bornean orangutan, and are easily identifiable because of their unusually large noses.
Labels: Borneo, Proboscis Monkey, Sepilok Orang-utan, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort