Friday, February 7, 2014

Sapi days

Kota Kinabalu is a weird place, almost entirely in a good way. Not content with building Malaysia's second busiest airport right next to the beach, this bustling city is also just a brief 'n' bumpy speedboat ride away from the five quasi-idyllic island escapes that form Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

The largest and most prominent of these that can be seen from the city is Gaya Island, which we considered visiting until we learned that the luxury resorts share this spoilt paradise with dangerous stilt-house slums populated by illegal Filipino immigrants. Do they have to ruin everything?

Instead, we opted for the less deadly 'n' dinky Sapi Island, separated from Gaya by a shallow 200-meter channel. We'd be fine, I don't think illegal immigrants can swim.

Pulau Sapi,
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

We opted for the cheap 'n' flexible DIY route again, rather than paying for an expensive package tour to see several of these interchangeable islands on a tight schedule. Our day trip ended up costing less than a tenner, including the boat, permits and snorkel hire - Malaysia has always impressed me with its fair rates compared to the mercenaries of Thailand, so why don't more of you people visit this place? Are you scared of Muslims or something? (I spoke to one sorry Brit who gave that as his genuine reason).

We'd be in Bali a week later with a beach and snorkelling opportunities on our doorstep, unless the resort's website is lying (when has that ever happened?), so I didn't feel the urge to scour these cloudy turquoise waters like I normally would and risk the painful purple skin scorch that normally comes with it. As I said, I'm getting old.

Shiny Sapi creatures holding hands

It's a relief being able to delegate some of the critter capturing these days

I felt an affinity with this hermit. I followed him for a while,
but he didn't seem to be going anywhere. Good lad

The wild boar population of these pork-free islands certainly isn't scared of Muslims

I got accustomed to the massive monitors on my other Malaysia trips,
but now they've regained some of their prehistoric majesty

It's days like this I really don't miss my claustrophobic Davao apartment.
It's not like I actually need to go back there when this is all over...

I'll enjoy it while it lasts

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