Borneo – click any image for full size
Borneo is a homestead region designed by Neva Crystall (NevaCrystall) on behalf of region holder Gac Akina, and which has just opened. Being a fan of Neva’s work, I was keen to hop over and take a look after hearing about it via Shakespeare and Max after they spent time there at the weekend.
“Neva is magical!” Gac told me as we chatted about the region. “It was supposed to be friends only location; we all needed a place to chill and hang together, but then I just couldn’t lock this up for only a few. I’m very happy we are getting visitors and can’t wait to start seeing some pictures pop up 🙂 .”
The setting has the look and feel far removed from the one you might imagine from the region’s name. Instead of a tropical jungle-like environment, Borneo presents a location strongly suggestive of a northern temperate area, perhaps in the Pacific north-west of North America, or maybe coastal Sweden. It’s somewhat industrial in tone, and set beneath a hazy, cold-looking sky suggestive of the onset of winter. The region is split into two islands, the larger of which forms a curve running from the north down to the east, while the smaller sits towards the south-west, as if protected by the larger’s curve.
Both are rugged in nature, rising from the surrounding waters on rocky shoulders. The landing point sits to the north side of the larger island, on hard-packed earth. An old warehouse sits to one side of the landing point, with a smaller barn-like storage area on the other. Both clearly haven’t been used for their intended use for some time; the smaller is overgrown and full of ageing bric-a-brac, the larger looks like it has in part been turned into a makeshift den, although one room has long since been claimed by nature.
The flattened ground running between these two structures suggest an old road, or perhaps the remnants of a railway spur, arcing as it does along the spine of the island. Follow it around to the east and south of the island, and it will bring you by way of a gabled gate to a house on the southern headland – but do note this is not open to the public, so don’t be surprised by the ban lines crossing the path before it.
Take the track around to the west, however, and no such barriers block the way. Instead, the path will lead you by way of an old wooden bridge spanning the narrow channel between the two islands, to a third warehouse, this one converted into a bar, the Borneo Pub. “I can’t wait to open the pub,” Gac told me. “We’re waiting on the logo. We’ll have music and parties there. Nothing really scheduled, just for fun and for people to enjoy. I’m hoping we’ll start in the next week or two.” The bar sits within its own parcel, complete with a dedicated in-world group for those wishing to be kept informed of events there.
Sitting within the curve of the main island is a small, stark bay. This can be reached by a mix of wooden steps and board walks leading down from a another gabled gate, this one close to the landing point. It’s not the cosiest of spots in terms of looks when compared to the usual (and oft-expected) beach, but it does have a certain character and warmth – there is a little snug along one of the board walks, while down by the foot of the steps is a little ramshackle trailer serving hot drinks which the local cat clearly recommends!
Balancing the route down to the bay, and on the north side of the island, is a path that snakes its way down to an old quay. An old fishing boat is drawn up alongside, sitting close to its wrecked twin. Both vessels in the shadow of a brick-built lighthouse that raises a slender finger to the sky, tall enough to look down on the landing point and its buildings.
There is a wonderful feeling of wild desolation about Borneo. cold it may look, but it is rich in character and marvellously presented to both explorer and photographer alike. The attention to detail is superb, the detritus of work and life, giving a real sense that this is a place long-established and with its own history, all of which makes for a rewarding visit.
- Borneo (Borneo Isle, rated: Moderate)