Our second stop in Borneo was Kota Kinabula. We sailed in from the South China Sea to check out what is a small new city. The original was almost completely flattened during the Second World war.
We were welcomed ashore by two girls in costume and two groups of musicians and dancers. They certainly wanted our custom. The first was a set of dancers in costume supported by a tradition band with gongs. The second were dancers representing the native Indian population. The guys were dressed in skimpy bare-chested costume with wooden swords, shields and tall feathered headdresses. The girls wore brightly embroidered tunics and dresses with a little fetching headband with a single feather. They did a fearsome dance that was meant to be menacing but I couldn’t help noticing one of the guys vacillating between embarrassment and finding it very amusing.
The irony was that most of the native Indians had been displaced by the incomers.
No buses this time. We walked straight in. We set up the path into the hills to get a view over the city. The path led up through thick jungle with insects, birds and animals trilling and rustling. The views were good.
We headed back along the promenade to the fishing quay. Across the water we could see an extensive stilted village with a backdrop of jungle. It looked more ramshackle and rough and ready compared with the similar village we had seen in Banda Sera Begawan although it was a lot more extensive.
We jumped a taxi to take us to the Mosques and other major new buildings. The architecture was unique.
Back on the boat we looked at the stilted village a bit more closely and sailed past the other beautiful looking mosque.
The frustration with visiting Borneo was that we were skimming the edges, visiting the cities and not getting into the interior. I wanted to be where the wildlife was – in the real Borneo.
After leaving Kota Kinabula we headed up the coast of Borneo with a strong warm breeze in our face and a glass in our hands. On one side of the boat the shore of Borneo slowed edged past with massive volcanoes peeking through the reefs of circling clouds while to the other side the sun was putting on a show as it sank between various islands.