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Travel With Bender

Uncovering the best family holidays

Kota Kinabalu, Borneo

Crocodile Male Organs At Tuaran Croc Farm & Kota Kinabalu Islands

Thank you Air Asia. Our really late taxi got us to the airport with 8 minutes to spare for checkin! Wow. Anyway it was a web check-in with no choice of seats. Oh well. As we got on board we soon realized 4A, 4B & 4D, 4E (yes 6 seats again, woohoo) were Hot Seats. The red seats with the extra legroom… Well I’m not sure about the extra legroom, but we sure appreciated being at the front of the plane and loved our 6 seats as usual. Mia fell asleep instantly; Caius happily played iPad the entire 2-hour journey.

Day One – The Bizarre Tuaran Croc Farm

We had grand plans on our first day in KK. The Gaya Street Markets, followed by the Crocodile Farm, followed by dinner on the beach.

We put Caius down for a sleep at 10:30am so we could be out the door about 11:30am. About 3 hours later Caius finally woke up. Such is life with toddlers. So scrap plan one.

We jump in a taxi and for $20 (expensive taxis in KK) we take the half hour drive to Tuaran Crocodile Farm. I am not sure what I was expecting, but I was a little bit shocked. First I guess I was kinda thinking it was a zoo/sanctuary type thing. So when the first thing you see upon entry is crocodile eggs, male organs, croc oil & meat for sale, it’s a little disturbing.

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The kids were free and entry per adult is $5 each. You pretty much can roam free throughout the Farm. The first area is a concrete yard with crocodile statues on jet ski’s, pulling carriages, etc. A strange first impression, but the kids loved having photos with them all. Next to this is a large koi pond, with over hungry fish clamoring to be on top of each other to reach the food people are feeding them. You can purchase fish food and other foods to feed the animals around the park on a $0.60 honour system. Money in box, take the food.

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Further on, the gardens actually are quite manicured and much more attractive than the concrete yard. Until you get to the concrete cages. A  row of small confined spaces each with a different crocodile in them and a little bit of really dirty water. I am not a fan of crocodiles and I have no connection to them like I did with the elephants, but even I was saddened by this confinement.

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The park also has a bridge over a large dam/lake area with ten – thirty crocs in them. We paid our 60 cents and fed the crocs a jug full of chicken pieces. Mia was in awe of them and while she thought they were very scary, she also felt very safe and loved watching them eat. They are not as agile as I thought, not being able to move their head very well… or maybe these crocs are just lazy?

The crocodile show was just plain bizarre and a little cruel. The men danced with small crocodiles on their head and then they got the big one out. It was a quick show - they lay on him, put their hand in his mouth and kissed him on the nose. Just bizarre. The sound system is terrible so you cannot really hear the voiceover either.

There is a cultural show after the croc show, we didn’t stay to watch. We managed to organize the croc shuttle back home for $12, which was a good saving versus the taxi.

Draw your own conclusions, it was an interesting experience, not one that I would care to repeat.

Day Two – KK’s Gorgeous Islands

After our delicious buffet breakfast here at the Novotel we jumped in a Taxi to Jesselton Point. From 1Borneo the cost was $9. When you arrive there is a giant room filled with tour booths. I am not sure if each is different or cheaper, but we just went straight to one and he offered us an immediate discount, so we took it, bad haggling, but oh well. You know sometimes you just get to that point when it’s already cheap so you can’t bother doing the whole routine?...

Anyway $34 later all 4 of us had tickets on a boat for a 2-island visit, a snorkel set and taxes. When you get to the island you also need to pay about a $3 pp conservation fee, which applies across all islands (pay once).

All of the islands make up the Tunku Absul Rahman marine park. There are 5 islands between 3 – 8km from KK. It’s about a 20-minute speedboat ride that rocked our youngest to sleep each time. These are Gaya Island, Sapi Island, Manukan Island, Mamutik Island and Sulug Island. 

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Our first island was Manukan. There were lots of people in the water and we didn’t see any fish, but the kids had a blast swimming with daddy and finding coconuts and sticks, etc. We loved watching them endeavor to crack open the coconuts they found.

At 12:30pm we jumped on the speedboat again and went to Sapi. Sapi is gorgeous, one of those beautiful tropical islands. I don’t know what it is about islands, but they just get me. They relax me, they make me happy and I love seeing them. It took me back to our cruise last December when we stepped on t Mystery Island in Vanuatu, so fabulous.

We sat down for a $12 pp buffet (kids free) on the beach. Amazing setting there amongst the palm trees, disgusting food. Cold, old & half a plate we were done, the kids survived on corn and watermelon.

Finally we headed to a more secluded piece of water for some snorkeling. One parent staying with the kids, the other floating atop the water. Nothing can ever beat the snorkeling we did in a water filled volcano in Hawaii, but it was great to be snorkeling again. The fish were black and white, blue, green; I even saw a big rainbow one! My favourite part was showing Mia how to hold the goggles to her head and look under the water at the fish, she loved it…

… She loved it until she started getting stung. We are still not sure what it was, but by the time I got her to the shore she was in hysterics and so was Caius. At first we thought it had been jellyfish, but the lifeguard said they usually leave stripes this was more rash and bites. It took ice cream and lots of cuddles and distraction for them both to stop crying. It took maybe an hour before the rash went down and the stinging stopped. By then we were building sandcastles and covering peoples hands and feet that the kids no longer worried about it.

Since then we discovered that it was sea lice. Miscroscopic jellyfish larvae that feels like little stings or electric shocks while you’re in the water and can leave a nasty rash. You can wait it out or take some antihistamines.

4pm we were back on our speedboat and headed back to Kota Kinabalu. We set up a tour in the same hall for Wednesday and then jumped in a $6 taxi ride to Tanjung Aru Beach.

It wasn’t Jimbaran Beach, but it did have several restaurants with tables and chairs set up close to the beach. We decided to visit where the locals were eating in some type of food court. It was delicious. Josh had a $2 Double Burger with beef & chicken, egg & salad. I had Chicken Satay with cucumber, some weird cold rice gel thing $2. The kids also had the chicken satay to share (10 sticks) $1.60. And we ordered a plate of freshly cooked Asian Greens for $3. The vegetables were delicious, so full of flavor. And I can say the total bill was $12 and was absolutely yum!

We went to play on the beach to watch the final sunset. Pink rays stretched over the muddy grounds and Mia started another sandcastle. She got real dirty on those muddy plains. Josh and I had fun with silhouette pictures on the iPhone, as did Mia.

Finally after no naps and partying all day we knew it was time to get our angels home. Our $12 taxi made it back in record timing and now here I am with the aircon up high in my white dressing robe writing to you all.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our first two days. The next two days will quite possibly be even better! 

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"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Bethaney - Flashpacker Family on
You're lucky that you always get the hot seats and get to sit together. They must take one look at Josh and realize there's no way he can fit in the regular seats!!!!! We'd always get seated a few rows apart and then just switch on board or ask for the hot seats. I think it's cos you have children and they can't separate them and have them sitting along to creepy old men where we were travelling with a lap infant so because he had to sit on our knee they could sit us anywhere.
Posted by Erin on
Well this is our first upgrade to hot seats, I must pull the child string more often, get the kids to cry a bit haha :) Oh yes it was much different when caius was on our laps we always had 3 seats, which was beyond cramped. I loved it when Caius could have his own seat :)
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