Day 236: Changeover Day

Sat, 6th April 2013

Boats at Kota KinabaluIt was a slow start today not helped by my stinking cold (thank you Jackie for the cold and flu tablets to sort me out – I had not packed any as I had not expected to catch a cold!). Up to now, we have both been healthy and our “let’s avoid winter” strategy seemed to be working. We said goodbye to those leaving today who return home to Hong Kong, Perth, Sydney and London while we had a lazy morning at Seaside Hotel. The morning soon disappears trying to catch up on the blog as we are so behind and I had loads of cave pictures to sort, thank you Dave (not!). The most annoying thing is trying to decide which of two almost identical pictures with slightly different exposures is best.

Memorial to the Australian Armed ForcesLuckily, it is only a short minibus transfer of about 30 minutes into Kota Kinabalu to the Shangri-La hotel. The hotel is a typical city hotel and comfortable enough with the usual intermittent Wi-Fi. We could have done without the room change as the electricity did not work in our original room. Our tums told us it was lunchtime so we headed out to see what Kota Kinabalu (known by the locals as KK) had to offer us and in the Centre Point Mall we found a Pizza Hut as a welcome change from our rice and noodle diet.

Chilli anyone?Replete, we headed for the sea front which involved crossing more busy roads and cutting through alleyways. The sea front was more of a harbour front with a few restaurants set out on decking by the deep water, and a few ships in dock. Our walk along the front took us past the central market where the stalls were closing up for the day but we could still have bought a lot of chillies. Everyone seems to be up much earlier than at home and therefore close earlier. With the weather closing in and the afternoon rain looking imminent we headed for the KK Plaza to buy new ponchos, as we had not got our old ones with us. However the rains never came so we were able to walk back to the hotel without getting wet.

The weather front coming in over KKIt was time for more cash and we had failed in Centre Point as there was a long queue at the money machine before lunch, and after it was out of order, presumably out of cash as it is Saturday afternoon. In KK Plaza after queuing for ages our card did not work so we were beginning to think about contemplating panicking. Luckily as human nature is not to walk further than necessary the bank down the road still had cash, so panic over. The next panic was laundry as we were too late for the hotel’s service, and even the local laundry said it could not turn it around by noon the next day. It was therefore back to hand washing and draping it all over the bathroom to dry.

Yet another huge food courtOur briefing today is at 6pm and we get to meet our new group, two new couples and three more single girls. As we expected, our itinerary has changed as both the Australian and Malaysian Governments are stating no travel to East Sabah where there has been fighting. It is disappointing that we will not get to Turtle Island but it is better to be safe. We will be remaining in the west of Sabah and visiting other islands instead.

Our first meal as a new group was in a local restaurant and five of us ordered different dishes so we could try something new. My Sweet and Sour Squid was tasty as was Dave’s Butterfish and the Beef Rendang is always a good option, excellent food and very cheap. The mix of the group and characters in it is quite different from last week but it seems another fun group which hopefully will lead to a good time even with the change in itinerary and change of participants.

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