A Travellerspoint blog

Kuala Lumpur

29th June – We had a relaxing morning in the hotel this morning before departing for the airport. Today we flew from Sandakan to Kuala Lumpur. We arrived in KL around 4.30 pm. The airport is 55km south of the city so it took a while to get to our hotel. To top it off it is Ramadam at the moment and they break fast at 6.30 so the city was hectic. We finally arrived at our hotel around 7pm. It is called Hotel Izumi and I found it on booking.com. It is quite a little gem. The room is excellent and it is located centrally for us to be able to get around. We are on the 7th floor and can see the Petronas Towers from our window.
Kuala Lumpur is the national capital in Malaysia. The city covers an area of 243 square km and has an estimated population of 1.6 million as of 2010.

30th June and 1st July – We decided to buy 48 hour tickets for the hop on hop off bus. That way we could get on and off and see the sights that we wanted to visit. It took us a while to locate the bus stop as there is so much work happening in KL. There is construction everywhere and they are also working on an underground rail system so whole roads are closed off.
We visited:
The Petronas Towers. We decided not to go up this tower as we wanted to go up the KL tower to get views of the city and the Petronas Towers.
The Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers are twin skyscrapers. They were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world.
The Petronas Towers feature a diamond-faceted facade consisting of 83,500 square metres of stainless steel extrusions. In addition, a 33,000-panel curtain wall cladding system resides within the towers. While the stainless steel element of the towers entices the sun, highlighting the magnificent towers, they are composed of 55,000 square metres of 20.38-mm laminated glass to reduce heat by reflecting harmful UV rays.
On the top of each tower is a pinnacle standing 73.5 metres tall. The pinnacles were more than just the finishing touches to the height of the towers, each taking over 19 weeks to construct. Each pinnacle is composed of 50 unique parts making up the main components: the spire, mast ball and ring ball. Together these parts weigh 176 tons. While the pinnacles may seem to be an aesthetic feature of the towers to enhance their presence and height, they also play function to aircraft warning lights and are an essential element to the overall Islamic minaret design that the towers embody.
Here it is at night, it is really beautiful.

KL Tower
The Kuala Lumpur Tower also known as the Menara KL Tower was completed on 1 March 1995. It is used for communication purposes and features an antenna that reaches 421 metres and is the 5th tallest tower in the world. The roof of the pod is at 335 metres . We decided to go up this tower so we could get panoramic views of the city. It was pretty smoggy but you can get the idea.

Royal Palace
In Malaysian, “Istana Negara” translates to “National Palace,” and Kuala Lumpur’s Royal King’s Palace serves as the official residence of the supreme King of Malaysia. The king relocated to a newly built Istana Negara in 2011, and while you can’t enter, it’s possible to see the beautiful architecture of the palace from afar and watch the hourly changing of the guards. We were lucky enough to hop off the bus just before the changing of the guard.

The old railway station

National textile museum

National Monument

Sultan Abdul Samad Building
This building overlooks the Merdeka Square, it is one of the most significant landmarks built by the British. Designed by A. C. Norman who was inspired by Indian Moghul architecture, this building was completed in 1897 and housed the Selangor State Secretariat and later the Supreme Court before being abandoned for a number of years. It now houses the Ministry of Heritage, Culture and Arts.

As you can see there is such a variety of architecture both modern and old.

After seeing the sights, we decided to visit the bird park. We had seen a few varieties of hornbills in Borneo but wanted to see them up close. We got there in time to see them feed the Rhinoceros Hornbill.
Well we certainly did get close, ok we went a bit touristy but you can’t get much closer than this.

We have really enjoyed our time here in KL. It has been really hot and humid and we have been absolutely exhausted when we have returned to the hotel each evening.

Posted by shaneandnicola 04:59 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Sandakan to Selingan Turtle Island and back

27th June – Today we had breakfast and checked out of the hotel for an 8.30 start. We headed down to the jetty to take a one hour boat trip to Selingan Island. This island is part of the Turtle Islands Park. It lies in the Sulu Sea some 40 kilometres north of Sandakan. It is very close to the Philippines.
As we headed away from Sandakan we got a view of the mosque and stilt village.
We arrived on the island. It is fairly small with basic accommodation but it was better than we expected.
We had the day to explore the island, swim and snorkel. It was still very hot and humid so Shane and I took the opportunity to do just that.
When we were walking back to our chalet we saw this monitor lizard.
We had dinner at 7.30 and then had to play the waiting game. We were waiting for the signal from the park ranger to proceed to the beach to watch the green sea turtles lay their eggs. You are not allowed on the beach after 6pm. So we hung around the restaurant area and at 10.40pm we heard “turtle turtle”. The rangers first ensure that the turtle is going to lay eggs before calling us and then we have about 20 minutes to watch her lay her legs. On this occasion she laid 73 eggs. The ranger then measures the turtle and checks if it has previously laid eggs. On this occasion it was her first time so they tagged her. These turtles always come back to the island that they were born to lay eggs.
Due to the monitor lizards and rats these eggs are collected by the ranger and put into a safe hatchery area.
In about 8 weeks the babies hatch. They are then released to the ocean. After we watched the eggs being laid we were lucky enough to watch some of the turtles being released it was a wonderful sight. Out of all the turtles that find their way to the ocean only 3% will survive and lay eggs themselves.
By 12.30am we were ready for bed so off we went, having experienced something wonderful in nature.

28th June – On our way to breakfast this morning we walked past the hatchery area and to our surprise during the night some eggs had hatched from 8 weeks ago. There were baby turtles in quite a few nets and their instinct was already there to try and get to the ocean. The ranger came along and collected them ready for release.
We returned to Sandakan today, so at 7am we headed off in the boat for our return one hour trip.
Once we were on land again we had a look around Sandakan. We visited the Sandakan Memorial Park which is located on the site of the Sandakan Prisoner of War camp. We visited the commemorative pavilion. Unfortunately they were redoing the track to the black granite obelisk so we missed that but we learned a lot in the pavilion. It was a profound experience.
We then visited the Puh Jih Shih temple which is located on the hilltop with a commanding view of Sandakan.
We then visited the Sim Sim Water Village, where this settlement was established in 1897. We walked through part of the village and saw the houses on stilts occupied by the local Chinese and Malays.
We then headed to the colonial home now museum of the famous American writer Agnes Keith. She wrote about her experiences during WW2 the book was called “Three Came Home”. We had lunch at the charming English Tea House Restaurant which was a former colonial residence.
Once we had lunch we went back into Sandakan and booked into our hotel for the night. We had a lovely view of Sandakan from our room.
We have now come to the end of our time in Borneo. Tomorrow we will be flying to Kuala Lumpur.

Posted by shaneandnicola 03:10 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

Sepilok to Sandakan


26th June – This morning we departed the Sepilok Nature Resort. We wish we could have stayed longer as it was a great place to stay.
This morning was the day we had been waiting for. We visited the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.
Upon arrival we watched a documentary on the orangutan. We then proceeded to the Sepilok Forest Reserve feeding platform to see these lovely creatures. These Orangutans have been rehabilitated and are free to wander the reserve. Some never come back others still visit for some food. At first there was not one Orangutan in sight and we were a bit worried that we were going to be unlucky. However suddenly 2 appeared and we were able to watch them eat and play around for quite a while. I took so many photos, but here are some of them.
This first photo was our first sighting as he came out of a tree and along the rope to the platform.
After that we went and visited the nursery. We were behind glass for this part as they do not want any germs given to the younger Orangutans. They were so cute to watch and we laughed constantly.
After this amazing experience we visited the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
This is the only sun bear conservation centre in the world. They provide care, rehabilitation and release of orphaned and captive sun bears as well as address the lack of knowledge and awareness of this little known bear. They are also known as Honey Bears. They are the smallest bear in the world. They are expert climbers and had really long claws. They are a totally protected species in Sabah and have the same status as the Orangutan. We arrived for feeding time and they gave them corn on the cob. They were really interesting to watch.
We had lunch at a local restaurant and the continued our journey to Sandakan.
We arrived mid-afternoon and decided to do some washing and relax as the rest of the afternoon was ours to do with what we pleased.

Posted by shaneandnicola 00:54 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Kinabatangan River to Sepilok


25th June – This morning we were up bright and early for another boat trip down the river. We headed off at 6.30am. There wasn’t as much about, however we did get to see crocodiles and some more long tailed macaques.
Here is a picture of the lodge from the river
After breakfast we headed off for our next destination which was half an hour away. It was the Gomantong Cave, it is famous world wide for the edible bird’s nests. The smell as soon as you go near the entrance was horrendous. Due to all the bats there is a build up of poo which has a really strong smell.
After walking part of the cave we headed to the Sepilok Nature Resort for lunch. We booked in and headed straight off to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary to see the Proboscis Monkeys. They are still wild but they come down and are fed so that tourists can get closer to them to see them better. I was glad that we had already experienced them in the wild yesterday but it was also great to see them so up close. It was hard to pick some photos.
The males are the bigger of the species and have a really big nose compared to the females. There is only one male with a harem, the other males stay together as a bachelor pack. We got to see both and it was funny seeing all the males trying to get food off the head honcho.
We then returned to Sepilok and visited the Rainforest Discovery Centre. We walked up through the canopy and got a panoramic view of the rainforest.
We then headed back to the resort for a lovely cold shower. Today had been the worst day for humidity and we were exhausted.
We had dinner at the resort and had an early night.

Posted by shaneandnicola 17:21 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Adelaide to Kinabatangan River Borneo

semi-overcast 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
Chinese Temple
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.
Rhinocerous Hornbill
Proboscis Monkeys
Macaque Monkeys
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.

Posted by shaneandnicola 06:47 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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