Friday, February 02, 2018

Around the World in 80 Blogposts: Jungle Fever In Malaysian Borneo

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be surrounded by funny-looking monkeys? To watch parentless orang utan toddlers play hide-and-seek? To be amazed by naturally-lit Christmas trees in a mangrove forest? If your answer is ‘yes’, then you should definitely keep on reading.

Even if monkeys and fireflies are not your cup of tea, you won’t regret finishing this post. Let me share a literary piece of the superb island of Borneo with you!

Kota Kinabalu: markets, monkeys and fireflies

A severly-delayed flight later, I set foot in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Sabah-state in the Malaysian section of Borneo. You already know my exploring routine: it all starts with a walk. The sun was present and smiling locals in the streets were greeting me all the time (friendly Malaysians do exist! I was shocked as much as you are!).

KK’s highlights include the Filipino and Central Market, the instant stress-reducing waterfront and a stunning assortment of fish statues spread all over the city. And last, but not least, a Christmas tree consisting of beer bottles. As long as you have beer, every day feels like X-mas!

My relaxation-focussed half-day trip to Manukan Island started at the Jesselton Point ferry port. Mandatory life vest on, hair in the wind and time for a rare selfie. A too short beach break was followed by a snorkel attempt.

The extremely turbid ocean water, courtesy of the previous night’s heavy rainfall, made it a hell of a challenge to admire the Manukan underwater fauna. My eyes didn’t perceive a single fish in the first 20 minutes.

Actually, they didn’t perceive anything at all. Only after elegantly moving my body to deeper sea territory, supposedly off-limits to snorkelers, did I cross paths with a couple of dozen fish and sea urchins. Unfortunately, my eyesight was still too blurry to contemplate their true beauty. The clown fish I met seemed more like tiny swimming zebras!

The ominous clouds overhanging KK on the way back should have been a sign to stay away from the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque. I still went and didn’t regret going against nature. I faced even more puddles that evening as I checked out the night market.

A disappointing bunch of vendors with very similar assortments. Especially clothes, watches and jewellery seem to be bestselling items in the night market business.