Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Borneo - Kota Kinabalu

Many people don’t know all that much about Borneo so here is a little background.
Borneo is quite a large Island situated between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is actually three different countries. Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. The Malaysian part makes up about 26% of the land area, Brunei only 1%(it’s tiny) and the rest is Indonesian. I stole a picture from google for some clarity.

We went to the Malaysian side called Sabah. We started off in Kota Kinabalu city for two nights. The city itself is a lot like many South East Asian cities. A little dirty here and there, street vendors, night markets, scooters zipping in and out, chaos. I LOVED it. The first thing that surprised me was how much English there was. Many signs, hotel names, restaurants etc. I know it’s a lot more tourist oriented than Korea but even in their malls when you go into a book store or a cell phone store the terms and conditions and book sale conditions are all in English. Usually when you go to street vendors and markets a lot of the time the younger generation all speak English but here, everyone did, and not just your usual ‘How much?’. They could have a moderate conversation with you and they all welcomed you with smiles. I really loved the people of Kota Kinabalu city.
The food is mostly malay curies, vegetables, rice and all types of seafood. The food actually reminded me a lot of home, the spices they used and the sauces they used on their seafood were all very familiar. Their fruits are different though, they have some awesome coconuts with amazing juice inside, not like the ones I’m used to and all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables that I can’t remember the names of.

Some pretty handmade pots

they sold baby turtles at the market - i thought it was quite sad!

The next day we decided to do an organized tour through our hostel which took you on a river cruise a little bit outside of the city. The cruise only left at about 1 so we spent the morning at a popular Sunday morning market where I picked up some sarongs and a few other trinkets. (above)
To get to the river you had to take a two hour bus ride and then arrive at the base camp and go from there. First we did a normal river cruise looking for probiscos monkeys and other wildlife and then we had a buffet dinner back at the base. I had a headache all day and by this point it had hit almost migraine stage so I was quite nauseous and couldn’t eat much but what I did eat was good!
After dinner we went on another cruise but this time to look for fireflies! They were really pretty and the guide would flick his flashlight in a rhythm and they would light up and repeat the rhythm back. Also because they were all up in the trees it made it look like the whole tree was lit up with little flashing Christmas lights.
The bus ride back was bumpy and my headache had now officially hit migraine level and all my pills were back at the hostel with my bag so that movement really didn’t help, resulting in me running from the bus as soon as we arrived because I had to be sick! Thank God once I took pills and had a good nights sleep I was fine and it didn’t end up ruining the next day!

This used to be the river cruise boat but as you can see its not in very working condition.

We were lucky enough to catch a beautiful sunset

The following day we were flying down South to Tawau to go to Semporna but we were only flying at about 8pm so we decided to take a ferry from Jessleton point and spend the day on one of the Islands. We chose Manukan Island because it was only about a 20 minute ferry ride and we had heard good things about it.
The weather didn’t look too promising when we arrived but it soon cleared up and ended up being a great day! The water was crystal clear, the beaches were beautiful and there were a few restaurants and bars along the beach. It was a great day and we made our way back at around 5ish to pick up our stuff and head to the airport.

Yummy cocktails on the beach :)

Messing about with Gabby's underwater camera

We did a little bit of snorkelling on the island

The water was so blue and beautiful!

Chillin on the beach

The food we had at one of the restaurants on the island. This was a noodle and chicken satay dish.

Gabby had a malay curry

Some amazing island views :)

Next was our divers Licence! Keep reading for more on that! :)