Borneo, Malaysia

It’s only been 10 days, most of which revolved around moneys and the mountain so I can’t really judge it. Undoubtably there is so much more I could have done here, and seen in terms of wildlife. Thing is, that pesky Amazon kind of over-shines the most brilliant of rainforests forever more! Don’t blame me, blame amazing Peru!


1) The smell of clove cigarettes. They remind me of Langkawi.
2) The return of free breakfasts in hostels. Much appreciated.
3) The inadvertent break from alcohol,  a much welcome rehab after El Nido


1) Almost every nanosecond of climbing Mt Kinabalu
2) Remembering the slightly stricter dress codes, and tiny reminders that men rule the roost here.
3) This didn’t actually bother me directly, but everyone else says it, so I’ll join in; the need for permits/planning here. Tours are slightly on the pricey side, and there’s often a wait list to do some of the things you want. No biggie.

Where I stayed:

D’Villa Kota Kinabalu National Park, Sandakan Backpackers, Akinabalu Kota Kinabalu.

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

5 utterly free days to spend…I know you could technically argue that I have 365 of utterly free days at my disposal, but what I mean is that I have 5 days here before I am Singapore bound.

I could be floating down the Kinabatangan River, laughing at the famous Boreno penis faced Proboscis monkeys. I could be in one of the world’s top 10 dive spots in Sipadan. Well, I could if we ignore the fact that I don’t have my PADI open water licence. I could even be accumulating 10 precious new passport stamps and ticking a new and unique country off the list in nearby Brunei. However tea with the Sultan will have to wait, as my passport is too full to be able to rack up 10 stamps AND have enough space to make it into India. Yes it’s ironic that my all time ambition to travel is hampered by the limitations of a stingy 32 page UK passport. More to come on the saga of just getting a new one, but i’ll save that story for India.

Anyway, im pretending my laziness is because of my painfully aching legs. Yes MT KINABALU i’m still shouting at you.  I can’t actually steps down the fat curb sides here without grimacing, let alone go White Water Rafting in Beaufort, which I otherwise would quite like to.  But secretly, i’m having an absolute ball feeling like I have bought myself a free pass to stay in one place and do nothing!

KK is hard to defend, but i’ll have a go as I actually quite like it.  Architecturally is’s all quite 1970’s, with half a dozen old shopping malls scattered together in the few kilometres that make up the ‘city’ center.

Maybe it’s drawback is that it seems to still revels in it’s old days when it was an important trading port; Jesselton. The old clock tower still stands, an old Jesselton sign still arches over the modernized kiosks of Dunkin Donuts Gloria Jean’s Coffee in the harbour. A small corner window of the Mandarin Hotel displays a simple timeline montage of old black and white photos. Maybe they are quite the zeitgeist after all; given that Zuckerburg and Co are imminently about to force us all into it this week. (Timeline that is, not KK.) This corner is quite a popular spot with older Japanese tourists, (and me) who stop to read about it’s wartime invasion and subsequent fate of the city since WW2. The nostalgic theme continues in the famous Sunday Gaya street market which is lined with vintage stamp and old coin collections. I’m in geek heaven.

I read masses of books, I practice chess, I spend the day on the 8th floor of Suria Sabah Mall buying $10RM (£2) cinema tickets. I get 8h sleep a night and don’t touch a drop of alcohol. Not intentionally, but it’s I guess it’s just expensive and not the ‘go to’ activity in Muslim Malaysia.

My favorite spot is Choice – a Halal South India restaurant on J Pantai Road that serves $1.50rm Rota Canai (naan and dahl dip.) They looked at me like I was dirt at the start of the week, serving all of the men before me.  Even though I was in an ankle length skirt and shoulder covering scarf, I was still in all likelihood deemed ‘tourist slut.’ It’s not quite as forgiving here as the rest of SE Asia. I’m glad I braved it out though. After a few days I feel as though i’d cracked them.  They knew my order at least, and threw in hot lemon tea.

Content as I was, KK only goes and throws in the cherry on top. A 15 min ride in a speedboat and you can be in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, aka: the beach! For $40RM (£8) you can play island hop all day, around Sapi, Mamutik, Gaya, Sulug and Manukan Islands to sunbathe alongside monitor lizards as I did. I was mid-way through trying to feed it some crisps when a Malaysian couple suggested I run for my life. : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

February 2012

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