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Kota Kinabalu to Kuching: Stream of consciousness

MALAYSIA | Saturday, 23 May 2009 | Views [1048]

Most disconcerting flight from Kota Kinabalu to Kuching. Had looked up from newspaper during course of flight to see bizarre clouds out the window. Looked kind of like we were flying upside down. Had sudden irrational fear that we had crashed and died and that this was some sort of weirdass afterlife. If so, probably hell. What could be worse than an eternity in an economy class seat?

Refrained from looking out window from that point on. Also refused tea or coffee. Had obviously had too much that morning already.

Arrive in Kuching. Not dead after all. Guidebook told me that there was a bus into town. Everyone else said otherwise. Cursed guidebook for neither the first or last time, and bought taxi coupon for RM22. Was directed to the front of taxi stand where the dodgiest looking taxi awaited, accompanied by a grinning man, who was accompanied by a shock of Einsteinesque hair and a huge grin. He looked older in his taxi ID photo. I told him so. He said the photo was taken when he was older. Smartass.

Arrived at hostel called Tracks B&B. New place. Good ratings on websites. Walked into tiny lounge area and immediately obstructed view of large television which was being watched intently by six westerners. Oops. Apologies for... uhh... existing.

Was directed to dorm, adjacent to TV room. Stiflingly hot with noise from television coming through. Took shower and made cup of tea. Tried to be social in TV room, but all eyes are glued to TV watching TransAmerica. Kind of weird. Felt the need to ask questions of hostel manager, but he was glued to the internet, and any questions would have surely interrupted the movie watching.

Urgh.

Walked to nearby hostel. Aircon. Friendly staff. Quiet. Went back to first hostel, paid for one night and checked out. Debated whether this was an occasion for congratulating oneself, or being disappointed with oneself. Decided on the former.

Went for a walk down to the waterfront. (Kuching sits on a bit river.) Was about 5pm so all the shops were closing. Walked around the back of a construction zone looking for food. (Yes, travelling reduces you to very basic requirements: Shelter first, food and drink next. Hunting and gathering.) Am greeted by a young guy walking the same way. I'm used to this. I am a movie star in Borneo.

Hello, he says.
Hello, how are you? I say.
I'm fine, I've just been to see my aunt, he replies.
Oh? How's your aunt? I enquire.
She's fine, she's going to help me to move my mattress, he enigmatically responds.

He asked me where I was going. I had no adequate reply. He walked with me along the waterfront and we chatted. It started hosing down. We hid in a shelter. Told me he was working as a waiter in a fancy restaurant, saving cash to study graphic design. Also, he favourite foods are sandwiches, pasta and salad.

At the cessation of the downpour, he invited me on his motorbike to look at the city. Am very nervous on the back of a motorbike, especially with no helmet, and especially in Asia. But didn't die, evidently. Ended up at the place of the weekend farmers' market, but a day early. Had Laksa Sarawak from a food stall. Talked rubbish.

Back to the waterfront. Sat in what he called the "hanging spot" -- a terraced area next to the river. We promise to meet here at 4.30pm the next day. After he finishes work. In the meantime I'm not allowed to do any sightseeing without him. Hah!

He offers to drop me back at my hostel. We get lost. Zipping through Kuching at night. Ground is wet. Air is fragrant with flowers or something. Wind whipping through my hair. Hands nervously resting on the back of this boy, (as if that's going to save me).

Makes a change from KK anyways.

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