Monday 27th March
Hired a car and headed NW to the 'Tip of Borneo'. Terrible 'stop, start', slow exit from Kota Kinabalu. Malaysia doesn't seem to have environmental controls on exhaust emissions; far too many 4x4's and lorries spew out foul black clouds of exhaust fumes so it was a very unpleasant journey for the first hour and a half. Our automatic, hire car lacked any power on the hills so instead of taking three hours, the journey was at least half an hour longer but we finally made it to Howard's place: 'Tip Top.'
He wasn't there but about a mile down the road we found his restaurant which was also the 'checking in' place. He wasn't there either, so we ordered some food while we waited. Howard is English, from Stratford and there seemed to be a few other English guests staying at the place.
The set up; longhouses and cabins nestled in the jungle with covered, communal areas to sit, make drinks, read etc.
Unfortunately, the cabins are very basic; a bed surrounded by a mosquito net. No chair or table and nowhere to hang anything. Each veranda has a log to sit on and the bathroom is off to the side.
It rained in torrents all night with spectacular lightning and loud rumbling thunder.
Tuesday 28 th March
After a brief discussion in the morning, we decided that although we applauded Howard's efforts at creating natural, eco -friendly living and his ethos of keeping the tribal way of life alive, we needed a few home comforts at the end of our Malaysian adventure, so we left.
We had booked for two nights & Howard was within his rights to charge for both but he's a decent sort; he didn't, and we left on good terms.
The rain had set in for the day
Three hour drive to Poring Springs Resort in the rain. Despite the rain, it was a wonderful route through the most spectacular scenery - almost Alpine AND traffic free. We saw only two cars in about a 30 km stretch.
So glad we made this decision. Although it was too wet to stop and take photos, we will remember it.
Poring (means bamboo in Malay) is a resort built around the natural hot springs of this area. Of course other attractions have been added, such as a butterfly farm, ..... we have the cheapest accommodation, but it is luxury compared with last night.
As it is a comparatively expensive restaurant, we decide to eat across the road at a Chinese restaurant - not good!
Watch a Hugh Grant/American film, 'The Rewrite' that I've never heard of; the usual formulaic, warm-hearted comedy that Americans are so good at. It helps pass the rainy evening.
Wednesday 29th March
As we're nearing the end of our trip, I have the Malaysian breakfast this morning - Nasi Lemak. Rice, peanuts, little dried fish, sambal, hard boiled egg and a small amount of chicken curry! I really like the combination although it sounds a bit bizarre when you write it down!
We have another three hour journey ahead of us but it is not raining, yet! The route back to KK takes us around the edge of Kinabalu National Park and if anything the scenery here is even more stunning. I'm running out of superlatives!
First sighting of Mt Kinabalu
On both sides of the road, virgin jungle covers mountains and valleys as far as the eye can see. Closer to the road there are market Gardens and signs of commercial growing on steppes, but this is far from the ugly scarred landscape of the Cameron Highlands which were covered in plastic sheeting and horrendous piles of rubbish.
A majestic peak through the banana trees
Reached KK in time to drop off the car and book in to our Hotel- Eden 64. A small hotel in the old part of KK. After a settling in, we decided to sample one of the many excellent coffee & cake shops in this part of town - a pleasant way to shelter from yet more rain!
After that we had a few things to sort out and the rain was getting worse. We spent sometime in a nearby Shopping Mall. These are very popular in Malaysia. Most of them are huge and contain many of the stores we know: Clarks, H & M, M & S, Body Shop to name a few.
The continued rain kept us in the Mall & after an early meal we went to the local cinema to watch the new Science Fiction film, Life. Wanted the full cinema experience so tried to buy ice-cream. Only pop-corn to be had so Doug settled for that; cost almost as much as the ticket!
Thursday 30th March
Flight from KK to KL was around 2.30pm so I left Doug at the hotel to catch up on some reading while I found the large shopping mall where we had gone to the cinema last night.
It is curious that the staff, in stores commonplace in every British town, will leave you to wander around in peace, while the staff in local shops to Asia immediately move towards you in what can only be described as 'sharks surrounding a prey'. I don't mean it in nasty way but in hopeful expectation and as the goods are generally a good deal cheaper than say Gap or Sprit, it should have been an invitation to buy. Unfortunately, the endless 'following around' made me hurry out.
Back to the hotel in time to order an Uber to the Airport and our journey to Kuala Lumpur. There were some interesting cakes for sale at the airport:
Horlicks is a popular drink here - strange, in a hot climate- but Horlicks and Pandan??
Elle and Keith would not be home till after 8.30 so we grabbed some dinner at the airport before getting a taxi back to their place.
Friday 31st March
Lazy start to the day. With Elle and Keith at work (teaching starts early in Asia - 7.20, but also finishes an hour earlier) we get some much needed washing done, in the hope that it will be dry by this evening when we have to pack.
Decide to check out the KL Bird Park this afternoon. It is the world's largest free-flight walk-in aviary. I might even be able to actually get a couple of decent photos!
Our Uber driver to the park was very chatty and in passing mentioned that there was a strong possibility of rain. He insisted we take an umbrella - said he had loads (something to do with his wife's work) we pointed out that we couldn't return it, but it turned out that it was a gift. It was brand new - still in the wrapper and very strong!
So ready for anything, we entered the park.