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Mythical Trans Borneo rebirth

August will see the mythical car race Transborneo being back all across the world’s third largest island. A way also to show that trans-border cross-country tourism events can exist and bring benefits.

KUCHING – Borneo is probably one of the most appealing name in Asia, bearing a kind of mystic to almost any traveller looking to feel the thrill of adventure. But so far, few tourism products have been offered to propose a complete tour of the island of Borneo, shared by three countries: Malaysia and Brunei in the North, Indonesia for the rest of the massive island covered by immense rainforests. Although Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei have now been working for many years to create common products, it generally excludes Kalimantan. Talking to tour operators either based in East Malaysia or in Brunei, the same answer comes invariably: “infrastructures are not good enough to develop tours across the border”. 
 
A few weeks ago, four-wheel-vehicles veterans and experts met him in Kuching to announce the official launch of the Trans Borneo 2014. This will be a return of a mythical race, which last occurred in 1997. For once, veterans from past editions in the 80s and 90s took a quick decision. In just three months time, the race has been set up with some 30 4×4 vehicles due to participate. The race will first start from Sabah by early August and drive towards Brunei, then going through Sarawak up to its capital Kuching; it will then finally cross into Indonesia, reaching Pontianak in West Kalimantan province, just on time for Indonesia Independence Day (August 17).
 
It will continue further into the south to Banjarmasin and start heading northeast towards Balikpapan and Samarinda in East Kalimantan. Then cars will again cross over into Sabah around Tawau, drive further to Sandakan to finish the race on the northernmost tip off Borneo in Kudat for Malaysia National Day on August 31.
 
According to the organizers of the drive, road conditions generally improved considerably over the last two decades. “Most of the journey will be on tar-sealed roads”, explains recently to local media Hari Sanusi, founder of the Indonesian Off-road Federation. 
 
The vehicles will use large parts of the famed Pan Borneo Highway, also named Trans Borneo highway and Trans Kalimantan Highway in Indonesia. The Trans Borneo highway links already Sarawak, Sabah with Brunei, covering over 2,000 km. In Indonesia, parts of the Trans-Kalimantan Highway have already been completed. The Trans-Kalimantan Southern section is due to be completed before the end of the year. It stretches over 3,400 km and will connect from the border of Malaysia/West Kalimantan to Central and South Kalimantan and end up at the border of East Kalimantan/Malaysia.
 
Luc Citrinot

Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.

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