“We’ve been here all day and my phone’s battery is still 90 percent!,” exclaimed Alia in amazement.

A wonderful feat for a PR practitioner where her trade demands constant usage of a smartphone to the point of charging the gadget three times a day and lugging it along with a bulky power bank.

On that day, there was no need for any of those items because there were no electricity, no telephone coverage and definitely no apps to scroll over.

For the three of us, it was only the sun, sea and sand at Mañana Borneo.

Tamu

Our journey began at the town of Kota Belud where we visited the bustling Sunday market, or Tamu. I was looking for tarap, a cousin of the jackfruit and when we finally found one, we devoured it right away. The inside is filled with smooth and creamy arils like an overripe mango and it was so addictive we had another one a few days later in Kota Kinabalu!

Tarap - the best fruit in Borneo ever.
Tarap – the best fruit in Borneo ever.

The drive from Kota Belud to the nearest village to Mañana took a solid 20 minutes as Faisal, our driver, expertly navigated through the tight roads over farms and hills. We meandered up to a sweeping bay and made our way down to Kampung Pituru Laut, where a boat was slowly chugging across the choppy waters to take us to our intended destination.

And I thought we were going through a normal kampung road.
And I thought we were going through a normal kampung road.

Greetings

What took 10 minutes felt like an eternity when we had to persevere through the crashing waves, purportedly caused by the tail-end of a typhoon from the Pacific Ocean. Once we hit the shore we were greeted by Ali G, the chief caretaker, who quickly helped unload our bags from the boat and brought us on a quick tour of this place.

Pay up or the car gets a headbutt.
Pay up or the car gets a headbutt.

We met up with Yan, the owner of Mañana who happens to be my dad’s relative, for a quick chat and it was interesting to know that he was an “island” wanderer who found his way to Sabah via Perhentian and Tioman islands. Ironically, this slice of paradise is connected to mainland Sabah but still retains a wholesome island vibe to it.

The beach right at our doorstep.
The beach right at our doorstep.

Rustic

We stayed at one of the beach side villas which I could succinctly describe as “rustic carefree.” Our villa opens up to an unfettered view of the beach with two hammocks readily hanging by the patio. The hand-crafted bed was solidly comfortable – I had a great evening nap with the doors wide open, pampered by the strong breeze and crashing waves.

Smiley faces before we hopped on to the hammocks.
Smiley faces before we hopped on to the hammocks.

One added feature to the villa is a garden bathroom surrounded by green shrubs. It’s a lovely sight when you take a shower in the morning but a bit scary at night especially if you have an aversion to bugs. The charm of our villa is that it’s so close to the beach we don’t even need to move further than our hammocks to enjoy it.

The villa opens up to the beach.
The villa opens up to the beach.

Downtime

There were a couple of other guests at the resort on that day and they too were immersed in the laid back aura of Mañana. Everyone was “busy” doing their own thing, a smile and a nod was enough small talk with each other. Finally disconnected from the outside world, our bodies were primed for some much needed downtime.

Such joy when no one's around.
The only encounter with other people is seeing their footprints.

Everybody converged at the resort’s cafe as soon as darkness sets in. After spending hours of doing nothing, conversations started to flow while the meals made its way out of the kitchen. Once tummies have been filled and minds fully functioning, Ayumi brought out a pack of Monopoly Deal card game for us to whither the night away.

The cafe cum Monopoly Deal battleground.
The cafe cum Monopoly Deal battleground.

Tomorrow

After having made the necessary bookings a couple of months back, I was wondering why would a resort in Sabah chose a Spanish word to represent itself until I read this story on their website:

Mañana, Spanish for ‘tomorrow’, was named by a Canadian travel-writer who found his way to Yan’s little paradise while it was still a one-man resort. Having his heart won over by the goodness of the environment, he kept postponing his departure date to “tomorrow” – hence the name!

If only we could indefinitely go back "tomorrow."
If only we could indefinitely go back “tomorrow.”

We definitely felt like that Canadian travel-writer the morning after. While gulping down a plate of omelette and toast, I had a tinge of regret that we were leaving so soon. Mañana Borneo may not be an alluring off-the-beaten-track haven but its homey and tranquilizing atmosphere would make you want to leave “tomorrow” instead of today.

Or at least leave some of us astonished at the amount of battery left in their smartphones.


Travel Tips:

  • Mañana Borneo is located near Kampung Pituru Laut which is about 1 hour 15 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu or 20 minutes drive from Kota Belud. The best options to get there are either hire the resort’s driver at a fixed rate or rent your own car from Kota Kinabalu.
  • Since Mañana Borneo is somewhat in isolation, only basic “comfort” facilities are provided like a table fan and mosquito net for every room. There is no hot water and the electricity is only available from dusk till dawn. A newly built telecommunications tower near the village will only be in operations by year-end.
  • For more information on Mañana, do visit their official website here or their Facebook page here. For bookings, you can directly contact Yan at +60146793679 or +60146792679.
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