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Your glasses will only break after arriving in the jungle

Summer Vacation 2008 - The Kinabatangan River

overcast 31 °C
View Summer vacation 2008 - The return to Malaysia on agc_cwm's travel map.

Olympics? Sandakan? Or the Kinabatangan River? Which one should we choose? Or how about all three? That was our plan for today. Hopefully our plan would go better than the last.

We woke up in our hotel, which turned out to be quite the disappointment. We had very little water pressure in the shower, the shower curtain didn't even enclose the whole tub. But the dead cockroach by the floor drain made it all better! Oh well. It was only one night and less than 12 hours at that hotel.

They gave us a coupon to go get breakfast at the restaurant next door. It turns out it was the same restaurant we ate at last year when we were in Sandakan. Court ordered mee goreng and I, wanting some “normal” food, ordered the western breakfast. Who got the “normal” food? You guessed it: Court. She got some really nice fried noodles and I got a couple under-cooked eggs, a sausage that was more like a hot dog, and some under-toasted toast. This prompted some sage advice from one Courtney MacMullin: “When in Asia, order the local breakfast. You'll get more and it'll taste better.” Point well taken.

We had to quickly find a bank to get some cash to pay for our river cruise. Neither one of us actually realized that it would be Sunday and nothing may be open. Fortunately, we found an ATM to get some cash. Unfortunately, so did about 10 other people. There was one lady and her son there. He was about 5 or 6. He was wandering around the ATMs, picking up receipts that had been discarded on the floor. But then all of a sudden he talked to his mom and then he went outside. He was back in about five minutes. Court later filled me in that he went outside to pee.

It was getting near the time that we were to be picked up, so we had to split up. Court went and packed all of our stuff while I ran to the grocery store to get some food for lunch so we could eat on our way to the river lodge. The grocery store was STUPID BUSY! It was Walmart-at-Christmastime busy. But the store was a lot more cramped and a lot less organized. I know I forgot a lot of things, but I just wanted to get what we needed and get out of there.

I met Court back at the hotel and had a few minutes to watch some of the swimming events at the Olympics. Then we had to check out and catch our ride to the lodge. We confirmed the day before that we were going to be picked up at 12:00 from our hotel. At 12:30 we decided to call and see what was going on. We got through to someone but he had to contact someone else and he said he'd get back to us. Another 20 minutes later he called back. It took the hotel staff a while to figure out who he wanted to talk to. The guy on the phone said the driver would be another 20 minutes. He arrived about 30 minutes later. We got on the road about an hour and twenty minutes late, which isn't too bad for Sabah.

I think our driver was in a hurry to get out there because, man, did he ever drive fast. And he passed everything and anything he could whenever he got a chance. Coming into a turn? Why not pass. Close to a blind hill? Sure, that's the best time to pass. And on it went. We stopped at a café to get our permits to go into the nature park and to pick up a couple more people. We didn't get a chance to warn them about the driving, but they learned pretty quick.

We arrived at the lodge around 15:40. They quickly ushered us to our little lodge and gave the quick run down. Here's the hot water, here's the fan, here's the toilet. The usual stuff. Then they said the next river cruise was at 16:00; basically, hurry up.

We got unpacked. Or should I say our bags exploded all over our room. Then we were off to go on the river cruise. The lodge launched four boats with outboard motors, each holding between six and ten people. We got into our boat and off we went. We'd cruise down one side of the river looking for stuff then on our way back we'd go along the other side. In total the cruise took about 2.5 hours.

We saw a lot of different stuff while we were out, especially monkeys.

First we came across some long tailed macaques.

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Then Bigfoot

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No wait. It was an orangutan.

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We also a few silver langurs. The adults have small little mohawk on the top of their head, as you can see the in picture. The babies are orange. After about six months, their colour changes to gray.

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We also saw some proboscis monkeys. They are only found on the island of Borneo. Their distinguishing features include their markings (they look they are wearing a jacket, and their arms are a different colour than their body), and their nose (males have large noses, kind of like Gonzo).

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Our guide today said when you see the proboscis monkeys swimming they keep their eyes, to see, and their nose, to breath with, out of the water.

We also saw a water monitor lying in the sun warming up.

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This is me on the way back from the cruise and a few of the river.

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Dinner came after the cruise. This was the point at which one of the lenses popped out of my glasses and now it won't stay in without the help of some tape. It goes without saying that the day we leave civilization is the day I break my glasses. Oh well. After dinner, there was an extra night hike that we could do. We decided not to, because we were talking to a couple from the Netherlands and two ladies from Slovenia, when they came around and asked us if we wanted to go. We asked when it was leaving and they said now. Our response was no thanks, and that we'd do it tomorrow.

By this time we were exhausted and the next river cruise was tomorrow morning at 06:00 so we hit the sack.

Posted by agc_cwm 01:12 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Wait Time(3taxi + 3bus + 2ferry + 1plane) = TOO long

Summer Vacation 2008 - BSB to Sandakan turns out to be more difficult than expected

rain 31 °C
View Summer vacation 2008 - The return to Malaysia on agc_cwm's travel map.

Court found the best way to way to get from BSB to Kota Kinabalu (KK) in Malaysia online before we left Japan. We took a little time yesterday double checking that this info was accurate, which it was. However, for reasons beyond our control, our travel day didn't work as smoothly as planned. The plan was to take a bus to the ferry terminal outside BSB, then catch the ferry to Pulau Labuan in Malaysia, and finally a high speed ferry to Kota Kinabalu. This would give us more than enough time to square up our bill for the river cruise, eat, and get out the airport for our flight.

Now, here's what actually happened.

We got up, finished packing and checked out of our room before 7:00. We had arranged a taxi to take us to the bus station for the 7:20 bus. So far, still on the plan. The bus left on time and we got to the ferry terminal in time for the 8:30 ferry. We had to go through immigration and all that good stuff. We actually got on to the ferry at 8:28 which should have been our first clue things weren't quite right. At this point things started to go off plan.

The ferry actually left the dock at 9:00 not 8:30. This wasn't too bad but it came back to bite us later on. We arrived in Labuan and had to do Malaysian immigration. We got through and went to buy tickets for the 1:00 pm ferry to Kota Kinabalu. Except the ferry was full. I asked how we could get to KK today and the ticket lady laid out how to do it. A lot of buses and speed boats in Malaysia won't leave until they are full. We remembered this from last year.

I quickly rounded up the other European travelers and arranged for us to travel together. There was a couple from Poland, a Spanish couple and a French family of four. We all ended up on the same boat to Menumbok. I figured if we had lots of people in our group, we'd fill up any bus or boat we arrived at. The boat ride was again uneventful and not too bad.

The next step was to take a bus from Menumbok to KK. This was a lot harder than we thought. We arrived at the “bus station” to find about 50 other people waiting for the bus. Except no one really knew when the bus was going to arrive. We heard somewhere between 11:30 and 12:30. But we also heard some people had been waiting for hours. We tried to find out about taxis but there was no one to help. It was quite frustrating.

We eventually got some help from a local guy who explained we should take a mini bus to Beaufort then catch another bus to KK. I was fine with this plan. At least we would be moving and not waiting around forever.

We jumped into the next mini bus that came along. There was us, the Spanish couple, and the Polish couple, plus four local women. We all got in the minibus, then they crammed our bags in, mostly on top of Court. It was full. It took us about an hour and a half to get to Beaufort.

Once we got to Beaufort we had to wait for another bus to come take us to KK. Again, no one really knew what time the bus was going to come. We waited. Luckily 30 minutes later the bus arrived. First a small bus came then a big bus came. Everyone was trying to get on the small bus and then quickly everyone shifted over to the big bus. We didn't get on the big bus quick enough to get a seat so we had to take the small bus.

The big bus left while we still waited. We saw our driver get off and have a smoke. Then we waited some more and more. It started to pour rain. I was glad we were on the bus. And we waited more and more. We had no idea what was going on. No one told us anything. We waited for a good 45 minutes then we found out the bus driver was waiting for more people to come fill up the bus. Once we knew that we understood, but we were still frustrated by having to wait. Especially because the big bus left an hour before us.

We got on our way but Court and I were both worried: our bus sounded like a lawnmower. We thought it was going to take an hour to get to KK. But it took us about 2 hours to get there. It seemed like we were going sooooo slow.

We eventually got to KK and tried to ask someone to tell us where we were on our map. But no one would. One guy kept asking us where we were going, and we repeatedly told him the general area. He kept saying you need a destination. Annoyingly, this went on for 2 or 3 minutes. We left his company, and split a cab downtown with the Spanish couple.

We dropped them off at their hotel and we convinced our cabby to help us run our errands. First we had him go by the tour office so we could square up our river cruise. The cabby was sure the office was closed. He was nice enough to let us use his phone to call. The office was closed. Not only was it closed, but the office had also moved. The woman from the office agreed to meet us and the cabby found out where the new office was. Court waited in the cab for me to run and pay our bill.

I went in to square up but they didn't accept credit card and I didn't have enough cash to pay. In the end we didn't get to square up our bill. We'll have to pay when we get to the lodge.

Finally the cabby agreed to take us out to the airport for our flight from KK to Sandakan. I figured Court would feel a whole lot better once she got out there. The day left her feeling a little worse for wear.

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We were quite early for our flight We checked our bags and went to get something to eat.

We waited around for our flight which was quick up and down flight. Then caught a cab to our next hotel in Sandakan to see some highlights from the Olympics. Tomorrow we are off on our Kinabatangan River cruise.

Posted by agc_cwm 19:24 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

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