We awoke the next morning to discover our monkey friends from the previous day had returned. There were a good 10-15 monkeys out in front of the chalet where we were staying, tromping once again all over the laundry and swimsuits I had hung out to dry. There were monkeys around the back as well, and as I peered out of the window into the rainforest that surrounded the room, a monkey in the tree right outside the window peered right back at me! They were quite mischievous, but no lasting harm was done to the clothes, which I packed up as soon as I chased our friends away.
After a lovely breakfast at the main lodge, we piled back into the boat and headed back up the river. We again stopped halfway at the Abai Jungle Lodge for a brief break, then continued to the jetty in Sandakan. After arriving in town, we had a chance to wander around the main market, then visited the Sabah Hotel for lunch before heading off to the airport.
Once again, it was a quick 45 minute flight, and then we were back to Kota Kinabalu. This time, the plane was larger.
Once in Kota Kinabalu, we checked into the Shangri-la Rasa Ria, where we would spend the remainder of our stay in Borneo. The gorgeous grounds and well appointed rooms were a welcome change after the rustic accommodations of the previous days, and the boys were thrilled to spend some time in the pool with its waterslide and in the ocean after not being able to swim while we were on the river (have I mentioned the big, big crocodiles?). There was also, as there always is at the Shangri-la, a fantastic breakfast buffet, as well as several great options for dinners. We had teppanyaki one night, Indian another, and lastly enjoyed a Malaysian food stall buffet with a cultural show. Eli got a chance to participate in the show, and gave the tricky foot and stick dance a go, with moderate success.
While we certainly didn’t keep up the frenetic pace of previous days, we did manage to get in a few activities while staying in Kota Kinabalu. The day after we arrived we headed back into the city of KK to get a boat out to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. We arrived first to Sapi island, where we spent the morning snorkeling before enjoying a BBQ lunch on the beach. After lunch we hopped on a boat for nearby Manukan island. We spent some time snorkeling there, but as we were about to head to the jetty and catch the boat back, the skies opened and we were caught in the most ridiculous rainstorm. The boat was a few minutes late to pick us up, having to deal with extremely low visibility, high winds, and crazy rain, but eventually we hopped aboard for the wettest, longest 20 minute boat ride of our lives. The rain came from the sides, above, the front…everywhere! All five of us were completely soaked to the bone by the time we arrived back to the harbor, but at least it was still quite warm, so no one was cold despite the drenching.
The next day the boys took part in the Junior Ranger program at the Shangri-la’s nature resort. They helped to prepare food for the resident orangutans, and fed some of the fish, ducks and other animals. Oliver enjoyed his time in the nature resort so much that he requested we return the next night for a nocturnal hike, which was led by one of the rangers. It seems no one else was crazy enough to want to walk through the dark jungle with just a flashlight, as Oliver and I were the only ones there so we enjoyed a private tour. We didn’t see any large animals (thank goodness!) but did see lots of insects (tarantulas, scorpions, crickets, giant ants) and quite a few frogs and birds.
Mostly, though, we sat around and enjoyed the pools and the beach. And what a beach it was!