6/1/18: The Modern Side of Borneo

Happy June!! Wow We’re already halfway through 2018. And I’ve been traveling for 6 months now. Crazy!

I went for my long run today even though it’s a Friday (I usually do my long run on the weekend). I wasn’t sure if I’d get a chance on Saturday or Sunday since I would be doing the river cruise through Kinabatangan River.

I decided to take a bottle of water with me this time, something I never do.

I ran along the ocean. The first bit was quite busy with people doing their morning shopping at the markets. A kilometer or so out, however, it got quieter and it was just me and the cars. I was running on the shoulder of the road, but then suddenly a bike/running path appeared. Yay! What a nice surprise.

Running on the road


I ran on the path until I hit 4 miles. I have no idea how long the path went on for, but it seemed to extend for a while.

I was worried that I’d hit a wall like I did on last week’s run.

I think the water really helped— I was tired but hydrated so I didn’t totally burn out.


Beautiful mosque
This wall was full of animal murals

It’s kind of sad to realize that I’m not in the same shape I was in a few months ago. There was a time when I could whip out a half marathon any day if I wanted to, but I don’t think I’m there anymore. I could maybe do 10 miles, but 13 would be really difficult.

Back at the hostel, Escape Backpackers, I made myself a bowl of oats and sat with Johanna.

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Once I was done with breakfast, I went back to my room to pack. I had the dorm room to myself, so I took the opportunity to record the intro/outro to my next podcast episode.

Johanna and I headed out around 10 am for our bus to Sandakan.

Our Grab dropped us off at the bus station and we went over to one of the counters to get our tickets. They told us the next bus was at 12:30. We were under the impression that there was a bus leaving at 11, so we were a bit annoyed. What were we going to do for the next two hours??!

I ended up just blogging and reading. Around 11:30, I got hungry so I went across the street to a restaurant. It was one of those places with a glass display showing an array of food, and you just point at whatever you want and eat it with rice.

They only had two vegetarian options— eggplant and green beans— so I took those, paid the 5 ringgit (about a dollar), and went back to Johanna.

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When I was finished with my food, the bus was ready to take passengers. We hopped on, but we still had 40 minutes until 12:30.

At least we left on time.

There’s a Shell in Borneo??!

I had read on some blogs that the bus ride from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan was boring, but I don’t know what they were talking about.

The view of the mountains, which you could see from horizon to horizon, was stunning. There was so much lushness throughout the journey, I couldn’t take my eyes off the window.

Tried to capture the green


Palm oil mill…

It’s weird that I’m in Borneo, this mystical place that I didn’t know much about. But it’s just a normal country. Normal roads, normal restaurants, normal families. I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe more jungle villages and less people? I don’t know. It seems stupid now.

I saw so many interesting snacks at the rest stop— coconut cookies, yam cookies (which were vegan!), pandan bread (also vegan), golden popcorn (I think it was vegan), and so many varieties of potato/rice chips. I wanted to try them all, but I also didn’t want to spend money on snacks since I already had some with me.

We got to Sandakan around 6:30, but we were still a few kilometers away from our hostel. A taxi driver was hanging around, and we asked him what the price would be. He told us 20, so I asked for 15.

“No, 20. Very far!”
“No, it’s not that far away. Only 5 kilometers.”
“No come on, 20.”
“No, please 15?”
“Ok fine 15.”

Yay. I love haggling.

We got to the hostel 10 minutes later and checked in.

Once we put our stuff down, we went to find dinner. Johanna and I were both pretty hungry.

We walked down to the harbor where a bunch of restaurants were lined up. We couldn’t really tell the difference between the restaurants, so we just chose one and sat down. It was called Habour Garden Cafe.

I got laksa— my first time ever having it— and Johanna got fried noodles.

The laksa was amazing. It’s the perfect blend of coconut soup and curry. And it was spicy. Yes!


This town is way more modern than I expected, same as Kota Kinabalu. There’s a huge mall, lots of shops and restaurants, even a Watson’s drug store and 7 Eleven! Borneo continues to surprise.

After dinner I went back to the hostel and read my new book that I had found at Escape Backpackers, The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. I heard about him first from Corinne and Krystyna of the Guys We F****d podcast, and I had been wanting to read his stuff for a while. I really want to read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, but this will do for now.

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