A long time ago, in a land far away, Spouse and I concocted yet another scheme designed to pique the interest of our Offspring in lands and people beyond the cul-de-sac. Offered at the feet of these future UN leaders was a trip anywhere in the world at the age of 13. I recall fondly looking forward to the long hours spent as a family researching locations and cultures, perusing the shiny blue globe for exciting destinations.
Offspring #2 gave two criteria and then delegated the sourcing back to me.
“Beach and rain forest.” May a swarm of ravenous blood sucking insects invade the skirt of the 6th grade teacher who sparked an unwavering interest in saving the rain forest and its carnivorous inhabitants. I would have preferred a more relaxing destination- like Hawaii.
The Venn diagram she`d concocted narrowed down the choices significantly. Given our location in the Eastern Hemisphere, we – I – chose Borneo. And so began the journey to Borneo whose exact global position I was uncertain. Offspring #2 then amended her criteria to include an Eco Friendly experience filled with sightings of Orangutans, Pigmy Elephants, snakes and all of the other biting forest inhabitants studied during a semester long immersion in rain forest education with this same cursed 6th grade teacher.
Still fuzzy on the exact coordinates of Borneo, I discovered two previously unknown facts:
1) It`s part of Malaysia
2) It`s south of Japan.
I downloaded 20 useful phrases in Malay and Offspring #2 and I headed to the airport for the overnight 7 hour flight. Mt. Kinabalu popped out of the clouds as we began our descent in to Hell`s un -air conditioned playpen- I mean our eco-friendly adventure.
“Drug traffickers will be hanged.” Would the 50 individually wrapped packages of Maxalt needed for the upcoming headaches in my suit case cause an unfriendly welcome?
Traveling with a teenager having just experienced her first red eye flight meant a low key first day. We immediately jumped on a city tour of Kota Kinabalu.
KK`ers were very proud of the first stop. A circular government building built around a central pillar. We and several hundred Japanese and Chinese tourists dutifully took pictures and I resisted the urge then- and now- to make unsavory comments about its size and shape.
We admired the unique display of modern art displayed at a park near the waterfront.
The art work so well represented in our photo montage was all that`s left of a building that was abandoned early in its construction. I thought the cab driver should dab them with paint and charge admission.
When in Asia, temples of various denominations are always part of the hit list. Kota Kinabalu`s famous Buddhist Temple, Puh Toh Tze, was the next stop on the whirlwind tour. Unlike Japanese temples, this one packed in all the diety`s each decked for a full frontal color assault.
Several Greek Goddesses welcomed us on the path to Buddha.
And finally, the Happy One himself:
And of course, the piece de resistance – the beach.
A peaceful end to a very long day.