Day 145: Steve With a “V”, Not a “Ph”

Yessss, finally the curse had been lifted. When the alarm rang at 9am we woke up to find it was sunny outside. It remained that way all day, not a single sign of precipitation to be seen anywhere! Everything went well for the first time since Rachael’s arrival. Without further ado here’s today’s blog post…

• It was a 9am start for the three of us, followed by showers, breakfast, and morning rituals. When we were ready we set off to find the hotel Johnny worked for.

• A couple blocks over we located Hotel Sixty3. As Johnny had promised, the day trips were cheaper and we managed to book up a river cruise for 140 ringgit (£28). It wasn’t the original river cruise we had in mind, to avoid the pirate trouble we’d have to go to the west of Borneo. It meant we wouldn’t get the opportunity to see Pygmy elephants, but we would get to keep our lives. Swings and roundabouts.

• When we left the building we spotted a viewpoint that allowed you to see the whole of the city. Seeing as we didn’t know how to reach it, we stopped in the tourist information. They gave us a map with directions, 5 minutes later we were confronted with a series of extremely steep steps. They were practically a ladder. As we made our way up, all around us were butterflies, which made Rachael’s day. We stopped to admire them before continuing to the viewpoint.

• The only thing that hindered our full appreciation of the view were the tall high rise tower blocks. Behind them we could just about see the islands, they were acting like a tall person at the front row of a concert. They looked beautiful, shame we wouldn’t be visiting them this visit. Kota Kinabalu had a lot of construction going on, many of the already tall buildings had cranes working atop them. We stayed for about 10 minutes before heading back to our hostel.

• As well as changing my shorts to boardies (it was way too hot for denim) we booked our second flight. Unlike the evening before, it actually worked. My card was accepted, and the payment went through properly.

• To celebrate such a feat, we paid a little visit to the mall 😦 oh joy. We made a stop to a 7 eleven on the way, which worked in my favour. Because I bought a slurpee, when the girls entered a clothing store inside the mall, I was rejected by the security guard. Never have I been so happy to not be allowed entry anywhere. Perhaps I should do that more often.

• Surprise, surprise, the girls bought nothing. Absolutely nothing. They didn’t even eye any items up for a follow up visit. By now I was beginning to feel as though I could do with some male company. It’s just not encoded in my DNA to enjoy browsing shops. Men are designed to go to a shop already knowing what it is they want, locate it, and buy it for as cheap a price they can. It all goes back to the hunter gatherer days. The perks of having a penis I guess!

• Walking away empty handed, we paid a visit to the Old Town Coffee shop for dinner and a drink. Half an hour later we settled the bill and returned to the hostel. We had to return as the time was getting closer to our day trip. There was only an hour before we had to be back at the hotel. We used that time wisely and checked in online, then printed out the flight itinerary to KL. Unfortunately there were some complications with our second flights itinerary, the computer froze as we were about to print them. We ran out of time and had to leave it, with only 5 minutes to spare we quickly walked to Hotel Sixty3.

• There were only 4 of us going on the trip, and after waiting for a few minutes our driver arrived. Sadly it wasn’t Johnny, but our new driver was just as nice. We drove for a good 2 hours in the black 6 seater Toyota. All the way the roads were extremely bumpy, seeing as I chose the back seat, I felt every bump. Whenever we crossed over bridges I’d nearly hit my head on the roof. It made it very difficult to write the blog, but it was perfect timing. As soon as we arrived I had finished the previous days post.

• Inside we were given the opportunity to sit down and help ourselves to coffee. Afterwards, everyone who was there for the same experience was divided into groups. We were then told to follow our guides on to the boats. In total I’d say there were around 7 boats on the river. All of which were crammed with tourists. This made it quite difficult to spot the proboscis monkeys because of the noise levels. We were told to keep quiet when we were close, which we did, but the sounds of the motors would have been quite intimidating for the big nosed furry ones. We didn’t see very many during our ride down the river (somewhere in the region of 3 if memory serves). But back up the river was a different story completely. We saw a couple lizards, lots of birds flying overhead, and even more proboscis monkeys. There was one tree in particular that had a large male and his harem of females. One of which was carrying a baby. One by one they ran and jumped through the trees in the background. Each jump was followed by a “wow”, or an “ooh”, from the tourists. Including me. It was amazing to see them in their natural habitats rather than an enclosure. After seeing that we returned to the dock to have an evening meal.

• The food was amazing. It was a buffet that included rice, sweet and sour fish, beef, chicken curry, watermelon and many more. When I first went up there wasn’t much to choose from, as the best part had been cleared by greedy hands. The food was refilled constantly, and I had a couple plates before we went back out on the boats.

• We were under the cover of darkness during this boat ride. The reason being, we weren’t looking for monkeys, it was the fireflies turn to play macro polo. Our driver had to flash the light on the front of the boat several times, to make sure we didn’t hit the other groups boats. It wasn’t long before we saw the trees lit up like Christmas. It was much better than our experience in Kampot. It was much closer to Owl City’s song this time. There had to have been at least a thousand in each tree we stopped at. It was alive with light, and so beautiful. Bad news I’m afraid, our cameras couldn’t pick it up, so you’ll have to take my word for it that it was a stunning sight. Our tour guide explained to us that the local people believe them to be the angels of fallen loved ones. And if you were to catch one and make a wish, it would come true. During our return journey we had the fortune of one pitching on a tourists hand, she passed it back and we had the opportunity of holding it ourselves. We made a wish then let it go, even if it was reluctant to leave (I don’t know what that means for our wishes). Later on another one pitched on my lifejacket… I AM THE CHOSEN ONE!!!

• Back at the dock we had just about enough time to hand over our lifejackets and visit the bathrooms, before jumping back in the Toyota for another bumpy 2 hour journey.

• Back at the hostel we were able to print out our second flight’s itinerary, and check in online ahead of time. This saved us a lot of time in the grand scheme of things, it especially meant we wouldn’t have to be at the airport 2 hours early. Later on that evening, Sarah and Rachael were sensible enough to go to be early. Whereas I stayed up until midnight trying to figure out how to FaceTime my old housemate Steve.

• We gave up initially, but with one last valiant effort, the bearded one came through the blower at 11:30pm. It was so nice to see him again, it had been 5 months since we last spoke, before that we had been living together for 4 years. I’ve known Steve since we were babies, our families are good friends, and in that sense he is practically my brother. He is my best friend, so it’s only fair that he gets recognition in this blog.

• After knowing the crazy character that is Steve for so long, I feel it only fair to describe him to you the best way I can. Steven Graham Dando (to use his full title) is a body of life. He has a larger than life personality, is the friendliest guy I know, and even though he has constant energy thanks to his ADHD, it doesn’t stop him downing the occasional can of Monster. This is never fun for anyone, the results usually end with him bouncing off the walls, like an excitable puppy. Believe it or not, for as much energy as he possesses, he can also be the most chilled out person you’ll ever know.

Some of my favourite memories from home are when we had hangover Sundays. The average Sunday would be spent in the living room, with the curtains drawn, and a movie marathon running on the tv (how homoerotic!). He’s a keen guitar player, extremely good inline skater (check out his skate team “We Are Rollers”), and he is covered in tattoos. Steve also suffers from dyslexia, but that doesn’t stop him from being a load of FNU. He has dark hair, and even darker brown eyes, and I can’t remember the last time I saw him clean shaven. It’s been so long that I believe he was born with a beard. He’s not the tallest person, standing around 5’6″, but that didn’t stop him attracting the opposite sex. Often the walls of Alder Terrace would echo with the screams of flussies. I sometimes wondered if he had a ticket system implemented, a “take a number and get in line” sort of deal. His philandering ways are long behind him these days though, after he met the love of his life Beth.

He immediately fell for Beth, and she is the only girl I know that is able to tame the savage beast. Using her hairdressing skills, she took the hairy yeti and groomed him into a respectable looking citizen. Starting with a haircut and finishing with losing the minobrow. She also bettered the boys wardrobe, and with that, the new Steve was born. Steve often told me how much he liked Beth (before they got serious) on a regular basis – you know, guy talk and all that. After only dating for 7 months they got engaged, and are scheduled to marry later this year. I guess when you know, you know. They make a beautiful couple and it’s easy to see why they are together. Not long after I left England Steve bought his own house. I presume this will be where the couple start their new life together, and I wish them all the best in their future.
So ladies and gentlemen, let’s raise a glass for the happy couple, hip hip hooray!

(I’m hoping he chooses this as the best man speech. Nobody will write a better one than that, if I wasn’t travelling the world I’d totally get the job!!!)

• We only had a brief chat, as I was very aware of the time, and when I did return to the room Sarah asked me to share her single bed. With very little room, and even littler time before we had to be up, we did our best to get comfy and go to sleep.

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