Kota Kinabalu, Borneo

11078092_10153288013689287_40576158535201402_n Kota Kinabalu – the waterfront at sundown. Eleven hours from London to Hong Kong. Landing at the airport we came down with water on one side, really close to the sea. From the airport you could see lots of small fishing boats dancing on the water. A quick change and then – three more hours – to Kota Kinabalu. The heat hit me as I emerged from the airport and the verdant green of trees in full foliage, were a contrast to the still wintry trees in London. In the evening we went down to the waterfront for dinner and stood and watched as a huge red sun dipped quickly below the horizon, as if being swallowed by the sea, leaving the landscape suffused with an orange red glow. IMG_3596

The next day we drove up through the hills towards Mount Kinabalu and then on to Poring Hot Springs. The hills were coated in scrubby greenness, with coconut palm trees everywhere. The roads were steep with constant hairpin bends and there were rare three lane sections where you could overtake slow lorries and buses. Progress was tortuous. Dogs wandered freely everywhere many of them strays. Shack-like open stalls lined the roadside selling all sorts of interesting beautiful fruits and vegetables and bags of snacks hanging from wooden beams, from honey coated sweet potato to deep fried spinach leaves. Many of the houses we passed were square clapboard dwellings on stilts with staircases going up the outside. Some were smart and painted soft pastel colours with columns, almost Palladian on a small scale. Others were tumble-down with corrugated roofs and patched and crumbling wooden walls.

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IMG_3588 We had rented a villa in Poring Hot Springs and the view out towards the mountains was spectacular. Tiny ants scurried around the sinks and geckos ran around the edges of the ceilings. They eat spiders and flies so are definitely desirable house guests. I spotted a baby one climbing into one of our bags but we couldn’t find it in there when we were leaving so presumably it climbed out again before we left! We ate in the Restaurant in the evening surrounded by annoying flying ants and large bats looping backwards and forwards just above our heads. As we were leaving a huge stag beetle flew into one of the lamps and stunned itself, it was as big as my hand!

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