Last week our family returned from a 1 week whirlwind trip to tropical Borneo. A direct flight once a week on Sundays to Sabah ( Malaysian Airlines ) makes this an easy trip from Perth. Highlights in Kota Kinabalu included snorkelling on the islands offshore and wandering the old city markets. A short flight to Sandakan provided the starting point of a 3 day tour with Borneo Ecotours – my wife and I had previously done a similar tour 20 years ago (before kids) with the same company, and had always wanted to return to show my 2 girls the natural wonders of the Borneo rainforest, before they completely disappear to rampant palm plantations.
Our first day was spent visiting the orang utan and sun bear sanctuaries, followed by a 1 hour drive to a proboscis monkey feeding area where a large group of marauding giant nosed monkeys fought, preened and fed, to the delight of the kids. That night included a jungle walk with torches to spot giant insects, tiny frogs and nocturnal tropical birds. The next day we took a 2 hour drive to Gomatong bat cave which is well worth a visit, but the kids ran /screamed the whole way through, as the ground crawls with cockroaches and the place reeks of bat poo (a 10m high mound of the stuff). From Gomatong we headed to Sukau lodge on the Kinabatangan River for sunset and misty morning cruises in a small motorised boat, to view troupes of various monkeys, hornbills and kingfishers in the wild. Unfortunately no pigmy elephants or leopards spotted, but lots of great photo opportunities. On our final day we returned to Sandakan for a look at the Australian war memorial, sited at the camp where thousands of Australians were interred by the Japanese during WWII – a sombre experience to end a great trip.
Dr Raphael Beilin