Conservation, Chi and Chocolate
23 July 2013
Sitting at my desk at work the other day I was asked by my co-worker, Wen for a good place to take his family on vacation. I replied without hesitation - Borneo! I knew he and his family would like it due to its perfect mix of excitement and relaxation. We had been there a few months before and as I told him about it the memories came flooding back...
After the short drive from Kota Kinabalu Airport to the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru we were taken straight to our room to check in and were greeted with a picture-postcard view of Mt Kinabalu- the tallest mountain in the Malay Archipelago. We spent the first couple of days alternating between the beach and the pool with the occasional spell in the Kinabalu Club lounge for a cool drink and a chat with the lounge staff: they always stopped to ask about your stay and the kids went crazy for the lady dressed in a Goofy suit handing out chocolate by the pool! On the third day we decided to take the short trip to the islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. With monitor lizards on the beach and a variety of fish and coral in the crystal clear water it was an excellent microcosm of Borneo’s wildlife.
After our adventures in the water we decided to get out and see Borneo’s most famous residents- the orangutans. Luckily the Tanjung Aru’s sister hotel in Kota Kinabalu: The Rasa Ria had its own sanctuary. Our concierge arranged everything: we were picked up bright and early the next morning. When we arrived we were guided in to the sanctuary and waited with anticipation as the guide hollered a strange call into the forest. We began to hear a rustling in the trees, faint in the distance at first and then growing louder all around. Steadily a group of orang-utans came dropping and swinging effortlessly through the trees in front of us, completely unconcerned with our group waving and taking photos. They had a great time swinging from tree to tree or hanging from one arm or leg. About a thousand photos later the guide spoke his secret language again and as quickly and gracefully they had come they were gone.
We had seen the wonders of Bornean nature. It was time for a change of pace. It was time to hit the spa! We had taken a walk to the Chi Spa in our hotel and thought it looked perfect. We looked through the menu and made our choices. We weren’t disappointed- our own personal changing room; the flower petal bath with the sound of waves lapping in the distance and the sublime massage was the perfect end to the week.
As always, on the flight home our family discussed our favourite things from the holiday. For me, the orangutans were the highlight; my wife, unsurprisingly, chose the spa. My daughter... the chocolate from Goofy. Borneo really does have something for everyone!