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Published: October 5th 2012
Kota Kinabalu & Sepilok & Sukau & Sandakan
The flight to Kota Kinabalu
was nice and smooth and we were really amazed by standards offered by Air Asia. We were more or less expecting Ryaner kind of experience so that was a nice surprise. As it was late in the evening we had no other choice but take a taxi to the centre (30 RMB/10$) and as usual we embarked on a hostel search. We finally settled for less nice but more affordable Sunset Lodge (40RMB/13$ for basic room with shared bathroom). We were so tired that we just did a quick stop at the food market and went to bed. We did not want to stay long in KK but we had to deal with a few things first before moving on to Sepilok. Unfortunately our DSLR broke as well (just 10 days after laptop) so we had to find a repair shop or buy a new one (the kind of cost we would not want to even think of) and we had to get our 60 days Indonesian visa as well.
one of the islands neaby
We decided to deal with both issues at once and we looked for Canon shops on the way to the embassy. We were not lucky as all they could do was to send our camera to KL to be checked and diagnosed which would take up to 2 months - are you kidding me? Also no one was able/wanted to tell us were some local repair shops are (there is always one) and kept sending us around to yet another authorized dealer. We even visited Canon Showroom to hear the same story. They would just not bend rules and tell us where to repair the camera. How horrible considering that it is not on warranty anymore and we cannot just stay in KK and wait 2 months for a diagnosis. In one shop I finally asked a guy to think where he would have taken his camera if that had happened to him and hurray....he was able to point one place. We had to take a tax to another part of the town to Central Shopping Centre but we found the shop and we were told that the camera should be repaired within 2 days (it had sth to
exclusive photos just for us
as all other people rushed out already
do with a batter joints). How lucky!!!! We also found Indonesian visa process incredibly easy and nice as we were not asked for anything except for money (of course - around 60$ each) and in front of our eyes the already put a sticker in our passports. We did not even have 2 photos to submit and they were ok with us bringing a photo later on - how lax were they??? Movie nights and orangutans - these are the words I never thought I would put in one sentence!
With everything arranged we jest had to wait two days for the camera and we were ready to move on. We made plans with our new friends to go to the nearby Island and then move on to see some Orangutans. As we had loads of time to kill we went to the cinema a few times. We heard before that cinemas in Borneo are great and cost like nothing and more importantly movies are in English. We just loved it - went a few times and paid maybe 2$ each time. It was so weird to be in a place like that after so long!
all plans came to life as I got really really ill and could not move out of the bed with very high fever and muscle pains. Hating doctors as much as I do I was not wiling to go to any clinic but wanted to wait it out and take English GP´s favorite medicine (panadol that is) for the next a few days. I was pretty sure it was not malaria but dengue was on my mind for a long time. In this case guys went on to visit the island and town (including Sunday market) and I just enjoyed ´me, myself and fever time´....
The next day I thought I felt better so we took a bus to Sepilok
but it was a nightmare journey. I felt like it was million degrees outside and as if I had the biggest hangover ever with every sound driving me crazy!!! Loud bus engine and kids at the back did not help either. I went to bed straight away when we arrived at the guesthouse. We loved it there but the price....Wow...35RMB each and there wasn’t really anything cheaper anyway... touristy place in the end. It was already July and many
families with children came up with the same idea as us to visit Sabah I guess. And anything extra we would want to do was just out of our reach becase of price levels - nightmare to be in such a beautiful place and not being able to do things. Well, I spent all 3 days in bed anyway as even walk to the restaurant down the small hill was too much for me so I guess I was not up for trekking or night fishing anyway. But Basia, Gabriel, Gosia, Michal and Tomek of course were really disappointed. We decided not to go and see Orangutans in the Sanctuary but to move on to the Kinabatangan River
area where we had a chance to see them in their natural inhabitant. Weird decision considering that we already spent time and money to get to this place, but either way we were all thinking the same. Wild Wild Borneo
So we took a bus to Sukau
. Well it was not as easy as I say as we fist had to catch a local bus from Sandakan to Sukou junction and then private bus to Sukou. Good that we were
6 people as the cost was crazy again. First of all the driver of the bus wanted to kick us out as we argued about the price. In Sepilok they told us that bus is 15RMB/5$ (for like 40KM) but they wanted 25RMB. We said no and started the usual bargain that you do everywhere in Asia but they were just not interested. They had enough tourists wanting to pay 25RMB that they did not care. What the hec? In the end they settled for 20RMB as with 6 people they still got nice profit but that just proved that the price was not fixed.
We read that the nicest experience is offered by Uncle Tan´s but again - unaffordable. We know for fact that last year their price was 390RMB for 3 days and now it was 430 RMB - 10$ increase within one season??? We knew that Borneo was more expensive when compared with other Asian destinations but we didn’t expect this. We then decided to take our usual DIY approach (if we cannot then who?) so went to the Green View B&B that many people really recommend. Not only we had to pay crazy 70RMB/25$ for
a very basic room but they wanted like 60RMB/20$ for each tour on the river. What was this place??? Sudenly Sabah did not seem very backpackers friendly at all and the worst thing was that noone really cared - they were simply not interested in business with us as they wanted tour groups and holiday makers with money ... so sad. We were lucky to find a newly opened guesthouse next door that had inexpensive rooms and really cheap river cruises (again it helped we were 6 of us) so we managed to see what we came for inexpensively anyway. It just makes me wonder- what a poor backpacker have to do to be able to visit places like that???
We must admit that the river cruises we took were highlights of our Borneo trip ad we were amazed by the nature around the river. We saw Proboscis Monkeys (distinctive to Borneo only), loads of other less shy monkeys like Macaques ad Gibbons and Hornbills (beautiful birds). However We did not spot any orangutans so we knew we had to go back to Sepilok in the end. I guess if I felt any better (my fever was gone but
I felt like I had a close encounter with a bulldogger) we would have done the much recommended night trekking and see more but we were all very satisfied anyway. Our new friends were really amazed by our ability to do things cheaply (they were traveling for shorter time or in a different way) and were not used to trying to do everything themselves. It came out great ad we had loads of fun with them, we must admit.
So next we took a bus to Sandakan
where together with Gosia and Michal we decided to say in a ´nicer´
hotel. It was not a star hotel but had nice white linen, cable TV and AC for only 45RMB so we were happy (Gabriel and Basia took a hostel in the center). We had to walk around 15min to the center but that was ok. We stayed for 5 days doing absolutely nothing except for taking a short trip to the Sepilok Orangutan centre which was - surprise, surprise - like a Disneyland with all the tourist and cameras. I still felt really week (it has been like 10 days now) so we stayed behind at the feeding platform
not the prettiest animal but very interesting
when all the visitors moved on and one orangutan decided to come out and hang out just in front of our eyes. Almost everybody missed this as they were already rushing out of the centre and we were amazed with his/her yogi-like-fitness level haha I also must mention that my hubby took me for a nice movie date in Sandakan. We had a private screening of a ´Snow-White and the Huntsman´
as there was nobody else who wanted to watch that hahah Sandakan also has a very nice and cheap movie theater if anybody is stuck there before their flight. We had lovely evenings with our new friends, with whom we bonded really deeply and we were sad to say goodbye. We were crossing to Indonesia next and they were flying back to Malay Peninsula and then to South America. Shame as it would have been awesome to travel together especially that we had same plans in S. America.
We were for sure happy to move on as Sabah did not really happen to be to our tastes... We loved the nature part of it and it is definitely worth checking out but the human/local interaction experience was pretty
bad I am affraid. Traveling experiences are constituted not only by what we see but how we feel as well so that is why we would not be likely to think about coming back to Malay Borneo... Additional Note - Summary of Malaysia:
• 29 days, 9 places in Malay Peninsula and Sabah
• our favourite place:
Perhentian Island and historic town of Melaka
• our favourite food:
everything in Melaka
• our favourite landscape:
around Kinabalantan River and Tea Planations around Cameron Highlands
• our favourite activities:
cruises on Kinabalantan River
• our favourite hotel/guest-house:
Sharila Resort on Perhentian Kecil
• least favourite thing about Malaysia:
nothing comes to mind
• our total cost per day:
30.1£/48$ per day for both of us
Tot: 1.435s; Tpl: 0.064s; cc: 46; qc: 198; dbt: 0.1097s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.9mb