Monday, November 04, 2013

Wild Borneo: Sabah

The Dews are freshly back from a week spent in Sabah, and our heads are still attached! We survived a visit to the headhunters' village, saw wild animals, climbed (part of) a mountain, and soaked up the beach sun.

Our adventure began in style with three nights at the luxurious Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort. My kids happily lived these days boogie boarding, flying down the waterslide, finding hermit crabs, and cooling off at the kids' club. Adam and I enjoyed a dinner sans kids, a leisurely bike ride to a water village, and even a deluxe spa treatment involving mud, steam, bubbles, and massage.

We also enjoyed a visit to the onsite Nature Reserve and its rehabilitation program for rescued orangutans. For one hour, we watched from a viewing platform as two toddler orangutans swung from the jungle canopy all around us. I marveled at their agility and commend the resort for its efforts to preserve this beautiful, endangered species.

Moving on from here, we checked in for three nights at the centrally located Kinabalu Daya Hotel in Kota Kinabalu. We shared a family room, which was quite comfortable with one king and two twin beds.

The first day, we walked a short distance to Jesselton Pier and caught a speedboat to Mamutik, one of a group of islands comprising the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Mamutik is a popular spot for snorkeling and beach lounging, and we were lucky to spot quite a few anemones among the coral reefs!

Later, we enjoyed dinner with some friends that recently moved to KK and had a wonderful time catching up on life.

The next morning, we hopped in a taxi and visited the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. Arriving at feeding time, the animals (especially the sun bears and Asian elephants) were quite playful!

After an afternoon siesta in our room, we enjoyed a night-time visit to the Mari Mari Cultural Village. Here, we donned mosquito repellant and were taken to visit the longhouses of five different tribes, learning about their culture and traditions from our guide and through hands-on activities.

Stilted above ground to avoid flooding and provide protection, longhouses are made of bamboo and have windows for air circulation. Daughters sleep in an upstairs room (with ladder removed), men and boys on the floor below to protect them, parents and grandparents in separate side rooms.

We watched as fire was started without matches, saw how vests are made from tree bark, and observed the clothing styles and skilled arts/crafts of various tribes. We drank homemade rice wine and honey, sampled bamboo cooking, and even got henna tattoos.

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