Kuala Lumpur and Borneo.....18th May - 1st June...only a few weeks behind :-)
18.05.2009 - 01.06.2009 35 °C
I loved my stay in Kuala Lumpur!
It was so different to be in a place where the total population of the country is less than the population of one Indian city . Everywhere in KL was within nice walking distance and the hostel I stayed in was right in the centre of Bukit Bintang with all the shopping malls and cinemas and bars and clubs with lovely blissful air conditioning ahhhhh!
I was initially just going to stay in Kl for a couple of days but I met some cool people in the hostel that I was staying in and we spent lots of nights watching DVD's, or going out partying. The first thing I did when I got there was look for a place to salsa, luckily 2 of the best salsa places in KL were 2 minutes walk from where I was staying to I spent 3 nights salsaing with the Malaysians. As in most salsa venues everyone was really friendly, chatty and hospitable and I managed to dance my way through the night even though I only had flip flops.
I did do some touristy things in KL aswell as enjoying the city life, the petrona towers were amazing all light up at night, the Petaling street night market had the best street food and I spent a rainy day at the national museum too.
The weather in Malaysia was humid and warm but rained every other day for a couple of hours in the early evening which cleared the air and made the weather nice and bareable.
I was staying in a lovely hostel to begin with and booked it in advance through hostelworld for a few nights and then extended my stay....unfortunately I made a fatal error of completing a review of the hostel on the internet whilst still a bit drunk from the night before and put all 'very poors' instead of 'excellents' on the rating. As soon as I realised what I had done I sent an e-mail to hostelworld to ask them to change it or remove it but the hostel got hold of the review and threw me out the same day...it was sooooo embarrasing but the guy that ran the hostel was a bit of a drama queen anyway and wouldn't let me explain what had happened he just kept shouting at me to leave!!! Luckily there was another hostel round the corner that I ended up spending my last few nights in and I consoled myself with the best apple an sultana cheesecake I have ever tasted!
I was a bit torn as to whether to explore penisular Malaysia or go to Borneo, the flight to Borneo was a bit expensive but it is somewhere that I have always dreamed of going so I decided it was worth it. I am really glad I did, I flew into Sabah into Kota Kinabalu and stayed in a hostel on the beach just outside the town. I only had a week before my return flight so I pushed myself to do as much as possible everyday.
Day 1 - I went snorkling on Sapi a small island which is a group of national park islands just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. The sea was amazing, nothing like I have ever seen before really aqua blue and totally clear, I didn't even need a snorkel to see all the fish swimming in the water. The beach was lovely white sand and wasn't too busy. On the island we saw massive monitor lizards and wild boar in the their natural habitat, one of the boars stole a mans camera from his sun bathing spot, which was the funniest thing ever as he had been posing down the beach in tiny lepord print swim pants all day absolutely loving himself (the man that is not the wild boar!)
Next to the beachhouse that I was staying in was a canteen that all the locals came to in the evening and that sold the best fruit shakes! unfortunately I took a liking to the coconut one which only came in large size in a cup that would hold about 3 pints...every night that I stayed there I had a coconut shake on the beach....heaven!
Day 2 - I got on the bus to Kinabalu national park, the mountain is the highest point between the Himalayas and Papa New Guinea, as my time was limited and you needed three days to climb the mountain I spent a day trekking round the park to different view points. The weather was much colder up in the mountains and I hadn't really brought appropriate clothing from KK but it was still fun although I ended up getting into bed at 8.00pm cos it was sooooooo cold!
Day 3 - I met a couple of girls and went to the Poring Hot Springs with them, the hot springs are at the other side of the national park and they have lots of big bath tubs that you can fill up with naturally hot water from the springs, it is supposed to be very theraputic and cure all skin ailments...I soaked in there for a good couple of hours before my fingers and toes turned into prunes and I had to get out!. At the hot springs we also visited a butterfly farm, a beautiful waterfall where the fish nibbled at my toes and a canopy walk above the rainforest. As time was limited in Borneo I decided to get the bus to Sandakan that evening and stay there the night so as to be ready to visit the Orangutans the next day.
The largest flower in the world can be found in Borneo but it is really rare as it takes 21 months to bloom and when it does it only blooms for 4 days before dying :-( On our way back from the hot springs we saw a sign in the back garden of a local house saying that they had a Rafflesia in bloom...we stopped and payed the homeowner some money to see the flower which was massive and red and lovely but gave off a horrible whiff of rotton meat as it tried to attract insects to pollunate it!
The buses in Borneo are so irregular, there are no timetables and no locals know when the buses will turn up they just stand there and wait until either a minivan or the bus turns up to take them to their destination. We waited for an hour at the bus stop and eventually a minivan turned up and we agreed a price for them to take us to Sandakan. Half way through the journey just as it was starting to get dark the minivan drivers decided that they didn't want to go to Sandakan anymore and so stopped and negotiated a deal with a driver of a pick up truck to take us the rest of the way...i was sooooo annoyed as we had to cram in 3 people on the front seat and 4 in the back for the rest of the hour and halfs journey!
Day 4- Sandakan is a small town on the east coast of Borneo and its where one of the worlds only Orangutan sanctuaries is. We spent the whole afternoon there taking photos of the orangutans and watching them feed, I wish that we had been able to hold them but they try to keep their environment as natural as possible so that they are safe when released back into the wild.
Day 5 - The next morning to complete my whirlwind tour of Borneo I got back on the bus for the 6 hour ride back to Kota Kinabalu, the bus played horror films on DVD followed by Malaysian heavy rock music followed by Kareoke all the way at full volume to make sure that you were really relaxed as it drove at full speed round the windy roads without using any form of brake :-). I am not sure why but the Malaysian people seemed to get really travel sick, as soon as you sat down on any bus they gave you a sick bag and I spent most of the journey next to women who had her jacket over her head being sick into the bag...when i got off I realised that half the malaysians on the bus had been sick on the journey..gross!
It was harvest festival in Borneo the last weekend I was there and representatives of all the local tribes gather in a big park in Kota Kinabalu to show off their local dress and dancing and goods and food, it was a really great thing to see and everyone in the town was in a party atmosphere....of course the night was finished off with a mega sized coconut shake!
Day 6 - this was my last full day on the island. I went to a local market in the morning and the beach in the afternoon. In the market they had loads of dogs and cats and rabbits for sale which was sad to see as they were all bunched up together in tiny cages, I did resist the temptation to buy them all and set them free although it was hard as the bunnies were soooooo cute!
I really loved Malaysia , a really chilled out country with beautiful people and wildlife and best of all the first bit of salsa in ages!!!