The Island of Borneo

Trip Start Oct 23, 2015
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Trip End Dec 05, 2015


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Flag of Malaysia  , Sabah,
Friday, October 30, 2015

We arrived into Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia on Friday morning passing several small islands just off the coast. Gaya Island had several upmarket resorts as well as a village built on stilts over the water.  It was hot and extremely humid.
We were met at the wharf entrance by Melina, the daughter of Hajah Halimah who runs a cooking school from her restaurant called D'Soka in a village outside of Kota Kinabalu. Melina first took us through the local market where we bought a selection of traditional ingredients including  wild fern (puck pakis) which grows in the forest and then onto the seafood market where we bought fresh blue swimmer crabs at the equivalent of $A3 per kilo, prawns and tuna.
Melina then drove us to her village to meet Hajah and begin the cooking class. We helped prepare Chicken Liku and Kerabu Pakis, a warm salad made with the wild fern tips.  We then sat down to enjoy a feast which also included a tuna and okra curry, eggplant sambal, prawns and the crab cooked in a butter/milk sauce and beef with dark sweet soy sauce.  This was followed by a coconut milk and ice cream dessert and coffee with traditional sweets.  It was all delicious and we could have stayed for hours chatting but we had an appointment with the Orangutans.
Melina kindly drove us the 40 mins north to the beautiful Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort where they have a nature reserve.  This was established in collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department to rehabilitate endangered species of fauna in this protected ecological space.  Young orangutan are brought here after being rescued and stay until they are about 6 years old when they are moved onto a larger sanctuary for the next stage of their rehabilitation.
There were two almost 6 year old males there on our visit.  We watched a short documentary on the rescue and rehabilitation process before walking up to a viewing platform within the jungle.  The ranger called out to the Orangutans and after a short time we could hear the sounds of branches swaying as they approached their feeding platform. One was quite content to sit and feed on a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables while the other was busy swinging through the branches and climbing trees. They entertained us for about 30 minutes before they headed back up into the hills.
We returned to the cruise terminal passing a number of universities including the Sabah State University with its beautiful pink mosque.  We also passed Masjid Bandaraya known as the city mosque which stands on a man made lagoon and can accommodate 12,000 worshippers.
Insignia set off again for an overnight cruise to neighboring Brunei.
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