Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Going to Borneo!!!

I am so excited! If I were a puppy, I'd be wriggling all over! I just got my flights confirmed for a trip next month to Hong Kong (one week) and to Kota Kinabalu (one week).

Where on earth is Kota Kinabalu, you ask. Well, it's on the west coast of the island of Borneo just north of Brunei, in Malaysia.
I first saw the name 'Kota Kinabalu' on the seat-back flight tracking screen on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Cairns two years ago. Since I'd never heard of the place before then, I was intrigued. Then in Hong Kong, I think it was, waiting for my flight back to Canada, I came across a travel brochure for the place. It looked absolutely lovely - and I thought, Next trip, for sure.

You see, Kota Kinabalu was one of the 18 or so free add-ons with Cathay's all-Asia pass, and only a three hour flight south from Hong Kong. (Cairns is 10 and a half). Piece of cake! So last month, when I was trying to decide the best time to return to China and update some photos for my web site, I thought, hmm Kota Kinabalu.

But the Cathay site All-Asia pass no longer included Kota Kinabalu. Nor was Beijing, that used to also be a free add-on. There were 5 Japan destinations shown, but I can't afford to visit Japan just yet, so they were of no interest.
I double checked with the Cathay office in Toronto to make sure the web site was accurate, and so it was.

But Beijing is only a $50 add-on from Hong Kong, I was told. Well, that's good, but I wanted to travel in April, and Beijing in April might still be quite cool. But the Dragon Air (a Cathay affiliate) in Hong Kong listed two trips from there to Kota Kinabalu. One for 3 days would suit someone looking for a golf getaway.

But the Borneo Eco Tour -- now that sounded good! A week of touring the north part of Sabah, sleeping on an island beach lodge near where turtles lay eggs year round, walking through the parks and staying two nights in a jungle lodge, then two days of rivers and caves, and a jungle resort with spa -- hmmm -- sounded fabulous.
And the price sounded good, too.

So after a week or so of calls and emails, I got confirmed on Dragon Air, and on my Air Canada flight to Hong Kong, and now I am scrambling to get organized to head out.
I don't need visas for either place, so that saves a few bob, but I want to check out the malaria-meds stuff. I am not sure how prevalent malaria is at this time, but maybe this trip, I will have to break down and get the meds. Or I can just go with Deep Woods OFF with DEET.

Still need to get hotel in Hong Kong confirmed. NOW I find out that April is a massive trade show month in Guangzhou (Canton, an hour or so inland) and all rooms in Hong Kong (International gateway) get fully booked fast. Oh well, I can always sleep at the Hong Kong airport! They have rooms with showers!

Update February 2008: Finally getting my pictures on the web site! Have a look at the Borneo tour photos so beginning with the Sepilok orangutans.