03 January 2013

Our Kota Kinabalu Adventure

Avril and I decided to level up and attempt to climb Mt. Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia. The idea sprang out after we climbed the second highest mountain in the Philippines back in 2010,  Early this year, when we saw a piso fare to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, we didn't hesitate to book the flight.

What happened before our flight to Malaysia

I wish we had more time to prepare more for the trip. Unfortunately time was a luxury we could not afford. Desperate for help, I borrowed money from my family and asked my friends for tips on traveling abroad. Their suggestions came in handy.

  • Travel light. Bring a map.
  • Bring a buddy with you.
  • Bring converter plug for your electronics.
  • Check about the culture of the country.
  • Check the weather of your destination before hand.
  • Photocopy your passport and other important travel documents.
  • Blend with the locals. 
  • Save the number of the Philippine Embassy or consulate.
  • Bring a small sling bag, to carry all your important documents.
  • My friends are very helpful. In a foreign land, these information can be very valuable.
  • Be a traveler, not a tourist. 
My favorite tip was: Huwag magdala or magpapicture ng shirt na may print na coming from another country (e.g. I heart SG), it's just wrong. hahaha, oo nga naman. 

I found their suggestions helpful. The art of travelling is still a skill I have to master. There must be a a plan and a contingency plan despite the lack of time. There are just some things we can't leave to chance. They say, "failure to plan, is planning to fail." This is true, especially when booking your accommodation in advance.

We booked our accommodation in Sabah in advance, fortunately the host of our budget lodge was Filipina. We have been in e-mailing her to confirm the particulars. Funny thing was, she had a special request. She requests "na kung puwede, bilhan namin siya ng 2 bottles of Bench Raspberry Cologne at 2 Goldilocks cakes, 1 Neapolitan and 1 Ube Macapuno roll. Avril was cool about but I, on the other hand, went crazy about the request. Ang hassel kaya! We obliged to grant her special request. It was all worth it naman, because when we were at our lodge, she treated us like a VIP. You should have seen the look at her eyes when, Joy, our host met us at the airport, she knew it was us right along because we were the only ones carrying her requested cakes.

An Incident at the Philippine Immigration

We had to be interviewed by the Immigration before departing the Philippines. The old man check our passports, look at our faces, in complete suspicion. His eyes widened when he read our info slip.

"Anong occupation niyo?" "Students po." I replied. "Meron ba kayong school ID?" I scratched my head remembering that I intentionally left my school ID when I was preparing my bag. Who would in his right mind bring an ID when he's on vacation? "So kung wala kayong ID, hindi kayo estudyante!" The immigration officer raised his voice.

At the back of my mind, "ganun ba yon, pag walang ID eh hindi na estudyante? lolo, logic(?)" He asked where we'll be staying, while studying the flight history of our passports, suddenly Avril remembered that last year, I gave her my old 2011 IDs that she has kept in deep in her purse. When he saw my ID. He asked us our course. We told him we were studying law. He was convinced and stamped our passports like a mad man. 

This old man was probably just concerned with our safety. Marami kasing TNTs kasi doon sa Sabah. Travel documents can be very important, when you are travelling. I realized that there are lots of things that could go wrong while travelling. For our own safety, I must prove the reason for our travel by substantial evidence.  

The best milk tea experience

The best drink you can have is a one that is especially prepared by the cabin crew 50k ft. up into the clouds. There's nothing like a pretty stewardess preparing milk tea with a smile. 

Touchdown to Kota Kinabalu. Small Airport, like our domestic airports.  First experience in this country to be lost in translation. There are no arrows that bring you to the exit. We just went with the flow, followed everyone else, and found our way to the exit. 

We booked our hotel at Traveler's Light Backpacker's Lodge. It's a small dorm type budget accommodation. It doesn't have the usual comforts of a hotel, but the warmth of the people  and its very convenient location makes up for it.