Over the metals all rusted brown,
Thunders the “mail” to Jesselton town,
Tearing on madly – racking not fate,
Making up time – she’s two days late,
See how the sparks from her smoke-stack shower,
Swaying on wildly at three miles an hour.
Sometimes they stop to examine a bridge,
Sometimes they stick on the crest of a ridge,
Sometimes they find the line washed away,
And postpone their advance till the following day.
Beaufort to Jesselton – tour of delight,
Taking all day and the best of the night,
Over the rails all rusted and brown,
Drives on the “mail” to Jesselton town.
(Anon, North Borneo Herald).
A great deal has changed in Sabah since this wonderful poem first appeared about a century ago. The publication it appeared in, the North Borneo Herald, no longer exists, having gone the same way as steam trains. And Jesselton town, has been known as Kota Kinabalu for more than four decades.
But much endures too. The railway not only still exists – the only one on the island of Borneo – it remains a “tour of delight”, particularly the prettiest section from Beaufort to Tenom. It’s a great way to see the interior of Sabah, and forms part of a pleasant loop round some of the state’s most attractive scenery. Continue reading A journey of delight into Sabah’s interior