Landscape Photographer from the South West of Western Australia

Archive for May 5, 2012

Brunei and Sabah in 1981

We have been intending to scan our old 35mm negatives for years before they get too scratched and we lose them. Finally we are getting around to it.

In 1981 I was working in Brunei and took a trip with a friend on a long weekend. Others had done the trip before and our social club had a file giving details of where to go, telephone numbers to make hotel bookings and so on. The idea was to leave the capital of Brunei in a fast ferry, travel across the Bay of Brunei, and then transfer to a longboat to go upriver to a place called Meropok. A short walk across the border into Sabah took us to a village called Sindumin. There we had to negotiate for the locals (who spoke no English) to take us to a town called Beaufort. From Beaufort we intended to catch a train up the gorges to Tenom, but the monsoon had arrived early and the train couldn’t get through. So we caught a train to Kota Kinabalu, and the next day flew to Labuan. Finally we caught a ferry back to Brunei. It was an eventful 3 days – one I will always remember.

I see on the maps there are roads now – we caught longboats because there were no roads in those days. Most transport was by river as it had been for centuries. There were just a couple of small villages – Sinduman, Sipitang, Beaufort were the major ones. The roads were gravel/dirt. On the way to Beaufort a crocodile crossed the road ahead of us! So the photos from this trip document a scene that has largely disappeared.

Beaufort,Sabah in 1981

Beaufort,Sabah in 1981

You can see more photos from this trip at this link. Album