And now for something completely different
Trip Start May 27, 2009
18Trip End Nov 14, 2009
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Time in Singapore was very short as we were catching the bus to KL the following afternoon – just time for a quick walk round the Clarke Quay area which is the old dock warehouses all gentrified into restaurants and bars. The bus journey to KL took just over 5 hours but the coach was very comfortable, it had more legroom than on most planes (well in economy class anyway) and there were movies - so time passed very easily
I reacquainted myself with the contents of my luggage and concluded that I still had too many clothes. If I were to do this again( wishful thinking) I would definitely cut down by at 30-50% as in most places there have been laundry facilities and here the maid does it – what can I say? Went for a walk to the local shops, past the lovely on site pool complex, and found my way to an enormous shopping mall, 1 Utama, which is one of many to have sprung up since my last visit. Lots of bargains – but as some wise person said "a bargain is only a bargain if it is something you need" – so apart from a pair of shorts I bought nothing else.
Next day it was off with my friend’s sister to the casino resort at the Genting Highlands, about an hour or so by bus outside KL. I wasn’t planning any gambling as I am completely clueless as to what you are supposed to do – and that includes slot machines – but it is fascinating to watch others and as you can imagine just like at home the punters were almost exclusively Chinese
I ventured into the city proper next day by local bus and was confident of finding my way around as this was my 4th visit – but so much has changed with so many more high rise buildings that the whole landscape was different and I found myself quite disorientated for a while. However I eventually found my way to some old haunts near the Petronas Twin Towers including the lovely little park close by. I ended up spending more time than planned as I had to take shelter for over an hour from the afternoon downpour and when it rains here boy does it rain, so no chance of making it to the LCCT train station near the Towers without getting soaked to the skin. Why did I not just take an umbrella – well I had forgotten that there would be rain every afternoon.
And so from the wilds of the city to the wilds of Borneo as we all flew off the next morning for a weekend in Kota Kinabalu in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo
Dinner was at Krishna’s Fish Head restaurant so yes you can imagine the house specialty. This was an old haunt of a couple of Indian friends who were with us and had lived in Kota Kinabalu a number of years ago and who were friends of the owners. The restaurant is a very popular spot with the locals and there was a queue out in the street but a table had been set aside for us. Mrs Krishna did all the ordering for us and a feast appeared all of which was very tasty – if I were to not pick I would only say that the quail was a little dry – well one must have quail mustn’t one
I headed off next day on a tour to Kinabalu National Park which has at its centre Mount Kinabalu and is a UNESCO World Heritage Park. It contains an enormously diverse range of botanical and biological species many of which are unique to the park. For example over 800 species of orchid and the largest range of the carnivorous pitcher plant – oh and if you’re very lucky you might see an orang utan. I could see the mountain on the journey up but it was impossible to get a photo as the road was very winding and unfortunately when we got closer the cloud base was lower and it was impossible to see it. Also the normal access road to the park was closed as there was a race taking place on Mount Kinabalu. We visited the Botanic Gardens and I have to say given the blurb about the various species, I found them a bit disappointing apart from maybe seeing orchids and pitcher plants in their natural habitat – maybe it was the wrong season for the other flowering species
Best part of the day was the fantastic seafood dinner at Restaurant Diamond with Krishna’s business partner Jalil as our chauffeur/guide for the evening. Crab cooked in the shell with a sweet honey/soy sauce, steamed prawns in egg white and Chinese rice wine and fish.
The small islands just off the coast are good for4 snorkelling so on our last day I took a wee speedboat from the pier and headed for one of the, Manukan, where I spent a couple of hour. The water was warm and clear and there were lots of different types of fish and coral so I was glad I had made the effort to go. One of the further out islands Sipadan is a world famous diving destination and I can imagine that it must be fabulous. It was extremely hot and sunny and despite having plenty of water, I developed a thumping headache which eased slightly but then came back with a vengeance when we were on the flight back to KL
Had a lazy day next day, catching up on laundry and then relaxing by the condo’s pool complex and at last managing to finish the final Australian blog!
I didn’t have any digital photos so headed off the following day to join the hop on hop off bus tour, which seemed like a good idea as it works well in most cities. First stop the Central Market which mostly for arts and crafts but for 5 ringgit for 1o minutes I 'enjoyed’ the experience of having fish nibbling on my feet to remove dead skin cells – it was the weirdest 10 minutes ever but I recommend that everyone should try it
And so from the ultra modern KL with its gridlock traffic to the Cambodia and the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and travel by tuk tuk. Details to follow in the next episode