Borneo has a soft spot in our hearts as one of the most beautiful islands that we have visited in our travels.
When we visited, we were lucky enough to see all three countries that comprise this part of Southeast Asia: Indonesia (which is the majority of the island), Malaysia and the small country (and kingdom) of Brunei. We traveled Air Asia throughout the country, which was a very (very!) affordable way to see the island in just a short amount of time (less than 2 weeks!). Our goal was to see as much as possible in a short amount of time.
Here are some photo highlights of our time in Borneo:
This is the Sultan Omar Ali Saiffudin Mosque in Bandar Seri Bagwan, Brunei. The sunset was actually purple when we took this photograph — there is no photoshopping or post-production done to this photograph! It was pretty amazing to see…the reflection on the pavement was gorgeous because it had just rained that afternoon.
This photo shows the royal crest that is often prominently displayed on many buildings in the capital of Brunei.
Brunei is a small nation that is rich in oil. Believe it or not, it has a level of 0% public debt per GDP! There is no public transport in this
nation, and the government (a monarchy) rents cars to all of its people for taxes. Healthcare is also covered by the state, so the people of this nation are very well off and there isn’t any poverty that was evident when we visited the nation. It was fascinating!
We traveled to the eastern coast of the island of Borneo because we wanted to experience some of the most amazing diving in the area, and we were told that the best place to dive was in Sipidan.
All of the royalty and high class of the developed nation of Brunei was contrasted by some of the poverty we saw when we traveled through Sabah, Malaysia, on the eastern coast of Borneo. The picture above is of a young Malaysian boy who was eating a sandwich in a filthy garbage pit in the back of a complex that consisted of an almost slum-like housing complex.
This is Sipidan Island, the only oceanic island in Malaysia and once under great dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia. One thing to note is that if you’re ever planning on diving here is that boats have licenses that only allow them to carry a maximum number of people per day! It is very strict…so strict that I didn’t have reservations and had to convince a dive boat to carry me…but I had to act as though I was a relative of the workers on the boat!!!
Here are a couple of our favourite photographs of our dives in Sipidan. The green and hawksbill turtles are everywhere here, and they aren’t afraid of divers…they are very playful with them. The schools of barracuda are everywhere and it is so majestic being able to swim with them. I’ve also included a photograph of me, in my happiest place: under water!!!
We will leave you with two ROAD WARRIOR QUICK TIPS for travel if you’re planning on visiting Borneo:
1. Book Air Asia ahead of time – If you are pre-planning your trip, booking at least 6 months in advance on Air Asia can get you some amazing airfare deals! We flew from city to city in Borneo for the equivalent of US$20 – 40 for one way flights (which were between 45 minutes and 2 hours in duration). Pretty cheap!!! These special fares have very limited flexibility (ie: they are non-refundable), but well worth it in our opinion because they are so cheap!!!
2. Book Diving in Sipadan in advance – Don’t try and just show up, like I did, and expect to be able to dive immediately! Due to the licenses that restrict the amount of people allowed to dive around the Sipadan Island, you may be in for disappointment. Book early.