Whether Borneo is the largest island or the third largest island in the world- it doesn’t matter.(hotel staff said the largest, guide book said third) This island has plenty to offer and when you are on a kind of a budget, timescale and have a “handicap” of a 7 year old there are certain things we were never going to attempt and climbing Mt Kinabalu and seeing the Pinnacles or doing the famed Headhunters Trail was never going to be on our itinerary…this time.
Is Eleanor really a handicap? Of course she isn’t. We find age appropriate activities for her and we have a good time. And to be honest when I saw Mt Kinabalu from the air shrouded in cloud I suddenly realised how big a mountain it was. I met someone who had taken two days to climb it and looking at him and looking at me, I was definitely never going to be physically challenging myself this holiday!
We stayed about 45 minutes from KK airport at the Rasa Ria Resort owned by Shangri-La. We were attracted to it because my cousin had stayed there and spoke highly of it, it also has a handy reserve for Orang Utans attached to it. Sepilok is the main place where you see the rescued Orang Utans in Sabah but that is to the north and a day trip by plane. So we decided to skip that and stay 4 days at Rasa Ria. They currently have two little Orang Utans and Eleanor during a Ranger Experience cut up fruit for them and was told they were brother and sister and orphaned. We went on an Orang Utan experience and saw them being fed. The female we were told would be hairier and the boy would have a big belly which was how wewere to tell them apart… There weren’t many people around so we had excellent views. It was fantastic to see their dexterity and flexibility. The female swung from tree to tree whilst the male preferred staying near to the platform and the food. (Big belly!) After the Orang Utans finished feeding they were replaced by squirrels and marcaque monkeys who wanted the leftovers! Sadly Eleanor couldn’t take the heat so didn’t come on the canopy tree top walk which we had arranged after the feeding. The views over the bay were stunning but what I couldn’t take in was the size, ans indeed tremendous length of the tree roots. That day was also the day we saw a green viper. 2 of them infact. High up in a tree. Phew.
I also went on a beach ride for an hour. Usually when rides are arranged I am part of a group. However, not this time. We left Eleanor off for her ranger experience and I went off in search of my horse. Initially I was given a gelding. But we had our differences and parted company. I ended up riding the stallion who the guide was supposed to have taken. I was also mildly taken aback but very reassured that helmets and a shower cap were provided. The shower cap which I assume was meant to ensure no nits etc could be transferred made me even sweatier at the end.
Our ride along the beach was exhilarating and beautiful. Rocky was headstrong but cantering through the waves was great.
The resort was lovely. The sunsets beautiful and we were reunited with my good American friend and her fanily staying in the same resort. Eleanor was reunited with her former classmate and we also met a girl who also lives in Shanghai and her parents.
Infact we were definitely in the minority. The Chinese now travel abroad at Chinese New Year. No longer do they travel to their home towns to be with family but those who can afford it, now travel within Asia and elsewhere taking their entire families with them(or so it felt!). Footmarks on the toilet seat and spitting in the swimming pool were the things that made me recoil in disgust. But again it isn’t anything unusual that we can’t deal with. What I do notice is the breakfast. I am used to breakfast in a hotel where no one really talks to each other. Not until the first cup of tea or coffee has been downed anyway. Maybe plans for the day are discussed in hushed tones but full blown discussions in voices that are neither soft nor hushed happened all around us at our resort. There were occasions (depending on where you were – Ocean Wing) where there was an air of tranquility.
Our next place was definitely off the beaten track in some ways…stay tuned for Part 2. Also once home will upload some of the pictures from my big Camera. All of these blogs are currently being typed using a finger and a thumb on an iphone.