My last weekend trip during my internship took me to Kota Kinabalu in east Malaysia. Compared to Indonesia, Thailand and even west Malaysia, I was impressed how different the country was. Roads with markings (and they actually respected them instead of honking all the time) and mainly 2/3 story stone houses that would perfectly fit European suburban areas instead of 20+ story living complexes combined with wood/corrugated iron cabins. Additionally, the people were really nice without the “annoying salesman”-mentality “mister, come here! original, I give you good price”.
After arriving and discovering the city at night, I did 3 dives around Gaya Island in the “Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park” and rented a camera. The water was slightly blurry so I couldn’t capture the turtle that swam by around 15m from us. The colors, especially of the delicate feathery plants and the nudibranchs were amazing and even crisper than in the pictures.
Later I met some people in the hostel and (after a heavy 3h rain) we had dinner at the night market and tried all kinds of new fruits like Jackfruits (they look like giant durians but taste way better! (they’re orange inside)), Rambutans (fluffy red balls), Mangosteens or Snakeskin fruits. On sunday, I visited the Orang Utan sanctuary at Shangri-La where they rehabilitate abandoned young Orang Utans. Since the Tour was kind of boring, I’m lucky the money at least serves a good purpose to preserve our gentle, hairy relatives.
Despite the vicinity of malaysia’s capital, I haven’t been there until now. Partly due to a lack of cheap and convenient flights, partly because It was deemed unworthy of a weekend trip by many expats who’d been there. Since some friends of mine wanted to go there anyway, we went along. After a very comfortable 6 hour bus ride (3 seats per row, massage-function, legspace…) including the annoying procedure at the borders (we europeans should be soo glad we have ‘Schengen’) we arrived in the middle of the night. The next day we visited the Batu caves which turned out to be a lot less spectacular as described – mainly due to a lack of a proper temple for which it was used in the past. The dark cave on the other hand was filled with life (mainly bats and snails). After seeing the Petronas towers and a few shopping malls, we were confident that 36h was actually enough to get a good impression since the city is pretty similar to parts of singapore. We might’ve been more impressed if KL was our first big city after backpacking though more rural areas.
When I first talked to a german who’d been to singapore for an internship before, he said “you’ll be spending every weekend in Rawa!”. It took me quite long to finally get there on me 17th weekend ;). The organisation was a little complicated for our group of 15 and the prebooked transport didn’t work smoothly either. After almost 2 hours,the minibus and the cab were finally both at the pickup location. Going through singaporean and malaysian customs took some time as well before our late-night arrival at Mersing where we boarded the speedboat to the island-paradise. Rawa, private property of the scheich of johor, is located southwest of Tioman island and houses 2 resorts next to the pier which is equipped with 2 waterslides. We stayed at Alang’s Rawa for 2 nights, enjoyed the food buffets, the rental kajaks and the beautiful scenery. Of course we didn’t miss out to play flunkyball and party at night. The “Let’s build a sand-car. Are you in?”-“sure!” conversation made us spend almost 3 hours digging sand and reconfiguring the shape :D. Unfortunately the weather shortened our beach time a little but thanks to a bunch of awesome people I’ve met in Singapore, we had a great weekend!
I spent the last weekend in the paradisic Tioman Island!
After a long bus ride we boarded our “jetty” and spent the night on a 6 hour ride to the northern part of Tioman Island near Pulau Sayok. After our chili-rice breakfast on saturday morning we headed off for the PADI open water dive course. Beautiful blue water, a coastline that mainly resembled untouched nature and could easily be featured in a pirate or castaway movie and many colorful fish =)