Showing posts from June, 2011

Taking high tea in Sandakan

Wonders will never cease. The new propeller from Denmark arrived in Sandakan, Borneo in 9 days! We might wait until we get out of these crocodile waters until we fit it, however. 

Sandakan used to be the capital of Sabah until the WWII bombing razed it to the ground. Then the capital was shifted across the mountain range to Kota Kinabalu. Of course, North Borneo has a long history with its indigenous people and Chinese settlement dating back to the fourteenth century. The British, with their unfortunate habit of deciding that they can run a place better than the locals, turned up in the mid 19th century to give the place a jolly good sorting out. In the war, the Japanese occupied North Borneo for some four years, setting up prisoner of war camps in a number of locations and capturing thousands Australian, Malay and British soldiers. Non-military allied personnel were also imprisoned in these camps. Scott visited the Australian War Memorial today and paid his respects. 

Over the top of Borneo

After leaving our mud bath in Tiga, we headed straight to Kota Kinabalu, where we were booked in to the very flash Sutera Harbour marina. This would be the most expensive marina in Malaysia, but also the last marina that we would see until we got back to Australia. We were looking forward to hanging out by the pool but, as anyone travelling by boat will tell you, it's best not to plan ahead. One of our two folding propellers decided to fall apart on the way in to the harbour so we had to come in under one engine rather than two. Luckily Scott is a damned fine driver and also the wind was not strong. So, rather than sitting next to the pool, Scott spent the next few days trying to locate a replacement propeller. We have a spare one – old and not folding – but that would leave us without a spare. Anyway, Scott always gets to know the industrial areas of every town rather better than he would like, so did his usual trek around, to no avail. In the end, we ordered a brand new prop, ra…

Memorials, monkeys and lots of mud

Malaysian Borneo is divided into two main states – Sarawak to the South and Sabah to the North, with the separate country of Brunei sandwiched in between. We have now entered Sabah, having visited the island of Labuan for a few days. Labuan's main attraction for travellers on yachts is that it is duty free, and allows us to stock up luxuries before we head into the wilds. We are now very heavy on the port side of the boat, with six months' worth of beer and wine and I just hope that I can keep the chocolate stash out of Scott's reaches for a few months yet.
Many of you will know that Borneo was significant for the Australian forces during WWII. The Japanese occupied much of Borneo for four years and many Australians, British, New Zealanders as well as native Malays lost their lives here. We visited the Australian War Memorial in Labuan, where some 2,700 Australian soldiers are named and listed. In the cemetery itself, some 3,900 men are buried, with half of them being un…

Finding the trees in Sarawak

After a fine time in Kuching we travelled North some 280 miles to Miri, an oil town just South of Brunei. Sailing along the coast here, we have to avoid oil rigs and tankers as well as the usual nets, logs and fish traps. At least the rigs are easy to spot! It's easy to see why Brunei and this part of Malaysia are so wealthy, with oil production on this kind of scale. We put the boat into the marina and looked into ways of getting inland to see some of the unspoilt interior. There are a few Sarawak National Parks within reach of Miri, so we hired a car and drove to the Niah National Park to see the caves there. The caves are enormous and extensive and we had fun trudging through the bat-poo in the pitch dark, with little boys waving torches anywhere but at the ground. We walked miles in the rain back to the park office and then booked into one of their cabins for the night. The next day we went to the Lambir Hills park, which had waterfalls and many, many hills. Finn did amazingl…