Rewind to early Feb. Here are some pictures from Singapore and Kinabalu Park. Now we are in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia preparing for a trip to remote Danum Valley.
Pulau Tiga (3 islands) was simply stunning! Also known as ‘Survivor Island’ because this was where the first season of the Survivor TV show was filmed. Pulau Tiga is the largest island formed by 3 mud volcanoes. It has white sandy beaches, aquaramarine water and wonderful reefs just offshore. We had a wonderful time snorkelling, hiking and bobbing like a cork in the bubbling mud pools on top of the volcano! The weather turned for worse on the 2nd day. Rain and high-speed winds cancled our plans for the day, that was to visit snake island. Thankfully, the next morning was relatively calm and we were able to take a boat to the island after all! The famous Pulau Ular (Snake Island) is a small forested island with a rocky shoreline and loaded with sea snakes. We found 4, but 100’s have been found in 15-20 minutes. We also saw Pied Imperial Pigeons, White Bellied Sea Eagles and Lesser Frigate birds here. We briefly visited the 3rd island which was gorgeous, pretty much just a sand spit surrounded by great coral reefs.
We set foot on “the land below the wind”, Borneo, 2 weeks ago. Time has absolutely flown by since our arrival here. We spent a week at Kinabulu National Park in Sabah and then took a short flight to Mulu National Park in Sarawak. Both parks are UNESCO world national heritage sites. Mulu is a spectacular landscape, dominated by karst features such as limestone mountains, large caves and razor-sharp limestone pinnacles. We explored some of the more stunning caves and hiked a grueling 2.4 km straight up to view the pinnacles. Deer cave has the largest cave passage in the world and clearwater cave is the longest (157 km!). Deer cave is home to 3 million bats and every evening bats stream out of the cave, taking on corksrew and ribbon shapes as they hit the sky. This bat exodus was incredible to watch. Bat hawks soared around as well trying to grab a meal on the wing. Our first night in the park we spotted a tarsier!!! THis is a small primate with huge eyes and long toes. One of a tarsier’s eyes is larger than its brain!
Kinabalu NP is a botanists dream and has the largest mountain in Borneo: Mount Kinabalu at 4,000m. A very popular tourist attraction is climbing to the summit, but the trek is very pricey. It would of costed us about $700 to hike to the summit! As tempting as it was to do the hike, we decided not to. We were able to purchase a pass for $6 and hike to kilometer 4, and since we are rebels, we snuck passed security at 4km and made it to 6km (the entire hike is 9km, all up hill and very steep, definitely not for the unfit). Some people that do the hike hire porters (with unbelievable bulging calve muscles, wish I got a pic) to carry their backpacks up the mountain for them. The usual routine is hike to the lodge at 6km, stay the night and scale the summit at 3am to be at the top for the sunrise. Maybe next time. We found some amazing orchids (I will post some pics for you, Phyllis) and crazy, beautiful pitcher plants with pitchers as big as my head. The largest species, Nepenthes raja can hold 3.5 L of water and consumes lizards and small mammals!
Tomorrow we are heading to Pulau Tiga, 3 offshore islands, for some snorkeling/diving and some sea snake fun.
Since we booked a flight out of Singapore, we decided to spend a few days here to take care of some shopping needs. We have been hiking so much that my boots are literally falling apart! I wasn’t able to find any suitable hiking boots despite countless mega-shopping malls lining pretty much every street. Maybe glue or ducktape will hold my boots together? Singapore very much caters to it”s fahionable, well-to-do denizens! A whopping 4.5 million people live on this 25 x 45 km island! Mostly Chinese, Malay, Indians and a few Euros. Singapore is an island, country and city. It has no poverty, no bums, and no litter. There are strict laws, some a bit hilarious. Like no spitting, no making excessive noise, no durian on public busses and no smoking near food stalls. They very much enforce these laws too! As one kind and gracious local, Lisa told us,” this is a fine, fine, fine city!” You could be fined at least $1,000 for spitting on the street or jaywalking. Lisa went out of her way to escort us to a camping area at a park. Without her help, I’m sure we would of ended up in the wrong side of town or wondering around for hours looking for the park.
Since the cheapest hotel was around $80 a night, we decided to camp at a beach park for free. With jogging , walking, and biking paths, it was workout central! I’ve never seen people, mainly Chinese, so dedicated to fitness. There were groups of 50 plus people doing yoga, tai chi and aerobics. We had fun people-watching and became well acquanted with public transportation. It took forever to get anywhere! We visited the only patch of rainforest left in Singapore and saw some wildlife, like birds, monitor lizards and monkeys… But mostly we saw exercise addicts.
Now, we are waiting to board a plane that will bring us to a dream destination for both Ryne and I: Borneo!! Off to Kota Kinabulu, Sabah…
Happy Birthday Mutti!! We love you and miss you!