THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN peak between New Guinea and Burma, big rivers supporting large forests and indigenous communities, and some highly rated diving (so I hear), a trip to the north-east corner of Borneo is an adventure. The wildlife viewing can be first class, getting out there is often really out there, and throw in high ethnic diversity (and the food that brings) and Sabah makes for a memorable destination.
On a small island of the coast near Sandakan, a woman on the balcony in her water villge.
Sabah Agricultural Park is in the small town of Tenom, reached by train from Beaufort.
While our jungle camp was flooded out, our host took some of us to an island off the coast of Sandakan.
This small train joins the interior towns of Beaufort and Tenom.
Houses built on stilts in the largely fishing based village.
Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary provides a good chance to observe our relatives at close range. Orphans are rescued from forest clearings, poachers and houses.
"Tamu" are the weekly markets which occur in rural towns in Sabah.
400 species of orchid are raised at Sabah Agriculture Park.
One of the natural world's odder creatures, the proboscis monkey sports a particularly large nose.
Prawns drying in the sun.
Another specimen at Sabah Agriculture Park.
Rain can be a loyal companion in Sabah, and stuck closely to us as we enjoyed the orchid farm.
The Padas River in Tenom.
The mainland of Borneo in the background, viewed from the low tide of an offshore island.
Bamboo wind instruments, rolling home grown tobacco, carrying a rattan basket. Back when I was travelling through Asia in my younger days, many travellers knocked Malaysia for not being "really Asia", whatever that meant.
Kota Belud, more than just a market, the tamu is of course a social occasion.
All dressed up with nowhere to go, villagers from the surrounding countryside at the Kota Belud tamu.
Colourful (but probably polyester) textiles sold by a woman with a great smile.
Seeing wildlife in the wild is one of life's great joys, and primates are up there with big cats for excitement. This fellow made a noisy path right through the trees above our jungle camp.
Uncle Tan was the pioneer of jungle camps on the Kinabatangan River. I spent over two weeks there, either side of an almighty flood.
Uncle's staff were knowledgable and friendly, as well as good cooks, and he had a great spot with well marked trails.
A typhoon swept throug the Philippines, bringing increased rain to Sabah. The horseshow bend in the river became a lake, which eventually found its way into my hut, when I was sleeping.
The Kinabatangan in drier times.
Climbing Mount Kinabalu isn't that hard, at 4101m, I'd rather not carry a gas cylinder up. But thank you! I wish I had taken more time to explore the forests on the route up.
Kinabalu is the highest peak between New Guinea and the Burmese edge of the Himalayas.
Poring Hot Springs was established by occupying Japanese forces in WWII, and is part of Kinabalu National Park. There is some good forest trekking to be had.
A boat moored in the mangroves.
Like most mountain top sunrise expeditions, the clouds are unlikely to co-operate. Waiting -in the cold- often pays rewards.
The Danum Valley Conservation Area contains some of Sabah's best forest, and wildlife habitat. Getting their and getting permission to visit is not easy.
A Swiss friend I was travelling with knew his stuff. At one stage he ran from tree to tree, sniffing the trunks, and confidently declared "clouded leopard."
The Sandakan Death Marches are one of the more horrific stories from WWI. The Japanese army forced 2440 Allied prisoners on ardous marches through the jungles of Sabah. Like the more famous prisoners of the Burma railway, they were used for forced labour.
Repairing the nets for another night fishing.
Frogs! When frogs are in trouble, we humans are in trouble.
A riot of colour, offshroe form Sandakan.
Hanging out at the market in Kota Kinabalu, fresh faced kids take their first step towards delinquency.
Not a fisheries expert myself, but I would say that shark is too small.