18.05.2010 - 18.05.2010 35 °C
It is often said that travelling is a rollercoaster ride. Sometimes you are on top of the world and sometimes you are down. As this is my second entry and I have only been here for less than 5 days, it may seem a little premature to ‘be down’...already. The good news is I’m not, but I was at least for an hour a day when things have recently went wrong. I have fastly realised that Borneo is a different breed of travel (one that I have not experienced before) especially for the unprepared traveller when you are battling with a time budget. When we booked our flights to Borneo, we allocated one week to climb Mt Kinabalu and see the surroundings. After that, our intended plan was to fly from KK (Kota Kinabalu) to Penang (Northern mainland Malaysia) where we will chill on a paradise island congratulating ourselves after the hefty climb. It sounded full proof, but we quickly discovered things aren’t that easy over here.
On our first day in KK, we decided to explore the city by foot. We decided to take a local bus from our hostel instead of taxi for two reasons. The first was the bus ride only cost 13 pence (yes 13p, 25 aus cent) and it was cool to mix with the locals. As soon as we stepped on the crowded bus, a number of kind gentlemen offered Paula their seat. It seemed it was rude to refuse, so she accepted and I was stuck sandwiched in between 30 Malay men with a burning sensation underneath my feet, which developed into a slight fear that the gear box was about to give way at any moment . Thankfully it didn’t.
The first task of the day was to find an ATM and get money. Once we located the main shopping mall, I inserted my card into the ATM, typed in my pin, hit withdraw 400 Ringgit (£125) and waited for the cash which kinda looks like Euros minus the King with the big hat who sits proudly on the notes...to receive ‘Your card is not supported and inactive’. Great, just what I needed. I think it’s also important to stress that Paula transferred all her money to my bank account before we left as I receive free international withdrawals. Also, using credit cards aren’t exactly widely accepted at stalls or food courts so it was slightly inconvenient. I then tried another 4 ATM’s to receive the same message. Overall, this was slightly annoying. We then decided to walk around the mall aimlessly, lost and not knowing what to do with ourselves. As we sat down, I then realised my backpack was slightly open and after immediately checking my bag my heart stopped (for probably 2 seconds, maybe 3, possibly 4),... my yellow folder which holds my passport was missing. I nearly died. No money, no passport, first day in Asia, all within 2 hours, it could only happen to Warner! I then tried to retrace my steps, spending time on the squeezed bus with the friendly locals, walking round the streets like a lost puppy, a White tourist hovering around every ATM in every bank. Someone had nicked my passport right under my nose, it was our first day and I was totally rooted.
We then paid for a taxi with our final cash, raced back to our hostel to check if my passport could someway be in our room. Although this only took 10 minutes it felt like a lifetime. When we arrived in the room, a cataclysmic overarching level of joy raced through my veins, the god dam folder was sandwiched in-between my uni work. I then recalled thinking, ‘I won’t be needing this today’ and removed my uni work and someway my passport folder got stuck amongst my work. Hallelujah!!! A ridiculous gut-retching low turned into an unprecedented high just as fast as the Aerosmith Rocking Rollercoaster does 0-60 in 2.5 seconds in MGM studios, Orlando, Florida. On that note, if you haven’t been to MGM studios you really should – the Rocking Rollercoaster is brilliant!
You may be thinking, ‘But what happened about your money Warner?’? Well, I telephoned my bank immediately once the office opened at 8AM UK time and it went a little something like this...
Bank: ‘Good morning, you’ve reached Bank*** how can I help you [in a very unenthusiastic, depressed Southern English accent]?’
Warner: ‘Yes, my name is Mr. Karl Warner, please do not put me on hold, I am calling from Sabah, Borneo, near the jungle, I am stranded here with no money as my Bank*** ATM card isn’t working, I’m not very impressed [in a very disgruntled but firm Scottish accent]!
Bank: While probably chocking on her extra large Costa Coffee with extra shot, ‘Oh dear, lets see what we can do Mr. Warner...’
As expected, the bank cancelled my card, but they were able to reactive it and I was cash rich once the telephone call ended. On the up, we then strolled around KK and stumbled on the marina to view the most spectacular sunset (as pictured) I have seen in a very long time.
We then incidentally bumped into Jo (who we shared a taxi with) and went for an amazing Malay curry and decided to travel to Mt Kinabalu together the next day. And there you have it, our first day in Asia rocking round KK...rollercoaster style!
Kota Kinabalu, Borneo.