A Travellerspoint blog

Sandakan

The Oranguatan Sanctuary


View Thai - Sia (July- August 2004) & Egypt July 2006 & Sri Lanka August 2004 on sulemaniya's travel map.

This is a small city with not much not see besides the most famous animal sanctuary of South East Asia which is called the Sepilok Oranguatan Sanctuary. This place is where the ornanguatans are brought from the wild as well as those who are saved from the hands of animal smugglers. This place is good enough for passing a few hours and one can be surprised at what the Orangutuans can do with their hands i mean they are very flexible animals. The thing to avoid is getting too close to these animals because sometimes they can attack humans as they fear that humans are encroaching more and more on their land. This place also attracts a lot of volunteers who come here to keep the animals in good health.

I stayed at Uncle Tan's probably the most famous place in sandakan and these are the people who take you to the sanctuary. The next day i came back to KK to grab a flight to Johor Bahru.

Posted by sulemaniya 04:13 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Kota Kinnabalu

Mountain and Sea


View Thai - Sia (July- August 2004) on sulemaniya's travel map.

After a nine hour flight from Bangkok I landed in KK , Kota Kinnabalu. This is in the sabah province of Malaysia on the Malaysian Borneo which touches the Indonesian borneo. I flew Air Asia from Bangkok as I did on the rest of my trip. The flight had a stop over in johor bahru after which it flew to KK. As it was night time when I landed I was not sure about the place I would stay but then I met a local who advised me to stay at Aunt Lucy’s so thus I did. The place was cozy with a personal touch and in the centre of KK.

The next day I went around the city and what I saw was truly some form of difference in the climate of the city. KK is blessed with one of South East Asia’s tallest mountain called Mount Kinnabalu which keeps temperatures really down and it is not that humid as well. The city also has a beach which makes it truly Malaysia Microcosmically.

The city is not any other Malaysian city. The architecture as well as the composition of people are a lot different than that seen in the Western Malaysia. Aside from the people, the weather is another plus point where the hide and seek of the sun continues interspersed with cool winds and drizzles. Most of the activity seemed to be along the corniche where most of the restaurants as well as the shopping malls like Wisma Merdeka are located. The people of this city are friendly and you would probably find a satay stand in every street you visit which is as close to Malaysian as you would get.!! Just kidding.

Anyways I was in KK for one thing only and that was to climb Mt Kinnabalu. People who want to trek the mountain should know that they need to book accommodation before hand sometimes before a week as the resort and lodges run full most of the time during the high season which seems to be june-september. I booked my accommodation from Sutera Lodges, which was a dorm bed without any heating. That was the cheapest thing on offer.

The next day at 8 am I reached the base of the mountain where I would be starting the climb. I met a group of german climbers and we were supposed to be climbing the mountain together. We had to register with the parks department as well as pay for entrance which I think was 100 ringitt but I told them I was 18 so I paid only 50 ringitt.

With everything done and dusted we started your climb at around 9 am.

The initial part of the climb was very easy and mountain seems to have a very low gradient meaning the climb is not very steep. This casual climb though at some places it gets testing is what one would be doing for most of the few hours till reaching Laban Rata which was supposed to be the place where I and my group were going to spend the night over. This was at a height of 18000 feet and we reached there in the evening at 5 pm. The weather was amazing at times it would start drizzling and I came into contact with the clouds. Truly a surreal experience for me!!. The temperature was cold and without any heating we had to keep the doors to the lodge closed but a better thing was going to have dinner from the resort’s resturarant which had heated rooms. The next thing was going to bed early because we would have to start climbing for the summit at 2 am at night thus sleep was essential. At this time I should also point out that this last 3000 feet ascent was the most demanding as the climb at a lot of places gets vertical and in big steps which greatly tests people’s ability and most of the people can’t seem to go ahead because they develop cramps or altitude sickness. Fortunately for me nothing of that sort happened and I climbed on the way to the summit. Had it not been for the chocolates, nuts and juices which I had brought with me I would never have been able to climb more steps. Besides at the top it gets very very cold with constant winds blowing in one’s face thus it is best to take a good jacket along with some gloves. Our guide amram was one cheerful young kid who was climbing the mountain for who knows he lost counting!!

Waking up at 2 am was a lot of fun and getting ready in 10 minutes for the ascent was a challenge I hoped to achieve. The sights which one can get on the trail at night is a train of light coming from hikers head mouted torches which when seen from a distance looks like a group of fireflies. Its very unearthly the feeling one gets by looking down besides being creepy as you don’t see anything at night!

We had to reach the summit before the sun rose because it gets very difficult to climb once the sun is up as the rays get in one’s eyes. With a heculean effort I was able to reach the top before 5 am and then enjoy the sunrise as well as the spectacular scenery. It should also be prudent to mention that the mountain is made of granite so one has amazing views of the pinnacles in the morning sun light. Didn’t bring a camera with me so couldn’t take any photos! Our group stayed at the top till 7 in the morning before the descent as well as to catch some breadth.

I had a feeling that the descent would be a piece of cake but with a lot of drizzle falling the slopes got really slippery so we had to come down really slow. This for me was more difficult than the ascent. The mountain has small rest areas after a few hours of climbing where one can get water as well answer the call of nature. But anyways the rigorous descent down truly drained of my final energy and once I came to the bottom at 4 pm I was more like dead. Having been climbing for more than 15-16 hours my legs just gave way and for two days I could not feel my legs. This was my climb to KK. It was a lot of very good rigorous exercise but I truly think it was just incredible with each moment to be savoured. Now I can easily recall all that even after 3 years when I am writing this blog.

The next two days I lazed around the KK going for some snorkeling around the islands and the shopping malls in the evening besides I didn’t have much left in me.

After KK I made my way to sandakan for the sepilok orangutan sanctuary.

Posted by sulemaniya 04:09 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Bangkok

Second time-Sights and Sounds of the Thai Capital

The capital of Thailand is a magnetic city. It always attracts you and offers something new even for someone who would it visiting it the umpteenth time. Although it’s not a city one would fall in love because it’s very commercial but it still amazes you.

I have stayed in a lot of areas in Bangkok the most common being surawong road, silom road, khao san road. The silom area is famous for the fact that most of the south Asians live and work there. Khao San road on the other hand is a totally different spot. It’s the heart of backpackers visiting Bangkok. This is the place where all the cheap accommodation is available; don’t be surprised if you get your won room for one and half US dollars here! The place is also littered with a lot of bars and other hangout places but the activity starts only at night so if you are here in day time you would probably just doze off in the Bangkok humidity!

Aside from the accommodation places, the places to visit in Bangkok are quite a lot. Firstly there is the Floating Market which as the name conveys is a market on the river. The growers come to sell their stuff in long boats which are powered by small engines. They have tasty coconut juice here as well as some souvenir shops but you have to bargain a lot if you want it at the right price because the place is too touristy. Moreover there is area in the centre of Bangkok where all the temples are located but I didn’t go too much here because I am not too much of a history guy. Anyways these temples are worth visiting due to the intricate way in which they are built.

Besides there is the Safari World. This is the open Zoo and it’s got two parts. The first part comprises looking at the animals in the wild from special buses but one can only stay in the bus and look at the wild animals from giraffes to lions to hippos to a lot of other species. They are too much to name.

The other part is about special performances by the animals which have been domesticated. The shows include the dolphin show, the parrot show, Elephant and the snake show. Besides there are also some performances like the Wild West Show and a show inspired from the James Bond movie. The performers do a good job with the audience truly involved. You have to devote an entire day or at least half a day for the Safari World.

The crocodile farm • crockey farm for all those stevie fans- is also a treat where one can see live crocodiles playing with their handlers from close range though I got some goose bumps of the crocs being so close to the handlers!! Anyways this is a place to go if one wants to pass some time or see some real action.

The suan laum night bazaar is a place for the night. Here you can see a fight of MUAY THAI and enjoy the night as well as do some shopping and indulge in local Thai food. The atmosphere here is one of resigned friendliness but don’t come too close to the competitors you might get a punch or a kick you don’t know where! A lot of tourists come here through booked tours although I think this is a place where one can come without any hassle and save some money besides one can truly experience the local touch unlike what you had get when you come with a guide.

The chatuchak market, also called the weekend market, which is supposed to be the biggest of its kind is a place worth paying a visit to especially on a weekend. The sky train directly takes one there so its not such of a hassle to go there. The place is a shopper’s paradise especially for those people looking for some authentic Thai stuff to decorate their houses. The place has wooden goods whose quality is much better than what is generally available in the rest of the city and the things are cheap as well. Though don’t forget to do some bargaining; rather a lot of. There is also an animal market in close proximity to the furniture market but I wouldn’t recommend people going there especially after the bird flu scare.

These are some of the places I think Bangkok is famous for. I am writing this after a lag of 3 years since I last went to Bangkok so could have forgotten a place or two.

Now about the areas. The most famous or the most infamous area in Bangkok is the Pat pong area nowadays populated too a large extent by lady boys. Lady boys are Trans gender who most of them are guys but dress as girls and act like them as well. But other than that the small road side stalls in pat pong are one of the best places to get a bargain on shirts, shoes etc all of the stuff being fake though. From the most recent released CD to the perfume everything is fake. I would advise people to be on one’s toes because this is also a dangerous area as most of the people working here work for the mafia as well so its better to maintain a low profile and not to get into an argument with the stall owners which in no time can get into a full blown fight with police unable to do anything. This information is three years old so don’t know about what’s the scene right now.

Bangkok has got loads of shopping malls the most famous being MBK and adjacent to it is TOKYU. Again they can be reached via the sky train so not a problem in terms of transportation. MBK is the place where most of the stuff is copied or just own designer labels so it’s a bit cheap but the quality of the goods is a lot better than those bought form the street but TOKYU is the branded one. It’s a bit more expensive so all those rich people don’t go to MBK!!!!

Besides there is an area where most of the city’s best restaurants are located which is near these shopping malls though I seem to forget the areas name it starts with an S. the restaurants here offer local as well as European , Arabic and Indian cuisine though they seem to be priced on the higher side. This is also the area where most of the massage parlors read Spa’s are located so one could indulge in a bit of relaxing foot therapy here after a good dinner.

One thing one needs to be careful in Bangkok is the women. A lot of them I don’t want to sound biased but most of them all go after foreign men and you would find a great deal of old British men with two or three Thai girls. I think this is the worst part of life in Bangkok and its become a big problem. Besides I almost forgot if one would like to cover small distance I mean 5-10 Kilometers then one can hire the three wheeled tuk tuk. Though most of the drivers one would come into contact double up as pimps offering to take you to some “massage parlous” but please decline those overtures and be on the lookout that where the guy is taking you because a lot of times people have been mugged by some of these guys. You can also go with the biker boys, they also run motorbike taxis but I think there are still some security issues with them.

This I think is all I recall about Bangkok till now. I would be adding stuff if I recall later.

Posted by sulemaniya 04:06 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 8 of 8) « Page 1 [2]