2009-10-20 Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan (English)

Hello Landlubbers,
In the last report we just arrived in Labuan, the only free port of Malaysia. This is a very good place to stock up. It is very busy in the harbor, many ferries and commercial boats. After a most enjoyable week we leave and we go 30 miles out of the coast, next to Saracen Reef, and it looks like we’re in the middle of nowhere, no land in sight, nothing. The water is very clear and we snorkel in various places and we see beautiful and colourful corals. Unfortunately almost no fish. From there we go to Pulau Mangalu, a beautiful island. We easily walk around the island in a couple of hours. White beaches, blue water, palm trees, what do you want more? We said earlier that the walk was  easy but there are way too many sand flies. Little flies but big lumps.

After 2 days we head for to the north bay of Gaya island. Unfortunately there is a huge swell in the bay, so we decide to go to the south bay of Gaya the next morning. We stay there a couple of days until we can go to Sutera Marina in Kota Kinabalu. We visit the touristic island Sapi a few times and we walk a beautiful but not easy
track to the north bay of Gaya. Finally we have a berth in the nicest marina we have seen in our sailors career. Two huge resorts, three swimming pools, a courtesy bus to the city, bowling, fitness, tennis and a huge golf court (27-holes). We enjoy it a lot and every morning we swim in the 50-meter swimming pool. We exercise our lazy muscles with 20 legs before breakfast, awesome. We book a tour to the Kinabatangan river and we fly to Sandakan. We visit the Sepilok Oerangutan Centre. Unfortunately we only see 2 monkeys during feeding time and it is very touristic, nothing special. In the afternoon we were picked up to go to Uncle Tan. At first 2 hours in a bus and then 15 minutes in a very fast canoe and we are there.

The accommodation is very basic, but it is very nice. We enjoy all the jungle activities. In the morning, afternoon and in the evening. We see the most beautiful birds and a lot of various monkeys. We sleep in wooden sheds without a door or windows and it is just big enough for three small double  mattresses. So that’s perfect for 6 persons if you leave the privacy statement at home. Just when you get used  to the nocturnal sounds of your neighbours and you’re already on your way back home. It’s incredible how sharp these guides can see and they bring us time after time very close to the animals. Often there is confusion in the boat because nobody can findthe animal he is pointing at. I am stone blind too. But all together it’s an awesome experience to be so close to Orang-utans, Macaques, Proboscis and Silver leaf monkeys living in the wild and from so close. At night we find colourful little birds absolutely motionless on low branches. They sleep and you can make as many pictures as you like. We think the Uncle Tan experience is a “Must Do”.   Back in KK we decide to rent a motorbike again. It’s always wonderful to enjoy riding in such a climate.
Hans and Fien decide therefore to leave their jackets at home. At first we drive to a well known Sundays market about 70 Km north of KK. Sometimes we stop and have stunning views at the mount Kota Kinabalu (over 4000 meter). Later we decide to drive through the mountains via Raneau back to KK because it’s so much fun to do. Unfortunately the weather pattern changed a little. We are pretty much in the mountains now and we find ourselves in a road reconstruction for the next 80 Km. The rain pours down regularly and sometimes we wade through long pools of mud to get any further. It takes ages and ages before we are at the junction to KK. On our little map it seems only a few Km but at the first sign it appears to be another 73 Km.
The rain doesn’t stop anymore and becomes heavier and heavier. With a visibility of about zero we drive the next 30 Km to the top of the mountain at about 1700 meter altitude. We are absolutely frozen and miserable and we had our coats on..... In the little restaurant at the top we were very happy with our hot Milo’s. Just a few Km down everything went a lot better and back in KK it appeared that not a drop was fallen and the temperature was as usual above 30º C.
A week later we do the same mountain and we’ve got a very beautiful day. We take the chance to see one of the most rarest flowers of the world. A guide brings us to a Rafflesia which was flowering. That is exceptional because these plants flower 7 days before it dies. This day there was no cloud in the air but that’s obvious when you take your complete sailing gear with you. We all agree that Sabah is the nicest area of Malaysia by far but it is about time to head back.  We’re pretty close to the Philippines in the street were recently some violent storms. First to Labuan and later again the lovely Brunei Darussalam to pop up our diesel tank.
One liter of diesel is about 0.20 US$ and one liter of water cost at the same station 0.75 $. We have an overnighter to Bintulu Port and a double overnighter to our last stop on Borneo just at the border of Malaysia and Indonesia. From Bintulu a lot of things go wrong and the weather is nasty. If you still struggle with the question what a sailor does all day long I must advice to read next report carefully. You might consider your position at home where you live your good life. Perhaps that isn’t so bad after all……..  
Jacqueline en Rob

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