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Travel
ADVENTURING
INTO SABAH
Text by Rachel Greaves & Photography by Neal Hornäffer
extraordinary ‘Simud Hitam’, one of the famous
Gomantong Caves in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
Kota Kinabalu
In addition to cockroaches and bats, the caves
SABAH
BRUNEI
are home to countless swiftlets; small birds
that make their nests from strands of their own
MALAYSIA
gummy saliva, which hardens when exposed to
air. In China, these nests are a prized delicacy.
SARAWAK
BORNEO
They are harvested, twice a year, after the
young have flown, by collectors who balance
SINGAPORE
on rattan ladders, ropes and bamboo poles
As I walked gingerly into the darkness, my attached to the steep walls of the caves - a
sense of sight began to diminish, while my hazardous occupation that is generally passed
brain alerted all of my remaining senses to down from father to son. After being cleaned
function on full capacity. The first thing that to remove any impurities, the nests are sold
struck me was the smell which, to begin with, to be served in soup, jelly or beverages. It is
I found so overpowering that it was hard to believed this ‘Caviar of the East’ possesses
breathe - this fetid stench penetrated my extraordinary properties, which range from
nostrils and hit the back of my throat. Above improving sexual performance to beautifying
me and all around me, I could hear the twitters, the skin, warding off tuberculosis, and curing
squawks and screeches of the dwellers of this dysentery and malaria. Unfortunately, my
soaring, 90-metre-high cavern. Beneath me, companion and I were not there at the right
the wooden walkway was reminiscent of a time of the year to witness the harvesting
death slope. Despite the omni-directional process, but our journey into this cave gave us
This Page: tread of my new ‘Teva’ sandals, my feet were a bitter taste of what it must be like for the
Top: River Safari
failing to get a grip upon a surface that was guards who camp inside, for two weeks at a
Middle: Sabah Map
five centimetres thick in foul slime. Wet lumps
Bottom: Kota Kinabalu
time, emerging only to eat, excrete and wash.
were dropping onto my uncovered head, and
Opposite Page (clockwise from top): an army of cockroaches scuttled across my In Sabah for a six day holiday, we were
Caves, Cockroaches,
exposed toes. guests of ‘Insight Borneo Incentive & Tours’.
Orangutan, Proboscis Monkeys,
Nesting swiftlets
We had flown to Kota Kinabalu where we had
It reads like a scene from a horror movie, spent two days, staying at the waterfront
yet I was there by choice, exploring the Hyatt Regency, which is currently being
52
Villa & Yacht | Vol 2 Issue 8
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