Borneo Escape 2016

As said trip was great. Excellent value. Guides were fantastic, lovely and knowledgeable, mini vans clean and they were on time every time. Accommodation was fantastic and in great locations.  Our flight from Coolangatta with Air Asia was also great – no worries at all, they were even ahead of schedule by 1 hour when we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. The Dorsett Hotel in KL was lovely and situated close to lots of things from a walking perspective. Lero Travel who transferred us to hotel and then to airport were also great.

We found an air conditioned tunnel that lead to the Petronas Twin Towers which was appreciated in the unending heat. The smoke lingering in the air from burn offs in Indonesia was a shame as the view from the towers was limited. Dorsett allowed us to walk where we wanted to.

Thank you for the great welcome pack. A nery nice touch.   The Book on Sabah was full of interesting information and photos.

The flight from KL to Sandakan with Malaysian Airlines was also fine. Four Points by Sheraton in Sandakan was also situated in a perfect position for us to get where we wanted to go. Sandakan would have to be the highlight of the tour as this where we saw the Proboscis Monkeys and the Orang Utans!!!  The Labuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary about 45 minutes outside of Sandakan was an amazing day. It didn’t start out too good as we waited over and hour and a half with no sightings and then after moving to another platform they came from everywhere. Of course we were prepared to not see them as they are wild animals. The Probosics Monkeys were so entertaining and interesting and so fun to watch. Silver Leaf Langur Monkeys and their babies also arrived and they were so cheeky. A couple of Pied Hornbills also came for a visit which rounded off the day – definitely worth going to.

Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre the next day (also around 45 minutes from our accomm). Another hot day and our first experience with the orang utans was very overwhelming because of the crowds. Pushing and shoving is not our thing and it was very disappointing at first but once the crowds died down a little, and a lovely lady asked me if I wanted her spot, the world became rosier. Another amazing day.

Sukau Rainforest Lodge was excellent.  The 3 nights we stayed were definitely enough time. The early morning boat rides in search of wildlife was very exciting and the best part was that we were rewarded every time. The food was excellent and I told Chef Jacky that it was. Not only did we see the orang utans in the wild but also in the trees in the grounds of the lodge which was hyperventilatingly special!!!  The lack of air con during the night we thought would be a problem but without asking we were offered another fan and it was fine.  Sukau Rainforest Lodge is definitely up there in the highlights of our trip.

Another easy flight from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu. Le Meridien accomm was an excellent view and also close to markets, restaurants and even movies!!  Mamutik Island was a little disappointing as we were expecting to snorkel and see fish and coral but we are not sure whether the night before’s weather spoiled the snorkelling as only a few tiny fish were seen. It would also have been great to know ahead of time that BET supplied towels and snorkelling gear as that would have been less to pack. The beach was lovely and the swim very refreshing. The walking trail on the island I do not think has seen any work on it for some as we attempted to climb it but were forced back due to fallen trees and debris. Lots of mossies there too.

The Mari Mari Culture Centre was a great day. The rice wine tasted like port!  Whoever decided to do henna tattoos is a genius. I don’t know how many people asked me where I had got mine. So great marketing skills there!  Blow darting coconuts also fun. Food was delicious.

Some Hotels offer Starwood Preferred Guest Applications to which we thought we may never be there again, but other Hotels you move onto also have it and it can give you up to 20% off dining, laundry, etc. so worth doing.

Mt. Kinabalu drive was about 2 hours but we stopped at the Mandad Markets Nabalu which is a mixture of food, groceries and souvenirs and a loo!!  The Fish Spa was interesting to say the least.  The majority of the fish were 40cm long catfish and once Pete got “bitten” it was curtains for me and I just enjoyed feeding them and cooling my feet!   Tropicana Restaurant for lunch was delicious – again!  Poring, east of Kinabalu Park HQ we walked amidst tropical lowland rainforests and treetop canopy walkways which were very high but just keep looking ahead!  You wouldn’t think that in such a hot climate that you would enjoy the Hot Sulphur Springs but after walking on uneven rainforest tracks it was really relaxing. Followed by an ice cold swim great.

Zen Garden Resort – such a beautilful tranquil place. We were the only guests there which made it even more special.  More delicious food!!

Kundasang Memorial Park –the video telling the story of the Australian (and other) soldiers march of 260km was very emotional and how the locals risked their own lives to give food to our men was awesome.

Shangri-La Hotel was also great. We did not know that check in time was 2pm so it was bedlam when we arrived as their guests were checking out as it was 12 noon. Room was lovely. Caught a Teksi from there to the Sunday Markets which I would recommend to any traveller. There is everything and anything that you could possibly want. It only cost 30MR each way.

Last night was spent at the Sunset Bar where we witnessed the sunset at the water’s edge and being serenaded by a band and enjoyed dinner.

Thank you to  Maddie, of course, Go Tours and Borneo Eco Tours for a wonderful holiday. We have been recommending it to anyone who will listen since our return.

Regards,

Colleen (and Peter) Duncalfe

 

Papatura family getaway - Solomon Islands

Charlotte and Lola playing with the local kids

Charlotte and Lola playing with the local kids

My family and I recently returned from a fabulous 10 day holiday at Papatura Island Retreat. Travelling with our 6 and 9 year old daughters is something that my husband and I have waited to do until now, because we wanted to enjoy our time away, and we wanted them to enjoy it too. For those parents out there, travelling with a family comes with many considering factors. For us, The Solomon Islands ticked all of our boxes. Our children had such a ball being able to experience a 3 hour plane ride, taxi, small plane, then boat ride all in one day! What an adventure! We left our home on the Gold Coast that morning, and by the afternoon we were swimming in the warm, crystal clear waters in what can only be described as paradise!

 

Our hosts Marg and Pete were so welcoming and made us feel at home instantly. They have grandchildren themselves, so understand what holidaying with children is all about. They were able to cater for the kids food choices, as well as our own. The girls absolutely loved hearing the lunch and dinner bell ring and excitedly running down to see what was in store for them with each meal. On the tropical rainy days we enjoyed many card games and lots of reading from the books in the Retreat’s library. On the sunny days we enjoyed the walk to the water fall, squid fishing on the jetty, trekking over to dolphin cove, snorkeling at the blue lagoon and out the front of the resort, dolphin boat rides, jumping off the jetty, watching daddy surf, lots of swimming and MANY hours of fishing! For all of us I would have to say that our visit to the local village was a highlight. Meeting the Solomon Island people and seeing how they live was eye opening and extremely enjoyable. They welcomed us with open arms and we will always remember this very special day.  We were also lucky enough to visit ‘Honeymoon Island’ and enjoy being marooned in tropical paradise for the afternoon!

 

Our family would highly recommend Papatura Island Retreat as a wonderful and unforgettable family getaway. We have come back feeling very connected to nature and super relaxed and happy. Here are a few tips for families enjoying their time at Papatura:

 

·         Pack some activity books, drawing, colouring-in and books to read for the plane as well as for rainy days on the island.

·         Bring along snacks for in between meals for the family to enjoy. We found our kids got super hungry in between meals due to all the physical activities, swimming and sun.

·         Zinc was priceless.

·         Take along beach towels that are thin and easy to dry. Due to additional moisture in this tropical environment, it can take a lot longer for towels and clothing to dry out.

·         The retreat has a clothes washing service, and this was great to use about half way through our stay to enjoy fresh clean clothes – especially our flying home outfits.

 

We enjoyed island life so much and we will definitely be returning to this beautiful getaway.

 

 

Happy travelling!

Jasmin Wickham

Gold Coast, Australia

Borneo Trip

We organised a trip to Borneo for a friend of mine recently. Here's what she thought about the trip and she sent us some awesome travel pics aswell!

"I promised I would let you know how our trip went. I would like to thank you for organising it, it was fantastic. Everything ran like clockwork, the people were lovely, hotels good, food great, too much sometimes. I couldn’t find a fault with it. It was one of the most exciting holidays I have had for a long time. We did a lot of walking, saw an amazing amount of different things.   Had plenty of time to see the Orang utangs as they arranged our spare day at Sepilok so I was able to go three times to watch the feeding. We saw an amazing amount of orchids, saw birds, proboscis monkeys, and was lucky enough to see a male pygmy elephants having a bath in the river. Everyone told us we were so lucky to see that. There wasn’t an aspect of the holiday that I didn’t enjoy. We were also lucky that we had our own private guide and driver and they were such lovely people, Jason and Ibin. They looked after us for the first five and a half days. The next guide was equally as good, they certainly pick them very well.

Would highly recommend anyone, young or young at heart as we are, to visit Sabah, they couldn’t help but fall in love with the place.

Will forward some photos when I have gone through the two and a half thousand that I took!

Regards,

Doreen."