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A Tough Decision in KK

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo

sunny 35 °C
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The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset


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During this first month of my travels I have had one major thing on my mind that was to come to a head in Borneo. I had signed up to climb Mt Kinabalu. I had trained for months to get fit for the climb, only to knacker my right ankle in the car crash just before leaving England. I have been trying to rest it as much as possible but really, when there is a world to explore it is impossible to sit still for too long. I really had done my best though, Chinese herbal patches in Penang, massage in Thailand, galavanting around less than I would normally. The thing is, as I arrived into Borneo’s capital Kota Kinabalu (KK) on the plane from Penang, and as I explained to the Malaysian couple on the plane (who nearly adopted me!), my ankle was still randomly swelling up, I kept knocking it, was still blinkin painful. People say that the climb down from the 4,095 metre peak of Kinabalu is worse than going up as it is tough on the knees and ankles. OK, time to admit defeat I guess, this just was not going to happen for me this time..
One of the many Chinese/ Taiwanese concoctions i tried on my ankle

One of the many Chinese/ Taiwanese concoctions i tried on my ankle


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Feeling pretty deflated, I checked into the hostel in KK and emailed the climb organisers to cancel. They offered to take me on a 1:1 tour of Kinabalu national park instead so I could at least see the mountain and get a sense of the scale of the challenge that i was oh so close to giving a bash. I spent the first couple of days exploring the city and surrounding areas. First impressions were that KK was just a complete concrete jungle (it was bombed heavily in WW2 and rebuilt) a bit tacky, bit of a problem with traffic, full of shopping malls and fast food restaurants. I guess I was just in a negative mood overall, but this place seemed to lack a soul.
Borneo Backpackers

Borneo Backpackers

Jesselton Point ferry terminal

Jesselton Point ferry terminal

Like being back in England!

Like being back in England!

Filipino Market, KK

Filipino Market, KK

Filipino market, KK

Filipino market, KK


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I caught a boat taxi out to some nearby islands for beach and snorkelling, and what a day this was. Just offshore from the city, about 20 minutes by boat, is the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park with a number of beautiful tropical islands. Really easy to get to from KK, you just turn up at Jesselton Point Pier and decide which islands, and how many, you want to hop to and jump on a boat. I visited two of the islands, Mamutik and Sapi. Both were beautiful with white sandy beaches, clear sea, many colourful fish but sadly again dead dead dead coral. Nothing alive here whatsoever. Still, I saw some interesting fish then chilled out on a real quiet bit of beach Blisssssssssss..... I was just nodding off in the sun when I heard a noise that made me jump, literally boy did I jump as running towards me from the woods near the beach were TWO DRAGONS!!!! Seriously look at my pics, they were fu@king dragons, tongues lashing out...Well OK they were large monitor lizards actually but LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THESE SCARY MOTHERS.... Yikes I was in Jurassic park!! They actually seemed to be fighting each other but saw me and one of them charged at me and man, forget the ankle, I RAN... Ran into the sea and tripped up, all the time screaming ‘OH MY GOD’. The dragon almost seemed to laugh at me, made some kind of heavy breathing noise then ran back into the woods to chase the other dragon!! YIKES or what!! I was shaking for about half an hour after.. Think I was more scared here than during the car accident! Thankfully, the rest of the day was more relaxing...
Mamutik Island

Mamutik Island

Mamutik Island

Mamutik Island

DRAGON Yikes!!

DRAGON Yikes!!

Mamutik Island

Mamutik Island


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I was really missing Georgetown I think and the people i met there. KK didn’t really do it for me and neither did the hostel that actually had some very positive reviews everywhere I saw it mentioned. I just thought it was tacky, no atmosphere in the common areas just a group of kids sat around watching the TV. The included ‘breakfast’ was just pants, one bit of toast and no fruit atall, my room was so noisy too and I wasn’t sleeping very well. Very proud of myself as I managed to negotiate, for just a few quid extra, a hotel room with seaview, 32 inch LCD TV and huge comfy bed yeeehaaahhh!!! It was a new hotel trying to drum up business and I was happy to oblige. This made a huge difference to my stay in KK I cheered up a bit. I celebrated by giving into the zillions of touts near the hotel and getting a massage and enjoying the catch of the day for dinner on the seafront. Ahhhh slept much better after that, sorted..
Filipino market

Filipino market

Filipino market, interesting sights, tastes and smells!

Filipino market, interesting sights, tastes and smells!

BEFORE!!

BEFORE!!

AFTER!

AFTER!


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The Kinabalu Park tour was all a bit peculiar. I was picked up 8am by a little guy in a little car, he hardly spoke any English so the 3 hour drive to the mountains was a bit dull, although the scenery amazing. Mount Kinabalu itself was hidden under a blanket of cloud but thankfully the clouds eventually shifted just for me to see the peak. The mountain poked its tongue out at me! I actually came across a bit funny, emotional, wasn’t expecting this atall. Memories of the accident just a few weeks before, the feelings I had then, how lucky I am to be able to still follow my dreams, how disappointing to not climb the mountain, the people i have left behind. I suddenly felt very alone and had to wipe away a tear. The mountain looked so bloody beautiful, majestic, the challenge was there ripe for the picking, welcoming me, drawing me in, and I so wanted it... My guide left it up to me to decide where I wanted him to take me in the park. So we went to the hot springs, where i bathed in ridiculously hot mineral-rich water then swam in a cold cold natural rock pool. That sorted the circulation out! Then we did a canopy walk across a jungle, very scary high up on the wobbly bridge. Then we went and saw the biggest flower in the world, the Rafflesia. It didn’t really look real, looked plastic but was pretty impressive and i was happy to see it in bloom.
Mount Kinabalu poking its tongue out at me!

Mount Kinabalu poking its tongue out at me!

The scary canopy walk

The scary canopy walk

Rafflesia in bloom. largest flower in the world!

Rafflesia in bloom. largest flower in the world!


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So I had a few days spare as I wasn’t doing the mountain climb. While i was searching online for alternative places to go, toying with the idea of going to the neighbouring country of Brunei, i saw a picture of a beautiful mosque, surrounded by water, near to KK. On a whim, i jumped into a taxi and asked to be taken there. We drive for about 10 minutes and I could see a mosque but no water. I asked the driver, ‘i thought mosque was in water’ and he replied ‘ahhh the floating mosque this is a different one’. I persuaded him to turn back but then we got stuck in rush hour traffic and the driver started huffing! It was pretty bad, must have taken us about 40 minutes to get to the other side of town. However, this meant i got to see the sunset over the floating mosque, and what a beautiful experience this was, absolutely glorious. I was the only visitor, it was so peaceful. There were obviously people in the mosque though as the prayer calls echoed around and added to the serene atmosphere. As the sun set, the reflections in the still water and the colours changed dramatically, and I was absolutely in my element taking photos. I had agreed with the taxi driver that he would wait 15 mins for me and take me back to my hotel but he seemed to enjoy the scene too and we were there over half an hour! Exquisite end to my emotional stay in KK....
The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

Snorkelling Mamutik Island

Snorkelling Mamutik Island

Swimming in the rock pool

Swimming in the rock pool

Mamutik Island

Mamutik Island

Mamutik Island, the spot where i was chased by dragons into the sea!

Mamutik Island, the spot where i was chased by dragons into the sea!

Mamutik Island

Mamutik Island

mamutik Island

mamutik Island

Bloody huge scary things

Bloody huge scary things

I'm gonna eat you..................

I'm gonna eat you..................

Sapi Island

Sapi Island

mamutik Island

mamutik Island

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

The floating mosque at sunset

Filipino market

Filipino market

Filipino market, great place to hang out

Filipino market, great place to hang out

Borneo Jungle

Borneo Jungle

The baths with water piped from hot springs

The baths with water piped from hot springs

Big bamboooooooooooooooo

Big bamboooooooooooooooo

Filipino Market, KK

Filipino Market, KK

Atkinson Clock Tower, KK

Atkinson Clock Tower, KK

mamutik Island, off Borneo

mamutik Island, off Borneo

Snorkelling! Very weird fish

Snorkelling! Very weird fish

Posted by Spinky 22:29 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking

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Comments

Sorry you didn't get to climb your mountain, but I am glad you're having a good time.

I have to ask, what kind of camera are you using? Your photos are absolutely spectacular!

by Laura Beer

Wow, Dragons! You are so never going to forget that! And great photos - I like the one of Mamutik Island, great shot of your foot! ;-) Sorry you missed out on the mountain climb - there will be other opportunities. I really look forward to your blogs - gives me a real lift!

by Jo Turner

Spinky those floating mosque photos are incredible, such amazing colours at sunset!!
Don't worry about your mountain climb, i'm sure there will be many many more before the year is up!
Keep snapping hun i'm loving the blogs and the photos!
Love Sarah xx
P.S. Jay and I got engaged!!

by Sarah Kearney

WOW!!! Congratulations Kearney and Jay, amazing news :) Jo, come and join me we can live our dreams together :)
Laura its a canon ixus 200IS
, I got it just before I left and am really pleased with it. See you soon
xxxx

by Spinky

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