The island of Borneo is probably too large to be compared to the fictional Fantasy Island, however it certainly ticks all the boxes in the right places to classify as paradise. The Malaysian state of Sabah was our destination; staying in the city (but really when you’re coming from Hong Kong more like a small town) of Kota Kinabalu on the west side of the island. To a geographer like myself, Borneo is fascinating. Social and historical humanity aside, it has an abundance of jungles – mangrove forests, rainforests older than the Amazon, immense plant biodiversity , an early history of rabid deforestation and an amazing array of endemic animals such as the Proboscis Monkey and Orangutan.
We flew in late at night with everything shrouded in darkness. A short drive brought us to our resort in Tanjung Aru, slightly out of the city, surrounded by beach. Even at night, the resort looked stunning. The next morning while Titus was off playing a round of golf the kids and I decided to do a little exploring.
The resort itself had everything we could want and more. Endless pools, a water park specifically targeted at kids, its own private beach, an amazing day spa, golf course plus all the trimmings of a 5 star hotel. It offered us a complete change from the hectic chaos of Hong Kong, and a real opportunity for all four of us to relax, unwind and have some fun.
The inside of the resort tried to emphasise the Malay culture and immediately drew me in with all it’s wooden features and angles. In the main foyer they had a bonang – a traditional musical instrument made up from a scale of small gongs (which are normally hit with padded sticks).
Both Mitchell and Bethany were drawn to the instrument and loved trying to make a tune with it. When they hit the gongs with their hands they would chime, although obviously not with the resonance the sticks normally used do.
Once the kids discovered the water park, our first morning became dedicated to swimming and running and sliding.
Mitchell was apprehensive at first, but I have to say the slides were a fantastic confidence builder for him. He started out on the little red slide and gradually built his confidence up to riding the larger slides with me. Bethany was into the slides straight away with no qualms and quickly discovered she liked the straight down speed slide the best.
Both kids really delighted in the pool too. It was expansive and offered a variety of areas for them to explore. Of course the problem then became ‘how do we get them to leave the pool to have lunch’?
A nice cool chocolate-mint milkshake in a 1/2 yard glass. As I sat quietly sipping, Bethany was drawn out of the water and commandeered the milkshake for herself belatedly realising she couldn’t go back in after having a drink (we have a 1/2 hour after food/drink rule for swimming) so she reluctantly agreed it was time to stop for lunch.
So much more to explore!