Friday, January 31, 2014

Borneo again

This wasn't supposed to be a particularly active trip, but it didn't take long before the novelty of new surroundings and amusing foreign English signs stopped being enough and I gave in to the urge to research potentially stressful DIY day trips out of Kota Kinabalu.

I expected there to be a level of confusion and annoyance as we struggled with erratic transport schedules. What I didn't expect was to get completely bloody knackered after a day of walking around in the sun and needing the entire next day to recuperate. It's not as if I was ever in great shape to begin with, but it was no effort to power walk o'er vales and hills to the pace of an enthusiastic power metal playlist before. This is what six months lying on a bed watching The X-Files and eating cookies does to you. I did wonder.

It's a good thing I decided not to take on the two-day hike up Mount Kinabalu then, though a few more days of walking around these city streets and docks should at least get me in a suitable condition to tackle the undemanding hiking trails around the national park next week. After I've got that out of my system, I expect Bali to be all about beaches, books and betutu (a Balinese food beginning with 'b,' looks nice).

But Bali does have volcanoes...

Kota Kinabalu,

I hardly saw anything of this city the first time I was here, when I was more eager to get out and meet the monkeys. I was also a bit burnt-out after a year of backpacking, and it didn't help that I foolishly chose the cheapest hostel available that wasn't close to anything.

This time I was better prepared and chose a place of a slightly higher standard right in the heart of the tourist area, offering premium access to restaurants, markets and bed bugs. I forgot about those guys. Weird the things that didn't used to bother me back then, I keep forgetting to apply standards to my memories. After a couple of nights we moved back to less itchy obscurity.

Signal Hill

KK is a nicer tropical city than most, largely thanks to its expansion being restricted by mountains on one side and sea on the other. Like last time, I wandered up Signal Hill for the not-actually-that-high view of the squeezed city, and since I'm not travelling alone any more, and my sightseeing schedule isn't so coldly practical, we bothered to wait for the sunset this time. Weird that one of those clouds doesn't seem to have moved much in two and a half years.

Atkinson Clock Tower or a satellite image of a lake. I'm stealing Jackie's photo because I like the optical illusion.

Tanjung Aru

Despite running alongside the water, there aren't any beaches in downtown KK. That would be silly. They keep them over by the airport, though there are several spoilt paradise islands a short boat ride away that we'll visit later if I have the effort to haggle with seamen. You saw how I spelled it.

We had an anniversary at some point, and more sunsets happened. I'm enjoying the quiet life. I hope this doesn't all mean I've matured or something; probably just that my life will be disproportionately spent in old age from this point forward. I'm happy with that. I just hope our next guest house has fewer stairs.

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