Kota Kinabalu

The day after returning from the Mulu Caves (Thu 5th), we found ourselves at Miri airport again, this time bound for the tourist mecca of Kota Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu, named after the famous Mt. Kinabalu (the highest peak in Southeast Asia), is north of Miri, in the state of Sabah.

Kat’s Uncle Louis and Alfred came with us on this trip, and Kat’s uncle generously booked us all into the Sutera Pacific resort, part of the magnificent Sutera complex (5 star), which appears very similar to something like Golf Harbour in New Zealand. Our room looked directly out onto the 27 hole! golf course. The course was perfectly maintained and was certainly well used. I had lots of fun watching the water hazard in front of our window eat about 50% of the balls that tried to nagivate past it.

After arriving, checking in and cooling down for a few minutes we wandered down to the resort jetty and boarded a boat that took us out to two islands for the day. The trip came complete with snorkels, and we spent a good hour in the water at the first island, watching all the technicoloured fish that were swimming around close to shore. We even saw Nemo.

Eventually we hopped back on the boat and transferred to Manukan Island, about 500m away for a BBQ lunch. The lunch was spectacular, as many BBQ kebabs, roast lamb, seafood and tropical fruit as you could eat all while seated under mature palm trees and looking out across the crystal blue water towards Kota Kinabalu and Mt. Kinabalu in the distance. We spent another hour snorkelling here, which although spectacular was also to our detriment as we both got quite badly sunburnt on our backs and shoulders! Ouch. You would think coming from New Zealand we would know better…

Day 2 we were up at 6am for a quick buffet breakfast at the hotel before being picked up by our guide at 7am for a trip to Poring hot springs, a 3hr drive away from Kota Kinabalu on the other side of the mountain. The drive was very interesting, through lots of borneo countryside, slowly winding our way up the foothills. We stopped at a little village right under the base of Mt Kinabalu
took some photos and spent some time at their market.

The highlight of Poring Hot Springs was the treetop canopy walkway, a series of Aluminium ladders, suspended by ropes and mesh in the jungle canopy about 40m above the ground. The walk was very impressive, although quite wobbly. The guide cheerfully mentioned to us that we were lucky to get on, as the walkway was closing in 2 days for repairs and maintenance which very obviously required at a few points!

We passed up the opportunity to swim in the hot springs due to the heat, but we did take a refreshing dip in the cold water pool. Our van overheated half way back while we were stopped at a fruit and vege market. The tour company had a replacement van to pick us up about 10 minute later, and we were introduced to the driver who’s nickname was “Michael Schumacher”! We made it back safely, despite gripping the seats a few times, checked out and flew back to Miri.

All in all, an action packed two days.