Saturday, July 28, 2007

Arriving in Borneo

(Note: Posts during my trips will be dated the day they happen, not the date I post them. This will make it easier to follow my trip. So far, I've got one for every day. Check back often!)

Did you know that AirAsia flies out of a different airport in Kuala Lumpur than Malaysian Airlines? Because I sure didn't.

To make my trip cheaper, I booked a return ticket to Kuala Lumpur through the travel agent in Japan, then booked a separate ticket with AirAsia to get me to Borneo and back. Sayaka and I arrived in KL around 4:30 or so. I kept looking around trying to find my flight and what gate I should head to. Finally, I approached the information desk and the nice girl there kindly informed me that my plane would be leaving from another airport. Thirty minutes away by taxi. I told Sayaka I'd be waiting for her at her gate and, after a sprint through customs (fortunately, there wasn't a long wait at immigration and customs didn't decide I looked like a smuggler -- there's a death penalty for drugs) I burst out and rushed around looking for a taxi. I eventually found one for MR 20, actually I think it was just some guy who was looking to make some weekend cash, and we rushed off to the LCC Terminal. Malaysia has very nice roads, at least around the airport, a lot nicer than Vietnam and less crowded than Thailand. Despite my concerns, I made it there in plenty of time, enough to sit down and have a coffee at the local Starbucks lookalike chain.

The flight wasn't too bad, especially for a discount flight. But I was a bit surprised when they charged me for my snacks, I'm so used to the major airlines and their all-you-can-drink beer service. So we pulled in to Kota Kinabalu, the major transport hub of Sabah, the province of Malaysian Borneo we were visiting, around 10:30pm. I got through
immigration (again!) and went out to find Malaysian Airlines. The screen said her flight would be arriving at Terminal 1, I was at Terminal 2. I started looking for directions to where I could meet her, but none were to be found. So I asked the information desk girls. They took time out from gossiping and watching TV to tell me that Terminal 1 is the same airport, but on the other side of the runway. The only way to get there is by taxi. Again. I'd arranged for transport to our hotel, but they certainly weren't waiting for me in the arrival area. So I bought a taxi coupon, MR 20, and jumped aboard. It was closer, only twenty minutes this time. I arrived to find Sayaka wandering aimlessly outside the arrival doors, wondering where the hell I'd gone off to. She'd completely managed to miss the hotel pickup sign with my name on it, though to be fair it was written in tiny writing and the guy was holding it about level with his crotch.

We got to our hotel around 11:30 local time, an hour earlier than Japan. The Hamin Lodge wasn't bad, the room was a bit small, but the shower put out hot water and it was located next door to a really cool open-air seafood restaurant area with tanks full of various fish and shellfish waiting to be hacked up or dropped into a pot of boiling water. Yum!

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