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Published: February 9th 2008
Probably looking to see what he can steal!
We were going to start an intrepid tour in a few days in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, but we had a few days available first so we decided to go to Brunei.
Bandar Seri Begawan (the capital of Brunei) seemed a very strange place, a tiny country sandwiched between Malaysian Sabah and Malaysian Sarawak. It is a very rich country with a lot of oil reserves, and also had the richest man in the world (had, because he was overtaken by Bill Gates at one point).
It is a muslim country and buying alcohol is illegal. This was OK for us however, as we were only staying a couple of days.
We strolled through the town, a strangely deserted place, before heading out on to the water and exploring the floating part of the city which seemed to be vaster than the city on land.
From Brunei we needed to take a ferry to the island of Labuan and then another ferry to Kota Kinabalu on the mainland. So this is what we did. Labuan provided a stop over, and was a sharp contrast to Bandar Seri Begawan. While in Brunei alcohol is illegal, on Labuan it was cheap
Baby Green Turtle
And we found this little guy scrambling out of his sandy nest and down towards the ocean and to a life in the sea
and plentiful. This was due to the fact it is a major port and also enjoys duty free status. Still we were good and only had one beer each before heading to bed.
Arriving in Kota Kinabalu the next day, we headed to the hotel to meet with the intrepid group we would spend the next couple of weeks with. There was only eleven of us which was good and everyone turned out to be really nice. We were a little concerned about this beforehand as no-one likes to be stuck for a few weeks with some tosser. But everyone was great.
Our first stop was the imposing Mount Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in South East Asia rising to 4100 metres, taller than Mount Cook, and half the size of Everest. We stayed firstly in a local Dusan Village at the foot of the mountain where we met our guides and also met their rice wine. It started civilised enough but by the end of the night there were people sprawled out asleep where they had fallen.
In the morning we started up the mountain, taking an alternative trail. Slightly longer and more undulating, it was a
These two young Orang-utans were inseperable
nicer and more interesting way up than the standard route. Ignoring the wet weather we laboured up to the summit hut near the top. Because we were not sure if we would have problems due to the altitude, we took the climb slowly, and by the end it became more difficult to get oxygen in the thin air. On reaching the summit hut a short distance from the top, the heavens opened and a huge downpour erupted. The plan was to sleep until 2am and then begin the final ascent to reach the summit by sunrise, but when the apointed time arrived it was clear that there was going to be no final climb. Galeforce winds were slamming the mountain, and all the rain flowed down the narrow trails like rivers. Disheartened, at dawn we began our descent through the storm. Hopefully we will get another chance to climb the mountain, next time not in the rainy season.
We spent the next couple of days relaxing at Poring hot springs soothing our tired muscles, then on to a stay in the jungle alongside Kinabatangan river. Our stay was outside in hammocks, and we went to sleep to the sounds
of the jungle. In the morning we headed upstream again, and after a wash in the alligator infested river, we met with the local family which we would stay with that night.
Onward again, we headed to the old capital of Sabah, Sandakan, and then off to an island off the coast. The island was aptly named Turtle Island, and this is why we were here. At all times of the year, turtles would pull themselves on to the beach and lay their eggs in the sand. Also young turtles would dig themselves up from the sand and swim off into a dangerous ocean. The island proved to be lovely and it was nice just sitting in the water, or relaxing on the gorgeous beaches.
Back at Sandakan, we moved on to Sepilok nature reserve, the home of an Orang Utan rehabiliation centre. The Orang-Utans were very cute, and extremely human-like, it is sad to think that they are in such dire straights due to us and our ongoing pursuit of progress.
Then suddenly we found ourselves at the end of our Sabah trip, most of our new friends would be heading back to work, but for
A view of the Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan
The best way to see the sights in Brunei is by boat
those that were left we still had the wilds of Sarawak to explore.
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