Getting to BSB
Kota Kinabalu Travel Blog› entry 106 of 121 › view all entries
I pretty much wrote the morning today off as do nothing time, but I had to get back on the net and sort more work bookings out; which always gets quite stressful and switches me back to UK mode and off from holiday mode. It’s never a nice transition, but a necessary one.
I did make it out to have a look around Kota Kinabalu and take some photos. I find it to be a pretty and well decorated city with a huge ethnic diversity with its eclectic mix of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, and Indonesian people. It all makes it pretty tough for a tourist to decipher what a Borneo native active is!
The hostel was great as well, and I found plenty of company from people of all walks of age, origin, and background. I found it a very laid back place to stay and was happy I’d managed to get booked back into there.
I strolled up to the peer with my backpack on hoping to catch the 2pm ferry to Pulau Labuan and from there onto BSB, but when I got there I found the 2pm ferry was actually a 1:30pm ferry and I was too late. The desk had closed for the day as well, so I had no chance of booking for the next day just yet. It was going to be a bit too roundabout and expensive to get to Labuan that night, so instead I booked back into the hostel.
I bought a Malaysian SIM so I could call the bank as well, and with the spare credit, I called my parents for the first time since leaving. Shocking really that until now I’d relied completely on emails.
For my tea, I went to the night market and hawker stalls. The food was great and ever so cheap. I sat with a bunch of locals and spoke a bit about Malaysia and the UK. It was quite a nice way to spend an evening for me.
I got up and had a hurried breakfast at 7am and then left to make sure I would catch the 8am ferry, this time without any hiccoughs.
Docking a Pulau Labuan, I immediately noticed all the duty free shops and liquor stalls. I was on a dry spell and really didn’t want to be drinking, so I ignored all of the beers, wines, and spirits, but did succumb to the temptation of chocolate. Man I’d missed that stuff, but now sat here with a big bar of Cadbury’s Turkish Delight there was to be only one outcome. I’m a binger. I hardly ever have just one or two drinks; it’s kind of a stay sober or get hammered deal with me; chocolate is the same. I can’t have a few chunks to satisfy the taste buds, it’s all or nothing. Funny how I can abstain from most things for a long while and not be bothered in the slightest, but when I break the duck, ah man, there is hell to pay. That bar of chocolate lasted less than five minutes despite my best intentions on purchasing it to make it last a few days at least. I went and bought another bar for the next few days as it was cheap and accessible, but that one went the same way, and I put the wallet away. I felt no guilt whatsoever.
The first ferry to BSB had to turn around quite abruptly as it wasn’t big enough to tackle the waves. This meant a couple of hours wait and a backlog of passengers, but the second ferry was much bigger and could handle the sea. Once on board, I could easily see why the smaller boat had turned around! The larger one was getting tossed around pretty strongly by the waves. I was sat in the forward facing position by the front windows, and I could clearly see the angle the boat was at in relation to the sea. It didn’t do my chocolate fuelled stomach any favours, so I tried to get a little bit of sleep instead.
I caught the bus to BSB, but seemed to be the only passenger with Brunei dollars on my person. Luckily the driver accepted ringotts from everyone else, but at more expensive rate. I thought about Homer Simpson when he set the house on fire whilst dancing around singing “I am so smart, I am so smart. S-M-R-T, I mean S-M-A-R-T’.
On the bus I got talking to a couple of guys who were speaking in French. It turned out neither of them was French, but in fact one was Canadian, Richard (Montreal) and the other was Spanish, Raul (Barcelona). We all wanted to find somewhere to stay, and so when a genuinely kind offer of a lift to a hostel from a Bruneian man was presented, we all gratefully accepted.
My first impression of the city and indeed Brunei were that it was a wealthy place. The bus had driven by several ambassador's houses and whoa! They were humungous. The other thing I noticed was how cheap the petrol price was in the country compared to the UK. It was about a sixth of the cost! OPEC truly have the market by the short and curlies and that left little doubt about how the oil price can fluctuate so much per barrel. It is a cheaper product, but with almost total control over supply, you can charge a fortune. No wonder it gets called ‘Black Gold’ when you can make such a profit.
I also found BSB to be surprisingly cheap (for food), clean, friendly and safe. It’s such a quiet city as well, even though this was a Saturday night. Without alcohol being legal to sell in this strongly Islamic nation, there seems to be very little in terms of nightlife. In fact, only a small cinema and a few restaurants are open after dark.