SOCIAL MEDIA

21 October 2015

"Bad Monkey Island"

I've been to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, only once, and it was a traumatizing enough experience that when I recently expressed some interest in someday going back to Kota Kinabalu, my parents were completely shocked that, after a decade, my negative feelings toward the place seem to be dissipating.

Let me tell you the story. On our first evening in Kota Kinabalu, we ate dinner at KFC (my least favorite restaurant of all time). When we got home from supper, we discovered that someone in the family had left a corridor-facing window unlocked in our rented suite, and several items were missing from the room, among them, my portable cd player. This was slightly tragic.

The place where we stayed had a bucket shower-- the shower facilities consisted of a tiled room with a cold water faucet two feet off the ground, with a larger and smaller bucket in the room. You fill the large water bucket, and then use the smaller one to throw water on yourself. This is a relatively common traditional and simple showering system in this part of the world, one that many people live with in their homes. However, it doesn't compare to the luxury of having heated water come out from an shower head installed 6 ft. up on the wall. Fourteen-year-old me didn't enjoy the shower facilities.

The next day, our family headed out to an island that, henceforth in all family story-swapping sessions, has always been referred to as "Bad Monkey Island." I think now that it was actually Sapi Island.

I had woken up feeling very ill, but being ill on vacation is something that simply isn't done, so with the rest of my family I headed out to the island on a speedboat. Don't think badly of my parents, it's quite possible I didn't even tell them that I was sick. I've always been the sort of person who sees my own sicknesses as an embarrassing weakness and tries to hide them as much as possible.

I enjoyed the speedboat--to this day, I love riding on fast boats.







However, Sapi Island is a terrible place to spend a day of sickness and discomfort. Like the rest of Malaysia, it's hot. Unlike much of Malaysia, there are no modern conveniences like air-conditioning or real bathrooms or beds. I spent most of the day feeling very miserable and sleeping in the sand under the shade of a tree while my siblings wandered in the ocean or buried themselves under piles of sand.


The highlights of the day involved running away from a monitor lizard who came a little too close for comfort and watching monkeys attack tourists who had food with them. There was altogether a little too much wildlife involved. My mom has a long-standing aversion to monkeys, and found herself unable to relax with too many of them hanging out a little too close.


Now as I look at these '05 pictures of  ours from "Bad Monkey Island," I can see why some might enjoy the place, but I'm now old enough and wise enough to know to just stay in the room when sick because slightly remote islands just aren't the place to spend a sick day.

I wonder if I'll ever make it back to Kota Kinabalu, and if so, if we'll get along a little better next time...

{This post is Day 22 in my 31 Days Series: 31 Days of Growing Up in Malaysia}

12 comments :

  1. Wow! Those pictures are pretty amazing! It looks like a pretty awesome place to spend time. Maybe not for the faint of heart though, with all the critters ;)

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  2. The water is beautiful. The rock formations intriguing! I can see why you might want to return. ;)

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  3. Looks like a beautiful place. I'd be with your mom though on the monkeys!

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  4. I'm one of those that think it looks like a great place to visit! It's great that you can look back on these memories and develop a new perspective!

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  5. What an experience! Beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing.

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  6. It sucks that you were sick But it looks like fun!

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  7. Your parents made sure you saw the world - how blessed you are (albeit the monitor lizard and being sick.) xo

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  8. I've been to Thailand several times, so I know about those savage monkeys! I noticed in another part of your blog that you spent the last year in China. My 31 day series is about my readjustment after spending five years there (I was in Ningxia--northwest China) :-) I look forward to reading more of your stories!

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  9. I've never even seen a monkey in real life.

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  10. I'm glad that you are willing to consider going back, it seems like a wonderful place!

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  11. I love that your parents had you all traveling and experiencing so many adventures, even if some of them were a little crazy! My mom always said she preferred adventures over vacations and I feel like this is a good example of that (even with some sickness and crazy showers!).

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  12. Aww I'm sorry you had such a poor experience! It seems like a pretty cool place to visit. Not to live there. But to visit.

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