Mulu to Kota Kinabalu

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

Hey Everybody,

Camp 5 in Mulu National Park is the perfect place of serenity and solitude after braving The Pinnacles. It is the calm after the storm complete with a babbling brook, a naturally formed swimming pool with a rope swing and the perfect open air dining room where travel stories were swapped, advice was given and fast “friendships” were forged. To escape the bugs you’d often find me with my eReader sitting in the middle of the river, face to the sun enjoying my fish pedicure as they nibbled at my feet. 

Our 6am wake up came quickly after a deep slumber where your body is desperately trying to regenerate knowing the two hour trek through the jungle is the next morning and for most, hours of travelling to your next destination.I slept in 45 minutes past my group and ended up passing them on the trail about 20 minutes in. I think Canadian winters have made me a fast walker. Most of my friends are fast walkers and in the winter I am only a blur on the streets as I run from door to door. Canadian winters have prepared me well for these jungle treks, and perhaps I’ll try to remember that as my social life disappears and the couch is again my best friend.

The sun had newly risen and as I walked butterflies fluttered around me leading the way, light shone through the canopy, detritus blanketed the jungle floor and moss covered stones assisted us along the way where the path was no longer clearly marked. Due to the monsoon like rains in the late afternoon two large trees had fallen since my arrival two days before and we’d navigate our way through the vines and leaves using our arms as machetes to make the way.

Since I had taken the lead I soon found my face bring covered in featherweight spider webs, kissing my eyelashes and after about five minutes of that I soon picked up a stick and held it in front of my face for the rest of the walk so that it would take the brunt of the attack. Again, I was inspired by a vision of a spider laying eggs in my eyeballs – ok, I evidently have a serious phobia going on here, perhaps the jungle isn’t my best friend.

Small brown snakes slithered past me and I swear I saw beady yellow eyes peering out at me from the base of a tree. It is sometimes easy to forget you’re in the jungle because there is a man made path from people trekking to and from the river each day but then noises quickly snap you back to reality. I remembered questioning Bennet while he was adamant that there were black panthers in the jungle. My heart quickened as I walked after hearing noises in the jungle foliage but I soon began laughing as I envisioned a Black Panther from the 60’s revolutionary organization jumping out at me, full afro and all. I was going to be ok.

I soon reached the river, left my belongings on shore and sat in the river waiting for the rest of my group while writing notes for this post. Soon our boat showed up and they parked further down the river staring at me until the group showed up. They had no idea what to make of me and I of them, when one of them began to sing and I was pretty sure we might have the next Celine Dion on our hands. We then set off on our hour long boat ride back to Park Headquarters, getting out from time to time to push the boat and enjoying the scenery as we passed by children bathing in the river, laundry day at the river’s edge and women gossiping among one another. The two Malaysian girls with me could not take enough pictures, it was incredibly amusing and I once pointed out yet another bird and sarcastically said “hurry, hurry, take a picture.” Let’s just say their scurry almost capsized us (my bad) and I couldn’t stop laughing for five minutes. 

The only point of interest in my flight from Mulu to Kota Kinabalu (known as KK) is that Mulu is in the state of Sarawak and KK is in Sabah. So in the tiny Mulu airport you pass through immigration and get a stamp in your passport. I imagine to the Traveler’s Century Club this counts as two countries but I like to count my countries as per the UN’s list of member nations.

The night before I travelled to Camp 5 I remembered I had gathered a number of Hyatt points so I called and found I had enough for five nights on the Executive Club Level or seven nights in a standard room at the Hyatt Regency Kota Kinabalu. Since the EC Level included Internet, breakfast, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres from 5-7 pm I decided to splurge on it and settled in for two nights, which turned into three and then, lol, two more after my Mt. Kinabalu climb. It fit in perfectly with the goal of this blog, which is to offer travellers with accommodation options both budget and luxury. It was heaven, I was able to get a lot of writing done and I really enjoyed the soft bed after many a night of hard beds and grueling physical exertion.  

Kota Kinabalu is the largest city in Sabah and the sixth largest in Malaysia. It is in the north of Borneo and is bordered by the South China Sea. You’ll see more foreigners here and there are some great bars to go and markets to visit. I did my laundry here for $4.50 CAD, most of what I brought, and found it interesting that the owner’s personal health certificate is displayed at the counter. I got a massage for $15 that saved me and I thoroughly enjoyed the extensive breakfast and hors d’oeuvres selection, which served as my dinner. I extended my stay, as mentioned and then headed off to my Mesilau (Dusun tribe) homestay at the base of Mt. Kinabalu. 

I’d recommend a weekend in KK and using it as a very temporary base to go rafting, visit smaller villages and get your bearings before climbing the mountain. 

Next post, Mesilau homestay and the first part of my Mt. Kinabalu climb. Definitely the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, surpasses The Pinnacles. Mt Kinabalu kicked my ass!

What Was Spent In This Post: Internet in Mulu RM 5, plane from Mulu to KK RM 215, taxi from KK airport to Hyatt RM 30, laundry RM 12.50, massage RM 52.50, drink and pork bun RM 3.50, room service RM 31, bellhop RM 5.

Total: RM 364.50 / CAD $117

Miss you all. J

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