Borneo Sandakan Malaysia Libaran Island
Padas Jetty river boat tour to Libaran Island Lodge
Here are my pictures of the northeast coastal area of Borneo Island, near Sandakan in Sabah state, Malaysia, and on the southwestern shores of the Sulu Sea. Sandakan is the closest city to Libaran Island, where we stayed a night so we could go on a Turtle Island boat tour. After touring the famed orangutan sanctuary at Sepilok, our small group tour (3) went to the Padas Jetty and transferred to motor boat for the half-hour ride downriver past traditional stilt homes to the Sulu Sea, and the crossing to Libaran Island.
Padas Jetty boat to Libaran Island lodge - Borneo Travel
Rather than base the Turtle Island part of the tour in Sandkakan, which is on the open Sulu Sea, the tour company arranged to use this private jetty -- Padas -- to take guests to a lodge at Libaran.
It's not only a shorter trip from Libaran to Turtle Island (the big draw for most visitors), but also has the advantage of smoother seas in rough weather. We arrived here at the jetty just about noon, and would have lunch at Libaran.
Libaran Island to Padas Jetty return trip Borneo Boat Tour
I took this photo the following day, on the return trip to Sandakan, via the Padas Jetty.
Early morning light proved better for picture taking than the deep noontime shadows the day before, when we were the only boat on the river.
This morning, in between periods of torrential rain, we saw we were following another of the river boats.
Our guide, Rose, lifted the rain flaps on one side of our boat, so I could hang my camera out to take a picture. As you can see, the jungle growth comes right to the shores. Our wake sent waves over the banks.
Lubo Borneo stilt homes seen from river boat to Libaran Island, Malaysia
Where the river widened, there were several settlements along the banks, the homes built on stilts in an attempt to keep them above the waters, and so, safe from bad spirits.
This photo shows a few homes in the village of Lubo, and the style of boat they used.
With the intermittent downpours, most people were indoors, though every so often, we'd pass a few who gave a wave.
Most of the time, we saw no one else -- truly a feeling of being at the end of the world, or some Shangri La.
Stilt Home Borneo Traditional Sabah Malaysia House
A closer look at one of the typical river homes -- thatched roof, woven stick sides, and poles to support the structure.
I can hear seasoned travelers thinking 'malaria', so perhaps now is a good time to mention the success of the Malaysian Public Health malaria control program.
Although after reading about the program's success, and after checking with a local tour guide about current reports of malaria, I, myself, decided against anti malarial pills. I relied instead on insect repellants.
I urge (as did the local tour guide urge me) all travellers to check with a travel health clinic for conditions and recommendations before deciding what is best for you.
Sulu Sea Fisherman Near Sandakan Borneo Malaysia
When, after a half-hour ride on the river, we reached the open Sulu Sea, we found ourselves in very shallow water, for some great distance from shore.
Fishermen who come out from shore -- wading out or being dropped off by a small boat -- can easily stand and tend their nets and lines.
It was, at first, most unsettling to see a human figure so far from shore, apparently walking on water.
Our boat was moving at a fairly good speed, so I snapped the only picture I had time for. The fisherman is the black dot almost dead centre.
Libaran Island Wharf - Sandakan Borneo Malaysia
Once we left the shallow seas, the driver opened the boat's throttle and we sped along for about 15 minutes more, past several small islands, until we came around one point of land to the tip of this wharf at Libaran Island.
The water is still shallow a long way out as you can imagine from this photo and the one below.
Our boat came in as far as it could to drop us off for our lunch and check-in at the Libaran Lodge.
Wharf dogs Libaran Island - Sabah Borneo
This is a longer shot of the wharf, taken from in front of the cabins at Libaran.
In this photo, you can get an idea of how long the wharf really is.
These two dogs, who appeared to belong to no one in particular, spent most of the day chasing fish in the shallows, and generally frolicking and having a great time.
As we were on our way to Turtle Island right after lunch, we didn't spend much time on this beach.
Libaran Island Sunset - Sabah Borneo Malaysia Travel
The sunsets on Libaran Island are reputed to be wonderful, fabulous, etc. so it was with some anticipation that I gathered camera, water bottle and repellant, and settled down in a beach chair to wait for the big show.
Unfortunately, this night, this is as good as it got.
As entertaining as the sunset were the two dogs, who seemed delighted to have us for company, and the sudden eruption of a school of 'flying fish'.
As we sat there waiting for sunset, a mass of very small fish leaped about two feet or more above the surface of the water, like they were a pod of very small dolphins performing in unison.
They moved much too swiftly for us to snap a photo, or for the dogs to catch them. As it turned out, that was the evening's highlight. This is one quiet spot!
Libaran Lodge Room - Where I Stayed near Sandakan Borneo
After staying at the Nexus in Kota Kinabalu, this basic, but comfy room was my home for the night.
I had been a little apprehensive on learning that the night would be spent here, as beach huts in the tropics are not my idea of a good time.
But the room was clean and dry, no bugs at all (at least none that showed themselves to me).
Mosquito netting had been hung over each bed. The door at the right is the ensuite bath, with hot water on demand and a shower, no bath.
My suitcase (orange-red, on table, right) is the only bag I travel with (I have a backpack for my camera, etc) and I was on a 3 1/2 week trip. See travel-packing-luggage for how to travel light. Photos of the trip to Turtle Island are here.