Borneo is famous for it's jungle. Well, maybe was. Today the Malayan part of Borneo just has about 20 percent of it's jungle anymore. All the rest is transformed into a palm oil plantation! We saw it on every trip with a bus - tens of kilometers of palms in lines and grids - shocking, when you expect nature at it's best!
Anyway, there are some square kilometers of pristine jungle left and that's where we went. Uncle Tan's is a very, very basic jungle resort with open huts to sleep where you are out with the boat two times a day to spot Orang-Utans, the famous Proboscis monkeys (the ones with the long nose. Proboscis means Dutch in Malayan based on comparing the monkeys with the first European intruders) and other monkeys and quite a lot of birds. Good company, very good guides, good food, football, table tennis and a night jungle trekking made the three days unforgettable.
2009-11-26 to 2009-11-28
The best retrieve after a hard trek with sour muscles is definitely a warm jacuzzi - and that's what the Poring Hotsprings are. Nature springs of hot and cold water in a build environment with tubes, swimming pool and fountain. We stayed there two days relaxing and trying to get the legs moving normal again - every step down meant pain and we were walking like retards! :-)
A canopy path and a nice waterfall made the stay even more enjoyable!
2009-11-25 to 2009-11-26
The Mount Kinabalu is the tallest mountain on Borneo - the peninsular part of Malaysia. With 4095m it should have to become my highest mountain so far.
We were lucky, when we arrived at headquarters directly from the airport, to be able to organize everything for the next day. Guide, accommodation both on the bottom and at the summit base camp, rain poncho, gloves and power-bars - it should become a hard trek!
Eva and I shared my backpack with just the essentials. The essentials for me meant at lest seven layers of T-shirts and long-sleeves because it was said to get really cold up there.
The trek started with a rainy climb for about 1300 meters. Nothing we were not used from the Alps back home.
The big difference was the heating system up at the base camp. Although we had the best accommodation (for an horrendous price - about Euro 60 each), the general heating system would just start at eight o' clock in the night.
As they all told us, it's such a hard trek, we started very early, but we did the first leg in just 4.5 hours, which meant we had to freeze for the next eight hours until the radiators would start working! Food was good, so there was a little retrieve. Lucky us, as we had the most expensive room, we had hot water for a quick shower - at least some minutes to warm up. My body was so cold by this time that I could not differ between burning hot water and still being cold. Putting on all my T-shirts and long-sleeves I brought could not help here. So before and after dinner, we tried to get warm lying in bed and drinking tea! :-)
As the normal schedule for the summit leg the next morning is timed to be up there when the sun rises the start would be at 3 o' clock in the night. With that an early sleep was mandatory.
3 o'clock and a mist meant even more coldness, but the atmosphere was loaded with excitement and so it didn't matter. Equipped with a head torch we tried to overtake the masses, because they definitely were to slow for us. Some of the collapsed already after 100 m altitude. Definitely not used to the height!
Eva and me hooked up with two Spanish hikers which we met the day before and were soon on the head of the group (of about 75 people). Our guides wanted us to stop, but we left them behind us - it was just too cold for sitting in the rainy cold.
It was definitely fascinating when we made short breaks, that the heartrate was not getting down - welcome to the high altitude with less oxygen! :-)
As fast as we had been, we reached the summit one hour too early. Which meant waiting for the sunrise for one hour at 5 degrees on a windy summit with mist all around us. We were so much freezing that my arm shaking was at least a 5cm movement back and forth! After 45 minutes we were so cold that we decided the bad weather is not worth waiting for the sun rise - we would not see anything anyway. So we started to descent. But after about 20 minutes we were rewarded with the best sun rise ever! The clouds vanished and gave free perfect, stunning views which made the whole atmosphere like x-mass, everybody was electrified!
The next five hours should become a horror trip. Going down is not funny at all and Eva got totally exhausted and my knee started to ask for it's toll. Down, down, down. Never ending. The views were the only retrieve. Definitely worth! It was without questioning one of the best days of my whole travel!!
2009-11-20 to 2009-11-25
Kualar Lumpur or KL, as everybody shortens it ist definitely worth to visit! But again, the main attractions are limited. Limited to the one. The best looking and highest Twin-Towers of the world - The Petronas Twin Towers.
We stayed five days in KL without a single day missing the Twin-Towers. Too majestically, too beautiful to miss them! I shot about 80 pics of it - in the pic section I bothered you with 'just' six of them! :-) Attached to the Towers is a nice, big, clean shopping mall with 'our' Starbucks Coffee place. Next to the Towers the other sights really are hard to mention - to minor they are. But it took us two days to check out all the temples, nice buildings and China town.
Overall, KL is definitely a very nice city. Not the first choice to life there, but for a short time a very nice place to stay!
2009-11-18 to 2009-11-19
Penang is a small island connected to the mainland by two bridges, which served as an English military base for 30 years.
It's a big mix of English, Chinese and originally Malayan. The official buildings are very much English, whereas the 'nice' houses are influenced by or are entirely Chinese architecture. For these houses it's nearly worth to come. But there is not very much else to see. They have a peak tramway like in Hong Kong, which is a highlight, as well, but that makes it all to mention.
2009-11-15 to 2009-11-17
Dozing on the ferry on our way to Ko Phi Phi we ran into Inger, Mette and Andy from Denmark. Three cool guys with whom we shared room for the next two nights and had a perfect time, chilling, partying at the beach and cruising around the paradise like island world out there.
After three days together we had to say good bye again and headed East to Krabi � the last point in Thailand before we hopped on a minibus, which brought us down to a new country: Malaysia
2009-11-12 to 2009-11-14
Eva becomes James Bond
After the 27 hours journey became not our favorite hobby, we decided to fly at least a part of the distance. So we did the bus journey back to Bangkok to have some time in the Rambuttri Inn and enjoy again the roof top pool and the next day we took the flight down to Phuket.
The way up to Khao Lak was an easy 1,5 hour run with a car sent from the hotel, where we were supposed to stay.
When I left Nick I promised him to come back and check out the restaurant. And with Eva with me, I could send her undercover to the restaurant and let her check out the service and the quality without letting the stuff know, that she was sent from us! :-)
The next day, I joined in to get really good Thai food and Eva had her first typical back packer evening. In the restaurant we met two other German guys working as dive guides in the area and we had quite a good time with them and Weaw (Nicks girlfriend running the restaurant). After some beers we had to try some wines and cocktails so we had already quite a jag when we left the restaurant around eleven. Just walking by at the local seven eleven for a last beer at the pool, we ran into two English girls and started talking with them for the next two hours (I can remember there was more beer) until we met Heiko from Austria who took us with him on his bike to another bar and club so that we ended home very late just to get up four hours later to catch the early morning bus down to Phuket to enter the ferry for Ko Phi Phi. Eva learnt her second lesson: Meeting people while travelling is so easy!
2009-11-06 to 2009-11-11
Going for the tattoo at One to Ko Chang
A 27 hours journey with ten different transport means is nothing I could recommend and nothing you can enjoy � no matter how hard core packpacking you are! :-)
After a pick-up we had a ferry, a bus, a train, a taxi, another bus, another bus, a minivan, another ferry and another taxi. And about 7 hours of sleep. Well, we needed some time to recover! :-)
The rest of the time we spent lying on the terrace of our nice bungalow at the waterfront, having good food, talking to One � and a lot of pain! :-)
Eva�s tattoo was a rather small one on the feet but mine had a big part on the back, where it really hurt. And it took it�s time � 12,5 hours. Eva helped me distracting myself with beer and fun, with playing chess and in the end I was reading a book, but when it came to the part around the shoulder there was no distraction available � it did just hurt! :-)
The tattoo was a bamboo tattoo, in contrast to a conventional tattoo with a machine. The big difference is not the speed or accuracy but the technique of piercing. With a machine the needle gets cut through the skin like a knife, whereas the bamboo needle gets stuck in and out, which does neither create a wound nor blooding, and you can go swimming right after the process.
The name is a little bit confusing. There is no bamboo needle � indeed it�s a German stainless steal quality product needle. Not just one, but between five and 15 - depending if the outline is done or the filling. But these needles are bent to a bamboo shaft, and that�s where the name comes from.
The shaft then furthermore is connected to a long stick to handle it from the back like a billiard queue.
2009-10-31 to 2009-11-05
Planing the zick-zack trip
Doing the planning for the next weeks we figured out, that we both need a tattoo, we want to go to the famous Ko Phangan Full Moon Party and want to see some islands. With me having the idea of going to a special tattoo artist who�s father once did the tattoo for Angelina Jolie, this was set to do on Ko Chang, which is in the East. Ko Phangan is in the South and the islands and the next country we wanted to go (Malaysia) as well.
With the full moon just for days ahead of us, we had to go down first, what means a long over night journey in a not that convenient bus, ferry ride and pick-up transport � about an 15 hour ride to come to the perfect beach and rent a beach front bungalow for Euro 6,-.
We checked out the area, enjoyed a perfect pre full moon party and were partying hard core on Full Moon mainly dancing on a 7 m high tribune with a water slide going down. I think I did the run about 50 times � it was just too cool and at the end of the slide you had to jump the last meter on some mattresses � well, I did not hit ground first with my feet all the time � but that was the fun of it! :-)