You see, I’ve only ever had the pleasure of being sent to places like Johannesburg and Manchester for work. And then I hit the jackpot and found myself with a ticket to Borneo in hand a few weeks ago. I spent 5 days with the crew of SA Swimsuit, creating behind the scenes content on behalf of one of the sponsors for whom I work. Horrific, right?
I’ll admit, I had to Google Borneo when I found out I was being sent halfway across the world to take photographs of beautiful women and beaches. It’s the third largest island in the world, divided amongst three countries: Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. I stayed within the Malaysian state of Sabah, famous for its tea. A short flight from Singapore and you’re in Kota Kinabula, and from there it’s a 15 minute taxi ride and a 20 minute ferry trip to the breathtaking island of Pulau Gaya, our destination.
The locals live in these stilted houses along the coastline, an astounding network of bridges and wash-lines. Borneo’s islands don’t offer much beach, the rain-forests turn into mangroves where the plants’ roots touch the water, so space is at a premium.
This is the approach to Gaya Island Resort where we spent the week. The suites are all private and are situated high up in the rain-forest. It’s not uncommon to walk home with some monkeys in tow, or spot a snake along the pathway. It’s wild, unspoilt, magic.
It rained most afternoons, as you can see by the photo of my room’s day-bed above, a welcome break from the sweltering heat. Lying on the bed with the doors open, listening to the rain falling outside has got to be one of my favourite things in life, and Borneo offers the perfect setting and conditions.
One cracker of a day we chartered a private yacht and sailed around the island to a remote private beach. I spotted a Wild Borneo (okay, I made that up, because I wasn’t sure what it was), a Spider Lily and a creepy doll’s arm sticking out of the sand.
Five days on the island wasn’t nearly enough and I do hope I get to return to Borneo in my lifetime for a holiday. The all-you-can-eat Malaysian buffet, sweet Sabah tea, the incredible hospitality and energy of its people, the breathtaking geography, the absolute luxury of Gaya, worth adding to your Bucket List.
A quick shameless selfie as I caught the ferry back to Kota Kinabula, en route to Singapore for a 12 hour layover and brief tour with an old and dear friend of mine, Sarah. Damn you iPhone for having such a crap selfie camera.
Singapore blew my mind.
I mean, everyone says it’s an amazing/clean/beautiful city, but it exceeded my expectations in every way. This is my whirlwind itinerary and a great way to spend a layover in Singapore…
5 Things To Do On Layover in Singapore:
- Walk and shop Orchard Road. I did some damage at Paul Smith and H&M.
- Explore the iconic Raffles Hotel. When you’re done wandering its palatial corridors and hidden nooks, have a Singapore Sling and some peanuts at the Long Bar and an ice-cream or pizza on the terrace.
- Have dinner and a Singha beer at Lau Pa Sat, a local food market in the centre of town.
- Grab a complimentary cocktail at The Exchange, ladies. You see, the male/female ratio in Singapore is dire and it seems like a lot of the bars try to lure the ladies in with complimentary drinks. Okay, if I must.
- Enjoy the views from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This is the one that looks like a ship wrecked itself on top of it, and the views are incredible. Here you’ll score another complimentary drink if you’re a lady, and if you’re lucky, they’ll let you have a swim in the pool overlooking the Singapore skyline.
I’m sad I didn’t get to see the Gardens By The Bay or the Orchid Garden, the rain got in the way. Instead I got to have coffee with Sarah in her gorgeous home, one of the city’s historic Black and White Houses built in the 1890’s for the Colonial Administration’s Senior Officers, even better!
My Must-Do-Again list has grown by two. Now to conjure up a plan to grow my bank balance. Failing that, perhaps the Travelstart Blogger Experience Contest in association with Airlink will help feed my travel addiction.