Our first major stop in Malaysia was definitely a splurge for us. We stayed at the waterworld resort of Kapalai to get some great diving in. Kapalai is a resort built on a submerged reef about an hour off the mainland. It is a stunning resort and we had a fantastic time staying there. The diving at the resort was pretty good and then, of course, we also had the daily dives out at Pulau Sipadan which was turned into a diver mecca twenty years ago when Jacque Cousteau proclaimed it one of the ultimate dive spots in the world. Thanks Jack.
Kapalai was maybe a bit too romantic to stay at when Peter and John joined us. That and we couldn't get two rooms. So we moved over to the rather unique Seaventure Dive Resort. Seaventure is a converted oil platform that sits just off Mabul island. The diving underneath the rig is amazing, and then there's also a couple dives at Sipadan every day. Needless to say, we got our diving in. The rig itself is a blast. There's a big exposed elevator that moves you between the water level and the main deck. To dive, you put on all the gear, take the elevator down and just jump in the water! When you're done, the elevator is waiting underwater so you just swim onto it. It's no 5 star hotel, but it is an absolutely great time.
Next stop for our little tour of Malaysian Borneo was the Sepilok orangutan preserve en-route to Kota Kinabalu where we would all fly out of in a few days. Well, we had a good time hanging with friends, but Sepilok itself is a total disappointment. Yeah, you get to see orangutans, but it is pretty much a zoo setting. That's the breaks when the working class folks come to visit and have planes to catch and all. After parting with Peter and John, we flew to nearby Mulu to see the biggest cave system in the world. We went a bit off the usual path and did some spelunking in one of the smaller caves. That's a blast. But I did get a bit claustrophobic after too many hours of seeing nothing but the little area that my head torch lit up in front of me. One of the larger caves at Mulu is famous for a nightly exodus of several million bats who go out looking for an insect dinner
With just a little help, our stop at KL was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Malaysia's independence. There were parades, fireworks, bands and F16s flying low through town. Unfortunately, we missed most of it because nobody actually knew when and where each event would take place. In a move reminiscent of our New Years trip to Paris, we sat at the base of the Petronas Towers at midnight waiting with 20,000 other people for fireworks that took place on the other side of town. We did catch the F16s roaring through town. In fact, they woke us up bright and early our first morning with a practice run right over the top of our hotel.