Sabah, Borneo with Downbelow: Trip Report Part 1

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 @ 10:59 Guestbook, News

Mr. Alex Harrison from Australia, a very happy customer of Downbelow, sent us this passionate trip report of the time he spent here in Sabah Borneo, and we can’t help but share his enthusiasm. We broke it into 2: Part 1 and Part 2.

“I had long wanted to explore Borneo – but like so many others had thought of it as a impenetrable place.Then one day a diving catalogue caught my eye, and I knew I wanted to do something different for a holiday.

I was tired of the usual run of the mill places. I really wanted somewhere different. And I love diving. The trouble was, my partner didn’t dive. So I left it again for a little while.

Then I looked at the brochure again and the liquid eyes of orang utans beckoned. And I fantasised again.

Danum Valley photo courtesy Mr. Alex Harrison, AustraliaMy partner had been working on her PhD for years and it had finally come to a completion and had submitted it. She had not had a decent holiday in more than a couple of years.

I had often travelling to various places, but somehow it never felt the same because I could not share the experience.

I’d always wanted to dive Sipidan. One day I browsed a scuba diving forum and DownBelow were recommended by a few forum members. I looked into it more and they were recommended again on TripAdvisor.

I filed them away for future reference and thought I might look into them again.

One day I convinced my partner to consider Borneo for a holiday for something different. I wanted to really shake things up and really get into nature. She agreed, initially with some hesistation.

I rushed off to the local travel agents to look at booking some tours after working out a rough sketch of where we wanted to go around Sabah in Borneo. It frustrated the daylights out of me.

Even a lot of the so called “Asia experts” did not seem to have much clue about where to go. They offered prepackaged tours, which seemed to only be able to cover half of what I wanted to do, but in twice the time.

They said I was too ambitious in what I wanted to do.

I did not like the answer.

So one evening I fired off an email to Dive DownBelow

From then on, it was so easy and a pleasure and a joy to organise the itinerary. No fighting and resigning myself to trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Downbelow created a bespoke ititinerary that fitted exactly what I wanted to do in the order I wanted to do it and they fit all of it into exactly the amount of time I wanted to do it.

Every email was answered quickly and promptly within 24hrs and I began to discover a different level of customer service that I had not quite come across.

It seemed like I was the most important customer for them. The only customer.

Sarah Jane was my consultant and she was brilliant.

She quickly and effortlessly (from my side of things) booked us into places that I knew had high levels of demand. Laban Rata on Mount Kinabalu, Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley and Kapalai Dive Resort near Sipidan.

I couldn’t believe it, especially as Lonely Planet warned that these places were often booked out in advance especially in the peak season when we were going.

The only disappointment was that they did not organise trips to the other parts of Borneo such as Sarawak and Kalimantan, but fair enough. Sarawak was easy enough to organise and Downbelow offered great advice on how to go about making bookings to fly and see the caves in Gunung Mulu.

Downbelow were accomodating when we had to cancel climbing Mount Kinabalu due to a family crisis that left us no longer mentally and physically prepared for the rigours of the climb.

They swiftly and quickly arranged alternative sections of the itinerary even though it was only a week out before we were going in August 2011.”

Read more or Mr. Alex Harrison’s Trip Report in Part 2