Monday, November 28, 2011

Missing pieces

I'm almost done with South East Asia now. I'll almost definitely come back to this fantastically cheap part of the world at some point in the future, but my clinical, bridge-burning approach to life means it's time to move on before I get too bored - as reluctant as I am to start spending real money again. My next destination is the more expensive South Korea, followed by the even less frugal Japan - still, I'm looking forward to experiencing a cold winter and actual weather again.

But before I leave, I wanted to tie up a few loose ends that I didn't get around to earlier, for whatever reason. Usually this reason was Thailand's unfair immigration policy that meant I had to pack everything into just 30 days in February and March (extended by another 14 days with a desperate visa run).

If Thailand had allowed me to stay for a less picky 90 days I certainly would have taken them up on it, like I did in Malaysia and Taiwan where there wasn't even as much to see. But I decided to leave Thailand when my second visa ran out, to see what the rest of South East Asia had to offer. Do you know what? It wasn't quite as good.

Friday, November 25, 2011

So Niah and yet so far

What a rubbish drawing - I came all this way to see that? I appreciate the artist was working with haematite on the unforgiving medium of cave wall, but it can't even be excused as cryptic modern art as they reckon it's around 1,200 years old. 1,200? I was drawing better people than that when I was just four.

Unless these were painted by aliens and represent their true, gangly proportions? I don't even have to Google it to know that screwball theory definitely exists. Why give real humans any credit when you can heap praise on non-existent ancient astronauts who succeeded in developing technology to transport them several thousand light years across space, but couldn't invent creosote?

The Niah caves were excellent really. So nice, I almost forgave a rubbish tour company for not getting in touch with me after I made my reservation to see the more impressive Mulu caves (website background image), meaning I couldn't end up going. But it wouldn't be my blog without some element of failure.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Well, that about wraps it up for Brunei

That's about all I have to show for my holiday in Brunei, which lasted two hours and twenty-eight minutes so is at least better than I managed in Cambodia. It's only thanks to Borneo's slightly silly borders that I needed to pass through this country at all on my epic cross-country/cross-island bus journey between two bits of Malaysia.

At 11 hours, the Borneo Express from from Kota Kinabalu to Miri wasn't the longest bus journey I've ever taken - that tedious honour probably belongs to several low-budget school trips from North West England to Germany, which must have been at least 18 hours, and the overnight/overday bus I took from Bangkok to Krabi Town during floods, which was similar.

But this is the first trip I've taken where I've picked up practically one passport stamp per hour.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

He's changed

A few months ago, I might have settled for that Basic Dorm and risked suffering the snores and nocturnal telephone calls of 15 people. But my budget backpacking days are behind me, and I was happy to splash an extra 43 pence on air conditioned Superiority. Ooh, la-de-da - who does he think he is? He's changed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bignose strikes again

I debated whether to go to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary on my last day in Sandakan, because I was about to spend a couple of annoying days on buses and could have really used the time to catch up on work.

Then I realised that hanging around with massive-conked monkeys would be the best thing it's possible to do on any day ever. This turned out to be the best day I had in Borneo by far, and for once my photos weren't a let-down.

The only problem I can see resulting from this is that the regular, non-snouted monkeys I used to enjoy hanging out with aren't really going to do it for me any more. It'd be like playing Spellbound Dizzy on an 8-bit ZX Spectrum emulator when you grew up with the superior 16-bit Amiga 500 version. Substitute this analogy for two comparative game consoles produced after 1990 if that's easier for you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All work and no play

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Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack

a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy All work and

Monday, November 14, 2011

Curious orang

As far as I can gather from my total lack of research compensated by a surplus of reactionary imagination - so correct me if I'm wrong - the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is a place where celebrity orangutans can overcome their addictions to various substances through a strict diet of bananas, which are dispensed twice daily in humiliating rituals that the braying public is invited to attend.

Some people might think it's cruel to parade these troubled apes in this manner, but they've got to learn. Here are some lousy photos.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Borneo looks pretty nice.

I'm sure there's supposed to be some wildlife here though...?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An accidental day out

Bus conductors are the bane of my life, and when today's joker failed to drop me off anywhere near the stop I'd asked for (Green Connection Aquarium, where I was hoping to have a childish day out again again again again again again), I decided I'd try to make the best of the situation by investigating whatever there was in wherever I'd ended up.

Conveniently, as if to balance out the yin-yang of this annoying day, the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre was inexplicably offering free entry today. So while you could have had some of out-of-focus photos of me fondling stingrays, here are some out-of-focus photos of birds and crustaceans instead.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Anyone know anything about wounds?

Apologies, this is a slightly unpleasant post about a wound I received while unwisely trekking across the Malaysian island of Pulau Tioman in sandals, back in May. That was six months ago now, which is why I'm starting to get a bit concerned that the thing hasn't decided to go away yet.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cruise for a conk

Not my photo.
We'll get to my disappointing photos in a minute

Borneo might be best known for its orangutans, but it's also home to a more hilarious primate that I felt it was more pressing to see first - the big-nosed, preggers-bellied proboscis monkey.

Like the solitary tarsier, I feel affinity with this distant evolutionary cousin, as we're both blighted by enormous hooters. Though these monkeys also have humongous bellies, while I seem to be wasting away.

Monkeys can generally be relied on to be funny, so add a massive conk and you've got a winner in the comedy animal stakes. But if you feel a pang of guilt when guffawing at these sideshow freaks in places like Singapore Zoo, you can go down the responsible tourism route and see them hanging out in their native habitat on a cruise down Klias River.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The element of surprise

As I took that photo from the optimistically-named observation tower on Bukit Bendera ('observation tower' is Malay for 'small car park with view'), I had a brief, pleasant, nostalgic feeling that took me back to childhood.

I knew Kota Kinabalu was on the coast, but I hadn't expected to sea the see from here, and it made me realise that I really don't get as excited about the big blue wet thing as I used to.