Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Borneo Express

The North Borneo Railway was a jolly experience. After roughing it in a tent for five weeks it was quite surreal to be escorted onto a steam train by conductors in British Colonial uniforms - pith hat included!

We had a good inspection of the engine before the off. It was truly a piece of art as well as good old british engineering. I cheekily asked the engine driver if I could blow the whistle and yelped with delight at the sound - TUUUUUUUUUU-TUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!

We learnt that it was the last British Vulcan steam locomotive to be built at Newton-le-Willows, England in 1954 before diesel took over. It is also one of only a few working wood-fired steam locomotives left in the world.

 Departing near Kota Kinabula we chugged through the suburbs and into countryside. The theme of the ride was very much reliving a bygone era and the sentimental brochure talked of escorting you back in time. Having now been in Malaysia for three months nothing we saw from the window looked particularly special or unusual but the views were interesting and it was good to watch the world go by after such a busy past few weeks. Many people waved at us passing by and the smell of the wood smoke was rich and delicious.

We stopped at Kinarut, saw some pre-war shop fronts and checked out the local wet market. It was saddening to see sharks and Giant Clams for sale - the very species we were surveying with TRACC.

38km south of Kota Kinabula we alighted at Papur and watched the train turning. Then on the return journey there was time for a tiffin box tea of smoked fish, satay chicken, soup, salad and fresh fruit - no Pimms though!


  1. What an amazing trip, and so well described and photographed as usual all good stuff for the book of your adventures.

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