Where, what? Read on. A short geography lesson follows.
Kota Kinabalu is in Malaysia. Malaysia itself is divided into an East Malaysia and a West Malaysia. East Malaysia generally comprises of a section of the island of Borneo. Borneo is the third largest island in the world. It is a huge island which is divided between 3 countries. Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Kota Kinabalu is in Sabah District in the Northern region of East Malaysia and is located on the island of Borneo. Got it? All clear? Have a look at the maps I have so lovingly inserted.
Why here? East Asia has a few beaches. We all know Hua Hin, Phuket, Langkawi, Krabi, Ko Samui, Ko Samet, Bali. These are highly popular and Indians are sold holidays here regularly. Kota Kinabalu is unusual, inasmuch as it’s a great place to visit but, for some reason, Indians are not sold holidays here. The bulk of the holiday makers to Kota Kinabalu are Chinese and Japanese and a smattering of Australians. It’s a bit of the beaten track. An aunt of HRH the Queen of Kutch had told us about Kota Kinabalu. So we finally made it here. Mind you it is a 2 ½ hour flight from Kuala Lumpur. So, its far, as much as Mumbai Calcutta if not more.
A usual large resort hotel. All the boxes can be ticked. Multiple restaurants including one which has buffets for all meals. The usual pool bars, a grill restaurant by the sea, a Sunset Bar marooned on a far corner of the property, an infinity pool and a Spa. Water sports available at the hotel by the Hotel, no need to deal with touts and dodgy equipment.
Kota Kinabalu is also home to Mount Kinabalu a 4000 meter mountain. This is a protected wildlife park and nature reserve. You can climb to the peak in a 2-3 day trek if you like. This is much like Mount Fuji which can also be climbed by anyone in decent physical shape without requiring special mountaineering skills. No I was not attempting this.
Borneo is home to the Orang Utang. Quite often, baby Orang Utangs are either separated from their parents or abandoned, in other words, they are orphaned. The wildlife authorities in conjunction with the Shangri La resort at Rasa Ria have set up a unique refuge where baby orphaned Orang Utangs till the age of 6 are rehabilitated. This was something we visited. The jungle is really dense, hot and humid. This was the first time I have entered a tropical jungle. It was extremely debilitating. The heat and the humidity were incredible even for us Bombay wallahs. Anyway, what they do is have a sort of tour where visitors are taken into a viewing gallery. The Orang Utangs are fed by the rangers at 11 am and in the afternoon. At this time you can see the Orang Utangs in their natural habitat. These animals are generally wild. You are not able to touch them though they may come close. The refuge had 6 babies. Two came up to have their feed. They were young 2 and 6 is what I heard. Extremely agile, their swinging from branches was a sight to behold. I managed to get a few photos. Very cute animals.
We are spending 5 nights here. Just simple rest and relaxation. No running around, just swimming, water sports and eating. Of course drinking at Happy Hours.
Next we go on to Kuala Lumpur. Shall report from there.