28th Jun- Borneo Bound!
Woke up really early and took a variety of different public transports to get myself to the airport, I refuse to take a taxi. I got myself there in good time (for once!) and finally got on the plane. I realised today was the first time I had actually taken transport by myself without another westerner being with me. I had wanted to do it for a while but it's impossible, as there is always someone who talks to you (which is usually welcomed). This time I was stood waiting for the train in a sea of Asian heads, and not one white person anywhere to be seen. It was a good feeling, and kind of exhilarating (even for 6am!). I didn't feel unsafe at any point, and the Malaysians are so helpful and kind. Always asking if I need help etc. I got on the plane, again the only white person on the plane!! Once at Kota Kinabalu (KK) I walked into the airport ready to start looking for a public bus to take me to the hostel I had booked, but there was a man standing there with my name on a little white sign to pick me up! I had previously booked the free pickup but hadn't realised it was only for people booking single rooms, not dorm rooms, and they had emailed back saying that it wasn't free, so as I hadn't replied I assumed they wouldn't pick me up. So I told the guy what had happened and said I should take the bus as it was only about 2 ringgit (I had read) but he said he was there now so would take me for free anyway which was nice!
Hostel was fine but not good location, had to get buses into the city but they only cost 50cents! Met an older lady in my dorm and she went to lunch with me to show me the cheap Indians to eat at. I then met an English guy from the isle of wight, who had basically moved to Malaysia with work. He took the bus into town with me to meet Lars and we also bumped into the girls randomly we went for dinner at this little malay restaurant, and then went to a outdoor bar with some really funny bad live music. Lars then brought some more friends and there was about 7 of us sat at this table, and I had just got off the plane to a new place I had never been too, and all of a sudden had all these people!Lars was climbing Mount Kinabalu the following day and was trying to persuade me to join him, but it was just a bit too much money and the thought of paying all of that for the pain its would give me, just didn't seem to be justified in my head, I also had my eye on booking this amazing diving thing in sipadan and would rather spend the extra money I saved on that. And that's exactly what I did, so excited, I had booked a 3 days 2 nights stay on an oil rig in the middle of the sea near sipadan and mabul, getting my advanced course there, and unlimited dives off the rig! And I am guaranteed a permit for Sipadan (which are very very hard to come by as they only give something like 120 permits a day!). This is one of the worlds best diving sites, and im going to be living on it!!! Really cant wait, hope it lives up to expectations!
The last day spent in KK, I went with the girls to sepul, a little island via ferry, and we went snorkelling, which was good, lots and lots of fish everywhere and none of them were shy atall! Got a good picture of nemo, and kate and I got bitten by either a trigger fish or something similar!! Pretty nasty bite, mine was ok but it drew blood from kate! Our reactions were quite funny though splashing around in the water, screaming, probably looked like a shark attack from the shore.
We then took the speed boat back to KK, and there was hail and rain lashing against us, was pretty funny. That night we went to a bar I had been told about, 'The c*** and Bottle' where there was a live band, and we were treated like royalty there! We ordered some gin and tonics, and made friends with the lovely waitresses, all interested in where we are from and what we are doing here. The band wanted requests so we put some funny ones in, Baby by Justin Bieber is the biggest song over here I think. All the locals sing it all the time. I was on the bus today with Richard and we heard the beginning of the song and looked around wondering which of the young kids were playing it, and much to our surprise, a really old wrinkly lady with a burka pulled out her phone and answered it! We couldn't stop giggling and then that set the whole bus off and within minutes all the little Malaysian kids were rolling around in fits of laughter singing "Baby Baby Baby oohh" hahaha. This kindof thing happens a lot on public transport, I love it! Oh and also when I got off the bus one a Malaysian guy said "I love you" to me, and I replied "Sia chinta Kamur" which is I love you in Malaysian! He couldn't believe I knew it! I was actually secretly impressed with myself. They all laughed, it was a funny moment.
Anyway, at the bar, we also made friends with the band and they were doing all our requests (really well) and there was a funny guy (Lester) at the back on piano who kept doing really impressive raps, which made us all laugh. We were dragged up by the waitresses and went dancing with them. When we left, we promised we would return the following night. And that we did, and we took Richard with us, as he is basically a local now and he knows quite a lot of the staff. We bought a bottle of Bombay Sapphire between the three of us!! Which blew a whole days budget for me, but I thought it probably would be worth it, and I had been really good that week. We then ended up dancing the whole night with the band and the waitresses and met the owner who also bought us loads of drinks, and one of the waitresses wanted to take us out on her day off, but unfortunately we had booked our next trip by then so we couldn't but it was so sweet of her. We then met another rich Malaysian guy who Richard told me was a "highflyer" which I thought was quite amusing. He then took us in his car to a random restaurant, and bought us so much indian food I have ever seen, and being drunk we were ravenous! The girls had not tried loads of the foods and they loved it, until kate started looking a bit pale, and we thought it might be time to go! He took our emails etc and told us he would be in touch! People are so kind in Malaysia!
Within the next day or so, we had decided to go to Uncle Tans, a 3 day 2 night jungle trek in the lower Kinabatangan valley (7 hours away from KK, near Sepilok- a nice bus journey apart from a guy next to me and one behind me being sick the whole way! euurgh), where we stayed In basic huts and did very early morning, and night boat safaris down the river, and jungle trekking in the day. We arrived at the B&B and were then transported to the camp, we immediately realised we were with a very unfriendly group, which was strange for this kind of trip,. They were all quite a bit older than us and made it clear they didn't want to be associated with us. We didn't really care though, we have a really good time by ourselves anyway. And the whole trip was really funny because of this. There was a really annoying dell boy type character who thought he knew everything about everything, but clearly didn't, His hippy 'Bat woman' girlfriend. Then there was a b****y know- it- all English girl who had snide remarks about everything, but we just couldn't stop laughing at her. There was also a mum, and either a brother and sis, or a couple, we couldn't work out what they were which was a bit weird. The whole thing could have been a 'Holiday from hell' but we had the best time, because we just laughed at them the whole time and wound them up. I was very fortunate I had the girls with me though, because it would have been a very different story otherwise! The only nice people were this really cute old finish couple who were really sweet. The malaysian guides at the camp were absolutely amazing, they all spoke great English and were so much fun, both nights we sat with them, playing the guitar and singing all the popular songs, they were really good, and they had word sheets so we all joined in! The most sung song was the waka waka shakira song which has clearly become more than my Bali song, its now just my Asian song because everyone sings it! They loved us because we joined in with them, and they were always so happy all the time. In the day we always sand Waka waka on the boats etc and I think we were known as the waka waka girls!
On the 1st boat trip, coming down the river to the camp, we saw our first glimpse of a Orangutan is the wild! We were so excited to see him, but it was very far away and we only just see him hiding in the trees, we also saw big gibbons hanging in the trees and kingfishers, hornbills, and an amazing array of beautiful birds. That night we did a night safari boat trip, and saw loads of interesting things a leopard cat, and a little puffy bird, and also an owl, flying fox and some eagles. I only wish I had one of those amazing SLR and night vision camera.
We stayed in these really cool huts on stilts over a muddy marshy area, they had no doors so any kindof animal can crawl in, including big pythons, rats etc. Some people were really scared, but we loved it, was very adventurous! We were also told to make sure there was no food or anything sweet in any of out bags as the rats will come in and break through zips and bags etc to get them out. The guides told us the week before a guy came to them with three condoms which had been bitten through by the rats!! They were strawberry flavour!! Tong tong, one of the guides said the rat was trying to stop having babies! Hehehe
The following morning we got up at 6am for a boat trip, but I think we were all abit delirious and kept doing the American and aussie accent and laughing the whole time, and definitely annoying the other people in our group, but to be honest they were being so rude, we just didn't care! We each has names for eachother, Kate was "Kerbox" and Georgie was "Deano" and I was "Ranga". This continued for the whole trip. We didn't see as much wildlife on this cruise as before but we were promised an extra boat ride the following morning to see try and see some orang-utans closer up. We did a jungle trek later that day in some nice muddy wellies, which was funny because we kept getting stuck in the mud and on loads of spikey plants, and the guide was really funny, he called the trek the real mount kinabalu!
We learnt about how the people had burnt down loads of the rainforest all over Malaysia for palm oil plantations had basically killed the majority of the wildlife including the amazing orang-utans!! The reason why there was so much wildlife in this area of rainforest is tinged with sadness, because they can't live in the palm oil that surrounds it. Its such a shame they did not this of the environmental impacts before they did this.
Later that day we went fishing on the boat, and we all caught catfish and the guide caught some huge prawns which he cooked up for us that night and put it in this amazing batter and dressing! We also had some rice wine, which is seriously strong stuff!
The following morning we had almost given up hope of seeing more orang-utans, and the boat journey had already been half an hour without a sighting! But then as we were about to head back the guide turned the boat and shouted orang-utan!! And much to our excitement there was a huge big orange mass of hair at the top of a tree, but this time we could see him clearly and he turned to look at our boat! It was amazing! We could see him swinging around, and the popping his head up and holding branches in front of his face to hide from us. We watched him for a while and took some photos, and then as we headed off, we saw a mum and baby a bit further down the river, even easier to see! It was an amazing sight! They are so human like its unreal! We then saw another one a bit further down, and some probiscus monkeys, these funny looking monkeys with huge noses! We were so lucky!! We tried to ignore the other annoying people in our group trying to tell us things about the monkeys and asking really annoying questions.
Later, we went back had a bit of food, packed our bags and said our goodbyes to guides "sia chinta kamur!!" we shouted and they all laughed singing waka waka! We had had an amazing time and we loved the guides so much! We were glad to get away from our group though, 3 days was enough!
Next stop was the orang-utan rehabilitation sanctuary, which is basically just a huge rainforest with no boundaries where the orang-utans are let out into after they have reached a certain age to make sure they survive. They are taught how to climb and eat etc. Its mainly for the orphans who lost their parents in the fires. I think it's a really good program, and you can tell they are cared for so well, the public are not allowed to see them as babies as they need to be kept as wild as possible. We are allowed to watch feeding time though, but apparently we were lucky we saw 2, because once they are back in the wild, they sometimes don't come back for feeding time! It was great to see them so close up, swinging in the trees. The are so cute they hug eachother and even kiss! The ones we saw was a huge mother and baby, but the baby is nearly ready to leave the mother.
Then took a public bus to Sandakan and met german guy on the bus, we quickly found a cheap hostel on the sea front, with a sea view dorm room!! And enjoyed a nice shower, which had been sorely missed for 3 days, we did not smell nice! Not much in Sandakan, but we went to a famous English Tea garden, which funnily enough sells all the famous English food, but I just opted of an overpriced pimms and lemonade. We then played croquet on the lawn!
After this we went to a rooftop garden ontop of a hotel which was beautiful, and then headed to Mile 4 where the lonely planet says there is some nightlife.. but this was actually hilarious because we were dropped off there in the taxi and there were just blinking neon lights in an "R and B" bar called "kiss me!" but not a soul in sight. It was basically a kindof broken ghost town version of black pool! We thought this was really funny, so we headed to the convenience shop to buy some cheap alcohol to try and liven the place up (in our heads at least!). In the shop it was so funny, I don't think they had ever seen white people, there were about 10 shop assistants all crowded round us laughing and staring. It was so weird! We then went to the checkout, and the shop assistant guy just looked at us in awe! Georgie said terima kasih- thank you and he looked so shocked so we couldn't help but chant I love you again Malaysian and the whole shop were laughing across the whole floor, and it was a big shop! We had some mee soup and some awesome pancake things, and drank our gin. We were about to go home, as there was no1 on the street, but I said, why don't we just try one of the places with all the music pumping, and just see what its like and then go home, so we walked into the bar, and it was the most incredible thing, we were basically pounced on by millions of beautiful Asian girls! We later found out that tourists NEVER come to this little suburb we had stumbled upon and they couldn't believe it! They were hugging us and dancing with us, and demanding a million pictures and we were all jumping up and down with them. It was so much fun, we just couldn't believe the attention, it was literally like we were celebrities. I think georgie nearly got punched in the face at one point and I was nearly strangled in their desperation to take a photo of us, but it was all in good humour. We then ended up singing the worst karaoke of our lives, they bought us loads of beer. Some of them could speak English and asking where we are from etc. And we kept getting pieces of paper from some of the men, and I thought they would have something cheeky or sleazy on, but they said "where can you get the best shepards pie in England?" and another one was "what is Baker streetfamous for?" we did not expect this. It was so much fun. The Malaysian guy who actually lived in England for a while was telling us how rare it is to see tourist here and how lucky they all were to meet us etc. We were loving the attention. I looked around and some of the girls where grinding against Kate, and the look of shock on her face was so funny! We had such a great time there! I also met another guy who works for the government who might be able to help me get to either turtle island or langkayan island because it is fully booked at the moment.
We all got the taxi back and stumbled to our beds, very happy. The girls left the next morning to Bali and I was sad to see them go, we had had such a good time. Hope to see them in London one day.