Swimming With the Turtles in Sipadan
Can you imagine the feeling of resting on an open seabed to only have a large hawksbill turtle just a few feet away? Borneo Dream can help you realise this; this is the typical encounter that is waiting for you off the gorgeous waters of Borneo’s Sipadan Island.
This stunning island might only be about 40 acres in size, but it is filled with multiple forms of wildlife and fauna – and you are going to find more than just a few turtles. As you glide through the shimmering waters, you will likely encounter yellow snappers and batfish just as curious to meet you. Through the West Ridge area, you will investigate black coral reefs and a host of turtles and groupers. There are well over 3,000 species of fish, so there is always some form of activity.
Exploring Malaysia’s First UNESCO World Heritage Site
Located over 4,000m above sea level, you will find Mount Kinabalu, which is the highest mountain between New Guinea and the Himalayas. The location also holds an incredibly maintained path as well as the highest via ferrata situated 3,776m above sea level.
Regardless of the path you choose to get to the top, always ensure to look up from the path. This mountain is a Mecca for the jungle enthusiast or aspiring botanist. The area holds over 1,200 varieties of orchids, 5,000 species of plants and a virtual carpet of unique mosses. In addition to all of the plants, there are well over 300 species of birds and 100 mammals. You will likely encounter orangutans, gibbons and countless miniature frogs.
Rolling on the River
The powerful Kinabatangan River is the entry to the tangled jungles of Borneo. Looking like a page from the Jungle Book, one will encounter tribesman, pygmy elephants and proboscis monkeys. One of the best opportunities to see this wide variety of Asian wildlife is by booking a tour on the river. As you cruise along this majestic river, keep an eye out for orangutans, monitor lizards even the friendly neighbourhood crocodile. As you look to the skies, you may spot a kingfisher or hornbill.
You may also be interested in checking out the nearby Gomantong Caves. Located beneath the area’s largest limestone hills, you will come across an intricate labyrinth of 19 caves, of which just one is open to the public. This is the largest cave in the group and is known as the black cave. Looking like something from an Indiana Jones movie, one must be willing to brave the bats as they swoosh through the air and not be too concerned about the cockroaches running underfoot. If you are looking for the ultimate experience, try visiting the caves at dusk.
Just a Dash of Spice
While Borneo is not known as a culinary capital, that is changing. For now, you can enjoy the Chinese, Malay and Indian influences in the food. The locals love to use spices found locally in the rainforest, which will allow you to try very unique flavours. Seek out a Nasi Lemak vendor and allow them to introduce you to their favourite jungle spices.
The staple diet in Borneo consists of noodles, fish, rice and local vegetables. This would explain the local favourite of clay pot soup. This dish will typically be squid, prawns or fish tossed in with vegetables and tofu, it is a rich and flavourful broth that will keep you going. If you are looking for something with little more of a kick, check out the Hinava. This is one of the most popular dishes in Sabah and is created from filleted mackerel that is then covered in chilli, bambangan seed, lime and ginger.
Teach the World to Sing
Found deep in the heart of the rainforest, one will encounter the Sarawak Cultural Village which has been designed to preserve and showcase the culture of local Borneo tribes. The area also features the Rainforest World Music Festival, an annual three-day event which attracts the attention of over 24,000 people.
The festival began in 1988 and today will feature performances from individuals and groups from all over the world as well as locals. This is the perfect opportunity to learn first-hand about local dances, music and customs while surrounded by the beautiful longhouses of Mount Santubong. Throughout the day, you can focus on fun and educational workshops, and then dance all evening. The area holds incredible food and drinks in addition to some wonderful local art and crafts.