Borneo – Kota Kinabalu – Pulau Sapi

Kota Kinabalu

What surprised me during the flight from Georgetown to Kota Kinabalu (KK) is that the flight attendants were wearing jeans. Branded Air Asia naturally! After landing the usual taxi counter helped us to get transportation to the city. It was already well after dark. We didn’t know where we wanted to stay so again chose a name from our guide. Just for your information Trekker’s Lodge doesn’t exist anymore. We ended up in Sensi Hostel. In KK hostels represent a better standard than the hotels. We found that out later on on our way back from Sandakan. The rooms (doubles without windows) cost MR70 and for 4 people MR120. they also have proper cheap dormitories.

When we were checking in we heard someone calling for help. The receptionist didn’t react at all. We didn’t know what to do but were about to go upstairs where the voice was coming from. And so we did. We met her on the stairs leading to the rooms. She looked weak and pale. She said she doesn’t feel well and carried on downstairs. We offered help but I think we expected the staff to help her.

We just managed to put down our bags when we heard knocking on the door. It was the German girl from before. She asked if we could help her as she needs to get to the hospital and nobody wants to help her. We agreed. We took basic things and came with her to the reception. The lady there was still unconcerned about our acquaintance but she managed to explain to us where the 24h clinic is (Permai Polyclinics Group). We were really worried and wanted to hurry up but the girl was too fragile to walk fast. If you ever need it here is the map:

Kota Kinabalu Malaysia BorneoOn the way we asked probably too many questions. What are the symptoms, when did it start, how she feels. It turns out she was climbing Mount Kinabalu. She said she was grant as long as she drunk her own water but on the way back she didn’t have any left so used local containers. She was quite unlucky as it hasn’t been raining for a while and so the water wasn’t fresh and might have been contaminated. Symptoms: high fever, vomiting, diarrhea. She was trying to drink as much as she could but her body refused any food.
I have to say I was really surprised with the care she received in the clinic. I can’t say a bad word about it. The nurses asked for symptoms and in few minutes took her to private rooms to measure blood pressure and get as many details as possible. We waited with her until she was called in to talk to the doctor. She came back after 5 mins. They gave her injections to stop her from vomiting and she said that she felt better almost instantly. We waited for the drugs for a while. This took the longest but nothing like waiting for 7h in emergency department in Galway. The prescribed her 3 different drugs. Of course you can by card but don’t ask me why her golden MasterCard wasn’t accepted. Maybe restrictions due to unknown location? A. paid for her MR148 (EUR33). I was so proud of him! It costs EUR100 to see a doctor in Emergency Department in Galway.
I really can’t remember her name. She was traveling alone in Australia and New Zealand. She was due to go to Manila next to meet her boyfriend. After her experiences in Malaysia she didn’t have a good opinion about the local people. Nobody would help her when she needed it. Just to let you know she was due to fly to manila on 30th October, on 8th November Super Typhoon Haiyan — one of the strongest storms recorded on the planet — smashed into the Philippines. I really hope she is alright.
We met some interesting people in that hostel this night. They told us interesting life stories and a bit about Borneo’s history. Now let me introduce you to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
You can get there by boat; we paid RM30 per person plus MR10 entrance fee to the park. Keep your ticket as you only pay once even if you visit more than 1 island. I will let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy!

First Island Pulau Sapi, crowds scared us away from the main beach and we ventured further down the path trough the jungle.

Ships harbour Kota Kinabalu

Just 200 metres wide and half a kilometre long, Sapi is one of the more popular islands with 5 kilometres of nature trails. A sand bank links it to Gaya. At low tide, it’s possible to wade between the two islands.

Our “private” beach

Tree Pualu SapiJungle Pualu Sapi BorneoDiving boat Pualu Sapi BorneoWater sports Pualu Sapi Borneo

The biggest adventure on Pulau Sapi is still jet to come!

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Georgetwon, Penang, Malaysia

Lots to be said about why we flew to Penang from Langkawi instead to take a ferry. Also let’s not fail to mention that our flight was delayed and even thought we left much earlier than our friend/owner of Rainbow Lodge we arrived in Georgetown much later, so late in fact he gave our reserved rooms away and we had to look for a different accommodation. (Taxi from airport to Georgetown MR44) Which let me tell you wasn’t easy. And to find two rooms with windows in the same hostel. Impossible! Well for us without window (flip of a coin or three I can’t remember) in Kimberley House just around the corner.

We stayed in Georgetown for 2 nights and oh boy we had fun! First D met up with Estonian guy and took him with us to sightsee Little India. Oh what a place! I could have sworn I made video clips but can’t find them. It was all tacky, sparklin, rainbow of colours and Bollywood music! I found it!!! Yey there you go

[youtube=http://youtu.be/QVbJB7DHCCY]

Ok, maybe this clip gives just a tiny, tiny feel of what it felt like being there but I’m not an awarded director. Because I have so much to tell and the post would be dragging let me put it down in bullet points

  • Dinner in Little India – one of the best we had on this trip, service “had balls” when we didn’t want to try everything in the menu the waiter was quite disappointed and informed us about it, we went mostly for chicken, yum yum, so we had: rice, Naan bread – different types, chicken kurma, chicken butter masala and grilled chicken. Naan was served with insane green colour sauce. The staff went next door to buy beer for us and they charged us LESS than it cost in a shop! The size of the Tiger bottle was 640ml – shop price MR15, there MR13.50. As the Estonian was single we joked with the waiter that next time when he comes he will get a wife with the food free of charge hahahahaa oh you should have been there to laugh

  • The Estonian – left country when he was 20 years old to Australia, he worked in different farms for 2,5 years. Interiary Brisbane – Kuala Lumpur and then Georgetown. He said MR200 was stolen from him in KL. He didn’t really know where to go next but took advice on Bangkok. He wants to go back home to do military service as it seems enjoyable to him. It was so strange to meet someone who only set out to travel and had no idea what he wants to see
  • Back to Little India, it was a week before Diwali so the sale was on, I got myself earings and A. bought me a set of necklace and earings very nice, I’m still waiting for a proper chance to wear them. I. in the meantime got henna tatoo (for MR3 hand size)

  • We sat down on a street krebstone and drunk beer chatting about travel, karma, meditation, democracy and prices when a Malay came over and started to chat us up. He was running a hostel, prices very low: MR15 single room, MR10 dormitory, MR25 double room, I had his business card somewhere and promissed to put his details in my blog (all A. doing), now we never saw his place but if you are tight on budget check this out (picture above)

Snake Temple Georgetown Penang Malaysia

  • Snake Temple, (bus number 401E, 101 maybe 104 MR2.70 but it takes 30 min), it wasn’t what we have imagined but there is a lot of snakes on specially prepared stalls (see one on the left hand side in a corner on the picture above? Where is Wally?) and then in the back garden on the trees

  • Beautiful meal in a asian type market stalls already closing before reopening in the evening, we had deep fried ice-cream for starter, soups served in clay pots and plenty of orange juice which this time wasn’t over sweetened or in 3/4 consisting of ice

  • our first breakfast at the corner of Kimberley Street – see picture below

Now all different pictures from Georgetown maybe I should dedicate 2 posts to this city but well we need to get on to Borneo!

It made me laugh, polar bear on the desert dreaming of mattress well…

Riksha instead of tuk tuk

First floor display window… or maybe it’s only me

Century egg or pidan also known as preserved egg, hundred-year egg, thousand-year egg, thousand-year-old egg, and millennium egg, is a Chinese cuisine ingredient made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months, depending on the method of processing.

Georgetown Penang Malaysia

Ok last one even tough I didn’t publish any showing Chinese temples (beautiful in red and gold with insane sculptures) or fireworks or so many other things that draw my attention.

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Langkawi cable car

Langkawi skybridge

As promised Langkawi Cable Car, Skybridge and panorama. (Taxi to get there from Pantai Cenang MR26). The price to get on both middle and higer deck is MR30 but if you would like to add trekking from the highest deck to the middle one total price is MR99 (see their know their marketing). Cable car as a way of transportation might be exciting but the most amazing part is the skybridge. It was closed for maintenance when we were there. Shame!

At the bottom of the mountain is a heritage village where you can buy various souveniers and even Ramen! You hop on to the cart without it even stopping and there you go up up and away!

[youtube=http://youtu.be/jpO-_ihwqrI]

The views are amazing! You can see the jungle and the waterfalls among them famous Telega Tujuh falls (separate tour). Off shore islands and lovely sandy beaches.  One of the attractions is lake of the pregnant maiden. Tasik Dayang Bunting is a fresh water lake set amid the limestone cliffs and dense forests. A legend resolves around the tragic tale of Princess Mahsuri who claimed she became pregnant by drinking water from the lake. She was then falsely accused of adultery and executed. The legendary crocodile which inhabits the lake is said to be mahsuri’s child.

We turned out to be really silly. We took the cart (4 of us) with other 2 strangers and when we got to the first deck we jumped out of it but because they didn’t we jumped right back into it before anyone from a que lining 2 meters away could take our places. And we went all the way up. The weather was lovely, sunny and bright. Altough becouse of the humidity shots of horizon and zooming was not great. Then we decided to go back down again… but then why not stop in the middle in the end we paid for it 😉 and so we did. The only trouble is you need to get back up to get down. This time a huge cloud was moving towards the cable car and this time we got a chance to admire the sight covered with clouds. Exactly you couldn’t see anything!

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Langkawi Malaysia

langkawi malaysiaLangkawi is a duty free island near the Thai border. During the peak season it’s very busy and quite expensive. Off season we were welcomed by rain and more backpacker friendly prices. Langkawi means reddish brown eagle in colloquial Malay and hence large eagle statute is symbolising the island. We arrived by boat in the harbor witout any idea where we want to stay. After quick consideration we chose Pantai Cenang (Cenang Beach). Taxi there costed us MR24. We didn’t know where to start looking for accommodation but the driver got us really annoyed when pretending to be death to our requests to stop. He brought us all the way to AB Motel. Typically it would be the last place where we wanted to go after all this. Maybe he meant well but seemed to be very cheeky about it. It came to verbal scuffles to the extent that a by walked asked what happened. Anyway it was still raining as we sat down to have some coffe. Bent over a guide and telephone already started to lose hope for something in our budget. When the girl from the cafe came over. She advised us to walk pass Restaurant rasa and turn right into a small street where cheaper accommodation is available. This is how we went from MR170 per night to MR70.

It obviously wasn’t the right time because there was nobody around and the guesthouses looked deserted. Finally we got to Rainbow Lodge. Nicest place where we stayed for me anyway. Very friendly staff. We had a small “house” for ourselves which had a hard but comfortable bed and a wet room (aircon and TV for those interested) and two chairs on our small patio. What else would you want… well sun. This is how it looked like when we finally got to sit on the patio

The weather did improve with time. So we got sun burned in the end. There are many attractions and activities in a sea/island resort like this one. Massage, spa, paragliding, water skiing, karting, night market. Details you can find here.

I will dedicate a separate post to Langkwai SkyCab (cablecar). Now it’s night life time and our local for the stay. It was a bar made of wooden boards in front of the grocery store in which the bartender bought beer for the clients. All other alcohols were delivered. The barman and his assistant Leila were very friendly but not pushing and we really had a lot of fun. The mix of coctails on our first night was awsome but made us stick to beer and gin & tonic the following nights. Check out Bob Marley!

Our bartender in the foreground

One cocktail costs MR12 and depending on relationship with bartender can be stronger or weaker. Saying this I can imagine they are way stronger at the beginning and then have less and less alkohol and more and more “colorful stuff”. The speciality of the house are card tricks making clients jaws drop.

Some people will not stop to amaze me. Like this German guy who went to the shop to buy a beer and then wanted to sit by the bar to drink it. Honestly?

Ok long awaited beach pictures arrive:

Regarding last picture. One day we came to the beach and to our surprise noone was in the water. What? We thought about it for a second but headed into the sea anyway. A first and I just behind him. Suddenly something touched my leg. It felt like plastic bag floating in wated. We kept going. A thinking “What the hell is wrong with her??!!” It happened again and third time and this is when I said let’s get out and so I did. When I reached the shore I saw the rash of jellyfish you can see above and waved A back. Terryfing. Later on we tried to move little further down the beach where we saw some people but once we noticed brown jellyfish we gave up.

To sum up: we had great time even though bathing wasn’t so great. We had better experience in KK (Kota Kinabalu). Next post will be about cable cart as promissed.

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Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi, train, ferry and the rain

We left Kuala Lumpur on board of an overnight KTM train to Alor Star (Alor Setar). Heads up for anyone looking for sleeping cart: buy the tickets well in advance. You can do it here online.

Another of my dreams came true. Not trans Siberian, but still exciting. I have to say it was more comfortable than I expected. We got tickets for the last compartment on top benches opposite to each other. We didn’t even get a chance to settle in when we saw a small service cart approaching. A girl and a guy were pushing it towards our beds, then stopped foe 20 seconds and started to walk back again. Without a word. This is your service so if you want to buy something to eat or drink here’s your chance.

I woke up before sunrise. Lying on my bed I was considering what the weather will be like and trying to figure out the route of rain during rainy season. Having no idea what so ever about meteorology I made up theories of where it should be raining and where not. I went to the toilet which was thankfully cleaned. Breakfast – terribly sweet cookies and mango juice. God, save us all from forced sweet breakfasts. A. had potato bun which tasted like bread plait. Better option.

Just 20 minutes before our stop steward told us there is a restaurant compartment and we could have coffee!

When we got off that train the only thing we could think of was coffee! Outside the station just behind all the taxis there was a plastic canvas spread above small table and portable kitchen. We sat down among the locals and asked for “kopi susu” which means coffee with milk. This caused a lot of joy and undeserved suspicion that we know how to speak Malay.

Our taxi driver on the way to the ferry (MR25) turned out to be really friendly and talkative. He had never heard of Poland. Has 4 children with Thai wife, 2 studying at the University – one Arabic law and the other Arabic language. They are married over 32 years and his oldest child is 23 years old. The main plantations around Alor Star are rice (not brown), palm trees and rubber. The brown rice is grown in Borneo and tends to be really expensive.

He believes Borneo is really beautiful even though he only saw it on TV, never travelled. He used to be a fisherman but driving a taxi is more profitable. He asked us if there is anyone famous from Poland. “Walesa?” “No” “Dudek?” “No” “John Paul II?” … embarrassing silence; A. “Not everyone likes him…” Blond moment what can I say…

The ferry cost MR23 and the remedy against mosquitoes MR23.80 and it turned out this was this natural substance that doesn’t work. We got on the boat. It looked dirty and old. Nobody wanted to sit next to us. This might have been the whole day and night without shower. It took us 1,5 hours to get to the island. We watched Malay movie about a woman who runs away from her husband with their child co he hits her. The passage was rough and the boat was kind of falling apart. The pillars meant to hold the roof above our heads were loose and didn’t help a bit. Just before we got to the island it started to rain and it rained all the time this day and throughout the evening. I was tired, quite hungry and discouraged. But we made it.

We managed to find cheap place to stay and food but more about it in my next post.

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Wow! Roller Coaster in Times Square

Ok this might be weird that I will have one post dedicated to a shopping center in Kuala Lumpur. Believe me, I’m not a great fun of those but I had to make an exception. I came across a mall with cinema, we even have those in Poznan, but not with a theme park!
Berjaya Times Square Theme Park is Malaysia’s largest interior theme park measuring 133000 square feet. Before we got to the mall we thought the roller coaster will be just there, in the middle of the shopping center just behind the entrance. This turned out not to be true. When we entered there was no sign of a roller coaster or even a ride. Confused, we started to wander around looking for directions. On the shopping mall map we saw that the theme park was located on the 7th floor. Firstly we took the escalators. And believe me it’s not the best option. Crowded stairs are located far away from each other to make people walk between the shops before they can get to the next level. So from 2 nd floor we decided to take a lift. We qued. We qued for what seemed to be ages and was probably 3 minutes. Behind some friends who at the last moment decided not to take the lift and before we could blink the elevator was gone. Amazed we waited another century for the next one.

When we got to 7th floor we found out the entrance is on the 5th. Another lift. The ticket is MR48 for an adult. Another “be aware”! To get on the roller coaster you need to leave your things in a locker. The be able to do it you need tokens. To get tokens you need to buy a card and top it up. You can’t pay cash to get tokens. So the card and top-up was MR10 – MR5 deposit and MR2 for a locker the balance is returned. We didn’t know that and bought most expensive frutella like candies.

My boyfriend describes the ride as “…surprisingly good, I did not expect it to be so exciting, in the end it is under the roof.”
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9EfuMQ2GpE&feature=youtu.be]

There a couple more rides and a floor dedicated to small kids so if you are travelling with children don’t hesitate!

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