On the morning of 7th July (well only just) 29 very grumpy but excited Sixth Form students boarded the coach to Heathrow Airport, where we were due to fly to Borneo; the rainforest country. After a short stop in Doha, Qatar, we arrived in Kuala Lumpur; the stop here was not so short. After seven hours in KL airport, we flew to our final destination, Kota Kinabalu, the town named after the famous Southeast Asian Mountain. We met with our guides, split into our two smaller groups and made our way to our hotel, for a well-deserved sleep. For some of us, though, it wasn’t going to be very long…we had a big day awaiting us in a few hours’ time.
'The community project proved to be one of the best days of the trip'
Group 1 set off at the early hour of five am, backtracking to the airport we had only left a few hours before. We were en-route to Mulu, the window to Sarawak’s rainforest, where we landed in the late morning. When we arrived at our accommodation for the night, we realised that life would be a tad simpler than what we were used to at home; even more than what we had been prepared for. After visiting two caves nearby, which were famous for its bats’ display in the early evening, we sat down to dinner, which would be very similar to the rest of the trip’s food choices: Chicken, along with rice and tapioca leaves. We retired to bed, waiting for what was to come for our Community Project the next day. The community project proved to be one of the best days of the trip, where we painted the local church and the girls helped the tribe’s women cook lunch. In the evening, we were given a taste of what daily life was like for this Bornean tribe, meeting the local children and being given a dance performance. We left by boat the next day, visiting some more caves on the way and then walking to Camp 5, our next stop. We stayed here for two days, then followed the head hunters’ trail, an 11km walk, to our next boat to another longhouse. We finally reached Limbang, where our first hotel for a week was situated, and experienced city life in Borneo for the first time. We headed back to Kota Kinabalu by boat the day after, going back to our original hotel in Sabah for one day before leaving again for Sepilok, Sandakan: Orang-Utan Country.
'and most astonishing of all…Pigmy Elephants'
It was an amazing sight to be able to witness Orang-Utans being fed in their natural habitat, let alone the next day on our river cruise, run by the Riverside Lodge, seeing them in the wild. On that same trip we were lucky enough to see Hornbills, Long tailed macaques, the famously ugly Proboscis monkey, and most astonishing of all…Pigmy Elephants. Our guide told us it was extremely lucky to have seen such a thing, as they very rarely come out of the forest to the riverbank. We set off for the Poring Hot Springs after spending a day at the Gomantong caves, and a relaxing afternoon. A couple of us decided to go in the Hot Springs while others found it useful to have a sleep for the big day coming around: the next day was climbing Mt Kinabalu.
We awoke the next morning to eat breakfast at the base of the mountain, then the big climb started. It was a day of torrential rain, making the path treacherous, almost as if we were walking up a stream. It was a struggle, but we all made it to Laban Rata guesthouse, just 2km away from the summit. We were all extremely upset that the weather had been determined to be too severe to try and climb the summit; the other group had done it successfully, but we were unfortunately deprived of the chance for our own safety. A relaxing day followed, with snorkelling and a barbecue, knowing that the day after we were leaving such an amazing landscape. We rose again at a very early hour the airport, and flew home, full of memories that would stay with us for the rest of our lives. It was a fantastic trip, and I for one will always remember it.