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Published: January 18th 2015
View of one of the grand mosques
We have only been to Brunei in transit so many times, we have passed through the airport and wondered. Well wonder no more, myself, I was very disappointed. For me it reminded me of Darwin from the eighties, lots of public buildings and the suburbs set out with similar house projects homes. Yes their is the affluent, but also a lot of poor people. We took a tour of the river to find that over 22,000 people actually live on the river. They dwell in stilt homes and have shops and schools. We had the most lovely fella show us around. He himself was born and still lives on the river with his family of 6 children.The most amazing mosques and palaces and very Muslim. We were told that that of the 500,000 people in Brunei 20% were expats made up of British, Indian, Chinese. We went to Bangor which is on the river so we took a jet boat. Our stay in Brunei was short, only two days. It was nearly longer for Glen as on the way out it was discovered that they did not stamp his passport on the way in. So glad I didn't have to phone
the kids and tell them that their Daddy was in the clink. It did take quite a bit of checking and cross referencing. We a always check that the Passports are stamped..........not this time, guess we will be checking it twice in the future. Going back into Sabah, Malaysia, but taking a short cut, we took a ferry from Brunei to the island of Labuan. This is where the Japanese signed the surrender papers for the Second World War. We had hoped to have stayed a couple of hours but we had been delayed, so hadn't the time to look around. Then took another ferry to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah which is the North of Borneo. Kota Kinabalu was once Jesselton, it was a important port because of the position and the British occupied this town, Now a busy tourist spot with lots of resorts. In KK they have many illegal Philipinos. They all live on across the bay from KK in stilt homes. They fish and in the evening and then travel to KK at night to sell their Sea food. It is so delicious. We ate chilli crab and squid,,all fresh from the sea and so very cheap. The
River cruise in Brunei
Malaysians have this deal with them the don't set the stalls up till 6pm and by 1am morning there has to be no trace of them. They lock all the tables and chairs and cooking item in a storage area that it owned by some Malaysians. If they flout these rules they are fined. If the Malaysia government try and deport them they just hide in the jungle, so the police bribe them and so every one is happy. From KK we travellled north to the tip of Borneo, Kudat. It is also a fishing port. When you travel 28km to the tip you find the most lovely beaches. None compare with Australian beaches I'm afraid, but, we all know that. We are probably not seeing them at their best either, we are here in monsoon time. We travelled from Kudat to Mount Kinabalu, not to climb the mountain but to do some more Trekking through rain forests. We covered about 10km which, was some of the most beautiful rainforests but we had no view of Mount Kinabalu as heavy fog came upon us and covered the mountain. By the time we got back to the mountain retreat it was
Stilt homes in Brunei
getting very cold and wet from the mist. The morning came and exposed the most beautiful scenery and the fabulous mountain. Traveling to Sepeilok by bus we traveled though country side that had been cleared of natural forest and planted with Palm oil trees. It was a sight that spreads throughout Malaysia and now Borneo. I have been debating with Glen about this for sometime, cutting the rain forests down which destroys many animal natural habitats but the work it brings to these Malaysian people, who would have no hope of work. Same as in Australia Mining. farming people have to survive. We also travel though a town on the bus called Ranua this place as a special place in history because Australian troops from the Second World War were made to march from Sandakan to Ranua. This was towards the end of the war when the Japanese knew that they were losing the war, they made prisoner or war troops march to Ranua. They knew that they were so under fed and starved they knew they wouldn't make it as it was known as the death march. Only a few men from the marches made it, nearly all perished.
School on stilts
Malaysian villagers who tried to help these troops also perished. We will be visiting the War Memorial while in Sandakan. Today we have been planning for a long time, This is the whole reason we came to Borneo. For a place called Sepeilok orangutang Rehabilitation Centre. Where we will get to be with the Orangutang's. We have just checked into Paganakan Dii Eco Tourist Resort for a couple of days very excited........... Will tell you about it next week.
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