Two weeks long we travel with my sister Denise and her boyfriend Bram around the northern part of Borneo, Sabah. One week already passed by – time flies when you are having fun – but luckily we have another week to go! After three days on the Kinabatangan River, we travel back to Sepilok where we stay overnight. After Sepilok we continue our trip to Sabah’s capital city: Kota Kinabalu.
Seeing orangutans in the ‘wild’ for the first time
There’s not much to see and do in Sepilok besides one awesome thing: the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre. In this centre you can see orang-utans semi-wild. That means the orang-utans can go wherever they want – there are no fences – but they get fed twice a day in the centre, so they come there most days. The best time to visit is when it is food-time, where you can spot the monkeys if you are lucky and they are hungry. We are SO lucky: we see three orang-utans and a baby! We are so happy; they are the cutest. Bram and Denise like it so much, they go again next morning.
The “Best” Hostel of Kota Kinabalu
The next day we travel to Kota Kinabalu. We enjoy two movies on the bus and look at the beautiful scenery we pass by. We are lucky to spot the famous mountain of the region: mount Kinabalu. It is the highest mountain in Malaysia and a UNESCO Wold Heritage Site. For us it’s a too expensive to climb it, so we simply enjoy the view from the bus. When we arrive in Kota Kinabalu we have to search for a hostel. We trust the Lonely Planet and go to the “best” hostel in town: Borneo Backpackers. The entrance is nice and hipster, so we forget to take a look at the rooms. They are nothing like the entrance; we are so disappointed. Luckily Kota Kinabalu doesn’t disappoint us when we explore it by night and we decide we’ll move to another hostel the next morning.
Island hopping: Gaya & Sapi
Close to Kota Kinabalu there are a few islands. Originally we were thinking about going there and stay for a couple nights, but there are only a few resorts and they are SUPER expensive. So we decide to go for day trips. People tell us the islands are not the best, with lots of Chinese people everywhere and rubbish all around, but we like them a lot!
By boat we go from Kota Kinabalu to Pulau Sapi and with another boat we go to Pulau Gaya. Denise and Bram have a surprise for us; they take us to this awesome island-to-island zip line! It’s SO much fun.
And how incredibly blue is the water?!
Malaysian customer service sucks
Do you remember our camera broke on our last day on Penang? We brought it in for repair in a shop in Tawau and they sent it to Kota Kinabalu to fix it and it would be ready in two weeks. So here we are in Kota Kinabalu at the Canon repair shop. Apparently they don’t fix anything here, so our camera was shipped to Kuala Lumpur – and no one told us about it. So they did not even start the repair yet, because the shipping took one and a half week. We are angry and sad. Maartje was so looking forward to seeing her baby again, but it will take another one/two/three weeks? Months? Who knows? It’s Malaysia and customer service is so terrible. Our plan: stalking them everyday in Kota Kinabalu and hopefully they will hurry up.
Parasailing on Manukan & an emotional goodbye
The next day Bram feels a bit sick so we take it a bit easy. We play some card games and watch a movie in the morning. In the afternoon we go to another island: Pulau Manukan. Time for my surprise for Denise! It’s almost her 30th birthday and I take her parasailing!
We really enjoy our last moments together, not knowing when we see each other again. We have lots of food; play some last card games and talk. We had a great time with the four of us; better than we had hoped for. Before Denise & Bram came to Borneo we had talked about our two weeks together and we thought we’d be doing things on our own (it’s also their romantic holiday so they probably need some time together), but instead we did everything together! We even slept in the same room most of the nights. Thanks to these two for some of the best times in our trip so far!
After the emotional goodbye we stay for three more nights in Kota Kinabalu before we travel to our next country (also exciting!). And it’s time to couchsurf again. Through some people from the community, we get the name and number of a couchsurfing host, Vivian. We can stay with her and her family and she invites us for a potluck at her house. Everyone brings some food and we make something as well. A Dutch dish of course: hutspot!
Sadly our camera is still not ready after going to the Canon shop five times. The only option: we continue our travels without our camera and pick it up in Kuching, where we will be in another two weeks. We put pressure on the sweet girl working in the shop and then we’re off to Brunei!
We are SO excited for and curious about Brunei! We never heard of someone going there, which makes it so interesting. Read about our adventures in Brunei in our next travel journal!