Thursday, May 07, 2009
Malaysia 2009, part three
Borneo an island of immense beauty! I guess that the name will spark wild imagination in almost every mind. No wonder that this large island was conquered by many. The Portuguese where fought out by the Dutch and they lost the influence to the British... but this is not a history blog so lets get back to my story.
This is the best part of my trip, if I dare to claim something like The best part. It's not only due to the beauty of this island, that really spectacular compared to the peninsular Malaysia. The main reason might lie in the dramatic change in my way of experiencing this country. For the last two months I have been surrounded with caring Chinese-Malaysians. From the most part I didn't have to move with a finger. They organized everything to the last detail. It was nice, it was pleasant but I had enough. Jitka also felt like doing some exploration on our own, so we didn't hesitate and organized our own trip.
First we aimed to Bako National Park which lies close to Kuching. Madam Sim's house in Kuching was our base since we entered the Island. This town has very good location since there are at least 3 big national park within a day trip distance. Bako is the most famous one. Unfortunately for us, its too famous, because we couldn't get a lodging for Saturday night. Never mind. We got the on Sunday early morning. We got there just in time to catch the boat with other travelers which suited our valets. Even though the park lies on a small cape the only way to get there is a boat. This keeps the park safe from pollution -I hope at least. Monkeys and wild boar invited us straight away. We left our backpacks in a smelly-dirty dormitory that we share with two Norwegian girls. Jitka was bit discussed, but what we could be glad that we had at least something. Than we went for a whole day hike. After two months sitting and watching our minds, every step was quite demanding and every flower, ant or stone were interesting. First we wanted to make an eight hour round trip on a big circle inside the park, but we missed one crossing so we ended up only on the small circle around the park headquarters. They say it should take 3-5 hours, but we managed to do it in 9... so you can imagine how curious and relaxed we were. It was very meditative walk and the whole day as well. The night was sticky and hot, as almost every single one before. We woke up early and went for the morning beach meditation. Afterwards I couldn't resist and got my morning swim even though the water wasn't too luring.
We left straight after breakfast, that was liven up by a monkey jumping to the next table, quickly steeling some bread and getting back to the jungle. The horror in the faces of the poor tourists was not surprising. The monkey did look dangerous.
We got back to Kuching. Just a mere bus ride or taxi to the airport was interesting for us, because before that we were driven everywhere by car.
We flew to Kota Kinnebalu (KK)in the afternoon. This town lies on the other side of Borneo and there is no road joining these to capitals. In contrary to Kuching KK as people usually refer to it is not interesting at all. It has been completely rebuild after the WW2 so you can imagine the outcome. But we found a nice cozy backpackers inn calling The Borneo Backpackers... For the rest of the day we wanted to explore the night marked, but we couldn't find it. But what we did find was a second hand cloths. This was very welcomed by us, since we are aiming to the Mount Kinnebalu, The summit is soaring up to some 4400 m so the temperature can drop to zero. Now were are at 2 m above the see level and the temperature is soaring up to 40 degrees... We were able to leave all unnecessary stuff at the reception and left the next morning for a long minibus ride towards the park headquarters. The journey was magnificent! The road was cutting trough some of the highly beautiful peace of land, slowly rising to some 1000 meters. The air changed dramatically and so did the landscape. The were stunning views all over the road, but only when we had a glimpse on The Hill we understood why is every travels guide so cautious. The top is a sheer massive rock face. Massive attacks of wind and rain are must be hard to bear once they strike and the possibility of a rewarding nice views is feeble since the clouds hit this highest point between Himalayas and Japan on regular basis. Natural shelters like trees comes to an abrupt end once you reach 3300 m. There is a refugee hut, but once again we couldn't get the booking. Its run by a monopoly company that holds a thigh hand on it. Guides and regular check points are all over the main and alternative routes. Tracking trough jungle is close to impossible, so unless you pay you wont get to the top. But its not only question of money. I wasn't too keen to pay for hiking permit, travel guide that is almost useless, entrance ticket and expansive lodging, but since I don't know when or if I will get here again I decided to go for it. Well but it all ended up differently since we didn't get the booking (again). We knew this straight a way but still we decided to go there and hope for a cancellation. It didn't happened. Maybe it was good for us. Jitka is far from being fit for such a demanding hike, to be honest me neither and I don't want to support this disgusting business. Instead of that we got a cheap and lovely accommodation outside the park, just few dozen meters down the main road from KK. After getting rid of our backpacks we went for an another highly interesting walk on the foot of the hill. The nature is quite different and the air is much more breathable, so it was very refreshing. In contrary to Bako we didn't meet anybody on this trail, since everybody is aiming to the summit. Never mind... this suits us well. Our sensitive sanes and lazy bodies made a whole day experience from this few hours round trip. The dark night caught us in the last hour or so. With no torch and no moon light in the deep jungle its quite hard to see where you're stepping. We liked it so much that we decided to stay here one more night.
The next day was great again. We had place to stay and many things to do, so we woke up early -still used to do so form the retreats. After filling Chinese breakfast we decided to try local hospitality and our luck so we tried to hitch hike to a near by hot springs. Its just 30 km from the park headquarters and the “very caring” guy at the reception offered it to us for “just” 80 RM for one way. The price is for a coach, but still!!! Get lost! We want to meet the locals not just tourist guides. We got the hitch almost immediately. He took us to Reno (sorry I forgot the name of this town, so this is only a replacement). There was a big market right next to the main road, which was happening once in month as we found out later -this we will check out on our way back. From Reno we got an another ride. This time the old man was bit cunning -he asked for money at the end, but we gladly gave him some, rather than the business men in park... The hot springs were hot but except of that not much. But we are not picky so we enjoyed it. It was very, very relaxing day. We met there some travelers that made it that day to the summit. Useful info was that there were free beds in the hut -somebody didn't show up, but didn't bother to cancel the reservation. What ever, we had good times anyway. On the way back we stopped in Reno and got our self freshly roasted fish -delicious as nothing I have eaten before! The night felt, but we still tried to get a hitch back to the hotel. This time it wasn't so quick but eventually one good man stopped and brought us to our cozy room.
Hitch hiking looks like good alternative -its more fun, its cheap, its quicker than buses and it works here so the next morning the natural choice was to stand on the road. Few minutes and we are on the move. This time back to KK. We got back to our backpackers inn, relaxed a bit and went for the last experience. There are five small islands at the throwing distance form the shores of the city. After a small troubles with the boat companies we choose one. The islands are advertised as scuba diving paradise... well to be honest its nothing compared to the Caribbean corals which I have seen in Honduras, but still something. The sun was beating down like never, hot sand, turquoise water and island atmosphere were just fine for our last day in Borneo.
In the evening we managed to find the night marked, so we were able to spend the last money for some gifts and some good food, of coarse.
Next day the flying insanity could start. First we flew back to KL, here we met some of our old new friends. My flight back to Europe is scheduled in 1 am tomorrow so there is no point in sleeping. After some 16 hours of flight and 30 hours total I got back to Oslo. What??? Its beginning of April and there is still snow in the city. Oh my goodness... well good thing is that the Easter are this weekend so I will have to work only 3 days... this is the end of my first Asian experience.
Posted by janči just a traveler