The delay gave me a chance to do the Night Walk at Mulu which introduced us to some extraordinary insects (see Imaginary Menagerie post) and an impromptu drunken karaoke session at the bar outside the park HQ with my pinnacle buddies; I was too drunk to resist the call to the mike, but too sober not to be self-conscious, which just proves I still haven't got the hang of bloody karaoke. With the dorm also being booked up by a school party of american school kids, I'd treated myself to a private room at the end of Longhouse 1 in the park - such luxury after four nights of open-air camping/dorming.
So on Sunday morning I enjoyed a lie-in, and a slow breakfast then headed down to Mulu airport. I was not the only one having a lazy day, as this baggage handler would attest.
Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah, Mulu is in Sarawak, they are both independent regions within Malaysian Borneo, so there was exit/immigration a little paperwork to be done at the airport.
The landing strip at Mulu can be seen at the top of this photo.
Will and Phie had already been in KK for a day when I arrived, they were snorkelling at one of the offshore islands that afternoon, so I had a look around the town before meeting them. Kota Kinabalu is not a big city. It's only about six streets wide from the sea to the rainforest, but stretches down the coast for a couple of kilometres. Retail is clearly high on the agenda here, and there were several large shopping malls of varying degrees of luxury that provided shelter from the afternoon rain, though frankly I prefer the real jungle to this concrete one. Aside from shopping, fishing is a big preoccupation here, the trawling fleet provided foreground interest to a beautiful sunset (though not as extraordinary as the one I'll blog about on the following day)
Just off the coast of KK are several islands with good diving, snorkelling and fishing.
Just before sunset I met up with Will and Phie, they were getting up early for the flight to Mulu in the morning, but for this evening our paths were intertwined. We had a couple of beers in one of the pricey bars before heading to the fish market by the sea.
The following day was another lazy one, getting laundry done and trawling the many sunglasses shops of KK. I'd lost my last cheap pair down a small, but irretrievably deep crevasse near the top of the Pinnacles, now I ended up with two new pairs.
This is Kota Kinabalu viewed from Signal Hill, you can see how narrow it is between sea and jungle. The yellow building on the far left is in Australian Place (named to commemorate ANZAC soldiers who helped liberate Borneo from the Japanese in WW2), the small street is now colonised by backpackers'.
At 5pm I also finally committed to the big expense of booking the package to climb Mount Kinabalu the following day. In high season, apparently it's necessary to book weeks on advance. In low season, it's evident one can book in the last hour of business the day before, especially if you do it directly through the monopoly holding Suetera Harbour shop. I think I paid about 750 ringit, which works out around £150 for the passes, permits, guide, and one night accommodation at Laban Rata, halfway up the hill.