Tawau to Lahad Datu

Trip Start Apr 30, 2004
Trip End Jan 28, 2005

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Where I stayed
Umimas Hotel

Flag of Malaysia  ,
Monday, September 6, 2004

Fri Aug 27 - Day 117
After the famine a feast. Not a millisecond of the Olympics in Indonesia, Blanket coverage in Malaysia. Couldn't stop watching. Eventually fell asleep during the Taekwando, I'm not an expert on the sport but it appeard to be two men wearing judo gear and skateboard helmets kicking the hell out of each other. It was great, like a girl fight turned ugly.

The quality events like the athletics don't start until early morning here, so it was minority sports all the way. The kind of sports that make you ask 'how did that get in the Olympics?'.

We watched handball, which is a game played at youth clubs when you can't find the football, and we watched what looked like an 18-30s holiday drinking game, where men in leotards kneel like red indians in a kayak and paddle like maniacs. We also had every dive poor little Bryan Nickson (Malaysia) performed. Not a day over 8 years old, deprived of his childhood by pushy parents and with the weight of a nation on his skinny little frame, Bryan performed admirably amongst his fellow, way to tight speedo wearing competitors. But you could see in his eyes all he really wanted to do was a John Smith's bomb and to get the inflatable innertubes out. It was a late night and an early morning.

The coastal waters around Tawau and Lahad Datu form part of the Celebs Sea and are renowned for pirate raids on ships and coastal villages by Salu Sea based Phillipinos. There's not a parrott to be seen amongst these speedboat powered, machine gun toting, modern day pirates, so we decide not to push our luck and take a bus.

The bus for Lahad Datu took 2 1/2 hours and left at 7am. It looked like it had just done a tour of Najaf with an American flag on the front, bashed up panels and spider web cracked windows all round.

Pretty much the whole way we were surrounded as far as the eye could see by palm oil plantations. Malaysia, the worlds top producer has an annual output of around 8 million tonnes of the stuff, which is primarily used in cooking.

Very basically an area of rainforest will be logged, cleared and then planted with palm oil. Goodbye rainforest.

The bus drops us close to the Boreo Rainforest Lodge (BRL) office in Lahad Datu, where we are able to book a 4 day, 3 night stay beginning tomorrow. Rene's still fighting off a cold so we book into the Umimas Hotel and pump her full of Panadol.

We happened to see the last 1/2 hour of the mens 50km walk and our thoughts turned to Steve and Cal who we knew would be watching at home. Robert something owski appeared bionic in winning his 3rd consecutive gold for Poland, but the battle for silver produced one of those true Olympic moments. The Russian guy (soory can't remember his name) having given absolutely every last milligram of his being, was losing ground rapidly to the
Pole in third place. He looked like a ghost, a dead man walking in a Norman Wisdom on mogadon style. If he'd been a horse they'd have shot him. But somewhere from deep within his fading consciousness, he found the will and determination to override his brains complete shut down and stumble over the line, just ahead of the Pole, before collapsing in a heap on the track. An heroic, herculeon effort in the heat and humidity of Athens earned him a silver medal and possibly a night in hospital.

Having found our insect repellent we drift off to sleep with our heads full of thoughts of rainforest and orangutans.

Expenses (Malaysian rinngit 7/ pound): Taxi 6, accom 65, lunch 15.5, post 2.5, internet 9, supermarket 13.5, dinner 15, BRL 2,555.
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