My mate Steve has been at it again. Having ridden around Australia, about half way across it, and recently completed a tour of Tasmania, he set his sights even further afield, and went biking in Borneo. For this trip he took along a mate, Neil. Neil is a very experienced rider, and works as a riding instructor. Here is Steve’s story of the trip.
Having read various positive stories about the tours run by Borneo Biking Adventures and spoken to a couple of people who were happy with their experiences, this looked like a great idea. My mate Neil had talked about an O/S bike trip so we settled on this one and planning began.
Neil is the one with the dark hair and moustache. I am the one who looks like Santa Claus and has the incredibly poor dress sense. Arctic Draggin Cammos and a yellow, black and white Joe Rocket Jacket? Now there's a bloke who needs a Fashion Advisor. My wife considers me a lost cause in the Fashion Stakes.
Terry, Brian and Rose, who are Borneo Biking Adventures, arrange everything except the air travel and literally everything is included in the price. Food, accommodation, washing, ironing and even beer and wine. They obviously provide the bikes, Aprilia Pegaso 650s, and also riding gear if you don't take your own, as we did. All you have to do is tell them what you want and they will tailor make your holiday. If you have particular attractions you wish to visit? Tell them. Do you want to do all riding on road or would you like to include some, or a lot of, off Road? How difficult do you want the off road riding to be? Do you want to stop frequently for photo opportunities. Sort it out at the beginning and away you go.
Brian Wade, an ex British Moto Cross champion, collected us from the airport at Kota Kinabalu and took us back to house where we settled into our rooms. Very comfortable and with ensuites. Then we relaxed in the pool before a very nice evening meal. The pool is necessary as the weather is very hot and humid. Most days we got back about 3.30 to beat the afternoon storms.
Another choice you can make is whether to have local or western food. We opted for local and were not disappointed.
Borneo is a fairly poor country and they waste very little. Many meals included stir fried greens which turned out to be ferns and edible plant leaves collected from their garden. Very tasty. (Hmm, I think I'll just take your word for it! Elwyn). We had a seafood banquet one evening which included some very tasty prawns. We noticed Terry peeling the prawns and placing the heads and tails in a saucepan. He later showed us how he boiled these up and, after removing all the solids, used what was left as a base for the sauce we ate them with. Delicious! (Right, eating the heads. Is there a MacDonalds nearby? Elwyn).
We visited the local market one day to check out how the locals shopped. One of the strange things we discovered was that the fish heads were actually more expensive than the rest of the fish. Strange but true! (What is it with eating heads of stuff? Elwyn).
Some of the places we ate while out each day were a bit of a worry. No way they'd pass Ozzy food inspectors; but none of us got sick. We chose to only drink bottled water, which is quite cheap anyway, and solved the problem of poor water quality.
The first day started with a 15 minute briefing and bike familiarisation then it was off down the 3km dirt road to the main road. Anyone with minimal dirt riding experience can cope with this if they take care. (I read in a magazine article that this driveway is actually a bit of a challenge; and they will ride your bike down for you if you aren't confident. Elwyn).
The first few days were spent doing loops of around 250km in different directions from the house. This enabled us to become familiar with the area and we got a chance to meet the local people. Each day we stopped for morning and afternoon tea and lunch at one of the villages.
The roads around the city aren't too bad, but you have to keep your wits about you once outside urban areas. The roads can be rough in places and no one takes much notice of road rules, but you soon get into the swing of it. There can be land slips which block half the road, or which have caused half the road to disappear, so you have to look ahead. The roads are also infested with cows, dogs, chooks and buffaloes. The survivors seem to be the ones who keep out of the way of the traffic but it pays to be wary. Some drivers like to overtake everything in front of them. You have to stay alert, but no problems if you have some experience.
We saw many interesting things, including a small village rice processing plant. Apparently the locals harvest their rice and deliver it to the 2 fellows who operate this little plant. They process each persons rice seperately. The process ends up with 3 different products. The rice which is now ready to use, a sort of rice germ powder which is used as pet food, and the husk part which is blasted out of the shed into a pile and burned.
We then had a day off the bikes and went to Kota Kinabalu to check out the local sights and we visited one of the local islands. We were driven to the city and collected at the end of the day. BBA even provided us with a mobile phone so we could arrange to be picked up.

On Monday it was a 350km ride to Sandakan. All bitumen but still interesting. We traveled through Jungle, some spectacular mountains, as well as Palm Oil plantations. It is sad to see the Jungle being cleared to make way for Palm Oil Plantations. Along the way we visited a Tea plantation and factory for morning tea.
At ride' s end we were put up in a luxury hotel. Terry and Brian then took us to a very swish restaurant for dinner and provided everything, including drinks and Taxi fares. They also took a spare bike on a trailer behind the backup 4WD in case of problems.
I will mention here that at about 1pm we passed a broken down semi trailer. The road is only one lane in either direction and the truck was completely blocking it's side of the road. There was a 4WD parked, on the road, behind the truck, and 2 fellows under the truck working on it and a huge oil spill. On the way back I kept thinking about how careful I would need to be traversing this oil spill. No need to worry. Two days later the truck was still parked in the middle of the road and they were still working on it. Hmm, obviously heavy duty tow trucks are too expensive.
Tuesday we visited the Sandakan War Museum, a very sobering experience. The next stop was the Orangutan reserve at Sepilok. We were a little disappointed but, hey, are you going to travel all that way and not visit this world famous attraction?
Having finished at the reserve we rode for another hour or two and then parked the bikes, boarded a small boat, and sailed to a Jungle reserve where we were to stay for the night. After settling in we were given afternoon tea and placed on another small boat for a 2 hour river tour. We saw a Orangutan mother and baby, a seriously poisonous snake at much closer quarters than I liked, and numerous other examples of native flora and fauna including a particularly aggressive primate who sat in tree above the river and threw a seed at me. Was it something I said? It was one of the other passengers who said the monkeys were, errrrr, a little chubby. Why the little beggar threw the seed at me is a mystery. I think I'll report him to the Malaysian Tourist Bureau!
We enjoyed a great evening meal and a good nights sleep before sailing back to the bikes and riding off towards Kota Kinabalu once again.
On the way we passed the truck I mentioned above, which was still parked in the middle of the road.
The rest of the trip back was uneventful. We deviated off the main road and enjoyed a bit of beach riding. (If you've seen the cover of Issue 48 of Australian Road Rider, this is the beach).
We then wandered along some more back lanes through villages and jungle.
After 3 hectic days we called a lay day on Thursday, had a bit of a look around Kota Kinabalu and visited a local Cultural Village to see how things had been done in the past. The Village even included some shrunken skulls but the locals were quick to point out that no head hunting had taken place for hundreds of years. I have never been greatly excited by any of the Cultural Villages I have visited in New Zealand, Egypt, or this one in Borneo, but they have all been worth a visit in so far as you learn something about the culture and history of the area.
My last days ride was another 250km wander around back lanes and through villages, seeing life as the locals live it in Borneo. That evening Brian informed us that tomorrow would be a day of difficult off road riding. Hmm. A champion Moto X rider talks about a difficult ride! I decided to be a wimp and give it a miss. My mate Neil is a motorcycle riding instructor by occupation and learned his skills on a farm so is quite a handy dirt rider as well, so I figured I'd let Brian and Neil enjoy themselves without having to worry about me crashing and injuring myself. A wise move.
There was a couple from Melbourne sharing our ride with us and Richard decided he would go with them. Apparently he fell off 3 times and in the third fall he injured his shoulder. In the really difficult terrain Brian had to ride both his a Richard's bikes turn about till they reached a place where Richard was able to take over again and they could get back onto bitumen roads. He rode his bike 100metres then walked back and rode Richard's bike 100metres, then rode his another 100metres, and so on. Neil had a minor fall but only because he had to stop and help Richard who was trapped under his bike.
My decision not to join them had another benefit. Brian, Terry and Rose had not told us that on days when we didn't ride we were charged a much lesser rate so I actually saved money by not going, not that I knew that at the time.
My wife had not come with us in the back up ute on quite a few days and hence they also charged a lesser rate than originally quoted for her as well. This resulted in the Holiday costing us much less than anticipated. What a bonus!
On Sunday morning we had our usual hearty brekky, settled our accounts and then Terry and Rose delivered us to the airport for the the return journey.
I apologise if my story sounds like an advert for Borneo Biking Adventures but we were very happy with our holiday and I am fairly certain most people would enjoy their time in Borneo with Brian, Rose and Terry.

*Make sure you let Terry and Brian know what you want from your holiday. They will organise things to suit you. If you don't let them know what you want you only have yourself to blame if you don't enjoy it.
*It might pay to check if there will be anyone else sharing your riding holiday. If so you might need to check on their riding abilities / skills and what they hope to gain from their holiday otherwise you may find yourself with others whose skills and expectations are very different from your own. We did not realise we were sharing with the couple from Melbourne and this did create some problems. There was a significant mismatch in riding skills and expectations. Fortunately everything worked out OK in the end but it would be advantageous to check.
*Take a 2ltr or 3ltr Hydro Pack with you. The weather in Borneo is hot and humid and you need to drink heaps of fluids.
*Consider buying a local SIM card for your Mobile Phone. Mobile phone calls, even to Australia, are incredibly cheap and coverage is extensive. We spent about Aus$13 on a SIM card and pre paid calls and called all our friends and rellos before leaving to expend the credit. Flamin' Australia must have the most expensive phone costs in the world!
*Take enough of any prescription medication you need to last you the trip and, of course, take your prescriptions as well.
*Also take spare spectacles and your latest optical prescription, just in case.
*Malaria can be an issue so light weight long sleeve shirts and heavy duty insect repellant are also a good idea as is heavy duty Sun Screen.
*Neil and I took our own helmets, boots, gloves and Draggin pants. Personal preference but I prefer my own gear. I left the helmet and boots there to save weight. After all we had souvenirs to bring home..
Terry, Rose and Brian of Borneo Biking Adventures will have a stand at the Sydney motorcycle Show. If you are thinking of a holiday with them it might pay to visit the Show and have a chat. Ann, Neil and I may even be there as well. Neil and I will be wearing our denim Borneo Biking Adventures Shirts which we were given just before we departed.

Thanks for the great story, Steve! Sounds like a very different, and exciting place to ride.
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