Resuming the trip we took a short flight from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu, a functional but not entirely enticing destination by itself. Staying only long enough to get our bearings and book a bus out of there, we travelled straight on to Mt Kinabalu. Being the highest mountain in Malaysia we considered climbing it but once we learned that foreigners paid double the already extortionate rates for the mandatory overnight accommodation we hiked as far as we could go without permits and back down again.
Next stop was Sepilok to visit the Orang Utan Rehbailitation centre and hopefully catch a glimpse of one of their resident primates. We waited for the next feeding session in a jungle clearing, sweat pouring out of places I didn’t believe could possibly sweat. I swear my thongs nearly floated away in the pool of water collecting at my feet (I’m referring to flip-flops here.. I don’t often wear two sets of underwear). Eventually we were treated with Naru and his handler – and a troop of thieving macaques. Poor Naru was terrified of the macaques who were tiny in comparison but took full advantage of his lunch.
After a few days diving the islands off Semporna we took a break on the Kinabatangan river with hopes of seeing the pygmy elephants supposedly in the area. Staying in the riverside village of Sukau we took the first river safari of the afternoon and headed downstream in search. As luck would have it we did find our elephants but due to the their short stature we couldn’t see them over the long grass and had to be content with sounds of trumpeting and thrashing about in the undergrowth. Jess claims she caught a glimpse of one.. but not enough to be sure..
We spent the next few days on the river – early morning cruises, afternoon cruises and evening a night trek through the jungle. One of the creepier things we’ve done.. tramping about in the jungle mud, catching spider webs in your hair and unable to see anything outside of the torch beam.. and all to see a few sleeping birds on their branches. Pretty cool but I’m convinced I never want to get lost in the jungle at night.
Our last day on the river and our guide took us to see hundreds of macaques and proboscis monkeys – happily going about their business as we float by. I caught one macaque slowly and slyly pulling up the contents of someone’s fish trap, wish I presume was originally intended to provide that person’s family with dinner.