27 Oct - 29 Oct 2009 Bilit

Malaysian Borneo
Sabah aka Land Below the Wind
Sungai Kinabatangan
Kampung Bilit
Senbil Jungle B&B Lodge +60198420895
Rustic dorm beds in a jungle lodge as part of a 3-days/2-nights full-board package (including 4 river cruises, 3 guided walks and the transfers; excluding beer and booze) for MYR 300.- or US$ 88.- per person.

Click below for an interactive satellite view of the Senbil Jungle B&B Lodge near Kampung Bilit and for directions:

Cruising the chocolate-brown Sungai Kinabatangan, with 560 km the longest river in Sabah, watching wild animals such as (i) an impressive herd of c. 30 rambunctious Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) whose ancestors were introduced to Borneo, several hundred years ago by the Sultan of Sulu, (ii) quite a few harems of huge-bellied, long-nosed proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus) in the trees lining the river banks and (iii) silvered langurs (Presbytis cristata), as well as spotting a variety of distinctive hornbills who play an important ecological role by travelling great distances and dispersing seeds for rainforest fruits that they eat and who are highly threatened by the ongoing logging practices: (a) oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris), (b) black hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus) and (c) rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros).

Teaming up with Dutch travellers Niels, Erik and Emiel, hiking the tiger-leech infested swamp forests and riverine forests on the south bank of Sungai Kinabatangan to the oxbow lake Danau Bilit (erosion and deposition of alluvia are the reason that large meandering bends in the river’s course eventually became cut off from the main river, forming distinctive crescent-shaped oxbow lakes aka danau) and watching cormorant-like oriental darters (Anhinga melanogaster) drying their wings in their signature style.

"Jeder Schritt loeste Schweiss aus, der sofort mit Bier ersetzt werden musste, und es ging nur, indem man in der Haengematte hing mit blossen Fuessen und sich nicht ruehrte..."

Taking the Madsahirun express bus for MYR 40.- or US$ 11.80 per person from the bus stop near Kampung Kinabatangan to the town of Semporna on the shore of the Celebes Sea and hiring a private speed-boat (for MYR 50.- per person, return) for an exciting schuss over crystal-clear water to Mabul Island, situated about 15 nm south-southeast off Semporna, passing en route many rugged water villages and discussing their ingenious unique advantages: (i) easy waste disposal, (ii) fresh and cool breeze between the buildings and (iii) no title deed necessary since the oceans belong to everyone.

Click below for more blog posts about our visits to Asian water villages
22 Apr - 26 Apr 2013 Hua Hin
22 May - 24 May 2010 Kompong Chhnang
29 Oct - 03 Nov 2009 Mabul Island
15 Oct - 24 Oct 2009 Kota Kinabalu
26 Sep - 30 Sep 2009 Bandar Seri Begawan

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

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26 Oct - 27 Oct 2009 Kota Kinabalu

Federation of Malaysia
Malaysian Borneo
Sabah aka Land Below the Wind
Lucy’s Homestay +6088261495.
Clean double room with fan, free internet and including breakfast for two for MYR 50.- or US$ 15.10 per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of Lucy's Homestay in Kota Kinabalu, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Click below for today’s special deals:

Recharging our batteries at Lucy's hospitable home away from home, chillaxing on Kota Kinabalu's hidden beaches and gearing up (i) for the upcoming safari tour to one of the richest wildlife regions in all of Southeast Asia, the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain, and (ii) for a trip to some of the world’s top dive sites off the coastal town of Semporna, the town with its feet in the sea, on Sabah’s east coast.

Taking the Sairah express bus from Kota Kinabalu’s Inanam long-distance bus terminal (9 km north of the city centre) to Kampung Kinabatangan for MYR 40.- or US$ 11.80 per person for the 300-km long scenic ride, rendezvousing uneventfully at the kampung's medan selera with a driver from Senbil Jungle B&B +6019842089, our recommended tour operator for the next two days, and driving through neat palm-oil plantations and dense riverine jungle to the Senbil Jungle B&B Lodge on the north bank of the mighty, sullen Lower Sungai Kinabatangan.

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24 Oct - 26 Oct 2009 Kota Belud

Malaysian Borneo
Sabah aka Land Below the Wind
Bangunan Tai Seng, Lot 1 and 2, Peti Surat 41
KB Lodging House +6088972559
Clean and adequate double room with air-con and wifi for MYR 50.- or US$ 14.80 per night.
Fortified moonshine aka lihing for only MYR 7.- or US$ 2.- per 1.5-ltr bottle.

Friendly and helpful staff.

Click below for an interactive road map of the KB Lodging House in Kota Belud and for directions:
N 06° 21.36' E 116° 25.83'

Witnessing Sabah's striking racial, cultural and linguistic diversity at the Great Market aka tamu besar which is held annually in the quaint west-coast town of Kota Belud, the region's biggest open-air market where Bajau, Iranun, Kadazan, Dusun and Chinese farmers, fishermen and vendors offer their produce, originally a vehicle for seafaring coastal folks and lowland agricultural peoples to trade goods and make a living, and enjoying tremendously the wonderful folkloristic dance and music performances, above all the ratu sarempak, the traditional beauty contest for nubile young ladies.

Watching the Bajau horsemen, known as Cowboys of the East, parading on their beautifully adorned horses, extravagantly decorated with colourful fabrics and jingling bell collars, and displaying their artistic riding skills, a Wild-East experience with a Bornean twist, and, later on, cheering for the brave participants of the afternoon's unprotected climax, the risky bare-back water-buffalo race.

Matt: Bargaining in a remote corner of the tamu with seasoned Dusun women who were selling ripe betel nuts aka areca-palm nuts (Areca catechu) together with sirih leaves, secret spices, gambir paste and mineral lime, the later serves as a catalyst, chewing up my tailored bite together with a wad of locally grown tobacco (MYR 3.- or US$ 1.- for the fun package, complete with instructions), which together almost instantly turned into a thick, deep red paste between my gums and cheeks, and almost immediately getting stoned with a rather pleasant emotional amalgam which is only comparable with combining a double Scotch with a fine Amsterdam jolly and which lasted for more than half an hour; boy, oh boy!

Taking the public bas mini from Kota Belud back to Kota Kinabalu and paying MYR 8.- or US$ 2.40 per person; the same price, the same bus and the same driver as two days ago on our journey up north.

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15 Oct - 24 Oct 2009 Kota Kinabalu

Malaysian Borneo
Sabah aka Land Below the Wind
Lucy’s Homestay +6088261495
Double room with internet, fan and breakfast for MYR 50.- or US$ 15.10 per night.
Laundry: MYR 15.- per 8-kg load.

Click below for an interactive road map of Lucy's Homestay in Kota Kinabalu, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Extending our return trip to Kota Kinabalu, making a detour to Kampung Serusup, located on the shore of a vast estuary and only a few clicks north of Tuaran, chartering a local motorboat for MYR 60.- or US$ 18.- for the round trip, exploring Kampung Penambawan, a picturesque stilt village of the Bajau people built over the estuary, and learning that the friendly villagers trace their roots back to the Islamic Sultanate of Sulu, which once ruled present-day East Sabah, and that their ancestors were hardened sea nomads who came only ashore in order to bury their dead.

Digesting our week-long, very intense tour to the Tip of Borneo and enjoying relaxed down time for a few days in our close friend Lucy’s cosy backpacker homestay in Kota Kinabalu (located in an area which is called Australia Place since the Aussie soldiers camped here when they landed in Jesselton in 1945 CE), thus (i) editing photos and catching up on our Konni & Matt Travel Blog, (ii) wining and dining (our favourite: 1 kg of chilli crabs, cooked to perfection, for MYR 13.80 from the Hua Hing Seafood Restaurant +6088231668), (iii) reading entertaining books (our favourite: Agnes Newton Keith’s Land Below the Wind) and watching interesting films on the laptops (our favourite: Tong Tana about activist Bruno Manser and the Penan people), (iv) drinking beer on the balcony (three-packs with 330-ml cans of ice-cold Carlsberg for MYR 10.- per pack from any of the Chinese kopitiam) and staring into space, (v) relaxing with the professional help of Kota Kinabalu's clean City Reflexology Centre + 6088221881 (60-min foot massage for MYR 28.- or US$ 8.50), (vi) sunbathing on the flea-infested beach and snorkelling over mostly dead coral gardens on the southeast side of Pulau Mamutik which belongs to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (speed-boat ride for the return trip from the Jesselton Point ferry terminal MYR 19.- per person, admission to the park MYR 10.- per foreigner) and (vii) watching spectacular black-and-orange sunsets over the South China Sea from the seafront esplanade.
"When I pulled them off they fastened onto my hands, and then I rolled and squeezed and pinched them till they burst. Harry has a book called Hints to Travelers which says that leeches do not go above the knee, but the leeches have not read the book..."

Visiting the famous, entertaining and crowded Sunday Gaya Street Fair in Kota Kinabalu, one of it's major tourist attractions, where (i) highly skilled practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine with at least 5,000 years of experience cure their patients on the spot, (ii) highly skilled Filipino pickpockets ply their trade up and down the market street and (iii) highly skilled traders from all Bornean races, religions and cultures sell almost anything, from guaranteed uncooked dogs via guaranteed unsealed snake oil to guaranteed unused underwear.

Borrowing a pair of long trousers for Matt and applying for two 60-day visitor visas for Bali/Indonesia (requirements: one copy of a return ticket, two photos each and MYR 170.- or US$ 50.- per person) from the relaxed but very Islamic Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia +6088218258 (large sign in front of the entrance to the compound: “No entry in short pants.”) at Kota Kinabalu which issued the visas within 36 hours - friendly, fast and painless.
“Willpower subverts passion.
Bureaucracy subverts willpower.
Idiocy subverts bureaucracy.” 

Taking the public bas mini from Kota Kinabalu to Kota Belud and paying MYR 8.- or US$ 2.40 per person for the 75-km long ride along the coast of the South China Sea, one of the world's most hotly disputed bodies, with Red China laying claim to nearly the entire sea, overlapping with the maritime claims of Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines.

Visit the Konni & Matt online albums and order high res travel photos
Konni & Matt Travel Photos

Recommended books - click below for your order from the United States

For your orders from Germany click here
For your orders from Canada click here
For your orders from the United Kingdom click here