Borneo (Malaysia).

10.03.2016 – 16.03.2016

We were very excited to go to Borneo, especially as we had booked the flights months ago and Nathan was keen to see the place where his Great-Great Uncle “Cousin Jack” was captured as a P.O.W. (Prisoner of War) during World War II. We went with a purpose! We’d also heard lots about the wildlife in Borneo and Mount Kinabalu.

Arriving in the afternoon gave us an opportunity to explore the city of Kota Kinabalu and check into our accommodation. We stayed at the Oceania Hotel which was a like a palace compared to sleeping in the jungle two nights earlier! Although it was a 10 minute walk from the centre of the city, they provided free shuttle service to and from the city throughout the day.

The main street of Kota Kinabulu is Gaya Street. Many guide books make mention to this “famous”area, however we found it a little underwhelming, and much prefered spending our time eating with the locals on the basement level of the shopping centre and exploring the different markets situated around town.

On night two we had dinner at the along the ocean, where there is an array of seafood stalls to buy seafood by the kilo (cooked and prepared). You can choose your seafood to be grilled, fried or cooked in numerous Asian inspired sauces. We sampled squid, fish, crab and prawns, but there are mussels, oysters, bugs, cockles, lobster and more to choose from. For dessert we treated ourselves to fried banana;from a lady situated in the huge fresh produce markets. Six pieces for one ringgit (approximately 30 cents ).

After spending two days in Kota Kinabalu we caught a 6 hour bus to Sandakan. We were keen to see some wildlife and visit Sandakan Memorial Park. After looking through a few tourist brochures we decided against visiting any of the animals. Although there are attractions for orang-utans, sun bears, monkeys, birds and crocodiles nearby to Sandakan, none of the animals are wild and cost 30-90MYR to enter, plus some incur fees to take photos. We opted against this, as days previous we had spent time with organtuans in the wild in Sumatra.

The highlight of our time in Borneo, was paying our respects to the WWII  P.O.W’s of Sandakan (Prisoners of War) The stories of the conditions they endured were horrific and it was humbling to stand where family of generations past once stood. Sandakan Memorial Park is located about 30 minutes from the centre of Sandakan town. Nathan’s, Great Grandfathers Cousin, John Adam Whybird (Cousin Jack). John was one of the few P.O.W.’s who made it to the end of the war, but unfortunately was killed before allied troops arrived. He is now buried in Labuan, Borneo.

IMG_0816 [37413]IMG_0821 [37415]

Borneo is a lovely place, but unless you have a purpose or desire to climb the mountain or see wildlife, 3 days would be plenty.

OUR FAVOURITE BITS

–          For the history lovers – a visit to the Australian Sandakan Memorial Park.

–         Eating at the Seafood restaurants along the ocean.

–          The smoothies shop Gaya Street. Delicious! (We can’t remember the name of the place, but it is situated opposite the restaurant Mad Ben.)

WE RECOMMEND

–          Only travel here if you have a purpose (eg. Sandakan Memorial Park, climbing Mount Kinabalu or love wildlife parks).

–          Visiting the Central Markets – Fanatstic fresh produce markets.

–          Eating at the Seafood restaurants along the ocean.

–          Although we never went, we heard Kuching was a fantastic destination in Borneo, so if you go, make sure you add this to your itinerary.

It was an honour to pay our respects to Cousin Jack, but Borneo was a little underwhelming. It gets 2.5 stars.

See you in KL.

P.S Nathan also had a beard trim….see the before, during an after……

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