A few observations and random thoughts about Malaysian Borneo:
- Heat and humidity: high 90s, except in Sepilok where it must have exceeded 100 degrees and, though meteorologically impossible, 120 percent humidity. (Note to Marylanders: by comparison, you have arrid summers.)
- Speaking of Maryland,Â twice we’ve seen “Maryland Chicken” onÂ menus. Something breaded, I think. Didn’t realize they were soÂ aware of your largest industry.Â
- Language: almost everyone speaks “Manglish.” We rarely have difficulty communicating.
- Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. Consequently, we’re usually looking the wrong way when we cross the street.
- People instinctively walk on the left-hand side of the sidewalk. Consequently, we’reÂ often doing a little dodging dance.
- As in most of the world, men rarely “give way” on the sidewalk, so even when Harriet comes face-to-face with a male on the sidewalk, it is she who gives way in order to avoid a collision.
- There are very few motorcycles around. Very little deisel too. The most popular vehicle of choice is the Toyota Land Cruiser.
- There are almost no Americans here. We’ve mentioned Nina. We saw a family of 3 at Kinabalu. And there’s some guy from Arizona whose name keeps appearing a week before ours in different guest books.
- Music: Aside from the shows for tourists where traditional dances are performed, the music is mixed – Asian and U.S. rock, rap and a lot of 70’s classics. Gordon Lightfoot tunes are alive and well here;Â we hear thatÂ big hit by Kelly Clarkson almost every day (and speaking of her, there IS a Malaysian Idol show); and tonight on the plane we listened to Dionne Warwick and Willy Nelson.Â
- We’ve been staying in fairly nice places and they all provide bathroom amenities. They all have towels and little soaps or soap dispensers (think industrial wall-mount models). They’re all big on shower caps (which, after 30 years of travel, I have discovered make great shoe protectors — that is, they keep my muddy shoes away from my sweaty clothes). Most have little bottles of shampoo. But the oddest little thing is that the national parks accommodations are very proud of their decorativeÂ pots of Q-tips and… drum roll… puffy cotton make-up remover pads. (Damn, I could have brought my mascara.)
- Water: perfectly potable in Singapore. Pretty good in Malaysian Borneo. We haven’t been as careful as usual, but we’ve been just fine. All the hotels supply thermoses of boiled water too.
- Internet: Internet cafes aren’t as plentiful as we had thought. Some are dark and hot and worst of all, many are crowded with pre-teen and teen boys playing deafening, violent net games. However, the cafe we’re using tonight is probably our favorite — decent music, fast machines, good screens, AIR CON, nice staff, 7-ElevenÂ next door withÂ Diet Coke for Alan,Â and best of all, the computers are on coin-operated timers that when you’re down to 60 seconds play an electronic version of that old standard “Be It Ever So Humble, There’s No Place Like Home” . (Did you know there’s a second verse?) … We’re hearing it now.
Next up: (Not quite) Survivor BorneoÂ — The Island