November 1, 2013 – Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia (Island of Borneo)
Just east of Brunei, is the state of Sabah, Malaysia and the town of Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah. We are still on the island of Borneo – home of the “wild man of Borneo” – kind of like the Southeast Asian version of Sasquatch. Borneo truly is a wild place – settled on the coasts but very primitive inland.
Our greeters – once again in traditional costumes.
Today we have a free tour, provided by our travel agent, which is to take us around the city and then into a mangrove swamp aboard bamboo rafts.
En-route to the Mangrove swamp, we passed the “Floating Mosque”. Malaysia is 60% Muslim, 19% Buddhist, 10% Christian and 11% others. They are proud of their religious diversity, but are beginning to experience the first rumblings of Muslim extremism, so prevalent in other parts of the world.
This building, which houses Government offices, is very unusual in its construction. Rather than the lower floors being built on the ground, with each higher floor built on top of the one below, there is a large pillar up through the center, with cables from the top supporting each story of the building. The floors are actually suspended from the roof.
After the bus winding down some trails, we arrived at Kellysbay – the Mangrove Swamp. We crossed a suspended plank bridge to get to our craft.
Boarding our thatched roof, bamboo boats, we began our slow trip up the swamp, with much discussion of snakes and crocs among the passengers and much insect repellent spraying.
As we neared the end of the swamp, we rounded a curve and …..
It was like thinking you were on a jungle safari, only to discover you were really in DisneyWorld. Apparently we were right next to Shangri La, a 5 star resort in Malaysia.
We pulled up to our destination which was the restaurant at Kellysbay, located on a spit of land, about a hundred yards wide, between the Mangrove swamp and the Ocean. It had palapas and hammocks on the beach, a craft area, where we painted Batiks, kayaks, banana boats, even a blow gun target range. We were there about 3 hours, but easily could have spent the day on the beach.
The floating restaurant.
Master of the Borneo blow gun.
The beach area.
A couple of our shipmates, enjoying the hammocks.
The batik painting area – I am sure that these two masterpieces will be prominently displayed on the travel wall at home.
The intrepid swamp explorers head back to the dock.
Returning to the ship, we passed another water village, as we had seen in Brunei. Notice the Mosque in the middle.
There are signs of the U.S. everywhere.
Back to the ship, and off to Manila, in the Philippines – a brand new port for us, and one that about a third of the crew of the ship calls home.