31st May 2016 - 1st Jun 2016 - Borneo
Tip of Borneo, Seoul
The northernmost point of Borneo, known as Tanjung Simpang Mengayau or Tip of Borneo in English, marks the point where the South China Sea meets the Sulu Sea. It is believe the Ferdinand Magellen spent 42 days here during his circumnavigation of the world from 1519-1522 performing repairs on his ship. Legend also states that this tip was a favourite landing place for pirates.
Our visit wasn’t to be quite so exciting! Our flight home was at 1.00am and so we had an entire day to fill and the latest Gaya Island would drop us back on the mainland was 11.00am. So we decided to take a daytrip to fill our time. Unfortunately, this meant catching a boat at 6.00am where we then had to wait 75 mins for our tour guide to arrive. We had been provided with a packed breakfast though, so we filled the time. The drive would be 3hours, but it was punctuated with stops en route.
The first was at a village which made honey. We saw the bees and learnt how the honey was removed from the hives without any form of beekeeping suit for protection. Our next stop was at a village which made gongs. These gongs ranged in size and were especially popular around big celebrations. The final village we stopped at was to see traditional longhouses. These have been described as an entire village under one (long) roof. They consist of multiple houses, with a kitchen and bedroom, but with communal areas for socialising and eating. They can range in length from a few units to 10 or 15 units. If a child marries, it is common for a new unit to be added to the end so that they remain part of the community. In this area of Borneo, these longhouses belonged to the Rungus tribe and are predominantly made from Bamboo but are increasingly being modernised both in building technique and amenities. The final part of the drive took us up to the tip of Borneo, where there was a beautiful 1km strip of golden sand – the first proper beach we’d come across. We were able to walk the entire length of the beach and dip our feet in the sea before heading back to KK and our flight home.
Slept reasonably well on the flight, arriving in Seoul around 7am. We headed straight to the transit tour desk, hoping to be able to get on the 5 hour tour. We were in luck and so cleared immigration and went to our meeting point in the arrivals lounge. The tour included free transport into the city along with entry into our first sight, Gyeongbok Palace. It was originally built in 1395 and was the former home to the Royal family. The complex had many similarities to the Forbidden City in Beijing with its series of rooms laid out across a sprawling area, with separate rooms for the King – we even saw his bedroom – his wife and his concubines.
The next stop was the Insadong Street, famous for its arts and crafts and also where we were to have an early lunch. We had selected the bibimbap, a rice based dish combined with a mixture of vegetables, sauces and a fried egg and was delicious. With a bit of free time before we had to leave we were able to take a look in the shops on the street and also chill in the nearby Tapgol Park. Soon, it was back on the bus and back to the airport to fly the rest of the way home.