My home away from home away from home

Trip Start Aug 27, 2012
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Trip End Jun 30, 2013


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Flag of Malaysia  , Sabah,
Saturday, January 26, 2013

Welcome to Kota Kinabalu says the sign at the entrance to the Jessleton Point ferry terminal in "KK". Not the prettiest city in the world, but the setting is quite nice. A good selection of food, and a 20 minute boat ride away from some beautiful little tropical islands in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park made KK an ideal spot to call my home base for several excursions I would take in Sabah. 
Sabah is one of two Malaysia provinces on the island of Borneo, the worlds second largest island. It is a relatively small province at the northern tip of Borneo, but wow does it ever have many wonderful places to see. There were many places I would love to go that I didn't have time for on this trip, but what I did see was pretty impressive! 
The people in Sabah are quite different from the people on penninsular Malaysia, both in culture and religion. While the government of Malaysia promotes Islam, the majority of people in Sabah are not Muslim. This leads to some tension between Western and Eastern Malaysia politically and religiously, and I got the sense through conversations with several locals that if they had it their way, Malaysian Borneo would be independent from the Pennisular Malaysia. There are several ethnic groups in Sabah. There are significant populations of Chinese, who settled here generations ago, south Asian, Malay (Muslim), and Indigenous people collectively known as Dayak. 
Sabah is known for its natural beauty including some of the most pristine rainforests on earth, but these are rapidly disappearing due to the palm oil industry cutting down the forest in favor of plantations of oil palms. Its a saddening trend that is very evident as you drive or fly across the island. That said, there are several protected areas that are home to some of the rarest, most spectacular wildlife one can feast their eyes on. The only other place I have been to that might compare in terms of wildlife viewing would be the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica on land, and Belize beneath the surface of the sea. During my stay in Sabah, I saw a plethora of wildlife that is difficult, if not impossible to see anywhere else on earth: Orangutans, Probiscis monkies, Hornbills, Palm Civets, Giant clams, Eagle Rays, and copious numbers of Sea Turtles, Sharks, and other bizarre fish. 
My 3 week stay in Sabah was divided up into four main parts: snorkeling and wildlife viewing around KK, hiking up Mount Kinabalu in Mount Kinabalu National Park, checking out the Orangutans and rainforest river touring near Sepilok, and SCUBA diving around Sipadan and Mabul islands. All of these places were well worth the time! Enjoy some pictures!
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