Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mantanani - Sun and Sand

With a few days under our belt in KK, it was time to do what you should in the tropics - hit the beach!  After the long journey through the cold, remember this, we were in serious need of some sun, sand and just some R 'n R.  It was time to grab a book, put our feet up in a hammock and get off the grid for a few days.

There were two things we were looking for: an island getaway and some simple laid back beach huts without all the fuss.  Luxury, nah, just plain and simple location on the beach.  Que Mantanani Island, a couple hour drive out of KK and 45 minute speed boat ride off the coast of Borneo in the south China sea.

"Welcome to the Mantanani Backpackers Lodge, Mr Josh", said the young man which snapped me back to reality after staring out at the white sand and turquoise water as I stepped off the speed boat.  "Hello my friend, it's good to be here!"

On the island there are two small villages seperated by the lodge.  It was simple.  No porters, conceirge, mini bar, pool, and the electricity was only on from 6pm to 6am.  As with most "backpacker" style accommodation it was simple.  Two story huts with the ground floor being a porch complete with chairs and hammocks.  Inside the rooms there were mattresses on the floor and a fan in the corner.  In total there were 12 huts along with common shared bathroom facilities and a big covered dining area where you could order freshly cooked food any time of the day.  The menu was also simple: almost any variation of noodles, rice and seafood which was as fresh as it gets.  Each evening they would go out to the "refrigerator", a container floating in the ocean just off the shore full of live fish, to retrive the night's fish offering.  At dinner time you could just choose your fish.
Initially we had booked 3 nights at the lodge, but that quickly evaporated after days of swinging in the hammocks, strolls on the beach and sunsets in the shadow of Mount Kinabalu.  We found that the island was a popular day trip from KK for snorkelling and diving, with most people staying just one night.  Every morning around 11am it almost seemed like a scene out of the movie The Beach, as we looked up from our leisurely activities to eye the new arrivals on the island - wondering where they were from, whether they were daytrippers or more leisurely travellers, etc.  We felt supremely comfortable on Mantanani.  We wanted to extend our stay, but for how long…

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