Archive for July, 2008

General thoughts on food/accommodation/all our woes

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

I have a bit of spare time here on free internet, so I thought I’d write a little bit about the stuff we haven’t mentioned yet but which have been important aspects of the trip so far:

  • The food: Its been good mostly, especially in Indonesia, where we were well fed on rice with tasty veggie dishes and lots of fish. Eddie has discovered he actually likes most fish and is now a committed tuna lover. You get gorgeous banana pancakes for breakfast everywhere in Indo, (more…)

Creatures of the land and sea (jungle trip + more diving)

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

So we are now preparing to take our leave of Borneo, after a fun few days checking out the oranguatans, snakes, birds and insects of the jungle on a Kinabantangan river tour and at Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary. At Sepilok we stayed at Labuk B&B; a really lovely place with an outdoor jacuzzi and just ten minutes walk to the sanctuary. The jungle trip we went on to the following day was a two night/three day job with a company called Nature Lodge, and included four river cruises and three jungle treks; two at night time. It was pretty good; we were lucky enough to see wild Orangutans on the river’s edge and we saw some beautiful birds sleeping on the last night walk.

Sleeping Bird

(more…)

Posted in Borneo | No Comments »

All the little fishes…

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Here’s a couple of pics from our short diving trip to Mabul and Sipadan, off the east coast of Borneo. Apparently we didn’t get the best day of diving the area has to offer, but it wasn’t too shabby either – we saw loads of colourful fish (that we don’t know the names of) along with nudibranches, a good few turtles (including one absolutely huge one!), some sea snakes, lots of sharks and a pretty mean looking giant moray eel. The seascape around Sipadan itself is pretty spectacular – unlike most of the Malaysian islands, Sipadan doesn’t sit on the continental shelf but is the tip of an underwater volcano that drops around 600m to the seabed. The walls are spectacular to see with the trough between Sipadan and the other islands dropping to around 1000m deep!

We went with Seaventures, whose base is a converted oil rig just off the coast of Mabul. They were pretty good (just bring your own dive tables). The night before and after we stayed in the lovely Sipadan Inn in the poor (and smelly) town of Semporna. It cost a bit more than our usual accommodation, at 85MR per room- about 15euro- but was a great bit of luxury! We spent both nights relaxing in our room watching movies on HBO! Anyway, here we are in action!

Wall at Sipidan Island

(more…)

Posted in Borneo | 2 Comments »

Low’s Peak

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Ever since seeing a Channel 4 documentary called ‘Into The Abyss’ about twelve years ago, I’ve been fascinated with Low’s Gully, so when I heard that it was less than two hours away from Kota Kinabalu where we were staying, I knew I had to go and see it!

Low’s Gully is a 1600m deep rift that hit the headlines in 1994 when a group of five British soldiers got caught up in its depths for thirty one days. The Malaysian army came to their rescue after three weeks of searching and just in the nick of time as many of the badly trained group were on the brink of starvation (even though they were surrounded by all sorts of food – tapioca, sugar cane etc. according to a local woman we spoke to). Despite their best efforts, the army team had still only managed to descend about one third of the gully – it wasn’t actually bottomed until four years later when two of the original army team returned with a new group and threw as much equipment as they could at the rift – they rigged it with 5000m of fixed rope and successfully sneaked through. Known locally as ‘the place of the dead’, locals believe that the gully is a kind of purgatory where the souls of their ancestors pass through on their way to heaven or hell.

Via Feratta on Mt. Kinabalu

(more…)

Posted in Borneo | 2 Comments »

Malaysian Borneo

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Well we’re in Malaysian Borneo and we’re liking it so far! It’s quite different from Indonesia, a bit dearer for one thing, but also more developed than I expected. For some reason when I thought of ‘Borneo’ I thought of wild jungle land and indirectly, abject poverty. It’s only now that I’m here I realise the importance of the word ‘Malaysia’ before the word ‘Borneo’. I didn’t actually realise until we started out on this trip that Borneo is not a state itself, just an island made up of three countries: The northern strip (Sabah and Sarowak) is part of Malaysia; there’s a tiny bit on the north west coast which contains the rich kingdom of Brunei and the remaining majority is Kalimantan, which is part of Indonesia. We’re in one of the most visited parts, Sabah, as there’s lots to do here and it’s a bit more developed than the Indonesian bit so it’s easier get around. Don’t get me wrong, its not like Europe or anything, it’s just not as poor as Indonesia. Its not as hot either, which is actually very welcome after a month of profuse sweating!

Kota Kinabalu Harbour at Dusk

(more…)

Posted in Borneo | No Comments »

Surfing in Bali

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

After the Perama boat trip (which was a major highlight of Indonesia as we saw so much, ate so well and met some cool people) we decided to dedicate our last week in Indo to our original reason for going there: surfing. We then did a lot of talking about where to go before deciding to head back to Bali, as its just so much easier to get around – it’s much more set up for tourism than most of the other Indonesian islands so everything is just less hassle. We landed on our feet as it turned out, because we got a pretty cushy number in a surfcamp on the Bukit peninsula, South Bali, near Padang Padang beach and the famous Uluwatu surf break.

Ulu Air

Its a very small world, as we discovered that Josh, the owner of the camp is a good friend of a friend of Eddie’s, and he sorted us out well.

(more…)

Posted in Indonesia | No Comments »

Here be Dragons

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Before we left for Lombok, we provisionally booked a place on a boat trip to Flores and back – the big attraction was going to be a trip to Komodo Island to see the dragons, but we reckoned the journey itself would be a bit of craic and there were going to be thirty others on the boat so it would be a good opportunity to make some new friends.

Komodo Dragon, Indonesia

(more…)

Posted in Indonesia | No Comments »

Gili Trawangan

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

So from Ubud we went on to Gili Trawangan, one of the Gili islands northwest of Lombok (the island next to Bali). We spent almost a week there and I spent the first four days doing an SSI Open Water Diving course. It was good; all theory and pool sessions for the first two days, then four dives over the last two days. I actually nearly bottled it on the morning of my first dive, I got a bad attack of the nerves about some of the tasks we had to do, but my instructor was very encouraging and calm and convinced me to at least get into the water and see how I felt.

The Parking Lot

(more…)

Posted in Indonesia | 2 Comments »