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Diary Entries

Monday, 08 September 2014

I have decided to move our blog to wordpress as I prefer the look of the site and I have more control over it in general. Please visit:

to continue following our journey

Friday, 08 August 2014

Location: Kuching to Kota Kinabalu, via , Brunei

Kuching to Kota Kinabalu, via Miri & Brunei:

Friday 8th August, and sadly our time in Kuching has come to an end. Its tough meeting people and then saying goodbye but I think we’re starting to get into our stride with travelling so saying good-bye is getting easier. The old Buddhist way is the correct, a humans downfall is attachment, don’t get too attached to something and you won’t be disappointed when it is no longer around. There should be no highs or lows, just one way and thats the middle, that sentiment may be easier said than done with some things but I like the idea of it.

Frankie has a wall in the Nook where her guests can write a goodbye message for her. We leave our message next to the one from Jules and Lucinda. Our plan is to come back at some stage to do Bako Park but as anything can happen while your travelling, we thought it was wise to sign now while we had the chance.

Mosses very kindly offers to take us to the bus station for half the price of a taxi so we load up the car with our bags and set off. We booked our tickets for the first leg of the journey in advance - online - through Bintang Jaya Express. The fair is 60 ringit each and will run through the night for 12 hours. At around £12 we thought through the night would be a good way of travelling as we would save money on accommodation. When we get to the station, we have a quick bite to eat as we are not sure when this bus will be stopping. Foolishly, we choose KFC. I say foolishly because every KFC we’ve had so far in Borneo has not been the best, and this one in particular is the pits. Please take my advice, keep clear of the KFC in Malaysia. We don't have a lot of fast food while travelling as the local food is so good and cheap but sometimes you just need a fast food fix, but I would avoid fast food chicken! I order a Zinger burger and my first bite into it and a pink piece of chicken is staring back at me. I know its fast food but we can wait for you to cook it!!! I take it back to the counter and question the colour of it. The power of suggestion is an amazing thing, he tells me “that is ok, it is cooked sir” and I somehow accept this, sit back down and eat it. Maybe it was cooked, maybe KFC just stock pink chickens but it did not fill me with confidence knowing I had 12 hours on a bus ahead of me. Sam was telling me a story back in Sri Lanka about how ill he was on a long bus ride and right now i’m a little worried a may follow in his footsteps, I may have an iron belly but food poisoning is another matter. We get on the bus around 5pm and get on our way and I try and forget about the meal i’ve just eaten.

The seats are not the best which may prove a problem later when we sleep but for now Jess reads her book and I slip on the head phones and listen to some tunes. We are the ONLY westerners on board, this is a local way on transport and as much as I like the Malays, through the night, the sound of them coughing, spitting and clearing there throats all around you in not the best experience. We travel pretty well together though, Jess had the amazing ability of being able to read while moving and I can just listen to music forever and not get bored. I always start a journey with my iPhone and battery pack fully charged, both of these charged can give me about 24 hours of play without power upset.

At 10pm the bus stops for a break, here we can relieve ourselves and grab some food. But this is not Corely services on the M6, this is what I can imagine the poorest part of India to be like. Basic is the word, basic and unclean. The toilets are not for the faint hearted and i’l spare you the graphic description and the food looks like its just come out of the toilet so from that, I’ve most likely painted a pretty poor picture. Jess stays on the bus, she is not human, she can go without food, drink or use a toilet for long periods of time. Again, another important skill while travelling that I simply don't posses. Just before I get on the bus, I have a fag break outside. I standing here looking a stunning view really of thousands of large flying insects hovering around the only street light that our bus is parked next to. I also then see a few of the flying pests heading in the direction of our bus, with the door open and the lights on. By the time I have finished my smoke and everyone is on the buss, we have quite a few extra passengers on board. So, sleeping now is going to be a problem, we have the music blaring out, crap seats, the locals partying and now the odd winged pest landing on my head every now and then, and these guys are like dragon fly size. There I am swatting away and a local girl smiles at me and says, “don’t worry, not dangerous”. We’re a bit different in the UK aren’t we, not really used to huge things like this just flying around us. I act relieved that she has reassured me and say “oh, that goodness for that, thank you” when really I'm internally combusting with the thoughts that this thing is going to land on me again. Luckily, the air con on these buses is in overdrive, so the insects slowly start to fade and go to sleep, or die, what ever they did, they were not flying around my head anymore, which was nice. On that note, I pull out my fleece and attempt to get slightly warmer to attempt a sleep. Guess what, Jessica forgot to pack her fleece. What does that mean? That means Darren gives her his so she is warm and he sits there freezing his hairy ones off.

Clearly, I can not sleep like this, Jessica is however, doing fine at it. Very annoying! We go through a police stop and everyone has to show their passports. At this point, I realise that I haven’t seen my wallet. Its not in its usual pocket in the bag. I get everything out and try and use the torch on my phone to look everywhere for it. Jessica wakes up to help as I'm clearly a bit distressed as to where it may be. We are now at about 1:30am and with the thought that i’ve lost my wallet, sleep if definitely not on the cards. I have a few hours re tracing things in my mind, wondering if I left it on the counter in KFC or where I may have used it last and then decide to get everything out of my bag one last time. Its all out, nothing left in the bag so I turn it upside down, and out it falls, from a secret little pocket, it must have fallen in there when I got the ticket out earlier in the night. It is tricky, we have so many things in our day bags that we may need, we always seem to be getting things out, putting them back in and getting them out again. No wonder things go walkies every now and then. Anyway, Im relieved and maybe now I can try and shut my eyes, it is around 4am after all.

At 8:30 am we arrive at Miri, some 3.5 hours later than planned and 15.5 hours travelling in total. Feeling like a bag of spanners, we grab out bags and find a taxi to take us to our hotel, “my homestay guest house”. This place was around £10 for the night and the room was more than ok for that price and it had a/c. We get our heads down for a few hours before we go for a trek around the place but we have realised that the night bus was a very bad move, we may have saved a nights accommodation fee but missing out of a nights sleep is more costly to us. Next time we “over night travel” we must make sure its a sleeper train or a better quality bus.

Miri is a very industrial area and not much tourist wise to do really, we are using it as other travellers do, as a hub for the surrounding areas. Mulu National park is a short flight away and it meant to be great but we are heading on to Kota Kinabalu in the morning to check out Sabah province. We grab some food, check out the local market, find a temple and then head back to our room. We both need to catch up on sleep as we have another long stretch on the bus tomorrow.

The mornings bus ride is a little more enjoyable. Firstly, there is only Jess and I and two other guys on the whole bus so we can spread out and relax. Also, its the day time, we have slept, woohooo! And finally, we are passing through a very interesting route! A lot of people have said to us “why don’t you fly, its sometimes cheaper and obviously quicker” and that is a good point, why don’t we. Well, flying is cheaper, if you book far enough in advance, and if you book something in advance, you give yourself a deadline, which is exactly what we want to escape on this trip. We want to go with the flow, just sticking to our rough itinerary, the last thing we want it one year of schedules and deadlines, that sure defeats travelling? Well it does for us. The key with flying in Asia is to strike a balance between not to far in advance you feel you have to make a deadline, and not to little in advance that the cost goes up. In this case, we wanted to take the bus, as we will be passing through Brunei. I don't really like the whole “box ticking” thing but on this occasion, thats what we are doing as we are not stopping in Brunei, only for food and breaks, but the interesting thing about this part of the trip and the pages of your passport are going to get loaded! I had heard from Dick on the raft race that its a good way to get stamps in your passport but I didn’t realise just how many. If you take a look at the map of Borneo and how Brunei falls in the middle of Malaysia, you can see how the stamps rack up. So, we are leaving Sarawak province in Malaysia (1 stamp) and entering Brunei (2 stamps). We then leave Brunei (3 stamps) and re enter Sarawak (4 stamps). This all gets a bit boring bit, we leave Sarawak again (5 stamps) and enter Brunei (6 stamps). Then we have a few hours of driving through the tropics of Brunei, with oil rigs throwing flames in the horizon before we leave Brunei again (7 stamps) and enter Sarawak (8 stamps). Thats Brunei done now but there are more stamps to come! we are just about to hit the east side of Malaysian Borneo which is Sabah province so we leave Sarawak (9 stamps) and enter Sabah (10 stamps). Its a good jobs Jessica’s passport is brand new and mine only has a few pages used, this book is going to be full by the end as I’ve heard there is a similar process in Thailand when you do your visa runs (hoping in and out of the boarders to renew your visa).

Yet again the bus is late and its now 8:30pm, 12.5 hours after we set off this morning but we are here in Kota Kinabalu, our hub for the exploration of Sabah. The total cost for travelling from west to east has been under £30 each which I don’t think is too bad at all and we are very happy with how our passports are coming alone.


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Recent Messages

From Mum
Darren I don't know if you will see this now that you've changed sights but I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed all your entries. You have made me laugh so much but the serious stuff is just as enjoyable. It's like being there with you. I hope you will continue to make me laugh, I'm sure you will and I look forward to reading more.

Love you loads xxxx
Response: Thanks Mother dear, glad your enjoying it. Love you too x
From Mum
Another fab read Darren, Singapore sounds as wonderful as I thought it would be. If only I had the courage to take a long, long plane journey! But I guess it wouldn't be as much fun unless we went with you!!! Your writing makes me laugh out loud - keep it coming. Looking forward to the next ones, although Kuching will be tinged with sadness, I know.

Love you much xxxxxxx
Response: The next one is KL mother dear so don't worry. When I do Kuching, I won't dwell on the sadness. xxx
From Anne Billings
couldn't agree more with your mum the diaries are awesome reading feels as if I can see you sitting with you I-pad doing all your entries. Will continue enjoying photo post and enjoying your journey from my armchair. Sad the post and pictures about the two people killed but hope it hasn't spoiled your enjoyment of all the wonderful places you have been and yet to visit. Didn't see you on the BBC?
Response: Hi Annie, great to hear from you.
Im so glad everyone is enjoying the blog, its a bit hard to discipline myself to sit down and type (hence I'm a little behind) but I think it will give us both something nice to look back on, and everyone at home something to feel a little closer.

The boys in Kuching was a very sad thing indeed. We paid our respects with flowers and lit candles. If you go to the bbd website and click on the "world" tab at the top, you should still see the article. there is a still shot of us lighting the candles on the mail page and a video shot of the same in the main video link.

Hope you and Dave are well
From Mum
Oh Darren, I've really enjoyed reading all your diary entries and I'm in awe of your ability to put all your adventures into words and with such humour too. If ever you decided to take this up on a permanent basis when you get home, I will be your proof reader! I would love it. I'm also in awe of the wonderful time you're having and all the great friends you're making. You will carry these memories forever. Keep up the good work - looking forward to the Singapore diaries. Loads of love xxxx
Response: Well i'm glad to hear that your enjoying reading it. But are you saying it needs proof reading. I must admit, I haven't checked the last few entries as I just wanted to get them online.

Anyway, I'm enjoying writing them so thats two of us that are happy.

From Mum
Hi Darren, have finally caught up with your diary and I'm loving it so much. I've started printing it all off so I can keep it for ever! It will be a wonderful thing to look back on. Haven't yet seen all the pictures like Jamie but then of course he is not nearly as busy as me is he? He He! Looking forward to the next episode. Love you loads xxxx
Response: Hi Mother dear. Glad to hear your enjoying the read. All other followers seem to have fallen away. Maybe I bang on too much? Anyway, thats a good idea to print off. I shall make a book of it when we are done so we'll have a nice keep sake. Anyway, just so you know, you question only appears when I respond to it. A few more posts to follow, just working on them now. xxx
From Jimbo
WHOAAAAAAAAAA, ok so i have just spent the last hour or so catching up on the blog and pictures. Love the perfect Giraffe/Sun pic in Kichaka-2 :) Sounds like you are having an amazing adventure, i am very jealous of you both. Have obviously been catching up via iMessage but its nice to be able to get a blow by blow of what you are doing. I miss the meeting of people in different countries and learning what makes them tick, its certainly a far cry from Finedon Road Industrial Estate ay! Anyway, great to now be up to date and look forward to the next installment. Keep safe you pair.
Jimmy Meeeeeet x
Response: Whooooaaaaa!!

How's it going Jimmy meeeeet!

Yea mate, it's great hay. We've met soooo many cool people. Our group in Trincomalee has now split up and moved on. Sad day, we all got on really well. But, we will meet again on day.

It's the 14th today, we've been away for 5 weeks tomorrow. It's flying by.

Speak soon mate xx
From Mum
Hello Darren, have only just read your Colombo blog and I'm amazed just how much you write - how on earth do you find the time when you're so busy? (Hehe!) It's all very entertaining though - I'm enjoying it so much. Didn't like the contents of your message to Simone though and your experience at the elephant place - very upsetting! Looks like this is your last entry so get cracking on your time in Kandy. I'm looking forward to hearing all about that. Loadaluv from me to you (both) xxxx
Response: Hi mummy.

I can only write when I'm in the right mood, but when I am, I can't spot. I think thats part of the reason it's not up to date with where we are. That and the fact that Sri Lanka has the wisest internet in the world! All over the island. Xxx
From Sim
Where are you? It's been a while. Can you imagine if it was like the olden days, no technology, just a remote phone box. My boys are only going travelling with me! xx
Response: We are here we are here!!!!

I have write ups for kandy, dambulla and Sigiri which I will post today. Trincomalee was a blast, we met cool people so it was hard to find the time to sit on my mac.

Enjoyed the Skype the other day!! Xx
From Sim
Hilarious, you absolutely crack me up, I actually laughed out loud. Hope you are enjoying Kandy, we did, you know that massive picture in my hall above the front door, that came from Kandy. Helen and Alan were impressed with your travels, they've done quite a bit too, maybe Helen can print your memoirs! Dazzy, keep a tight hold of Jess, she's so friendly, before you know it she may be whisked off on a TukTuk! Looking forward to the elephant pictures. Lots of love S xx
Response: Ha, I'm not sure what bit is funny, I forget after I write. But this is good, planet ranger is our memory too.

And, by the way, the TukTuk driver would soon bring her back.

From Helen
Hi Daz
It's Helen from print remember the smelly inky place you left?!
We're at Kier and Mones's( that's our boys name for your big sis) for the weekend and read your blog. Your travels so far sound fantastic. Enjoy!
Response: Hi Helen,

ohhhhhh how I miss the smell of ink and paper. Well, not really actually, we're having far too much fun. Glad you like the blog, This is the best thing we've ever done! Lovely to hear from you. x
From Sim
I didn't realise you wanted to see the elephants so much. Lucky you though, there is an amazing elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka, with maybe close to 100 elephants just wandering around. The 'keepers' wash them and herd them from one part of the stream to another, its a huge place - not quite a game reserve but nonetheless an amazing place to visit and not a safari or theme park! Kir said to look out for the tamal tigers, probably not the sort you are after though! Loving the photos of you both, Jess looks really peaceful, I think it's wonderful that you are doing this together, just imagine, in 40 years you will be sat in a rocking chair telling your grandbabies. xx
Response: Sim, we made a right cock up today. We we're offered two elephant places to go to. We picked the millennium elephant foundation. I had a funny feeling not to go but I didn't want Jess to miss out for me being a tree hugger. As soon as we paid and walked in, we both new we had made a mistake. 3 elephants chained up round the feet and neck with a keeper shouting at them with a stick with a hook on it that he prodded them with if they didn't so as they we're told. Needless to say, we left shortly after. That cost nearly a days budget so we were quite pissed off! We will do the orphanage another day though, it looks amazing. You live and learn ay and I'm sure we'll have many more mess up days yet. We're still having a great time though and getting on great. Sri Lanka is a pretty funky place. Hope your all well. Xxx
From Stuart Sentance
Alright Weave, it's Stuart. My girlfriend and I going to be in Thailand from the 27th June until the 29th October. Not sure what you're plans are or when you're heading that way but it would be good to maybe meet up for beers if you're free? We're travelling around Thailand a bit so if you fancy it and we're both in the same sort of area give me a message or email dude and we can come see you guys. :-)
Response: Hay buddy. How are ya mate. We are heading to Singapore, Indonesia and maylasia before Thailand but if your hanging about, we might catch up. I'll give you a shout when we know when we'll be there. Nice one
From Mum
How come I've only just managed to see your Kichaka diary? Oh well that's me! A bit on the slow side eh!! Anyway it was well worth the wait. I've really enjoyed your account of your truly amazing experiences - was like being there. And I've enjoyed reading Sim's messages - and Aaron's and Louis' too. Wouldn't it be wonderful to spend more time there? Maybe one day eh! Hope Sri Lanka isn't a let for you after this! Missing you very much - loads of love - Mummy xxxx
Response: Hi mother dear. I am very behind on the reports. You'd think we'd have all the time in the world wouldn't you but it's not turning out that way, we're quite busy all the time. It's great! Colombo wasn't our kind of place but, (we we're the only westerners we could see) it was still good and interesting. We are in Kandy now which is more of a happening city. Still not many westerners but we like it. It's not as humid here either. Colombo was only mid 30's but it was around 78% humidity. Not plesant for Jess to smell me. Miss you too xx
From Sim
Wow, my stolen dreams just keep getting better, sounds like a true once in a lifetime experience - Sir, (i can really hear Alan saying the sentence with old boy in it). Also, from your description it actually feels like I'm there with you, sorry to frighten you! It's no wonder you didn't want the day to end. Good to hear you still feel the need to tidy though! I did wonder when 'the Ant' in you would surface, I'm sure our brother will be proud of you for 'having a word' with the inconsiderate guests! Enjoy the luxury while you can, I just hope it doesn't spoil you too much for the rest of the trip. Until the next installment from you. xx
Response: It was truly amazing and I can't believe I'm saying this but, worth every penny!!! We are now in Sri Lanka surviving off £25 a day between us. Extremes ay.... And still loving it all xxx
From Hayley
You guys seem to have gone quiet!! Hope your both ok. Still very jealous you get to have such an amazing adventure but so long as you keep posting lots of pics I can pretend I'm there lol. Alfies had a couple of 'Aunty Jess meltdowns' but keep showing him ur pics and he goes "on yer on holiday" lol. Missing you both (yes Darren even u). Stay safe and have keep having
Response: We are here!!! Cape Town was so busy, we just haven't had time to sit down and get things updated. We had small amounts of time in Kichaka but we were so relaxed, waking up to do anything was proving tricky!!! Hope your all well, we miss you too xx
From Sim
Good afternoon my lovely intrepid explorers how is the safari going? If you see a baby lion or tiger I have room for it at home, oh and Bear has always wanted a black rhino - so if you could be so kind......
In our house there has been, even more than usual, talk about sharks, hopefully it will wear off a bit before we go sailing, otherwise I fear their imagination will get the better of them!
Look forward to your update on your adventure and in the meantime carry on exploring. xx
Response: You would not believe it, on the last drive, we came across a pack of lions that had a fresh kill. A baby cub came out from the bushes to take a look at us and it was like a cuddly toy. Amazing!!!! Glad to hear of the shark talk, it must be in the blood. Miss everyone loads.... well, a bit ;-) xxx
From Annie Bill
Great video ALMOST makes me want to be there but afraid I would be sicker than you. You are lucky to have Jess with you.
Response: Hi Annie,

thanks, glad you like it. Its a bit unsteady but its kind of hard filming in that situation. Yes, I am lucky to have her, she's great!! xx
From Col
Not sure there's a scale to show how jealous I am. Only 15 months ago and your great blogs bring it all back

Take care
Response: Well Boss, you were the inspiration for this trip so thank you. Pleased your enjoying the blog. When I wake up from this relaxation, I will post more but for now, I must eat again... Then sleep.... then Safari... Then drink... Then sleep again!
From Sim
Now look, you've got me addicted to checking for new information. Don't give me all that bad connection business and all that having fun business, there are some of us looking to live vicariously through you! xx
Response: Kichata is totally amazing, Im finding it hard to think about writing! But, more will follow. More than likely when we're in a grotty backpackers again x
From Louis Bear
I wish I was there in the cage and could touch the sharks. It would be real cool to see the sharks. Have you found me a green cobra yet? Love from Louis Bear xx
Response: We are on the hunt for a Cape Cobra for you. We shall keep you posted xxx
From Aaron
Hi Uncle Dazzy and Auntie Jess.
That was amazing, I wish I could be there - not to go in the cage but just to see your reaction. Hope you have a lovely time at your next destination. I doubt you were sea sick, but I will go along with that story! Lots of loveAaron. xx
Response: Azza, you would love it in there. They were amazing. And I was sea sick, nudge nudge, wink wink xxx
From Mum
OMG! Had already seen the video on my Kindle but lovely to see it larger! And enjoyed reading your diary - you write like you talk so it's almost like having you back here!!! Keep up the good work with your writing but most importantly keep enjoying every minute as I know you will. Much love to both of you, Mummy xxxx
Response: Does that mean your bored to tears with my waffling? xxx
From Sim
Wow, not often I'm rendered speechless..........however, it didn't last that long! What I can't believe is that when I was younger I couldn't find enough stuff on G.Whites and now here I am, watching my very own little brothers documentary, with incredible footage of the magnificent beasts (the sharks - not you Dazzy!). Fabulous writing brother, I feel a book coming on, keep it up. Well done Jess, you are such a cucumber, cool to the very end. Can't wait for the boys to get home from school, so they can see how amazing their Uncle and Auntie are. I await your next entry with baited breath, I feel I will become a very avid reader of the D & J chronicles. Love you both very much, Sim xx
Response: My sister, you are here!!!!

Great to here from you and thanks for the positive feedback. Do I not woffle slightly? I guess the nice thing about reading what I'm doing, is you don't have to listen...! Ha.

Of course scuba diving has given me a keen interest in the oceans(obviously) but, from the bigining o my memory, sharks have always been around, through you. So thank you.

Loads of love

Us xxx
From Alfie
Has just been asked, "Hey lunchtime, where's aunty jess" so I showed him the pic of the beach from your Facebook. "Oh ok she's swimming". Glad your both ok and keeping safe. Can't wait to see pics from safari, couldn't be more
Response: She is a bad boy that auntie Jess.

Thank you for the message Alfie, your typing in super!

We have one night in Port Elizabeth, then off to 5 star luxury.

From Judith Sheppard
HELLOoooo thought you were going to keep us updated on here :-) Missing you already xxx
Response: Hay Judith, its Darren.

I've posted a few items this morning.

The internet is a bit of an issue out here, photos are taking an age to upload. When we get to Kichaka, we can leave the mac uploading in the day while we're out. Sadly, everywhere else, the mac comes with me as I don't want it stolen .

Hope you an John are well