Somewhere in Asia travel blog

Ferns

Another fern

Synchronized butterflies

A butterfly

Another butterfly

Still another butterfly

Rafflesia

Rafflesia

More Rafflesia

Rafflesia

A different type of palm?

Happy after 26kms of pure downhill coasitng!

View from top

View from half-way down


After missing dinner the night before, we were determined to get some breakfast in the town of Tambunan. We headed there first thing in the morning. We ended up taking a little longer than we anticipated, as there were many dogs to feed. In the end we made at least a couple of them really happy (for a day). Many locals probably thought we were crazy, but hopefully at least one of them thought it was a good thing.

We started the labourious climb of the day 7 km into our ride. Knowing that we had a tough day ahead of us, we stopped at a row of Dusun roadside fruit and vegetable stalls for some information about the road ahead (ie. how many km uphill, and how far to the next food). We didn't get a clear answer, at least not one that inspired confidence. At that point it's been a long time since breakfast, and we were happy when they offered to make us some noodles with eggs. We spend some time just hanging out with them, talking and laughing before getting back on the road. What followed was a continuous incline, as we gained better and better views of the green valley below. The heat of the day made the ride even more challenging. At one point we stopped to take a break, where many butterflies seemed to be enjoying something in the mud at the side of the road. Myles exhibited a lot of patience taking lots of photos, which gave me a chance to cool down and rest

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A few kilometres later we stopped at a Rafflesia reserve. We found out that there was one in bloom, about a 45minute hike away. We were hungry, and long ways away from the summit and it was getting rather late, but we decided to go for it anyway. We had to hire a guide to take us there, due to regulations. The guide we hired was a local Dusun, and very friendly, talkative, and knowledgeable about the area. Everytime he talked he stopped, so the hike took a little longer than we hoped, but it was definitely worth it as we learned a lot from him. It was by far the strangest flower either one of us has ever seen before

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The climbing continued from there for what seemed like an eternity on empty stomachs. Eventually we reached the summit at 6442 feet above sea level. We gobbled down food, knowing we had 52 km to go and it was 4:30pm (ie roughly 2 hours of daylight left). We put on our windbreakers for the downhill. When we started heading out we were above, and in the clouds with very low visibility. The following 26 kilometres of pure, undulating downhill, with absolutely zero pedalling, was pure bliss. We zoomed past corners, amazing viewpoints, colourful homes clinging to the side of the mountains on either side of the road, and countless dogs too eager to chase us down the hill (at least one close call). With the darkness setting in, we couldn't spare the time to stop and really take in the views, but it was still awe-inspiring. After the 26 kms, there was still more downhill to be had, with a few uphills in between to spice things up. At that point we were riding in complete darkness. We slowed down considerably because we had a hard time seeing the road, dogs lurking in the darkeness, as well as a very large domestic pig in the middle of the road. We finally reached some flat ground, with 15 kilometers left before Kota Kinabalu, we finished off with a very steep hill leading into the city. As it turns out, our last day of riding in Borneo proved to be one of the most difficult, beautiful and exhilarating rides we had on this journey. If it wasn't for that darn Rafflesia, we would have made it in daylight - but, it would not have been as exciting.



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