After just a brief visit to Brunei, time to head back into Malaysia.
Today was going to be a long travel day, if all goes well, all the way through to Semporna on the East coast – 24 hours of being on the move!! (it would be quicker to get there by flying from home!) In order to catch the 8.30am morning ferry (the port being ‘only 40 minutes’ away), I had to be on the first express, 6.40am bus out of the city.
The 6.40am bus didn’t come. Apparently it’s ‘not working now’.
Could someone not have told me that at 6am when i arrived at the bus station!! Great start.
So I was out onto the next slow bus, with instructions to change onto another bus somewhere. I was assured I would still be at the port in time for the ferry. The people were all extremely helpful.
After over an hour of driving around in circles dropping off school children, we arrived at the end of the route about 8am and I was told where to wait for the next bus. Next bus didn’t arrive.
After speaking (in Malay) to the ‘ticket man’ on the side of the road, he said ‘next bus at 8.30am’!!! No!!!!!! Another guy nearby overheard and very kindly offered to drive me to the ferry port for free!
So after all that, I arrived just in time to buy a ticket, be stamped out of Brunei and get onto the ferry! Aside from buses being totally unreliable, I have liked Brunei.
I found everyone to be so friendly and helpful, they all say hello in the streets and will start a conversation if you are sitting waiting somewhere, but none of them trying to sell you anything.
The ferry across to Labuan took several hours, arriving at 10.30am. Back in Malaysia!
Labuan is an island and a duty free state of Malaysia. But I wasn’t staying, just passing through for a few hours while I waited for a connecting ferry at 1pm to Kota Kinabalu.
Just enough time for a roti pisang brunch (semi-crunchy thin dough pancake type thing with banana slices wrapped inside). And back onto another ferry!
I arrived into Kota Kinabalu just after 4pm. KK is the state capital of Sabah. But again, not staying around for long. I caught a taxi for the 20 minute drive up to the long distance bus station for the 7.30pm overnight bus to Semporna.
I had phoned up a couple of days ago to book myself a seat. The lady only spoke Malay, so I was hoping I did actually have a seat on the evening bus for today! And I did, it worked!
I actually ended up with two seats which was nice, so made myself up a small bed and shortly fell asleep.
Around 9pm there was a bit of a commotion, I woke with my head two feet below my feet, we were in a grass ditch across the other side of the road. I have no idea how that happened, I assume the bus driver fell asleep and we drove off the road!
My learning to speak Malay didn’t quite stretch to the ‘what happens when we’ve had a bus accident’. All the guys were off the bus (in the mud and the rain) with torches trying to flash down passing trucks and coaches.
Eventually one stopped to try and help, with a piece of blue polypropylene rope. Even I could have told them that wasn’t going to work. And sure enough that snapped pretty quickly!
After around an hour, a back up coach arrived, so all move onto that! And we were off again. For a few hours at least. At 1am, stopped again. Moving buses again! I didn’t understand the explanation, if there even was one. Then shortly afterwards around 1.30am we stopped for ‘dinner’!! No sense of urgency here at all. No idea how late we were running, all I know is after 6 hours into a 9.5 hour drive, we weren’t even half way.
What a ridiculous day.