Same country, different landmass

Right now I’m still on Peninsular Malaysia, in Senai International Airport awaiting my flight to Kuching in Borneo – same country, but a separate landmass and actually shared with two other nations: Indonesia and Brunei. I’m aiming to visit the latter, but not sure of the former yet – depends on visas and whether it’s cheaper and easier to fly to the Philippines once I’m done in Borneo. Please note that as I’m in Malaysia, I’m now another hour ahead than I was in Thailand.

Major thing, though, is I have to thank Mike and Ria for being such amazing hosts the last couple of days. I’ve had plenty of time to chill, some great food, an entire swimming pool to myself and internet so I’ve been able to get this blog back up to date again. Folks, really – thank you so much! Enjoy your weekend in Bangkok, and take good care of Cat!

The internet here is free, and provided by the cybercafe… which I’m sat next to in a fast food place. I just tried one of Marrybrown‘s “Hotouch” burgers, kinda hoping it was going to be like a KFC Zinger, but it was completely unspicy. Nice burger, though. And in fairness it’s “local food” as they’re a Johor Bahru-based company!

Well, I have half an hour before boarding so I’m going to check my mail and see who I can catch online. As ever, I don’t know what my internet access will be like where I end up so updates could be a few days away – at least ones with pictures.

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Lazy day

I kind of slept in today. I usually wake moderately early so didn’t set an alarm. After crashing the previous night, the next thing I knew it was after 11:00. Eek. I showered and walked downstairs in time for Leah to be driving off to pick Mike up for his lunch! I looked after “Cat”, a little kitty that Ria rescued recently. He’s around 6 weeks old and the cutest little thing. Amazingly he’s not tried to eat any of Mike’s fish yet, which is good as half of them are larger than Cat himself.

After Mike returned to work, Ria offered to drive me around for a while and we went to a little cafe/restaurant somewhere off the back of the golf course for a couple of green teas. As we arrived, a minivan full of children pulled up and they bounded out, released from school for the afternoon. A few minutes later we were drinking on the terrace when the kids re-appeared in their casual clothes and dived into the mucky river, shouting and laughing. Wow – a far cry from back home where they’d be on their bloody PS3s and X-box’s with a large Coke and some crisps in front of them. No wonder these kids looked healthy.

Huge smiles and showing off for the tourists (though Ria’s almost a local in the area now). As we left, Ris started handing out One Ringgit notes to the kids, the way an auntie does when she’s visiting the relatives. Given there are six of these to a pound, it doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s enough to get some sweets or a decent packet of biscuits and without exception every single child said “thank you”.

We then drove to a supermarket, picked some stuff up and then realised it was almost five o’clock and zoomed back to dodge the rapidly building traffic jams.Along the way I spotted a lot of signs outside businessed and realised that Malay has a lot of “phonetic” words they’ve pinched from English. “Kah” for car, “motosikle” for motorcycle, “insurans” for insurance and so forth. It does make things a little easier.

Another relaxed evening with good chat and a few beers followed. After which I sat in an armchair, typing like crazy, uploading photos and having my toes savaged by a mad kitten.

New city, old country

A rushed morning as I tried to get more work done, then wolfed down a KFC and directed another wayward soul towards the Vietnamese embassy before grabbing my bags and walking over the road for the Airport Express bus.

Now, the problem with this service is that it’s “every 40 minutes” but doesn’t run to a timetable. So you could potentially just miss one, and have to wait ages. Then there’s the fact that traffic fluctuates so it could be more than forty minutes that you end up waiting. Like I did. I got to the stop next to the Sofitel on Silom a shade after 1pm. The bus finally heaved into view at 13:50.

Wherever you are in the city there’ll be a stop for one of these buses (there are 4 routes) nearby – the best thing to do is check with a hotel or hostel for the nearest. Strangely, the fare back to the airport is 100 Baht, when it’s 150 Baht to come the other way. We made good time once we got through the traffic and I had plenty of time to check in – a good think as the queues at immigration were very slow-moving.

I gobbled a hot dog from Dairy Queen and picked up some face cream for Ria (one of my hosts for the next couple of nights) and strolled right onto my Air Asia flight which left dot on time. A lovely comfy plane, punctual arrival and easy trip through immigration at the Malaysian end.

Mike and Ria live out past Johor Bahru, so I had to get a taxi there. The flat rate is 60 MYR (around a tenner) but as the journey to their place took about an hour I didn’t think this was too much. I’m sure I could have caught three buses and walked a couple of miles to get there for less but I’d not have made it till the next day.

Once there, I dropped my luggage, took a proferred beer and had a great meal. Thank you kindly to Mike, who’s a great chef! Beer, wine and cognac flowed before we retired for the night. It really was pretty late and I appreciate them waiting for me to arrive before dinner. Last thing before bed, I sorted out my flights and accommodation for the next leg of the trip. Two years delayed, here I come Borneo!

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