Seeger Family Trip
DECEMBER 2003 – JANUARY 2004
Thursday/Friday 25/26 Dec 2003
Flew from Brisbane at midnight. MH were excellent – food was great, service fantastic. Arrived into KL at around 6am. We had to wait around for our flight to Kuching, which didn’t depart until 9am, so sitting around KL domestic lounge was pretty boring. You can’t get a decent cup of coffee there – only Nescafe instant or Milo out of a vending machine! I ended up falling asleep on the chairs for a bit. We were all pretty tired from the overnight flight.
Our flight to Kuching was fine. Kuching airport is pretty small but they had some nice souvenirs and a great cheap duty free store!
We then had to change planes to fly on to Mulu. We were about 20mins out of Mulu when an announcement came from the captain saying that due to heavy rain, we could not land in Mulu, so after 45mins of circling around, the captain said we would have to divert to Miri and wait until the rained had stopped.. We landed at Miri – they have a wonderful brand new terminal which was very comfortable and cool! We sat there for about half an hour, then were all told that the flight wouldn’t continue on to Mulu due to the rain and that we had the choice of staying in Miri overnight or going back to Kuching.. After an initial panic attack and a few expletives, I made an executive decision to stay in Miri for two nights. MH told us that there were two flights to Mulu the next day, but both were overbooked and we wouldn’t be guaranteed a seat. After much discussion with the MH representative that was looking after us, we got our bags and proceeded to his office to sort out what we were doing.. MH paid for one night’s stay at the Rihga Hotel Miri and the other night we would have to pay for ourselves, which was fine. We were given a Taxi voucher for our ride to the hotel and back to the airport. I made a couple of phone calls from the MH office to cancel our accommodation at the Royal Mulu Resort and also to arrange with Borneo Adventure to have a day tour in Miri instead of Mulu.
So, we ended up at the Rihga at around 5.30pm. We all felt really dirty so had a shower, then decided to take a journey into Miri town, which was only about 5mins by Taxi.
We walked around and looked at the shops – great shopping.. Mum and I were in heaven. Everything was so cheap. We then went and found this awesome outdoor food market. We were the only Westerners for miles (actually didn’t see any other “white” people) and it was great..The food was just superb and once again, so cheap. Mum and I took a real shining to the local lime juice and also fresh coconut milk straight out of the coconut. We had a coffee at “Dave’s Deli” in one of the shopping centres and it wasn’t Nescafe – they had an espresso machine and everything!!
Then around 10pm we headed back to the hotel.
Saturday 27 Dec 2003
This morning we were being met by our Borneo Adventure guide, James. He met us at the hotel lobby at 9am. We drove approx. 2 hours to visit the Niah Caves. Along the way James took us to one of the local markets. We saw lots of interesting things, ie Monitor Lizards chopped up in a bucket ready to be eaten – yucko!! Lots of interesting people and again, no westerners. We felt like royalty, people coming up to us wanting to talk and shake our hands…
The walk into the caves was along a boardwalk and was approx 2.5km each way. The way there was fine, very hot but no rain. Once we’d reached the caves, we had to get out our torches as it was pitch black. We were lucky enough to see the locals collecting the birds nests. That was a real experience. Seeing these guys climb up 40m bamboo poles with no safety harnesses and just torches was amazing!!! James told us there are fatalities every year, but these birds nests are delicacies for the Chinese and a kilogram of this stuff sells for around USD5000.. Mind blowing stuff.
We stopped for lunch at around 2pm – we had sandwiches and green tea popper drinks.. Our walk back was not so pleasant. It had started to rain very heavily and the walkway was very very slippery. We all managed to fall on our bums at least once.. Luckily mum had packed the rain ponchos.
After returning to the car we drove back to the local bus station for a nice cold Tiger Beer. That was great.. James then took us back to the Rihga where we collected our bags and proceeded to the Mega Hotel (http://www.megahotel.net) in town. We couldn’t stay another night at the Rihga as it was booked out PLUS it was an absolute dive. The rooms were crap and run down. The Mega Hotel on the other hand was wonderful.. I would recommend it to anyone. We met a young Canadian couple Jay and Fiona, who recommended this hotel to us. They had read about it in the Lonely Planet…They were both teachers working in Iraq – very interesting people.
They also had spent one night at the Rihga [now Miri Marriott – Ed] then going on to the Mega.. So, our second night in Miri. We found another awesome seafood outdoor eatery for dinner. We had chilli prawns, fish, jungle fern (yum), octopus, vegIes and rice. It was a feast and cost us in total, with beers and lime juice, approx $30..
At the Hotel, a nice young local man called Brendan looked after us.. He actually had spent 3 years in Sydney!! Really nice fellow. He gave us a great room and also charged us much less than what he originally quoted us.
Another good nights sleep in comfy beds.
Sunday 28 Dec:
We woke and went down for an awesome buffet breakfast (included in the tariff). Mum ate the “thousand year eggs” and dad fell in love with the omlettes. I settled for toast! We did some more bargain shopping and came back to our hotel at 11.30am to check out.
Got a taxi to the airport and flew off to Kota Kinabalu.
Upon our arrival in KK, we were met by our Borneo Eco Tours guide, Adrian. We hadn’t had lunch and were starving hungry, so Adrian took us to the local bakery for sandwiches and soft drink. We gulped down our food whilst on our city tour which took in the mosques, signal hill, the main town area and the local museum. We were taken back to our hotel at around 5.30pm where we had a swim and relaxed. The Magellan Wing at the Pacific Sutera Harbour was pure luxury. We felt like Kings and Queens. That night we decided to go into town and eat at Sedco, the local outdoor food market. We encountered lots of Westerners and didn’t feel as safe in KK as we had done in Miri. We were hassled by people selling dodgy DVD’s and watches whilst eating our meal. It reminded me of Bali.
After dinner we had had enough of shopping, so took the hotel courtesy bus back to the hotel for coffee then bed.
Monday 29 Dec 2003
We woke at 5.30am as our guide was picking us up at 6.45 am for our full day trip to Kinabalu National Park. Our guide this time was JC.. A nice young local man with a pommy accent! The drive to Poring Hot Springs was about 2.5hours. I slept most of the way. Enroute, we were lucky enough to see a Rafflesia flower. Someone had cut one and it was hanging from what looked like a bus shelter, on the side of the road. JC was disgusted that someone had done this, but we were able to take some photos and get a close look at it.. The Hot springs were a bit over-rated.. JC said that the pipes etc were not maintained and would be advisable NOT to swim in them, so we didn’t…
We then proceeded onto the canopy walk which was awesome. It was pouring with rain, but was a sight to see nonetheless.. The rain ponchos came in handy once again. It was quite cool up there and we hadn’t packed any warm clothes, so soaking wet we trudged back to the van for an hour’s drive back down the mountain to the Fairy Garden Resort where we had a most delicious Chinese Yum Cha style lunch.
After lunch we went further down the mountain to the Park HQ. Had a look around there and went to the Orchid Garden which was unreal. Again, pouring with rain.
Around 4pm we headed back to KK. We were that tired we decided to eat at the hotel. The buffet dinner was sensational. We gutsed ourselves silly, then went to bed.
Tuesday 30 Dec 2003
We were transferred by our BET guide to the airport for our 8am flight to Sandakan. Upon arrival in Sandakan, we hopped on the bus and went to the local war memorial (World War 2 Prisoner of War Camp), which was really interesting.
POW Camp at Sandakan
Chapel at POW Camp
Our guide was Nazarius. A young fellow from Sandakan – really nice bloke. Then we were off to the Chinese Temple which was awesome.
We spent some time there, said a prayer and headed off to the local water village. That was a sight to see. They just throw their rubbish out their windows into the water. The filth and rubbish was sickening, yet very interesting. Lots of stray cats too. It’s amazing, these people live in shacks and shanties, yet have cable TV and satellite dishes on their roofs. Very surreal.
After the water village we went to the Sandakan Hotel for lunch. Again, the food was superb and plentiful. We also had a chance to wander around Sandakan town for a look. Some local girls showed us where the markets were. I’ve never encountered such friendly people in all my travels. We then got back on the bus to the jetty where we were in for a (supposed) 2 hour ride up the river to Sukau Rainforest Lodge. The river was in flood at this time, and a lot of the local guesthouses had been evacuated. The journey was 4 hours as the current was so strong due to the flood. I slept once again!! We saw monkeys along the way, which was awesome.
View over Sandakan Harbour
from Puu Jih Shih Temple
We arrived at the lodge close to 5pm. There were about 15 of us in total. Upon our arrival we were met by the lodge Assistant Manager Joseph, who looked like a Sumo wrestler, and in fact was! He also was the chef prior to his current position.
We went on our first boat ride in search of the Proboscis monkeys and other wildlife. We only saw the short-tailed monkeys as the Proboscis were hiding due to the flood waters. At dark, we returned to the lodge for a shower, then again another fantastic feed! We had a slide show at 8.30pm then went to bed.. The rooms were small but very clean and tidy. Couldn’t fault them at all. The staff were wonderful – Suzy, Sugi and a couple of others from the local Village were just the nicest people
Wednesday 31 Dec - New Year's Eve
This morning we woke to our guides knocking on the door at 5.30am. We had another boat ride to search for wildlife at 6am.
Had a quick coffee then off we went. Again, we didn’t see the Proboscis Monkeys. On the way back to the Lodge it poured with rain. The boat quickly filled up with water. Nazarius had to drive, bail out the boat and hold his umbrella all at the same time!!
We got back totally soaking wet in search of hot showers and food!
After breakfast we just hung out and looked around the lodge. We saw lots of butterflies and found some millipedes. I saw a squirrel and mum and I got a fright by some local wild pigs! We had a big feed at lunch again, then a snooze. Mum and I tried our hands at fishing, but caught nothing. Afternoon tea was banana fritters….
At 4pm we went on our last boat ride and bingo, we saw lots of Proboscis Monkeys, Hornbills, blue butterflies and best of all, a wild Orang-utan mother and baby! That was unreal. We returned to the lodge at dark and got ready for our party night. We all had to wear our sarongs again and had a lovely feast (again)! I got very drunk on rice wine – not a good move at all.
A lovely young English couple, Emily and Jim were in Borneo on their honeymoon. We all sort of got drunk.
Thursday 01 Jan - New Year's Day 2004
Woke up at 6am with a shocking headache and terrible hangover! I had numerous cups of tea and panadol. Didn’t help much. I couldn’t bear the thought of food, so opted for a shower.
Unfortunately, we had to return to Sandakan, so 9 a.m. saw us pile back into the boat for a 2hr 20min ride back to town. A lot quicker this time as we were travelling downstream.
We then went to Hotel Sandakan for lunch, then at 1.45pm left to go to Sepilok Rehab Centre. Watched a short video about the Orang-Utans and the centre itself. That was very interesting. I thought that Sepilok would be the highlight of the trip, but in fact it wasn’t. There were so many tourists around whilst watching the feeding. About 150 + people.
We were lucky to see 5 Orang-Utan come out for a feed. We took lots of photos.. The highlight was when everyone had left and we were just sitting around watching the remaining one or two left. We were on our way back to the HQ, and saw Mr G, the big guy right close up. He was sitting on the hand rails right beside us. Awesome sight. He was so close you could smell him.
We were then dropped off to the Sepilok Nature Resort for the night.
This place was practically deserted, not many tourists at all. We had a nice dinner, then went for a one hour nature walk. We saw a Mouse Deer and a Slow Loris. Again it rained and I managed to slip over on the board walk!!
Friday 02 Jan
We woke up at 9am this morning. A sleep in was well deserved. After breakfast we walked around the area. We decided not to go to the 10am feed as we had seen what we wanted to see the day before. We flew back to KL that afternoon via Kota Kinabalu. Arrived into KL at around 7.30pm. Stayed at the Pan Pacific KLIA hotel which was just amazing. Really classy hotel with a great restaurant, which is where we had our dinner – buffet was the way to go. The beds were really comfy and slept really well.
Sat 03 Jan – Dad’s Birthday
We woke early and had a wonderful buffet breakfast with unreal coffee!!
Then it was time to go home.
In conclusion, this was one of the best trips I’ve ever had… I would recommend Borneo to anyone, it is just such a wonderful rich country and so culturally diverse. Everything just fell into place so well.
Thanks Phil for suggesting such a great itinerary. As you know, I’m going back in May. The countdown is on again!
Katie, Carol & Jo Seeger
Hervey Bay QLD Australia