A mum, dad and their three kids from Tasmania, go on an epic adventure in Borneo for 3 weeks in December
It was a 5.30 start this morning and a huge day of fishing getting home around 9.30pm but I can’t sleep. Together with Christmas presents and Nani’s relentless shopping she will be flying Tiger Airways to KL where we will rejoin and fly through to Melbourne on AirAsia. There are two things I’m panicking about. One is that I’d asked Nani to call Tiger and book a check-in bag for Abbey (Tiger don’t allow this to be done online whereas AirAsia does) for all the extra stuff we’ve accumulated. I find out she hasn’t done it and she wants me to sort it out. She says she couldn’t get to a phone all day today. Hmmm. The second thing I’m really worried about is that I discover that there are in fact two airports in Kuala Lumpur about twenty kilometers apart and I heard that Tiger flies into KLIA whereas AirAsia will depart from LCCT. This means Nani will have to virtually run through KLIA customs (people hurrying through customs is not a good look), get a taxi and whip over to LCCT to catch our international flight out, with no time to spare.
I call a friend in Singapore who works for Tiger and he’s going to see if he can fix something with the baggage, but given that their call centre doesn’t open til 9am tomorrow, and Nani’s flight is 10, it looks slim. On the plus side, he assures me Tiger does fly into LCCT. I’m relieved. I can sleep now, but the taxing day hasn’t done any favors to my chest infection and I double over whenever I cough.
We eat a huge breakfast before saying farewell to Mark and Deb and their wonderful family. Jonathan doesn’t come down to stay goodbye to the boys because he’s a bit teary. I tell Ong Jia Chen the miniature whirlwind that if he eats and sleeps well, I’ll see him again one day when he’s bigger (time doesn’t mean much to four year olds). I tell him that he doesn’t need his mum to feed him anymore.
At KL Sentral buses seem to leave every two to three minutes (basically as soon as they’re full) and only costs some paltry 6RM for adults and half that for kids for the 75 minute trip to LCCT. On the way we pass the Malaysian Sepang Moto GP circuit. We bump into a flustered Nani at the airport after first spotting Abbey. She has had a drama trying to check in her luggage at the wrong terminal. Thinking she could save time by scanning her bags (an operation performed before baggage check-in) while waiting for us she has had an altercation with a bunch of what she describes as Arab men. Apparently they accused her of cutting the queue and made her get to the back, whilst ushering their mates in front of her. The irony is, she was at domestic, and we were flying international and there’s no need to scan bags prior to check in. I find out that an announcement was made on the Tiger flight to wish Abbey a happy 7th birthday and the captain personally met her.
On AirAsia, Abbey lets the flight attendants know it’s her birthday following on from the success she had on the Tiger flight from Singapore. A group of the flight attendants come down and sing happy birthday to her, and one re-sings it in Korean. They present her with a cute little AirAsia bear. Abbey of course is delighted.
Ahead of where I sit, I notice some beautiful marketing from tourism Malaysia on the bulkhead. It’s a huge poster covering most of the space available. A gorgeous looking Asian couple runs down a white tropical beach. Her yellow sun dress flies in the breeze with a full head of jet black flowing hair behind. He is in a white cotton shirt and knee length khaki shorts. Laughing with gay abandonment they run bare footed, hand in hand toward… the camera I suppose. In the corner written in white script, are the words;
Tranquil Nature. With her tranquil waters and clear blue skies, it is the perfect place for that getaway you deserve. Watch the sun rise and set with your loved one, or spend the day frolicking on the beach with your family and friends. It’s not what you do, it’s where you do it. Malaysia. Truly Asia.
I like the award winning Truly Asia campaign and will really miss Malaysia, but there should have been a postscript saying PS – the sun is friggen hot and will sneak up on you and belt the life out of you if you don’t hide in the middle of the day. Sweat will pour off you and you will dehydrate. Any frolicking in the midday sun without a hat or umbrella will be punished by severe sunstroke and heat rash culminating in a visit to hospital involving a drip.
As you can guess, I still feel hot after yesterday’s fishing adventure.
Later, on touch down just after midnight Disney’s Happy Birthday Princess plays over the PA and Abbey proudly and loudly announces that she’s in fact the birthday girl, just in case anyone around us had forgotten. Whilst taxiing toward the terminal, an announcement regarding Australian border security makes no mention of drugs and the death penalty that we’re used to hearing, instead the message is all about animals and plants. I love that about Australia. Let’s protect the great outdoors – our native flora, fauna, agriculture and aquaculture. We don’t give a shit about druggies and we’re definitely too laid back to kill people anyway. I recall that India recently sentenced someone to the death penalty but all their hangmen had gotten old and given up, and they had to track one down and resurrect him from his retirement to bump off a particularly nasty criminal.
We reflect on our travels as we exit Melbourne airport. It’s 1.15am and the air is beautiful and cool. There’s a three hour drive ahead to dad’s farm in western Victoria but no-one is bothered. We consider making up a bunch of Borneo 2011 t-shirts for the Ongs and ourselves as a memento of an epic adventure. We decide we wouldn’t have changed much about our holiday but after backpacking for a month with my family I have wondered a few things though ;
Why is it that when kids take the last biscuit they hand you back the empty packet?
Don’t you love how your kids hand you back your iPhone and the screen looks like they used it to eat takeaway food off of?
Should there be a word for when your spouse takes your iPhone and doesn’t hand it back until the battery is in the red?
It’s a Melbourne layover day today – I’m not sure why I booked a day in Melbourne (allegedly one of the planet’s most livable cities) but I have. So I’m calling it a layover because that makes it travel related not just a goof up. My gregarious BIL (brother-in-law) Marcus invited me to the gym with him at 06.30 and says that his personal trainer is a gym nazi. Nothing good in the world happens at 06.30 least of all nothing that involves gyms or nazi’s. I agree to go only because he’s a good bloke and I didn’t go get the takeaway with him last night. I’m wary though because the only exercise I do is slipping over in rivers, wading lakes, pedaling my kayak and flogging my casting arm whilst fly fishing. I feel it’s a gentleman’s exercise.
I sign in and decide to use the bike machine thingy glad that there’s a big green Quick Start button because I didn’t want to look like an illegal health immigrant. The bike, rowing machine, running machine area is called the Cardio Theatre. Where’s the audience? It should be the Cardio Pit – which would be a play on mosh pit and arm pit. I cycle away keeping the effort level down so it looks like I’m going hard but I’m not. Sneaky. I realise after a while that I’m holding onto the elbow rests but I don’t think anyone noticed. I move my hands to the metal bits to check my heart rate. It’s 120. Is that dangerous?
Video hits are playing on screens visible from any corner of the gym. Good. I get to watch soft porn while I work out. When did it become cool to dance and gyrate in bra’s and panties? The subliminal message is that if I work out enough here, Miss Gyration will want to date me. I bet if I turned up to workout in a bra and panties they wouldn’t allow it. I would object and say “but there are people dancing in their bra and panties on the screens”. They would explain I don’t look like those people. I would tell them they are discriminatory.
There’s a way to walk in a gym. You need to walk slowly but purposefully. You never walk quickly (obviously not working out hard enough) or aimlessly (not goal oriented). You have to look cool, like you’re there every day. Like you belong. I do this walk while looking for the drink fountain. I notice a darkened room on the other side of a glass door with flashing UV lights. I press up against the glass and notice the flashing is the whites of people’s socks and singlets. They’re in the cycle studio. The only light is an overhead floodlit adonis, face darkened from the position of the floodlight and muscle definition enhanced. He’s miked up and yelling instructions. Music is pounding. It looks a little strenuous.
Lactic acid has made my legs wobbly. I rode for eighteen minutes. Not bad. I decide to use the rowing machine for a bit. I pull on the handle and the numbers on the screen go down. Confusing. I pull harder, it goes down more. I need some cardio viagra. Then I realise the display is time per 500m. But I still think bigger numbers are better. I look out of the corner of my eye at the bloke next to me. My number is lower. Good.
I do the gym walk over to the personal-trainer-general-public-not-allowed area to check on Marcus. His PT has a skinhead – maybe he’s taking his gym-nazi role a little too far. Marcus is doing some kind of elbow pushup, then jumps up on a box a few times, then gets a really really flat basketball and slams that onto the polished floor turning 90 degrees between slams. Then he squats down on the box squinting, head down. I think he might be gagging a bit. I feel tired watching him so I gym walk away.
I grab some dumbells and do some seated curls. Any seated exercise is good I feel. It tricks your body into thinking it’s sitting around doing nothing, when in fact it’s not. Sneaky. I bang out the reps trying to get a pump so when I go home, Nani will notice my big biceps and be impressed at how fit and strong her husband is. I mount the treadmill for one last crack. I’m running at 7km/h and after 5 minutes I feel like giving up. I check my heart rate again and it’s 160. That couldn’t be good. I decide to go until I get to the 1km mark. Seems like a good round number.
Rhianna approves. She raises her glass to me, and I give her a nod. I leave knowing deep down that if I worked out here for long enough and wasn’t happily married, she would date me.