So here we are the last blog of South East Asia, two and a half months have nearly passed and me and Rhan are on the last leg of our journey back where it all started in Kuala Lumpur. We've had an amazing time and have many memories that will last us a life time, many of which have come from our last week in Borneo, a place we would certainly love to come back to as it has everything: amazing wildlife, unspoilt beaches and beautiful mountains.
After a 3 hour flight from KL to Sandakan (on the east coast of Malaysian Borneo), we had a brief stop over in a little backpackers in the middle of town. A really friendly place and a one we had found through recommendation of John boy (for those who don't know him he was our good friend and housemate back in Newcastle). After a little scout round town we headed up to what is known locally as the English tea house, a surreal place and if it wasn't for the temperature you could of thought you were in England. We wild away the next few hours with cream tea, watching croquet on the lawn and listening to xmas tunes on the radio, a strange place but to be honest worth a visit.
Sunday was the start of a number of early mornings for us as were heading off for the first of our adventures in Borneo with a two night and three day jungle trek, sleeping in huts surrounded on all sides by the jungle, and the sounds of wild animals. Not forgetting the mosquiotos as Rhan's legs will prove! But how could I forget before we even got there we couldn't help but pay a visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary. As you'll see from the many photo's we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of 7 Orangutans of all ages eating, swinging in the trees and generally having the best time. The sanctuary helps orphaned orangutans get back on their feet and if all goes well back in to the wild, areas that are protected that is. To be honest you could have stayed there all day just watching them, they were amazing hanging upside down from ropes, play fighting and generally possing for photos! Our jungle camp for the next few nights was a few hours by bus and boat to a cool and laid back place called Uncle Tans and the perfect location to see what the jungle has to offer. Over the course of 3 days we went on a number of treks at all times of the day, trekking through jungle swamps by night and winding our way through the jungle by river in the day. We were lucky enough to see so many animals from crocodiles, to lizards, beautiful kingfishers and big snakes but I think I can speak on behalf of both of us and say the best animals we saw were wild orangutans, something that not many people get to see. Beautiful animals that are still managing to hang on in places even though all around them their habitat is being destroyed. It really makes you appreciate how important places like Sepilok are if we want to preserve these amazing mammals.
After returning from the jungle we spent a night in Sepilok (restbite from the Mozzies!) and thought we would take advantage of the hotel pool, but to be honest it was more to wash off the jungle from the last few nights! After speaking to a few people we had spent time with in the jungle camp we decided the best way to spend our last few days would be in the south surrounded by crystal blue waters and unspoilt beaches. However this is where we had a decision to make, we were heading into the territory of Sipidan (one of the 5 best dive sites in the world). We were planning on staying on a island just of the coast (Mabul) and maybe do one dive (not in Sipidan but in one of the many other dive sites, mainly due to that fact you have to apply for Sipadan permits in advance) and then lie on the beach for a day. But we didn't take much persuading by the local dive guides at Uncle Chans (another Uncle, different place!) as they had two spare spots the next day at a good price going out to Sipidan and everyone who had dived there said it wasn't to be missed. How can you say no when your guaranteed sharks, turtles, barracuda and just about every other fish under the sea, and we were definitly not let down! We did 3 dives all around Sipidan in a day and everytime it got better and better. Swimming alongside huge turtles (over a metre long), going eye to eye with white tip and grey reef sharks, and swimming inside immense tornadoes of jack fish and Barracuda. There was also amazing corals and fish of every colour and size imaginable in almost every direction you looked. All three dives were the best we have ever done and certainly will take some beating. There was even a point when we were surounded on all sides by hundreds of baracuda swimming around us and what pops up from the depths but a huge turtle just going up for air, Perfect! The few nights we spent on Mabul were a great end to a great trip. We stayed on stilted accommodation above crystal clear waters with great sunsets and even a couple of turtles swimming under our bedroom as we slept! All I can say is words can't do it justice!
Well that pretty much brings us up to date minus a few bus journeys back in Sandakan, a flight to KL and two nights near KL airport to were we are now our last night in Asia and the end to an unforgettable trip and a nonstop adventure!