Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009
Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
In a little more than a month I'm flying to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). With my mania not to do too much preparationI still don't know what my itinerary will be. Only thing I know for sure is that I'm going back to Borneo, for diving in Sipadan, as in 2006.
For those who are not familiar with the geography of the area, take a look at the small map below, to locate. I've put in big black dots the places where I want to go.
Do you see the point? Malaysia covers two very different regions: the peninsular area, as an extension of Thailand, and northern Borneo. South Borneo is part of Indonesia.
Fortunately, from Kuala Lumpur (KL for the close friends), the numerous Air Asia routes allow to go everywhere in Malaysia and Indonesia, for cheap.
My other desire, in terms of diving, after Sipadan, is Derawan.
But Derawan is not in Malaysia, but on the other side of the border, in the Indonesian part of Borneo... And the journey is not the easiest. It takes two days of travel, mixing boat+plane+road, starting from Tawau (the Malaysian city on the other side of the border).
That said, Derawan is worth the detour, both for underwater wildlife (turtles and mantas, among others) for the scenery. Read the bewitching travelogue of Yann Senant and take a look at the fabulous images of Pierre Poilloux.
I have one month of freedom. In July then. With these new plans for Asian escapades, here I am facing terrible dilemmas 😀
➡ First dilemma: to dedicate this trip to Borneo exclusively?
Or give in to the temptations of Peninsular Malaysia ... and go back to Perhentian IslandsI would go to Besar (the big one) instead of Kecil, for example, to mix pleasantly farniente and quiet dives? So I would go to Besar (the big one) that I had not had the opportunity to discover, instead of Kecil...
➡ Another dilemma: to go to Kuching or not?
I'm aiming for Sipadan, of course, but it would be a shame not to take advantage of this new foray into Borneo to visit Kuching, the capital of Sarawak (Malaysian state in the northwest of Borneo), whose charm is praised by all travelers. But it's the complete opposite of Sipadan. And there are not too many dive sites in the area. It is rather a good base to explore the surrounding natural parks.
➡ Third dilemma: jungle or no jungle?
I am rather aquatic, as a traveler. I like the sea, beaches and islands. In short, I'm not too fond of sweaty treks in the middle of the tropical nature. Especially if it is recommended to put on anti-leech socks (brrr, special dedication to Thib'). At the same time, if there is one place where the jungle and the natural parks are sumptuous, it is Borneo... Well. On this one, I'm going to play blasé, but never mind: I already did a lot of jungle walks during my previous trips, in Thailand and Vietnam for example. And then, during my trip to Borneo in 2006, before heading to Sipadan, I took the time to stop at the Sepilok Center to admire the orangutans: a piece of jungle with comfortable wooden walkways (perfect for the poor hiker that I am). So, here, uh... I think I'll skip the jungle and tribes trip, even if it is in principle a "must" of the Borneo trip.
➡ Last dilemma: after Derawan, which way do I go home?
If I go back to Balikpapan, a big oil city without much interest further south, it is relatively easy to reach by plane a lot of attractive Indonesian destinations... If I go back to Malaysia via Tawau, it is also relatively easy to reach a lot of attractive Malaysian destinations.
So many dilemmas that I haven't decided yet... (Yes, I know, I feel sorry for myself for having such problems.)
And yet it is not for lack of having received several e-mails from readers of Small Bubbles of Elsewhere, giving me advice and possible itineraries. Thanks, among others, to Ludovic and Olivier, for their suggestions!