11th June 2005
Today we were taken to visit a local village, stopping on the way to buy gifts of tea and coffee and pencils and books for the children. One of the houses we saw had been originally built on stilts but walls had been built around the basement to form a ground floor resulting in a two storey house. We were taken to visit the lady of the house who had a new baby only 18 days old. The next house was still on stilts so we had to go upstairs to visit. There was a new baby here too, just 4 months old, plus a tiny girl of about 3 and a little boy of around 5. A small chicken was sitting on a shelf in the corner. We exchanged pleasantries with the people in each house, cooed over the babies and handed over our gifts. I also feel rather uncomfortable on these visits. They seem rather intrusive and I wonder if they are of benefit either the residents or the visitors.
It was extremely hot as we walked back to the bus. The same children that we had met when we arrived found us as we left so they came in for all the rest of our pencils and notebooks. How canny were they!
12th June 2005
Today was mostly noteworthy for the arrival of my pottery saucer which turned out fairly well and still sits on my window sill supporting a plant pot. Plus a major eating faux pas, during dinner when I was sampling the sushi and took a large dollop of what I took to be mashed avocado plus a small helping of pickle. I was wary of the pickle which turned out to be alright, but of course the “avocado” was actually wassabi and when I took a mouthful, it burned its way right down to my stomach. Phew! I could have breathed fire !!
13th June 2005
Today I ventured out on my own by bus to Kota Kinabalu Centre Point, a large shopping mall. It was just beginning to spot with rain as we arrived which was a sign of things to come! I did some shopping – you can never have too many handbags. I think I’d been around every shop at least twice when I found the basement and a store selling CDs where I bought a CD of Chinese orchestral music. Back on the bus at 4pm, we travelled back through a huge downpour which followed us all the way back to the Nexus.
After I made it back to my room there were some huge claps of thunder right overhead and lightning lit up the sky. I decided to film the downpour and, just as I opened my window, a huge lizard ran across the path into the pond opposite. Luckily it came out again and sat on the grass as I was filming. I had to stay inside the room to prevent the camera from stopping due to the condensation. The downpour went on for well over an hour and a half before it started to ease.
When the rain finally stopped, I went to the Penyu restaurant for a last dinner. It was Arabian night. I went to pay my bill,which was very much as I had calculated. I paid $18 in travellers cheques. The local currency, which is the Ringgit, is worth only about 14 p.
14th June 2005
I had my last breakfast at the Penyu and then a last bask by the pool before going to pack and trying to cram everything into my case, carry on and the new handbag. After lunch by the pool my bags were collected and then it was time to hand my key back. What a wonderful 10 days it had been! What a very special day I had visiting the beautiful orang-outans.
As I mentioned at the start of this holiday I then flew to Brunei. I don’t intend to say anything about that leg of my holiday as I don’t want to do anything to promote that country. Except I should say that the people who looked after me there were incredibly kind.