(Malaysia) Manana Beach >>> Kota Kinabalu >>> Sepilok >>> Sunau >>>
Kota Kinabalu >>> (Thailand) Bangkok
7/2- Enjoying Delectable Delights around Kota Kinabalu
7/3- Travel to Sepilok Jungle Resort and Movie Mania!
7/4- Hanging out with wild Orangutans!
7/5- Kinabatangan River Cruises through the Bornean Jungle!
7/6- Morning River Cruise and bus back to KK
7/7- Fly from Borneo to Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, Thailand
7/8- Browsing around Khao San Road
Enjoying Delectable Delights around Kota Kinabalu
+ Our original plan had been to hang out at the beach “resort” for most of the day and then travel back to Kota Kinabalu in the afternoon. However the staff made it seem as if the taxi on the other side of the water could only get us in the morning so we needed to leave then. So with that information (coupled with not really wanting to give the resort any more money anyway), we scarfed down our breakfast and said our goodbyes to all our new friends.
+ Then we caught the boat across the water and joined our Danish friends in a taxi up to Kota Belud. At Kota Belud we split off as they headed North and we headed back South to KK.
+ To our surprise, we got lucky with the minibus heading to KK and we were the last 2 needed for the van to be full and began the journey right away. That never happens! Ironically, it was the one time where we were in absolutely no rush and wouldn’t have minded waiting.
+ The 2 hour travel back to KK went by quickly, with Corey preferring to read the Thailand Lonely Planet book and Liz content with watching the surroundings pass by out the window.
+ Once in town, we met some nice people at the Akinabalu Youth Hostel (we were staying there again) who told us about a good place nearby that we could enjoy some coconuts and ice cream! With our room not ready to check in yet (it wasn’t even 1 pm yet!) we walked over there and Corey got the big coconut filled with ice cream option while Liz ordered the watermelon ice cream dessert for herself. Both were really, really tasty and cheap and we vowed to return in a few days before we left Borneo.
+ The next few hours passed by quickly as we checked into our room, enjoyed the A/C while using wifi, repacked our bags for the next journey, and took showers.
+ Corey wanted a massage so he ventured out to a nearby “Reflexology” place and got a really nice half hour massage for US $8. Not as cheap as Bali but still really cheap compared to the US!
+ Just after sunset we left the hostel to explore some more of KK, heading to the Southwest this time. The first place we stopped was a bakery that offered 40% off all pastries after 6 pm. They had a surprising amount of options and we enjoyed some really fancy cheesecake for only $1!
+ Next we walked through the very busy Sunday night market with stall after stall. Then past the rows of restaurants and shops lining the waterfront. Eventually we came to a giant mall that we walked around exploring and checking out the various stores. To our surprise, we stumbled upon a Nando’s!
+ Since it was already getting late and other food options would be limited, we were more than happy to eat at Nando’s and enjoy all their yummy hot sauces! We split a meal since we weren’t starving and it would save some money.
+ We were so surprised at how built up this city in Borneo was, with so many different stores and restaurants and about 10 different malls and movie theaters! It was like a condensed version of Orlando!
+ Afterwards, we walked back to the hostel and finished packing up all of our bags for the journey tomorrow. Then we relaxed in bed and watched the rest of the episodes of Archer and Better Call Saul we had downloaded.
Travel to Sepilok Jungle Resort and Movie Mania!
+ Today we were traveling to Eastern Sabah to a jungle area called Sepilok. We would be staying right near a few wildlife centers as well as a jungle area that had wild orangutans!
+ We had meant to get up early enough to have breakfast, check out, and catch an Uber over to the bus station by 10 am. But the A/C and bed were so nice we decided to sleep an extra hour and instead made it over to the station by 11 and caught that bus. Definitely worth it.
+ During the 6 1/2 hour bus journey to Sepilok, we read about Thailand and worked on the blog. Then we munched on all the snacks we’d brought along to substitute for lunch. After that Liz went to sleep while Corey watched the movies “Fate of the Furious” and “Goat” on the tablet.
+ Around 5:30 the bus dropped us off on the side of the highway at the Sepilok junction. We started walking South towards our resort while trying to hitch a ride. Thankfully it only took a few minutes before a car stopped and gave us a lift all the way to the Sepilok Jungle Resort. He saved us 5+ km’s of walking and he didn’t even want any money! Very nice of him.
+ The main reception was closed but a sign directed us towards another office for late arrivals. We thought it would be around the corner but it was actually a 5 minute walk on a boardwalk through the jungle and over a lake to get there. We were definitely in the Borneo jungle!
+ After check in, it started to rain so we decided to hang at the cafe there and use the internet. Only 2 or 3 minutes after sitting down, the peacefulness was interrupted by a bunch of dinner guests running away from an Orangutan that had just swung into the sitting area! He was pretty big and soaking wet and had apparently ducked under cover to escape the rain and maybe get a free meal out of it too!
+ The resort staff quickly created a border and 2 of the guys who were familiar with the ape made sure no one got too close while also giving him a bottle of milk. Our guess is he’d done this before.
+ For the next 30 minutes everyone watched as he drank milk, ate some bread, then stole a poncho and made his way over to a deserted corner where he covered himself up and went to sleep! What a baller power move.
+ The rain had finally subsided so we made our way back through the jungle to our room and settled in for an hour or two. Then it was back across (this short journey was quickly becoming second nature) to eat some dinner. We were happy to find we had numerous options at pretty decent prices (way better than at Manana!). Corey was so hungry he actually ate 2 dinners!
+ That night we relaxed in our room enjoying the A/C and watched the movie “Wonder Woman”.
Hanging out with wild Orangutans!
+ We woke up around 8 and made our way to the breakfast buffet included with our stay. Then we geared up and walked a kilometer over to the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. There was a feeding that would take place at 10 am so we made sure to be there a bit earlier to ensure we had a good view.
+ A staff member eventually arrived with a bucket of food and we waited for the Orangutans to show up but instead about 50 different short and long-tailed Macaque monkeys swung over to the platform. So we sat there watching them play around and chase each other (and squirrels) back and forth on the ropes.
+ Next we hiked over to the nursery area where we were delighted to find an enclosed, air-conditioned room where we could observe all the babies playing. There were about 10 different Orangutans at any given time ranging from toddlers to adults. The apes were free to come and go as they pleased since there was no border or barrier of any kind between them and the Borneo jungle.
+ When we left there, we headed back to our resort for a few hours to enjoy the A/C and eat lunch. Corey went exploring around the resort and was surprised to see a few animals. He saw a big water monitor lizard, some type of chameleon, a stork-billed kingfisher, and another yellow-bellied jungle bird.
+ In the afternoon, we went back to the Orangutan reserve for another feeding and were happy to find a bunch of different Orangutans showing up to feed this time. It was awesome to watch these giant apes swing in from the jungle and observe them from only a few feet away with nothing between them and us!
+ Back to the nursery again where there were now 15+ apes showing up to feed, play, wrestle, and just be silly! We watched one ape do somersaults from one end of the field to the other for no reason at all! Then we saw two of them wrestling around and pull each other through tires and eventually we saw them all fight over food and find inventive ways to open coconuts. A really fun and entertaining way to spend the afternoon!
+ We then left the Orangutan center but instead of going back to the hotel, we walked 2 km’s over to the Jungle Discovery Center. Once we paid the admission fee, we hiked around the jungle and over the canopy walk platforms for a few hours. We saw a couple of birds but really not too much at all other than pretty scenery.
+ At the farthest end of the jungle area, we got caught in a huge rain storm and had to duck under some cover and wait it out for 15 minutes or so. Then we eventually trudged all the way out and hiked allll the way back to our resort. We were completely drenched (mostly from sweat due to the crazy intense humidity) and happy to be finished walking for the day.
+ The rest of the day involved showering, eating dinner and watching the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” which was pretty cheesy and way over-glamorized travel.
Kinabatangan River Cruises through the Bornean Jungle!
+ We enjoyed another nice breakfast in the morning and then hung out in our room until checkout at noon. Then we got some lunch and researched and booked accommodation in Bangkok until our shuttle picked us up at 1:30.
+ We were headed to Sukau to stay at the Greenview River B&B and rode in the shuttle with about 7 other people for the 90 minute journey from Sepilok.
+ Once we checked into our dorm room and finished the briefing from our guide (named Rex), we all climbed into the boat to begin the first of our 3 cruises along the Kinabatangan River.
+ During our 2 hour afternoon cruise we saw a whole bunch of birds and animals! Way more than we expected! We saw: long tailed macaque, a huge group of pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, silver leaf monkeys, and then a silver leaf fighting with a proboscis group, multiple purple storks, a storm stork, and a bunch of different kinds of hornbills!
+ The kinds of hornbills we saw were Oriental pied hornbills (common), White crowned hornbills (not common!), plus at least 3 other kinds of hornbills!
+ The best part of course was seeing all the Pygmy elephants! We knew we had little to no shot to see them this time of year and since we were only staying for 2 days/1 night, we knew our chances were even more limited. The guide said he only sees them about 20 times per year so we counted ourselves lucky!
+ For around half an hour we sat watching them eat, bathe, and drink water from the river. They were just like normal elephants except smaller and cuter!
+ Once we got back to the resort, we had just enough time to eat to our heart’s content from the delicious dinner buffet before getting back onto the boat for the night cruise. There was one guide driving while the other would use a high-powered torch while sporadically skimming the forest, river, and riverbanks with the light. How they spotted these animals was beyond impressive!
+ During the night cruise we also saw a lot more wildlife than we had expected. We saw: 2 blue-eared kingfishers (teeny tiny), they let us get really close each time and did not fly away!, a stork billed king fisher, a cotton bird, a Malaysian swiftlet (these are the ones where the nests are really really valuable in Chinese medicine), and 3 red and black broadbills sleeping bunched together (like Angry Birds!).
+ These cruises were just like the Disney Jungle Cruise in real life!
+ Back at the resort we saw a Sacred Kingfisher land on a branch just a little bit away from us while a ton of bats swooped all around us passing only inches from our heads sometimes! Then we talked with a really nice Chilean/British family until around 10:30 when we finally headed back to the room to escape the bugs.
Morning River Cruise and bus back to KK
+ Our last cruise was scheduled to depart at 6 am so we all had a wake up call at 5:30 to get ready.
+ This cruise didn’t involve quite as many animals as the one yesterday did, but we still saw more than our fair share of birds and animals. In addition to some more Proboscis monkeys and Macaques, we saw some more of the hornbills and storks from yesterday but some new ones too! We finally saw the famous Rhinoceros Hornbill plus a few different sea eagles and river/snake eagles. We also spotted a 3.5 meter crocodile and a water monitor lizard.
+ When we finished our last boat tour, we quickly ate breakfast and then packed up our stuff and boarded the shuttle bus to take us to Sandakan. We were happy we’d packed light again and only brought small bags while leaving our big ones in storage.
+ On the ride back to Sandakan, we talked with our new friends Sam and Rachel from the UK and reminisced about all our different travels and adventures.
+ In Sandakan, we caught the first bus headed back to Kota Kinabalu and set off for the same 6.5 hour journey we’d taken just 3 days earlier.
+ On the bus, we read about Thailand on the Lonely Planet books and worked on the blog. It was really hard to be productive because they showed the movies “Fate of the Furious” and “John Wick” which are so action packed that Liz couldn’t stop watching and concentrate on her work! She just stared all zombie-like at the screen. (By Liz, we mean Corey!)
+ The bus stopped for a late lunch at the same rest stop as before. Liz got a red bean popsicle which tasted exactly like it sounded and Corey got some sort of chicken-stuffed bun. Then it was back on the bus with more sleep for Liz and Dragon Ball Super/OITNB watching for Corey.
+ Once we finally arrived in KK after almost 7 hours on the bus, we split a cab with another backpacking couple into town.
+ Showers, repacking our bags, and some quick internet time and we were off to dinner. Since it was our last night in Malaysia, we decided to skip the Mexican restaurant that had been recommended to us and instead try a few more popular Malaysian foods. We ordered some Nasi Lemak and Laksa and although neither were bad (we didn’t particularly care for the dried anchovies though), they certainly didn’t top the list of favorite foods for us.
+ That night we worked on our devices and knocked a few items off our to do list, while also preparing for entry into Thailand by downloading offline maps, offline language translation, and sorting out how exactly we’d get to our hostel.
+ Finally around 2 am, we called it quits and gave into the tiredness of our almost 21 hour day.
Fly from Borneo to Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, Thailand
+ We woke up around 7 and quickly packed up, checked out, and caught an Uber to the airport. Once through customs and security, we got some quick breakfast from the Priority Pass lounge in the airport. The selection was pretty disappointing, but at least it was free!
+ Our first flight was 2.5 hours and took us back to Kuala Lumpur. Then we had a 5 hour layover where we again headed to our beloved Priority Pass accessible airport lounges to while away the hours with free food and drinks.
+ There was also a laundry list of things that needed to be done. Some of which included Liz sorting through the hundreds of pictures taken in Malaysia and Corey researching and putting together a potential travel timeline for Thailand.
+ Before we knew it, the 5 hours had flown by and, with our stomachs full of Asian food, beer (Corey), and coffee (Liz), we headed over to our departure gate and stepped off of Malaysian ground for the last time and onto the plane.
+ We enjoyed another yummy meal on our flight to Bangkok and watched some shows on the tv screen. Once we’d landed, we navigated our way through the huge crowds, 1,000 baggage claim terminals, and long lines for the Thai visas to the exit.
+ Using the free wifi, we ordered an Uber which took us took us to Thaitone Hostel which was an hour away. Then we checked into our (weird) room and discovered the bed was absolutely rock hard! Seriously, impressively hard. What on earth was this mattress made from??
+ We didn’t even bother to unpack since we were so tired and instead just laid down and enjoyed the A/C since we were very sleepy after our long travel day!
Browsing around Khao San Road
+ We both tossed and turned throughout the night and woke up feeling sore due to the bed at this hostel being comically hard. No idea what the bed could possibly be made out of. We checked it again and it was definitely a mattress and not a box spring. But it was like the mattress was made of cement!
+ After some internet time and going over our Bangkok itinerary for the next few days, we walked South to Khao San road. It was calm because it was both daytime and a holiday. Plus the holiday forbid anyone to sell beer and even though we spotted a few local vendors breaking the rules to wanting tourists, we knew it was nothing like the average day.
+ The streets around Khao San were full of little carts turning the sidewalks into markets. We squeezed past everything from food, drinks, souvenirs, and even storm trooper tshirts! We were also pestered every few feet by somebody trying to get Corey to have a custom suit tailor-made. Maybe if we weren’t backpacking and having to carry everything around with us he would get one, but still probably not.
+ Once we’d eaten lunch and downed a yummy smoothie and a nice bubbly fountain soda, we walked back to the hostel. Then we spent the next few hours booking accommodation and tour to Khao Yai National Park in a few days and figuring out which islands we wanted to go to. Liz also spent some more time organizing pictures and Youtube videos.
+ For dinner, we went super cheap and just made the ramen we’d been carrying around with us in our backpacks. Then we followed that up with some M&M’s! Truly backpacking at it’s finest.