Labuan to Kota Kinabalu

OK, it’s time for our last days in Malaysia. The forth immigration into Malaysia is done. We can stay again another three month, but this time we only need four days 🙂 To stay here is easier than in any other country so far. We wanted to walk around Labuan a little because it is a Duty Free island with cheap alcohol and ,more important for us, chocolate, but the next ferry to Borneo is leaving just minutes after we bought the ticket. So there is no time.

The boat that brings us across the sea to Menumbok is a little wired. It’s really small with a roof and an elevated driver seat at the front. Around ten others sitting with us in this but shell.

In Menumbok it’s just a five minutes walk to the bus station. Like usually a some guys start advertising tickets. This time the first offer sounds fair and we end up in a nearly full bus to Kota Kinabalu. Around three hours later we reach the capital of Sabah.

Kota Kinabalu

We heard several times that Kota Kinabalu (KK) should be a nice city and this is true. For me it feels like a small and vibrant city. In the north the Chinese Sea and in the north mountains are giving it a unique character.

The first day we just explore our near surrounding. Next morning we hire a scooter and drive south into the mountains. It’s amazing up here. Green hills, winding roads and cool temperature beautify our trip. On our last day we visit a Hindu temple with beautiful lotus flowers in a pond. In the evening the markets at water front attracting us. The sleeping guy you see in the pictures is one of the sellers 😀

The longest Trip so far

The following morning is a smooth start to the longest and most exhausting transport we had so far. Our goal is Banda Aceh in Indonesia. We will take the following vehicles in a row: local bus, plane, local bus, bus, ferry, bus and bus again.

Plane to Penang

A local bus brings us from KK city to KK airport. It’s just half an hour. Check in etc is easy and so we are sitting at the gate early enough to search for sweets.

Duration: 2:40 hours

Bus to Melaka

Next phase is the bus to Melaka. We take a local bus from the airport to the bus station in Penang. There is no problem to get a ticket for a tourist bus to Melaka. It’s a nice and luxury tourist overnight bus. The seats are bigger than some regular armchairs.

Duration: 8:00 hours

Ferry to Dumai, Indonesia

Early in the morning we arrive at the ferry station in Melaka. Next one to Dumai/Indonesia is leaving in two hours. I have to get some more money, so I leave to search for an ATM. This gives me the chance to make some pictures of Melaka. There is a amazing old sailing ship, a military museum and some guys are fishing in the river.

After entering the ferry we can see that we are leaving Malaysia. The people wear different cloths than the Malay and most woman wear a headscarf. Most of them are smiling very welcoming. We are exited. After three months in Malaysia it’s time for a new culture to dive in.

Duration: 2:00 hours

Dumai to Medan

Here we are, on Sumatra in Indonesia. Immediately after leaving the boat it’s obvious that this country is much poorer than its neighbor, Malaysia. Everything is a little like in India.

A guy in uniform is stopping and directing us into an office. It’s crowded with other officials and i get the feeling that this could become the first time to pay a bribe. They prove me wrong. We get our immigration stamp and even some information how we can travel to Banda Aceh.

Outside the building an army of drivers try to convince us and we choose the one who was first to bring us to a nearby bus stop. Here a bus to Medan in the direction of Banda Aceh is leaving.

The time we spent at the bus stop is a pleasure. At the restaurant beside we try the first Indonesian dish. It is rich and spicy! The girls working at the bus ticket counter want to take photos with us. It a big fun for all of us.

Finally the bus arrives and what’s that? It has a grid in front of the front window. Seams that this will become an interesting ride…

Unfortunately the next hours are really not that enjoyable. Every man including the two bus drivers are smoking inside the bus. They’re all chain smokers it seams. Breathing is a hard job and slightly our throats start to pain. Sleeping is also not that easy, so we arrive Medan quite tired and with headaches.

Duration: 12:00 hours

Medan to Banda Aceh

We have to take a Riksha to get from the Medan bus station to the one where the next bus to Banda Aceh should leave.

From the beginning on this bus station makes a strange impression. While I’m searching for some food several men start jelling that I should come close. One even grabs my arm and is holding me. I’m just ignoring all of this and return to Helen. Some time later I leave Helen for just ten minutes to buy a Indonesian sim card and she gets bothered by the men in a row. All of them with obviously sexual intention. It’s shocking and we are happy that our bus is leaving just minute later.

This time there is a separate smoking area in the back of the bus. This makes the whole ride lot more relaxed.

Duration: 14:00 hours

Banda Aceh

OK, finally after around 62 hours and almost 3.000 km of traveling we are at the bus station of Banda Aceh. It’s 02:00 AM and it is raining like hell. We never saw a rain like that. Waterfalls are flowing down the roofs of the buildings around us.

It’s to early for a local bus so we decide to stay awake and spend the rest of the night at the station. We meet a nice woman, chat with one of the Riksha drivers and use the time to finish some computer stuff.

Around eight it’s still raining. We want to move on but without getting wet. The only possibility left is to take a Riksha. Because we don’t know where to go we end up near the Tsunami Museum. Completely wet we reach it and take the opportunity to visit it while waiting that the train stops.

The museum is very interesting. They built a modern concrete complex that can also be used as a evacuation place in case of another tsunami. You enter through a gangway where water is running down the walls. Then there is a room full of screens with changing photos of destructed building, roads and so on. A round and conical room shows the names of thousands of the victims. In the next floor we see a short movie about the catastrophe. The suffering the people must have gone through is unbelievable. 120.000 dead people in this area only…

A group of students from a city in the east of Sumatra want to take selfies with us. They are smiling and laughing a lot which rises our mood again after all that sad impressions.

It’s still raining when we leave the museum. Equipped with our rain ponchos we walk to the area with budget hotels. Especially for Helen this is no fun. Must hotels are fully booked but we find a room. Perhaps not the best for the money they want but we really need some rest.

Next morning we pack our stuff again because we have decided to move to Pulau Weh, an island across Banda Aceh. It should be one of the best diving spots in south east Asia. Let’s see!

With a Riksha we drive to the ferry terminal. It’s crowded here. To get a ticket needs some time but than we are sitting in the waiting area for the next chapter of our journey.