Introduction to The Adventure of Chlöisu's Sabah Tour!

Over the next few weeks Bike and Tours will share with you “The Adventure of Chlöisu in Borneo! “ Mr Niklaus Werren or Klaus or also known as Chlöisu in the local Swiss dialect is our very first privileged client. Ohh I must add upon eavesdropping, ok scrap eavesdropping, I will be nice. Upon the locals hearing the Swiss German conversations between Simon and his Päpu (father), some of the locals have also naturally called and referred to Chlöisu as simply – Päpu!!! Anyways, Päpu is happy for us to share with you his eye opening experience in Borneo Malaysia.

There will be a few episodes to his one month adventure here, mostly in the tropical Borneo followed by the sky scraper city of Kuala Lumpur as finale to his stay in Malaysia. Bike and Tours have taken him on a journey from the cities to villages to mountains to plantations to seaside and of course, what is visiting Borneo if you don’t visit Danum Valley and Kinabatangan River? It’s like going to Switzerland and not trying its famous cheese fondue!!! (If you could make such a comparison!!!)

It was about a week and half before his arrival to Malaysia that Mr Klaus Werren made the call to Bike and Tours to say that his air tickets are booked. He will arrive soon and would like to explore Borneo with our assistance. There were also a few special requests from him in terms of places he would like to explore, things he would like to see and activities he would like to do. Knowing how detailed Chlöisu can be, Simon and I made necessary arrangements to be sure that Klaus experience Borneo from both local and touristic perspectives. The preparation and planning side for Klaus’ tour in Borneo was a labor of love. To put in simple terms, the tours that we organized for him during his one month stay here was a combination of our Best of Sabah Tour, the Kiulu Ride and Personalized Tour, all combined into one. Follow us on “The Adventure of Chlöisu in Borneo!”

The Adventure of Chlöisu in Borneo!

Episode 1: Curious Klaus Arrives Kota Kinabalu!

Klaus’ journey began when he boarded the plane from Zurich to Singapore. Simon was already in Singapore a day earlier to welcome Klaus on his very first journey to Singapore/Malaysia. Having spent about two days in the Lion City, Klaus was definitely “wow-ed” by such modernity and cleanliness Singapore has to offer. Within the two days span in Singapore, Klaus did a bit of sightseeing, at other times he mostly lazed around the pool area where he had the chance to recuperate from the “medium dosage” of jetlag!!!!

Klaus and Simon arrived Kota Kinabalu (also known to the locals as simply KK) at around 8.45pm on a Thursday in late June. Klaus looked visibly tired from the long travel which took place from Zurich to Singapore and shortly after from Singapore to KK. However, he still had the energy to catch up with my dad and I over late dinner. On the personal side, it was the first time for both fathers to finally meet each other. So there was a lot of catching up to do and language was not really a barrier as they seemed to understand each other well enough. And if they didn’t, we had the ever patient human translator- Simon! We spoke almost at the top of our lungs as the big screen near us was showing the EURO 2012 games on full blast. Keeping a close watch on the time, I had the duty to remind everyone that it was an early start for us tomorrow and that everyone especially the jet lagged Klaus had to get a goodnight sleep. He, still at this point had no idea what we have planned for him the next day....

Prior to Klaus’ arrival, we made arrangements with our business contact cum friends in KK, Auther and Wilson from Trekfinder Tours. Cycling addicts like Auther and Wilson was up for a ride on that Friday morning. Both genuinely friendly and warm natured guys made all the necessary arrangements for the bikes, helmet and support vehicles to take us to Tuaran for a scenic ride through the tropical rainforest, passing through humble villages, small towns, suspension bridges and rubber plantation. We were also joined by another seasoned local cyclist Mr Alex Adam. Together with their years of experience in the Kota Kinabalu region, we were sure that we were going for a great cycling adventure!!!

Klaus adapted very well with the heat that day, even though he left Switzerland during summer, the hot tropical weather and humidity level here usually takes a while for someone from cold climate countries to adjust too. But adventurous Chlöisu was up for the challenge. As we begin pedaling through the villages, the locals automagically waved their hands as a sign of welcome. Having the first encounter with the locals there, Chlöisu was impressed with such humbleness and friendliness the locals had to offer.

It was not long before we entered the jungle that we came across a primary school. At that point the students were just about to resume their class after their morning break, but this did not stop them from saying “Hello!!! Hello!!! Orang Putih how are you?” Klaus turned to Simon and asked “orang putih, was isch das (what is that in German)?” Having been in Malaysia long enough now, Simon was confident to explain that the locals refers to white men and women in Malay as “orang putih” or “mat salleh” or in Cantonese as “gwai lo”. “Ahhhh” goes Klaus understanding the new local terminologies for white men.

He was also curious about the education settings in Borneo and wanted to see more. With Auther’s tactful negotiation skills we were allowed into the school compounds to take some pictures. I realized that kids all over the world are the same. They are always genuinely excited when they have people visiting them. Huge grin plastered across their faces. Loving the attention of us observing what they do in school. Our presence there proved to be a distraction for the kids who were about to start their lesson and their “Mr Potato” look alike teacher was getting rather agitated and so we left after snapping a few photos.

The trail took us to outskirt of a rainforest before approaching the rubber plantation. As we cycled on the dirt road going through a few narrow uphill and descending to be cooled down by the generous on-coming wind, our wheels found its way to the middle of the rubber plantation. Klaus started to crinkle his nose and tried to figure out what was that pungent salted fish like smell! Realizing this funny facial expression, Auther and Wilson was quick to explain that this was the smell of rubber or how the local refers to it as “the smell of money!” because the plant contributes the economic wellbeing of the country.

We continued pedaling and right smack in the middle of the jungle it started pouring with no mercy! Considering that the weather was hot and we were sweating out guts out earlier, the heavy rain was surprisingly rather pleasant and helped cool us fairly quickly. Though it rained heavily, it did not last long, but long enough to drench us from top to toe! As soon at the rain stopped, the air was powered by the beautiful scent of wet earth and foliage, and on the saddles we pedaled through muddy dirt that made its marks on our ankles, faces and cycling gears – after all what is an adventure without getting dirty right?

I think it was the company that we were with plus the picturesque view, the 20km ride or so seemed to past quickly. Before we know it we were exiting out of the jungle to the main road! Auther asked Klaus “Päpu are you ok? Welcome back to civilization!” Still craving for more adrenaline rush, Auther and Wilson took us to cycle on the narrow, wooden suspension bridges, much to Klaus’ delight. It was surely a balancing act, some succeeded. Some (like me) decided to take it easy by hoping off the saddles and pushed my bike across the bridge. After all we were there the same time as the school ended and it was in my best intentions not to cause long queue on the hanging bridge!!!!

As we burned the calories for the past few hours, hunger started to creep. To no surprise (to those who knows me well) to some, my stomach started growling like an angry tiger deprived of food for weeks. I needed my carbohydrates! “Being a typical Asian” as Simon says, I needed rice or noodles!!! I looked at Klaus and I think he could use some energy replacement too!

We told Auther and Wilson that we wanted something very local not seafood as we were saving that for dinner with my dad later that night. So they took us to one of the local joints that sold yummylicious Tuaran Noodles aka Mee Tuaran. The Mee Tuaran is one of the famous hawker dish in Sabah served with soup or fried. It is known for its noodles that is made from the batter of egg yolk and flour. Ahhh what a way to gain back those calories!!! :P We topped that up with “kopi susu ais” which is Sabah’s local Tenum coffee mixed with condensed milk and ice. Pure bliss after the 30km of riding the two wheels. As I turned to see Klaus at the other end of the table, I caught him slowly drifting into la la land. The jetlag kicked in again!!! Next adventure Mount Kinabalu Foothill.

Story by: Itisha Mahadi from Bike and Tours