Updated: Sep 26, 2022
Malaysia is a fantastic country to visit, very different from Vietnam but, at the same time so close to Vietnam. There is no link between Vietnam and Borneo, you have to make a stop at Kuala Lumpur. The best airline company is Airasia.
Departure from Saigon during the morning, stop in Kuala Lumpur then you have to a flight to Tawau in Borneo. We arrived at Tawau’s airport at 8PM. Shavez, boss of 01StopBorneo, came to pick us up at the airport and then we went to the Tawau Hills park. The park is located about an hour from the city.
As you know, Malaysia is devastated by excessive oil palm tree’s plantation (used for Nutella and all industrials cakes that you can eat everywhere). A large part of the forest disappeared in face of intensive cultivation. The whole ecosystem has changed. Elephants have been murdered by inhabitants because they were eating the new oil palm tree’s plantation. That’s why Shavez has set up a conservation program for this ecosystem, both for fauna and flora.
Around 10PM, we went to Tawau Hills’ Park to observe nature and all these inhabitants. We saw huge tarantulas, frogs, and plenty of insects (like walking sticks), snakes and some mammals.
We went to sleep at 1:30 AM. The bedroom was chill with two beds, AC, house sheets, and a common bathroom.
This program in which we participate, especially through our coming, helps to educate local populations, gives courses in schools, raises awareness among the young generation to preserve this heritage.
We woke up since the sunrise and we went to hike around the forest for two hours to discover nature. We saw so many birds for example hornbills, monkeys (including the blue-headed one which only extended only in Borneo), monitor lizards and horrible leeches. These beasts have also sucked my blood.
Breakfast at 9AM: Shavez told us we were lucky because the cooker prepared yellow sugared rice with hard egg and red sauce.
Yeah… Latte saves us the day.
We continue to hike during about two hours, without noises, which allows the observe nature in all its glory. It was already warm and wet.
It was 11AM and a new adventure began: a safari to observe elephants. We went to the plantations which where at about one and haft hour of car from where we were having breakfast.
Elephants were savages and free. It was cool to see that.
So, we decided, with my son, 2 trees to plant each one and then went to the corridor.
The expedition took about 3 hours and the nature reminded me Tanzania. Indescribable feelings: we were in the forest will all its inhabitants such as elephants, and we were alone or by groups. It was incredible to live this moment.
Congrats to Shavez and his collaborators, it’s such a good project and he allowed us to take part of it.
Then, our car picked us up at 6:30PM after our dinner.
Day 3 to 8
We went to Semporna, a stopover town where we slept before taking boat for Mabul Island and Sipadan.
We spent 5 days there and 4 of them were for diving with Scuba Junkie. Mabul is a little island about one hour from Semporna. Ellen welcomed us, has taken care of everything and we began our first dive.
From that moment on, we dived three times a day, one hour each time, in different paradisiac locations. This destination is reserved for divers, there is no beach on this island.
Scuba Junkie is am diving’s organization, PADI, in Malaysia and Indonesia. They were super professional. I chose Sipadan because it was one of the most well-rated spots to dive. A thing that I can affirm is that you won’t be disappointed.
Sipadan is a small island, a Natural Reserve, with an impressive reef (more than 600 meters). Only few permits are delivered every day, and we understood the privilege to do that. Moreover, people from all around the world come here to dive.
We left the hotel early for the morning by boat with 6 or 7 divers and 2 guides. We felt very privileged, and all was included: coffee, tea, cakes, and fruits. On the boat, yes! Another thing which was interesting is that every dive was different: spot, nature etc.
We went back at 4PM, totally knackered but we were happy. Wifi was available everywhere, rooms were comfortable. We obviously took the AC option. These are large buffets for the meal.
So, to be honest, as a French person, I would prefer to have a glass of wine, menu, and a tablecloth. But there was a bar upstairs which served alcohol, including wine, and played music.
Another thing, you can go there and pass all the grades to dive for example: PADI. My son was a scuba diver before we came there, and he became open water after our holiday here. The equivalences also work. I passed my open water in France for example, and I could do that here too.
To finish, some words about Sipadan: unforgettable. When you have diving, you get the impression to be at the edge of a cliff and jump into the void. It was impressive : an endless wall of corals and this dense blue that grab you… We saw so many animals like hammerhead sharks, sandbar sharks (which measured more than 2,50 meters), leopard sharks, green turtles, cuttle fish, ray, thousands of barracudas that wrapped themselves around you and coral reef each more beautiful than the other.
This travel was fabulous, simple to plan, near Vietnam and if you want to travel with teenagers, it’s ideal!