Category: Borneo, Indonesia, 2017

Kota Kinabalu

May 21.  To close the book on yesterday, it was indeed a long day, about twenty-seven hours from the time we left our hotel in San Francisco until the time we arrived at our hotel in Borneo.  Though we encountered delays and curves in navigating our way through the Seoul airport and onto our flight to Kota Kinabalu, our long layover meant that we felt no anxiety about missing connections. The Seoul airport is large and modern, with evidence of Western influence everywhere, from Starbucks to Burger King to Jamba Juice.  Here’s a photo of constantly changing images in a glass panel suspended from the ceiling inside the airport.

Our 5-hour flight to Kota Kinabalu, which we could track here in English and Korean 

was uneventful, and I read some, and tried to rest. The greeting at the airport and 45-minute transfer to our hotel went as planned. Arriving at the hotel at 1AM, we were shown around, showered and crashed.

Before I left on the trip, I had looked into the possibility of scuba diving today, but the logistics were sufficiently complicated to discourage me from signing up. This, I think, is a good thing.

So, instead of diving, today we relax around the resort to recover from the long trip over. The hotel, the Rasa Ria Resort & Spa, and our spacious room are both quite beautiful, far more upscale than I’d expected.

Excellent buffet breakfast with the Lewises.

And a couple bird photos around the hotel (of a chestnut Munia and an Asian glossy starling), confirmed that the lens I have is not really long enough (but I’ll have to make do).

After lunch, we go on our first nature walk, two hours on the resort grounds, a quite strenuous uphill and downhill trek in considerable heat.  Here are shots of Mike, with gear, our ranger/guide, LeRoy, and a stunning flower.

After the hike, we watch a nature film regarding the rehabilitation of an orangutan, then go for cocktails and canapés, before having a delicious dinner at the Italian restaurant in the resort.  We narrowly miss a torrential, tropical downpour.  After dinner, tired from the hike and aware of an early start time tomorrow, we shower and retire early.

In closing for the day, I’ll quote from our materials from the travel company, which caution us to adhere to the social proprieties of the area:
It is of great importance to give and receive things, particularly food, with your right hand. Never use your left hand to dip into a common food dish. The left hand is reserved for unclean tasks and is considered filthy.


Keep a pleasant attitude. Never display anger. Criticism of others is in very bad taste. If you have a complaint, be extra calm and polite while stating your problem. To show anger or raise your voice will only ensure that your request will either not be granted or will be greatly delayed.


Please remember that although you may see less considerate visitors doing it, nude or topless sunbathing and skimpy bikini swimwear are offensive to Malaysian eyes. Away from the cities, many people bathe au naturel in the streams and rivers of their island. Please respect their privacy and do not stare at nor photograph them.


As a predominantly Muslim country, dressing modestly and appropriately is very important. While on the beach or trekking through the jungle, shorts and tank tops are acceptable. However, while in the cities, arms and legs should be adequately covered. This is particularly true on the east coast of the peninsula.


Public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex are considered very poor manners; thus, men and women, even if married, should avoid such behavior, even to the extent of avoiding holding hands.

Most of these guidelines seem pretty easy to follow, especially once I got Carol to tie my left hand behind my back. This precaution also has the benefit of reducing by half the risk of offending locals by holding hands with Carol.




3 comments to Kota Kinabalu

  • Susie Kiphart

    Glad to hear from you. Borneo looks as exotic as it sounds. Beautiful birds!!

  • lauri pollack

    Wow, the “rules” are fascinating. As a left handed person, I think I’ll stay home!
    Photos are lovely. Sounds like another great adventure. Enjoy.

  • Wow! The place you’re staying at seems so nice and it seems like you are having fun!\
    Can’t wait to hear more!


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