25.06.2015 32 °C
Well we finally got both time and internet to put up the first part of our blog. Hope you enjoy.
21st June – We had an early start this morning to make sure we got to the airport on time. We booked our bag through and then had to wait for 7.30 to start going through customs. Lucky me I was selected for a body scan. That was a first.
We took off on time at 9am for a 7 hour 45 minute flight to Kuala Lumpur. Our baggage was booked straight through so all we had to do was go through customs and find our domestic flight to Kota Kinabalu Borneo. That was a 2 hour 15 minute flight.
Both flights were pretty good and we would certainly fly Malaysian Airlines again. We arrived in Borneo at 8pm. There is only a time difference of one and a half hours which is the same as WA. As we stepped off the plane onto the sky bridge the heat and humidity hit straight away.
We booked into our hotel the Le-Meriden for a well deserved sleep.
22nd June – We awoke to a lovely surprise this morning. We looked through our 6th floor window to a lovely view of the ocean.
We had a terrific buffet breakfast. You could order your eggs to order but there was so much selection including lots of fresh fruit.
Today we had a spare day in Kota Kinabalu so we had a look around the town.
Kota Kinabalu was formerly known as Jesselton and is the capital of the state of Sabah. It is located on the northwest coast of Borneo. It has a population of around half a million. It was bigger than I expected and is one of the fastest growing cities in Malaysia. The locals call it KK and so will I.
Some of the things we saw were:
The city mosque
This is the second main mosque in KK. It was opened in 2000.The dome is blue and gold. It is partially surrounded by a man made lagoon and has been given the nickname the Floating Mosque. It has a maximum capacity of 12,000 worshipers.
Menara Tun Mustapha
The Yayasan Sabah Tower (officially known as Menara Tun Mustapha).It was built in 1977 and it is the second tallest building in the island of Borneo[. This 30-storey circular glass sculpture is 122 metres high
Sabah State Mosque
This is pretty impressive. It has a dome of gold inlay motifs. It can accommodate 5,000 worshipers at a time.
We finished off at Signal Hill to get a view of the town. There are now a lot of buildings so you can no longer see much of the sea. However it does give you an idea on how modern it is.
We returned to the hotel for a quick rest then headed out for a wander around town. It is pretty humid so we were pretty exhausted in no time. So we went back to the hotel for a break before heading out to dinner.
For dinner we went to a seafood restaurant called Kampong Nelayan Restaurant.
It was a lovely meal. We had a banquet that included garlic fried rice, steamed fish with preserved radish, butter milk prawns, sesame fish fillet with lemon sauce, soft shell crab with peppercorn salt, thai style chicken, sah pak with spring onion and ginger (like cockles) and sabah vegetable with egg. We then finished off with some paw paw and water melon. We just drank free flowing Chinese tea. It was a lovely evening.
23rd June – This morning we headed off leaving KK behind us. We were heading for Kinabalu Park. It was a lovely drive. It is Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site for its role as one of the world’s most important biological sites. It took about 2 hours to drive there and along the way we stopped at Nabalu Village to take a good look at Mount Kinabalu.
After our rest and photo stop we headed for the park.
As we arrived there were quite a few people wandering around. We were told that we had missed a 4.3 magnitude tremor by 3 minutes. It was only a couple of weeks ago they had had the 6 magnitude earthquake and there were parts of the park that were closed due to this. We had a walk around the botanical gardens and saw lots of lovely plants. We were also lucky enough to see a Bornean Horned Frog.
We said farewell to the park and headed off for lunch at the Cottage Hotel. Once again stuffed our faces with lovely vegetables and some other dishes.
After lunch we visited the Kundasang War Memorial. One of the things we wanted to see and learn more about was the Sandakan Death March. For those that do not know, Sandakan is a not talked about very often.
Australian prisoners were sent to Sandakan in 1942 to build an airstrip for the Japanese. At first they were treated reasonably well. Gradually, however, rations were reduced and bashings increased.
By late 1944, with Allied forces advancing toward Borneo, the Japanese decided to send about 2,000 Australian and British prisoners westward to Ranau, in Borneo’s rugged interior. Weak and sick prisoners staggered for about 260 kilometres along jungle tracks. Many died on the way, their bodies never recovered. Those unable to continue were killed; those too weak to march had been left behind in Sandakan, where all died or were killed. Only six – all Australians – out of about a thousand sent to Ranau survived the war.
The Sandakan “death march” remains the greatest single atrocity committed against Australians in war.
We also visited another memorial at Ranau where the last camp was.
Our last stop for the day was at the Poring Hot Springs which are set amidst a lowland rainforest. We did not take a dip in the Sulphur pool as it was too hot and humid for us. I did take a picture though.
We headed to our overnight destination which was the Sabah Tea Garden. It was quite a remote place and there were lots of bugs and lizards climbing the walls but was a relaxing overnight stop.
24th June – After breakfast we drove overland to Kinabatangan which took 4 hours. We went from lovely rainforest to palm oil plantations as far as you could see.
We booked into the Myne Resort. We were not sure what to expect but it was lovely and right on the river. Due to its remoteness we had lunch at the Myne Restaurant.
We had a relaxing afternoon and at 4pm we went on a boat ride on the Kinabatangan River. It is about 400 km long. We went in search of primates.
We were lucky enough to see Long Tailed Macaques, the famous Proboscis Monkeys and some bird life.
The biggest surprise of all was getting to see a Bornean Pygmy elephant with a calf. As they are so short we couldn’t really see the baby and with the long grass only say half of the elephant but apparently they haven’t had a sighting for a couple of months so we were really lucky.
We were out for 2 hours and returned just before dusk.
We had dinner at the restaurant and enjoyed the relaxing evening by the river. (Covered in RID I might add to keep the mozzies away), but there weren’t any.