Mamutik Island Jetty (Photo credit: deepgoswami)
After our amazing few days on the Kinabatangan River, we returned to Sandakan and took a short flight to Kota Kinabalu (KK), the capital of Sabah. We spent five nights in KK, in a good value new hotel, well located downtown and close to the sea. KK is a modern city because it was virtually flattened in World War II. It takes its name from Mount Kinabalu, which at 4,200 meters is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, and the tallest peak between the Himalayas and Polynesia. KK is very multi-cultural, including working visitors from the Philippines.
There were two particular adventures that we would like to share:
- Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, and
- Mount Kinabalu
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
The marine park consists of five, exceptionally beautiful islands offshore from Kota Kinabalu (KK). We visited two of the islands Sapi and Mamutik. We were able to see some spectacular marine life and the sea was quite clear. On both of these islands we were able to snorkel and the fish swim up and greet you in their hundreds, beautiful colors and various sizes, in particular at Mamutik. At Sapi we also swam and snorkeled, and on this beach we had to be aware of the monkeys as they do rather like cameras!
Our return boat trip to KK was eventful, we were given one life-jacket between us which was rather worrying given that the sea was very rough and the boatman insisted on travelling with the engine revving at maximum the whole trip, fortunately we don’t suffer with sea sickness, but we got absolutely soaked! We were more than happy to put our feet on dry land; health and safety regulations have not yet reached Borneo ! However, we did have another amazing day.
The following day we hired a car and driver for the day and had a wonderful full day in the Kinabalu Park. We could not see the summit of the mountain because of cloud and although it was raining quite hard, we spent several hours on the main Mount Kinabalu trail to the summit. We actually climbed to the Ubah Shelter, at 2081 meters above sea level. We just covered four kilometers, two up and two down but in the wet weather, in hiking sandals, given the altitude, we found the ascent pleasantly challenging. The route was known as the canopy walkway because the path is covered by lush green vegetation and because of the rain, the smells of the crisp air was very refreshing. Passing us on the trail was a mix of people from all over the world. Climbing Mount Kinabalu to the summit at 4,200 meters is a famous challenge, one of which we did not take up, just a stroll of 2k up and 2k down, however, they do have a popular race to the top and we were told that three hours has been achieved, however most normal people take about two days.
The scenery in the national park is spectacular and this is also a UNESCO world heritage site. We then went to the natural hot springs and rested our weary bones in the thermal waters; that was very welcoming. We returned to our hotel at about 7.30 pm. and very hungry!
For us, KK was very different to Sandakan and Eastern Sabah. KK and Western Sabah had some stunning scenery but Sandakan and Eastern Sabah, we shall always remember for the wild-life, as well as the natural beauty.