Hi everyone! Sorry we haven't written for a while - this is going to be a long one I'm afraid!
So we finally arrived in Kota Kinabalu
(KK) which is the capital of Sabah
. We spent most of our first day planning the rest of our time here and decided to do some diving in Sipadan
first as we didn't think Burnley's feet would hold up if we tried to climb the mountain first!
We had another 'interesting' journey from KK down south to Semporna
We decided to get a night bus (10hrs) to save on a nights accommodation. So we set off at 7.30pm, due to arrive in Semporna in the early hours of the morning. The road from KK to Semporna takes you through Kinabalu national park which is a massive rainforest with a mountain in it. In the dark this looks quite a scary place anyway but when, about halfway through our journey, some kids chucked a massive rock at the coach and smashed the window inches from Burnleys head, it was even more scary! There was glass everywhere and when it first happened, from the noise, we thought Ben had been shot. Me and Ads where covered in tiny fragments of glass let alone Ben and Burnley. Thankfully though no one was injured (just shaken up) and the window was just cracked rather than completely smashed. We even managed a smile when the driver tried to fix it with some glue.
We arrived in Semporna at about 5am and met with a guy from the dive shop which we had booked our diving and accommodation with and were taken to the dive shop where we were given a room to sleep in for a few hours until the boat arrived to take us to the tiny island of Mabul
which is next to a world famous diving site - the island of Sipadan. Mabul is about 45mins from the mainland and is absolutely beautiful! Its oval shaped and surrounded by sandy beach and coral. It has two small villages on it which are made up of small wooden huts which are on stilts over the water. We stayed in a guesthouse which was in one of these, in the middle of the village. It was sort of a homestay as the owner also lived there and some of the staff and all the meals were communal (and really nice!).
Our last night, boozing with the locals
It was a small place with about 10 rooms and we had it to ourselves most of the time! There was also a very posh resort on Mabul which we made use of during the days for the lovely bit of beach it had (and the bar!). There were so many children on the island and every single one of them said hello to us when we walked through the village! So cute!
Ben did his PADI diving course while we were there and me and Ads did a couple of days of diving - setting off at 6am and watching the sun rise on the boat, doing a dive then having breakfast on the beach on Sipadan! Then the rest of the day was spent... can you guess? Diving!!! We saw loads of great stuff including reef sharks, turtles (actually we saw more turtles when we were snorkelling - I counted 12 in 10 mins) big shawls of Barracuda, beautiful coral. It was by far one of our favorate places! Although I nearly got attacked by a shark while snorkelling in-between dives.
It was sat at the bottom (about 10m down) with one of its mates and when it saw me looking at it, it came AT me! I was really scared so I flipped my flippers at it and just at the last minute it turned around and swam the other way. Thats exactly what I did too - got straight back on the boat! And I lived to tell the tale!!!!
There wasn't much to do in the evenings on Mabul except relax, listen to a bit of guitar playing by Ben or the locals and try and spot turtles from our little pier! But on our last night one of the guys who worked at the dive shop offered to get us some of the local rum and so we accepted his offer and invited him to join us for a couple of drinks by the pier. It was a really good night, having started off with a little group of 5 of us and 3 bottles of rum, there ended up being about 20 of us and way too many bottles of rum to remember!!!
The next morning after waving goodbye to our new Mabul family and feeling a little worse for wear, we got the boat back to the mainland and set off to Sepilok
which is where the Orang Utan sanctury is.
We checked in to our accommodation which was a lodge right in the middle of the jungle and really lovely. The next day we went to see the Orang Utans being fed! They live in the sanctury and have all been rescued and rehibilitated back into the grounds of the sanctury. They can look after themselves but they get fed twice a day just in case they aren't getting on so well (or feeling lazy!). They get fed from a little wooden platform where the park rangers put food out for them to come and get if they want. It was great seeing them swinging towards the platform. We saw about 8 but none as big as the one we saw in Hong Kong!!!
The next day we went to see the Proboscis Monkeys which are only found in Borneo and are apparently known locally as Dutchmen monkeys because of their big noses!! Ha! We got really close to them and they are so funny looking! (see pics)
The next part of our Borneo adventure was climbing Mount Kinabalu.
We headed back to the national park on Friday. We weren't due to climb the mountain until the monday so we stayed within the park grounds for a couple of nights. It was really nice being in the cooler climes of the park. Our accommodation was so much better than we could have imagined! We were allocated a little hut on arrival and when we got there we couldn't believe it was all ours! We were expecting just a little room with two bunk beds in but we had a place with 2 bedrooms, our own bathroom, a kitchen and living area, a real wood burning fire place and a TV with cable! wow! We weren't accustomed to such luxuries!
In the national park (and in fact everywhere in Borneo) it rains everyday without fail at around lunch time, so on our first day we got up early to take full advantage of the nice weather and went on a guided walk along one of the many trails in the park.
We saw lots of orchids and those pitcher plants which catch insects. At about lunch time (you guessed it) it started to rain so we spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching Heroes on TV! They showed the whole first series of which I haven't seen any and now I am addicted! Actually it was quite surreal as we were sitting in a mountain lodge with the log fire burning and watching TV - it didn't feel like we were in Borneo at all!
On the Monday we got up early to meet our guide who was assigned to us for the trip up the mountain. We set off at about 8.30am and after the first 15mins I really thought I wouldn't be able to do it! It was so hard and there were endless steps which gave way to steep rocks but after about 5hrs we had managed to trek 6km up to about 3000m to the base camp where we spent the night.
Our lodge just before the peak (1200 ft)
It had started to rain at about lunch time (!) so when we got there we were cold and wet and there were no views as it was cloudy. The next morning it was a different story - the views were breathtaking! It was so worth all the hard work getting up the mountain! It took us about 3hrs to get back down again and we managed to get back down before the rain!!! yay! We stayed in the same lodge again last night and returned to KK this morning via a very uneventful car journey! We are all in pain and walking very strangely today...
So we are staying here for 2 nights then on Friday morning we fly to Singapore for 3 nights then we part ways with Ben and Burnley and fly to OZ!!!! How exciting!!!