Month 9 : Travel Summary and Statistics
Indonesia has been our favourite country on this trip to date but our visas were fast running out. We spent our last week hunting out Yogyakarta’s more unusual dishes.
We decided we had to have a go ourselves and signed up to a cooking class. On the morning of our lesson, we met our teacher then headed to the local market to buy our ingredients. That done, we made tuna and prawn satay with a fresh and fiery sambal, Gudeg (stewed young jackfruit) with black rice (which is purple) and crackers.
Indonesia is famed for its batik but we didn’t want to buy any, we wanted to create it ourselves. So we spent a day with a batik master making one contemporary and one more traditional print to adorn our walls.
And we stared in disbelief at the town’s Chicken Church and Camera House. Weird architecture abounds here.
All too soon it was time to leave Indonesia. We boarded the plane to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and spent a week with Nikolas and Sasha, fabulous Airbnb hosts, who fed us tasty Nasi lemak for breakfast and served us a delicious meal on their balcony that boasts a great view of the city.
We indulged in the ubiquitous cocktails at the Trader Hotel overlooking the Petronus Towers and set off for the airport to find Chris’s sister Sue, who was joining us for the rest of the month as we explored Sarawak in Borneo.
We saw orangutans at Semenggoh, caught glimpses of the rare Irrawady dolphin, crocodiles, fireflies (and as best you can on the night of the full moon!) and a proboscis monkey high up in a tree in Kuching Wetlands National Park.
But Chris had been complaining of lethargy, a headache, sore joints and an ache behind the eyes. For travellers in these parts, this rings a few alarm bells. And then a rash appeared… Yep, he had dengue fever. Fortunately it was a mild case, most likely picked up in Kuala Lumpur. On top of losing 10kg courtesy of the Giardia parasite he pretty wiped out and ordered to rest.
Sue and I left him in bed with a few movies and went sea kayaking, practiced for the Pinnacles by climbing Mount Semorang and got a much better view of the proboscis monkey in Baku National Park. They are quite frankly hilarious, not only for their odd appearance but for the almost continuous burping noise they make.
Next was a couple of relaxing nights in Miri before boarding another prop plane to Mulu National Park. With Chris feeling brighter we viewed the rainforest from above on a canopy walk, hunted out various creepy crawlies on a night walk, visited amazing cave networks and watched a bat exodus in the pouring rain. Borneo has been wet. It’s the dry season but that doesn’t stop the near daily torrential downpours, which are fine if you’re undercover!
Then it was time for a challenge – The Pinnacles, a very steep (near vertical in parts) hike up to see razor-sharp limestone spikes, some 45 metres high, that tower up the slopes of Gunung Api. We began our trip with a 9km walk through leech invested rainforest yet escaped without a single bite. We camped overnight and then started climbing early up the trail that required us to scale ropes and fourteen ladders on its upper reaches. Up was hard. Down was harder! On the way back Chris and Sue got leeched but not bitten. Chris’s leech socks did their job and Sue managed to get one off her finger before it managed to take a bite. Eliza was of no interest.
Stats of the month
Countries visited: Indonesia, Malaysia
Places visit: 7
Java (Yogyakarta, Borobudur), Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Borneo (Kuching, Miri, Mulu)
Money spent: £ / $ per person per day
£31.63 / $40.90
4,315 kilometres / 2681.22 miles
Meal of the month:
We’ve been a bit disappointed with Bornean food so far, it doesn’t do to be vegetarian in these parts. However, Eliza has tucked into some lovely beef rendang on a few occasions and Sasha’s Thai spiced fried chicken was cooked to perfection. Our best meal though was the food we cooked in our Yogyakarta cooking class and we’ll have some great recipes to share on the blog.
Highlight of the month:
Achieving the Pinnacles climb!
Lowlight of the month:
Chris catching the dreaded dengue fever, especially as it coincided with Sue’s visit.
We going to explore Sabah, the other half of Borneo. We’re planning a visit Kelimutu National Park, a ‘rapid shooting’ ride towards the Kalimantan boarder, trips to Murut villages to understand their traditions and more caving and pinnacle climbs. Hopefully we’ll find a beach to chill on before heading into the wilds to spot orangutans, proboscis monkey, flying squirrels and pygmy elephants along the Kinabatangan river, visit a sunbear rehabilitation centre and maybe see turtles laying their eggs. All before diving in Sipidan in early September – so excited!