03.01.2014 30 °C
Just arrived back in Macao after a week long adventure in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo with 2 amazing friends from Australia. No amount of pre-trip planning could have really prepared us for all the adventures we would have over the week. Here is just a taste of what Borneo had in store for us!
After 17 hours of travelling (lots of Air Asia delays), I finally arrived in Kuala Lumpur to meet up with my 2 amazing Australian friends that I met at a camp in Kananaskis a few years ago. We then travelled to Kota Kinabalu where we would spend the week catching up on the last year and a half since we last went travelling together. The first day in KK was spent exploring the actual city itself and the surrounding island of Sapi. After some sketchy haggling with a local man, we jump in his boat and he took us to the close island of Sapi where we spent the day swimming, snorkelling, and trekking around the island. The island isn't very big so we decided we would hike the "trail" around the island as a break from laying in the sun. As we near the top of our trail, we run in to a massive 90 lb Monitor Lizard face to face (maybe only 5-10 feet away). Before we could even think about whether this was a friendly lizard or not, we all yelled some choice words toward the Godzilla looking creature (little dramatic) and ran the other way. We later learned that they are pretty harmless lizards and even saw a local poking one with a stick to get it to move (slightly embarrassed at this point). Okay, so we have reaffirmed the fact that we are definitely not from around here!
The following day we took a trip to UNESCO site of Mt Kinabalu park to enjoy the over 4,500 different flora and fauna species that the region has to offer. It happens to be the oldest rainforest in the world. To finish off the day, we hiked up to a small waterfall that had natural "doctor fish" swimming in it. Those are the fish that nibble on your dead skin and cause quite the ticklish reflex. For a while, we couldn't tell whether they were leeches or fish but very happy to have found out they were fish! Such a crazy feeling!
Keeping the adventure going, the following day we booked a class 3/4 whitewater rafting trip up in the mountains. The whole day started off a little strange when a different company came to pick us up for the trip (I enquired about the name difference and they said "same same"). A couple hour drive up the mountains and we are let off at a train station (didn't see this one coming). We then get on one of the sketchiest trains you can ever imagine. So dirty and packed full of people. Little did we know if would even get sketchier! At the next train stop, we ended up having to switch trains. The only problem was was that the new train was full. The train conductor pointed to the roof of the train and said we could ride up there instead. Always up for an adventure, the 3 of us climb to the top of the train and hold on for dear life for the rest of our journey. The roof ended up being much more pleasant then the inside of the train! We finally get to out on the river and the fun begins. We now know that it isn't the same rafting company we booked with but we are hoping they are still legit. The rafting starts off by the guide telling us to jump in to make sure our lifejackets are working properly (I guess thats one way to check). The rafting itself was quite a blast. Some massive rapids that I didn't think our dingy would make it through (boat went up completely vertical a few times). Most of the class 3 rapids we decided would be fun to swim through so it ended up being more of a swift water swimming trip then a rafting trip. It was quite the challenge trying to gasp for air without getting the very muddy water in your mouth. It was definitely the fastest and biggest rapid river that I have experienced yet (especially swimming through it). At the end of the trip, we learned that there were saltwater crocodiles that call the Padas River home...glad we found out at the end! Ended up being such a fun day!!!
The next few days were filled with Probiscus Monkey and firefly tours (unreal to see), Orangutan Sanctuary visits (Orangutans are amazing) and even a kayak adventure out to a deserted island. All of these days were amazing!
After a couple more days of celebrating the New Year, swimming and relaxing by the pool, working on our golf game with a PGA pro (had no idea at the time....we were just bantering back and forth with the guy all week) it was finally time to head back to Kuala Lumpur. We thought all of our adventurous moments were over but we didn't realize we had one last Malaysian taxi trip to take to our hotel in KL (late at night I might add). We get in the taxi from the airport and don't think much of it. We tell the driver where we are going and he starts off down the highway. All seems to be going good until he turns off the highway and down an unpaved dark trail. I jokingly ask him if this is a short cut and he says it is. He tells us he knows this way because he lives down here (uh oh). He then gets a phone call and all he says is "I'll be there in about 5 minutes". The 3 of us are starting to get a little worried with this off the beat track road (okay I was entering into panic mode). I then enter survival mode and start chatting with our driver like crazy making "personal connections". Asking him about his wife and kids and telling him that I teach students the same age as his kids (hoping to touch his sympathetic side) ....anyways it was panic mode for nothing because he took us right to our hotel safe and sound. Made for a funny story and a racing heart beat that we laughed about for the next hour as we all discussed our different survival techniques we were thinking of (funny the tricks your mind plays on you).
Borneo ended up being an amazing trip with so many fun and adventurous moments! Was great reuniting with some fantastic friends and we have some good stories to laugh for years to come! And yes, Mother/ concerned family members....we were safe the whole trip haha!!