Borneo Beginnings

July 22, 2015 at 7:35 am (Travel)

I find myself in Miri with an afternoon to spare and internet connection that includes a computer… sounds like the perfect time to update the blog.¬† ūüôā¬† I’ve been in Borneo for just over two weeks and I am now back in the full swing of this backpacking thing.¬† I had a bit of a shakey start but my confidence was quickly boosted by some wonderful fellow travellers and it did not take long for me to fall back in to my groove.

WP_20150715_17_06_23_ProFirst stop was Kota Kinabalu.  The city was fun to walk around, particularly due to the amount of markets that seemed to be sprawled all over the city.  I am absolutely loving the Asian food and markets are great places for trying random new food!  I spent a morning visiting the Sabah museum, and learnt about headhunting as well as the colonialisation of Borneo.  Did you know that North Borneo competed in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics?

My favourite day in KK was hiring a car with James and Natalie and heading out for a mini road trip to Mt Kinabalu national park.  Unfortunately, the mountain is still closed after the earthquake (Just an excuse to come back to this part of the world) but we still wanted to take a look.  Navigating was certainly interesting but the drive was quite spectacular and definitely worth the effort.

WP_20150713_13_38_09_ProAfter KK I decided to head up the coast to the tip of Borneo after a recommendation from a friend.¬† I wanted some well deserved beach time and Howard’s Tampat Do Aman eco camp situated near Kudat was the perfect place for this.¬† Howard is committed to creating sustainable tourism within the local Rungus community and he has built a well respected business that certainly achieves this.¬† In all my travelling, I have never been to more idyllic beaches than this spot has to offer.¬† They were deserted and there were no high rise tourism buildings in sight.¬† It simply was… WP_20150712_18_32_47_Proparadise.¬† I met Sarah there on my first night and we spent the next three days making the most out of this beautiful location.¬† Sarah, thank you so much for your company, your Australian humour and your mothering.¬† This experience was made so much better by having you to share it with.

With a heavy heart, I left Kudat bound for Sandakan only to find out that the only bus was fully booked.  No worries!  Sarah and I prolonged our parting by heading back to KK together.  Our bus ride was long but also very entertaining.  We enjoyed both Ramadan karaoke and pop songs by Malaysian singers in interesting outfits as well as the movie Jurassic World in English.  Score!

The next day I boarded a bus bound for Limbang, which actually became Miri after I arrived in Limbang, had a mini freak out and decided to just keep on travelling.¬† This trip resulted in a grand total of ten new passport stamps as you receive them when you enter and leave the states of Sabah and Sarawek. and also in Brunei.¬† This was quite comical and tedious but it did manage to break up the journey (this time with Jesus karaoke).¬† Don’t think I’ll ever manage more stamps in a day again!

In Miri I had a day dedicated to getting myself organised.¬† This included doing washing, buying flights for my next destination, trying foot reflexology and going to the movies to see ‘The Minions’ and before I knew it, I was on the road again to my next stop Mulu.¬† The World Heritage recognised Gunung Mulu National Park came highly recommended by many backpackers I had met on my journey.¬† This majestic national park boasts 17 different vegetation zones and some absolutely mind-boggling caves – five of which I had the opportunity to explore.

WP_20150718_18_33_33_ProDeer cave is the world’s largest cave passage open to the public and is over 2km long.¬† Between 2 – 3 million bats of 12 different species live in the cave and one of my highlights was watching them fly out for their evening hunting.¬† They looked like cartoon swarms of bees as they flew together for protection in beautiful zigzags and formations.¬† Hawker birds also circled and you could see them swooping in after bats.¬† This was a breathtaking phenoneom and one that I will not be forgetting.

WP_20150721_14_32_51_ProThe other cave worth mentioning is the Racer caver because I did some adventure caving there.  This was my first experience caving and I will definitely be trying it out again.  We got extremely muddy but it was a lot of fun scrambling and climbing over rocks and having the opportunity to see a cave less travelled.  At one point, we all turned off our lights and we sat in complete darkness.  Thank you Louise and James for sharing this amazing experience with me.

This morning I flew back to Miri and I am once again organising myself here.¬† I am sure there are many more exciting adventures ahead…

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Transitions and Time for more Travel

July 1, 2015 at 9:38 pm (Germany)

The last two months have been full of transitions. ¬†I am slowly finding my feet in my new home and learning so much about myself along the way. ¬†Professionally it has been an enormous challenge. ¬†I survived my first ever Exhibition and am spending a lot of time reflecting on my teaching and how I can improve it further. ¬†I have been so lucky to teach so many different year levels and subjects over the past nine years and I have loved every moment. ¬†It’s been a roller coaster ride and at the moment I am very much looking forward to my summer holidays and a new fresh start, with new challenges and experiences for the 2015/16 school year.

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Hockey barbeque

Hockey has also been a transition. ¬†Starting at a new club is not easy and I had forgotten how hard it is. ¬†I am enjoying playing in the twos and the easier approach to my hockey that comes with it, but being me, and highly competitive I do miss the pressure of the ones. ¬†Hockey is different over here and there aren’t enough teams in cities for the wide range of skills and abilities like there is back home. ¬†I miss the pressure of being at training and really being a part of a team. ¬†Each week we have different group of girls on the field and it’s frustrating that we have trouble playing together because technically all the pieces of the jigsaw are there. ¬†The girls are lovely though and I love the fact that there are women more my age. ¬†So far we haven’t won a game¬†but I did score my first goal in the last game so things are looking up!

imageI spent a lovely long weekend visiting Hannover with Anneli. ¬†We have been wanting to go see her home town and a fireworks competition there for years and this year she made sure it happened by giving me tickets for my birthday. ¬†It was really cool to finally make it happen. ¬†I got a personal tour of the city with some very yummy ice cream and the fireworks competition was amazing. ¬†We saw the Spanish team on a beautifully clear balmy night. ¬†I really enjoyed the long lazy breakfasts we had with Anneli’s family and our stress-free attitude made for a wonderful weekend. I was lucky enough to have two of my favourite people come visit me here in Stuttgart.

First Brook finally made his way over and we had a lovely very Kate SAM_1551and Brook style weekend.  On the Saturday we went to the zoo, which was much better than I anticipated.  It is set on beautiful grounds and has a wide variety of animals, including a kangaroo!  (Of course)  The baby gorillas and rhino were extremely cute and I also particularly liked the polar bears.  We finished off our day with a visit to a small town fest and had Australian style meat pies.  So good!  We topped it off with an ice-cream with a view to die for.  On Sunday we went and watched the first mens and womens play hockey at my new club.  Well I did say it was a very Kate and Brook style weekend!

Last weekend Gwen came down to visit. ¬†It was lucky I had bought Tarzan tickets because otherwise she probably wouldn’t have come as she had managed to sprain her ankle the weekend before at hockey. ¬†Due to her injury our movements for the weekend were rather confined but it was still so good to see her. ¬†We were disappointed with the singing quality of Tarzan but the choreography was simply amazing. ¬†I loved all the dancing and the acrobatics but have been reminded once again, how much better I find these musicals in English. ¬†We spent Saturday in the city getting odds and ends and in the evening we had a lot of fun at a house warming/birthday night. ¬†It was a fabulous weekend and for me, it was particularly good to see a familiar face after a very busy school week. My time in Stuttgart seems to be going fast!

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I’ve had some lovely afternoons basking in the sun and have been working at making new friendships. ¬†In May I helped Anselm, my flatmate, out by offering to do a shift serving drinks at a party he was organising. ¬†This party turned out to be

My flatmates

My flatmates

the biggest party of the year at his university.  At first I was really nervous but I soon got into the swing of things and surprised myself about how much fun I had.  I even did back to back shifts because I was enjoying myself so much! Now my summer holidays are upon me and tomorrow they start officially when I make my way to Darmstadt for the weekend.  I simply cannot believe how fast they have gone and how many experiences I have already managed to have.  There is always another adventure to be had!

xoxo

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