Malaysia - Visit the Tip of Borneo

Me pointing on the tip

It was a two-week vacation and visited mainland Malaysia with its big island Borneo. Malaysia was the third country in South East Asia and so don't have yet many to compare to, but I did my best to have a long lasting and good impression of the country.

Started in Singapore. From there over the border to Malaysia and to the west coast city called Mersing. Mersing has the ferry that drives me to Tioman Island for scuba diving. From Tioman Island back to the mainland of Malaysia to Kuala Lumpur and then from Kuala Lumpur with the plane to Borneo.

June 22 - Singapore to Malaysia's Mersing by bus

Came from Singapore, entered the bus in Singapore and drove across the border. The journey itself wasn’t that long and soon I was arriving in Johor Bahru and from there about three more hours to Mersing, on the east coast of Malaysia. My goal was to go scuba diving in Malaysia and the only good area from mainland Malaysia is on the east coast.

In Mersing, I only had to hold on for one night and therefore slept in an accommodation which has about 5 USD per night. The rooms were no rooms as there was only a fence with a fence door to keep privacy. I didn’t like as it sounded like another person in the compound had tuberculosis and caught the lungs out. But for 5 USD there is not much more to expect.

45 minutes bus ride to MersingMersing to Tioman by FerryMersing by night

This morning I got up early and took the ferry to Tioman Islands, about 50 km from Mersing. Finding a proper accommodation with view on the ocean wasn’t a big issue. Right in the afternoon, I went finding a scuba dive operator and it wasn’t a problem neither to organize diving immediately.

The water is warm, the visibility very good. But the corals are heavily damaged and bleached as I assume in addition to global warming the fishermen do like to fish with grenades. Big areas of corals just have blown away and even one time it was possible to hear explosions.

At least I saw a few squids and even though a lot is damaged, some very nice intact and big corals.

Whitening corals around Malaysia
Tioman off the shore from MersingGood conditions in TiomanIn TiomanIn TiomanAlso in Tioman islandsAfter finishing the dive, returning to tioman

June 24 - On the Tioman "Scuba Diving" Island

I only stayed one night in Tioman Island and departed already today again back to Mersing. Didn’t waste a lot of time in Mersing and continued the journey by bus to Kuala Lumpur. It was a long day from Tioman all the way via Mersing to Kuala Lumpur.
Ferry port with boat towards Mersing
Relaxed places all over TiomanHaving a room right at the shore is not difficultNot many people visiting Watching the shoreSome nice small lagoonRight amount of tourism to have relaxed time

June 26 - Kuala Lumpur

Having two full days now in Kuala Lumpur and these, I basically walked around with a tourist map in my hands to all the major and most important places to see. Tomorrow I will fly to Kota Kinabalu, which is the Malaysian main city on the international island Borneo. Borneo also is shared with the other country Brunei.

The Petronas Towers, I think there aren't many nicer buildings in form of a tower on the planet,  like this one. Unique stuff.
Kuala Lumpurs Twin Towers are some of the nicest towers on the planet
All metal look is very uniqueUp to the Petronas towersKuala Lumpurs main symbol by night

Sightseeing and walking around in the capital. I didn't have much of a clue where to walk but with a map and the hop on hop off bus, it was an easy day anyway. Had even the chance to shave for free, too bad that they only had foam and brand new Gillette Mach 3 blades as a promotion, but no water to wash off the face.
Kuala Lumpur has tall buildingsGillette Free shaving in Kuala LumpurMe taking the hop on hop of busMany oppurtunities in Kuala to have good and big selection of street foodAlthough there is a lot of indian influence, there is also lot of western street foodJust some random road

June 27 - Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu

The flight duration is about two hours. After the accommodation, I organized a motorbike for the next couple of days. My plan here on Borneo was to hike and visit Mount Kinabalu, even went to the base where the groups form and where to register for the hike, but I felt sick. My fear was that it might be Malaria, as I didn’t take any prophylaxes. Therefore I didn’t take any chance to even start the trek and canceled the plan to go hiking.

Instead, I had now time to recover and figure out places on the ground, with the motorbike. Thankfully I didn’t have Malaria, went to a doctor and they took some bush-malaria-check. Even tho it wasn’t a guaranteed test, the indicators said its no malaria. Didn’t think much longer about it and went with the explanation it might only be a flu.
This is how Kota Kinabalu looks like
They are ready or touristsKota Kinabalu is not that big but has big buildingsKnowing when back in Sabah

June 30 - Diving in Borneo

After roaming and visiting around in Kota Kinabalu I almost saw it all, including an afternoon trip to the nearby island. Even though I didn't completely get rid of the flu, I wanted to use the time and go for some more dives in the afternoon on the nearby island "Kampong".

Diving on Borneo is said to be one of the best. Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of Borneo as on the west coast there is some nice diving indeed, but on the east side of Borneo is the ultimate world-class diving in the area of "Sabah" on the island called Sipadan. Sipadan Island is famous for its huge amount of turtles and barracudas in the pristine blue ocean.

I didn't have the opportunity to go there this vacation because:

a) I needed a permit to visit the island and the permit is only given to about 200 people per week. That permit needs to be applied for months in advance.

And reason b) was the price. Getting there is time-consuming and needs some organization that comes with a steep price of the permit, accommodation, transport, and, of course, the diving itself. Doesn't matter that I didn't have the chance yet to go there yet, as Sipadan is one of my places I will go someday in the future, to check if it is really worth :).

Is great for Scuba and relaxing
Visibility is FineBut they are dying in BorneoHard coral that shows sings of dyingThis coral is in good condition. Its big, about 1 meter widthBorneo still has redneck dynamite fisherScorpion fishes are difficult to see

July 1 - Rent a bike on Borneo

Yesterday evening I planned the motorbike trip to the tip of Borneo. I took the occasion of feeling better from the flu and started this very early morning towards the tip. The tip of Borneo is the most northern point to access in Borneo and is called … the “Tip of Borneo". Its a few KM after the last village called "Kudat", which is the last and most north city on the island. The ride from Kota Kinabalu to the Tip is about 200km one way. Because I needed to bring back the motorbike tomorrow, I had only one day for both ways and so needed to move quickly to drive that 400km on this motorbike.
4Rent motorbike brought me to the tip of borneo
The ride is pleasant and not too difficult keeping on the right track. Only asking some people on the road after "Kudat" and every time I got pointed towards the north.  A long journey but pleasant and easy to drive, with a lunch break in the laid-back city TayTay. Arrived in the Tip in the early afternoon but hadn’t hours to waste up there, as I had to drive all the way back today.

It turned pitch black when I returned to Kota Kinabalu, as around 6pm the sun is gone. But I'm even glad I made it with THIS bike, as the motorbike engine was in the process of dying as it made some really strange cluttering sound inside the engine.

On the way to the tip, it is necessary to drive some dirt roads.
Strangers on BorneoFun to ride all the way from Kota Kinabalu to KudatIts about 200km from Kota KinabaluStairs down to the furthest point possibleMe on the Tip of BorneoEmpty beaches around the Tip of Borneo

July 2 - Back to Singapore

If I had more time, I would have gone to Brunei and now already a day later, I feel pity not having enough time to visit that country, which is “only” another 200 km from Koto Kinabalu. But with only one day left, it was not enough to drive to Brunei and then back the same day. Also didn’t want to risk being stuck somewhere and in the worst case not be able to return to Kota Kinabalu by tomorrow and catch the flight to Singapore.

So having another boat ride to a nearby island was the better idea to relax and enjoy the last hours in Malaysia before returning home.

Visiting the Manukan off the shore in Kota Kinabalu

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