Sukau like Danum (aka royal visit tour) seems to be commandeered by the "package tour" specialists which charge an exhorbitant amount locals probably don't get a minute fraction of. Forced then to web search backpackers knowing they wouldn't be paying this kind of money but would still want to see "the famous wildlife". The first I came to was Barefoot Lodge.
Tarriff was R80 per room. We booked three nights. No problem at all with the R45pp one way from Sandakan pickup. First omen was a dead dog lying on the road entering Sukau village. Second omen - no-one was else staying at the lodge. That meant I could not do the wildlife spotting trips without paying for the whole boat hire which I would not do. Third omen, dog vomit at the entrance to the eating area . Now not one to heed omens, I gave it no second thought.
So fit as...we walked down the road and found where all the foreign backpackers were staying (Greenview or Green something) and they had loads of people going so I paid per head and joined them. Both fit as fiddles, we walked about after the trip and waited for the 30R dinner which was two salty green stringy vege, cold lumpy rice, and THE FISH!!!!!!!!! Now we are vegetarians and told the agent who drove us to the lodge that we wanted vege only but he said he had been to the market and got us Barracouda and Tuna (the fish served turned out to be neither). We occasionally eat fish so we thought nothing of it but what was served was 4 hand length fish which amounted to nothing but spiny bones and head - we picked at the bit of flesh which was swimming in neat rancid oil (palm oil always smells rancid) some sauce as salty as the black sea and that was that. We only drank warm water from a thermos they provided thinking it was boiled. At about 4am the symptoms started. I am no doctor but would wonder if there was a connection with the story so far. We developed violent vomiting and diorrhea and a headache that felt like it was blowing up our heads over and over - the body aches were like being torn apart slowly. We got a lift to the local doctorless clinic and they offered no diagosis and a lot of pills none of which worked to ease the intense agony which lasted three days in a "shack" with only the barest, if that, facilities. Thank God there was a sit toilet and it was attached. The building itself is ready for demolition and while in the throws of high fever delerium, we watched the termites eating away at everything even our stuff that we could hardly even care about anymore. I seriously thought I would die and we were three hours from the nearest hospital. Neither of us have ever been so ill. I have travelled far and wide but nothing matched this.
Now the problem was that there being no other tourists staying we could not see if having eaten the same food as us, they had also got sick. We believe we had food poisoning but can't prove it so not accusations against the lodge are being laid.
Apart from the sickness, the sleeping quarters are directly behind the mosque and that means
prayer calling over loudspeakers through the day and night and then both at 4am and 5am. Humour even wins over dire sickness as we both started laughing -feebly as it was- when the two gaurd dogs of the lodge began howling along with the sound of the sung prayer. No offence intended but it did have quite the tinge of macabre. Second problem of location of lodge to mosque is the generator for the mosque. They were having teachings going on for hours and ending close to midnight and the sound of the generator was like a low drone drill going through your skull. Being so sick and with heads on fire and pounding there was no relief not by day nor night. During the day, the workers were rebuilding the pontoon for the lodge and that involved extremely loud hammering which went on for days. If this was hell then we were in it.
The good bit? The open air eatery come sitting area overlooks the river and is quite nice but the lodge is on the bend of the road and gets some traffic. Beer is cheap and available till ten but we weren't drinking any. Sukau Kinabatang river is beautiful so is the wildlife and the forest.
PS Breakfast served was fried sweet potato, white bread and melon (the only fruit I dislike) - luckily we were not up to eating this fare by a long shot. We began eating about 6 days later.
- Also Known As:
- Barefoot Sukau Hotel Sukau
- Barefoot Sukau Lodge Kinabatangan District