4 March 2013

Apologies, royals and orangutans

I've had two complaints about my blog - or rather lack of it - in the last week, so I suppose I had better put fingers to keyboard and create another post! Sorry for the lack of them recently - it was much easier when I had just arrived and everything was new and exciting!

Chinese New Year has been and gone now. Last year we spent it in a spookily quiet KL, this year we decided to go away, leaving early on a Friday afternoon to avoid the inevitable public holiday traffic jams.

We flew to Kota Kinabalu which is the state capital of Sabah, one of two Malaysian states that nestle on the island of Borneo.

We splashed out on the hotel, staying at the Shangri-la, and booked a suite for the three of us as they tend to be cheaper than two separate rooms. We were asked on arrival if we would like to pay about £400 for an upgrade to the presidential suite, and politely declined - only to be told a few minutes later that we could have it for free. Turns out it was the same suite that Will and Kate stayed in when they visited Borneo! Caitie was most impressed! I loved the huge wrap-around balcony it had, with five different seating areas - perfect for sipping a drink while taking in the sea view, including some rather impressive sunsets.

On our first full day there, we took a taxi to the city outskirts, and wandered around. The waterfront was suitably picturesque - brightly coloured fishing boats, blue seas and tropical islands dotted around. 

We stumbled upon a craft market and took a look round some of the stalls - plenty of keyrings, cheap bags and pearl jewellery on offer. We also strolled around the city streets for a while, and discovered they were pretty much like most other city streets in Malaysia - a mix of shops, shops and more shops, interspersed with food stalls, food stalls and - you've got it - more food stalls.

The following day we took a bumpy ride to the hotel's sister resort further north along the coast, where they have an orangutan reserve. Walking with a guide and a good few dozen other people, we followed an upwards path through the jungle, stopping after about ten minutes at a wooden platform viewing area. The guide went a little further, to another, smaller platform, put fruit out, and called to the orangutans. Sure enough, after a few minutes one appeared, swinging through the trees, and started tucking into its breakfast.

Before long it was joined by another, but this one seemed to take his time to get through the trees, almost showing off, it seemed, as he swung from one branch to another, sometimes upside down, sometimes the right way up, sometimes spread completely between branches creating an X shape with his limbs!

He posed for a moment on the platform, ate a bit of fruit, and then grabbed a banana and zipped off into the trees to eat it in peace.


The experience probably only lasted about 20-30 minutes, but it was a good one, and another to tick off the "must see/do" list. The orangutans were more limber than we had thought - photos always seem to portray them as being somewhat portly and sedentary, but these ones were definitely pretty nimble.

The rest of our time was spent just chilling out - reading, eating, snoozing, the usual holiday activities!

Our verdict - it was worth going, we would have regretted it had we not, but we probably won't return. Too many other places to explore, and a few that we want to see again :-)