Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Borneo Survivor Island

Since the US reality show called ‘Survivor’, Pulau Tiga becomes a well-known island and one of the favorite places to visit amongst local and foreign tourist. As Sabahan, I’m so proud that our island has been picked by the US producers. When the opportunity comes to visit the island, I didn’t hesitate to grab it and start my own small adventure on the survivor island.

After getting information from the locals at Kuala Penyu town, we go to the jetty situated behind the Kastam Office and only walking distance from the town.

At the jetty, there’s a small office there and it’s belong to the Pulau Tiga Resort. We arrive quite early and it’s open at 8.30 a.m. only. After waiting for a while, a lady came and opens the office. She’s one of the staff for Pulau Tiga Resort and responsible for arranging visitors going in and out of the island.

We plan to rent boat only and do day trip. But the lady informs us that they don’t have that kind of service. All their service is included in packages. So when you want to do day trip, it will include boat return to the island, one changing/resting room, buffet lunch at the island resort, a visit to the mud volcano and a tour guide upon request from the visitors. All these cost RM115 + RM3 (government tax) per pax and it’s for minimum 4 persons per group. Unfortunately, there are 3 of us only and we beg to the lady whether we can be combined into other group that will be going to island that day. Luckily, there is one couple from Holland and the nice lady has helped us to put in one group with that couple.

Tips for whoever plan to go to Pulau Tiga: Please book earlier first before you go to Pulau Tiga. You can do the booking at Pulau Tiga Resort HQ office at Wisma Merdeka, KK and also you can try to contact Borneo Survivor Resort. For more information, please visit their website which is and

Our boat only will depart at 10.00 a.m. So we went to look for something to eat first. We went to one of the Chinese restaurant nearby and I have order kolomen. When my food arrives, my eyes nearly got out from the socket because I just see the biggest plate of kolomen in my life. I bet it’s 3 times more than one plate of kolomen that I used to eat at Kota Kinabalu. And it’s only RM4 per plate with lot of chicken some more. I can hear my stomach singing happily.

Fisherman ready to go to the sea

After finish eating, we went back to the office at the jetty and the Holland couple is there already waiting for the boat with their tour guide which surprisingly is my old kampong friend. I haven’t seen him since high school. I’m happy and glad that I meet him because he said he can arrange discounts for me if I intend to travel to other place in Sabah in the future. A good bargain between us since he will get commission on his sales and I will get special discounts.

Our boat departed earlier at 9.30 a.m. During the boat ride to the island, I catch-up with my old friend. His job as tour guide is so fun yet interesting as he always travels around Sabah, getting to see new places and meets a lot of people. He shared some interesting stories from his previous tour with us and most of them are very funny. The only thing is not good about his job is that required him to stay away from his family most of the time. For us who work office hours should be glad that even we are working, we still can spend time with our family after work. Compared to some job. Of course, some job needs sacrifice and that’s what life is all about.

With 2 units of 100 power host engine by Yamaha, it takes like 20 minutes only to reach the island from the main land.

During the journey, what I realized is that the sea here is so beautiful compared to anywhere with their very deep blue colour. My friend said this is because the sea here is still clean and free from pollution. Hopefully, this is will remain forever.

Pulau Tiga (as we getting near)

When we arrived at Pulau Tiga, I’m so mesmerized by the crystal clean water under the jetty until I forget to take photo. The water is so clear until you can see are few small groups of barracuda fish swimming under the jetty. What a beautiful and rare sight!

I feel that I just arrived in a lost world. No words can described the stunning sight before me. I let the pictures tell the story.

A ‘Survivor Island’ sign welcome us to the island.

Please obey the rule.

The first thing we do after we arrived is to register, pay and check-in into one of the chalet.

The reception counter, bar and the restaurant is located in one main building in the middle of all the chalets.

The interior design of the building is quite nice which show the traditional art and music of Sabah.

After changing and get ready, we continue with our journey to the mud volcano which is Pulau Tiga is well-known for it. We decide to join my friend and his clients, the Dutch couple.

The journey to the mud volcano is like walking in the park. Feels peaceful while watching the green surrounding with their jungle natural music. While walking, I have the opportunity to chit chat with the lady from Holland as we being left behind by the others. The guys are too excited to see the volcano until they don’t realized that they walk too fast.

The first few km is flat land and towards to the middle is a bit up the hill and come back to flat land once you getting nearer to the area. It just takes around 20 – 30 minutes to reach the mud volcano area.

When we come nearer to the mud volcano, we can smell something like boiling eggs which is actually is the sulfur smell.

When I saw the sign saying that ‘Mud bath at your own risk’, what the hell you mean by that? Is there some monster lurking at the bottom of the pool? Stay tuned as the answers would be after I enter the pool and find out myself.

My friend aka tour guide is laughing at our face expressions when finally we arrive at the mud volcano area and saw the pool where we going to enter later. Ohh no! Is that the famous mud volcano? My sister said the pool exactly look like the ‘Lolobuhon’. There are some green stuff on the top of the pool some more.

Lolobuhon’ (Dusun) = The place where the buffalos at my kampong take bath.

Among the group, only the two of us stupid brave enough to enter the pool. Mr Gerald the guy from Holland and myself.

My friend said “It’s okay. It’s save. Try la. You regret if you don’t try the mud volcano”. And at the same time he was laughing at me while helping me to take picture while I’m in the mud. I feel nervous at first. I keep picturing in my mind that there is a monster lurking at the bottom and anytime he will bite my legs and pull me down. Yikes!

But after a while, NO monster. No anything! Just Mr Gerald making jokes and we all laughing like nobody business. He makes the frog sound while swimming in the pool. Hahaha!

The pool make you float easily. I heard that the sulfur from the mud volcano is good for your skin. That’s why I’m willing to enter the mud pool. Where you can get free skin mask if not at Pulau Tiga!

After we get out from the mud, we both look like Adam & Eve. One is too tall and one is too short. We have to walk back to the resort without our slipper as it’s slippery when we have mud at our feet. I feel like I’m one of the cave people walking bare feet at the jungle’s floor of an island.

By the time we back at the resort, the mud on our body has dry and is quite difficult to move around. We wash our body from the mud at the sea. I can feel my skin a bit smoother than before. The mud volcano is quite a good stuff after all even its look like the ‘Karabau Lolobuhon’.

After washing the mud away at the sea, I go back to one of the chalet provided for us. The chalet is clean and comfortable with their room fully equipped with air-conditioner and fan.

No television and hot shower. You would not need hot shower if the island is so tropical hot. You would not need tv if you intend to relax and go away from the outside world.

The attached bathroom however seems like it really need renovation.

Towels, toilet papers, tissues and mosquito spray are provided. You only have to bring your own toiletries.

The island water is different from the main land water. After the bath, you still can feel your skin sticky. The water is not as fresh as the water from the main land. If you really notice, the water seems like a bit oily on its surface.

The surrounding of the chalet is shaded with lots of tree making the air a bit cooler.

There are lots of small hut at the resort area where you can rest or sleeping while listen to the island beautiful nature sound…birds singing, the ocean wave, people talking in foreign language, etc. One thing I noticed, all the visitors in the island mostly are foreigner. Feel like you are in oversea.

If you would like to see more of the island, there are few trails that you can do your jungle trekking. They are called Pagong-Pagong Trail Beach and Larai-Larai Trail. I forget to ask the resort staff from where the trails get their names.

The resort also provided boat trip to the snake island where they charge RM20 per pax. But we have to refuse the trip as we don’t have enough time. Next time then.

I quickly take shower and went to the restaurant for the buffet lunch provided by the resort. My stomach is roaring like the lion already. After all the adventure, I think I can eat one whole roasted barbeque pig.

The foods are simple but just nice. When hungry, everything that I put in my mouths are so damn tasty. Even the snake island would be tasty also. For me, everytime I go for outdoors activities, the fresh air always have a great effect on my appetite and my mind. Much more great effects!

After lunch, we go to the jetty to wait for our return boat to the main land. I barely can walk as my near exploded belly is so heavy. While waiting for the boat, I take few snaps of the island statue. They are very unique in terms of architecture and colour.

They look like that they are representing two (2) tribes.

Don’t you think there is something wrong with the way they pose? Hmmm!

They also look like so fierce. Or should I say very intimidating. Luckily my bosses don’t look like them.

Our boat has arrived at 2 p.m. Time to say goodbye to Survivor Island. Damn! Why the boat arrived on time? I haven’t got enough of the island. I want to explore more but the time just not enough. If there any next trip to the island, spend one night is a compulsory.

Until then, sayonara Survivor Island! Thank you for the wonderful yet memorable journey. Can’t wait for my next adventurous exotic island get-away.