|The ride towards the Sabah border at Meropok (35km) started out green and hilly. As we got closer to the border we rode past palm oil plantations as well as some sandstone cliffs off in the distance
. There were many boulders on the side of the road, with lots of vegetation, black growth on the surface and some bad falls to be had
. Meropok itself was not much of a town, with just a few homes and a road, so we headed straight for the border. We got stamped into Sabah for 30 days and were on our way. Many homes along the road were decorated with Malaysian flags and painted in Malaysian colours, leftover from the Merdeka celebrations that took place on August 31st (much more elaborate than what we've seen back in Sarawak, but than again Sarawak considers itself a very independent state). Shortly after that we started passing some more palm oil plantations, and some pretty valleys that have once been looged but are now primary forests.
We arrived at Sipitang around noon. It was extremely hot, and the sun was relentless. After a tasty lunch we sought refuge by the beach, under some shade
. We stayed there for a couple of hours, playing with a little kitten. Before heading towards Baeaufort we watched the kitten consume 2 raw fish we got her, each about 15cm long, leaving just a head of one of them. Her belly was full, and we left her while she was seeking a shady spot to digest it all.
After riding 20km or so, we were caught by rain. We hung out at an empty fruit stand with a pretty solid roof, playing cards and waiting out the rain. Eventually it stopped, and we headed towards Beaufort, stopping on the way for some bananas we desperately needed at that point.
Beaufort, and the area immediately before it looked very poor. The town itself was a bit rough, but it had a nice feel to it. The streets were quite narrow, and many buildings in need of some paint, but the really old part of town with wooden shophouses was one of the nicest we've seen in Malaysia. Wooden floors, walls and elevated ceilings, and many local kedai kopi places. We spend quite a bit of time there, just people watching
We spend a few hours hanging out at a local kedai kopi place, soaking in the local atmosphere. It had the feel of an old place in town, known to everyone. A place where old friends meet every morning at the same time, to discuss life over some kopi
At one point we checked out the local food market. When I asked about some green fruit on a vine, a woman was summoned from another, distant stall to speak to us. Her English was limited, but she explained that the fruit was a small mango. She let us try one. It was extremely sour, and our expressions made everyone howl with laughter. By the time we reached the other side of the market, the word of us coming has reached the most distant stalls. They all tried chatting with us, or at the very least yell: "hello and bye-bye". We walked off with a bag of mangosteens and a bag of laughs. Good times.