I arrived in Kuching (Sarawak is the region of Borneo) after my flight from Kota Kinabalu (in Sabah) and spent the night at lodge 121. I had already booked it but my taxi driver claimed that the backpackers all stayed at singghasana and if I wanted to meet people I should go there. The next day I went exploring around the city and decided to switch to singghasana backpackers hostel so I moved all my stuff and it turns out there were even less people there than at lodge 121! I think there are way less backpackers in Borneo than in Bali but I still had a wonderful time. The town of Kuching is really cute. I walked around the pedestrian mall and into chinatown for lunch then went down to the water and took a little boat cruise around the town. The next day I caught the bus to Bako national park and met some really nice people to share a boat with- 2 Spanish guys and an Austrian couple. We took the boat over to the national park and hiked to a beach called Paku beach. It was so beautiful to walk through the jungle and end up on this deserted beach with wild pigs and monkeys. We then took another boat around some incredible rock structures and ended up at another beach then walked back through the jungle to catch the boat back to the mainland. The Spanish guys were staying at the park over night but the Austrian couple was going back and they invited me to go out with them and their friends from their hostel. So I said yes of course and we had such a fun night of smoking hookah and drinking rice wine! The next day I flew to kuala lumpur and was bummed to be leaving Kuching since I had just found some cool people but excited to be in a city again where there would be more backpackers.
I left granny’s in tears then had to pay for 2 days of overstaying my 30 day visa (because they count the day of arrival and July has 31 days- oops! $40). Anyway, my flight was delayed for 2 hours in Denpasar and they called everyone to the counter (I wasn’t sure why), turns out they had brought everyone McDonald’s? As compensation I guess? Not sure but it was pretty funny. So when I finally arrived to the kuala lumpur airport I realized I had 8 hours before my flight and it was 2am. I also realized that there were about 60 people sleeping on the floor scattered around the terminal. So I picked a nice spot, layed down my sarong, and spooned my backpack for the evening. Sleeping on the floor of an airport- check! When I arrived in Kota Kinabalu the next morning I got to my hostel and sorted out my Borneo itinerary. I then went out to dinner with these really sweet Australian girls. We found a burrito place run by an American guy and for those of you who don’t know about my Mexican food obsession, it’s a thing, so I was really excited and it was DELICIOUS! The next morning the girls left for sandakan and I went to the mari mari cultural village with a girl from India. The village is a mock set up of all the different tribes that exist around Borneo. It was cool to see but definitely a tourist trap. There were some interesting things though, like one tribe has a longhouse with a trampoline in the middle! After the village I took a flight to sandakan to meet Carly and Ashleigh (the Aussie girls). We went down to the waterfront for dinner and had a funny eating experience. The waiters are so strange because they give you a menu then just stand around you waiting to take your order. And none of the items have descriptions so when you ask the waiter they said “it’s the same but tastes different” ooook? That is a saying here in Asia actually, “same, same, but different”. Anyway after our meal we were trying to get the bill so we waved at our waiter and he smiled and waved back! Hilarious. The next day we went to the sepilok orang utan sanctuary and got there in time for the 10am feeding. There was a platform in the middle of the jungle where a guy was sitting with a bunch of fruit and ropes strung up to it from every direction. All of a sudden monkeys started coming from everywhere! It was so cool. And they are so cute and human like. Apparently orang utans have 96.4% of the same genetic make up as humans or something crazy like that. The babies were especially adorable. We then watched a film about the rescuing and rehabilitation of the monkeys and Ashleigh adopted one. We took another rainforest walk, had lunch, then went back to the hostel. The town of sandakan itself did not exactly feel like the safest place so after a little while of adventuring around we decided to call it a night. The next day I took a tour of the kinabatagan river. It was pretty good- though the main attraction was supposed to be Pygmy elephants and they didn’t make an appearance. But that’s nature for ya! Although the Indian girl went 2 days later and saw a herd of like 35… I tried to take some day trips to some of the islands around sandakan but the boats have a monopoly and cost about 800 ringgit (ringgit is 3 to 1 USD). So then I realized I had 3 days in sandakan with nothing to do! Which was actually nice, I got a massage and snuck in to the rooftop pool of the Sheraton hotel. Then the day I was supposed to fly to Kuching I realized my flight was out of Kota Kinabalu and not sandakan. So I jumped on a bus and made it to the import an hour before my flight. It just sucked because if I had known I would have gone back to KK a few days earlier where I actually could have gone on some day beach trips. Oh well!