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Enjoying the Good Life in KK

July 16, 2016

We are docked at Sutera Harbour Marina in Kota Kinabalu (KK), Malaysia, where we have been spoiling ourselves for the last two weeks.  The marina is situated between two 5-star hotels and is the finest marina in all of Malaysia.  Our guest membership entitles us to use the facilities of the marina complex including three luxurious swimming pools and an assortment of restaurants.  It’s a pleasant change in life style but it’s already starting to get old and we are dreaming of moving on.

Since our last post we have cruised the coast of Sarawak, Malaysia, from Kuching to Miri.  The rains have brought many navigational hazards to the offshore waters including large logs and even entire trees causing us to be especially vigilant while on watch.  Our passages have been punctuated with blustery rain squalls resulting in reduced visibility adding to the pucker factor.

Our arrival in Miri was delayed several hours by unfavorable currents and head winds and we arrived just before low tide.  We had to plow our way through soft mud to get into the harbor but were glad we did as a weather front moved in a few hours later.  We slept safe and sound in a marina berth as the winds howled all night.

While in Miri we visited the Niah Caves National Park.  The caves have both archeological and economic significance.  Bat shit is routinely collected and used for fertilizer and the swift birds’ nests are harvested for making soup.  The nests are 90 feet up on the ceiling of the cave and the harvesters must climb bamboo logs suspended from crude structures wedged into crevices.  All this for soup!

From Miri we passed into the oil rich Sultanate of Brunei. The sultan of Brunei opted out of the Malaysian unification in 1963 and has since become one of the richest nations in the world.  There is no unemployment, free medical, free housing, and no crime.  It is, however, a strict Muslim country.  We were there during Ramadan and it was unacceptable to be seen eating between sunrise and sunset.  One couple was chastised for eating ice cream in the middle of the afternoon.

We dined one night at the Polo Club that the Sultan had built for his enjoyment of the sport.  He then turned it over to the people so they (and we) can enjoy the palatial grounds.  The stables can accommodate 2,000 horses and the grounds have hosted international polo competitions.

We enjoyed the hospitality of three yacht clubs while in Brunei; the Kuala Belait Boat Club, the Yacht Club at Serasa, and the Royal Brunei Yacht Club located 8 miles up the river. No establishment in Brunei is allowed to sell liquor, but the clubs allow you to BYOB (whew!). Returning down the river to Serasa a storm front moved in and we just got the anchor down when the high winds and heavy rain hit.  The cloud front looked like a huge breaking wave.

Our next stop was the duty-free Malaysian island of Labuan and all the rally boats stocked up on liquor and beer. From there we went to Tiga Island which was the site of the very first Survivor series and is now a national park. We did a little trekking and saw 4-foot monitor lizards and mosquitos nearly that size! The snorkeling was very good as we are starting to see new fish and corals. Then we headed to KK for some R&R.

KK has not been all lying by the pool and afternoon massages.  We have had to empty and clean our fuel tank, rebuild our anchor windless, clean the boat bottom, and fix our stays’l roller furler.  We did slip in a day trip to see the majestic Mount Kinalbalu and the national park.  Now all of the work is done and we are ready to move on.  The region of Sabah, Malaysia, has some of the best diving in the world and should be a highlight of the rally.

Sailing northern Borneo


Diving was great


Trip to Niah Caves National Park




Tiga Island of “Survivor” fame


Kota Kinabalu (KK)


Mt. Kinabalu National Park


From → Travel

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