| Sarawak, Brunei,
Kelantan and Terengganu
23.8: Munich -> KL
24.8: KL -> Kuching
-> Bako NP
27.8: Bako ->
Kuching -> Miri
28.8: Miri ->
29.8: Mulu NP
30.8: Miri ->
-> Sibu -> Miri
1.9: Miri ->
3.9: Bario ->
Brunei -> Mt Kinabalu NP
5.9: Park HQ
-> Laban Rata
6.9: Laban Rata
-> Mt Kinabalu -> Kota Kinabalu
7.9: Kota Kinabalu
-> Kota Belud -> Kota Bharu
8.9: Kota Bharu
-> Kuala Terengganu -> KL
13.9: KL ->
Continues from Part
24.8: Kuala Lumpur -> Kuching
140 RM, Kuching; a bit overpriced for a hotel of this kind, quite far
of town; the swimming pool is quite small; about one hour walk to the
with some clouds the whole day; brief shower at 4pm
all major networks in Kuala Lumpur and Kuching
I manage to wake up at 7:30am while
Shirley sleeps longer. After breakfast we split - Shirley waits for her
sister Sara and will then go to Subang Jaya, while the first thing I do
is to take a taxi to the Citibank in Jalan Ampang and withdraw cash.
I walk to KLCC for some photo shooting. Then I fetch a taxi to the
Abdul Samad building and the nearby Jamek mosque (Masjid Jamek), again
for some photo shooting. On the way to Bukit Bintang road
I buy a TM Touch prepaid card for my mobile phone (49 RM with 20 RM of
calls). According to the salesman the prepaid card of Celcom is the
for Sarawak and Sabah, but it costs 75 RM (30 RM of calls).
I have lunch at the Esquire Kitchen
restaurant in the BB Plaza shopping complex at 1pm. At 1:30pm I rush
to the Hotel Concorde - still have to check out. I take again a shower,
pack my things and check out. After leaving my stuff in the lobby I
a taxi to the BB Plaza shopping complex in Bukit Bintang road, where I
have a haircut at Kimarie. At 3:30pm I'm back in the hotel where I meet
Shirley and we take a taxi to the KLIA airport. The flight to Kuching
is very full.
We arrive on time in Kuching at 7:45pm and are in the hotel before 9pm.
After checking in we take a taxi to downtown Kuching (7 RM), have a
dinner and walk back to the hotel.
140 RM, Kuching
the whole day, some clouds
all major networks
The alarm clock wakes us up at 9am.
I did't get too much sleep as I only fell asleep at 4am. We rush down
breakfast (nothing special, I eat some toasted bread), then take a taxi
into town. We go to the Holiday Inn and buy
a tour to the Sarawak Cultural Village (55 RM per person including
and the 45 RM entry ticket). After I stroll along the waterfront while
Shirley goes shopping.
At 12:15 we are back at the Holiday
Inn and get into the minibus. Just for a change the A/C is not strong
(last night in our hotel room we were freezing with the A/C set to 18
or less and no chance to set it higher) and we end up sweating before
reach the Sarawak Cultural Village at 1:15 pm. The Village is open
and there is a cultural performance at 4:30pm. I have already been
in 2000, but the Sarawak Cultural Village is always worth a visit.
are houses of all Sarawakian tribes (Bidayu, Iban, Melanau, Penan etc.)
and cultural performances.
We leave the Village at 5:20 pm and
are back in Kuching a bit after 6pm. We do again the usual things (me
some photos and Shirley shopping around). At 7:15pm we have dinner in
Top Spot seafood restaurant, opposite the Holiday Inn. This looks like
the best place in Kuching to have some seafood, and our expectations
indeed high. Shirley orders crab and I order some fried fish with no
I end up getting a fish with lots of bones and skin and very little
A similar thing happens to Shirley whose crab contains almost no meat.
As I'm still hungry, after dinner I have a chicken sandwich at the
KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) outlet.
We are back in the hotel at 9:15pm.
I start sorting through the 340 images I took today (1.5 GByte of
Tomorrow we'll go to the Bako National Park. In the evening I download
my emails through a very slow Internet connection.
26.8: Kuching ->
(Half of a)
Chalet in the Bako NP; small room with three beds, fan, no A/C,
and kitchen shared with other half of chalet; quite overpriced at 100 RM
in the night; clouded in the morning, then sunny the whole day
in Bako NP: TM Touch (I don't check the other networks)
Around 11am we check out of the hotel
and drive by taxi (RM 30) to the Bako National Park. The taxi brings us
to the jetty of Kampong Bako. There we take a boat to Bako NP (8
or 40 RM for the whole boat when fewer than 6 people). The boat ride
the mangroves of the Bako river and then the open sea takes a total of
After checking in we have some lunch.
There is just one restaurant in the whole NP, and the quality of the
is bad. I eat some fried rice, Shirley doesn't finish her noodles. By
way, we are not greeted by monkeys upon arrival, as I was in 2000
my first visit to Bako NP.
At about 2:30 pm we start our trek
heading towards the Tajor waterfalls, doing first the Lintang trek
north, then changing to the Tajor trek. It's very hot and we sweat a
At the beginning of the Lintang trek, if you walk to the left into the
Telok Paku trek for a few minutes, there is a small path which leads
to a place where you can overlook the bay. From that spot you can see
rare proboscis monkeys in the mangroves (very far away only
The walk to the Tajor waterfalls
takes longer than expected. We pass through changing vegetation - on
of the hill it is relatively dry and you can see pitcher plants
In the lower parts there is more humidity and there is the usual
We finally reach the waterfall at 5:20pm. Actually it's not a
just a series of connected ponds, where in theory you can swim. Since
quite late, we walk back fast, without making stops. We manage to reach
the park HQ by 7pm (quite tired and a bit dehydrated).
Tomorrow Shirley will take a rest,
while I'll walk to the Pandan Besar beach.
27.8: Bako -> Kuching ->
99.80 RM for a deluxe room (room with three beds, A/C, bath+shower, TV,
fridge); room is so-so
and hot the whole day, a few clouds in the sky; (some) showers and
during the night
(Miri): TMTouch and all other major networks
It looks like right now Sarawak is
experiencing its hot and dry season. The Bako national park is like a
sauna, with the temperature getting very high in lower parts of the
forest during the day, as the sun heats up the air. It's more fresh on
the plateau, because some wind is blowing there, but still very hot.
along the trails is difficult in this heat. Even the (shallow) seawater
gets very hot - hard to believe but true. You walk into the water
refreshment, but the refreshment only comes after walking for about 50
meters, where the water reaches your hips. I should be used to the
as it was quite hot in Munich during the two weeks before I left, but
it's just very hot.
We get up around 10am, but didn't
sleep well as the room has no A/C (only fan) and during the night it
first quite hot, then became cold, then hot again in the morning. We
take a shower (yellow smelly water
coming out of the pipe; but the cleaning ladies later tell us that the
water comes like this from the mountain, they drink it and it is very
The ants managed to find all our
cookies during the night - looks like they know that food can be found
in the chalets. We pack our things and check out of the room at
After we have kind of a brunch. I have again the fried rice which I
ate twice yesterday. The only restaurant in Bako NP doesn't care
about quality or variety of dishes (and why should they since they have
a monopoly ?).
The tourist infrastructure in Bako
NP is pretty run down by the way. They should modernise the chalets,
A/C, improve the facilities and open a second restaurant. Looks like
until 1995 there were
more Malaysian visitors then foreigners, after which foreign tourists
outnumbering Malaysian tourists and now make up 75% of all visitors
After we start walking along the
Lintang path, beginning at the southern end. In 2000 there was a colony
of proboscis monkeys about 300 meters from the park HQ. Unfortunately
seem all gone, and the only monkeys we see are some macaques. So we
walk back to the beach in front of chalets, and rest in one of the
benches. Shirley is still tired of the long walk we did yesterday and
no mode to start another walk. It's about 1pm and the boat will bring
back to the jetty in Kampong Bako at 3:30pm. Since it's quite hot and
even hotter and the beach is near, I decide to take a swim in the sea.
It's still low tide and the sea is very shallow. It takes a lot of
to reach a point deep enough to swim. Unfortunately there is some small
jellyfish in the sea. You can't see them but can feel the stings.
At about 3:20pm, when we are about
to get on the boat, some silver leaf monkeys suddenly show up near the
restaurant. I seize this opportunity and shoot a couple dozen pictures.
By mobile phone (using the TM Touch
card) we organise a taxi to pick us up in Kampong Bako at 4pm. The boat
ride back to Kampong Bako this time takes less than 20 minutes. The
ride to Kuching takes another 20 minutes. We get out at the Holiday Inn
where we leave the bags for two hours. After we go shopping to the
Sakawak Plaza shopping centre. Shirley buys a leather bag, while I buy
a pair of shorts and two Sarawak T-shirts. We then have some food in
shopping complex food court and the KFC restaurant. At 6:15pm we take a
taxi to the airport. The 8pm flight to Miri leaves on time and we
in Miri airport at 9pm.
On Sunday, August 31st, it's Merdeka
(Independence) day in Malaysia and many hotels are fully booked. We
a room in the Miri hotel. Tomorrow we are flying to the Mulu National
with the 1pm flight.
28.8: Miri -> Mulu NP
in the Mulu NP: double room (chalet) with A/C, towels, bath & hot
quite nice; 100 RM; poor illumination (dark rooms)
the whole day with some clouds both in Miri and Mulu NP; some very
rain in the late afternoon in Mulu NP on the way back from the caves
We get up late as usual at almost
10am. By the time we have packed our things and are ready it's already
11am. We bring our dirty clothes to a laundry behind the Miri hotel
price: only 10 RM for 2 Kg of clothes). Then we look for some (fast)
or should I say brunch before flying to Mulu. Most restaurants are
they are only open at night), so we head to the Imperial shopping mall,
where we have something in a KFC restaurant. The mall is quite modern
kind of elegant by the way. Then, since it's late, we rush back to the
hotel, check out and drive by taxi to the airport. It's 12pm and our
is at 1pm.
It takes only 10 minutes to reach
the airport. The airport in Miri is very new, having been completed
two months ago. It's a modern relatively sophisticated building. Miri
an international airport and there are direct flights to Kuala Lumpur,
as we find out. We fly to Mulu on a Twin Otter 14-seater.
The flight is quite rough, as we fly low among the clouds and there are
some turbulences. Flying time is only half an hour.
Once in Mulu I ask to change the
booking for Shirley forthe flight back to Miri (I'm on the 3:35pm
tomorrow, while the travel agency put her on the 11am flight, because
the time we made the booking all seats on the 3:35pm flight were full).
The guy tells me it's no problem to place her on the 3:35pm flight, but
he can't change the booking (only a Malaysian Airlines office can do
So, he takes her ticket, tells me he will try to sell it tomorrow and
the money to buy a ticket on the 3:35pm flight. Never mind as long as
can fly with me at 3:35pm.
Surprisingly there is some (weak)
GSM coverage in Mulu NP by Maxis.
Transportation from the airport to
the park HQ costs 6 RM. There is a park fee of RM 10/person and there
cave fees of 20 RM for groups up to five people for the Lang/Deer caves
and 20 RM for the Wind and Clearwater caves. Accomodation is 100 RM
above). I end up leaving RM 160 at the park HQ. The room is very nice
by the way,
way better than the room we had in the Bako NP for the same price.
are also several restaurants. Overall the Mulu NP has a much better
infrastructure than the Bako NP.
We start our trek to the Lang and
Deer Caves at 2:50pm and reach the Lang cave at 4pm, after many stops.
We don't see any mammals or larger animals along the way, only many
insects. The Lang cave is quite nice with
stalagmites and stalagtites made of white rock, like marble. The Deer
is a very huge passage through the rock (largest in the world). It's
the home of thousands of bats and the ground is full of bat shit and
A very smelly place and you have to be careful to avoid being hit by
excrements dropping from above. Around 5-5:30pm legions of bats start
flying out of the Deer cave. It's a very interesting to watch. We are
back in the room by 6 something
pm. We take a shower and have dinner. Tomorrow we'll probably take a
(85 RM) to the Wind and Clearwater caves.
29.8: Mulu NP
Orient, Miri, 79 RM for a double with bath/hot shower, TV, A/C,
etc.; furniture a bit old, but the room is decent; very good shower and
the whole day with some clouds; no rain; quite hot in Mulu; more cool
(Miri): TMTouch, Digi, Maxis, Celcom
This morning I get up at 9:15 am.
Shirley is tired and wants to take a rest, so I decide to go to the
and Clearwater caves alone. I manage to get ready and leave the park HQ
at 10am. My time is limited as I have to be back at the park HQ by 2pm,
as the flight to Miri leaves at 3:35pm.
I walk fast and manage to reach the
entrance of the Wind cave at 11am (normally you need about 1:30h to
the cave). There is a park employee checking the tickets there. When
about to take out the tripod from my backpack, she tells me that
are not allowed. She says that there are large groups in the caves and
tripods would disturb. But never mind, it's relatively late, I'm the
one in the cave, so I manage to use the tripod without problems.
I spend one hour in the Wind cave
(impressive rock formations in the Sarawak chamber) and at 12pm I get
of the cave and head to the Clearwater cave, which I reach 10 minutes
The Clearwater cave is crossed by a small river (hence the name
and is quite scenic, although the rock formations there are less
spectacular. When I get out of the cave it's 1pm
- quite late. Therefore I rush back to the park HQ.
I manage to be back at 2pm. I skip
lunch and shower and pack my things. Shirley is already waiting for me.
We take a minivan to the airport (6 RM for the two of us). Everything
smooth with the plane ticket for Shirley. The airport guy managed to
her 10:55am ticket, and put her on the 3:35pm flight (later I notice
there are three more seats available on the Twin Otter). Once in Miri
airport we drive by
taxi to the Pacific Orient hotel.
Around 6pm we get out of the hotel.
We have a look at Miri and have dinner. After dinner I spend one hour
an Internet cafe (RM 4/hour) and download an image recovery tool. Later
in the hotel I manage to recover all images.
Tomorrow we'll have to get up early
to catch the 8:30am and 8:40am flights. Shirley goes back to KL, while
I fly to Belaga, along the Rejang river. The day after tomorrow I'll go
by boat from Belaga to Sibu via Kapit. The flight from Sibu to Miri is
at 6:30pm and I hope I'll be in Sibu in time. Not 100% sure that there
are boats from Belaga to Sibu right now (perhaps the river doesn't
enough water for the boats).
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