To Bangkok


10 pm November 26, 2004 AirAsia Flight to Bangkok

To begin this entry, a headline worthy of St. John’s own vaunted Telegram which appeared in Sabah’s Daily Express:

“Courses Planned to Cut Jobless Youths”

I feel like I’ve left an old friend in leaving Kota Kinabalu. It’s been a great week of laughter and fun. Some trying times to be sure but they just added to the mosaic of adventure and ribald humour of the situations we consistently found ourselves in.

Our last day in Sabah was to be a rest dat and that it was. Our morning was spend sleeping in at the City Park Inn. I will likely never forget Mike’s look of utter shock and the trembling in his legs as he tried to descend from the top bunk he was sleeping in. While we howled with laughter, every one of us were feeling the effects of incredibly tightened muscles. Sigh!

The plan was simple. Coffee, explore the city, supper and then flight. Andrew decided his lot in life lay in getting some space freed on his digital camera. Mike, Chris and I set out to explore. Our plan was to find a cab and go to the Signal Hill Observatory.

Here’s where things started to go awry.

We quickly learned that despite almost every taxi (Teksi) in KK being outfitted with meters (and advertised as such), no taxi driver used them. The first taxi refused to turn it on and then got too greedy and tried to charge 10R< for a 5 min journey. We promptly got out in the middle of traffic and caught another. This driver was more reasonable and charged 5RM.

KK is a small city. Signal Hill Observatory is literally a small platform bearing the name which looks out onto the city. Very exciting. We spent 5 mins there.

Our next stop (mostly due to my insistence) was the KK City Bird Sanctuary or more likened to a Bird Concentration Camp. When we arrived there was no on there. With oppressive humidity we proceeded to explore the mangrove swamp. The most exciting anumals were the millions of fiddler crabs. The birds were apparent but they didn’t like us (actually I blame Chris) and were hiding. The Bastards.

To stay in keeping with our fascination for steps, we decided to climb a four-store bird hide in the middle of the swamp. Yeah. Great Idea. Thanks Chris. Bastard.

To beat oncoming rain and bored with the abundance of invisible birds, we ran to the entrance way and asked them to call a taxi. Armed with the knowledge that taxi’s here didn’t use the meters should have made us quickly jump to the conclusion that, well, they probably didn’t turn on their dispatch radios either, After 15 mins of waiting in an empty and desolate sanctuary, we were getting desperate. The thought that my dying days may be spent in a mangrove swamp in the heart of KK with nothing to do but watch fiddler crabs hide from egrets and mudskippers. Wow. Hmmm. Hell?

Thankfully, Hell was averted, The downpour came to an end and a taxi did arrive (after 30 mins at least). Off we went to another mall where we could get some Borneo handicrafts.

My selection of purchases included “Headhunter’s” rice wine which supposedly ages to sherry. I suspect I will be poisoned or go blind on drinking this stuff but it goes well with my collection of weird alcohols. Mike and I also purchased Mt Kinabalu shirt, our bargaining skills bought the price down from 29 RM to 24RM I’m sure if my mom (or Colin) were here not only would we have gotten the shirts cheaper she would have thrown in her first born. Regardless (“You look good in Blue, You no need black, very fetching”) we boughtour shirts and went to look for Andrew and go to supper at the Inidan Curry House (Jothy’s) that our Indian GP had suggested the night before.

On meeting Andrew he throws a bombshell. Apparently Phuket and Krabi are being affected by the first tropical storm since 1962. Islands have been evacuated. We agreed we had to continue the trip. Craig Welsh was somewhere in St. John’s doing a typhoon dance. He was not going to succeed. We tried Craig as a bastard in absentia.

Regardless, what could go wrong?

Our supper at Jothy’s is incredibly good. Recommend heartily — great dosai’s, fantastic prawn and chicken curries. After supper we sent a quick e-mail explaining our decision to continue into the heart of Thailand regardless of storm surge or other diversions (apparently something about terrorists). We head to City Park Inn to wait for our flight time.

Apparently some USA guests had arrived and our “neighbours from the south” as the receptionist kept saying, were causing a bit of a ruckus. Apparently they were upset (“a disaster, this place is a disaster”) at not having been given towels by the Inn staff. Go figure. No towels in a backpacker’s inn. Hmmm. How surprising. Wait till they get to Sabah Park and attempt to get a cash advance on a Visa. Maybe they’ll declare war.

By the way we all highly recommend the City Park Inn. Lovely staff, great place and fantastic price. Bring your own towels though.

Now to the airport. And AirAsia.

Termanl 2 in KK is lacking most things including an air-conditioned restaurant (“But I swear there was a restaurant here last year when I was here — I swear” – Chris Myrick on his previously delusional trip to Sabah which included working Visa machines). My crowing moment was seeing the check-in girl running into the baggage room on the belt after my security tag came off in my hand. Oh well.

AirAsia — yes what can I say about AirAsia? Well this time is so different. It is relatively “non-retarded”. The stewards don’t have make up on. The seats and leather-backed and comfy. There is leg room. Oh and pieces of the plane aren’t falling off.

Maybe the curse of Sabah is gone as we fly to Bangkok to meet Keli.

To be sure — a great week, a fantastic place. Borneo, I tip my hat to you and now look forward to our misadventures in Thailand.

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