Friday 14 November

After an excellent night’s sleep we make a slow start, meeting at nine down in the hotel lobby. A mini bus ferries us to the docks where we catch a speedboat to Manukan Island. It’s a bit resortish. I’m not quite sure how I will endure a day of inactivity, but at least due to an impending typhoon, we will be leaving a bit early.

Manukan The beach at Manukan

Helen and Ann decide to try their hand at parascending. Meanwhile I sit at a picnic bench in the shade and read. The water looks quite inviting, but when I try it, I end up gouging my knee and foot on coral and get attacked by a vicious fish. It is far too shallow to be able to swim properly and I quickly give up on the idea.

While we are sitting at the bench, Martin arrives. Since leaving us a week ago, he has been exploring around Kota Kinabalu, and spending a few days on the island. He recommends visiting the Rafflesia Forest Reserve, not far from KK, where he was lucky enough to see a Rafflesia in full bloom just a few days ago.

Back in KK, Rob, Helen, Steve, and I take another late lunch in Centre Point courtesy of the Chinese bakery. They then go off to watch a 3D horror film, while I wander over to the waterfront to see the Filipino Market. It’s full of tourist tat – very samey but some improvement on the plastic tat of Centre Point. The central market sells the usual sort of thing – fruit, vegetables, fish, clothes.

(magnify) Kota Kinabalu from Signal Hill

Continuing along the waterfront, I reach a slightly more up-market version of Centre Point containing a couple of bookshops and an expensive coffee bar. But I opt for the small café on the other side of the road. From there I walk on up to Signal Hill and the observation deck. I can’t initially find my way up the hill, and stop to ask at the police station. A sentry with a large rifle directs me and I set off, almost immediately to be accosted by a passer by who asks me if I am trying to get to the observation deck. He suggests a much shorter route back the way I came. I tiptoe past the police station hoping that the sentry will not notice me. The viewing platform turns out to be closed, but the layby next to it offers a decent view over KK as the late afternoon light begins to cast long yellow shadows across the buildings.

We meet back at the hotel foyer at 7 pm for our farewell dinner and from there return to Sedco Square, where Rob, Steve and Helen have arrived before us. Unfortunately they have got the wrong restaurant, and there follows a delicate situation in which they have to explain to the waiters that they will no longer be requiring the table for fourteen neatly laid out before them.

(magnify) Farewell dinner at Sedco Square

Back at the correct restaurant, the proprietor is busy explaining to us the myriad dishes available, but Peter, sensing that this could detain us until gone midnight interjects and orders on our behalf. The stingray and sweet and sour fish are highlights of the meal, but it is all quite excellent. And all for just RM25 each (plus drinks). There is still plenty of food left on the table when the last of us admits defeat. My geckos have turned up too, with one of Peter’s collegues from the Tropical Adventure office.

As demanded by protocol, we end up in a karaoke bar. Helen, who is heading back to the hotel offers to take the geckos back for me. I nearly manage to keep a low profile at the karaoke bar, but in any case, my options are severely constrained. “Georgia on my mind” is the only song I recognise, but I have some difficulty shoe-horning the version I know into the confines of the proffered backing track.

Karaoke At the karaoke bar
Karaoke Living next door to Alice (Alice?)...