Land Below the Wind
Have you ever explored Borneo island and did you know that it is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei? Famed for its lush rainforests, wildlife and beautiful dive sites, Sabah is one of the Malaysian states that share this fair island. Its nickname, the ‘Land Below the Wind’ comes from its location right below the Southeast Asian typhoon and monsoon belt. This means that the weather is generally predictable which allows wildlife and the lush rainforests to grow all year round! Depending on the kind of vacation you enjoy, Sabah has something for everyone!
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center is actually the world’s first official orang utan sanctuary and rehabilitation centre. The centre was established in 1964 to rehabilitate orphaned orang utans. These baby orang utans are taught how to cope in the wild with veterinary services provided to keep them healthy. Do note that orang utans are susceptible to human diseases so visitors are not allowed to touch them and in fact, should keep quite a distance away from them for safety purposes.
Other animals that can be found here are the rare sun bear, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkey, macaques, and big cats like the Sunda clouded leopard and leopard cat.
There’s no greater adventure than climbing Borneo’s tallest mountain standing at 4095.2 metres! The best time to climb Mount Kinabalu is in April because during November and December, it will be the monsoon season. Do be advised that as with every climb, it can get quite dangerous. The risk increases when there’s rain or mist because the higher slopes can get quite slippery after the rain and mist can obscure climber’s vision. Additionally, keep in mind that the temperature ranges from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius at the main park but can drop quite drastically near the top. Remember to pack warm clothing, windproof and also waterproof gear.
Other attractions that are near Mount Kinabalu is Desa Cattle Dairy Farm which is where most of Sabah’s cow milk and dairy products are produced. It has been dubbed as ‘Little New Zealand’ with scenery that is very reminiscent of that country.
Gaya Island, located only 10 minutes from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah is a luxurious five star resort that’s perfect for honeymooning couples! Enjoy each other’s company in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. With the usual fittings of a luxury island resort, one of the special features of this beautiful resort, there’s the Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre. This is where you can learn how sea turtles are rescued, treated and cared for. The centre also teaches its visitors about how they cultivate coral fragments that will be ‘replanted’ in the sea.
We would suggest going for the coral garden marine expedition with their Resident Marine Biologist to see the coral gardens and discover the different kinds of hard and soft coral that zigzag across the seabed.
If you thought Sabah was beautiful on land, it is equally if not more breathtaking, underwater. Most diving enthusiast will have heard of the beautiful Sipadan Island. Its waters are known to have turtles, sharks, moray eels and barracudas which makes for exciting diving experiences! There are no accommodations on this island and divers must have a permit to enter its waters. This is in order to ensure that the island and its surroundings stay as untouched and pristine. Do keep this in mind to ensure that you get the necessary permission and also to book accommodation nearby.
Mabul Island is for all kinds of travellers but most are scuba divers. It is quite close to Sipadan island and famous as a ‘muck diving site’. Its shallow waters and low visibility ensures that there are plenty of tropical critters to discover so if you’re interested in underwater photography, remember to bring your camera and bring an extra memory card!
References: Amazing Borneo Tours, Tourism Board of Malaysia.