On the 21st April,2013, our teacher, Ms Lynn Southey, from the creative writing class at AMC, talked about writing a travel story. She said “Think of a place that you really really want to go.” When I chose to travel in Borneo by Road, she was not impressed. She thought there isn’t much to see in Kudat, Sandakan, Kuching as they were all the same in Malaysia. But she was wrong.
In the past, I have flown many many miles across the sea and ocean to see countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore,Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, North America, England, Scotland, France, Monaco, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates. Then, I started to go somewhere nearer and that was Johore, Melaka, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Butterworth, Ipoh, Alor Setar in West Malaysia.
I thought, its time for me to travel and explore places around me. That’s right, I was born and raised in Kota Kinabalu (formerly known as Jesselton), the capital of Sabah formerly known as North Borneo before 1963. Sabah also known as Land below the wind together with Sarawak , Land of the Hornbills formed the East Malaysia. East and West Malaysia are separated by the South China Sea but still under one country, Malaysia.
I have never thought of Borneo as a holiday destination in my list. I guess it’s just part of my “taking for granted”attitude. Borneo is the 3rd largest island in the world. I believe it has so much to offer and there are so many advantages and adventures I could think of. Most of all, driving in our own car to see places gave us a lot more freedom to move about. I don’t need to exchange currency for holidays except in Brunei. There is no language barrier since its my own country and even in Brunei, we speak the same language.
In year 2009, my daughter flew to Brunei for a week’s posting. So I decided to drive to Brunei on my own with my 5 years old grandson to visit her. It only took us 6 hours to reach Brunei from my home in Kota Kinabalu.
The funniest experience was the ferry ride from Kg Puni, Brunei . The distance was about 50 meters?? I am not good in my mathematic but it’s the shortest ferry ride I ever had in my life😂😂😂😂. I wondered why didn’t the government just build a short bridge. It’s a pity I didnt take a photo of it .
We drove to Brunei passing many routes, in and out of Brunei and Sarawak. When you looked at the map which I had drawn, it will give you an idea what I mean.
Brunei roads are smooth unlike the ones in Sabah. You can tell the difference when you drive your car in Sabah and Brunei i.e. the road surface etc. Not easy to describe, you had to experience it to understand what I mean.
When we reached Lawas route, my grandson saw a few buffalo crossing the road, and he was so excited,”Grandma, it’s a big black Cow!” Hahaha… Poor grandson…He was so young at that time and not able to differentiate between a cow and a buffalo.
There were 8 check points for both immigration and custom checks
For those on single trip, there were 8 immigration stamp in the passport- 2 pages full. So for return trip like us, we had 16 immigration stamps – 4 pages full! But that was in 2009. Now with electronic passport, maybe they don’t need to stamp the passport any more….I am not sure what’s the updates.
When we arrived at Brunei, my daughter had the double room ready for the three of us on a 3 nights’ package at Rizquan hotel in Brunei. It was a five star hotel with clean good size swimming pool and my grandson spent lots of hours in it. Below the hotel, there was a shopping mall and food court. During our spare time, we drove to Jerudong Park, which looked so run down, but it did not stop us from having fun. We had a go with the Bumper Car and Merry Go Round. We had a great time together and everyone was happy. My daughter was able to see her son after her work, this arrangement made all three of us, very happy. It was an inspirational travel experience.
Travelling in Borneo is different from travelling in other countries. Unlike the road from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur which are all good with clear sign directions, some roads in Borneo, were in poor condition, as they still today. Some routes need to pass through jungle to cross over to another country like Brunei.
You have to experience it to understand what I am trying to say. I must admit that holidays like this can be very tiring and exhausting unless you have a lot of time to spare. By taking your time, you will be able to feel and appreciate nature’s beauty in our country. Some travellers have said that holidaying in Borneo by road, is like wine tasting, you look, smell, and ‘taste’ slowly to feel the best of it. It would take months to complete the whole Borneo Road Adventure, but we had nothing to lose because we had all the time we needed.
This travel inspired me to continue writing about my stories in Borneo by road. I started to plan for my next destination…Kudat, the tip of Borneo.
If you are interested to know more about the next trip, follow my blog and I will happily lead you there……