After Nat and Laura buggered off back home myself and Tarrant decided to go to Poring for the sole purpose of looking at a massive flower which may or may not be there right now. We really wanted to wrap our eyeholes around a rafflesia and we’d heard that Poring was one of the best places in Sabah to do this so off we went. Poring is quite the ballache to get to too. You can catch a minibus from KK as far as Ranau then after that you’ve just got to ask around and hope for the best. No one knew anything about a bus, we couldn’t find a taxi, people were just kind of staring at us to the point we were wondering if Poring was a myth, but eventually a local bloke offered to take us for RM40.
We’d booked to stay at Kinabalu Poring Vacation Lodge, which kind of feels like they couldn’t decide what to call it so they just called it everything, on account of the fact they had a dorm room which suited our budget. It’s a short walk from Poring proper down a gravel road through banana trees and other suitably tropical foliage and guys, it’s lovely here. We had the dorm to ourselves and there’s a big, open sided common area and there are cats. Loads of cats. And here’s me without my laser pointer. I’ve noticed that since we got to Borneo. I mean, there have been cats all over South East Asia but there seems to be feline overload here and a lot of them have these weird, curly tails, or stumps for tails. When we first saw this in Indonesia we thought that maybe it had lost its tail in an accident, but it just seems to be a genetic thing.
Righto, this flower then. We’d seen a sign when we were dropped off advising us that there were two flowers blooming at the moment at the Viviane Rafflesia Garden so it hadn’t been a wasted journey. It’s RM30 to be led from flower to flower by a disinterested teen, a price which won’t make your affluent Western bumhole twitch, but it’s a bit much just to spend fifteen minutes starting at something. We really, really wanted to see this flower though, the biggest flower in the world. They spend months and months gestating before blooming for a mere week then dying.
They’re epic! They don’t even look real, I had to resist the urge to poke it to make sure it wasn’t plastic. Disinterested Teen pointed us in the direction of a fully blooming flower and waited patiently as we photographed it from every angle, trying to get some sense of scale in the pictures. The he took us to see a partially blooming flower, and a big ball of soon-to-be-flower that looks more alien than earthling and could easily contain something with a penchant for laying eggs in your chest cavity. He showed us a smaller fully blooming flower then lead us back to the start.
So we’d intended to come here, gawp at the flower, stay a night and fuck off back to KK but we really liked it at the guesthouse so we decided to extend our stay for another night and check out the nearby hot springs which are actually the main reason humans flock to Poring. There are also a couple of waterfalls you can put in your eyeholes so we figured we’d check them out first as one of them is at the end of a hike, then we’d chill in the hot springs afterwards. So they tell you it’s about 3.5kms to the waterfall and you’re not allowed to start walking after 2pm. Something to do with safety. You have to log your name in the book when you leave and again when you get back, probably so they know they don’t have to go looking for the idiot who got lost in the woods. What they don’t mention is the fact that it’s a two hour constant uphill slog which not a single muscle in your legs will thank you for.
It’s fucking relentless. You cross a stream at the first waterfall, air terjun Kipungit, then you cross another stream, then it doesn’t fucking give up going up. You walk past a bat cave which they strongly advise you against entering so we didn’t, but we could hear and see the tiny little bats pretty clearly from where we were standing anyway as they flew in and out of the cave. It’s a good excuse to stop walking up the bastard hill for a while. It’s a predictably gorgeous walk of course as walks in these parts are wont to be but it was hard in the humidity. Sweat gushed from every single pore we owned. We fended off leeches like the experts we were. Just as we thought we were about to die we were treated to one glorious kilometre of honest to gods, bona fide flatness before a little bit more up and down led us to air terjun Langanan.
Well it’s a beauty, I’ll give it that. It was quite misty up here and quite a bit colder once we’d emerged from the trees so I abandoned any thoughts I might have had of going for a dip. I didn’t want to risk taking an eye out with a nipple. We hung out here until it got uncomfortably chilly then headed back down the way we came which our knees were distinctly unimpressed with. I got my refreshing dip back at Kipungit waterfall, but what we wanted now was a nice, hot bath.
These hot springs then. There are cold pools for swimming but if you want a hot spring you have to wait for one of the deep, tiled vats to become free. We were pretty lucky that we got one given that in our infinite wisdom we’d decided to come here on a Saturday. We drained it and started filling it up with the scorching water (there’s also a cold tap so you retain your top layer of skin) that’s drawn directly from the naturally hot springs. It’s full of soil, a few people who’d obviously been here before had brought cloth to put over the tap to filter some of the sediment out but as that hadn’t even occurred to us we basically ended up sitting in a bath of dirty water which smelt a lot like arse. Definitely having a shower after this. Maybe two.
Well so much for staying a couple of nights in Poring, it was five days later when we finally checked out of Kinabalu Poring Vacation Lodge. We loved it there. The owners are absolutely lovely and they treated us like family. It’s such a chilled place to just hang out, harass the cats, and watch the array of birds they have knocking around. They sell cold beer and will call a local restaurant to bring you food so there’s actually no reason at all to go anywhere, ever. So yeah, we just didn’t.
Poring, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Stayed at: Kinabalu Poring Vacation Lodge
(It might be useful to know that the guesthouse will pick you up from and drop you back to Ranau for RM50 each way which takes away the stress of trying to find a random bloke to take you in his car of questionable road-worthyness)