The best way to leave Brunei is by ferry. A land crossing results in several boarder crossings, due to the bizarre shape of Brunei (look at it on a map!) and I just do not have the room in my passport for that many stamps.
We had a stop-over in Labuan, which is a tax haven – alcohol was hella cheap! Anyway we eventually made it to Kota Kinabalu (KK) city, which was a stepping stone on our way to nearby Kota Kinabalu National Park. KK city is pretty much only famous for its frequently spectacular sunsets.
We awoke earlier than we wanted due to a city-wide power-cut (the first one ever apparently) which turned off our air-con and meant we didn’t sleep as well as we should’ve done. We went to the bus station at 7.30am to catch a bus at 8 so we would make it to the park in time for a guided walk. Of course we forgot that we were in South East Asia and the bus leaving at 8 would actually wait until 9 before setting off. The bus was also broken and crawled at 10mph the entire way so it took over an hour longer than it should have anyway – the joys of public transport in SE Asia.
Our mountain lodge advertised itself as being 2km away from the park but in truth it was more like 3km, and a hilly 3km at that! So by the time we made it to the park, after the troubled night of sleep and the irritating bus ride, we weren’t in the best of moods and I think this greatly affected our enjoyment of the park. We did a trail but didn’t see much wildlife or any interesting plants – maybe we were just rainforested out after Mulu! Either way, our KK National Park experience wasn’t one to write home about (even though we are.)
|Saw this dead bat on the walk to the park...|
|Oooooo spooky mist...|
One interesting thing about where we stayed was the location of the dorm rooms. To get from our room to the main building (where the only 2 bathrooms were) we had to go outside, up a couple of stairs, across a veranda, and through some patio doors. This wasn’t an issue during daylight, but at night...well, you know what happens at night on Borneo. The place was inundated with moths, big pincer-beetle things and numerous other creepies that meant neither of us drank a thing after 7pm, for fear of needing a wee in the night.
|We finally used our blimmin' mosquito nets!|
|We thought this was fake... We were wrong.|
|The sunset view from the mountain lodge.|
Alexandria (from Austria) did a great job of driving, even during several patches of mental rain, and Stuart (from Ireland) kept us entertained with stories of their previous holidays.
The drive was great – we passed acre after acre of palm tree plantations, drove through some mental rain and stopped for lunch at a tea plantation. We sat looking over the tea fields and mountains and I felt really lucky to be having another great hitchhiking experience and a much better birthday than I expected.
Costs (per person)
Brunei to Labuan Ferry = $17 BD (£8.50, $13)
Labuan to KK Ferry = 30 RM (£6, $9)
KK Double-AC Room (per room) = 65 RM (£13, $20)
KK City to KK Park Bus = 20 RM (£4, $6)
KK National Park Hostel Dorm = 30 RM (£6, $9)
KK National Park Entrance = 10 RM (£2, $3)