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Published: September 29th 2022
We left Penang to fly to Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the state of Sabah on Malaysian Borneo. Our flight was delayed by 2 hours but we finally boarded and 2hr50 later we were in Borneo! We arrived to our hotel which was opposite the night food market so we went to have look around that evening. The market itself is dubbed the ‘Filipino market’ and has a large fresh seafood section, as well as fresh and cooked foods. We bought a couple of skewers and went back to the hotel with a couple of beers.
The next day we walked around town, and found ourselves in one of the many malls to get away from the heat! Kota Kinabalu is interesting – the city centre is a bit run down but there are many malls on the fringes of the city (much like Thailand). Even though too it was Malaysia day, everything was open. We later then went back to the hotel and I went to have a quick swim and we then ordered a Grab (like Uber) to go to the Sunset Bar at the Shangri-La Tanjung Ari resort. Despite being 15 mins away, traffic was horrendous. 45mins
into the journey we paid and jumped out of the car to chase the sunset which was falling below the horizon. We managed to get some pictures on the beach and finally got to the Sunset bar just as the sun was setting.
The next day was our last day solo/duo travelling as we were to meet our Intrepid Travel group later that evening. We checked out of our hotel and into the new one and then went to the mall for some last minute items. On the way back we stopped into a bustling eatery for a yummy Laksa. Later that afternoon, we went to the Masjid (Mosque) Bandaraya. It’s a fairly modern mosque (as are most in Malaysia) built on a man-made lake. I had to hire some appropriate clothing and we entered the main hall with a guide for photos. The best photos though are taken from the outside, with the reflection of the Mosque and its dome flickering from the lake. Later that evening, we met our Intrepid group for our next 10 day Sabah adventure. Led by our local leader Felix, we got the pleasantries out of the way and had a local dinner.
The next day, we headed to the village of Tanak Nabalu. The village is inhabited by the Dusun tribe – our leader Felix is Dusun. Unlike West Malaysia (the mainland) Borneo has a larger percentage of ethnic tribes and Islam is not the dominant religion in Borneo. The village was very picturesque with the imposing Mt Kinabalu in the background. After lunch we went for a walk to a nearby river where some of the guys went swimming in the rocky rapids (I just went knee deep). After that we stayed with our host families to rest before dinner and played cards and walked around the village saying hello to the locals. After a pot luck dinner at the town hall that was cooked by our various host families, the locals put on a traditional music and dance show for us featuring these traditional ‘gongs’. Later we joined in the fun and tried to play the gongs (not all to successfully!) and had a big group dance. It was so much fun! We then tried the local rice wine which was quite delicious and smooth. Afterwards the gang came back to our homestay house because we had
beer! So we all had some drinks and more rice wine and chatted with the locals and played jenga.
The next day Felix took us for an early morning walk around the village and explained to us the small town hall is the boundary between the villages and one side is Muslim and the other Christian but of course everyone gets along well. He also showed us the natural large rock in the village which everyone dubs ‘mini Kinabalu’ and told us about the ‘head-hunters’ back in the day! We later departed for our next stop, Kinabalu National Park. On the way to our next destination we stopped at a local market that mainly sold Bornean souvenirs but also snacks and food. That evening we stayed near the National park headquarters and prepared for the next 2 days of climbing.
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