Seeing that blogger changed some of its interface I thought I better post the thing I wrote a while ago before my computer breaks down as it is probably coming to the end
of the western world as we know it
As much as I complain about travelling being overhyped, I still spend quite some time on it. Well, don’t get me wrong, tourism is overhyped. The way we approach it as spiritual journeys when all we do is laze around in some hotel and forget we have to go to work or make a living at all is just boasting. But it does not mean that there is not some trips, or some encounters that do give our life meaning or a different perspective.
There is two trips I remember as changing my view on life, what’s interesting is both were in 2018: one was in April 2018 when hitch-hiked from Tokyo to Nagoya with a newly-made friend and another was May 2018 to Malaysia.
The reason why Malaysia in 2018 was a special trip for me, was, well, for once, it was Borneo. I had thought a long time about going there. I remember hearing about Borneo during my studies and being incredibly fascinated by it. The whole trip felt a bit off to me.
First of all, when I was going to Kota Kinabalu from Bangkok, my connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur was severely delayed and I had to wait more than 6 hours from what I remember. The next flight I could catch was packed (pretty sure the prior one was cancelled because almost not one was on the plane) - and I immediately fell asleep and couldn’t even get a decent view from the outside.
Tiga Island (I think), a day trip from Kota Kinabalu
As you see this is the proof that you can sell dirt to tourists, you just need to know how.
Flying to Sandakan was also strange, we were not allowed to have our phone on during the flight, which is why I could not take pictures of the beautiful view outside. I remember it as the most beautiful rain forest I have ever seen - but I can’t remember it in detail to be honest. This is why we take pictures and why they are so important to us, I suppose. We want to be reminded of that feeling we had.
Sandakan/Sepilok had a very strange vibe on its own. I could almost not get home at night from the Rainforest Conservation Centre - somehow it had gotten too late. But I was lucky and could catch a Grab (Asian Uber/Lyft). Walking through the forest itself was strange, I felt like I was mostly alone, though there were some people, at night there was almost no one.
Walking through the streets felt weird, by chance I met two girls who were on the Jungle Photo-Safari Trip with me (I don’t even remember what it was called: we were in a jungle lodge and then on a boat in the river from which we took pictures of animals - also weird. First almost no one talked to me and then when I gave up on make up, they were all greeting me from the morning).
Either way the two girls said why don’t we check out the rooftop bar? It was in a hotel and quite nice but the hotel was also spookily empty. I had to call my hostel for them to let me inside at night because they would lock an iron gate in front of the regular door, and I had to ask them to let me inside later when I rang the bell.
We went „home“ each to their place shorty after midnight. The vibe was extremely strange, everything was closed early and the people who watched you were somehow not giving off a very friendly vibe - maybe curious, but not exactly friendly.
Later I found out tourists in this area had been abducted. Ah yes, typically me, I wouldn’t even that kind of thing unless someone in particular told me about it. I thought the double-locking (the iron gate) was just how things work here and it was somewhat interesting to me.
The constant possibility of „danger“ actually gave me a thrill on its own. But, the empty cities at night were also not very exciting in a way (of course on the other hand, they were). I got to know a Brazilian girl in the hostel and we watched a movie; one with Keanu Reeves (I swear his movies follow me on my travels for some reason) which was quite explicit and she did not seem to like it. The other one was fantasy which I did not like very much.
We had our flight to Kuala Lumpur the same day and the same time, that’s for some coincidence (no, probably just not a whole lot of flights). When I trying to get up from the seat on the plane, something was pulling me back down and I had a strange feeling in my stomach at that. It was the strap of my backpack that had slung under the seat’s arm rest. As I realized it, I undid the entanglement and went on.
In the hostel I was immediately greeted by a Philipino guy who said he was working there (which was a lie), and then I met two of the people again that I knew from the one day visit to Kuala Lumpur I made before: the hostel manager and a guy from Johor who had been staying in the hostel for quite some time. It was such a relaxed atmosphere, I still miss it.
These were both taken the night my phone got stolen
So, what made the trip special was that. And, the fact that I got my backpack stolen at night. Me being me I went out really late at night (11?) through the markets, to some bar, then around in the streets with someone, then back to the market close to the hostel, then back to the hostel - where they ripped my backpack off my shoulders on the motorcycle. The hostel manager was so kind - she heard me scream and ran out of the hostel and around the corner: she knew the motorcycle would take a longer turn around the road so she could possibly catch him running in the backstreet to cut him off, but it was too late. She later said that wanted to throw the broom she was carrying in front of the motorcycle haha. Also, that she knew the instant I screamed that something important was taken from me. She went so far as to ask me to get in the car with her and go after them to maybe see if they had thrown out my backpack somewhere and only taken the things of monetary value. And all the aftermath of that, she and the other guy that was staying at the hostel helped me so much that I was honestly do not even know how to ever repay that karma-wise. But I suppose I will get enough chances.
The interesting part was that I couldn’t sleep and eat much during that time but as I finally fell asleep, and then woke up after a few hours in the afternoon, I noticed a sudden downpour and the rain looked so.... amazing. Watching the rain outside through my hostel bed was such a ... humbling experience. I cannot explain in words how beautiful and real and refreshing it felt just to be in the moment and watch and feel what was happening. It put me back to earth. And I could not even take a picture of it but I remember I felt truly, really free. Free from most technology, free from money, free from worries. I started to wonder if that is what homeless people feel like. Is that why so many of them seem so happy?
My parents scoff at me when I say it was a truly freeing and good experience to have my things stolen - probably everyone would, if they had to send me money and take care of things for me. But it was. I am also very lucky and happy to have my dear friends Susi and Tina who helped me as I contacted them in this difficult time, and Susi even came to meet me at the Frankfurt airport so that I, in case I could not get any money through exchanging it, was able to borrow some from her and get back home by train with it.
Overall it was a very special experience I am thankful for, and I am most thankful for all the kind people that inhabit this earth and make it a better place for everyone.
By the way the hostel that I stayed at in Kuala Lumpur is called Paper Plane hostel. I remember it because they also had a restaurant/cafe called VCR next to it which had the best turkish eggs and a great view outside. Gosh I miss this! I am in no way paid for this review, I am mentioning it because this is all a true story.