February 19th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0

Unsurprisingly, I woke with a hangover.  But eventually dragged myself outside to see the mountain in all its glory, framed by a brilliant blue sky.  Lucky I had got up when I did, for the clouds were moving in fast, + soon Kinabalu was hiding again.  But it did mean those people who went up yesterday will have had a fine view, + that we were 24 hrs out.  Such is life.

We decided to breakfast at the Park HQ, which turned out to be quite an experience.  First we had to send Val’s meal back – she was being charged an extra dollar for about 15 baked beans – + they gave her some more.  And then I took it upon myself to go + shout at a bunch of American kids who were being noxious + rude.  Quite spoiled the meal, those 2 incidents… which was a pity, since the food was good.

We hitched down to the next village – I don’t know the name, it was about 4 miles towards Ranau – + got a lift with 2 expat Brit architects from Brunei.  They proved to be just as big whingers as the rest of the Bruneian population – apparently they’d expected tourist shops, not the collection of village trading stores we discovered.  They also thought the forthcoming increase in Park accommodation fees was a good thing (as from March 1st, prices in the Park are being doubled) as it would keep the riff-raff out.  I wish it would keep them out.  We wandered around for a while, got the food we had come for – it wasn’t Sainsbury’s, but it was adequate – + then hitched back.  We had thought to go for a walk during the afternoon around one of the walking trails, but Val was so bushed she went to bed.  To be honest, I wasn’t bitterly disappointed.  A German traveller appeared later, making 3 of us in the hostel (the Swiss couple were up the mountain, Joan had gone on to Poring) but 5 minutes later, notwithstanding my liberal sentiments expressed yesterday, I was totally dismayed when another large troop of soldiers arrived.  There were even more than yesterday, so we had to have some bunking in our room, something which did not impress us in the least.  Then only saving grace was that there were some women this time, so we hoped they would act as a moderating influence on the men.  My afternoon peace + quiet was definitely over, however.  But apart from my own feelings of annoyance, they didn’t really make a huge difference to the evening.  There was still a huge fire, + I still sat + wrote my diary.  But I did have to put up with curious stares over my shoulder.  They were all so bored, + no wonder, for apart from the small group who sat + played cards non-stop, none of the others did anything at all except wander around listlessly.  And, from time to time, eat.

Very much a non-event, our trip to the next village being a very low highlight. But then travelling is sometimes – or even often – just hanging around.

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