A Travellerspoint blog

January 2011

Kota Kinabalu

No we didn't climb it

sunny 33 °C
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So we were a bit tired after traipsing around Mulu and it's caves (to be honest I'm a bit tired in general what with the constant moving and travelling for five months) and so we didn't do an awful lot in KK. The city itself is nice enough, not too big and not too small with a pleasant waterfront and lots of open air Chinese and Indian restaurants alongside more modern restaurants and bars. The weather has finally turned and we're getting to see sunshine these days, it's a miracle.


The only tour we did in KK was a cruise along the River Klias, two hours south of the city, to spot Proboscis Monkeys and (after a rather lacklustre dinner) fireflies. I wasn't sure we'd see anything but there were loads of monkeys sitting in the trees munching on leaves and berries by the river. An amazing sight at first (these particular monkeys look seriously weird with freakishly huge noses) but after 30 minutes you kind of felt like you were looking at some guy in his underpants on the sofa scratching his arse while stuffing his face with junk food in front of the TV. Maybe we reached monkey fatigue, it's hard to beat the cute cheeky ones of Sri Lanka and of course the orangutans in Semenggoh.


After dinner and sundown, we got back in the boat to go searching for fireflies. I had never seen them before and I was expecting them to be bigger, it looked exactly like tiny little fairy lights in the trees, very pretty. Despite the awesomeness of my new camera I couldn't quite figure out how to take a picture of them.

And that was it for us in KK really. We saw the mountain from the airport when we were catching our flight back to KL early in the morning, it looked big and pointy and scary.....maybe we'll return some day when I can climb stairs without getting out of breath.

Posted by suzebert 20:24 Archived in Malaysia Tagged animals malaysia borneo Comments (0)

Welcome to the Jungle

Mulu National Park

sunny 32 °C
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Feel free to comment on how cheesy you think that post title is :)

Well as you surely know by now we did manage to reach Mulu (and yes I know I'm behind on the blogging). The weather cleared (we actually got a bit of sun and no rain in Mulu!) and we finally boarded a flight on another small ATR72 prop plane for the 20 minute flight (the same trip by boat takes 12 hours - there is no road access to the park). This was the view from the plane...


It was proper jungle and I was apprehensive about where we were staying at Park HQ. We couldn't get a standard room so we had to book one of their new bungalows which was probably the most luxurious room we've stayed in yet and remarkably bug free! The park was really well managed and even their restaurant served well priced and tasty food. We were staying for two nights but arrived late of course on the first day. The second day was taken up by a tour of four caves, the first two (Clearwater and Wind Cave) had to be reached by boat, and in the afternoon we walked to Deer and Lang Caves. All were spectacular and the guides were all locals who had grown up in Mulu. Photos really don't do the caves justice, but I tried anyway (check out the videos I uploaded on youtube)



The winner of them all was Deer Cave. This was the location of the filming of an episode of David Attenborough's Planet Earth on caves and also the home of about three million bats which in turn made it the toilet for about three million bats. The smell of ammonia when you walked in was overpowering and gross and the fact that you were walking on boardwalks surrounded by enormous piles of bat shit resulted in a rather swift walk through this cave for fear of being shat or pissed on. It is Deer Cave that holds access to the very beautiful Garden of Eden, features a very odd rock formation resembling Abraham Lincoln and it's also the spot where you can witness the bat exodus each evening at dusk where the cave's population of bats fly out in formation for their nightly feed.



The following morning we went on a canopy walk. Twenty five metres up off the forest floor Mulu's canopy walk is the longest in the world. It helps if you don't look down.


Mulu was an amazing experience and I'm so happy we were able to get there. I think I would consider coming back to Borneo to do more treks in Mulu, I have never been somewhere where every inch of the place was teeming with life. It is a place that could both kill you with its various deadly animals and plants or could cure you of colds, shingles and burns among other things - that's where it pays to have a local with you :)

Posted by suzebert 17:50 Archived in Malaysia Tagged caves malaysia borneo unesco Comments (1)

Miaow Miaow

Kuching and Tales from an Airport Lounge

rain 26 °C
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That was what the security guy at the metal detecter in Kuala Lumpur airport said to me after checking my boarding pass....miaow miaow. Thankfully I already knew that Kuching's nickname was Cat City, otherwise I would have thought this guy was a bit special and really shouldn't be given the responsibility of airport security. It was fortunate that we were actually able to get on our flight. 48 hours beforehand, an Air Asia A320 had skidded off the runway at Kuching in heavy rain. No one was injured but the nose cone was stuck in the mud and no flights were allowed in or out of the airport until it was cleared.

Yes I did say heavy rain, and it was still raining when we got there too, quelle surprise! If another taxi driver tells me I've arrived somewhere at the wrong time of year again I may cry. At least it seems that it's not a case of a little Irish cloud hovering over our heads, apparently we're all blaming El Nino and all I can say is I'm glad I didn't travel to Brazil or Brisbane, and that we got out of Sri Lanka in time. Lets hope we can avoid any flooding in Borneo too, but something tells me they're used to rain around here.


Kuching is a lovely city built upon the Sarawak River which provides a gorgeous waterfront to stroll along, when it's not raining. Our number one priority was Semenggoh Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the Wild Men of Borneo, the orangutans. Despite the rain we went along for the 3pm feeding. The park is completely open and the orangutans are essentially wild and allowed to freely move wherever they like. They do appear for the bundle of food that is placed on feeding platforms in the jungle at 9am and 3pm. We were extremely lucky (lucky with animals, not so much with the weather it seems). At one of the platforms we sat under a shelter to watch a mother and young baby in the trees. At first mammy was clearly pissed off with the rain like ourselves and had placed a large clump of leaves and foliage on her head to keep her massive body dry. Baby wasn't too keen on this idea and decided to pull all these leaves off and generally have a play about. After a short while they were on the move, down from the trees, on to the feeding platform, down the steps from this platform and on the ground just a few feet in front of our shelter.


It was at this point I remembered the large poster of lovely graphic images of the results of an orangutan attack on the wall behind us and decided we should probably retreat and give mother and baby their space. So we retreated out into the rain a few feet from the shelter while they sauntered in and had a sit down, now comfortably out of the rain. Absolutely an amazing experience. What a difference 3% makes!


We had planned on taking a river cruise to try spot some irrawaddy dolphins, but the weather was so bad no boatmen were sailing so that was scrapped. Instead we spent a day wandering around Chinatown and browsing the many shops of Borneo wood carvings, artwork and jewellery. Kuching has a great chilled vibe to it. There was no one hassling us for anything, on the streets or in the shops, it was all very relaxed and pleasant and I would highly recommend a visit....in the dry season (or in Borneo's case, the less wet season).

I'm currently in the Executive Lounge of Miri airport. We were meant to fly to Mulu National Park this morning at 9.30 but the flight was cancelled because of...you guessed it...bad weather! The next flight is at 2.25 and we've been bumped to that one and given a free lunch voucher. It seems the weather is fine enough to fly in Miri but crappy in Mulu so unless it clears up we could be spending another night in Miri and possibly bailing on the park altogether which will be a bit disappointing. I'm currently in two minds as to whether it'll be a good thing if the flight goes this afternoon, there's a real prospect of being stuck in the park if flights get grounded again on Wednesday and it aint a cheap place to stay and that will then have a knock on effect on our plans for Kinabalu. That I guess will be left up to fate. There isn't much to Miri, which is why I wasn't planning on writing a blog post about it, it's really just a stopover for Mulu and all we really have to show for our time there are memories of a hangover after a great Indian meal and too many beers.


Posted by suzebert 11:13 Archived in Malaysia Tagged animals malaysia borneo kuching semenggoh Comments (0)

Beach Fail #2 And Other Such Christmas Tales

Bali & Lombok

storm 28 °C
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Our plan was to head to Bali for a few days before hopping on a boat over to Lombok where we had chosen a relatively fancy pants hotel to splurge on for the Christmas and New Year period. It was to be a time to relax from all the previous months travelling, a time to spend on the beach or by the pool finally working on my tan while sipping a beer or a cocktail. Sounds nice doesn't it? Well you know what they say about plans, make one and the universe will come along and shit all over it.

Bali was a wash out. Rained everyday and when it wasn't raining there was an overcast sky threatening to rain. We have yet to lie on any beach (we're currently in Bali for our second visit after Lombok before heading back to KL to start the serious travel again). Leaving the weather aside for a moment, we stayed in what probably could be described as the second most touristy spot on the island, Legian/Seminyak. I had intended to stay in the less boozy and beachless town of Ubud but I couldn't find accommodation there so we resigned ourselves to the Aussie package holiday destination of choice. Speaking of Australians, they are everywhere here, and, while not wanting to tar them all with the same large obnoxious boozy brush, they don't paint a pretty picture of their home country, wandering around the streets wearing the ubiquitous Bintang beer wife beater vests - that's if they're not going topless of course - carrying their bottle of beer or vodka and generally being loud and annoying. I'm really beginning to doubt the theory that travel broadens the mind...

Despite the rain and the Australian occupation we quite liked our few days in Bali. There are a tonne of really nice restaurants - you know us, if we're well fed we're happy - and it's much cheaper than we thought it would be which is always a bonus, especially after the budget blowing Sri Lanka visit. It was lovely to catch up on sleep and really not do much at all. We booked our ticket for the trip to Lombok which involved a bus for a few hours, a ferry for four hours and another bus for an hour on the other side. A very long trek for such a short distance - the ferry crossing is 25km - but it was a nice, if very dull and rainy, drive through the Balinese countryside.

Our hotel in Lombok was just outside the provincial capital Mataram. It was very isolated with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and paddy fields. I would post photos but I lost my camera on the way back from Lombok to Bali. The hotel was actually a collection of 14 villas or cabins and as we were staying so long the manager upgraded us to a larger one with its own veranda to sit out on, we even had our own aquarium in our bathroom, very fancy (if you ignored the leaky roof and the dead gecko in our bed). Thankfully, as we were so isolated, the hotel restaurant did decent and cheap food. This didn't stop us heading into town every few days to stock up on beer and munchies however. The weather in Lombok was slightly better than Bali, I think we got maybe three or four days where I was able to soak up some sun for an hour or two before the clouds came over and a storm broke.

Christmas was extremely strange. Facebook and Twitter got very annoying with updates from friends and family about heading home and things being very wonderfully snowy - the same people have since gone back to work and have returned to feeling miserable which is lovely. The hotel put on a Christmas Eve dinner where we got some turkey, stuffing and spuds which was nice. Christmas Day was just any other day, we went for a swim, we ate and drank beer and generally felt quite sorry for ourselves. New Year's Eve was mildly better, we had planned to head into town to grab a pizza but a lack of taxis had us eating in the hotel at their New Year's Eve dinner - it should have cost us $50 each but with our taxi situation the manager allowed us to join for free. They had the cheesiest band playing at dinner, something like you'd see at a granny's 80th party with a really dodgy keyboard being played very badly. So we ate, drank and retired to our veranda where we fought the noise of the band with our own tunes from our laptop. At midnight, despite a raging thunder storm over the nearby hills, I insisted we jump in the pool for a swim. The hotel staff thought we were odd but it was fun all the same.

I guess we could have done some sort of tour of the island or other nearby islands while we were in Lombok but to be honest between the crappy weather and our wonderful tendency for laziness we just weren't bothered. As boring/disappointing/sad as that may be for you dear reader that's how it is. We'll try do something interesting in Borneo in a few weeks. We're looking forward to getting our mojo back in somewhere new and interesting. In the meantime, you'll just have to make do with photos of Will's de-bearding session, which one's your favourite??




Posted by suzebert 01:06 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali indonesia christmas lombok Comments (0)

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