SELAMAT DATANG & WELCOME TO BORNEO!
Since returning from our last big trip over a year ago we’ve settled back into “normal” life and are once again productive, tax paying members of Australian society. Life is good and being in one place for a while is nice. It’s certainly not the end of our travelling days but for now the way we travel has to change – we have responsibilities, commitments, and bills to pay! So rather than spending months on the road at a time, we’ll be taking our adventures in bite-sized chunks. Just a few weeks at a time, starting with Borneo…
Today is the first day of a 10 day trip we’re embarking upon which will take us around the Malaysian side of Borneo. This is our first adventure in 15 months* and we’re really looking forward to some jungle trekking, wildlife spotting, snorkelling, and eating (Malaysian food is delicious and is definitely one of the main reasons we’re here!).
*We DID go to Hawaii in August 2016 to celebrate my 40th in style, but that wasn’t scratching the adventure itch!
We loved Malaysia when we were here in 2015. Not only is the food is awesome, but the scenery is spectacular, the people friendly, and it’s a fairly easy country to navigate (most people speak at least some English which makes touristing easy, and the transport infrastructure is great). Malaysia really is one of the gems of South East Asia and we always wanted to see more of this great country. So here we are!
We left Aus late last night and endured a lengthy but uneventful overnight flight to Singapore. A brief layover and another short flight got us here around noon today. First order of the day, therefore: lunch. Spicy chicken laksa and clay pot chicken rice hit the spot just right…
We’re starting our trip in Kota Kinabalu, the main city in the Bornean state of Sabah. KK, as the city is known locally, is the tourism hub of Borneo and seems to be a lively mix of modern shopping malls, hotels, kopitiams (i.e. Chinese Malaysian coffee shops), souvenir shops, and warungs*.
*A warung is a traditional Malaysian family-owned business.
This city of 600,000 inhabitants is surrounded by jungle-clad hills and sits on the coast, facing the South China Sea. Much of the city’s life is focussed along the water front, which is where we started our afternoon of sightseeing, watching fishermen arrive with their afternoon’s haul to be sold at the night market.
From the waterfront we ambled our way back inland and made our way up Signal Hill for some nice views over town.
The walk up Signal Hill was a good reminder of how hot and humid South East Asia gets – it was hard work geating up there! Luckily the walk back down was easier (though no less jungley or insect-infested)…
Sitting on the bluff along Signal Hill Road overlooking this seaside city we also came across the Atkinson Clock Tower. This old wooden construction is famous hereabouts as it’s one of just three buildings to survive the bombing during World War II.
The other stop we made before calling it a day was the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque. Built on a 2.5 acre site just a few kilometres North of the city centre this place of worship is surrounded by a man-made lagoon designed to make it seem like it’s floating. Certainly it was beautiful in the way sacred places often are, but the plastic rubbish floating in the surrounding lagoon detracted somewhat from the beauty of the place!
KK itself is not that exciting, but it’ll make a good base for a few days, from which we can do some exploring. Join us tomorrow for a little more of the best of Borneo…