Kota Kinabalu

After eight months in the Philippines, our trip finally started! With Philippine Airlines we flew to Manila and then continued with Air Asia to Kota Kinabalu (Sabah, Borneo). We knew that Borneo is not exactly a cheap place. That’s why we decided to stay mainly in backpacker accommodations. There are certainly more comfortable accommodations. But the big plus point is that you get to know many people. We quickly found our first accommodation: Lucy’s Homestay (RM 18). There we shared the room with four other travelers for the first two nights. Our first travel stop should be the Kinabalu National Park with the famous Mt. Kinabalu, with 4095m the highest mountain Southeast Asia. This is reachable in only 2 hours by car from Sabah. 

However, we decided not to climb it. On the one hand, the adventure is relatively expensive, on the other hand, we were not physically prepared for such a climb, and last but not least, the weather was not very inviting. A few meters outside the park we settled in for the next two nights and warmed up from the cold with hot tea. The cold shower was also not very conducive. On 1’500m prevail just other temperatures than at sea level. We still have to get used to it. The next morning we hiked through the park on our own. Many great trails lead through the beautiful rainforest. Numerous different plants, trees and orchids line the trails. Borneo is known as the country with the greatest biodiversity of animals and plants.

Kinabatangan River

Continued with a four-hour drive to Sandakan. Scenically very beautiful, but the closer Sandakan came, the more the rainforest had to make way for the oil plantations. It is frightening how enormous the area is, which was deforested in favor of the industry. There is hardly any habitat left for the animals. Arrived in Sandakan, we were glad that this should be only a stopover. There are more beautiful cities. A tour along the Kinabatangan River was our goal. A tour which promises unique animal experiences. Countless providers in Sandakan also know this and are therefore top motivated to sell this experience. The next day we started immediately. A 3-day jungle tour should be a super experience – and it was indeed! Our guide led us through the rainforest and brought us closer to the fascinating wildlife. During the day during long hikes (partly also mud hikes), at night we mainly explored the huge diversity of birds.

The most exciting thing, however, were the regular boat rides. Different monkey varieties like proboskis and borneo gibbons were everywhere to be found. Unfortunately, the hoped-for orangutan did not make an appearance. The highlight was definitely the numerous pygmy elephants. For three days we were allowed to enjoy them again and again. Whether eating (which was the rule), bathing or even in a reproductive mood. In addition, we saw crocodiles, lizzards and countless birds. 

We had a great lodge and were lucky to be alone. Other boats had regularly 14 people loaded.

Back in Sandakan, the Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Center would have been a possibility. However, we had no desire for this tourist presentation. Six orang-utans should be admired regularly by about 100 tourists. An experience looks different for us – our chance comes in Sumatra then again to see the impressive animals free-living. We also had to cancel the diving in Sipadan due to a cold of Linda. After all, a dive costs no less than CHF 150.00. Too high a risk that it might not work with pressure compensation.

The Borneo stay tugged a little on our travel budget, and we had seen the most important parks for us. In addition, the oil plantation shock was already something in our bones to explore Borneo further. Therefore, we decided to fly further to Malaysia. Since the short term flights were very expensive, we spent a few more days in Kota Kinabalu. City explorations, visits to the muesum, game nights with other travellers and updating the homepage – the time went by quickly. Now it goes on to Kuala Lumpur for the first time.

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