Borneo Safari 2015: The Adventure Continues
This is the second part to Borneo Safari 2015. Read the first part ‘Borneo Safari 2015: A Taste of an Off-road Adventure’
By Patricia Hului
My adventure during the Borneo Safari continued when we reached Kampung Kolorok, Kemambong on the third day of the expedition.
A sense of relief swept over me when I saw that we had arrived at the village, one word coming to my mind: “Toilet!”
We were more than ready to settle down and set up camp.
For our first night at Kampung Kolorok, we broke the usually serene and quiet village with our laughter and chatty conversation.
Day 4: Getting to know Kolorok
After three days of packing and unpacking, putting up and taking down our camp beds, I was grateful that we started our day slow and easy.
A few journalists and I started our morning by going around the village to take some photos and get to know the residents.
After we had our lunch, once again thanks to Pak Ayub and his Chuck Wagon, we put on our journalists’ hats and went to watch the Special Stages (SS) for its all-deserving coverage.
Sunset came and under the sky looking more beautiful than it could ever be in the city, we spent our time bonding over a few rounds of card games.
Even with the lights off, our conversations were still continued in darkness with our bodies wrapped up in our sleeping bags.
Day 5: Countless stars hotel
When I finally warmed up to some of the journalists, I had to say goodbye to them as they were only with us for the first leg of the Borneo Safari while a new team of journalists and Isuzu representatives had arrived the night before.
We bid our farewells and made hasty promises to meet up on the next Borneo Safari.
I continued my morning of Oct 29 by attending a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme courtesy of Borneo Safari committee and Universiti Malaysia Sabah Medical Respond Team (UMS-MERT).
Later in the afternoon, we went to another SS watching and capturing more scenes of these modified cars rolling.
This time, I took notice of the insects and animals around us as we stood before capturing them on camera.
We could have easily look past these small creatures thanks to all the excitement over the SS.
When the sun finally rested and the moon took over, we spent our evening a little bit quieter than before.
We went to bed knowing that it would be our last night in Kampung Kolorok and a few hours closer to a new campsite.
The media and Isuzu team shared a running joke that we were staying in a ‘countless’ star hotel, referring to the fact that we had been camping under a star-filled sky for the past few days.
Even though this ‘countless’ star hotel only consisted of a canvas covering us from the weather above and no walls shielding us from the cold weather of hilly Sabah, I would choose this ‘countless’ star hotel over Dubai’s Burj Al Arab anytime.
Day 6: Kolorok, You have been good to me!
Knowing that we were spending our final day in Kampung Kolorok, some of us purposely woke up as early as 5am just to capture the sunrise over this beautiful village.
I did not think I took great photos that morning, nonetheless I still learnt a lot from two more experienced photographers who took me under their wings.
We also managed to catch both 4WD enthusiasts and school children getting ready for the day ahead.
The remote farming village of Kampung Kolorok may not have the comforts of city-life like 24-hour electricity, Internet or piped water, but its 500-strong predominantly Murut community more than makes up for it with their strong hold on tradition and what we take for granted in the city: warmth and kindness.
One of the SS was held in the middle of the football field of Kampung Kolorok, and not wanting to miss out on the fun, many of the villagers came out and showed their support to all competitors.
It was more fun and thrilling to watch the competitors pumping to show their skills while the crowd enthusiastically cheered for them.
We then headed to Pak Ayub’s Chuck Wagon to refuel for the journey ahead.
We also took our time to say goodbye to the villagers, handing out all our snacks to the children.
By 2.20pm the Isuzu D-Maxes – White, Red and Black Monsters – were all packed with our stuff and ready to depart.
If you thought that being in the middle of nowhere would give you an escape from a daily city woe like a traffic jam, you’d be wrong.
With a long queue of 4WDs wanting to drive Kampung Kolorok at about the same time, we only managed to leave an hour later.
We drove on gravel roads past several villages with Tenom as our next destination. Finally, at 5.40pm our tires hit tarred roads and my body seemed unused to the smooth ride.
We watched the sunset at Tenom and instead of enjoying Pak Ayub’s cooking for dinner; we opted for a meal in town. We did not set up camp but put up our camp beds at what used to be a seafood restaurant.
After almost week being cut off from any telecommunication, I had mixed feelings listening to my phone ringing. Part of me was grateful that I was finally able to contact my loved ones but another part was sad because I no longer had the solitude a phoneless situation could offer.
Nonetheless, most of us went to bed with our phones next to us that night.
Day 7: We love Tenom Coffee!
What is Tenom without its coffee?
Right before we headed to the next SS, we went Tenom coffee hunting in town.
We got our caffeine fix at Tenom Fatt Choi Coffee where they did not just sell all forms of Tenom coffee but also had a comfortable café setting to serve the customers. I bought a few bags of coffee without any thought to how I was supposed to fit them into my luggage.
Perhaps it was the caffeine, but later in the afternoon I was pumped to take shots of SS.
After SS, the Isuzu representatives had a little surprise for us journalists; we got the chance to drive and winch the White Monster.
They brought us to grassless, uneven ground with a few slopes here and there for us to experience off-road driving.
I had the chance to winch the vehicle to the top of a slope and safely return the car in one piece! The experience was indeed empowering and memorable.
One thing I need to emphasise after experiencing Isuzu D-Max 3.0 was how good the suspension was – as scary as it might look like from the outside moving up and down with the back tires hanging in mid air, I was sitting quite comfortably in the driver’s seat.
With our adrenaline all pumped up, the Isuzu representatives treated us for another great experience in Malalap where a small waterfall and crystal clear water beckoned us to take a good soak.
Though the stream was shallow, the gushing waterfall was definitely relaxing water therapy for me. After our relaxing dip in the cold water, we were ready for the final day of Borneo Safari 2015.
Day 8: The Final Farewell
We packed up and right before the sun rose to high above our heads, we went to Keningau for the final SS. We ended where we started because the final SS was held near the campsite of our first day on the Borneo Safari.
For the final journey to Kota Kinabalu, I was trusted to drive the Black Monster.
Sadly, however, Malaysia’s steepest highway – the Kimanis-Keningau road – was too much for me to handle that I gave up my driver’s seat after barely 15 minutes of driving.
We later had our lunch in Papar about an hour away from KK and by 4.30pm, I was already soaking in the bathtub in my hotel room.
It was indeed a much needed rest after eight days of Borneo Safari, but the journey had not ended yet.The closing cum prize-giving ceremony was held at Hakka Hall and all the participants, committee and contenders were finally gathered together in one place later that night.
I can relate to why off-roaders do what they do just by being one with their machines and getting in there with nature. It offers them a chance to shed whatever baggage they carry in their daily lives or in their case – in the trunks of their 4WDS – and get lost in nature.
For a beginner like me, it was thanks to latest designs and innovations in the Isuzu D-Max which made the off-road adventure more comfortable, accessible and convenient.
Off-road adventure could end in two days or eight days like the Borneo Safari but as the clichéd saying goes, memories last forever.