We were super excited to welcome Grammy and Blue back for their second visit to Shanghai this December. They were with us in the city for about a week, and then as soon as the boys finished up with school on the 11th of December, we were ready to head out for an adventure! Sadly, Ryan still had to work and wasn’t able to join us, but we took lots of photos and videos to share with him when we all met up again later in the month.
The trip started with an overnight flight from Shanghai to Singapore. We chose to go that route rather than fly to Kota Kinabalu directly because we wanted to spend some time in Singapore after our Borneo adventures, and purchasing the round trip tickets was more reasonable than a bunch of one way tickets. So we arrived early to Singapore, had a short layover and than continued on with a flight to Kota Kinabalu. Due to an early flight the next day, we stayed at a hotel in the city center. We all enjoyed our first beautiful Malaysian sunset and had dinner on the roof of our hotel where the boys got in their first of many many swims on the trip.
The next day was a ridiculously early 5 AM pickup. The hotel very kindly prepared some breakfast to go for us, since the restaurant wouldn’t be open for another hour and a half. After a quick trip back to the airport, we were on our way to Sandakan, on a very small plane.
We were picked up at the airport by our guide, Zali, who would accompany us for the duration of our trip. He was a native to the area, and was an all around fantastic guy. As we would come to find out, he was also super knowledgable about the Sabah rainforest, which was a bonus for Blue, who enjoyed having a living guidebook to answer questions about local plant and animal life. After our pickup, we wandered briefly around the town of Sandakan before heading to the jetty to board a boat for Selingan Island, part of the Turtle Islands Marine Sanctuary. The boat ride was about an hour from Sandakan. After arriving, we had the afternoon to spend swimming and relaxing, as the real fun doesn’t begin until after dinner, when the sea turtles land on the island to lay their eggs. We enjoyed ourselves in the water, met several of the coolest residents of the island, the monitor lizzards, and even snuck in a nap so we’d have energy for the night’s activities. The turtles arrive on their own schedule, so it’s impossible to say if you’ll be staying up into the early hours to catch a glimpse of one.