A mum, dad and their three kids from Tasmania, go on an epic adventure in Borneo for 3 weeks in December

Kota Kinabalu and the last day

This morning Nani is gunning to go shopping after having had a small taste of what Suria Sabah located right on Kota Kinabalu’s picturesque waterfront has to offer but I’m keen to bang some posts up after ‘net constipation from the lack of wifi at Sukau and Mt Kinabalu and the kids haven’t bathed for three nights now so I put them in the shower and upload. By the time all this is done and I’m still dragging the chain she has her not-happy face and says “Are you still blogging?” but it’s not a question which demands an answer besides which answering would only continue to see her robbed of precious shopping time. Confucius say one should never stand between a born shopper who has been in the jungle for two weeks and a shopping mall in a country that has a mad awesome exchange rate.

I make all haste and we pour out into the street to find breakfast at the Fook Yuen bakery cafe. I make a joke about the name, pronouncing it Fook Yu…en and the kids laugh. Nani doesn’t find it humorous. My eyes are greedy here. All kinds of baked goodies, fried food and steamed yum cha line the shelves and Bain Marie’s. The kids don’t really like the creamed corn steamed bao they get for breakfast but we’ll see if they stay down before they have any alternatives. Nani and I chew on fried fish balls, a crispy chicken wing, sambal rice in banana leaf and steamed sticky rice. Yummm.

We bolt breakfast and arrive at Suria Sabah to discover the shops aren’t even open and the escalators aren’t running. Shopkeepers are still arriving and (did you know Christmas reindeer have testicles here?) opening their doors and straightening Christmas stars that have fallen over  Tarps still cover the cheap sock, bra, undies tables in the corridors. We are slightly deflated but Nani is undeterred. Being here at the dawn of another shopathon means she has beat the crowds and gets first crack at the bargains before her competitors arrive in their hordes.

I’m really not sure why she wants to shop because she can barely fit what she’s carrying now and already overweight, but I try and think of it like my approach to fishing. I’ve caught trout before but I just love it and will do it rain, hail or shine whenever I can. I think for her shopping is like this but I still find it hard to get the “point” of it and how anyone could be so passionate about it.

Oscar needs to sit somewhere. He’s weak from a lack of food. We head up the lift to eight floor but there’s no chairs at the cinema. We find some at the Timezone hall in front of dazzling screens and pounding music which is a little jarring in contrast with the serenity of the jungle. Nani gives the kids a few bucks and disappears with a two way and we play some games, although the kids are pretty bad at them so they don’t really get any time extensions. Some games are over in less than a minute so it’s all a bit glum. I team up with Lachie and Oscar and we play a shoot em up game as machine gunners in a chopper. This is fun, I think mainly because we get to play together which we don’t do much.

Our excitement sky rockets after discovering the movies are a paltry 6rm for kids and 10 for adults we quickly analyze what we could see. We decide on Alvin and the Chipmunks 3, Arthur Christmas in 3D, and Puss in Boots. We draw a timeline on a piece of paper and plot the movie times of all three and try and identify a critical path (an engineering approach) to cram them all in to our very own personal movie marathon.

The kids don’t think Chipmunks 3 is as good as as one and two and I must admit to feeling drowsy three fourths of the way through (although we have been awake since 06.30) but I liked the music – possibly because the voices make me think of people who drink too much at parties and start sucking the helium balloons.

Arthur Christmas by the makers of Wallace and Grommit and Alice in Wonderland is great especially in 3D. Arthur’s father, Santa is worn out and his brother Steve (a snow-it-all) has taken over executive functions of what is now a high tech operation but has lost the spirit of Christmas and misses one child. Clumsy Arthur (a lost claus) together with his arthritic grandfather (all cane no candy) drag out the mothballed wooden sleigh and have to make it before dawn to deliver the present. It’s a hoot.

The kids are still trying to expel a lung from their now thinner rib cages so Puss in Boots will have to wait. This marathon appears “to be continued”

Over breakfast of curry puff, enormous bao (about the size of a dessert bowl) noodles, a couple off egg tarts and unbelievably, fish head soup (something I cannot believe should be consumed for breakfast) I manage to piss Nani off. She wants to borrow the camera to take underwater photos today when she goes snorkeling but I say it’s a waste of time trying because they always turn out blurry (I have preserved with the Lumix FT1 but have had very little success at half decent photos). Apparently I’ve rained on her parade a little and I should have said “Sure Honey let me show you the setting”. She snaps how come stupid teenagers with stupid cameras are all taking underwater photos and I say I didn’t know about this. We’re both running out of patience because the kids sicknesses are really hamstringing us and today is our last day in East Malaysia – a trip we’ve planned so long for. I wish I was better at knowing when she’s got no patience for my opinionatedness (this could actually be a word because it has no red line under it!).

Must dust off that Dumbass Husband 101 when I get home and review. Sadly we won’t be together as a family today because Abbey looks pale and now has the squirts in the restaurant which oddly has no toilet paper in the dunny. She comes out asking for some, goes back in, then comes back out handing me her undies. Things are reaching a new low. I ask her to toss it but she wants to keep them. I bag the offensive garment like a mystery bao not even wanting to know what kind of filling from hell is inside it. I take the smallest two back to the hostel leaving Nani and Lachie to their own devices.

I wash the knickers in the handbasin and hang them up and we rest in the room and Oscar starts to cry. He says ever since we planned the trip he looked forward to snorkeling. Full of compassion I say if he doesn’t stop the waterworks I won’t take him to the movies later. I wish i had said that I was really sorry that he felt sad and was a bit more compassionate and gentle but I was still a bit pissed off over the camera business. I put head phones in so I don’t hear the sniveling.

Today it’s the Muppets. I feel negligent as a parent. Kipling yes. AA Milne, Enid Blyton, E.T, Karate Kid yes. Our kids can even identify 80’s music by the synth and electric drums. But exposure to muppets? Parenting fail.

There was only two things I really wanted to see in KK and they were  the Filipino night market and the Tunku Abdul Ramen Islands just offshore. At least Nani and Lachie have seen Sapi Island so we meet up with them and go for a walk along the waterfront, but I’m not sure where the night market is. The wet market is packing up and after a short walk in the punishing sun, the kids are hot and in need of food and fluids. We turn into KK Plaza which looks a better place for shopping to me (crowded with people and stuff piled everywhere on all floors smells like bargain central to me). After a pretty B Grade meal, we leave Nani to shop and make her own way back, and we walk past the truckloads of durian and night sellers buying fresh guava and mango juice to suck on before reaching Travelers Light for our last sleep. I think I have a scratchy throat.


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