Our next adventure was Borneo and our first stop was Borneo’s Malaysian region (there are three regions which make up Borneo – Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei) called Sabah. We spent some time in the town of Kota Kintabalu. The first night we headed to the fish market and found some amazing fresh fish straight off the boat and onto the BBQ – one of the best dinners in Malaysia so far.
We were well fed, but lost all that weight after spending one night in a ten-person hostel room, hotter than Channing Tatum in Magic Mike. That day we continued our sweat-fest and headed to Sapi Island for a beach day. As we snorkelled, the sun mercilessly battered our skin for a few hours. For us it was a relaxing day, which could not be said for “two girls one camera”, who, for the next three hours, turned the beach into their studio. These girls would take it in turns to lie on rocks, sand, branches and in the sea, in an attempt to ‘break the internet’ Kim Kardashian style. A popular move was the arms-thrown-over-their-heads-with-hair-flowing-into-the-breeze-upon-the-rock pose. There would be 30 pictures taken of that position, they’d discuss what they had created, and then move onto the next set up, perhaps the looking-into-the-distance-pushing-your-bum-out-look-back-at-the-camera-slightly shot, or the oops-where-did-I-leave-the-keys-finger-in-mouth-while-on-the-rock-with-one-leg-up-to-show-my-sexy-body-but-where-are-those-keys shot. There were many more.
On the boat back to the mainland, I overheard an interesting conversation between a young couple. The guy was talking about his old company, which he called, ‘the company’ and how he had this incredible industry-changing and innovative ‘thing’ he wanted the company to use. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t tell his lover what it was. He kept saying, ‘I’ll tell you one day. I’ll tell you one day what the company did.’ I turned around to ask him what the invention was, but then I saw he had the biggest small toe I have ever seen in my entire life, and I physically couldn’t bring myself to talk to him. His little toe was as big as his big toe, which literally blew my mind. There’s no way you can trust someone with little toes that big.
The freshest fish
The whiteys in the shade
Looking out at the sunset as if I know something
At Sapi beach
Ednora looking out into the ocean as if she knows something we don’t
This rock was burning hot
I was lucky enough to catch a rare Albanian climbing a tree
Notice how she blends so well into her natural habitat
The curious specimen waved back at me from a safe spot
The next day we headed to Kinabalu Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We stayed at a guesthouse amongst the trees which was gloriously peaceful. We spent our time there trekking at the foot of the mountain. We got as high as we were allowed to go and checked out the view while surrounded by clouds, munching on some victory biscuits. We were having biscuits in a cloud! On the way back down, Ednora had a problem, and the problem required a toilet. Unfortunately, the trails were unforgiving and did not supply a bathroom, and Ednora had to do what bears do…our relationship will never be the same. It was a low point.
Back at Kota Kinabalu we spent the day at the state museum where we learnt a few facts:
• The first recorded sea trade was 3,500 years ago. Quite incredible when you think how hard it would have been to travel that distance in elementary transport and next to nothing navigation equipment – those unrecorded people were the true pioneers.
• The region produces Damar, a gum product from the Selangan Batu tree, and apparently Ednora’s mum used to wax with it, so she told me…Ednora, that is.
• The Sultan of Brunei took refuge in Sabah when there was a civil war in the 18th century, so as a reward, he gave the leader of Sabah the district of Sarawak, which I’m sure the people of Sarawak were delighted with.
A big lettuce on a roundabout…
The museum built a heritage site of old school Malaysia
Ednora in one of the old Malaysian houses
Smashing it up in the house
The bridge across the village
Trekking to the foot of the mountain
Up in the clouds
We flew to Kuching to see what Sarawak would offer us for a few days. On our first day we took a tiny boat to the fort overlooking the town, and then visited Kuching’s museum:
The hornbill was considered more valuable that Jade in the 16th century, due to its large ivory beak.
The oldest architectural construction in Sarawak is the longhouse, and apparently, in the old days, the single woman of the family would sleep in the loft, so a kind of punishment for not being married. Naturally, the single men could sleep wherever they liked. Old school sexism at its finest.
Headhunting was a traditional way to ease the passing of a loved one during blood feuds and village wars. Once the head had been hunted and was in the home, the family could stop grieving their loss as it was meant to bring them good luck. But let’s go back one step here, this was a human head. The geezer from the village would go out and hunt a human, bring back his head, and tie it up in the family home as a trophy. It was good news for him too, as he’d be considered a bit of a legend and ladies man for his gallantry. It wasn’t such great luck for the owner of the head though. Queen Elizabeth II visited Kuching a few years back and after seeing the information on headhunting, was quoted as asking, ‘does any of this still go on?’
Nature was calling, so we headed over to Bako National Park. It required a boat ride to get there which tested our sea legs to the max. It was only Ednora and I in the boat with our life in our captain’s hands. The rickety boat did its best to take on the waves, throwing it into the air and then slapping back onto the water. It was like a scene from the movie Perfect Storm, except the waves were one hundred times smaller.
Before the boat ride
Ednora was far more composed
The park was stunning. There were wild animals everywhere and a multitude of nature walks to tackle. We saw the protected proboscis monkeys (the ones with a penis looking nose), macaque monkeys, wild bearded pigs, waterfalls, huge armies of ants, and epic views. Our closest call with nature was when we were walking along the beach and a few macaques were showing an interest in us. Ednora unzipped her bag to give them a crisp and they broke into a well-rehearsed plan of attack. In a fit of panic, Ednora threw the entire bag of crisps at the monkeys, which one caught perfectly, without spilling a crisp, then ran up the tree to dine on cheesy puffs. There he was, sitting there with his smug face, peppered with cheesy puff debris, dipping his hand in the packet, eyeing us with a victorious grin. We were lucky to simply get out alive.
Trekking in Bako
Ednora showing us some bush
The Proboscis monkey
Their distinctive tails make them easy to spot
These monkeys were the enemy
It is unconfirmed whether this was the cheesy puff crisp thief
Award-winning close up of a bug
A bearded pig
Rickety bridge to the trails
Ednora: Trekker Extraordinaire
After a couple of days in Bako, we headed back to Kuching and another nature spot called Semenggon Park where the orang-utans roamed. Ednora’s obsession with the orang-utans were getting to dangerous levels (constant YouTube videos), so we needed to see one. Unfortunately, it was absolutely pissing it down. After two hours standing in torrential rain, there were none to be seen. It was sad times, but we didn’t want to go to a place where the orang-utans were forced to show up for humans, so knew a no-show could have been the case. It was time to head back to Kuala Lumpur and end our Malaysia adventures.
We were there for around 30 days and did not know much about it beforehand because of the far more touristic Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam, which seem to get a lot more attention. We loved all the areas we visited, and Malaysia is a real hidden gem.
A great day at Semenggon Park seeing no Orang-Utans.
Sick and twisted lies