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Tuesday 30 Jul 2013
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

A little down time in KK

I shared an early taxi to the airport and flew down to Kuala Lumpur, then on to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, in the northern tip of Malaysian Borneo.  If I hadn’t booked these flights before the Halong Bay trip, I’d have stayed another two weeks in Vietnam and travelled back south with Jason, Sally and Selina.  I’d always planned to come to Borneo and I would be meeting up with Kye and Krysia for a night, which I was really looking forward to, but Vietnam grabbed me even more than I expected it to, so I had mixed feelings about leaving.

I checked into the same hostel as Kye and Krysia and met up with them shortly after arriving.  It was so good to see them again – they’d left Siem Reap for Bangkok and the Thai islands before heading over to Borneo.  We spent the whole evening catching up, while they laughed at me for having almost no voice left after Halong Bay. 

There was a covered plaza outside the hostel.  Each night, a group of singers would perform covers of well-known songs at gradually increasing volume until it was deafening.  Some songs they did very well.  Others they were a little unsure of the lyrics so just made random sounds to fill the gaps.  A few were simply butchered.  Unfortunately, the hostel had metal-framed single-glazed windows which had been painted and bent far too many times to come close to shutting so the noise was terrible.  I gave up trying to sleep and continued working my way through the latest series of Glee until the music stopped at midnight.

Sadly Kye and Krysia were leaving the next morning, so we had a wander around town and lunch together before they left.  I found a cinema in the nearby shopping centre, even cheaper than the one in KL, and watched Wolverine.  I also booked a day’s diving with Sabah Divers on Krysia’s recommendation.  I spent the evening in the plaza trying to make a dent in my backlog of blogs until the music became too much to bear.

I spent the next few days doing very little as I was exhausted after the non-stop travel of the last month.  I got a new roommate after lunch (I’d previously had a 6-bed dorm to myself), a Swiss girl named Anya.  We walked up to the market together and bought noodles for tea, which we ate sitting on the dock watching the fishing boats come in.  It turned out that Anya had travelled in Java and had spent quite a while in Yogyakarta, one of Ailsa and my favourite places on our Intrepid trip.  Not only that, but she then admitted she’d been dating Luppa, our local guide, when we were there.  Small world…  We went to the cinema again to see Despicable Me 2, an animation aimed at a younger audience, but still fun.

I headed over to Sabah Divers early the next morning and met my Dive Master, Hassan, and my dive buddies, a Swiss German brother and sister, Daniel and Salome.  I think Daniel was suffering from a hangover so didn’t say too much, but Salome and I got on well.  We had a short boat trip out to the Tunku Abdul Rahmen Marine Park, where we did three dives with shore time on the island of Manukan in between.

Visibility wasn’t the greatest, but we still saw a lot of fish and the mast and ropes of an old fishing boat, though the hull was nowhere to be seen.  During our last safety stop, we saw a large Hawksbill turtle and swam along with him for a while.  I established that Sipadan Diving permits were like gold dust at this time of year, sold out until the end of September at the earliest, but at least I could still dive in Mabul.  Getting there would involve three buses and a long day’s travel.

The music is still going on every night and I’m running out of episodes of Glee to block it out…


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