Monday, July 24, 2000

Greetings from Penang Malaysia!

Hi Everyone!
When I last left you we were about to fly to Borneo to see the Orangutans. Well, we woke up at an ungodly hour of the morning to catch a bus to JB in Malaysia, and thence to the airport for a flight to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. We just made it - and the flight was about 1/3 the price from Johor Bahru that it would have been from Singapore.
We landed in KK completely zonked - and had a hard time finding a place to stay - The place we picked in the LPwas infested with felines (not as bad as your mom's house Tom) and of course SGK is allergic to them - so we quickly picked the next one on the list and hoofed it there - only to find that once again the LP author is a fing liar. These guys don't even check to see where these places are half the time!
After 2 nights in KK we decided that it was a hole - and we were anxious to see the man of the forest (which is what Orang Utan means in Malay) so booked a bus ticket to Sepilok.
Once in Sepilok we were able to relax once again - it's a marvelous place even without the Orangutan rehab centre. But the star attraction here is the Orangutans. When we showed up in the Morning the centre was closed as there was a storm the night before and the pathway was destroyed by falling trees - But the friendly staff soon found us a way around them before feeding time. The upshot of this is that all of the bus groups bailed - and we practically had the place to ourselves for the second feeding. I took well over 100 photos and SGK took about 50 - a mother and her baby even came right up to us - only a few inches away! Way cool.
The next day after seeing the Orangutans (and getting my head shaved to the skin again) We headed into Sandakan - the nearest city to Sepilok. What a hole! it makes KK look inviting. We booked a package trip from there to Sukau on the Kinanbantangan river and the Danum Valley.
The Kinanbantangan river was excellent. We stayed in a jungle lodge right on the river, and had our own private guide. It felt like we were doing an African Safari - three times a day we would get into our boat with another couple and both of our guides and cruise the river looking for wildlife. If you've never seen a Probiscus monkey it's well worth the trip to Borneo - these guys are strange!
After 3 days on the river we headed on to The Danum Valley - an EXTREMELY expensive tour to a virgin rain forest. For the price we paid we had expected the world; what we got was nice, but no golden spoon treatment. They were understaffed and it really showed. The wildlife and scenery though couldn't be better.
At the end of our 3 days in the Danum Valley we had to spend the night in Lahad Datu - the closest town to the DV - and what a hell hole it was! It is also a pretty dangerous place - the haunt of Phillipino pirates (the guys that did the Sipidan kidnappings were rumoured to be living here before the kidnapping) and the hotel we ended up staying in was really a whore house. Yes, it was run by a nice Muslim family but apparently they had no qualms to renting put a few rooms to some ladies of the evening. Not since Korea have we stayed in a place like this.
The next morning we made like a bullet to get back to KK - and then on to visit the Sultan of Brunei's birthday celebration. Brunei is a very strange place - rich beyond dreams, but boring as toast. They have this gigantic amusement park there - they claim it's bigger than Disney - but only 70000 people live here so it's deserted. As a matter of fact they power down the rides until you want to ride them then they start them for you. The best log ride ever is here at this park.
After Brunei we hightailed it back to Sing to pick up some stuff we left with the Cave's and we had planned to go camping in Southern Malaysia with them as well. Unfortunately, Bill's work schedule conspired against the camping trip materializing, but it was good to see them again nevertheless.
Now we have departed Singapore for the last time and are making our way north to Thailand - we had a stop for two nights in Melaka, and another 2 in Kuala Lumpur then on to Penang where we are now. We are looking forward to heading on to Thailand tomorrow as we need a change in Diet - after about 3 months in Malaysia/Indonesia if I have to eat another Nasi Goreng I’m pretty sure I'll puke!
Well, where do we go from here??? Tomorrow we go into Thailand to find some secluded beach to hang at for a while, then onto Bangkok to see my old college buddy Bolton Bill Knowlton and hopefully meat up with SGK's sister in law Cathy. We hope to do an overnighter into Cambodia to see Angkor Wat, and possibly an elephant trek in Laos and a market day in Myanmar as well before going to Can Tho in Vietnam and thence to India.

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