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Malaysia

16th January
2012
written by Hazel

Sorry, this post is a little out of order since it was before we got to Singapore.  I still want to show of our fun Malaysian fabric though!

Our time in Malaysia was so jam-packed with action that we hadn’t had a chance to search for the fabric right up until the last minute.  After a pretty damp day in Borneo we were all set to fly back to Kuala Lumpur and head out to Singapore the next morning.  As we pulled in to the airport I realized that this might be our last chance to get any fabric from Malaysia!

Of course, there wasn’t a fabric shop at the airport, but they did have a great two for the price of one deal going on sarongs!  This meant that we wound up with much more fabric than we really needed, but the patterns are awesome and will definitely remind me of that part of the world.  And maybe we will even keep one of them as a sarong.

Malaysian sarong fabric

Malaysian sarong fabric

5th January
2012
written by Hazel

We had a bit of a trip ahead of us to get from Borneo to Singapore.  Remember that thunderstorm which got us completely soaking wet after we saw the orangutans?  Well, it made for a very slow taxi ride to the airport and a fairly bumpy flight back to Kuala Lumpur.  It was 11 pm or so by the time we got in and we had to be on a train to Singapore early the next morning.

Justin did an awesome job planning this segment because he found us a hotel right by the airport, meaning we could get to bed right away and still be near transportation to the train station the next morning.  What he found was Tune hotels, which are a little different than normal hotels.  I don’t have any pictures, but I’ll try to describe it the best I can.  Or, just click on the link and look at their description.

Basically, it’s a hotel modeled after a budget airline.  So you get a really cheap, really tiny room, and anything else you might want has an extra cost associated with it.  The beds were some of the best we encountered in our travels, the shower was awesome, very clean, etc., but hardly enough space for us and our backpacks.  Especially since we had wet, muddy clothes we wanted to hang up from the jungle!  We didn’t need many of the add-ons.  In fact, we paid about 32 cents each, each direction, to get the shuttle from the airport to the hotel and about 65 cents to have a towel provided since we wanted to keep ours dry.  And that was it!

I’m not sure how a place like that would be for a longer stay, but for what we needed it was perfect.  I have never seen this concept anywhere else, but it looks from their website like they are an international chain. So who knows, maybe this will be the next big thing!

5th January
2012
written by Hazel

Our last activity in Malaysia was a trip to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center.  I was really excited for this because we had not seen any orangutans in the wild and they are some of my favorite animals.

Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

We stayed at a pretty good hostel close enough to walk over to the sanctuary, so we were able to get there in the morning for the first feeding of the day.  There are two sessions, morning and afternoon, but if you buy a ticket you can go to both of the sessions in the day.  This is the best chance of seeing the orangutans because the sanctuary covers a huge area of land and you are pretty unlikely to see them unless they are coming to get food. (more…)

4th January
2012
written by Justin

After our really great diving trip out of Mabul Island, we moved on to the last part of my Malaysian adventure: the Kinabatangan river and the jungle areas near it.  This river is a really special place for seeing wildlife – there are several species of monkeys, orangutans, crocodiles, elephants, hornbills, eagles, and many more to be seen.  The reason it’s so special, though, is rather depressing – since so much of Borneo has been converted into palm oil plantations, the once-vast jungle around the Kinabatangan has been reduced over time to its current size – just 1 km to either side of the river.  There is simply nowhere else for the wildlife to go, so you can easily see it from the comfort of your riverboat.

Nevertheless, it is a place that still manages to feel like it’s out in the middle of nowhere.  We stayed at Nature Lodge Kinabatangan, one of many outfits that offers lodging and daily trips out on the river.  I picked this particular place because of both the good reviews it got on the Web and because of the price – which was far lower for the basic Kinabatangan adventure than many of the other spots.  In addition, the staff were responsive to my emails and informative in their replies – something that is rare in Borneo.  Our accommodation was sufficient – it was rather basic and small, but comfortable – and all the on-site staff were super friendly.

To get there, we took a rather nice coach from Semporna to a random “coffeeshop” – just a strip of restaurants on the side of the road – where we were supposed to meet up with the tour bus.  Of course (being Malaysia) the bus was late, but we met a few other couples on their way to the same place and that gave us confidence that we’d actually be arriving to our destination!  The tour bus that did eventually come was a massive 4×4 setup, and we ended up needing it to get past the potholes and puddles and other things that we found on the way to the lodge.  A short boat ride across the river took us the last leg, where we were greeted with a short introduction, welcome juice and a few forms to fill out.  Before long we left on our first boat ride of the 3 day / 2 night trip, and we weren’t disappointed!  There were 4 boat trips all together – two afternoon and two morning.  We saw tons of wildlife! I’ll start with the birds:

Hornbills Abound

Hornbills Abound

(more…)

29th December
2011
written by Justin
Tropical Paradise

Tropical Paradise

For Part Two of my Last Big Thing, I wanted to make great use of our scuba certifications from Thailand and go down into the deep again.  This time it would be off the eastern tip of Borneo.  I wanted to go to the world-famous Sipadan site, a volcanic island that drops down to ocean depths of 800 or more meters in a very short distance, but didn’t plan ahead enough to go.  Sipadan is now under regulation, and it appears that the best scuba shops don’t get nearly as many permits as some of the shops that are, say, generous to the local government.  We wanted to go with Scuba Junkie (no relation to Scuba Junction from Koh Tao) which had a great reputation and a beautiful island resort at a great price – but they couldn’t get us permits for the famous spot.  So we dived beautiful Mabul Island instead, and while it may not have had huge pelagics in town it did amaze us with beautiful wildlife! (more…)

28th December
2011
written by Justin

 

Beautiful KL

Beautiful KL

As I said in the last post, we each picked one thing to do before the year was over.  My pick was going to Borneo!  I had heard great things about the island, and after researching it a bit more, three things in particular stood out for me.  First, I wanted to see Kuala Lumpur – it is a really big city made famous by the twin Petronas towers.  Second, I wanted to scuba dive Sipadan, known as one of the finest sites in the world to dive, with sharks and turtles everywhere.  Third, the Kinabatangan River has loads of wildlife that is easily visible because of the palm oil plantations that are slowly removing all the jungle habitat around the river (only 1km on each side is protected).  These three things turned out to make a really great Malaysian adventure! (more…)

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