Month: July 2013

Sabah Soujourn 2013 – Part 3 – Kota Kinabalu (KK) wildlife excursion

We had half a day left in KK, and were leaving the next morning. Our last chance for:

Proboscis Monkey River Cruise & Fireflies tour.  This tour takes you by bus through the countryside  to a place on the river about two hours drive from KK. Then you have coffee and a snack, and board a boat to see wildlife in its natural setting, and after dusk you see fireflies. You have dinner by the river. Then you are driven back to the hotel, arriving between 10PM and 10.30.

But it is dependent on the weather and luck what you actually see, if anything. If it rains, you are unlikely to see anything, and you’ll also probably get wet. We were not at all sure about the weather on that day, but we decided we’d go and hope for the best.  We rang the agent one hour before pickup to ensure we could get on, and they said to book online but pay the guide.  Once we booked online they texted us to confirm.

I did worry about the drive back at night, hoping the driver was going to be safe.


The tour was good. They did as promised. We saw lots of wildlife, enjoyed the dinner, and the driver drove safely.


They picked us up at the hotel on time, did a couple more hotel pickups, and then we were on our way.

the bus

the bus

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The drive was quite pleasant, and with one brief  comfort stop along the way took a little over two hours.

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we followed the rail line for a while

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there were a surprising number of churches along the way

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Afternoon tea was relaxed…

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the view from the restaurant

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…and when we were ready we donned lifejackets and boarded boats, at about 4.45PM. You could hire binoculars for RM10. About eight in our boat, and quite a few more in the other.

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the inlet the boats were moored in

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our boat

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the river

We headed downriver, passing old settlements…

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And we saw some devastation of the jungle…
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We continued for about 25 minutes before one of the guides spotted some proboscis monkeys in trees near the river. We watched and photographed them for a while.

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We moved on, saw a monitor lizard on a tree…

monitor lizard

monitor lizard

then a tree with poisonous fruit that in earlier times was used on darts to make them poisonous…

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the poisonous fruit

…and further on saw some more proboscis monkeys. Then we turned around.

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On heading back upstream it started to rain, and the canopy over the boat was erected. Luckily the rain was light, as the canopy wasn’t very effective. It stopped after a little while. It was getting dark.

We saw the same monkeys, higher up in the trees, settling in for the night.

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Then, as the sun was setting we saw a herd of water buffaloes crossing the river. We stayed and watched for a while.

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Finally, further upstream we came across fireflies.  It was still perhaps too early to see masses of them, but we saw quite a few. And a beautiful sunset…

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Then it was back to the wharf, and dinner.  We’d been on the water a little over two hours. The dinner was very good.  Tiger beer was extra, at RM10, and soft drinks were extra too, but I don’t remember the price.

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A little before 8PM we started back to KK, and the driver was very cautious, so it was a slow, but thankfully safe drive back. We were back in out hotel before 10.30pm.

Gespräche mit J.C. auf Deutsch 24: 19. Juli

2012-12-31 14.52.51s

Jede Woche treffe ich mit meinem Freund JC, mit wem ich Deutsch lerne. Unser Zweck ist Deutsch zu üben und wir besprechen immer verschiedene Themen. Diese Blog handelt von unserer Gespräche. Bevor jedes Gespräch bereiten wir jetzt ein bisschen.  Wir gebrauchen ein Buch, dass kategorisiert Worten nach Thema, aber wenn wir ein Wort nicht kennen, benutzen wir auch ein Wörterbuch.


JC hatte eine Prüfung gemacht, und hat es bestanden. Sehr gut. Er fühlt erleichtert. Er hat sein Ziel erreicht.

Heute hatten wir eine geistliche Besprechung. Wir sprachen über Descartes, und wie er zwischen den Verstand und das Gehirn trennen konnte. Und glaubte Descartes auch in einer Seele? Das Verstand-Körper-Problem.

Ich habe über Wiedergeburt gesprochen, und wie die Seele ist allgemein. Aber wie kann man prüfen? Wenn man Hypnose benutzt, kann man frühere Leben sehen.  Ich habe gehört, dass man alle erfahren muss, und dann ungefähr 700 Leben als Mensch erfahren wird. Obgleich bevor man die Erfahrungen als Mensch hat, muss man als geringerer Formen des Lebens haben. Zum beispiel, als eine Amöbe, eine Pflanze usw.

Man verschwendet Zeit und Energie, von reichere oder hübschere Leute neidisch sein. In einigen Leben wird man machmal reich sein, in anderen Leben, alm. Und in anderen, inzwischen. Man wird manchmal muslimisch sein, manchmal christlich, manchmal ein Atheist.  Ob man ist klug oder dumm, reich oder alm, ist nicht wichtig. Was wichtig ist, ist die Erfahrung.

Bevor man geboren ist, schließt man einen Lebensvertag ab. Man entscheidet was man erfahren wird. Es ist wichtig Selbstmord nicht zu begehen. Wenn man Selbstmord begeht, muss man weider dasselbe Leben erfahren, aber nächtes Mal wird das Leben viel schwieriger sein. Warum, weiß ich nicht, aber man hat seinen Lebenvertrag gebrochen.


Neue Wörter für mich:
eine Prufung machen = to sit an exam
bestehen = to pass an exam
erleichtern = to relieve
das Ziel = goal
der Geist = intellect
geistlich = spiritual, religious
der Verstand = mind
das Gehirn = brain
die Seele = soul
der Körper = body
die Wiedergeburt = reincarnation
die Amöbe = amoeba
verschwenden = to waste
neidisch = jealous, envious
der Atheist = atheist
die Erfahrung = experience
(der) Selbstmord begehen = commit suicide

——————- ist nützlich. ist auch nützlich.

From 12:01 Saturday 27th July new road layout in Pulau Tikus, Penang


A new one-way traffic system for Burmah Road, Kelawai Road and Gurney Drive loop will commence at 12.01am, Saturday 27 July 2013 on a 3 month trial.

one-way system

one-way system

For more detail see here or if you read Malay, here.

If you want to comment, you can email: Zainuddin bin Mohamad Sharif []. I sent a comment, and received a prompt reply.

Yesterday people visited every house in our street handing out information about this change.

I hope it works.

Sabah Soujourn 2013 – Part 2 – Kota Kinabalu (KK) islands



One of the main activities in which people partake while in KK is to “island hop” – to visit one or more of the nearby five islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park to swim and snorkle or dive.  The islands are Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik, Gaya and Sulug.

You can also buy tours which include lunch, but this obviously costs more. Hotels also sell these. At the terminal there are lots of shops so you can buy food and drinks to take with you if you wish.

food stalls

food stalls at terminal

A quick check online will find many other accounts of how to do this, so this is my quick take.

The weather being unstable, we couldn’t decide until the morning if we were going to do this, and in the morning it looked like it would later rain. But we had only one remaining full day, so we thought we’d try.

A taxi from our hotel to Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal cost us RM12.  This seems like another fee fixed by the taxi mafia, or whatever they are. We asked the driver which company at the terminal to use, and he said it doesn’t matter.

Booking Hall

Booking Hall

So we picked one at random, as we’d heard they more or less provide the same services, at around the same price.  We used a company called, “Sunny Rainbow.” It’s popular to arrange to go to two or more islands, but we opted for only one due to potential later rain, and this is what the person at the counter suggested, too. We chose to go to Sapi.

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inside booking hall

inside booking hall

inside booking hall

The amount you pay depends on how many of the islands you visit, and what equipment you hire. Here is a photo of the prices:

schedule and prices

schedule and prices

Once you’ve paid you immediately collect any gear you’ve hired. A mask and snorkel is a good idea if you want to snorkel. I easily float without a life jacket, and you are swimming very close to shore, mostly where you can stand, so that’s all I hire. Mrs Tropical Expat, however, also hired a life jacket.

So, it cost us:

20 – hire of two mask & snorkels

10 – hire of one life jacket

46 – fare for two to one island

14.40 – Ferry terminal charge for two



Then you go and wait at the seats at the end of the pier after showing your tickets to the company’s representative there.

waiting area

waiting area

When the boat is about to depart they will escort you to the boat.

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If you didn’t rent a life jacket there are plenty on the boat to use for the ride.

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life jackets

The boats are quite small, as you’ll see in the photos, and the ride is a little bit bumpy.

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donning life jackets

Depending on which island you go to it takes perhaps 10 – 20 minutes boat ride to get there.

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The boat departs and arrives at a jetty on the island with little fuss.

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At the jetty a company representative meets you, and you tell him what time you want to catch the boat back or to other islands if that’s what you’re doing.  But if you decide to return at a different time just go to the jetty 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time you want.

20130711 (37)sYou can see fish from the jetty.

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view from the jetty

When you walk off the jetty there is a little booth where you pay yet another charge – this time to Sabah Parks. This covers any islands you visit that day.  Here is a chart of the charges:

We showed we were Malaysian residents, and paid the Malaysian price of RM3 each.  There were no further charges.

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After this we were escorted by the representative to a picnic table and bench under the shade of trees at the beach, and we were told we could sit there, or leave our things there, covered, if we go in the water, or elsewhere. So we were well looked after.

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picnic table

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Behind the beach are toilets – the usual Malaysian standard …

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toilet block

…and outside showers.

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There are some shops, too.

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We went in the water…

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and I could see some fish, but nothing that special.

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There were a lot of jelly bugs – like jelly fish, but they only irritate your skin a little, and it soon fades. I put a t-shirt on to protect myself a little.

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Even though we’d gone quite early there were so many people on the beach, and in the water.

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A storm appeared to be on the way, so we actually left early, and that was no problem – the boat took us back with no fuss.

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There is even a pub when you get back.

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Well, I guess it is the high season, but there were too many people for my liking.  I’d suggest getting the first boat of the morning to get some peaceful time. To be honest, I much preferred the Perhentian Islands for snorkelling. But while you are in Sabah, it is worth considering. But read a few more online accounts to see which islands you might prefer, what other strategies you might employ etc.

Queensbay Mall foray July 2013 – Melonpan, Habanero, Starbucks,

Today I headed off to the distant shores of Queensbay Mall. Well, it’s not all that far, but my average drive here takes 10 minutes, and to Queensbay it’s 20 minutes in light traffic. So I am not there all that often.

On the food front, I was disappointed today. Thrice.

Firstly, I discovered Melonpan had disappeared. Perhaps they relocated. But their Facebook page seems also to have gone, and I didn’t find them on the Internet.  I liked the occasional melonpan.

Secondly, I thought I would try Habanero’s Estofado Steak.


steak ad prominently displayed on right

The illustration made it look good.


Estofado illustration

But actually, it is strips of steak in a taco, burrito etc. instead of chicken or fish.



Unfortunately it was not really to my taste. They appeared to put only two small strips per taco, but an awful lot of lettuce.  And perhaps my choices of ingredients was poor: no rice, everything else, sour cream, chipolte sauce. But the taste was very lemony, and didn’t go with the sour cream.

I didn’t photograph the menu, but prices seem to have risen since earlier in the year. I’ll check next time, because generally I have enjoyed my meals there.

Oh well, I’ll head down to Starbucks on the ground floor, which was being renovated on my last visit. Hopefully it’s nicer. But no – it is more cramped.

Starbucks is more cramped

Starbucks is more cramped

My favourite spot was under where the big “Starbucks” is. They’ve enclosed it! Before there were armchairs and tables there. I couldn’t really find a comfortable spot.

I had my coffee elsewhere.