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A Misty Mountain

and drunken tales


We caught a bus bound for Kota Kinabalu which is a town on the Northern coast of Sabah. Unlike the majority of the passengers we disembarked about half way through the journey at the small village of Kundasang. It sits at the bottom of a valley and is surrounded by hills which steeply rise up all around. There wasn't great visibility when we arrived as the cloud coverage was quite dense but in the small breaks you could see that the area was stunningly beautiful.

Pete and Jess had recommended a bed and breakfast to us and from the brief instructions I had found online we managed to find our way there. Both of us had envisaged a large home on the hillside where we would be welcomed with open arms by a Chinese man called David and his English companion Jerry. This was the impression that our Australian friends had given and they had stayed for four nights, so we thought it must have been a great place. Unfortunately our expectations were not met and it reconfirmed to me that you should never expect anything but just takes things as they come.

The house itself was single storey and was comprised of a living area for the owner David at one end and then we were shown down to the other end where they were a few rooms for guests and a shared bathroom. Initially what struck me was that it was cold, damp and in need a bit of a facelift. That said the the room we stayed in was spacious and could have accommodated six people but we had to ourselves. We took the attitude that we were here now and we would make the best of things, we had certainly stayed in worse places it only seemed bad because we had high hopes.

One of the main reasons for coming here was the opportunity to walk up into the hills and possibly into one of Borneo's many national parks. It was mid afternoon now so we needed to get a move on, unfortunately the weather still hadn't cleared but we were hopeful that we would still have an enjoyable walk. On our way out we stopped in to ask David some advice. As we entered the living area we met the other David for the first time, despite sharing the same name they could not have been more different. The owner David was very soft spoken and was really lacking charisma, he fairly matter of factly described where we should go. The second David was sitting at the head of a large wooden table and he only interjected a couple of times, he had about five empty cans of beer in front of him and was working his way through another. His would find his voice later on!

Following the directions we were given we stopped at the numerous fruit stalls we passed on the way to grab some supplies and then began to walk up a road which headed into the hills. We were somewhat disappointed when we didn't reach any kind pathway into the surrounding woodland, there was just the tarmaced road to follow. Finally there was a smaller track which we turned onto although we were still passed by cars and motorbikes. The air up here was full of moisture and it became quite misty at points.
Despite the lack of the jungle we were hoping to explore there were lots of flora and fauna for us to photograph and we got pretty snap happy.
For a little while we kept saying “we'll just see what's round this corner,” but in the end we had to admit that it would just be more of the same. Our jungle adventure would have to wait.

As we descended from the misty hill top the weather began to improve and the clouds lifted. Slowly but surely the scenery around us came in to view and we soon realised that as well as there being many beautiful green hills there was also a rocky mountain. It was hard to establish just how big it was because the peak was shielded from view but it seemed to be a big-un.
Finally once we were back at the fruit stalls the mountain was completely cloud free. It didn't have any kind of conical peak but rather a craggy plateau with rocky pinnacles that broke free towards the sky. It provided a dark and almost ominous backdrop to this sleepy little town.

We went to one of the many local eateries for dinner and we both ordered a coffee to warm us up as the temperature had now dropped quite a bit. When you order coffee in Malaysia more often than not you will be given a glass mug which contains a layer of thick, creamy liquid at the bottom, this is immensely sweet condensed milk and then the dark coffee sits on top until you give it a rigorous stir. Safe to say it is very rich but quite comforting.

When we went back outside the sun was beginning to set and it gently highlighted the wispy clouds gathered around one of the jagged pinnacles.
The combination of low cloud and the fading light turned the sky a warm purple and the whole ambience of the place changed.
We stood for quite some time staring out as the scene before us altered. Just over the distant hills the sky glowed orange and the contrast with the blueish purple of the sky was attention grabbing.
Although I did get distracted for a short while by a couple of kittens that were darting around a small front garden and attempted to get some pictures when they sat still for a few moments. When all the light had disappeared from the sky we made our way back to the b&b.

We were planning to go to Brunei the next day but were unsure how to go about it so we went back into David's living quarters to get some advice. Standing a little awkwardly at the edge of his open plan kitchen we began to ask whether there was a bus tomorrow and then were we might catch a boat. Both the David's were a little amused by our beliefs that we could make it from here to Brunei in one day and said “you better leave now.” David number two waved us in and instructed us to take a seat at the table. The number of empty beer cans in front of him had multiplied, there were now about ten or twelve and he was still going. It had obviously lubricated his vocal chords because he began to tell us why we shouldn't bother going to Brunei. Well first he asked us why we wanted to go but didn't really give us a chance to answer, he simply proclaimed that it was “boring” and also informed us it was a Muslim country, just in case we weren't aware.

We spent the next hour listening to a drunken David tell us about where we should go and that we should not go to Brunei if we just wanted to get our passport “chopped” to show our friends! One of the places he said we should go was Mulu caves because it is so big “ a er 474.. 744... a jet could be parked in it!” It was quite amusing to listen as he went round in circles and gave us little snippets about his life including all the places he had been, I'm surprised he didn't get out his passport to show us! In between the slightly incoherent ramblings he did provide us with a couple of routes to get to Brunei but still believed it would not be possible in a day. He also informed us that the large mountain was Mt Kota Kinabalu the largest mountain in Asia, so we were quite pleased we'd seen it. At one point some friends of his turned up and they sat with us for a moment before retiring to the living room to watch the tv, they seemed used to him and clearly thought it was better to just let him get on with it.

After a lot of nodding and agreeable noises we managed to make our escape and told him we would think about what to do. When we got back to the room we sifted through David's information and decided we would just get up really early and try to get to Kota Kinabulu where we could catch a boat. As we were just settling down I heard a bit of a rustling on the floor and I looked down to see two mice run into the wardrobe. A little freaked out we quickly set about closing up our bags and moving our shoes off the floor before we turned out the light. I heard a bit of rustling in the night but managed to tune it out. It was a very light sleep anyway because I knew we would have to up early and on our way once more.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 00:55 Archived in Malaysia Tagged round_the_world

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