Lot of lost weight. Took this at my second hotel in Kuching. I didn’t recognise myself in the mirror!

Alert: There’s a lot of moaning here from a low point in my travels. This is normal as it can’t all be perfect and rainbows and lollipops. I have to be truthful. Sometimes even I get it wrong!! It was the start of energy loss due to fatigue and stress and would culminate in Indonesia with my fabulous swim with a turtle which sadly I got sunstroke from (and a bang on the head by a boat). Whatever the cause I went rapidly downhill after suffering a dry cough and fever finally by the time I staggered up to Georgetown then Penang. After which I flew to Chiang Mai another of my sanctuaries, but even there I didn’t get better and had to return to London and convalesce on my sofa for a further two weeks. Shit happens but it’s part of the whole experience and actually I’m quite proud that I made it that far and didn’t give up at the first hurdle. You learn a lot about your mettle in trying times and this set me up well mentally for the last two years of tyranny and fear-mongering. I think also it’s worth noting that while at my happy places, by, and in the sea and at the beautiful parks in Kuala Lumpur I was fine but as soon as I was in trying environments I succumbed to malaise! Also I ran straight into the rainy season further north which is always a bummer when you’re low.

Sweet goodbye from my favourite ‘fish wife’

Last Lovely Night in Kota Kinabalu and Sabah Borneo

Dusk at the Night market KK

After my fabulous time in Sepilok I flew back to the hub of KK for a couple of days respite. I was tired and wanted a bit of familiar. When travelling alone you have some comfort places and even after my not so good location last time, I still wanted at least one more time at the night market for more exotic sea food. It’s an addictive place and really the best place to be after six in the centre of crazy Kota Kinabalu. Little did I know I would battle on for another month before actually succumbing to the great malaise that would finally send me home.

these colours are true! The sunsets never failed to amaze there.

I had already planned to go South to Kuching in the Sarawak area so wanted to do my pit stop at the mesmeric KK. I was feeling very drained but thought nothing of it, and hadn’t seen in a mirror how much weight I had lost. Something was starting to be off.

For that night however I carried on regardless and had my sentimental last night in the market before flying the next day. This was where I had started my love affair with Malaysia and the Sabah region. I had to be a brave girl and move on however as I was getting excited to go south to Kuching and then hopefully onto Jakarta Indonesia and to a tiny island called Bunuken that I had read was on the top ten snorkelling list in the world. I had stuff to do and didn’t want to run out of time.

Kuching Capital of Sarawak State.

Kuching is a shithole. You can pretend different but it’s geared around people who love cats (I do!) or want to pretend they are in China. I live by Chinatown in London I don’t need faux little China. I also love cats, but I hate twee models of cats and there were loads of those, even a museum. Having said that when you get out of the centre things improve with their wicked Bako Park being nearby. This is the home of the proboscis monkey, but more of that later.

The flight was short and painless and I had booked a night at a posh looking hotel on such a cheap deal that I could I could hardly refuse. This would come back to bite me later. In retrospect I should taken a firmer line with everything at this stage of my trip, I had become wild and reckless and had tried to squeeze too much in too fast. I was being an American tourist and I was missing some magic moments by this wild frenetic rush to do as many places as possible. This is the time you make a lot of unforced errors. Your brain becomes befuddled with the logistics of all the travel, hotels and places to visit. The tickets for these and the layout of yet another new town centre. The places to eat and any secret wonderful things you might miss. You just basically turn into an arsehole tourist.

Top Tip: Force yourself from time to time to wake up and smell the coffee. Have a breather and have time to yourself to chill. Sometimes this valuable down time focuses your mind and you are truer to your initial motivation and travel ethic. This is the time that I could have meditated a bit and stopped ‘panic buying’. Sadly then I wasn’t practicing meditation or I could have pulled me reins in and realised I was having a warning not to burn out. You need this advice travelling solo. There is nobody with you to compare notes with. I don’t mean this in a gloomy way, but sometimes other people tell you of their great experiences at other locations and you find yourself getting greedy.

Boat rental and the dawning realisation of my dislike of the place

Anyway, my first day I was super happy with posh room and semi swanky hotel but a short walk to the centre showed me the bleak tourism in which I have no interest. The ‘Chinese’ fronted street that people had banged on about I felt very disappointed in. So renting a sampan, which took me out for a tedious half hour, I was shown the pretty palace and the swanky bridge, and the huge building that I had thought would house a gallery or museum or some such artistic or historical venue, found was in fact a conference centre. True my mood might have been due to fatigue but those irritating bastards in KK who had ‘bigged up’ Kuching central, were clearly flimsy, easily satisfied tourists. Why had I blindly listened to them? I’m being mean, but the way it’s explained is overly romantic. It’s a business centre. It’s a very polished and flash business centre.

Passing junks…

The hotel moved my room after the first night as I’d only booked for one night and had decided to stay on. Mistake. They moved me twice to equally shitty rooms one even on an abandoned floor with a utilities lift next to me and a flat gravel roof where I felt any old peeping tom could see in and indeed rob me. I said I wasn’t having that, they sniffed and tutted saying they had a large conference in town and the (decent) rooms were fully booked. It all turned very Hotel California and I felt so fragile and hostile that I think it changed my whole perspective. The second room was a huge family room with mismatched furniture that smelt vaguely of sick and had stained carpets. I settled for this and made bitter complaints the next day and threats to tell the world how disgustingly they had treated a lone woman traveller. It’s a vile place and it’s called Tune Hotel Waterfront Kuching. Just don’t go there.

In retrospect I think that they didn’t want to give the cheap Expedia deal for more than one night and kinda punished me for having the temerity to stay on. Make no mistake I didn’t make that error for a further night I packed my gear and left it there until I got back from my Bako jungle trek adventure. I booked myself a little cheap and cheerful place right in the centre so I could hightail it out of this horrible place. Once you go off a place it’s normally an irreversible mental state which is nearly impossible to change. I would be out of the hellhole and onto Kuala Lumpur the next morning so outa here greedy ‘Kerching’ Kuching, won’t see you later.

Pretty view, shame about the place.

Next Time…..

The good decision I did make however was to go first thing that second morning, for a jungle trek. My wonderful experience of that makes up for some misery in the centre. So next time it’ll be very dangerous but much more my cuppa tea. Out in the jungle and getting lost even on marked paths. Warning of no swimming as crocodile seen on the beach that morning. Perilous climbs up and down the mountain paths. Vipers in the trees. Proboscis monkeys all over the place. Biggest jellyfish I’ve seen. A singing captain and his names for rock formations and more!

Tired but happy on the way to Bako, early morning