A Relaxing Christmas in Borneo

The best thing about moving to Honky for me is travel.  I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to visit so many places since our arrival: Taiwan, Seoul, Mumbai and Kerala in India, Siem Reap in Cambodia, Chiang Mai in Thailand (again!), Beijing and finally Australia.  As you can see from the gaps in the blog –  I’ve got quite some way to go in documenting all these trips!

So let me start with the most recent whilst it’s fresh in my mind – Borneo. Christmas is normally spent in throws of icy UK winters, gorging on food left, right and centre; and in the company of my favourite people – the Malatesta clan!  This year we thought we’d change gears and head somewhere hot just the two of us.  And so because in typical Stars and Joe fashion we’d left it too late to book our preferred destination – Bali – we settled for Borneo.  Flights were about one sixth of the price if you wanted to go direct, and so we thought we’d save a bit of cash and take on part of Malaysia.

Borneo is no doubt, beautiful – lush green jungle, sandy beaches and crystal waters.  I have to say though that we probably didn’t make the most of everything that is on offer.  We had very good intentions of traveling to Sipidan, Sepilok and climbing the famous Mt Kinabalu over our two week stay…  Instead we made an executive decision (after a lot of typical uming and ahhing from me) to just stay, in one spot and totally relax (note we also came back to HK a week early).

The umming and ahhing stems from my inability to actually sit back relax and do nothing.  I’m basically incapable of relaxing and sort of feel under pressure to do as much exploring as possible in a new country.  Pressure from who I have no idea.  But I actually managed to do it (it has to be noted there were a few wobbles and I had to be brought around by Joe’s maximum chill ethos) and really enjoyed it!

We stayed Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort about 45 minutes outside the main town of Kota Kinabalu. This was the first time I’d ever stayed in a big beach resort like this and can certainly see the attraction – everything you could want is there!  Restaurants, pools, spas, golf, beach, activities galore and more.

That isn’t to say we were sitting ducks, although the sand flies and mozzies seemed to think so.  We managed to get out on a couple of day trips – a river cruise to spot some of the local wildlife which included monkeys, giant lizards and fireflies and a boat trip to a little island called Sapa to do a bit of snorkeling.

The island trip on arrival seemed to be the biggest error, when we arrived the beach was swarming with tourists, so we made a decision to go on a little adventure and climbed over some rocks at the far side of the beach and found a beautiful nearly deserted beach.  Score!  The sea even had some pretty corals and crazy coloured fish to gawp at through my snorkel.  That’s the first time I have snorkeled and actually seen anything worth while.  I think before I’d always use my snorkel and flippers on Greek beaches and the most you would see are the tiny little grey sand fish that scoot around the seabed.

The most memorable part of this trip has to be eating out Christmas dinner at a restaurant called Little Italy in the centre of KK!  A dinner to remember, it was lovely, but felt so strange to not be eating a roast in the cold surrounded by my family.  And I did miss them.  But I was consoled in the fact that we are returning to the UK at the end of January – and after all Chrsitmas is only a day right?  I can feel the rage from some of you for saying that – sorry!

I would definitely recommend heading out to KK for a relaxing long weekend to anyone this side of the globe.  But perhaps I would suggest being a bit more organised if you actually want to see the island than myself!

Here’s to more adventures around the globe in 2016!  Happy New Year!