Welcome to my homepage! If you share a keen interest in photography, travel, adventure and living life, I hope through this website and blog, I can share my life journeys with you. Being a keen outdoor adventurer, I love photography, the great outdoor, classic cars, mountain biking, camping, trekking and offroad expeditions. JOHN KONG
PONTIANAK – SANDAI – PANGKALAN BUN
The Trans Borneo Expedition 2014 (TB2014) is organised by JAVA Adventura headed by its CEO and Expedition Leader, Pak Harry Sanusi from Indonesia. The 4WD Expedition event successfully circumnavigate the island of Borneo over more than 6,200 Km taking a total of 23 days. TB2014 had 75 participants and 25 vehicles from 4 nations Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia and Singapore. This is part 2 of a 6 part feature.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
After crossing the border passed Entikong, the roads in West Kalimantan are narrower and although the roads were sealed, it is still bad and there were lots of pot holes which slows down the convoy. Houses along the roadside were also built right next to the main road so the convoy have to be very careful to avoid on coming motorist and vehicles.
The flag off ceremony was on schedule with the singing of the Indonesia’s National Anthem and before long we were on the road. Since it was Indonesia’s Independence Day, throughout Kalimantan, the road sides were decorated with the national flag which made our journey more meaningful and colourful. Our first day was to reach the township of Sandai. Along the way, we will cross the Equator into the southern hemisphere of Borneo Island. The highlight of the day was the river crossing of the Tayan River which had a steep gradient to embark and disembark from the ferry. All the daily commuters’ vehicles and trucks were struggling and skidding while disembarking and Pak Harry vehicle was used to winch some of the vehicles up. So amused, we were betting among ourselves whether the heavy laden trucks can make their way up and most of the time we were wrong!
We reached Sandai at 7 PM and I went for a drive along the river side with Chai and the settings of the villages along the river were so rustic just like it was untouched since the early 50s. The locals were friendly too. The next destination was Pangkalan Bun, a town in Central Kalimantan. The convoy started the journey through an off road section from Sandai and after crossing the West Kalimantan Border, we were treated a generous lunch by Convoy Leader Hj Ibrahim of giant fresh water prawns! After a heavy meal the convoys powers on to reach a comfortable Swiss Bell hotel at Pangkalan Bun at 7 PM. I was too tired to go out so I ordered room service for the night and to download my images. I am very much looking forward to the next day!
The Trans Borneo Expedition 2014 (TB2014) is organised by JAVA Adventura headed by its CEO and Expedition Leader, Pak Harry Sanusi from Indonesia. The 4WD Expedition event successfully circumnavigate the island of Borneo over more than 6,200 Km taking a total of 23 days. TB2014 had 75 participants and 25 vehicles from 4 nations Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia and Singapore.
TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
Trans Borneo is not a new event, for a select few, it will be a trip down memory lane and a reunion of many personalities who have become legends among the 4WD fraternity, including Indonesian Offroad Federation (IOF) founder Pak Harry Sanusi (better known as Pak Harry), Anuar Ghani and Dr Teoh Siang Chin from Sabah, Hj Ibrahim Awang Damit of Brunei, S4M magazine publisher Yamin Vong and Richard AKA “Volvo” Voon and Chai Yew Foo from Sarawak. These personalities truly are some of the fore fathers of 4WD expeditions in this region and it’s from their initial efforts that many world class 4WD events like the world famous Rainforest Challenge and Borneo Safari International Offroad Challenge were born.
Anuar said the last circumnavigation of Trans Borneo was done more than 17 years ago way back in 1997 and it was tough then, where in the 1995 recce, it took 21 days and it seemed everything from the recce vehicles broke down, the radiator burst, they had 4 punctures, one tyre came off and overtook them, numerous mechanical breakdowns and repairs and a broken GPS. They were also arrested by forest officers, got robbed in the middle of nowhere during a flood, not to mention getting bogged down on mud roads and numerous river crossings. Above all this, Anuar said “It was an unforgettable experience and I had the time of my life!”
TRANSBORNEO 2014 ROUTE MAP
Text and Photos By: John Kong
Mission of the Gurkha Hut Photography Expedition
While on an expedition to capture images for several projects for the Sabah Park’s Mesilau Nature Gallery and for our sponsors TAMRAC Bags, we made a photographic expedition to visit the highest mountain hut in Borneo and Malaysia to the Western Plateau of Mount Kinabalu!
Though Mount Kinabalu is famed for the picturesque Low’s Peak, our mission took us to discover and document what looms on the western pla of Mount Kinabalu. Nestled among the jagged crown of peaks, Oyayubi Peak is located on the western ridge of the mountain. As one among the 20 or so peaks that scatter the crown, Oyayubi stands 4 000m tall. 95m shy of Low’s 4 095m peak. In Japanese, Oyayubi means “thumb”, as the peak does resemble a thumb.
Just beneath the colossal granite that is Oyayubi Peak, Gurkha Hut is no more than a tiny white dot on a greyscale slope. Built in 1984 by the Gurkha’s from Nepal, and accommodating a maximum of 4 people, this tiny monument stands as the highest man made hut found in Mount Kinabalu and on the whole of the Island of Borneo.
Made of oak wood and a metal zinc roof, the hut is equipped with 4 mattresses, cooking utensils and even a small collection of books, making it quite a homely abode at such a high altitude.
TRIBUTE TO VALERIAN JOANNES (25 Nov 1987 to 5 June 2015)
I met Valerian in January 2014 when I was on assignment for Sabah Tourism Board & Sabah Parks Board of Trustees to develop guidebooks for the Kinabalu Park, Malaysia’s First World Heritage Site. I was also working on a coffee table book on Kinabalu Park which was just recently published this year.
My assignment was to capture the beauty of the gardens of the Laban Rata area and the adventure of Via Ferrata. Scheduled to shoot the via ferrata the next morning, I was advised to attend a training session that evening. A jovial Valerian introduced himself as “Ian” and even before the official training he was already goofing around.
Ian was Mountain Torq’s trainer and mountain guide, the company operating the via ferrata at Mt. Kinabalu rock face, the world’s highest and asia’s first via ferrata. There are 2 routes to choose from, Low’s Peak Circuit and Walk the Torq. Both are equally thrilling and beautifully crafted to get you out onto the bare mountain walls. And the best part is, that you don’t even need to have any mountaineering experience to do it. It’s professionally guided and safe for anyone to try.
Since I was there for a photo shoot, Ian advised us to start the ascend to the Low’s Peak Circuit at 4.30 AM to catch the sunrise on the way up. Ian was a superb trainer and guide and he gave me and my assistant John Lee, a breathtaking experience scaling through the rock face of Mount Kinabalu.
Some of the images of Ian captured from this photo assignment were eventually published in Sabah Tourism Board’s official tourism guidebooks to Kinabalu Park, exhibited at Kuala Lumpur Photographic Festival and published in international travel magazines. Ian also used the picture as his profile pictures in his facebook account.
On the 5th of June, 7:15am local time, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 struck Mt Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. At that time, Valerian Joannes and Ricky Masirin were guiding a group of passionate and amazing students on the via ferrata, when the rock avalanche which was created by the earthquake came tumbling down the mountain face. Both of them gave their lives in their attempt to protect their charges.
I am deeply saddened by this tragedy and would like to pay a tribute to Valerian through this collection of images which I have captured (most of them he has not even seen or published). Though we have only spend 12 hours together, this collection of images will show you Valerian’s daily job of providing so much happiness and joy to the thousands of guest that he has enlighten by his hospitality, smile and the sheer beauty of the via ferrata experience at the majestic Mount Kinabalu. His smile and cheerfulness shall forever be remembered. A copy of this images will also be given to his family and friends for remembrance. Valerian leaves behind his parents, brothers and sisters and fiance.
DONATING TO THE FAMILY OF VALERIAN JOANNES & RICKY MASIRIN
If you enjoyed viewing this collection of images, you can further contribute an act of kindness by donating to the families of Valerian Joannes & Ricky Masirin through this link: https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/valerian-joannes-ricky-masirin-via-ferrata-guide
This donation fund is set up by Mountain Torq and every cent of donations received will be given to their family.
Our company Ebiz Design & Communications, has just completed the flyer for Borneo 360 Adventure Tours & Travel Sdn. Bhd. Equipped with the largest boat along the Klias River, Borneo 360 has a double deck catamaran boat. The height of the double deck will give guest exclusive view of wildlife up close and at eye level. Delicious local style buffet dinner are served on board during the sunset. The tour starts with a river cruise along the Klias river 5.00 pm after a light refreshment. Visitors will have an opportunity of sighting wildlife in their natural habitats such as Proboscis monkey, long tail macaque monkey, silver leaf monkey and a variety species of birds. You may even see local fishermen fishing for fresh water prawns and fishes. On the journey back to the jetty after dusk, you will be amazed by the sighting of fire flies, the star attraction of the tour! Due to the natural undisturbed eco-system in the Klias river and its nearby vicinity, one the highest concentration of fire flies can be found here.
You can either self drive to jetty or request a transfer from Kota Kinabalu city. The tour only takes up half a day of your time and you will be back to Kota Kinabalu before 10 pm. Highly recommended for family and photographers. Interested? Please call Albert at: +6019 8721605 to arrange for a tour.