After my exhilarating time in Sandakan, the next stop was an island off the coast of west Borneo. We took a quick flight back to KK, and we went straight from the airport to the seafront to catch a boat to our hotel. The marina was pretty impressive with all these super yachts. We were off to Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, essentially a marine park made up of 5 islands. Manukan island is the 2nd largest, and that is where we were going to be staying. I was super happy – blue skies, sandy beach, sea, snorkelling on the menu – what more could I ask for?
Where am I staying?
Oh mama. Now this is the life. This hotel was truly excellent. Manukan Island Resort. I’m weary of ‘island resorts’, particularly since the last one in Malaysia was vile as hell. This was really lovely – reminded me of the hotels in Goa. Beautiful rooms, in house restaurants, a pool, on the seafront and sunset spots within the resort. LUSH.
- Grubbiness factor: ask me about the cleanliness factor! Beautiful room, well stocked and free mini bar (don’t get too excited, only soft drinks and water), porch, sofa, two beds… lush lush lush
- Bed: 9/10. Lovely and comfy
- Shower: 9/10. Just as lovely and comfy. The bathroom was massive!
What did I eat?
Buffet breakfasts were included in the outdoor, sea facing restaurant. There was SO much food (yes, you guessed, all meaty and fishy and milky), but they had fresh fruit, fresh fruit juices, and my go to, beans on toast. They also had lovely Danish pastries, which I couldn’t have, so I made my own with a bread roll, peanut butter, kaya (coconut jam) and nuts. Perfect.
Lunches were either in one of the restaurants on the resort or on the go (no pics of these). They were very well balanced in my opinion – salad and chips. Perfect. And coconut water whenever I could get it.
Dinners were on another level. Along with the a la carte menu, there was a special every evening. One night there was Laksa – and yes, the chef made a version for me. So so delicious, I asked for another bowl just of the sauce. I may or may not have sipped it through a straw. I had another coconut water too.
The next night – char kuey teow, essentially flat rice noodles with veggies and prawns and lots of naughty things. I hadn’t been able to have an authentic version so far because nobody wanted to make one without animal fat or seafood, until this lovely chef was more than happy to. So tasty, tangy and full of flavour. That with a mango mojito? Perfect meals in the perfect location. Oh I do love to be beside the seaside!
What did I do?
I relaxed, I read, and I chilled. I also went snorkelling. So most of the coral in his area was bleached due to overfishing – it was only brown on the first snorkel site. The fish however were delightful – lots of marine fish. We went to 2 other sites, around the other islands in the park – each one better than the one before, with more life in the coral – massive ones at that, and more colour – green, lilac, blue. A clam or two, and loads of sea urchins. I also went snorkelling from the beach near the hotel. Not a lot of coral, but lots and lots of fish. I absolutely love snorkelling – next investment needs to be a go pro!
I also went ziplining between two islands, Gaya and Sapi. This was excellent – I do love a good zipline, and this was on a decline from one island to the other – and speeding across the sea was pretty cool. Sadly no pictures, didn’t want to risk my phone/camera falling into the sea.
The hotel had a path within the grounds that lead to a beautiful sunset point. The walk was stunning – secluded, surrounded by trees and lianas and lots of fungi. The sunset was also very impressive, very peaceful and very worth it.
And that brings my travels in Borneo to a happy end. The trip got better and more enjoyable with each day. The group of ladies (and one lone man, lucky him) I travelled with were wonderful and we all got on really well. Borneo, with all it’s palm plantations made me sad, but the wildlife and nature got me so so happy, and the beach holiday at the end was the perfect way to end this part of my travels. Next? Final destination, Hong Kong, and then home!