Sepilok

Standard

To visit the Orangutang Rehabilitation centre in Sepilok, was one of the reason going here, so the first afternoon we are heading there. Actually we are only going to see how long time it takes us to drive there, since this is our meeting point for Mr Ajis Expeditipn. But when we arrived, we realised it was 5 minutes until the afternoon feeding starts, so why not pay it a visit. Coming late to the feeding platform was great, as we were followed by 3 orangoutangs heading the same way, towards the visitors platform. None of these were particular interested in the feeding itself, as long as it was much more fun hanging around on the visitors space. As one of them was quite aggressive, the rangers had to move all of us visitors several time. It was no doubt who was in charge this day!

image

Hungry? Or just on their way for some action

image

Should I go or Should I stay?

image

Not so interested to get out on the feedin platform

image

This one is in charge – all visitors have to move away

image

Mother with child at feeding platform

image

At least one that enjoy the feeding

image

Enjoying the bananas

 

We continued to the outdoor nursery, which was a play ground for the young ones. They had rangers looking after them, but they only interacted when the orangutang get on the ground, then they needed to start climbing up in the tree or the platform again, as an orangutang living only on the ground will not survive. We as visitors was kept inside while the small ones outside had no boundaries, they could go to the nearby Jungle whenever they wanted. Could probably spend several more hours following their playing and movements.

On our way back these two fellows had a party on the leftovers.

Across the Street was the rehabilitating centre of the Malaysian Sunbear. I think this centre was run by the university, and the rehabilitation means the sunbear lives here until the age of 4 when their maximum weight is achieved and they can survive in the Jungle on their own. The area was very nice build, with canopy walkways giving a Jungle feelings. And the sunbears? Of course they were adorable……

image

Malaysian Sun Bear at rehabilitation centre in Sepilok

Sandakan

Standard

 

Our way to Sandakan starts at Sabah Tea Plantation. Great view, a very big Tea pot but unfortunately very dry ( and old?) scones. We had our first history lesson regarding the death march between Sandakan and Ranau, 2500 Australian and Brittish war prisoner walked the 260km only 6 survived. All the different POW stop along the way are clearly marked with this sign.

image

Marking of Special spot related to Death March

The Memorial Park in Sandakan give the full story of this episode, well worth visiting!  image

 

 

 

 

 

We had not really decided if we should go straight to Sandakan or try to go to the Kinabatangen River. As we did not know if we could do this independently or needed to buy it as a package tour we decided to go to Sandakan first. And after two cool days in the Mountain area it would be nice with at least one night in a dry hotel room. According to Google maps it should take 3,5 hours to from Sabah Tea to Sandakan and it took us……..exactly that time ( Thanks to not too much traffic, decent road quality and some aggressive driving) including some stops to achieve more photograph moments.

In Sandakan we stayed at the very friendly Sanbay hotel, about 1,5km outside town. Our first mission was to go looking for a tour agency to book our Kinabantangen jungle experience. Tripadvisor had some recent (good reviews) of Mr. Aji’s Expedition, and a few e-mails later we were settled for departure 4 days later.
Sandakan is not very big, and not particular beautiful or charming. It has a water front area, but with all the trash laying around the area also included rats. We were inside the big fish market, looking at all the big fish on display, quite nice until you see all the rats rundning around. Also when visiting the sea village, it looks nice as long as you dont look down……


Sandakan offer very fresh seafood, and we had an excellent dining at the Sim-Sim sea village. First we did not really know how to find the restaurant, but following some Asian tourist that seemed to know where they were heading and the did not look like residents of the sea village itself. The food was delicious, for 45 ringit we had prawns, squids, vegetables, rice, Tea and water. A benefit of eating seafood in Malaysia, is that every restaurant always have a place to wash your hands, and after eating the prawns, plenty of water and soap was essential. We also found a small restaurant in the sea village close to our hotel. Here we had a very good noodle soup with plenty of fresh seafood.

One spot you can miss, is the English Tea House. The location looked so nice up on a hill next to the Agnes Keith house, being in a Garden playing a game of crocket if you like, but the Afternoon Tea the served contains a very small pot of tea, hardly enough to serve one person, with dry scones, only one kind of marmalade, no whipped cream, huge disappointment!

image

Climbing the Mountain at Kinabalu Park???

Standard

One destination we were not particular interested in before going to Sabah was the Kinabalu Mountain (or Gunung Kinabalu) but as we were passing this spot on the way to Sandakan (and the orangutangs in Sepilok) why not make a stop over. And some cooler weather could be nice. It was rather easy driving to get there, road condition good and not to much traffic, and of course, beautiful views.

image

Typical sign along the road given the name of the catholic church

Could not view the full mountain as the top were hiding in the clouds, and at the time we reached the park entrance we could not see anything. A combination of fog, rain and low hanging clouds created a ”a white wall” in front of us, not a slightly spot of the Mountain at all.

image

Gunung Kinabulu hidden in the sky

image

It never got any more clear than this

image

Jungle trek by car

Luckily the car was included in the park entrance and we were allowed to drive inside the park. Yes – this Asian way of Jungle tracking we like! When we see a spot we liked, we parked the car and entered into the Jungle. The sight was still close to zero, but at least some huge insects and butterflies were spotted. When going further up in the park the car would not start!!!! Being 1800 meter over sea level and humid weather is not ideal. After a few more attempt it started, but for the rest of the time we did not turned the engine off when stopping.

Now it was time to find a place to sleep, heading towards Kundasan we found nice bungalows on the top of the hill. Rather expensive as they were quite simple but very relaxing drinking a good hot cup of Tea on our balcony. It is strange how fast the cooler weather starts getting too cold. We were wearing several layers of clothing, drinking a lot of hot Tea, still freezing. Our land-lady on the other hand were wearing a thick knitted Norwegian Sweater (bought in Norway a couple of years ago when she and her husband visited the Norwegian fjords).

image

We stayed upon this hill

Day two, do we see some some blue sky?? We are heading back to Kinabalu Park, but as we get closer we only see the ”white wall” again.

image

Early morning view from our balcony

 

Now we give up and goes to Poring for a bath in the hot spring. That is at least the right thing to do on a rainy and cold day. Even if not everyone wears a bathing entire!

On our way back we passed a sign saying Rafflesia flowers blooming, but as the way into the flower was so muddy and slippery due to all the rain we thought we would get a second chance at a later time. How stupid can you be not going to see the Rafflesia as you picked the one day of the year when it was blooming????

 

Kota Kinabalu – our entrance to Sabah (North Borneo)

Standard

But first me must depart from KLIA airport, as we did the day after the murder of Kim Jong. We had decided to rent a car in Kota Kinabalu, but as we were unsure of how easy it would be to find our hotel and if it includes free parking we hesitated. It turned out that our hotel (TH hotel) was an excellent choice when you have a car, located between the airport and city centre and it comes with free parking. But on our first days we were tourists as usual. Our hotel provides shuttle bus service to city centrum, just not this day due to maintainance service!h

image

Where we stayed, TH hotel

So we were walking, and 45 minutes later after passing a sea village, golf course, hospital, shopping/hyper mall we reached the first spot of the water-front. As this was still in the early morning, we had it all to ourselves.

We found Kota Kinabalu (KK) beautiful as long as you don’t look down, then you see all the trash instead of the beauty.

image

Littering in city center

So, what to do on a nice day in KK? We followed the ”Heritage Trail” marked out on our map, as this passed by any point of interest including the tourist office.

Day two our mission were to rent a car, and after looking around we decided to rent a car for a month instead of two weeks, as the total price was only marginal higher. As we are not much for details planning, having a lot of time sounds great. When the car arrive, it turned out to be both older and in worse shape than promised, but after changing one tyre and removed part of the black sunscreen in the front window we could start driving – and planning our trip. In other words we nedeeed to do some shopping. And at the same time testing how well the gps app in our mobile worked. We headed towards the newest shopping mall, 1Borneo Hyper Mall. We found it, but after two circles around outside the mall we had still not understood how and where to park or found the shopping entrance, so we turned back to the city and one of the older shopping malls. We needed to buy some more internet to our pre-paid phone card, by a map (just in case internet were lacking) and a mobile loader for the car. When this was accomplished we filled up the car with some boxes of drinking water – 36 litre as a start.

 

Borneo Roadtrip

Status

Finally, on this trip we are ready to explore a complete new destination, Sabah in Malaysian Borneo.

We are doing this by self-driving an automatic Proton car, model Saga, and we have the opportuznity to drive around in Borneo (including border crossings if we like to) for several weeks as it was only marginal more expensive to rent it a month compared with two weeks.

Read more about our Borneo adventoures in the following bloggs:

Day 1-2: Kota Kinabalu

Day 3-4: Kinabalu Park

Day 5-9 SandakanSandakan (and day 13-14) including Sepilok

Day 10-12 Kinabatangen River

Day 15-18 Kudat and Tip of Borneo

Day 19-22 Keningau  and Crocker Ranger Park

Day 23-29 Labuan

Day 30-32 Kota Kinabalu

Our rental car Saga Proton

image

Typhical Sabah road

How much Asia is this???

Standard

We hear a familiar “donk” noice in our hotel room. Big renovation is on-going close to our room, probably on the floor above as well as in the adjacent rooms. As we already have paid for several nights stay, we are not too pleased with this. After a short call to the reception to find out how long the renovation work will last, we are offered a new room, up on the 18th floor. This room has a fantastisk view as well as better interior, so of course we accept. And one minute after we have moved our last bag and settled down in our new room, we hear once again a familiar donk-donk. The room next to us is being renovated!!!  (but this time we keep the room, the fabalous view compensate the others).

This is one of the landmark we could look at from the 18th floor.

image

View from our hotel room on the 18th floor

Second time in Melaka, this visit was slightly dissapointing compared with what we thought in 2009. Why? Dificult to say, maybe no changes or development compared with the improvement in Georgetown (Georgerown and Melaka both gained a Unesco Hetitage satte in 2008). Even the nice Street Art paintings found here, was not enough to cheer us up.

We still managed to explore something new, a promenade down to the Portugese settlement where we had lunch. The name of the restaurant, “Restaurant Lisboa” was probably the only Portugese legacy, but food was good and the view was nice, and on our walk to get here we passed the prison, now turned into a museum. An interesting, but slightly claustrophobic visit.

Walking around in the Jonker area, we see a house with a lot of NO rules listed on the door. Our first thought was that it did not look very welcoming and we would never visit! Then we got curious – what kind of place is this and crossed the street for a closer look. And are invited inside, as it turned out that this was a Burger House and an Art Gallery ( The Bamboon House). Extremely good food, the lamb burgers made us visit them twice. So at the end, the list of rules outside of what you are not allowed to actually worked, as this attracted our attention.

Other than that we mostly enjoined Melaka best from our room on the 18th floor, specially at night with all the Fire Work, as this was the finale of the Chinese New Year celebration.

Pattaya – is it good or bad???

Standard

It is few places in Thailand that we had hesitated to visit for so long time as Pattaya. Then you can wonder why bother at all when Thailand has so many lovely places you really like to go to. But it is all about location, 1,5 hours from the AirPort make Pattaya the perfect landning and departure point and a good alternative if you like to avoid Bangkok. So after many years of hesitation we are finaly here (and has been here a few times already). And we have stayed at several places during different times of the year; October 2013 we stayed some weeks in central Pattaya,  close to Sukhumvit road, in March 2014 we stayed almost a months in the area of  Jomtien / Dontang Beach, in September 2016 we stayed some weeks in the Northern area Na Klua and in January 2017 we stayed for one month in central Pattaya, in a small and quite alley right behandling 2nd Street.

So, how bad (or good) is it? It works fine to have as your landning and departure point, and also as a “break” of a longer trip, but I would never choose it as a destination of it’s own.

Pros:

image

New painted nails

  • Distance to AirPort
  • It is a city including nice and breezy beach pedeastrian
  • High competition and good pricing on accomondation, restaurants, bars, massages
  • Shopping, cinema, bowling
  • Public transport by songthaews, also called baht bus
  • Jomtien and Dontang beach only 10 bahts away, if you need the touch of sand between your toes
  • A huge diversity of restaurants, all tastes and all prices, AC or outside
  • Many scandinavian places – can be nice if you want to watch some winter sports (skiing) on TV
  • Cheap and good Street food

Cons:

image

Pattaya Beach in March 2014

  • Sex-industry
  • Go-Go bars
  • Walking Street ( and other red-light districts)
  • Dirty beaches
  • Polution in the sea due to tourist-boats releasing hundreds litres of diesel eevery day

 

But, we have stayed here for a  month now and enjoyed it, Thanks to an excellent hotel, new, clean and cheap and in a quite Street with the best fried chicken restaurant we have tasted ever. And on top of that we could enjoy a Consert with Tommy Körberg……….