21 August 2023
This is a pic from the walk I did. It was hilly and hot. Man the water was BEAUTIFUL!
We went back to a beach I'd seen on the walk in the afternoon and snorkeled and I properly saw an octopus 🐙
Proof of critter encounter photos are in the Big Trip photo album. Promise.
04 August 2023
It looks like I'm not really in charge of this blog. I had thought I'd scheduled a couple of posts about remaining time in Borneo but have no idea now I'm offline and about to fly to Bangkok if they did. Hmmmn.
Anyway, this update is about Chiang Mai. We've just had a bunch of lovely nights in Thai's northern capital. Here's how the Chedi was looking yesterday (before it absolutely pissed down with rain).
In places like Chiang Mai it's obligatory to take temple photos and monk photos. Well it's not but sometimes it just happens. This monk was wading through the flash flooding on the sidewalk while Arthur and I took shelter under a restaurant awning across the road.
Anyway, thank you monk. And thank you Chiang Mai for another great stay. It was filled with family and friends, Thai activities and a tonne of Thai food.
Haven't go much to say really. Chiang Mai is a relaxed easy city. It was made even easier with nice accomodation (weirdly I didn't take any photos of the place) and having a Noon to give some great local insights and tips and LANGUAGE help.
Kids had a great time with Cooking School, Water Park, Elephants and lots of interesting eating activities. But really the best bits are always the fun bartering and the tuk-tuks.
After diving we travelled to KK airport and jumped on a plane to Kuching for three nights in Sarawak's big city.
Malaysian Borneo has two main states Sabah and Sarawak, with Brunei nestled in the middle and Indonesian Kalimantan taking up the read of the world third largest island!
My main memory about Sarawak was pepper because a Malaysian ex co-worker gifted me a small container of Sarawak pepper after a trip of his back home to Malaysia.
Anyway as it turns out that was enough of a memory to make me reach out and make contact and I'm so glad I did. Immediately on arrival Kuching gave off an exciting and exotic vibe, this is what I will remember as my first vision of Kuching!
So starting off really well it only got better with a few 'local' tips pointing us towards a really good mix of activities and fantastic food.
Standout was Borneo Cultures Museum - great, modern museum which entertained whole family for a decent chunk of a day. Here's a dog and a hat from one of the displays that I took fancy to:
And I ate so well chasing down some dishes suggested as 'must try'. Here's a collage:
We also had time to head to the Bako National Park and saw a proboscis monkey up real close, as well as a family of silver leaf langurs including orange furred babies (too cute), a small boar, and sea eagles swooping (on the boat trip) but mainly the outing was a valuable walk (I even used Strava) in quite a lot of HEAT. Didn't take enough water, lesson to be learned there.
Life is pretty good. Kids are dealing with the heat OK and we are all settled in on the take things as they come. We took the bus, and it came, on the way back from Bako. First bus photo.
There will be more!
I'm on the plane on route to Thailand. This will publish when we arrive. I'm pretty sad to have left Malaysia. I really liked Borneo and already want to re-visit.
26 July 2023
Our diving part of the Borneo adventure was at Bigfin Diving on the coastline north of KK and closet to Kota Belud.
Sally and I learned to dive in Malaysia many years ago at Tioman Islands which is off to the bottom right of peninsula Malaysia. When we looked at coming to Borneo Sally chose Bigfin as the location to let us do some diving, as well as signing Arthur up to do his Open Water and signing Dixie up for a try dive.
We didn't take a camera diving with us this trip but I can report that apart from a very rusty and apprehensive approach to my first dive in a bunch of years we all did great and saw a bunch of things. This was despite it not really being the crystal clear water experience we have had on past diving holidays.
The accomodation was comfy and the food was amazing. Really lovely way to spend a few days together.
We had this view of Mount Kinabalu from our accomodation.
I really didn't take many photos but this friendly spider was a good one. We met this spider waiting for the boat to take us to Bigfin. It kept jumping on the camera when I tried to take a photo of it so this is me using my phone to capture my new eight legged buddy.
22 July 2023
I'm in Kota Kinabalu (KK for short) having just slept through our seventh night in Borneo. In the time in this part of Malaysia we have seen a bit of Sandakan, Sepilok, Bukit Garam, the Kinabatangan river and now KK. All places on the general north east part of Borneo.
Note: I'm finding the location info in my photos a real bonus for easily navigating to the "where in the world was I when I saw that?".
Haven't taken photos of the difference, but KK has the feel of a city of it's size; infrastructure, development and big buildings. The retail and residential building (pictured above) our Airbnb is in is a case and point.
Interestingly Sandakan didn't have the same feel despite being similar populations. Technically these are on different sides of the island, KK is on the South China Sea and Sandakan is on the Sulu Sea and maybe the relative level of development reflects this. Not sure what I'm trying to say here about it except they are different enough that I was surprised to find they had same populations.
Anyway the main reason we came to Borneo was to see Jungle and Animals, not discuss its cities. We landed seven nights ago in Sandakan and went to Sepilok which is on the edge of a protected area of jungle where conservation efforts for Orangutan and Sun Bears (and general conservation) have been established. Sepilok is also the staging point for trips into the Jungle areas (best accessed by river), so that's what we were there for!
We opted for the two-night jungle experience staying in a very basic lodge on the edge of an oxbow lake formed off the side of the Kinabatangan river in a protected jungle area. It was hot, humid, basic, and fantastic.
We saw a bunch of animals, the herons, proboscis monkeys and the old man crocodile were my favorites, and while we didn't see some of the bucket-list critters, we did get bitten by fire ants, stung by a scorpion, nibbled on by mosquitoes, itched up by heat rashes and...
Annoyed by another tourist in the group. It's strange how other humans can colour an experience. Objectively we all had the same quality experience but this particular person fell in the glass half-full (more like empty actually) side of things and wasn't afraid to say it. At length, all the time.
I'm super impressed that my kids didn't allow this to reinforce any doubts and discomforts they were having. In fact it seemed to cement our whole family's resolve that the trip was a fantastic experience. Group dynamics are interesting and there is definitely some merit in a common 'enemy' that isn't in the family group!
I have very few creature photos to share that look great. Most of the photos do well to remind me of what I saw looking through the binoculars but are otherwise terrible! However this tree frog came out great taken on the night walk so will have to serve as the placeholder for the other photos (and videos) posted in the shared Google photos folder linked earlier.
Speaking of things that came out great on the night walk, Dixie got 'bitten' by something on the walk which we all assumed was a fire ant a critter that was expected and which had taken to my ankle a bit earlier in the walk (they hurt quite a bit). It wasn't till we washed her trousers back in KK that we shook them out and guess what fell out?
Anyway, she didn't die, and isn't particularly affected by the idea of a scorpion crawling up her trousers leg so that's a bonus!
The return to Sepilok after the jungle stay was extremely comfortable and delicious. We saw a young orangutan at the recovery centre (there's a great video of the main encounter here) and then it was time to head to KK.
We've been in KK three nights enjoying a different small city and catching up on delicious food (that's the night market we ate at twice pictured above) and some clothes washing. Today we head about an hour or two north up the coast to do some diving. Fun!
16 July 2023
I'm going to share most of my photos using a shared Google Photos album. This album:
Big Trip Photos 2023
All my photos will have semi useful date and location info if you dig in to find it which may be useful if you really want to know the when/where of them, but the intention is to also put a caption on each photo that's helps me to remember the why!
I was toying with simply blogging through these photo captions, but maybe writing some words helps give an overview of them and organise my thoughts into something less flippant!