The fourth and final part of our honeymoon was spent in Borneo. We had 10 days in Borneo and after three days in Kota Kinabalu, we booked onto a tour with Adventure Alternative Borneo, who organised a tailor made a tour for us. The tour company came across knowledgeable and flexible to our requirements; we were aiming to fit a lot in a very short period of time.
The first three days: We stayed at the Jesselton in Kota Kinabalu (KK) – this is also where my Dad and his family started their lives in Borneo many years ago! It’s pretty cool that the hotel is still there considering the amount of development which has occurred there in the past few years! The heat was intense after spending several weeks in winter climates, so it took some time to get used to the weather. We booked onto a walking heritage tour of Borneo, which was really interesting, the tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about the history and culture of the city. My family still have friends in KK, so we met with one and were driven around the wider KK area and had a lovely lunch at a Chinese restaurant, plus was very interesting to hear about KK back in the 60’s (I think..!).
Alternative Adventure Borneo: At the very last minute we booked onto a tour starting from Sandakan and ended in KK. Sandakan is on the East side of Borneo and we ventured here for the Jungle aspect of the tour. Starting near the tourist destination of Sepilok for the Orangutans Rehabilitation Centre we stayed is a lovely little lodge, I loved that our bathroom was outside! At the rehabilitation centre, we paid for entry and to take photos, which although interesting was FULL of tourists and a bit overwhelming in the heat.
After a night in Sepilok, we moved to the Kinabatangan River at the Myne Resort. The river was pretty incredible but has a dark side. There is an abundance of wildlife on the riverbanks, we saw crocodiles, orangutans, monkeys and lizards. The reason they are there? Over farming of the land surrounding the river, leaving the animals with nowhere else to go. The river cruises are 100% worthwhile and an experience, be prepared for late nights and early mornings.
After the Kinabatangan River, we went to Deremakot Forest Reserve. Go. It was amazing, the area is protected logging land which encourages sustainable logging…meaning minimal damage to wildlife habitat whilst allowing locals to make a living. We went on a short walk and several safaris with our extremely knowledgeable guide. The jungle is home to a lot of wildlife, but don’t expect to see wildlife around every corner. On several of the tours you can spend half an hour driving without seeing anything, and then suddenly you see fruit bats going crazy over figs or a Leopard cat on the side of the road, but only for a split second! We saw a lot of animals; Deer (from a “normal” deer to the smallest deer in the world, Hornbill, Monkeys, Sibbits and Leopard Cat.
Mount Kinabalu: My main ambition for our honeymoon was to climb a mountain. Which we did, kind of in one piece. It was simply one of the hardest things I have EVER done in my life. I’ve battled with a knee injury since I partially tore my ACL in 2008, it causes my little hassle as long as I don’t run further than 5km – otherwise, I get bone bruise in my femur causing me to limp for a while. But it always gets better and I always start doing some sport which I can. I didn’t expect the climb to be easy but I didn’t expect it to be SO hard, it taught me a lot about patience.
We climbed for 5 hours on the first day with our guide. It was pretty tough climbing stairs in hot weather for that long. The altitude had some effect, breathlessness and slight nausea but nothing awful which was a relief. There isn’t much to say about the way up, there are frequent huts for a break and you’re mainly walking with others.
We reached base camp, which everyone HAS to stop off to acclimatise for the night. We stayed in the via Ferrata accommodation with no intention of doing it but the other huts were full. It offers simple hostel style dorm rooms, simple, warm and perfect for the night. We went to bed around 7:30pm after eating at the all you can eat buffet to be ready for waking up at 2:30.
The climb to the summit was intense, the route is a lot harder here. At times you climb using a rope for safety and the ground is much slippier. By this point, every step was painful on my knees but I was so excited to get to the top! The last 10m was the hardest for me, nausea hit and I had to rest fairly often but WE MADE IT!! It was cloudy but the clouds cleared for a lovely sunrise view over Borneo. After a short break, we headed back to base camp for breakfast.
The descent from base camp was going to be fairly straight forward but clumsy me slipped and injured my hand fairly badly. The rest of the descent was difficult, my knees were pretty bad from just walking but I also landed a bit funny on my right side and was basically waddling by the end. My hand was swollen and painful, I was tired and desperately wanted to get to a hospital to see what was wrong.
We made it to the bottom and sought help and went to the hospital; cue one broken middle finger, at the joint, with torn ligaments…also cue Dave unexpectedly being sick…and me joining him later in our hotel room. We’d booked a lovely place by the beach and with the pool planning on a relaxing 24hrs before our flight back home. Instead, we were vomiting and had temperatures all night. Romantic, huh?
We made it home, eventually, we ended up staying a few days extra in Borneo as I passed out on the plane. I’m pretty sure it was just exhaustion from climbing the mountain and injuring myself and a bout of food poisoning.
Back in the UK, it took around a week to recover from the bug and making myself look at the photos from our trip to feel better. It was an amazing trip; we saw so much of the world which we’d never seen before. Explored new cultures, met new people and enjoyed being a married couple on an amazing adventure…. I’m already saving for our 10-year anniversary celebration to Fiji 😛