Most people who land in Singapore airport should be happy they are in arguably the worlds most efficient airport. Given our late flight and the 23 minutes we had to get on the next plane we weren't left much time for casual appreciation but we were grateful for the chance of a bit of exercise at last. Relief has been defined to me as finding a clean toilet in India, but I would say the sight of our bags being packed onto our plane just before we taxied out to take off comes a close second. It's no way to start a trip replacing all your clothes and carefully chosen travel items.
A short flight and we arrived in Kota Kinabalu; our first taste of Malaysia. First impressions? Well the afternoon was somewhat hard to make out being obscured by the vertical lines of matchsticks but I can report that only 45 seconds after leaving the airport we spotted our first Manchester United badge, so just like being at home. A short nap at the hotel succeeded in making us feel worse than before so we self-prescribed some walking to get the blood flowing again. Some care had to be taken when crossing the dual-carriageway to the sea front to ensure that the blood didn't start flowing for the last time. At the sea front we were greeted with the world power boat championships - not typically Malaysian I wager but if you like fast boats this would have been your thing. The heat was hard to ignore for our pale winter English bodies so iced tea was ordered at a suspiciously western cafe and we could reflect on where we were. Compared to much of Asia I've been to, Malaysia seems reasonably wealthy with a distinct lack of any touting or hassle perhaps more associated with India. Everything was laid back enough to make Dutchmen feel at home.
Having walked the length of center of KK and almost fallen asleep in a cafe we headed back to the hotel for a game of cards. Our natural competitive edge kept us awake for the duration. When we were just beginning to regret our stay up until night time policy of kicking the jet lag it was time to head out for food and we went back to a jovial pizza restaurant. Lets sort out jet lag before sorting out local food being the thinking. Having flown for a total of fourteen hours to escape the Christmas season back home imagine our delight when Father Christmas himself bounded in. I think he handed out sweets to anyone interested but I was distracted by Santa's very pretty helpers waving at the window, ho ho ho indeed.
With the day almost done it was time to meet our group. To maximise our time in Borneo we had opted to go with an adventure tour group Intrepid who bill themselves as organised backpackers. While we were not in an optimal state for taking in peoples names or information our guide promptly dived into an hour long detailed description of the entire tour in Sabah. I would like to say that I tried to take it in but really all I hung onto was when to meet the next day. The rest of the group were heading out to eat together but we simply mumbled our apologies and gratefully headed to bed jealous of the proximity of Australia and it's mere 3 hours time difference.