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Leaving Kalimantan for Sabah


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large_5550_1469504191649.jpgThe 30 min flight is a good alternative to the 2h speedboat to Nunukan, then a 2h speed boat from Nunukan to Tawau.

This was my latest wake-up since leaving Auckland over three weeks ago. I woke at 0700 after retiring after midnight. Quite a change from the 2030 bedtime and 0330 wakeups I have been having in order to catch early flights etc and then it just continued.

Today I leave Kalimantan after two weeks, flying to Tawau [Tawau-travel-guide-1099078] then Kota Kinabalu [Kota-Kinabalu-travel-guide-1096832]. I would have loved to exit by speed boat which would take 4h to Nunukan then another 2h to Tawau. But then It would be hard to squeeze in the trip to the tip of Borneo [Borneo-travel-guide-1307503] (near Kudat) which would require an onward journey to Kota Kinabalu then the tip itself.large_5550_14695041935086.jpgI'd like to be more adventurous but I have limited time. I'm moving on to the northern tip of Borneo today by way of an onward flight to Kota Kinabalu and then a 3 hour drive. Unlike what Google Maps thinks, there is no direct flight.

I had managed to get a good airfare all the way to Kota Kinabalu, then a rental car for the 3h drive to the tip near Kudat.

Breakfast was taken as late as possible as the two flights are kinda over the meal time and with the drive, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to squeeze in lunch.

I took an angkot to the airport before around 0945 for the 1135 departure. As I was the only person on board, the driver took me off the main road and all the way into the airport, and charged me accordingly. It was still less than the airport taxi. It didn’t seem like a 5 minute ride today and the airport was slightly further than it seemed yesterday.

Check-in was open already for my MASwings flight to Tawau even though it wasn’t the 90 minutes prior to departure yet. I was third in the queue. There was a hiccup because my KCH-PNK coupon hadn’t been flown due to the airline withdrawing from the route. I also heard the PNR and the ticket number had somehow also been disconnected from each other.

The ground staff said it wasn’t a problem and it could be fixed. But I think technically it was a little complicated and it took them a while. I went through to the small waiting area before the immigration counter to await the immigration and security staff.

When the immigration counter opened, I had to return to the airline desk to get an immigration form because I didn’t have the departure card butt. They had waived the formality of an arrival card (with the departure butt) when I arrived into the country.

With the form, I finally went through immigration, security and soon after boarded the 35 min flight to Tawau. We left about 10 minutes early and arrived about 15 minutes early.

It was the same plane continuing to Kota Kinabalu but passengers had to go into the terminal to be processed into Malaysia. We walked up to the counter, got our passports stamped and then walked back the way we came. I recall it is similar in KK for flights like HKG-BKI-KCH, whereas in Kuching [Kuching-travel-guide-1096915] there is a proper channel for such connections so that passengers are properly processed through immigration and security-checked again.

The 1h flight left on time and arrived about 20 mins early. There was no view of Mt Kinabalu due to cloud today. It was spitting a little when I disembarked. My bag arrived quickly and I was out in no time to collect my rental car from Green Matrix.

The rental car people were at the kerb waiting for me. We did the paperwork on the bonnet and they had a mobile credit card terminal to collect the payment and authorisation. I was off at 1400, some 30 minutes earlier than expected.

This company rents out cars empty and you can return them empty too. I had some trouble with all forms of card payments at the first petrol station (unusual) and had to go to another which didn’t have Pay-at-Pump.

That, along with bad traffic around KK meant that I didn’t leave the greater city area in earnest till over an hour later. By that time, I was ready for lunch and took a 20 minute break.

Thereafter, I drove to Tommy’s Place at the Tip of Borneo. The ride in total (including the 20 min break) took 4h45 rather than the 3h20 indicated on Google Maps. Outside of the city there were a few slow moving trucks, underpowered tiny cars, and I had to slow down for lots of cows too. Near Kota Marudu, I noticed the hillside was covered in what I call "African-looking" trees. I liked the stalls on the roadside in some places which sold lots of fruit, especially bananas and also grilled corn on the cob.

Tommy’s was about 30 minutes off the main road and I got to it just before darkness set in. I was ready for a glass of wine to accompany my dinner. My first glass in nearly a month. At MYR15 (NZD3) a glass it was the same price as at the food hall in Auckland.

5550_1469504191649.jpg5550_14695041935086.jpg

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia

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