Here’s a joke I heard from an East Malaysian friend who was taking a cab in KL.
The cabbie asked where he was from, and he answered Sabah, to which the cabbie replied “Oh, bila datang Malaysia?” (When did you come to Malaysia?)
I can understand where Mr Cabbie was coming from. Partly due to ignorance and the ‘I don’t care what happens beyond my little bubble of a place’ attitude, many of us West Malaysians tend to forget that the other half of our country lies just across the ocean.
While I wouldn’t call myself an adventurer, I’ve been to a couple of places overseas, and it’s ironic that I haven’t fully explored my own backyard. Since I visited Sabah in 2016, it was time to tick Sarawak off the list too.
I recently joined a media fam trip by Volvo Malaysia, to see the work they have done in Bario, a small settlement up in the highlands bordering the Indonesian state of Kalimantan.
I had never heard of the place and didn’t know what to expect – only that it was hard to reach and would take 11 hours by 4 WD through muddy logging trails and swollen rivers. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go through that as there are now plane services that run twice daily from Miri Airport, serviced by MAS Wings.
These are not your typical commercial flights. No cabin crew, nor toilets. Instead, you hop on board a tiny Twin Otter that seats a maximum of 14 people.
Owing to the aircraft’s small size, they are very stringent on weight. Both you and your baggage will be weighed before boarding. Bags should not exceed nine kilos.
And we have takeoff! The ride from Miri to Bario took approximately 50 minutes.
This was my second time in a small plane; the first was in a four-seater Cessna. The sound of the engine and propellers was extremely loud and we had to shout to be heard. I couldn’t hear anything from the pilot’s intercom either lol.
There wasn’t much need for conversation though – look at this gorgeous view! Large swathes of plantation were soon replaced by thick, emerald-green jungle, stretching as far as the eye could see.
The view of undulating hills, untouched by man for millions of years, was occasionally interrupted by milky brown rivers, slithering through the landscape like a giant snake. It was a majestic sight that made me feel small and insignificant, and awed.
Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Eris Goes To: Travelogue Borneo - The Kelabit Highlands of Bario, Sarawak.