A new moon always reminds me that there is still time. Our lives pass in cycles only to return to familiar ground again, and tonight it is just the beginning. I am not thinking that life is settled or determined. Or caught up in what has already taken place. I let go and move on.
Malaysia is a place where you can be yourself. No more legal restrictions on booze, prostitution, cross dressing and pork. The city streets of Kota Kinabalu, KK, are loud and noisy till dawn. With street vendors, bars and restaurants serving throughout the night. The city is a complete mix of Malaysians, Chinese and Indians, with the first and the later groups having a large percentage that are fundamental Muslims. Women and men in religious attire walking the streets with women in short skirts.
It is nice to be around so many Chinese again, and it makes me feel homesick from my family in Guangzhou. Last night I wandered about the city searching for the best southern cuisine of steamed pork buns, cooked lettuce and rice, only to be strayed away by deep friend handmade dumplings. I have found that many of the locals take me for Japanese, and as I pedal passed I am constantly greeted with “Konichiwa”.
I have found that there is very little bargaining to be done here, from vegetables and fruits in the markets to bicycle tires I am almost always given the local price. Tonight I squatted with some locals selling bananas and was given a bunch for free. The city is shockingly expensive compared to what I have encounter in the remote, I had been sustaining myself on close to $2 dollars a day, only to find myself paying $4 for a lunch once arriving.
I am still struggling with the heat and humidity, and I find myself feeling lethargic with relatively little appetite. This makes me reflect on my families pilgrimage to India in ’92 where after a few weeks of traveling we had lost our appetites for the local food and could only dream of eating the biggest burrito at our California neighborhood local Mexican restaurant Chico’s Tacos.
The Malay or rather Indian staple here is Roti a tortilla like bread that is made to order and served with a bowl of curry. Besides roti there are dishes of chicken, beef and sometimes vegetables that are usually cooked in the morning and left in the pan to be served at room temperature throughout the day.
A part of me feels so at home here eating with locals in small dive café’s and speaking Chinese. In some ways I don’t even want to acknowledge that a part of me is white.
Tomorrow I make my way down a long jungle road to the Malaysian/Indonesian border city of Tawau. The road is unpaved and full of logging trucks with few remote villages. It takes an automobile 9 hours to complete the drive so my guess is that it will take me close to 10 days to pedal there. Tomorrow I should be camping in the Crocker National park before heading into the unknown. Here is the route: