Borneo is one of the largest islands in the world and I cannot sum up the island in one post. My camera is currently in for repair so I felt a bit lost walking about not taking pictures. There’s some awesome pictures I missed out on and the iPhone camera is good but nothing compared to a proper camera.
Out of Singapore, Kuching was the cheapest destination and the closest city in Borneo. I got out the airport, jumped in the back of a taxi and the Chinese bloke was telling me the history of Kuching whilst making loud cat noises.
Coming from some big busy modern cities; Kuching is a different world. Little buildings by a quiet river, only a few westerners and weather wasn’t too hot. In towns without many westerners people feel seem to be so much friendlier than elsewhere. I had so many people staring or just shouting hello to me, it’s almost like being back in China again.
There’s not a lot in Kuching, it’s just a cool little town with a big Chinese influence and some awesome food. I ate Laksa in the place that Anthony Bourdain went to and it was some good stuff.
From Kuching, I could have travelled overland north towards Brunei or get a cheap flight to save time. AirAsia do cheap domestic flights so it was super cheap to just fly to Kota Kinabalu; just north of Brunei. I hate AirAsia so much but their flights are so cheap.
Kota Kinabalu is awesome, I would recommend people to go there if they are looking at Borneo. Theres a load of islands just out of Kota Kinabalu.
I went out to Manukan island and it’s about £10 for a return on the speed boat from KK Jesselton point. Manukan island is soooo nice. You jump out the boat and walk along a pier towards the beach. Looking down into the ocean you can see thousands of fish and all sorts of sea life, it’s pretty cool. I went in the ocean; got sun burned and stepped on something and it bit me. Luckily I didn’t step on a sea urchin, they were further out.
My only issue with Kota Kinabalu is their Internet. It is first world problems but I can’t stand slow internet. Waiting 15 seconds for a web page to load is so frustrating when you are trying to get something done. Starbucks had the only good wifi in the city so I must have drunk a lot of coffee.
Bandar Seri Begawan
I have heard that one day in Brunei was enough. Someone I met in Kuching who was from Brunei told me to not even waste my time. I decided to people’s advice and booked a week in a little apartment in Bandar Seri Begawan.
The journey from KK to BSB took 8 hours, involved 3 country border crossings and a crossing in Malaysia back into Sarawak. I left Malaysia twice and entered Brunei twice in the 8 hour bus journey. As soon as the bus left Kota Kinabalu and headed into the jungle, it rained almost the whole way. It’s so sad to see all the deforestation for palm oil, but it’s their country so you can’t tell them what to do.
Brunei is a strict Muslim country that has banned Christmas and whips people in the street. Religious law is a weird idea. It’s a weird country and it’s hard to explain without experiencing it.
You wouldn’t know it’s one of the richest countries in the world from just walking around BSB. The capital city is old school; there’s still DVD rental shops, the streets are empty and there’s nothing other than a big fancy mosque. By 6pm on a Saturday afternoon most of the shops are closed and nobody was about. The largest mall in the city empty with just the shop staff in there.
Two days in Brunei was enough and I had to leave. There is no good cheap flights out of Brunei so I flew to Kuala Lumpur and then onto Bali, Indonesia.
So far Bali is awesome and theres so many westerners here but it seems cool. It’s super humid but i’ll just have to get used to it.