Friday, February 10, 2012

Amazing Borneo day one

Back from the jungle and now have quality wifi (there was some wifi in the jungle but not great)
After leaving our lovely five star accommodation in Phuket we arrived in Kuala Lumpur (commonly called KL) for a seven hour layover before the flight to Borneo. We decided
to put our luggage in storage and catch the bus into KL for a few hours. The bus ride was about one hour and cost 9 RM or $3.
We caught a taxi from the bus station to the downtown shopping area. The cab driver convinced us that we would be better to have him pick us up at a pre-arranged location and he would take us back to the airport for $30. That way we would have more time to shop. Who am I to disagree with more shopping -- so we set the time and place for our pickup.
We were dropped off at a mall and I have never seen so many stores. We spent a couple of hours running around the shops (with my backpack on my back and checking out various locations i felt like i was on the Amazing Race). Marianne purchased a camera but I will save my shopping until we come back. Shoes seem to average between $20-$30 and there are so many to choose from what shall I do?? Looks like you can buy almost anything here glad we will have five days.
Before leaving we went to Starbucks as I was craving a latte and they have free wifi. However the latte was not up to the usual Starbucks standards. I have since found out there is little to no dairy farming in Malaysia therefore fresh milk and cheese are rare. They use canned evaporated milk or powdered milk. I will leave it to your imagination what a latte made with with either of those tastes like.
We met our cab driver at the pre-arranged spot and we were off to the airport. We quickly realized that the driver also thought we were on the amazing race as he was driving 130 km darting in and out of cars, Marianne and I had to hold on to the back doors to stop us from flying around the seat as the seat belts were broken. She kept telling me not to look out the front window as we were coming very close to other cars. We got back to the airport in rush hour traffic in about 40 minutes ( i am sure this is record time) and we aged about 4 years.
Our flight to Borneo was interesting, we flew air Asia and the plane left one hour late, apparently there was one extra person on the plane and they could not figure out who it was I don't think they found the one extra person so we proceeded on our way.

A little information about Borneo - Borneo is an island with South China Sea on on side and Celebes Sea on the other. Borneo is made up of three countries Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Our first stop is Sandakan which is in the Malaysia part of Borneo.
Sandakan is a fishing town on the edge of the jungle.
Brian had arrived in Sandakan before us and found a Rotary monument in remembrance of the 2400 Australian , British and new Zealand soldiers who came to the borneo jungle to fight the Japanese near the end of the second world war. Unfortunately they were not prepared for the conditions in the Borneo jungle so only six survived.

I was not expecting much from our hotel at in sandakan since I had booked it off the Internet for $18 for one night as we were being picked up by the tour company in the morning. Upon arrival i realized we had gone from a 5 star to a 0 star hotel but what the hell it is only one night. I have included a few photos for your enjoyment. There was no hot water nor an elevator thank goodness i was on the first floor but marianne was on the fourth and had to carry her bag up 79 stairs (good exercise) and the traffic was so loud or the walls were so thin I might as well slept on the street. Oh the fun of traveling but believe it or not this $18 hotel in Borneo had free wifi! Oh ya breakfast was included need I say more.

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