Sabah, Borneo: Day 11-17

Trip Start Sep 07, 2016
Trip End Jan 06, 2017

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sabah,
Thursday, September 22, 2016

Turtle Island - Kota Kinabalu

After a nice chill day and just taking my time to do some laundry and take care of a few things, it was time to repack my bag and get my daypack ready for turtle island. On the morning of my departure, a dutch girl knocked on my door to ask if she could join. We quickly went to the tour operator to ask and it was no problem. This meant no single supplement for me, so a 150 ringgit score!

Turtle Island is situated about 40km from Sandakan. It is one of three islands where green and hawksbill turtles come year round to lay their eggs. All three islands have rangers who then collect the eggs and place them in hatcheries where they are protected from predators like monitor lizards, who just love to feast on these delicious eggs. These hatcheries are the most productive in all of Southeast Asia.
We spent the afternoon on the beach swimming and snorkeling. After dinner we waited for the rangers to take us back to the beach and watch a green turtle lay her eggs, after which we went up to the hatchery to bury them and then finally watched how 53 babies were let to sea. We were lucky to see an untouched nest of eggs hatch on the beach in the afternoon and watch the little ones make their why to the ocean.
Early the next morning we searched the beach for stranded baby turtles and big females heading back to sea but we had no luck.
After an hour on the speed boat back to Sandakan, I took the long distance bus back to Kota Kinabalu.

On my first day back in the capital I just wandered around and took in the sights. On friday I was supposed to join two New Zealanders on a cooking class but unfortunately the tour company cancelled the night before. We were not happy! :-( It was too late at night to book something else so I spend another day in the city. I walked up to the big mosque on the outskirts and back. By then it was lunchtime and time to find a spot with airconditioning!! So hot and humid here! In the afternoon I walked up Signal Hill to see the city from above. On the way down I stopped at a small jewelry shop where I made my own bracelet. So much more fun then just buying one.

The hostel I am staying at is very good at getting people together and taking us out to the best restaurants. Every night so far has been a feast (check out my new blog: food diaries).

Saturday I spent island hopping. 5 islands make up Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. I chose to spent time on only two, Manukan and Mamutik. There is not much to do here except swim and snorkel and I must admit the snorkeling on turtle island was much more beautifull than here. I went on a saturday so the beaches were also packed with locals and all of their belongings. It sometimes looked as if they were moving to the island instead of just getting away for the day. :-O

My final day was sunday. I spent the morning wandering around the sunday market before heading towards the north to visit the Mari Mari cultural village. Mari mari means come come in malay. At this village they have 5 houses set up that display how these 5 different tribes used to live and what their customs were. They also show tou how to use a blowpipe, how they made rice wine in the old days and how they made a trampoline from just bamboo and bouncy tree. Every tribe also had their own food traditions, so we got to sample a few of these treats like rice wine, honey, tapioca etc. Some very tasty, others not so much.

Borneo has been fun but the overpriced transport and activities make it an expensive trip especially for solo travellers. The amazing fauna and flora partially makes up for the lack of culture. Big cities tend to be dull and filled with empty concrete shopping malls but then again the food is amazing. Meals tend to be dull during organised tours but go out on your own, eat where the locals eat and the flavours are totally different.
Borneo is a place for nature and animal lovers and a diving hotspot for others. If I could organise this trip all over again, I would do the same but in a different order and in less time. The information provided by travel guides is limited and even most of the hostels cant help you and just give you a file with all the trips organised by surrounding tour companies. Even a simple question about how to get somewhere with public transport cant be answered. All you get is 'look in the file, I will call for you'.

Overall it has been a good two weeks but I wont deny I am looking forward to getting to South East Asia and moving forward a little faster then I have been now! Much less chilling and more action!

See you in Thailand!

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mywanderlusthq on

hahaha very funny! ��

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