Travelling with COBB Across Borneo

Posted by Sidek Kamiso at

We have taken COBB on our road trips a number of time. So, we thought it would be a great ideas to take the COBB along with us in our long trip across Borneo during the recent Chinese New Year break. 

Our trip from Kuala Lumpur took us to Kuching (977km flight across South China Sea), then to Mulu National Park (555km flight across Sarawak), Kota Kinabalu (268km flight from Mulu via Miri), Kundasang (93km drive from Kota Kinabalu) and Sandakan (240km from Kundasang) before flying back to Kuala Lumpur (1,848km flight). For this trip we have to take four flights (two in ATR propeller turbo planes), several taxis, two trips on four wheel drive and more than 300km drive across the KInabalu mountain.

One of the reasons we travel with COBB - Kinabalu Peak view from Mesilau.

Given the number of plane trips that we had to take, we decided to bring the COBB Kitchen in A Bag. We left the entire bag in its original plastic packaging and carton box for extra protection during the journey.


When we arrived in Kuching, we took out the COBB out from the box for inspection and everything were in perfect condition. We did not use the COBB in Kuching because the food there was so good. There was little motivation to cook too when when you have Laksa Sarawak, Mee Kolok and many authentic cuisines served in several good restaurants in Kuching.

Unboxing COBB in Kuching, Sarawak. 

In Mulu National Park, the daily trekking and caving made us so tired and the last thing we wanted to do was to prepare dinner. At the same time the Park has a strict rule on cooking. Only gas fuel is allowed and no open burning. We gladly followed the rule because the Mulu Laksa at the Park Cafe was so good too. To cook your own meal in Mulu, requires a bit of planning. Mulu is so isolated that the only way to bring goods there is to fly them in. Other alternatives are 12hours four wheel drive trip from Miri or a day boat trip. So we were happy to try the local dishes too like Ayam Pansuh (Chicken and herbs cooked in bamboo).

ayam pansuh sarawah

Ayam Pansuh - pic from

Kota Kinabalu was just a pitstop before our drive to the mountain destination, Kundasang which provided a perfect backdrop for our COBB first cooking session in Borneo. Kundasang is a highland town and considered a vegetable garden for Borneo because of its cool climate. Vegetables are of high quality and cheap. Our place to stay in Kundasang is located in Mesilau Highland and it comes with kitchen facilites.

COBB in Mesilau Highland, Sabah

The most perfect setting - view from our chalet in Kundasang, Sabah, Borneo. 

The first night when we were there, temperature dropped to 16 degree C. It was cold but the sky was clear and we thought it was a perfect time for steamboat dinner. We fire the COBB using a high grade hexagonal charcaol, purchased from the resort. It worked really well as the charcoal came in about 25cm length and could easily be broken into sizes that fit into the COBB fire basket. 

Steamboat in Mesilau Highland 

Steaming steamboat - Mesilau Highland, Kundasang, Borneo.

To make the steamboat base soup, we took a shortcut using COBB Frying Wok. All we did was placed the cut chicken into a boiling water with fresh herbs we found in the market (lemon grass, onion, garlic coriander as well as mixed herbs sold in the market comprising chives, ginger flower (bunga kantan), chilies and kuchai). The base stock was left simmered for about 40 minutes before we threw in all the vegetables we picked up from the market (cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, baby kailan, shitake mushroom, spinach). A few minutes in the boiling soup, the vegetable is ready. We took the wok off the fire to avoid overcooking the vegetable, while leaving the charcoal to burn to provide us with extra warm in a crisp mountain air. 

For second night we had a simple BBQ chicken wings. Others guests at the resorts were also setting up their BBQ.

We got to use our COBB again in Sandakan. The city is famous for its Orang Utan Sanctuary in Sepilok, which is a must visit for visitors. However, seafood is another main attraction in the city. The local restaurants were excellent and the food was reasonably priced. We also visited the local fresh market and you can tell the locals eat well too. With the bountiful seafood (tiger prawn, lobster, fish and shellfish). it a shame not to try cooking them in COBB. 

Sandakan has a wonderful harbour, but we found a much nicer place to have a picnic in Sepilok Rainforest Observatory Centre. The place has a small lake surrounded by virgin rainforest. You can go to a canopy walk. Bird watching is popular too here because of the lake, where birds like to congregate. The best part about the centre is that it provides many picnic tables and gazebos, which are kept meticulously clean by the caretaker. The only requirement is that you do not bring styrofoam boxes and you must take your garbage back with you. After seeing the facilities, we were happy to comply. 

Cooking crab in Sandakan

Enjoying the view while waiting for the crabs to cook in COBB - Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre.

Since we had so many varieties of seafood since we arrived in Sandakan, we settled for an 20cm tiger prawn and live crabs which we bought from the market earlier. Using a wok, we simply fry the prawn and crabs with butter, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, salt and pepper as well as lime juice. We then use the leftover from frying the prawn and crab to cook rice by adding some water. The sea food was great, but the rice is phenomenal with all the flavour from the fresh prawns, crabs, butter as well as lemon grass and lime juice.

Packing the COBB for the return trip was breeze. We just used a simple scrubber to clean the inside. For the plane trip back to KL, we put the COBB parts in their respective original plastic packaging materials to minimise friction between parts while the carry bag to keep the packaging tight. You need masking tape to repack the box. 

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