Saturday, February 07, 2015

10 reasons to explore Borneo, Malaysia - Part 2

While Borneo isn’t wild with a buzzing backpacker scene or filled with travelling party animals, it is a welcome treat of getting back to nature and witnessing things that you’ve only seen in National Geographic. Borneo and its 140 million year old rainforest definitely knocks you on the head and shouts, “Wake up! This is nature at its finest!”, whilst simultaneously lulling you into a fascinated stupor.

I covered some reasons of why you should go to Borneo because of its wildlife and jungle last week, and the Orangutans are a highlight of those who can travel over to Sepilok! I’m now sharing with you my experience of the coast and mountains of Sabah. For those who love beach life and hiking in epic hills, then this should get you searching for a plane ticket over there.

This is the second half of my ‘10 Reasons to explore Borneo’ and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that A) it is the ONLY place you need to go to see a world-class sunset, and B) Borneo will make you feel very small and insignificant in the world.

6. Be breathless at the Gomantong Caves

Have you ever explored a deep crack in the earth? The Gomantong Caves are a large cave system that’ll wow you… but be sure to pinch your nose. The stench of bat poop and other animal waste is pungent, but the hidden space within the rocks is equally as breathtaking.

Simud Hitam (Black Cave) is the most accessible and it has a ceiling that’s as high as 90 metres. Swiftlets and bats live in this cave, and the bird’s nests are often collected to be eaten. I’ve never tried birds nest soup and the thought of it does make me turn a bit green around the gills, but you can watch licensed locals climb to the roof of the caves to collect abandoned nests.

If you arrive in the evening, you might see the hordes of resident bats leave the cave in a flurry for their night-time hunting, almost tag-teaming the Swiftlets returning after their day-time feedings. So with all this wildlife living side-by-side, you can only imagine the amount of poop that accumulates and attracts an entire population of bugs. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but sometimes nature is a touch messy.

The other crevice in the earth is Simud Putih (White Cave) and as it is more challenging to get to and explore, you’ll need to get that organised before you arrive. You can find the caves after an 1 ½ hours bus ride from Sandakan and they’re open from 8am to 6pm.

7. Marvel at Mount Kinabalu

Do you fancy feeling dwarfed by another feature of Borneo? Then take a walk up Mount Kinabalu! It’s a towering 4,095m that stands proud against the horizon with a constant mist covering around its peak.

My cousin who lives in Kota Kinabalu climbed this on a school trip, so I thought it might be something I could do, but the more I looked into it, the more I realised that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to trot up it as briskly as I’d hoped.

Continue reading (incl. Pics) at: 10 reasons to explore Borneo, Malaysia - Part 2