In two weeks I’m ready for take-off. After three hours in train, I will arrive at Frankfurt International Airport for my Singapore Airlines flight to Singapore. So it’s about time to tell a bit more? It has been a pretty rough year for me, and it took me some time to recover from some shocking news within the family. The positive thing of the story is, that I lost 13 kg’s since summer and feel more healthy than in years.
I had only two short periods of free time from work this year. Therefore I still have almost a month of free days left.
With so many free days left, you have to consider where to go. Of course Europe offers many options, but it’s also a dark and rainy month. And one month travel in Europe is a very expensive affair. So I considered Africa, but no option was thrilling and save enough for me. Southern America might also be not the perfect choise for a solo traveller who is not very fond of Spanish. The USA makes visitors not really welcome, but I might have travelled along the West Coast by car if I found someone to keep me company. In Asia Iran was an early frontrunner as I fell in love with the country from the air last year. But after the elections it became a bit too hot for me.
So it became obvious after some research that South East Asia is once again the place to go. Thailand and the Philippines felt from the list early. Vietnam and some Indonesian Isles made it quite far, but in the end Borneo was my choise. After spending a lovely time in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore (photos) last year, I decided being ready for the Borneo adventure. If you know my phobia for snakes, this might be a strange choise. But I’m very curious about Borneo anyway.
After a 12 hours flight from Frankfurt to Singapore, I have 90 minutes to catch my connecting flight to Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah. There I will stay for some days to relax from the flight and get a first taste of Borneo spirit. I won’t climb the mighty Mount Kinabalu, as I don’t feel fit enough for it. But there are many other things to do: Masjid Sabah, Sabah State Museum, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Signal Hill, Gaya street market, trip to Penampang, Monsopiad Cultural Village, Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, Pulau Tiga National Park, Crocker Range National Park, Rafflesia Information Centre and Mount Kinabalu National Park. I first considered booking a beach resort 20 to 30 kilometres from town, but opted for a hotel in walking distance from centre on the beachfront.
My next stop is Sandakan, easily to most “Eastern” place I ever went. Until last year Kirkenes in Norway was the most Eastern place in my life, but now we are talking about a place on the shores of the Sulu Sea. Most people only come to Sandakan for a day trip to see the orang utans at Sepilok; but after all I read one day is not enough for this region. Of course I want to see the orang utans, but Sandakan city with its bloody 2nd World War history, Turtle Islands National Park, Rainforest Centre, Gomantang Caves and Kinabatangan River also deserve some time. As I’m not a friend of changing hotels all the time, at least half a week will be spent at Sandakan.
From Sandakan I will have a quite adventurous flight to Kuching, capital of Sarawak. Why adventurous? There will be three stops between Sandakan and Kuching, and two of those might be quite remote places in the middle nowhere. This flight won’t be with a big airplane, but with a Fokker or Aerospatiale. I hope for some great views though. Kuching might be the place on Borneo with most history. You might have heard about the Brooke Dynasty or the “White Rajahs of Sarawak”. Anyway the city should be great, but there is also much to see around it: Sarawak Museum, Sarawak Islamic Museum, Chinatown, the Planetarium, Astana, Fort Margherita, Semenggoh Orang Utan Sanctuary, Mount Gading National Park, Kubah National Park, Damai Peninsula with Sarawak Cultural Village and Kuching Wetlands National Park are on my list. In Kuching I found a very nice family run hotel with great service. They even pick me up in person from the airport.
After almost a week in Kuching I fly back for a night to Kota Kinabalu. There I booked a hotel in a shopping centre as it might be a good idea to get some new clothing for “New Andreas”? Next day I head back to Singapore. Directly after arrival I take the ferry to Bintan Island. Bintan is one hour away from Singapore, but belongs to Indonesia. It will be my first stay in Indonesia, but as most guests here, all I wanna do is relax and do nothing. This should be very possible in the nice beach villa I booked.
Three days later I head back to Singapore for three more days. I stayed a couple of nights there last year, and had really not enough time for the city. There’s still much left to see and as I really liked the place, I decided to give it a go again. Hotel prices went down almost 50 % compared to last year and I really look forward to this safe and clean place again.
My plane back to Europe leaves at midnight on Christmas Eve, so I land in time for family Christmas. Hopefully I’m not as tired as last year. If everything goes well I stand on ski already one day after.