How many people can say their mum likes backpacking South East Asia? I can. And her bag is always smaller than mine. A true minimalist and responsible for my wanderlust genes, she is an inspirational travel partner, never shy of some late night exploration, making friends with the rough looking taxi drivers or ordering four beers at once.
And she’s my mum. So when I need to suck it up, she says so, but when I’m really at the end of my tether, I get a big hug and the knowledge that I’m with the person who loves me most in the world.
I was more depleted from a trip than I ever have been after the motorbike accident in the Phillipines. A week of oozing third degree wounds, a purple, swollen abdomen, a broken arm with no plaster, internal bleeding and the most excruciating pain I’d ever experienced; I was well ready to see my Mummy. On the final leg of a four and a half month journey, my bank account was exhausted, my insurance company had gone completely AWOL, and the only medical assistance I could receive was from wide-eyed girls in tin sheds.
The two boys I had been travelling with were absolute champions, scraping and dressing my yellow, seeping wounds twice a day, forking out cash whenever I couldn’t, carrying my bags, and putting up with the tedious pace at which I dressed and walked.
I had visited Muslim countries before, however I hadn’t ever quite felt as strongly the effect my casual dress code had that morning upon landing in Kota Kinabalu. Coming from three weeks in the tropical and touristic Phillipines, I disembarked my flight in bright pink cotton shorts and a white tank.
Utterly inappropriate, and my mum didn’t mince her words with me when we reunited. Having already spent almost a week in the city, she had a good feel for the mood, and was dressed accordingly in long cotton pants and long sleeved top. Despite the humid, relentless heat, and the raw abrasions on my knees and elbows, I had to also very quickly cover, as the attention I was drawing was far from desirable.
Even fully covered, my blonde hair was like a beacon, me and my German friend being the only fair people we encountered that week.
The hostel we had previously decided on was immensely different from the photos online, in fact we decided it wasn’t even the same building. After an inhospitable welcome, we moved to one across the street, Stay In Lodge, run by a family, the father cooking every night in the common area and the two children running the reception.
Gery (the son) quickly befriended us, and we still keep in contact. Mum had cooking lessons from the dad, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
On her first day, mum had found a favourite street food vendor, and we made the trek across the city each day to lunch there.
Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Borneo – How NOT to see Orangutans.