Friday, 13 December 2013

Thurs 28 Nov - KK to Bali

I had the morning to kill before my late afternoon flight so met up with Chareen and The Russian at the harbour and got a 9.30 boat across to Palau Gaya, the largest of the five islands that sit directly off the shore of Kota Kinabalu. We hired masks and snorkels and treated our aching limbs to a swim in the shallow reefs around the jetty. 
We got the 2pm boat back to the mainland and after a quick pint at the Texas Grill headed back to collect my bag and from thence to the airport. Of KK's two terminals, one serves only International flights, the other serves only Air Asia. I was booked on an international Air Asia flight, and nowhere on my e-ticket did it mention which terminal I should be heading to - quite a conundrum. Annoyance transmuted into mild panic when I found out that the two terminals are separated by a twenty minute drive, and I was already late. iPhone's Google bought me the correct answer and we proceeded as planned to T2. The airport itself is a bit of a chaotic scrum with only four gates serving all of AirAsia's many flights. I was obliged to apologetically skip most of the horrendous queue at check-in before waiting with other exasperated tourists and nonchalant locals at a random gate. The moment the flight was called everyone dived head first towards the apron, pushing past the ground crew, who were just thankful that they could get another flight into the air within five minutes of it landing.

One last stress as I left Malaysia was to realise that Indonesia required me to buy a visa on entry, about $25us and I was penniless. Fortunately for me (and unlike Hanoi) there were ATMs before customs, so I escaped the indignity of an awkward call to awaiting Anna.

Sabah is about 4 degrees north and Bali some to the south, so somewhere in the sky I had crossed the equator into the Southern Hemisphere. I didn't check the which way the water went down the sink.

I was collected as planned by the kindly Katut who carried my bag to the Viceroy's car and drove me to the hotel in Ubud. A cold towelette, and a chilled bottle of water were proffered. Such luxury was quite disconcerting after backpacking through the cheapest dorms in SE Asia. As we drove through the insanely busy roads of Denpasar, getting pincered from every angle by kids on motor-scooters, Katut turned to me and said "Welcome to Paradise". There was some residual conviction in his voice, but I think we both knew that paradise has found a new home, some way from here.

Nevertheless, here I was; and to be reunited with my wonderful wife in such five star luxury, after six weeks on the road, was just magical. We were so thrilled to see each other, I barely noticed just how grand and opulent our room at the Viceroy, Bali was, at least until the next day... 

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