1st December 2010
It has been a busy, but interesting time in Batang Ai, Sarawak. My base was Nanga Sumpa, a large village with 23 different families all living in one longhouse. I enjoyed a couple of days trekking through the jungle and exploring the surrounding river system by longboat. My boatman would stop on the side of the river bank make a simple fire and cook rice and fish in strips of bamboo.
My room at the village was very basic and consisted of a mattress and a sheet, which was then covered by a mosquito net. If you decide to visit Sarawak, I really recommend you stay with the local community, as they are so friendly and it's a real highlight! You are also supporting the local people as their income is subsided from travellers staying at their village.
The following day I was driven back to Kuching for my flight to Sandakan in Sabah. I literally flew from the bottom of the country to the top of Borneo to Sandakan. Sandakan was an important harbour for cargo boats trading between Malaysia and the Philippines, sailing through the Sulu Sea. It is also Sabah's second largest city with a population of 350,000 people - mostly Malay and Chinese and Filipino immigrants.
I arrived late in the evening and slept at the Sabah Hotel - a good 3 star hotel and the best available. There isn't much to see in Sanadakan, but it acts as the gateway to explore Borneo extraordinary flora and fauna in the region.
The next day I took a speed boat for about 1 hour out to Turtle Island, a major nesting ground for the endangered 'Green' and 'Hawksbill Turtles'. Late that evening the park ranger took us down to the beach, where we saw one green turtle drag herself up the beach then dig a hole in the sand with her flippers to lay her eggs - what an amazing site. The marine park is well managed and plays a vital role in protecting the future of the turtle. Next stop is Kinabatangan!