My first international trip. It was fun and eventful, although I did get very tired by the time I came back.
The first surprise for the trip was that Bala decided he wanted to come. It would have been a lot less fun without him.
Day 0: The flight to KL was around 3.5 hours. We reached KL at 6:00 a.m local time. Didn’t have a good sleep but were in decent shape. Here we were joined by Puri who had arrived in a different flight from Cochin. The flight from KL was at around 8:30 and we reached K.K at 12:00.
The hotel turned out to be a hostel with an A/C room and common toilets. The room was clean and the hostel was inhabited mostly by Europeans which made the stay there interesting.
The primary goal of the trip was to do the Mount Kinabalu summit trek. Unfortunately, as we found out later in the day, this trek was closed. The route was open unto Laban Rata only because of aftershocks of the earthquake that happened in June. We debated doing the trek upto Laban Rata but it would have been a costly trip with 2 days wasted. So we decided against it and instead went to do canopy walk.
Kinabalu Park Botanical garden and Poring Hot springs.
This trip was a package deal for 150RM per person. Kinabalu park is a botanical garden with the local flora of Sabah on display. There was NO wildlife that could be seen here. In-fact, there was no wildlife that could be seen anywhere near Kota-Kinabalu. The nearest place to visit wildlife was in Sarawak, which was 6 hours away. When we planned the trip, one of the main attractions to visit were the wildlife in Malaysia. We were disappointed that we could not do it.
Poring hot springs was fine. The Canopy walk near poring hot springs was an exiting activity. However, on the whole this trip was more of a granny walk than an adventure trip. Granny walk courtesy Chinese auntie.
Scuba Diving :
We arranged a scuba diving package for 265RM per person. This included the boat trip to and fro Sapi island, 2 professional divers, equipment for 2 dives and a simple lunch. This trip was just me, Chick and Puri. Mr. B didn’t want to come as he would wear specks and the experience wont be fun for him.
Sapi Island does not have a lot of Coral reefs but it was still a good diving experience. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of a turtle but were left disappointed. We did see a lot of colorful fish and fungi on the sea bed. The 2 dives took about 2.5 hours with about an hour break in between. We reached civilization back at around 2:00 pm and still had an evening to kill. So we headed back to the Chinese Auntie place. There we debated hiring a car and going to Sarawak but were told that it was a bad idea. Finally we decided to visit a heritage resort in the evening.
Mari Mari heritage resort.
This tour cost us another 150 RM per person. We were picked up at 5:00 P.M from the hotel. The heritage tour started at 6 PM. The tour was entertaining and the guide tried hard to keep the visitors engaged. The dance performance at the end of the tour was quite good. The buffet dinner was also good. Returned to K.K by around 9:00 P.M. Before we left for the tour, we had arranged with Chinese auntie river rafting for day 3 for RM 200 per person.
White water rafting.
The river looked muddy in color but while we were in the water, it wasn’t that bad. Considering that I swallowed quite a lot of water when I fell in and was still fine later on. The trip to the starting point was supposed to take 4 hours but there was a delay of 2 hours when the train that was supposed to pick us up broke down. It was 11:00 AM by the time the train arrived.
The lanscape along the train route were quite beautiful but the afternoon heat was difficult to bear so the train ride wasn’t fun. Thankfully, when we reached the start point, the climate was overcast. We were clubbed with a Belgian couple on the raft. I’m not sure if it was intentional or accidental, the raft capsized twice when on lvl 4 rapids. It was a thrilling experience for all of us.
We reached K.K around 6:00 P.M and just had time to do some souvenir shopping at the handicraft market.
We left the hotel at 7:00 am and reached KL at around 11:00. We arranged for a local taxi to take us around K.L for 280 RM. I must say that was an excellent deal. We visited the twin towers, KL towers, a chocolate factory and Putrajaya. The mini zoo underneath the KL towers was a good experience. Putrajaya really impressed me.
We tried Malay and chinese food extensively on the trip. Some of the things I tried were good. Others were not so. One thing I observed was that the chinese use a lot of soya sauce in their dishes for flavor. I got the chance to eat some good fish fry, specially at the buffets.
We met quite a lot of interesting people on the trip. The most interesting were the local Malays. The facial features of Malays are slightly different from the Chinese. They were mostly Muslim though from their dressing and habits, they seemed to be quite liberal. Speaking to the Chinese auntie was interesting. So were the Belgian couple we me while rafting, the Thai uncle on the Botonical park trip, the Philipino auntie and the Singaporean couple on the Hearitage trip. The stinky Euro babe changed the impression I had about Europeans.
For an international trip, I thought this trip was not very expensive. The local activity and food bill came to 21K+2.5K for the hotel+15K for the flights, so a lot of 39K INR for the entire trip. The food there was decently cheap, so were the activities that we did. I just wished the trip was longer.
Now I need to start planning next years European trip.