Monday, May 26, 2014

BOAT = Break Out Another Thousand...

...thankfully, we didn't have to break out quite that much in Kota Kinabalu.  Two weeks in KK gave us just enough time to fix our dinghy motor, fix our refrigerator, and stock up on groceries.  It is true what they say about cruising…it’s traveling from one exotic port to another fixing crap.  I would add to that ‘and buying groceries.’

Jake, roughing it at the marina pool.
We did manage to have a little fun though.  We swam in the many pools at the resort, we toured the museum, and we spent a few nights at the ‘night market’ eating local food and getting ourselves acquainted with the culture.  A few things I’m not sure I’ve mentioned yet…Malaysia is predominately Muslim and/therefore there’s not a lot of pork or boozing going on.  This proved to be a bit of a challenge when eating out as everyone knows Andy thinks the pig is a magical animal and we both enjoy a good beer with our meal (as do our friends Lee and Richard who we were with for many meals).  But, persistence pays off and we found ourselves spending many days enjoying the food and drink of El Centro (expat bar/restaurant that was wonderful when you wanted something different than rice and curry).  Of course we enjoyed many other wonderful restaurants here…Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Seafood…in spite of trying to restart my jogging routine, I think I still gained a few pounds.

One of the four pools at the marina.

Dinner out at the night market with some of our friends.

Borneo Train Exhibit.  Very different from museums
in the US...Jake got to climb all over it.

Water Village exhibit at the Museum

Clock Tower in KK.  

One of the downsides of KK was the smell and trash.  Everything on this side of the world seems to be individually packaged.  Small bags of noodles, small bags of potato chips, small bags of shampoo, detergent, even toothpaste are sold everywhere from the largest of grocery stores to tiny mom and pops.  99% of these packages end up on the ground or in the water.  Alongside those wrappers you can bet you’ll find hundreds of plastic bottles.  Rest assured our sight wasn’t the only sense stimulated…all three of us have a keen sense of smell as well.  Our noses were challenged when hit with overwhelming bouquets of stench.  Trying to identify each smell came to be sort of a sick game we played.  Fish, poop, urine, curry, barbeque, diesel?  I’m not complaining, just wanting to make you all feel like you’re here with us…

Just one stretch of the beach covered with trash.
Yesterday, we set off for places further south.  As I type this we are sitting at anchor in front of Tiga Island, where the very first Survivor reality show was filmed.  Weather has dictated that we anchor on the north side of the island and our first trip ashore got mixed reviews.  The beach is littered with trash (I had flashbacks to the Marshall Islands), however as we ventured further into the jungle we found a trail where we saw lots of creepy crawlies, butterflies, a snake and even some monkeys.  There’s a resort on the other side of the island and we’re assuming these trails lead to and from there.  There is supposed to be a mud volcano around here somewhere as well.  That’s on tomorrow’s agenda.  If the wind switches up again, we’ll move the boat around to the resort side and see if we can find a decent beach.  In the meantime, we’re enjoying a beautiful breeze (keeping the cabin cool!) and some solitude.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Kota Kinabalu - the big city

As we were sailing the last few days (and believe it or not, we were actually sailing, not motoring), I kept having these random thoughts… “I wish I could see something big like a whale,”  “Gosh it’s pretty out here,”  “I’m lonely, but am I really ready to go  home?,” “  I hope I can run here, I”ve gotten fat,”  “I wonder if there are any kid boats for Jake to play with,”  “ I wonder if there’s anyone for me to play with”…. And on and on….

We spent a week in the Kudat marina, acclimating ourselves to the friendly Malaysian people and stifling heat.  We were able to catch up with our friends on s/v Creola, unfortunately, now on the hard getting rebuilt after spending two weeks on a reef.  We were introduced to our best meal since who knows when and a swim in a really hot pool (the ocean temp here is 93 degrees).  While staying in Kudat was tempting (hee hee), we decided to move on (crocodiles, box jellies, etc).

The captain taking some selfies.

As we pulled into Kota Kinabalu (known as KK), one theme ran throughout all of us…. Jake put it best “Oh. My. Gosh.  This place is HUGE!”

It’s our first city since San Diego.  Complete with big buildings, 6 lane highways, red lights, and lots and lots of people.  We pulled in yesterday and decided to anchor outside the swanky, swanky marina.  Did I say swanky?  2, or is it 3? Resorts…4 pools, who knows how many restaurants, bowling ally, someone said theater???  Swanky. 

We anchored, took a shower and went in to check it out.  What did we find?  Our good friends Lee and Richard on s/v Before.  Love these people.  Unfortunately, they only had 5 minutes to talk before heading out on a tour for a few days, but enough time to surprise them and get some really good info (like how to catch the “swanky” bus with air conditioning to town for a $1/person).

So today we went downtown to check everything out.  You know we hit the mall…. We found the Japanese restaurant we want to try soon.  We walked through one of the largest markets I’ve seen to date…very cool.  Then we had ‘jugs’ of beer at an Irish pub.

No more itty bitty watermelons...finally, one fit for an American
(have you ever seen the size of a watermelon in Oklahoma?) 
This was just one row of over a dozen.

Dried fish is abundant here.  The smell is atrocious but the taste
is surprising good, especially in soups.

I’m sure we’ll get further into the Malaysian thing tomorrow, but if you’ve read us for very long, you’ll know we get our American on when we hit a place like this ( Can you say ‘Burger King?’  “Pizza Hut?”…actually we got there at 9:30 and nothing else was open…we were starving…Whopper sounded good.).  We need a day to soak it all in, then we’ll hit the streets.  We’re looking forward to the night market.  We here it’s the best in Borneo.  Street food, locals, market…all good things.
While we just arrived, it seems like this is the hub of all things happening….city life (restaurants, bars, people, lots and lots of hotels), jungle, orangutans, caves, rivers, long houses, white water rafting, giant mosques, scuba diving, literally everything. 

It’s also quite pricey in some aspects so we’re going to have to choose wisely (unlike last night when we spent a small bar of gold on our crappy dinner at one of the hotels here), but choose we will….this is the most exciting place yet.  The people are friendly, the food is good, and the possibilities are endless….

A local chain...Andy couldn't resist taking a picture. :)

Stay tuned…