April 14, 2008 GMT
philippines, sabah, brunei, sarawak 16.02.08 - 14.04.08

well, well, well... after 5 years philippines and 1 year preparations we eventually are starting our RTW trip on february 16th 2008.

It is February 16th, 2008, 5AM and we’re already up and hustling around the small house we’ve been renting for the last few years. Very soon our landlord will pass by and take over his property and we’ll be homeless for the time to come.
Also Jane’s parents are coming to say good bye with tears in their eyes.
By 8AM everything is done and our trip begins, from now on we’re transferring into modern time gypsies with all our possessions fixed on our 16 years old Africa Twin.

take off in davao city

take off in davao city.JPG

As we’re leaving our home my thoughts circling around our idea of travelling around the world on a motorbike, time will show if this was the right choice.

The first big problems are encountered sooner than expected. We’re travelling from Davao City through the mountains north to Cagayan de Oro and from there along the Northcoast to Dapitan City. From Dapitan City we’re planning to hit the road early next day and reach Zamboanga before nightfall, the route suggested by our biker friends in Davao (the only safe way to Zamboanga…). But it doesn’t work out. I wake up in the middle of the night shivering. Even using all the blankets and cloths doesn’t help – my fever creeps up to 40۫C. In the morning its clear that we can’t continue riding, I have to see a doctor.

only 3 days on the road and already in the hospital with dengue fever...

dengue in dapitan.JPG

I stay 2 days in Dapitans public hospital where the doctors are trying to find out the reason for my fever without results… first guess is UTI followed by dengue fever, at the end nobody really knows. I am being given high doses of paracetamol every 4 hours without any changes, later additionally broadband antibiotikum (can’t go wrong with that apparently..). After 2 days I start feeling slightly better and leave the hospital on my own risk. Few more days relaxing in the hotel are by far not that depressing than staying in the public hospital in the provincial Philippines.
As soon the fever settled down to normal, we continue south to Zamboanga without any troubles.

In Zamboanga there is a direct connection to Sandakan in Sabah twice a week. After processing many different papers for the customs we can book the ticket for us and the bike.
It’s raining and we’re several hours too early in Zamboanga’s harbour. After few hours of waiting I am told to ride my bike on a wooden platform, which is going to be lifted 3 meters up into a loading “hole”, 3 meters wide and 2 meters high. Together with 3 boat crew members I am trying to keep the bike on the platform while we’re being forklifted and passed through the small opening to a second forklift inside the ship. I’m more than glad to see us and the bike safe inside the ship’s hull…

loading in zamboanga for our first shipping...

loading in zamboanga.JPG

24 hours on board Danica Joy without any incidents.

We’re reaching Sandakan’s port before lunch but I have to wait for a forklift outside to take over the bike for more than 3 hours. Apparently no one cares about the Filipino ship. The Filipinos travelling to Sabah aren’t going there for fun, most of them looking for work or having already work in Sabah. Malaysian customs are going through their belongings and getting their share as it seems. Generally the Filipinos are treated like second class people.

upload map actual trip mindanao

My bike must be the first big bike arriving to Sandakan by ship because no one knows what to do with it. The customs asking for a Carnet but never seen one in actual… so, another few hours passing, the frame and engine numbers are checked and double checked and I have to explain the use of the Carnet to the head of the customs.
At last our small backpack is checked by the customs but nobody wants to have a look inside the aluminium boxes….

6 hours after arriving in Sandakan we’re leaving the port and heading for Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

Welcome to Sabah, our first country on this trip!!!

upload map actual trip mindanao

The first few days in Sabah we need for digesting the culture shock. Sabah is, comparing to the Philippines, very modern, clean and well regulated...
Incredibly good roads, not much traffic and everybody follows the traffic laws!!
We pay a visit to the Oragutan Center in Sepilok and regret it badly. Some poor primates are coming to the feeding platform where 200-300 tourists are awaiting them with their cameras.
We feel like in a zoo...

orangutan in the sepilok centre

orangutan in sepilok.JPG

Much better is the diving in Sipadan!!! Since 2003 there is no possibility to stay overnight on Sipadan, only daytrips are being offered for big bucks.
Still, the 3 dives were a great expirience, plenty sharks, turtles, barracudas!!!
Passing the curvy mountain road close to Mt. Kinabalu National Park we decide to climb the mountain.

mt. kinabalu!!!

mt. kinabalu.JPG

There is lot of diiferent payments: park entrance, accomodation, guide, climb pemit, luggage storage, insurance etc. It turns out to be my most expensive trek...
Sadly enough, I can't make it to the summit. At 3400m got hit by altitude sickness, heavy headache and bad stomach. Jane continues with the guide and succeeds on her first mountain ever - Mt. Kinabalu 4100m!!!!

jane did it!!! her first mountain ever is the mt. kinabalu with its 4095m

jane on the top.JPG

mt. kinabalu summit

mt. kinabalu summit.JPG

After some days in Kota Kinabalu, we proceed to Brunei.

mosque in kota kinabalu

mosque in kota kinabalu.JPG

It is possible to ride all the way from Sabah through Brunei to Sarawak but be prepared for 4!!!! border crossings between Sabah and Brunei. Its because of the small piece of land called Temburong, which belongs to Brunei and pierces Sabah.
The Capitol Brunei's can be discovered in 1-2 days, nothing really special. Even the beautiful mosque is undergoing renovation.

mosque in BSB

mosque in BSB.JPG

I'm using the time in BSB for minor repairs on the bike and change the front wheel bearings.
From BSB we're riding straight to Sarawak on highways similar to the "Autobahn" in my home country. Shortly before the border we fill up the tank, petrol costs only around 25 euro cents per liter!!!

spicy stuff in miri

spicy stuff in miri.JPG

chinese temple in miri

chinese temple in miri.JPG

Our first real stop in Sarawak is the Batu Niah National Park. Great caves, nice walks and chilled out atmosphere keep us for several days in Niah town.

in the batu niah NP

batu niah np.JPG

lizard in batu niah NP

lizard @ batu niah np.JPG

From here we'd like to get to a place with some Longhouse communities. Belaga seems the right spot for us but one could either get there by boat from Sibu or by 4WD from Bintulu. Lonely Planet is describing the track to belaga as muddy set of logging roads but me being optimistic decide to try our luck.
First along the highway to the turn off, then another 50km asphalt, then logging road in surprisingly good condition... Riding 60-80km/h we start thinking that the information in our guidebook is not correct, well, only until we reach the logging camp and we find out that we took the wrong track!
Back on the "right" road to Belaga we quickly find out what means "set of muddy logging tracks".

logging treks to belaga

logging treks to belaga.JPG

trip to belaga

trip to belaga.JPG

stuck again...

stuck again....JPG

Its 80km bad track to Belaga but it seems like an endless trip. Hitting the first pothole Jane jumps forward and forces my camel bag to explode. Now, we're having only 2ltrs of water left but having another 2ltrs spilled over our pants.
All in all we're getting stuck in 50cm deep mud 3 times and fall 2 times. Our tankbag comes off and the left box cracks open.
After 80km of mud, sand, stones and gravel and 4hrs we eventually reach Belaga town, our Africa Twin is the first ever big bike in this town!!!!
Well, first we need to get the camouflage dirt-paint of the bike to be able to recognize it as a motorbike.

upload map actual trip borneo

more fun...

more fun....JPG

real dirty bike!

real dirty bike.JPG

kayan wedding in uma kahei longhouse

kayan wedding in uma kahei longhouse.JPG

bride and groom at their traditional wedding in the UMA KAHEI longhouse

bride and groom in longhouse.JPG

jane in kayan costume

jane in kayan costume.JPG

jane and kayan lolas

jane and kayan lolas.JPG

jane with longhouse kids

jane with longhouse kids.JPG

During the next 5 days we’re fortunate to join in the Kayan wedding celebrations in the Uma Kahei longhouse community and meet several people in the busy town Belaga. Andreas Bato, our guide and friend is very helpful and well informed whats going on and where.
For the trip back to the highway we’re planning to put the bike on the express boat but the captain refuses – the bike is too big… Also the option, to load it on a pickup, doesn’t work out – the bed of the pickup is too short…
Well, then we have no other option but to ride back the same track we came from!
It seems that we’re luckier this time, most of the mud holes dried out in the passed few days and the ones still wet ain’t that bad anymore.
We manage to get back to the highway without any major problems!
Similajau National Park is the perfect place for us after the busy days in Belaga, we’re enjoying the trekking and doing nothing.
Kuching is the last stop for us before leaving Sarawak. From here we’re visiting the Semengoh Orangutan Center and make an excursion to the beautiful Bako National Park.
Semengoh proves to be much more interesting than the Rehabilitation Center in Sandakan, by far less visitors and by far more primates around.
Bako National Park is definitely our favourite! Close up encounters with Proboscis monkeys, silver leaf monkeys, macaques, wild boar and some vipers.
This park is rocking!!! Not only all the animals are worth the trip, there is several trekking options to secluded beaches and brilliant views.
Back to Kuching we’re invited to join a ride to Samantan with the local biker club the VABB (Victoria Arms Big Bikers). We’re having a great day joining the riders, a truly unforgettable experience!
Coming back to the hostel we gotta pack up, the next day we’re leaving for Indonesia.
A bit nervous and full of expectations we’re enjoying the last well paved road south to Tebedu and dive into the chaos of Indonesian traffic.

sunset in the similajau NP

sunset @ similajau np.JPG

praying mantis in the similajau NP

praying mantis @ similajau np.JPG

laksa sarawak yumm yumm!!

laksa sarawak.JPG

proboscis monkey in bako NP

proboscis monkey @ bako np.JPG

short nosed proboscis... hehehe

short nosed proboscis....JPG

pitcher plant in bako NP

pitcher plant in bako NP.JPG

viper in the bako NP

viper @ bako np.JPG

trekking in bako NP

trekking in bako np.JPG

with the Victoria Arms Big Biker Club in kuching

with VABB club in kuching.JPG

jane tries an africa twin, hehehe

jane tries an africa twin....JPG

kuching - the cat city

catcity kuching.JPG

todays special in kuching

todays special in kuching.JPG

Posted by Darius Skrzypiec at 06:51 AM GMT

NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

Next HU Eventscalendar

See all events


HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.

Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!