Day 143: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Urgh, what a day. What a boring day. We achieved nothing thanks to the pirates attacking Borneo. The situation had escalated to the point the islands around Semporna had been closed. The government were evacuating people while they took care of business! Air strikes had even been issued, it was that bad. This meant our once in a lifetime opportunity to dive in one of the worlds greatest locations had to be put on the back burner. Now enough of the depressing news, on to more boring topics. A day that lead to the decision to leave Kota Kinabalu.

• The girls got up and out of bed around 8am, leaving me to sleep for another half an hour (what can I say, I hate mornings). It didn’t look like we’d be going snorkelling today, as the weather outside was abysmal. Rain, rain, rain.. Clearly we hadn’t slept off the curse!

• We enjoyed a free breakfast (toast and coffee) before heading out the door to find more information on the terrorist situation.

• There was a tourist information building 5 minutes from our hostel. Hoping they’d be able to better inform us, we headed there first. Inside the building was a short Malaysian man behind the counter. After asking him where was safe, he gave us a political style response by dancing around the question. Rather than tell us it was safe (a response we wanted to hear all day) he only said “everywhere is business as usual”. I guess nobody ‘legally’ would be allowed to tell us it was safe, incase we went there and something bad happened. Therefor making them liable for our outcome.

• The guy was rather helpful at the end when he pointed us in the direction of the British consulate. It was in the building next door on the tenth floor. We had to ring the bell several times before someone came to our aid and let us in. At the time, everyone was in a meeting. We took a seat and waited (which made Rachael worry, she didn’t know if we were allowed to do that), then 5 minutes later the secretary walked around the corner. She looked surprised to see us, but took us into a room to hear our woes.

• Again, much like the man in the tourist information, she couldn’t say if it was safe or not. But she seemed to steer more towards the opinion that it would be alright. Claiming you could get stabbed, mugged or raped anywhere, even Kota Kinabalu (charming).

• After such depressing news, the girls and I took a look around one of the three shopping malls. It was a waste of time as there wasn’t much to see, with that we returned to our hostel to better formulate a plan.

• With the use of a guidebook, we sat on some sofas hoping to learn something that might help our current predicament. It didn’t. So Sarah began asking passing travellers where they had been, and if they were any good to help narrow down places. There was one couple that were also in a similar boat, later that day they explained they were going to climb the Kinabalu mountain the next day. They were quite helpful, telling us what they knew about the situation, but it wasn’t until we were at reception that we made a new, helpful friend.

• Jack was his name, he stood around 6 foot, had short brown hair, and came from Bristol. He had been travelling for around 2 months, and had created a moving wallpaper app for mobile phones. He was travelling the world and taking pictures to add to the collection on his app. Jack needed to collect his camera from a repair shop, and offered to show us around town on the way. The 4 of us got food together and spoke of our plans. He had had to cancel a flight from Tawau, as that’s where most of the trouble was and the government closed the airport. After lunch we parted ways, Jack went off to get his camera, and I ended up going around the remaining 2 malls with the retail renegades.

• It was a waste of time, adding to the ****storm the day was becoming. The only joy Rachael got from the experience was when she had her picture taken underneath the Butterfly bakery sign (she loves them butterflies). After another failed shopping experience, we crossed the street and stopped in a tourist shop. Well, we visited a couple, but the first one charged an extortionate price for its trips. The reason for that was because of the guy running it. He claimed he was the go to guy for the BBC, whenever they filmed a wildlife documentary. This was because he had a keen eye for spotting nature. But at a cost of 2400 ringgit (£515) per person, he could forget it. We ended up visiting 2 shops in total that afternoon, the second of which was a lot cheaper, and the lady was straight to the point. This was mostly because she was preoccupied filling something with water in the room next door. We left with a better idea of what we might like to do, then took a stroll along the waterfront.

• The waterfront was very nice, there were cranes flying over the water, and occasionally they pitched on a stray post sticking out from the surface. There were several statues of sea creatures, one of which was a giant swordfish. It all made for very nice pictures, but because Rachael hadn’t seen a beach in a while we made that our next stop. The weather had improved and the sun came out to play. We caught a taxi for 20 ringgit, but the visit was extremely short lived. We were there for all of 10 minutes (as it wasn’t that impressive and the sands were wet) before paying another 20 ringgit to be taken back to our hostel.

• I was feeling lethargic by the time we got back, so while Rachel and Sarah planned what we’d be doing the next few days, I crashed out on the sofa beside them. Sarah Skyped her dad to help put her mind at rest about the pirates in Semporna, we still couldn’t visit the islands but we could make other plans. When I came to, I discovered the plan for tomorrow would be a visit to Kinabalu national park to see something other than the city. Later on that evening Sarah used my phone to FaceTime her sister. We got a chance to see that beautiful baby niece of hers in full clarity. She’s grown so much in the 5 months we’ve been away, it’s scary.

• We briefly befriended the two guys sharing our dorm room, before heading to book a trip. We didn’t get their names, but one of them was from Canada, the other was from Norway. The Canadian had a caramel complexion and was fairly tall. The guy from Norway had a slim build, blonde hair, and must have been around 6’2″.

• The decision was made, all that was left to do was book our trip. We thought we’d return to the lady we spoke with earlier that day. Because it was about 7pm when we arrived, her shop was closed. It worked our for the best, as we were able to get the same trip for less at a rival company next door. It was sorted, and we now had some direction. The next day we were off to the National Park at 8am.

• With that sorted, we withdrew some cash to cover us, then went to a restaurant for an evening meal. Afterwards, we retired to our hostel to see off a long and boring day. It would appear that for another day at least, the curse had remained with us. Leading me to believe it was Rachel who had brought it over with her. But things WERE looking up, we had a list of things to do over the next few days, and people told us the weather should improve.

• We sat in the communal area for about half an hour where we befriended another Dutch girl. Don’t be jealous Annelis, she paled in comparison to your rainbow coloured personality. We didn’t get her name either, but she told us she was thinking about climbing the mountain after her plans had also been ruined by the terrorist pirates! The 3 of us said our goodbyes and retired to our beds. It was there that a comparison in our accents occurred.

• I’m adamant that over time I have rid myself of the somerset accent, and there are only certain trigger words that make me sound like a farmer. One of which is ironically the word Farmer. It seems that every region of England has words they can’t say without sounding like where they’re from. For example, the game “pass the parcel” cannot be said in the south west without sounding extremely Somerset. I think it has to do with the “a” and the “ar”, I sometimes slip when I say “glasses, laughing, and Bath” to name but a few. By the end of our conversation we agreed that I had more of a Somerset twang, than a full blown farm boy accent. Whereas Rachael is from London, but that’s a whole other point entirely. For the best part, Rachael speaks correctly and doesn’t sound like a country bumpkin like Sarah and myself.

• After the topical debate it was midnight, meaning Rachael didn’t get any revision done for her job back home. And I didn’t get any of the blog typed (for the record I am typing it on a long winding road the day after, travel sick doesn’t come close to describing how I feel). With only 7 hours before we had to be up, for the second night running, we attempted to sleep off the curse!!

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