Saturday, November 07, 2015

Lederman 180 Day World Odyssey: Kota Kinabalu, Borneo

We sailed up the Borneo coastline this morning en route to Kota Kinabalu; beautiful, forested mountains.

We didn’t have an excursion planned for today but I decided to go on “Majestic Kinabalu Park’ at the last minute.

Mark decided he’d rather check out town, so he took the shuttle with some of our friends to the mall, then scoped out the area. His assessment: a typical island city. He “was less than impressed”.

My tour left at 9:30; we had a 2 hour drive to Kinabalu Park.

I would agree that there was nothing remarkable in the town as we drove through, but once out of town the scenery was great.

We stopped first at a shopping market – usual crafts of purses and souvenirs with “Borneo” on them.

There was a separate produce area though that was interesting. In addition to the bananas and pineapple, there was the local delicacy – the Durian.

Described by our guide as “an acquired taste with a smell that’s a combination of stinky cheese and a bad public restroom”….

Well…. I got about 10 feet from the end stand when the smell smacked me in the face, causing an abrupt about face! His description was pretty accurate!

We continued to climb higher into the mountains, seeing part of Mount Kinabalu in the distance; the top half was shrouded in clouds.

At 13,431 feet high, its one of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia. Finally we arrived at Kinabalu Park; Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The park is extensive and the grounds have 4 vegetation zones. It is know for the variety of orchids (over 1200) that grow here.

We walked into the jungle, following the Silau Silau Trail. Listed as the “easiest” trails the park, I think this adjective is relative only in comparison to the other trails! It was all uphill, and the path itself was a combination of uneven wooden steps, slick stones, muddy trail and wooden planking.

Several folks in our group turned back and returned to the bus.

Our guide was good though, he kept the pace slow and stopped often, ostensibly to point out plants of interest, but I think it was actually to give the folks with canes and asthma a breather.

It was a great walk; the jungle , thick and green, was quiet except for cicadas and birds.

We didn’t see many flowers – it’s not blooming season- , but I learned that the orchids actually grow on the tree trunks, not in the ground, and saw lots of plants.

There were occasional colorful plants and flowers.