Sunday, July 29, 2007
Kota Kinabalu and Sapi Island
Sayaka sleeps well on planes and buses. Not so for me. While she spent most of the flight dozing to music, I couldn't sleep so I watched a bunch of movies. So when we arrived in KK, all I wanted to do was sleep, which we didn't get to do until well after midnight. Imagine my surprise when, at 5:30am, flick! go the lights and she's up repacking her bags, with everything in plastic shopping bags. Not the ideal way to start a vacation, but at least I could sleep on the island.
Sundays there's a Chinese market that runs the length of one of the shopping streets, something Sayaka really wanted to see. We wandered along it scouting breakfast and some souvenirs. You can find anything at this market, from clothes to potted plants to puppies and bunnies in cages. I'm not sure if the people eat the animals, but they sure are cute. Sayaka found a couple magnets and we had a typical Malaysian breakfast of tom yum mee. You might recognize the tom yum, it's the same style as Thai tom yum kun, but the mee means 'noodles.' It certainly wakes you up in the morning, that's for sure.
After breakfast, we grabbed a kilo of manggis, this purple fruit with a really soft, white inside that's really sweet, along with a couple rolls and headed for the ferry terminal. As with any terminal in SE Asia, we were met by touts trying to get us to go to their counter at the terminal, I presume because they receive a commission. Since the price is always the same, it doesn't really make any difference unless you'd prefer a quiet stroll. We got our tickets to Pulau Sapi and headed off in a small boat, along with a couple of nice Dutch women.
At Sapi Island, we did a short hike around the perimeter of the island in our sandals (bad idea!). We even saw a monitor lizard at a small, deserted beach on the far side. Unfortunately, we were approached by a guy who kept asking us if we wanted a guide. Even though we said no, he went on ahead as though we'd said yes. He kept guiding us around, telling us to watch for something, asking if we want to swim at this beach or rest somewhere. Halfway through he asked us for money. It was rather annoying, but since he had showed us a trail down to the beach with the lizard, a place we wouldn't have gone otherwise, we relented and paid him, hoping he'd leave us alone.
No. He kept showing up, asking if we wanted to rent snorkelling gear, and trying to charge us a high price, even surprising us while we were swimming to see if we wanted a snorkelling guide. Yikes! Eventually, he left us in peace and we were able to enjoy ourselves. Sayaka had the foresight to bring a bag of chips along that she took into the ocean. She would pitch a handful in front and then duck down to watch all the fish clamor for food. It worked beautifully, everyone else was complaining about not being able to see any fish, probably because by this time we were floating in a sea of chips. The only downside was when they started mistaking her bikini for food and trying to nip at her.
We'd intended to take the last boat back at 5pm, but we were compelled to leave an hour early because the wind had picked up and dark clouds had gathered over KK. We made it back about 10 minutes before the rain, but it wasn't much beyond a light sprinkle. We found an ATM for me and then hit Centre Point Mall, a surprisingly modern mall filled with tiny stalls selling all manner of goods. After getting a (somewhat painful, yet relaxing) foot massage, we headed to the seafood place by our hotel for a lobster dinner. We had it fried in a garlic and lemon sauce, which turned out lovely. The cockroaches must've thought so too, as Sayaka spent a good portion of the meal standing on her chair or sitting with her legs tucked up under her. The only other downside was a street kid who thought we'd be good marks and sat down at our table and kept asking us for money. I've encountered it before in Vietnam quite often, I never give money but would usually order a plate of fried rice or something small for them. But this kid was being a bit impetuous and I just wanted to enjoy a quiet meal with my girlfriend. Eventually, when they saw I wasn't going to buy anything for him, the waiter chased him off.
Then it was off to bed early so we could make our flight the next day.