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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Planning Borneo trip (plus Cameron Highlands) and seek comment

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Almost 4 years ago, I planned a trip to Borneo but had to cancel because of work schedule changes. I had the frequent flyer trans Pacific flights that had to be cancelled and lost money on the Borneo Rainforest Lodge deposit and one set of flights within Borneo. But now a “replacement” trip is in the works and barring any health issues, we should make it in May. We have our tickets into Singapore with a 4 day stopover in Japan on the return (DH is eager to spend a few days because he has never been). I would love to hear comments on my draft itinerary and any other suggestions - - at this point I am only planning the Malaysia portion (already benefitting from the recent Japan trip reports).

Day 1: Nonstop from IAD-NRT.
Day 2: Brief layover in NRT, fly to SIN. Arrive at midnight on Day 3. Overnight at Crowne Plaza Chiangi.
Day 3: Fly to Kuching. Spend days 3-6 in Kuching doing day trips. We will have 3 full days plus partial first day there.
Day 7: Fly to Kota Kinabalu, visit a few sights, probably stay at Le Meridien
Day 8 – 10: Borneo Rainforest Lodge
Days 11-13: Overland to a lodge on the Kinabatangan River. Flight from Sandakan to KK
Days 13 & 14: “Recover” at Shangrila Ria Risa or Bunga Raya or another resort
Day 15: Morning flight to KUL, drive to Cameron Highlands
Day 16: CH
Day 17: Back to KUL for 9pm flight to NRT through BKK (overnight)
Days 18-21 Tokyo (arrive 8am)
Day 22: 10am flight NRT to IAD
We generally like to spend at least 3 nights in one place but I don’t think it will work for this trip. A few concerns and alternatives to the itinerary:
1) Maybe one night on Turtle Island before BRL and Riverlodge. I’d give up either one night in Kuching or give up the resort and stay an extra day in KK and do a trip to Mt. Kinabalu Park. I’m not so invested in going to a beach resort because we spend part of the year in Anguilla where the beaches are pretty amazing.
2) Cameron Highlands: I’ve been wanting to visit for quite some time because I am fascinated with the Jim Thompson legend and I loved the book Garden of Evening Mists. I am concerned about getting there (renting a car and driving from KUL) and whether it would be a difficult drive. I know we will want a car when we get there and that DH will not want to take the bus from KUL). But CH is not a very popular destination for members of this forum, so is this a fantasy? If I were to cut this out, I would consider changing our tickets and staying longer in Japan.
3) Having some difficulty finding consistent quotes from a tour operator in Sabah. I am getting wildly different quotes for very similar packages. One agency quoted me a lower price for 5 nights - - 3 in BRL and 2 in a riverlodge including all tours and transport between lodges - -than the rate charged directly by BRL for three nights (via Borneo Nature Tours). Worried that it is too good to be true, other quotes all seem lower than direct rate changed by BRL. Recommendations for a recently used tour operator would be very helpful.
Thanks, Fodorites!

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