2019 Traveling (part 1) Dublin & Borneo
Where to begin this story? The first trip I made in 2019 seems like it was years ago already and there has been so much that has happened since. To be honest writing this first travel blog is making me very nostalgic and it’s bringing up so many great and amazing memories. I hope you enjoy the stories and memories as much as I did then and still do now.
The first trip I made back in March was to visit my best friend in Dublin, Ireland. I met this dude named Adam back in 2016 when I started working at this summer camp in the middle of the woods of New Hampshire, more about this later on. There were multiple reasons I wanted to make this trip, for one I had never been to Ireland before, second I wanted to see my best friend and get matching tattoo’s and three because I wanted a break from what I was doing. I spent about 5 days in Dublin and we did loads of cool and what some people would call ”dumb” things, things we’ll get into later. After leaving Dublin I had to wait about 2 months (which felt way longer at the time) to travel again, this time to a very unknown part of the world to me, Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. You might be wondering what reason I had for going over to that part of Asia and it’s simple, I wanted to see my friend (again who I met at camp, trust me you will see a pattern here at some point) and I told her I would so I did. We Did a bunch of hiking, had some good/cheap food and a bunch of other things that we’ll get into later on. After I got back from Borneo, Malaysia I had about a week to pack my bags and say goodbye to friends and family at home. For the 4th summer in a row I was about to disappear into the Woody woods of New Hampshire, U.S.A for the next 5 months. This place is truly my second home and I couldn’t be more grateful for how many opportunities it has given me, especially when it comes to traveling. Of course over the 5 months that I was there I saw more than just the same trees everyday and I will definitely cover most of it in a little bit. After spending about half of the 2019 in those same woods it was time to hit the road again. I hopped from Boston to Vancouver to spend some amazing time with my friend D(eanna) and drink a bunch of beers, from Vancouver to Seattle to watch my first NFL game and finally to the middle of nowhere Indiana to hop on a cross country road trip (yes with friends from that same camp). This bus trip is and was a big deal to me because I truly felt like it was going to be one of those once in a lifetime trips. there’re some amazing moments and memories that I will never ever forget about! About 3 weeks later 2 friends of mine that were also on the ”bustrip” and I were off to Cuzco, Peru because about 3 months before then Dylan and I decided that we wanted to hike Machu Picchu together, so we did. After hiking Machu Picchu and seeing all the incredible views it was time to head back to the Netherlands after 6+ months but first I had to stop in the U.K to drink some beers with friends (from camp of course). Funny enough the last trip I made in 2019 was to the same place as the first one although for a completely different reason. It was time to celebrate New years (you might have guessed it already, with friends from camp)
Let me start this off with, I made a mistake. Before I left for the airport I had a choice to make about what coat to bring, a thinner rain jacket or a thick winter coat. Let’s just say I did not make the right call when I chose the thinner one, this will be more relevant later on. So I hop on my first flight of what will be many this year, it’s obviously a short distance from The Netherlands just over an hour of flying time. As soon as we get to Adam’ house we drink some tea , put my stuff away and we were off to the climbing gym. After some bouldering for about 4 hours or so we decided that it was time to give the big walls a shot but since our hands were already pretty beat this did not last long, we eventually settled for eating some delicious cheesecake instead. That night something happened that I had been waiting for for a long time, I had my first Guinness. It seems so silly but I had never had one before because I always wanted to get my first one in Ireland and it didn’t disappoint, it was actually better than I expected.
I am a huge outdoor type of person and so the next morning we thought it was a good idea to do a 3 hour long hike that was about an hour from his house, what can go wrong? Well we weren’t smart enough to check the weather forecast, this is where my mistake from earlier comes into play. We started this hike, it was decently steep at the start but it was all fine until we got to the top and it started snowing. The snow was coming from behind us so still not a huge deal, until we got to the bottom and we had to walk the other direction for about an hour. All of a sudden this pretty peaceful snow turns into a rain and hail storm that’s hitting us right in the face. After about an hour and both us being wetter than we have ever been (funny enough we’re both from countries where rain is a constant factor) we get to the car and we’re trying to take our shoes off, but our hands were so cold that we couldn’t undo our or each others shoe laces. This story is still something we talk about and it will be a great memory for later on in life.
The day after it was time to get our tattoos, we both had tattoos at this point already so we knew what we were walking into. We walk into this heavy metal looking place called ReInkarnated and the guy had his designs laid out for us already. I was up first and after about 3 hours I was surprised to see he was done because it felt like I was only there for an hour. Then it was Adam’ turn while I went over to the barbecue restaurant around corner to eat some delicious food. Luckily for me Adam did not back out of the agreement and went through with the tattoo while I was away, now we have got matching tattoos. This brings the story of Ireland to a close for now, I had a final Irish beer at the airport (as you do) and went home to await my next travel destination: Kota Kinabalu, Borneo Malaysia.
If you haven’t talked to me about my 2019 traveling, it’s totally understandable that you have never heard of Kota Kinabula before. It’s the capitol of Sabah, Which is a state in the northern part of Borneo. After having 2 layovers one in Munich and one in Singapore, about 20 hours later I landed in Kota Kinabalu ready to soak up this new world. For the next 24 hours I would be by myself exploring until I could take the bus to this town where my friend was living called Keningau. I just hung out and drank some coconuts for the next 24 hours until I was supposed to take my bus to Keningau. If I learned one thing from this trip is to never ever book anything with booking.com! I got to the busstation about an hour before my bus was supposed to leave and I walked up to the counter to get my tickets. To my surprise they told me that there were no buses to Keningau, after calling the booking.com people they basically told me they were sorry and I had to figure it out on my own. Great, I did not have any internet, I had a pretty heavy backpack on my back so what do you do? well, you ask for help, so I did and apparently there was a bus leaving for Keningau, the only problem was that the ”bus stop” was about 5 minutes from my hostel and now we we’re about 30 minutes away. So the taxi driver overcharged me but I finally made it on the bus after some more waiting around. I kept telling myself during this time that this is going to be an interesting story to tell later on. Now we’re here with you reading this story.
After about 2,5 hours we barely made it to Keningau because the buses had some trouble getting through the mountains. But finally after that interesting start of the day I made it to Keningau and I met my friend Hannah there. Right of the bat we went to this little restaurant and did what we would do many times over and that’s eating an bunch of different roti’s, nasi, bami and drink sugary lemon tea. I am very easy when it comes to food but everywhere you go in Sabah, Borneo it seems like you can get decent food no matter what the restaurant looks like. It won’t be top class but what do you expect from a small place in the middle of Asia? over the next 10 days we would do this many times over, not just for breakfast but for lunch and sometimes dinner as well. Eating out in Borneo is so convenient and most of all cheap.
The reason Hannah was in Keningau in the first place was because she was taking part in a Fulbright program that placed her in Malaysia. Her job was to teach English at a school and sometimes she and some of the other Fulbright participants had to put on a sort of field day type event. I have experience teaching and working with kids and I wasn’t going to let an opportunity to teach kids in Asia pass by. Less then 24 hours after I got to Keningau I was helping out with this field day that was all about teaching kids how to speak English by means of games and other fun activities. It was such a cool experience and something I will definitely not forget about. Afterwards we got treated like we were celebrities because everybody wanted to takes selfies with us Western folks, after a while I couldn’t feel my cheeks and I couldn’t tell if I was still smiling or not.
Over the next few days we would do a bunch of different hikes and one that stood out to me in particular( excluding the hike where we got chased by a bunch of wasps all the way back to our car) . We drove about 3 hours to the Mount Kinabalu area to camp for 2 nights and hike around, enjoy nature etc.. when we got to camp site and we had our tent set up it started pouring down rain. We found a very small restaurant, had some average tasting bami or soup while waiting out this down pour. That night we enjoyed some beers and whiskey while enjoy the beautiful view that was Mount Kinabalu in the distance (see picture below). The following day we were supposed to do a hike that would go continuously up and down about 10 times and would take hours to complete the whole thing. We drove the wrong direction and we ended up on the other side of the trail. Not knowing this at the time but this hike would not be going up and down, no this one would be going straight up for about 90 minutes to 2 hours in the great humidity that’s the Malaysian rain forest . I have done my fair share of hiking by now and it’s very weird starting a hike and not knowing how long it’s going to take, you have no clue how much water you should bring, how fast to go and what the end point is. Fortunately for us the final point was marked very well by the flag of Sabah, from here we had an amazing view and we could also see the trail that we planned on taking that morning. We spent about an hour up there just soaking in the beautiful nature and views. That’s what you hike for, those amazing views and a little bit of time you get to spend at the end just soaking everything up after you busted your ass to get up there. Over the next couple days I would hike some more, drink more beers, cruise on a river, see monkeys, fireflies, eat some more amazing food and visit one of those deserted islands you see in movies! When it was time to say goodbye I felt like I gained a lot of memories that I will hold onto for the rest of my life and I absolutely did.
This part of the blog is almost at an end but not before I tell you about how interesting my return trip was from Kota Kinabalu. Just like on the way there I was supposed to have 2 lay overs (one in Singapore and one in Frankfurt) this journey was supposed to take about 20 hours in total. After almost missing my boarding time for the flight to Singapore because I wasn’t paying attention I made it all the way to Frankfurt. This is where shit get’s interesting, we all boarded the plane and thought that we were going to be in Amsterdam in less than an hour. Well that did not happen, apparently there was a drone sighting and about 60 flights got cancelled. While we were waiting to take off however these 2 Americans (from Texas) were asking me questions about Amsterdam, after assuring them that I am literally the worst tour guide when it comes to my own country we started talking about other random things. Eventually after we all exited the plane to figure out our plans from here, these 2 Texans came up to me and asked me if I wanted to drive them from Frankfurt to Amsterdam. Obviously I said yes because again this would be a story that I would tell over and over again in the future ( and the fact I didn’t have to pay was an extra bonus of course). So long story short, I drove these Texans for about 5 hours while hitting over 170 km/h on the German highway and had a lot of interesting conversations. We became close to friends and in the end they invited me to come stay with them, shoot some guns and eat food in Texas if I ever thought of going there. To this day I have not been there yet but I will one of these years and I will be sure to hit them up when I do.
Life is so crazy and wonderful in unexpected ways sometimes and my take on it is, enjoy every fucking minute of it! I remind myself to take every single moment and thing in while I am traveling because I want to remember those moments forever.
The moments that seem like a bad experience will make for the greatest stories and memories. I know that now, so every time something bad happens I know it’s going to be a story and a memory some day.
I hope you liked my (sometimes ) weird and fun traveling stories, this was just part 1 and there is more to come. This was my first traveling blog so let me know what you think?!