Kota Kinabalu (October 5 - 10, 2001 )


Johor Bahru
Kota Kinabalu
Lahad Datu/ Danum
Sandakan/ Sepilok
Gomantong/ Sukau
Selingan & Liberan Is.
Mt Kinabalu
Kuala Lumpur

New Zealand

The kids were born to ride in business class. I have never seen our kids behave so well and been so quiet at the airport or on a flight.

Mind you, it could also be that we had booked ourselves into the 5 star Shangri-La Rasa Ria beach resort for our stay here. We got a terrific promotional rate to the hotel - $111US per night for the five of us including Breakfast and Dinner. It even has free laundry!

The hotel is just east of Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah. Sabah is one of the two Malaysian provinces on the island of Borneo. Brunei and Kalimantan (Indonesia) also share the island. See the map at the Sabah tourism site. (Click on the Borneo part of the map)

After a two and a half hour flight, and a 45 minute taxi ride, we arrived at the hotel. 

Shangi-la Rasa Ria

Algoe at the Rasa Ria

The hotel is very much like a Caribbean or Mexican vacation resort. It has a nice beach, a collection of pools, kayaks, windsurfers and hobie cats. There are two things that separate this hotel from other beach holidays we have had: the food is top class (rack of lamb is available every night); and the hotel has its own wildlife sanctuary. The Nature Information Centre is affiliated with the Sepilok Orang-utan rehabilitation centre, and they look after a number of baby orang-utans until they are old enough for transfer to the main Centre, including this 2 year old  named Algoe.

We have been here for four days, swimming, eating and relaxing. Our laundry is done, and Sarah & I are gaining the weight back that we lost over the last few months.  I've been playing in the surf with the kayaks, and the kids and I played a game of beach volleyball with a group of mad dogs and Englishmen - it was blowing a gale and raining hard enough that even the beach staff went inside. 

We spent Sunday snorkeling at Pulau Manukan (Manukan Island) near Kota Kinabalu. There were lots of colourful fish and some coral. Heather really enjoyed it - she is very comfortable in the water looking at all the fish. Chloe stayed in the kids camp at the hotel and had fun doing her own thing for the day. 

Even with all the terrific facilities at the hotel, it is not busy. It is normally high season for them, but we hear that 50% of the upcoming hotel bookings have been cancelled. The WTC disaster has had effects around the world - even in the Borneo rainforest area. 

There is lots to see in Sabah including world renowned wildlife and rainforests. We have been trying to find an inexpensive way of seeing the sights, but it seems quite difficult to do everything as an independent tourist - joining a tour group is mandatory for many 'must see' areas. 

To get our trip started, we visited the bank and booked a package tour at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley Conservation area - three days and two nights in the lowland rainforest. Even with a sizable discount, it is still about 3000RM ($1250) for three days and two nights for the 5 of us. 

We'll organize the rest of the trip once we reach Sandakan. We hope to find better deals there.

On October 10, we left dark and early (5:00 am) in the pouring rain for Lahad Datu and the Danum Valley Conservation Area. Go by plane with us to Lahad Datu.  

As we intend to return to this hotel, we are traveling light for the next 9 days. Much of our stuff is staying here at the Rasa Ria - they are letting us keep the room to store our things at no charge. The kids are happy all their school books are staying behind - we'd like them to concentrate on learning about the rainforest.