Arriving in Sandakan today, we hope ...

Trip Start Mar 17, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April fool's day. What jokes did they play on you?
T gets up at 4h30. I am awake too. The curtains are open and lightning woke me up before 4. I try to convince Hubby to stay in bed but no: off he goes, to his laptop. I have confused dreams about work and dead colleagues. 6 o'clock alarm clock. Packing. It is still raining. Did not stop yet since yesterday noon, which is exceptional here.  Luckily Dr T feels much better.
We say our last goodbyes. We can recommend the dive shop:
We walk to the bus station, it is only 10 minutes. T has the umbrella, to protect the laptops he carries. Which creates a couple of looks: girl walking in the rain, man having the umbrella. At 7 in the morning, it is very busy on the streets. An old woman, with more wrinkles on her face than I ever saw in my life, crosses the street. A child of max 6 years old is sitting on the ground, behind a couple of bananas, under an umbrella. We try to get to some coke light. T asks at a little supermarket. The guy says yes and shows us a torch. He only understood the 'light'. We arrive at the bus station at 7h10.
We get dedicated seats and Hubby goes on the hunt for diet coke. Two completed veiled ladies get on the bus, their eyes are barely visible. I do get a bright smile from a little girl, which makes me think of Plas and her little blessings again. When we inquired before the bus would leave at 7h30, which became 7h45 now and, as you feel it coming, REALLY leaves at 8h10, an hour after we arrive. T found coke without the light and crisps.
T falls asleep within 5 minutes of departure and the lady in front of me declines her chair. I am completely squeezed. Type with one finger. The same lady also phones. At LEAST 10 times before 9. With a loud voice, she communicates: '                TATATATATATATA', as people do with a mobile in public. Everybody in the bus who knows Malay can understand what she is saying.  At the other side, an old local man, neatly shaved, has 10 wires (I count them as we speak) coming out of his chin, at least 20 centimeters long. Why doesn't he shave those? My inflatable pillow has a hole in it, I cannot rest my head. People burp, spit and fart. It will be a long long trip.
A million palm trees and 3,5h later we have our pit stop. Little restaurant, shop with only crisps and drinks and a truly disgusting squat toilet.  Luckily, I know how to squat by now. When I come back, Dr T ate almost all the crisps!
The 'bus manager 'comes around to ask where we are going. Well, Sandakan, of course! No, which hotel? Euh, Sandakan something?! T just guesses our ETA at 15h when the man says: '3 more hours' and it is almost 12. We were told 5 hours drive, leaving at 7h30. Na´ve travelers would have guessed their arrival at 12h30. We already added 1,5 hours. I thought of an ETA of 14h, since we arrived shortly after 7, this will be 8 hours.
Police check: passport! We take it out, ready to show. The lady on front of me (right, the TATATATATA on) gives the police officer a plasticized A4 paper. He is not impressed. Long discussion. He does not even LOOK at ours. More discussions at the back. When the police officer leaves the bus, he points to the woman, who gives money to her husband, who follows the police officer out of the bus, as 2 other people do. They come back after a minute: hmmmmmmmmmmmm.
We arrive at the Sandakan bus station at 14h30 but: it is the wrong bus station! It is not the terminal in the city! OK, taxi. 2,5 Euro and 10 minutes added, we arrive at our hotel. Which is a nice surprise! For 32 Euro, we do have everything: big room with nice bathroom, A/C, wireless.
Looking for a travel agency now: HAVE to see those Proboscis Monkeys. We do find the right place and book for tomorrow: all monkeys, also the oran outang.
Shopping for drinks and diving medicines: all done in an hour or two.
We are STILL discussing about our island resort with the booking lady in Phuket for the day after tomorrow. My theory: the person Dr T is corresponding with is OR lazy OR stupid OR both.
We did not see any restaurant, we would consider during our walk this afternoon, so we have our dinner in the hotel: easy enough. The food is very average, too hot for T and we are the ONLY costumer as long as we are there.
Stupid that sitting on the bus can make you tired but we do go to bed early.
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