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Published: March 1st 2009
We're not there yet...are we?
That's usually not how it goes but let me explain. The flight to Kota Kinabalu (KK) was supposed to be 3 hours. After only about 1 hour in the air, we landed and got off the plane. Something wasn't right. After using some of my awesome investigative skills, I realized we weren't in the right airport. This was bad... We walked back to the plane and to our relief they were holding our transfer tickets to KK. We were in Kuching. Everything was fine, its just no one told us our flight was not direct.
After we arrived in KK, we were greeted by our guide Osman. He took the 4 of us to the hotel and talked about KK along the way. He was sitting in the front left and he kept turning around to talk to us. I couldn't see if his hands were on the wheel or not but he was making me nervous. He spent a lot more time looking at us that watching traffic. I mumbled to Lauren "He should watch the freakin' road!" She laughed at me. Apparently she had thought the same thing but realized that the
front left seat was the passenger seat and they other man in the front was the driver. I could only laugh at my silly mix up.
We got to the Shangri-La hotel and checked in. It was very nice. We had a easy dinner outside by the ocean. We called it a night after some Tiger beers. The next day was going to be a long one and we needed some sleep.
Osman picked us up at 8 o'clock and took us out to see Mount Kinabalu. After a nauseous 30 minutes in the car, we stopped for a break. Lauren wasn't feeling too hot so dad and I decided we would try to cheer her up. She was very interested in the season of Survivor taped on a nearby island, so we went into a few shops looking for an "immunity idle" to give to her. I don't know how much it helped, but our stomachs survived the rough drive. It was really impressive to see a mountain rise over 13,000 feet while being right next to the ocean. We hiked around all morning and Osman told us all about the orchids and other plants in the
Lost int he clouds
park. We got lunch and headed back to the hotel.
We awoke the next day at the ass crack of dawn and headed off to the airport. We were flying to Sandakan for our "eco tour." After a short flight, we landed at the Sandakan airport. I don't know how the pilots found it. It was pretty darn small. I was surprised to see large planes flying in and out of there. We walked outside and met Hamit, tour guide #2. He took us to see the orang u tangs at the orang u tang rescue facility. (I left my camera behind on accident so I'll have to wait for pictures from the family before I can show you). We watched a mother and he offspring eat bananas for a few minutes before they swung back into the rainforest. After a great lunch at rhe Sandakan harbour we got on a 30' speedboat. We sped up a river into the middle of the raiforest. We stopped a few times to check out some monkeys. We were even lucky enough to come across a group of pigmy elephants.
While we were watching the elephants, it began to pour. They
should have called it the "pourforest," because "rainforest" doesn't really describe how obnoxious this was. Soaking wet, we checked into our "ecolodge" which was just off one of the river banks. When the rain stopped, we went out for our afternoon tour. I don't think you could say we waited for the rain to stop. It was more like the rain was waiting for us to come back outside. After a brief boatride, we turned back. We were soaked from head to toe and it was Tiger time again!
I needed a few Tigers for what I was about to do. NO SURONG, NO DINNER! Those were the rules. I guess its a Malaysian custom. All the lodge guests were expected to wear their "dress" to dinner if they wanted to eat. It was a little weird at first, but after seeing a few other people in theirs I felt a little better. It was pretty comfortable after all. It was like I wasn't wearing pants at all!
We left the next day morning. Of course it was gorgeous outside when we were on the way out of the rain forest. We had a little boat trouble which
bought us a free trek through a 3rd world Malaysian village. That was an eye-opener. They didn't have much, but they seemed to have their little village organized pretty well. All the kids were in school and they men were putting a roof on one of the houses. It was pretty cool to catch a glimpse of the local life.
We went back to KK and spent 2 more nights at the Shangri-La resort. Lauren took her turn looking like a chili-crab, but the sun on the equator didn't claim my skin again. It got me once, that was enough for me to learn about sunscreen.
On our last night, we went into KK and got a great chili-crab, black pepper prawn, and fried rice dinner. It as messy as it was tasty. We got a few pictures of the great sunset that had been hiding in the rain clouds for the past few nights. It was a great way to end our Borneo eco-experience. As dad would say, "Happy eco-tournin'"
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