Thursday, August 17, 2006

Semporna to Ranau

There is an early morning direct 'VIP' bus from Semporna to Kota Kinabalu. We decided instead to wake up a bit later and get the local minibus back to Tawau for a night then make the journey back to Kota Kinabalua. We were glad of this decision later (as I will explain). In Tawau we just checked in at the same hotel as last time we'd been there and had a bit of a walk around. We didn't really find anything else out to recommend the town, other than lots of people saying, 'Hello!' to us and giggling. The next morning we caught a bus towards Kota Kinabalu, deciding to stop off at the mountain town of Ranau.

The journey was predictable in the occurence of Palm Oil plantations. Somewhere along the way we slowed to a crawl and everyone stood and gawped through the window as we passed a crashed bus. The whole front of the bus was caved in, with a massive gash down the side. I later read in the newspaper that it was the Semporna to KK direct bus on the day that we would have travelled. Apparently it had crashed into a stationary lorry. There were 13 people injured and no fatalities. I'm quite glad we were lazy and didn't get out of bed to catch it that day.

The Palm Oil plantations disappear as you climb up into the mountains and I was content watching the jungle and hills roll by through the window. Ranau is a smallish town in the mountains, about 20km away from each of Mount Kinabalu National Park and Poring hot springs. The town itself is quite nice. It still has the square box architecture, but it is in little spaced out blocks. And through the reasonably wide gaps between the blocks you get the view of a mountain each way you look. We checked in to a place (Hotel Rafflesia), mentioned in the Rough Guide, for a couple of nights. I'm not really sure why the Rough Guide liked it as it was quite shabby. In the morning we decided that the sky looked a bit cloudy to go to the mountain park so we just had a lazy Sunday reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. We had a long chat with a taxi driver and agreed to see him the next day if we wanted to take a trip out anywhere. We considered the hot springs but had read that on weekends there are so many people that you just get a trickle of lukewarm water. I figured I could get that from our hotel room without paying for a cab so we didn't bother going.

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