Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bye Bye Thailand

Patrick and Noi were headed to one of Thailands East coast islands for a week or so of sitting on a beach. They invited us to join them, but we thought we'd leave them to it especially as we only had a couple of days remaining on our visa. So we booked ourselves a cheapish onward ticket with Air Asia, the Ryanair of the region. And off we went to Borneo. It was quite sad leaving Thailand when we just felt we were getting used to it and learning a (tiny) bit of the language, which I'm fairly sure will be forgotten quite quickly.

Borneo is the worlds third largest island and is split into 4 sections, Brunei, Kalimantan belonging to Indonesia, and Sabah and Sarawak belonging to Malaysia. We chose to go to Sabah with the idea of getting to see some wildlife again.

The flight across was OK, a reasonable 2 hours 50 minutes, although just long enough to get thoroughly bored. Take off and landing are the only interesting bits of flying, the rest consisting pretty much of uncomfortable tedium. And on no frills airlines there is not even any film or Nintendo to stave off the boredom. After landing we were quite surprised to see that the extended visa we got on our initial entry into Malaysia was treated as a multiple entry visa, so we have no time pressures on leaving the country. We cleared immigration, picked up our bags and went to the taxi desk. In the queue an English girl asked whether we'd like to share the cost of a taxi into town. We agreed and set off toward a backpackers that we found a leaflet for. Unfortunately there was no (non-dorm) room at the inn, so we had to have a little bit of a look for somewhere. On the plus side Kota Kinabalu is quite small and fairly well endowed with accomodation options. We tried another place that was a bit expensive and they directed us round the corner to a cheaper room. We were fairly happy with the poky room and double bed they offered us, but the girl wasn't happy with the single they showed her, so we parted company.

The next day after barely sleeping because of noisy neighbours in the hotel we got up and out and were surprised to see a blue sky. This was somewhat of a novelty for our time in South East Asia until that point, most days having been cloudy at best or chucking it down at worst. A couple of days of information gathering and chores (Internet, Laundry, etc) ensued. Working out a rough plan of what to try and see and where to go and the order in which to do it, occupied a surprising amount of time. We tried to book accomodation at Mount Kinabalu National Park, but it was the weekend coming up and big groups had been more organised and gotten in before us. Because of the cost of accomodation in the park we've even lowered our standards down to a dorm room -shudder. Plan B was hastily devised.

No comments: