Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia: Week 2 of 2

I had successfully completed writing a number of blogs after a week in Kota Kinabalu (KK); however, there was more to be written. Unfortunately, due to the number of viruses that my camera's memory card had received, I was unable to upload pictures. Viruses are rampant in Internet cafes throughout Southeast Asia. It almost makes me want to purchase a small laptop, strictly for the purpose of uploading pics.

I was really enjoying writing about my travels in the Philippines. It brought back a lot of good memories. Too good, really, as I found myself yearning to go back more and more. Sheila and I kept in touch daily, writing and chatting to one another via Gmail and Facebook. I felt so far away from Sheila yet, really, we were so close as KK is only a 2 hour flight away from Manila.

"Hmmm. Should I stay or should I go?" I continuously thought. But nah, if we both wanted to see each other, the universe would provide opportunities in allowing it to happen. The both of us will just have to continuously look for the signs for when the opportunity presents itself. Because that's the thing, really, opportunities are presented to us all the time, it's just a matter of recognizing it and seizing the moment. And I feel as if this is one of the most important discoveries that I've learned during my travels. However, it's not as easy as someone telling you,

"Hey, man, opportunities are presented to you everyday. Look out for them."

"Oh yeah? Thanks, I'll keep that in mind."

But to REALLY "keep it in mind" is a difficult skill to acquire. Because as difficult as it is for us to make that conscientious effort to recognize the perpetual signs and opportunities which are presented to us regularly, it's even MORE difficult to follow the signs and to have that fortitude and unwavering ability to seize those moments. It is difficult for most to acquire such skill and knowledge, but they're also a small percentage of people who I've found to be innately disposed to such knowledge. These people tend to be the ones who I've described as having that "It" quality. I would postulate that even most of them are unaware of their inherent knowledge, and intuitively find their direction in life by following the signs and seizing the opportunities that arise. I don't claim to fall into the category of the latter; however, after 7 months of traveling, I'm now able to notice the signs more and more. Now it's just a matter of following them and seizing the opportunities, which is difficult because it takes effort. It reminds me of a quote from the movie The Matrix, where Morpheus says to Neo, "I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one who has to walk through it."

In any case, as I feel I'm beginning to babble, my second week in KK was slightly more eventful. Remi returned to the hostel after a few days of traveling, only to find me still in the dorm room writing.

"I can't believe you are still here!" Remi said.

I laughed as the first thing he did when he opened the door was poke his head around the corner to see if I was still writing in my bed.

"I was wondering if you were still going to be here, and sure enough here you are," he continued.

He sat down beside my bed and showed me pictures of his travels from the past few days.

The following morning I left for Kota Kinabalu National Park. I had met a Danish guy, Morten, a few days prior and told him that I'd planned to do some trekking in the park, and that if he wanted he join me he was certainly welcome. A few days later he came back to my room, as he'd left for another hostel, and said he was in. To get to KK National Park we had to squeeze into a jammed packed minivan. And what was only suppose to take 1.5 hours to reach the park, took us 3. Initially everything was going fine. I mean, we didn't have to wait long for the minivan to leave, and there was plenty of space to stretch our legs.

But we didn't actually think we would travel to the park without our minivan being completely full, did we?

So our driver pulled over and waited for more passengers before continuing. Then he had to do the usual . . . ya know, routine car maintenance. Yes, he actually took the vehicle to get some work done along the way. Again . . . you know, the usual. I mean, why would he have done this prior to us leaving? That would have been preposterous.

I thought Morten was gonna snap. And just moments before, Morten realized that he'd left his expensive camera back at his hostel.

Not good.

We settled for a hostel just outside of the park which had a restaurant and an amazing view of the mountains and country side. After we got established in our room he phoned the hostel in KK about his camera. As I was writing on my bed, Morten entered the room with unsettling news.

"Well, they couldn't find my camera," he said, sounding utterly depressed.

"No way, man," I responded. "Dude, I'm sorry. That's messed up."

He sat in silence for a few minutes before he quietly got up and walked out the room. "Son of a bitch!!!" Morten yelled, as the door shut behind him.

Okay, okay. So he didn't yell anything. But I could feel that that's what he wanted to yell. And who could blame him? He returned about 30 minutes later.

"Hey, man," I said, "Where did you go?"

"Oh, I just walked down the road," he responded. "It gave me time to think about what happened, and to calm down. And did you see that sunset? It was so beautiful."

I was really impressed with how he handled the loss of his camera. It revealed a lot about his character.

"You want to get something to eat?" he asked.

"Yeah, sure," I happily responded. And I enjoyed one of the most delicious bowls of chicken curry that I'd ever had. Wow. Yummy.

The next morning we got up early to do some trekking. The trek was a bit lame, actually. It wasn't scenic at all and there was a pipeline that followed our trail. Not something you want to see while trekking through a national park. I decided as we were walking out of the park that I wouldn't stay another night, and would go back to KK. I was missing talking to Sheila, too.

Good Lord, what was happening to me?

I realize that I didn't write much about Morten as an individual, but he was an extremely cool guy. I really enjoyed hanging out and conversating with him. He was a deep cat and I digged that about him. Plus he loved jazz, so come on . . . he had to be cool. As we parted ways, I thought, "How many people am I going to meet during my travels that could be my best friend back in the States?" Geez.

Back at the hostel in KK, I eventually finished my last blog about the Philippines. What a relief. Now I felt as if I could continue my travels. I needed to take care of some errands before I left, however.

As my hostel didn't do laundry, I began searching for some laundry mats that had been recommended to me. But I couldn't find any for the life of me. Even after some tourists told me where some were, I still couldn't find any. I was beginning to get a bit frustrated. And then . . .

Crack, crack, boom!

It began to rain. So I ran back to the hostel, not having completed one measly thing.

I'd had the dorm room to myself for the past few nights, so I was a little bummed to discover a new roommate as I entered the room.



After acknowledging one another I plopped onto my bed and layed down, feeling frustrated that I hadn't gotten anything done.


"Okay," the man said, "I'm going to pick up my laundry now."

My upper half of my body catapulted upon hearing such words.

"Did you say that you're going to pick up your laundry?" I inquired.

"Yes," he replied, as he began to walk out the door.

Hmmm . . .

"Hey," I hollered, as he was walking out the door, "Would you mind if I'd join you?"

"No, no," he said. "Come along."

Follow the signs, right?

The rain lightened to a drizzle as we walked outside.

"What was your name again?" I asked.


"Hi, Ghana. My name is Adam."

I thanked Ghana, a middle aged Malaysian of Indian descent, for letting me tag along as I'd been searching somewhere to have my laundry done. After I turned my laundry in, the employee asked for me to pay.

"Really?" I said, "Can I pay when I pick it up?"

"No, sorry. That's our policy."

"Hold on. Wait, wait, wait," Ghana interjected, "He'll pay once he receives his laundry back."

"Okay, you can pay when you pick up your laundry," said the employee.

"What the . . . ?" I thought.

I told Ghana that I liked his style, and thanked him.

Over dinner - which he paid for - Ghana told me that he lived in Miri but that he was in KK on business. He said he had a room already paid for at the Hyatt but that he preferred hostels because he enjoys meeting intelligent, interesting people such as myself (his words). Switching the topic to travel, I asked him what countries he's traveled to. He told me he's been everywhere. So I began to name some countries: Japan, India, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, France, Brazil, etc. He said he'd been to them all.

"Wow," I said, "You really have travelled everywhere, man."

"Everywhere!" he hollered, "I've been everywhere!" I couldn't help but to laugh.

Apparently, Ghana used to be an oil man - and still is, actually, as he owns his own oil related business. He also appears to have his hands full with many other projects as well. I couldn't keep track with all his involvements. He's a busy man, let's put it like that. His cell phone constantly rang as we were eating.

When I switched the topic to music he impressed me with his knowledge of so many different artists and music. He said that he'd opened the first music club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, called the Red Rooster from 1978-1983. Musicians such as Santana, Earth Wind and Fire, and Paula Abdul all jammed at his club. Impressive.

After dinner he said he had some business to attend to and that he'd catch up with me later. Some hours later at the hostel, as I was talking to another roommate, Ghana walked in with a bag full of food from KFC.

"Come, come, Mr. Adam!" he said, "Let's eat."

He didn't have to tell me twice.

After dinner he went downstairs to get a blanket. When the hostel employee attempted to charge him for the blanket - which, up to that point, he'd successfully done with every other guest - Ghana refused.

"No, no, no," he said, "I'm not going to pay for a blanket. Now are you going to let me take this blanket?"

"Yes," said the woman from the front desk.

"What the . . . ?" I thought again.

It was amazing watching him perform these Jedi mind tricks. I witnessed him do it about 5 times in total. He really did remind me of Obi Wan from the movie Star Wars.

That night, before we went to sleep, he asked me what my plans were for the following day. I told him that I'd been trying to find someone who could get rid of the viruses from my camera's memory card.

"Ahh," Ghana said, "I will bring you to a place tomorrow."


The next morning the search began. Ghana had an amazingly strong presence about him. The force was strong with him. Off the charts, really. As we walked through KK's streets, malls, and markets, Ghana walked directly through the crowds without anyone touching him. It was as if people floated around him, while I clumsily bumped into everyone.

[highlight, copy and past the address below]

After the third attempt, he found a place that could clear my memory card of its viruses. I was ecstatic, as I hadn't been able to find anyone who could fix it.

"Everything can be done, Mr. Adam!" Ghana hollered, as we stepped onto the escalator, "Everything can be done!"

I was really beginning to like this guy.

That night I hung out with Ghana and his friends. I was the youngest and only backpacker in the group, as all of his friends were middle aged, wealthy businessman. I definitely stood out like a sore thumb; however, everyone treated me as an equal and I felt as if if fitted right in. Again, I didn't spend a dime. Ghana and his friends paid for everything. So nice.

Ghana also invited me to Miri, his hometown, and said he would show me a good time. I hadn't planned on visiting Miri but it sure did sound like a great opportunity. He gave me his phone number and email, and told me to contact him when I arrived in the city. I felt as if I had done pretty good for myself in the 2 weeks spent in KK.

You did good kid, real good.

Next Stop: Brunei



  1. Hey Adam,

    Do you carry any guidebooks or what kind of research did you do? I'm starting to brush up on where I want to go but it's a little overwhelming.

  2. Since I have been traveling strictly in se asia, i purchased a cheap se asia guidebook which has all the countries (found it in china town in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). Once you figure out where you want to travel, everything else will fall into place. What countries do you have on your radar??


  3. we're probably going to do europe first (kind of sucks because it's stupid expensive). we'll probably do like 3 months in europe. then we're hoping to a similar SE Asia trek the next year and hopefully go for a long time like you.