Malaysian Borneo: Sabah and Mt Kinabalu

We arrived in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and went straight to our hostel to dump our bags then out for local food. This part of Malaysia had a real mix of cuisines, mostly great cheap chinese and indian food. We then tried to plan what we were doing for the next couple of weeks, after a lot of research we decided on four main loctions; mt kinabalu, sepilok, river kinabatangan and sipadan. Before we left Sabah we were so lucky to be able to go a meet up with Nova, who works in Rustic Borneo, We had first met Nova all the way back in Vietnam when we did the Sapa trek. She really helped us plan our Borneo trip. So after chatting with her, we collected our bags….a cheeky pizza hut and went to the bus stop.

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Mt Kinabalu

From about half a mile from Rustic Borneo is a bus stop with  load of different shuttle buses going to a load of destinations just shout out your destination and someone will point you in the right direction. It was about 60ringit and took 3 hours to get to Mt Kinabalu.

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We stayed at a hostel called D’villa Rina Ria Lodge it was a very basic room with bunk beds squashed together but all you needed for a night and the views from the restaurant area were incredible. Danielle also wants me to write that the room was really cold and there were massive spiders in the bathroom….but we were in the mountains!

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Now we couldn’t afford to do the summit trek as its around 300GBP and you have to book it 6 months in advance but there are a load of trails in the park you can do, these were really fun rainforest treks!

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Malaysia – The Perhentians PADI open water ⚓️

All along long beach are several dive shops. In fact the whole beach is just made up of either snorkelling or diving outlets. So why did we pick oh lala? A French run place needless to say, with a friendly female manager called Jan. Really nice, very straight talking and typically French. All the dive shops are pretty much the same price for PADI open water courses (1050 rm + 3%card fee), which included x3 nights accommodation in their rooms.  The only exception was a place called Turtle bay divers…they’re a bit cheaper and don’t have a card fee but they don’t have any accommodation. When you work it all out though it ends up pretty much the same money wise. So the shops with the chalets just take out the hassle of wondering around looking for accommodation: unless you stay in the expensive resorts you can’t book anything before getting to the island.

So we had a look at the accommodation, it’s all very basic. The main reason we went with Oh lala was that they offered us a private room rather than a dorm (for 20rm each rather than 40rm each as we were diving with them), which was nice as we were there for a few days.

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So we started our course in the afternoon on the 5/5/17. We were both nervous… Lara nearly backed out after having researching all the fun injuries one can sustain underwater. Eventually we both agreed to do the first session to try it and could see how we felt after that. Our instructor was a girl called Lucy from Buckinghamshire, we were very lucky she was absolutely lovely and it was just Dani and I in our group so we had lots of support! The first session incorporated skills in the shallows, with our SCUBA kit but just on our knees so we could have come up easily if needed. The hardest part was flooding our masks, at first I had no idea how to clear it and just had a tonne of salt water in my eyes. I finally understood that you can’t clear it while your still holding it off your face so got the hang of it… Dani found it a challenge too as she has a sensitive nose which kept letting in water making her choke whilst under water, not a good move. After a few struggles though we both managed to complete the skill session and then went into a proper dive, maxing at 11m deep! We saw some beautiful coral and fishies at a spot called Batu Nisan.

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The next day we did a tonne of theory in the morning; videos and questions and then quizzes with Lucy. Dani was a pro and got a solid 💯 on everything!

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In the afternoon we had a whole session of skills. So this was mainly on our knees and then some stuff a bit deeper like swimming around without a mask off at around 6m. Again Dani fearing for her life whilst trying to get her mask off, snuffing up yet more water but managing to survive and getting it second time around.

The next day we finished the rest of our theory videos and quizzes with Lucy and did the final exam which we both passed woo!

Then we went on a dive to D’lagoon which is not too far from long beach, still on kecil island. It was a nice dive; more coral and fishies.

Then for our two bigger dives on our last day,  we need to reach 18m to finish the course. The fist dive was to Tanjung basi which was a really cool dive and we saw tonnes of trigger fish and x4 black tip sharks 🦈. The afternoon dive was called Polis wreck which is an artificial wreck where they sunk x3 old police boats 🚣 to create some a new habitat where coral would grow. Here we went to 18m! We saw loads of creatures including three bright yellow box fish which we were told was very unusual for that spot.

So now we are qualified PADI open water divers and can go alone (without an instructor, but with a buddy) and dive… not that we will just yet!

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*TIP , THERE ARE NO CASH POINTS ON THE ISLAND! So to avoid the fees get as much cash out as possible.

 

 

Malaysia – Langkawi

First stop; Langkawi.

For the first two nights we stayed at Melatis VIP female dorm, which was basic but fine. We moved on for the next two nights as we found somewhere a bit cheaper round the corner. It was v basic the guys who ran it were really nice hippies, played their guitars and drank beer with us in the evening (owner in the picture). They also have cheap mopeds to rent here. Tip for Malaysia…unless your arriving late at night and just need somewhere to head straight to, hold off booking anywhere and just head to the backpackers area. You will more often than not find something cheaper than online.

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So what did we do for a few days on our first Malay island. We were staying in Pentai Cenang which has a huge beach with loads of water sports. The first evening we arrived we went exploring, unfortunately the nicest bit of the beach is round a corner and privately owned by expensive resorts, but we were allowed to have a walk.

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In the morning we went to the Langkawi cable car which takes you right up into the clouds. The weather wasn’t great the whole time in Langkawi with big rainstorms but the views were still amazing, and it was great to get of and walk to the bridge where we were literally waking through cloud. Sadly all our photos from this day were lost on Danielle’s camera 😦 but just google Langkawi cable car and you will see the epic views from the top!

That evening we walked to a local night market, there wasnt really anything good to buy but the food was great and it was here we first had these epic pancakes with sweetcorn and penuts, sounds awful but was so gooD!

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In the morning we had a slow day and went to a slightly different beach south of Pentai cenang. This was much nicer and quieter. However we soon got washed out by another tropical storm! It was quite beautiful though sat in our little sun shelter watching, and getting soaked by, the hot rain.

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That night we went out to ‘one love’ bar with some people we met in our hostel. Make sure you drink before or take some with you as the alcohol is not great for a travellers budget!

For our last day we explored the north of the island, going to pensat tongkorak beach and tanjung rhu beach. The first one is a tiny little piece of paradise, if you manage to catch it on a quiet day you’ll feel like your in heaven! When we went it wasn’t too busy but there was one couple enjoying themselves a little too much and it was putting everyone right off!! We were very relieved when they disappeared. The next beach is much bigger and half of it is private, but the views of big ocean space and white sand were lovely to end our little trip to langkawi!

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Before leaving we also went to see the famous eagle at the port, really beautiful at night 🙂

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Next stop… Penang!

Indonesia – Lombok

At Lombok airport we went through the usual stress with the taxi drivers and managed to get one for 150,000 IDR. We then headed for Mataram, the capital city where we were staying for one night. The hotel was really nice (favhotel) but I’m aftraid to say that’s all that was. There isn’t anything to do in Mataram, if there is please let us know! So late morning we got in a cab to our next destination- Senggigi. We just used a local cab and asked them to put it on the meter, it ended up costing 60,000 IDR. Which is reasonable.

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Senggigi is much nicer and had a bit more to do. We wondered down to the beach and had a little walk and Danielle finally purchased some elephant trousers she had been wanting since we arrived in Bali! She paid 50,000IDR which seemed to be the lowest any stall would go.

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We also treated ourselves to a massage from what seemed to be a chain spa as they were everywhere, called ‘Orchid’. We both had back and shoulders, 30 mins, which was 45,000 IDR pp.

That evening we walked to a local bar which was pretty much empty but had live music and a pool table so we were happy!

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In the morning we had an early start as we were commencing the journey to Gili Trawangan. We paid 65,000 IDR pp which included the shuttle from our Hostel and the local boat over to the island. They picked us up from the hostel at 0830 (Lombok time meant this was really 0900) and our ferry was at 1030. We arrived on Gili T (feeling pretty queasy from the boat journey) about 1115.