Don’t be a Borneo tourist,
be a Borneo traveler!
Borneo, is the third largest island in the world, after Greenland and New Guinea. It is divided into three states, which are Malaysian Borneo (Sabah & Sarawak), Indonesia, and Brunei. In addition, Borneo Island is dominated by one of the oldest tropical rainforests (estimated about 140 million years old), making it home to many rare species of wildlife and plants. Being an island that has an abundance of natural wonders, it is not a surprise that Borneo Island has become one of the favorite holiday destinations for many people from around the globe.
Before visiting Borneo Island, think over your purpose to visit Borneo Island. Are you going for hiking to Mount Kinabalu and see Orangutans in Sandakan? Or are you going to discover and learn the diverse culture in Borneo? If you are only interested to go for popular sightseeing in Borneo island, then you are considered as a Borneo tourist. In contrast, if you are keen to experience the culture and seeking for off-the-beaten-track in Borneo, then you can consider yourself as a Borneo traveler. Both trips provide the clarity and refreshment for your trip to Borneo, but have different ways of travel approach.
So, what makes Borneo tourist and Borneo traveler different from each other?
1) Group/ Solo travel
Borneo tourist usually will travel in a group, while, Borneo travelers will travel solo
News flash! If you are traveling in a large group or with families/friends, then you are a Borneo tourist. While, traveling solo or with one other person, you are considered as a Borneo traveler. Traveling in an organized group can be daunting, as you may not have any privacy while traveling, or clashing personalities and self-interests for you to deal with. For example, you want to taste out the delicious noodle that you’ve seen from other travelers posts, but you have to follow the majority’s decision to go to a specific restaurant to eat. In contrast, being a Borneo traveler, you are the BOSS! You can decide where and what you want to eat while traveling in Borneo.
Being a Borneo tourist, you will always travel in your own circle and eventually restrain yourself from asking locals or random person for any piece of informations. While, being a Borneo traveler is fun as it can ‘force’ you to engage conversations with locals, as well as sharing personal experience or hobbies together.
2) Sights/ Attractions in Borneo
Borneo tourist visit the popular attractions, while, Borneo travelers will go for non-touristy part in Borneo
A Borneo tourist doesn’t go on trips to experience something new or unknown places. They will be very comfortable with a guided tour in Borneo, and simply just stick to places that are popular attractions in Borneo. In addition, if you are a Borneo tourist, you may not get the chance to meet different people or locals except those who you were traveling with. A Borneo traveler will also go to see some of the main attractions in Borneo, but they tend to seek more than the usual attractions in Borneo. They will be looking for more authentic Borneo culture, non-touristy part of destination, as well as to discover local stories that they won’t find in any travel guidebooks. Therefore, a Borneo traveler will know that the locals are the best tour guide to explore some of the off-the-beaten places in Borneo.
Related article: 5 Off-The-Beaten-Path Destinations in Borneo
3) Food in Borneo
Both Borneo tourist and Borneo travelers tasting the local dishes in Borneo
Travel to Borneo will offer you a chance to taste some of the dishes that you won’t taste in your hometown. Apart from that, having taste the food in Borneo will give you an insight of history and cultures in Borneo. Both Borneo tourist and Borneo traveler will go to eat some of the local dishes of Borneo in a local cafe. However, some Borneo tourist will prefer to eat the dishes that are familiar to them. While, some of them who are adventurous enough, they will tend to taste the exotic Borneo dishes once in their life. Meanwhile, a Borneo traveler, seeking to learn more on Borneo’s culture, is always ready to challenge themselves, to step out from their comfort zone, stay at the homestay and try out some of the exotic dishes that are served in the homestay.
Want to know what kind of exotic and traditional dishes offers in Sabah Borneo? Read our blog entry here.
4) Languages in Borneo
Borneo tourist will not speak with locals as they will be on a guided tours, while Borneo travelers will ask the locals for directions
Being a Borneo tourist, they will be always in a guided tour, making it hard for them to get the chance to speak with locals and learn some of the local languages in Borneo. While being a Borneo traveler, they are free to go anywhere they want. Therefore, they will need to learn and know at least a few phrases to use to communicate with locals while traveling in Borneo Island. The main language that is spoken in Borneo will be the Malay language. So, learning to say simple things like “Selamat Pagi” (Good Morning), “Terima Kasih” (Thank You),“Di Mana” (Where),“Berapa” (How much), and many more, can make a difference when trying to communicate with locals. Borneo locals tend to feel nervous when a visitor trying to communicate with them because not all of them can speak English very well. Therefore, if any visitor could speak with them in language that they are familiar with, they will feel at ease to converse with them and eventually this will develop into friendship.
Check out this information for you to learn one of the Sabah Borneo’s colloquial terms – “Bah”.
5) Packing Style
Borneo tourist will pack a lot of things to travel, while, for Borneo travelers, they chose to pack light
Here’s one quick question for you. Have you ever pack a lot of unnecessary stuff, such as extra clothes, jeans, shoes, electronic gadgets, toiletries, travel guidebooks, and more before coming to Borneo? If your answer is YES, then you are a Borneo tourist. In addition, you should know that not every item in your bag are needed for your trip to Borneo. It’s better to lighten your load by removing some of the unnecessary stuff so that you will feel the ease and flexibility while traveling to Borneo.
When it comes to packing for Borneo travel, a Borneo traveler will pack as light as possible. They would only need to bring their camera and few necessary items for their trip. Apart from that, Borneo traveler will not only pack comfortable clothes, but they will choose the best outfit that can match in any destination. For example, packing practical pants for trekking, hiking, or even walk in the park that suits the climate in Sabah Borneo.
Check out our tips for packing when traveling to Borneo :
6) Buying Souvenirs
Borneo tourist will buy souvenirs at the souvenir shop, while, for Borneo travelers, will take small things (eg: entrance ticket) as a memento
A Borneo tourist will be easily drawn to the awe of the local souvenir shops, which some of the souvenirs tend to be overpriced! Although from the outside, you may think that the souvenir shop is the perfect place to find some of the unique items that you can bring home, wait until you see the souvenirs’ price. Moreover, the same souvenirs are often available in other souvenir shops but with a different price. For Borneo travelers, they will be looking for smaller items ( because they want to avoid heavy baggage!), but with great memories to cherish. For example, keeping entrance tickets from Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre or Kinabalu National Park, they will either frame it or stick it into their travel journal. Apart from that, Borneo travelers will choose something that is not more than their budget for souvenirs, knickknack of any sorts such as keychains or seashell bracelets.
After reading this, which one of the categories that you think you fall into? Whichever it is, being in both of the categories will also grant you the chance to enjoy your trip to Borneo. Being a Borneo tourist will also give you a memorable experience that you will not get from anywhere. In addition, it would be a double bonus for you if you can meet an English-speaking local that can provide you with some good advice and tips for your travel in Borneo. Apart from that, don’t stop being a Borneo traveler. Continue to learn more about Borneo culture, develop friendships along the way, as well as seeking some of the off-the-beat destination that can be found in Borneo!
Planning to travel Borneo in 2018? Check out our Travel Hacks to Borneo!
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