Monday, June 6, 2011
Wow so much to say, so little time to say it. So I will just do a super fast description of the past two weeks with the highlight of each few days.
Last time I left you I was in Kuta Lombok on the 17th fending off spiders for Steph. We left Kuta and headed to Sengigi for a day. It was supposed to be the beach of all beaches, claimed you could search for years and never come across a beach like this. To say the least Steph and I were unimpressed. We had just left Lombok where we had found paradise.
We only stayed in Sengigi a day going to the market at night and the next morning took off for Ubud in order to be closer to the airport in Denpasar (Bali). After a 4.5 hour ferry ride which took us 10.5 hours in total we made it to Ubud (the cultural center of Bali). We had quick dinner (I found a plethora of ants in mine, delightful) and then we walked around and went to bed after a LONG day.
The next day was in Ubud, a full day. We went north and saw some bhuddist temples and then came back and discovered a gem of South East Asia, ABC Special. Its a drink with shaved ice and sugar more or less with fruits. Delicious! After lunch we went to the monkey sanctuary. Should have been a blast, and at first the novelty of the monkeys was great. Until we realized monkeys are very nice. Steph was handing a monkey a banana and it ate it, then proceeded to search her bag. When she tried to stop it, it grabbed her arm and bit her. I once again came to the rescue, throwing a banana a few feet away so the monkey would leave her. Unfortunately I hadn't thought of this sooner. From that point we were a little tentative around monkeys and shortened our stay at the sanctuary. We found a cool market as well and finally tried Durian fruit (they stink and aren't very tasty).
The 20th was fairly boring. Just early flight to Kuala Lumpur and then I had Visa stuff for Vietnam to take care off. Steph wandered around the Indian quarter and we regrouped with Erich and Corinne at the hostel. Getting my visa was a fiasco, I forgot my passport photo in my larger bag so I had to rush off and get new ones taken at a mall, A cab driver took me and drove me around for the hour getting me back to the consulate with 10 minutes to spare and get my Visa.
Our only day in Kuala Lumpur was spent going to the Batu Caves. These are a really interesting rock formation forming caves in the middle of plains. At the caves are a few very rare species which only exist in those specific caves (such as a type of spider of which they estimated there are only a dozen exist). The night before I had been feeling really lightheaded and sick. And following the caves I started feeling the same way. I went back to the hostel while the group headed to China town and I slept from 5:30PM until 9AM the next morning and felt significantly better. The one highlight of the day however was Erich having his snacks stolen by a monkey. He was going to give them to the monkey however didn't have the chance.
The following day once again was a transfer day, we traveled to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo. Not much to report. We spent the next day on the island of Sapi, I don't really recommend it. It was nice, however after the beaches of Indonesia it really didn't compare. However following the island we were dropped of in KK again and found the most incredible food market which we used to stock up on snacks for the climb of Mt Kinabalu (the tallest mountain in South East Asia at 4097M) which we were to start the next day.
The climb was entertaining and not nearly as hard as Mt Rinjani however it also didn't offer as many views. It was more like climbing the Grouse Grind for those who have done it. But with the four of us (Vince, Steph, Erich, Corinne), we made a fun climb out of it continuously passing groups who did not appear to be having as much fun as us. We arrived at camp around 3. Ate food and settled in to sleep around 6. Surprisingly no one had trouble dozing off after the long day. I had a lot of trouble staying asleep. Being my first time sleeping at 3300M the air was very thin and I kept waking up short of breath. Steph commented that I seemed to be having more trouble than most with this, I wondered if it was because of the sports I've done. I've heard triathletes don't make the best mountain climbers due to the oxygen dept. We woke up at 2:30 AM and attacked the summit.
Steph and I were smarter this time, taking our time so as to not get there too early and freeze at the top. It was not as windy as Rinjani however the temperature I would say was colder. We got to the top after managing the rope climbs and were rewarded by some truly spectacular views of the mountain. Unfortunately it wasn't the best sunrise, but the mountain-scape made up for it. The weather was unpredictable, we had a view one moment and then 30 seconds later everything was whiteout with clouds.
We descended the mountain telling jokes and mainly making fun of Corinnes dance moves then caught the bus to Sandikan on which they pumped some sweet Maria Carey and Celine!
Now for the highlight of my trip so far. On the 26th around Sandikan we went to two more monkey sanctuaries. The first, an Orangutan sanctuary. They are pretty cool beast, however not nearly as impressive as the proboscis monkeys. Borneo is the only place these monkeys exist. If ever you are in the area it is a must see. Skip the Orangutans if necessary. They were very timid monkeys and you could get right up close to them and they didn't bite (unlike those foul grey tailed monkeys). We followed up that fantastic day with some Karaoke and a few too many drinks.
We started the next a little late and prepared to head to Semporna the stepping stone to Mabul island for 2 days of scuba! The scuba diving was a lot of fun and I tried a night dive which was a new experience. You can't really describe scuba diving in an e-mail and give it justice. Just know that Mabul/Sipadan are supposed to be world class dive sites. We didn't manage to make it to Sipadan however Mabul made up for it with the assortment of fish and turtles. We also dove in Kapalai which is a resort build on stilts above the coral. Very cool.
Unfortunately on the 30th our trip with Erich and Corinne had to come to an end. Steph and I headed back to the mainland and Kuala Lumpur so I could pick up my visa. The next day we spent the morning doing some Christmas shopping and checking out the central market before heading to Singapore where Steph flew out the next day. On a sad note, we lost Steph's camera. And despite my best efforts have been unable to recover it. Hopefully it will turn out but maybe those photo memories are lost. Fortunately most of the photos we took have been on my camera.
Our last day together was jam packed. After sleeping in a little too late we had the arduous task of working out the expenses for past month then head to botanical gardens. We then walked along Orchard road and headed to china town. It was not the best china town but was once again unique to the others we had seen. We spent the end of our day repeating some of the things we did on our first day. Checking out Bugis market and a must, going to little India for some Indian and delicious mango lassies. We talked about those Mango lassies the entire trip and were very satisfied when they lived up to the hype we had given them. So good in fact that we bought seconds. We headed back to the room, packed and headed to the airport. Steph flew out at 1am for Calgary and I at 7AM for Saigon. We split at the airport, I was sad to see her leave after an unforgettable month.
I slept in the terminal and the next morning met up with Colin in VIETNAM!
I'll leave it there. This concluded the first quarter of my trip. Sorry for the length. I'll try and be more consistent in the future!
I have attached two photos, one of the beach in Kuta, and the second of a grey monkey before we realized they were the enemy.