Singapore to Borneo / by Mark Boyd

As the bus rolled in to Singapore at 4.30am.... I realised the early hours of the morning were becoming a standard time for arrival. I wandered 15 minutes until I reached the monorail which was set to open at 7am. I found a sheltered concrete floor at the top of the stationary escalator, hooped my bag straps around my legs and arms and fell in to a heavy sleep on my solid mattress. When I awoke it was 7.15am. I was bleary eyed but rested.

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I wandered down in to the subway area, bought my ticket towards the Harbour Area and sat on the almost empty monorail carriage. Very clean. Very modern. This was how Singapore felt. Due to my miss booking with AirAsia from Singapore to Kota Kinabulu airport in Borneo I would have until around 3pm to explore. I was carrying my backpack and front pack, eight hours would be more than enough for today. I would fly back home from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore so I'd be revisiting in a few months anyway. I explored the superbly posh shopping centres.... I headed to the rooftops, there was no one, it was still before 8am.

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The only places open in the mall were serving breakfast. I ordered two soft boiled eggs. The small plastic bowl arrived with two slimy eggs that had barely experienced anything over the temperature inside the chicken that had laid them... I stirred them with the chopsticks and slurped them back.... Wretch.... Not quite... But fairly unpleasant as far as breakfasts go. I sat and enjoyed my coffee. A young Malaysian lady sat at my table in the fairly empty breakfast bar, she introduced herself and started chatting and asking what I'd been up to and where I'd been. She was on business from KL. At the end of the conversational exchange she asked if we could have a selfie together. It's a strange thing this Asian selfie with strangers thing, but who was I to deny this lovely young lady a selfie with a hairy Manx man?

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After chatting via Skype with my buddy Titch (on the Isle of Man) over coffee I headed towards Chinatown on his recommendation. I wandered then headed back towards the mall. I was carrying a little too much to comfortably explorethe various Singapore nuggets, so I found myself some comfortable chairs in the middle of the mall and caught up with some blog posts.

 Employees or just general public sleeping on the roof area...  Surprising... 

Employees or just general public sleeping on the roof area...  Surprising... 

The mall became busier and busier.... Locals and ex-pats swanning in and out of Chanel, Prada and Louis Vitton designer shops. Oh yes, Singapore is very shallow in that respect. This particular mall is a hangout for the rich and super rich. Their wads of Singapore dollars burning holes in their Hugo Boss trouser pockets and D&G handbags. Of course I only had a few hours. The people seemed friendly, there was a comfortable and extremely safe atmosphere.

The modern side of Singapore is a beautifully designed urban jungle of stunning architecture and creativity. I would very much like to see it by night.... So I'll make a date with Singapore on the 12th February.... Singapore re-visited.

I headed to the airport.  Borneo was a quick flight away.

Singapore airport. Wow. Lovely. And as I arrived in departures I wondered where the hell the bag checking security part happened. As I passed the security guy my boarding pass he smiled, 'Thank you Mark. Have a good journey.' That was remarkably pleasant I thought to myself.

Just before I boarded the aircraft my bag was scanned, and once again it was all smiles.

I bumped in to 'the breakfast bar selfie girl' from earlier this morning.  She was headed towards her return flight to KL. We briefly chatted and I made my escape before an airport selfie was requested.

The plane soared between the evening clouds. The man sat to my left started chatting. He seemed nice. I refrained from the temptation to slip my earphones in. He was a christian missionary visiting an old preacher friend in Kota Kinabulu. It had been over 20 years since he'd last seen The Pastor.... After 90 minutes of chatting we'd become friends.

He asked where I was staying and offered me a ride in to the city with his wife and the Pastor if there was room in the car. Twenty five minutes later I arrived at The Bunk in Kota Kinabulu (KK). I dumped my backpack in to my wooden pod and headed out to find food.

It was 9pm. The little food place was closing. I was too late to be served.... I smiled and gently pleaded.... The smile was reciprocated and before I knew it was enjoying some pasta, vegetables and tomato sauce. Another backpacker looked at the menu board. I nodded and smiled.

'Been here in KK long?' I asked. 'I'm Mark by the way.'

'I'm Jack.' Jack was from Belgium.

This was to the start of a beautiful relationship.

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