Friday, February 04, 2011

Reasons to get out of bed in Kota Kinabalu


This morning we got up at 5:30 and left our hotel, walking up Signal Hill to the observatory in order to catch the sunrise. This was disappointing for a number of reasons.

First, the observation platform faces west, so you're not really going to see the sun rise, so much as the sky changing from black to dark blue to light blue.

Kota Kinabalu, early morning

Secondly, some clot decided to build the Suria Sabah shopping mall almost directly in front of the Signal Hill observatory, thus blocking the view of the sea. I've nothing against shopping malls per se, but when they've been open for at least three years and still are mostly devoid of operating shops, it suggests the developer might have had a bit too much ambition compared to the eventual results.

Thirdly, the minute we got to the observatory, the rain started falling. This wasn't so bad because the observatory (two benches underneath a pair of round concrete shelters) was nice and dry, but it meant that instead of Gaya Island gradually being revealed as the sky turned to blue, a faint shadow of Gaya Island emerged from the mist as the sky slowly turned from black to light grey.

Still, never mind. It was some exercise, and it got us up early in the morning, even if that did mean that when we trooped back down to the hotel at 7am we ate breakfast and then went back to sleep again for an hour. Plus we got to watch the local birds arc and dodge across the sky, occasionally all congregating on a single bare tree in the distance before swooping off again after some nutritious looking insects. There was also a dog curled up at the observatory, which occasionally looked up at the strange humans who'd got up this early to play with cameras, before going back to sleep, so it was a nice interaction all round.

The music in the hotel is terrible. In the mornings they play easy-listening instrumental versions of the Bee Gees and Phil Collins, and late at night the bar plays hideously bad happy hardcore. Which probably just means I've got too old. Damn.

This morning we took a boat out to the Gayana resort on Gaya Island.  Although the people seemed nice enough, it felt like a continual process of being nickel-and-dimed; we paid 60 MYR for the boat trip, and then had to pay another 7.20 for the terminal fee (couldn't that have just been charged at the same time?) and then when we were at the resort, it would have been another 60 MYR to go into the swimming pool (which was completely empty, because it was raining). I was beginning to think I should have just told them to charge it all to my non-existent room, but then we found a comfy seat where we could skulk and I could read The Informant.  Ah, the bliss of doing nothing on holiday.

Gayana Resort, grey day

Gaya is a rather pleasant island if you're fit and up to walking up hills.  We made it about half a kilometre into the trail leading to the beach on the other side of the island, then had to admit defeat and walk back down again. We both had purchased plastic ponchos that kept the constant rain off our bodies, but since plastic isn't a very breathable fabric, we got just as wet from all the perspiration trapped inside.  What was worse was when it got to lunch time and I tried to pull the poncho off, my head got stuck inside and I thought I was going to suffocate, trapped in a plastic bag filled with body odour. Let this be a definitive statement that if I ever do die that way, it certainly wasn't the way I wanted to go.

So anyway, the food is nice at the Gayana Resort, but there's not much to do there once you've exhausted the appeal of the touch pool at the marine biology centre. Or perhaps there is a hidden nightclub on the island where they play bangin' hardcore at 200bpm to a bunch of PCP'd up Malaysians with glowsticks.

I doubt that. It seemed the kind of resort that you'd go to for your honeymoon, have a blazing row on day 2, then realise there was nothing to do to avoid your enraged spouse for the next week, apart from take a boat back to Kota Kinabalu and wander around Suria Sabah, looking at the empty commercial units and wondering how the owners could be making money running such an enormous empty building.  I don't think that's the sort of intellectual curiousity that re-endears you to your angry life partner.

We didn't have a row. We just got the boat back together and had another doughnut each. The recipe for happiness involves a lot of fried dough, it appears.


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