There were anxious phone calls yesterday from the organisers of the event, wanting to make sure we would arrive on time. Yesterday was a sailing day as we journeyed towards the capital – but naturally there was time for some diving and a walk along the beach of Mantanini Island – which of course turned into a beach clean-up! We anchored fairly close to KK, as the capital is known, for the night, feeling quite sad that the sailing and diving part of this expedition have largely come to an end.
But there’s no stopping Mike. Late last night he issued a challenge to the YEPs who were still up for an adventure: “Who wants to dive over two days?” A few of the YEPs were brave enough to load up their scuba gear and slide into the dark water just before midnight on the 4, to emerge more than half an hour later on the 5 of November!. Kota Kinabalu is quite different to what we’ve seen so far – high-rise buildings line the seafront and the gleaming marble-floored yacht club with sweeping wooden staircases was very impressive. Welcoming us this morning was Malaysia’s deputy minister of tourism, Sulaiman A. Rahman Taib, who we’d met before in Sipadan, as well as YB Datuk Masidi Manjun, minister of tourism, culture and environment for Sabah.
The minister outlined some of the steps Sabah has taken to safeguard nature, including cancelling logging contracts worth billions of ringits (the Malaysian currency), and ensuring that 55% of Sabah remains as protected forest. “The biggest problem is managing human greed,” he said. “To supply the greed of a few people, we’re paying the price in needless exploitation of the forest. We need to take only what we need, and leave the rest for future generations. In fact we need to add value for future generations. There’s a place for everyone in this world if we know what to take and what to conserve. ”Speaking directly to the Young Explorers, he said: “Mike has given you a legacy to do all you can for nature, and you are going to leave a legacy. If nine people follow you and nine more follow each of them, the multiple effort will be loud enough for the world to hear.”
Mike then shared his experiences from some of his earlier adventures and what they’d taught him, and then showed a video of the Borneo adventure so far. Then the journalists had time to interview the YEPs, who seemed to enjoy being media personalities. The days are running out on our adventure, but it’s not quite over yet. We waved goodbye to our friendly hosts and are now racing, rocking and rolling (this is being written while swaying from side to side at what feels like 45 degrees), towards Miri in Sarawak, from where we start our inland and upriver journey to see a whole new side to Borneo, the second largest island in the world.