Day 1: 25 minutes later

Reminder: Make sure you’ve read the Prologue before you proceed!
The following took place on Saturday, 18th July 2009:-

Our flight was 8.20am+ and we had to be at the Brunei International Airport (BIA) 2 hours’ before that i.e around 6.30am which meant I had to wake up latest by 5am as DY was fetching me at 6.15am. However, since I was up till wee hours of the morning packing, I woke up at 5.15am. Needless to say I rushed through the 1 hour and ended up just chucking everything into the luggage at the last minute. -_-“

We all met up at BIA after checking-in and had breakfast at the Royal Brunei Catering(RBC) restaurant/café there. Then it was boarding time…

Another first for me was flying with Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA). Our e-ticket said our plane was an Airbus but on that day it was a Boeing 737. Quite similar to the flights I’ve been on (basically MAS and AirAsia) but one notable difference was we had Prayers (pre-recorded and played onboard) before we took off, which was nice. Prayers before any sort of travel is nice…and also, there were mini screens over our heads (near the “no smoking” and “put on seatbelt” signals etc.) where they showed the plane’s flight path, ETA, etc…and apparently, on long flights there are inflight movies!!! COOL! And, they had the Stewards do the whole safety demo instead of the stewardesses. ^^ Hehehe…
Anyways, it was a nice flight…the only thing odd thing about it was how brief the flight was. For as far as we know, if we were to travel by LAND, it would take about 6 HOURS from Brunei to Sabah. And by AIR, our flight was only 25 MINUTES!!! It was so brief, we didn’t even feel like we left the country! Not that we were complaining but it was rather…surprising…

Anyways, thus we landed in Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA). It wasn’t even 9am yet…it was an early start to the day. Lovely!…and there our tourguide and bus was waiting for us.

Our first stop for the day was the “Sabah State Museum”. There was the Rungus Longhouse at the compounds where we saw the human skulls from the headhunting days of years ago…(I never knew Sabah had headhunters, I thought that was exclusive to Sarawak…) Anyways…in the Museum itself, what I found most fascinating was the huge and a few-hundred-feet skeleton of the Whale that was beached somewhere in Sabah sometime ago…our tourguide told us a sad story about how the whale came to this part of the world looking for its baby, which had been caught by fishermen earlier, and got beached and injured and died of infection…

Our next stop was the main (only?) Buddhist temple in Sabah – the “Pu Tuo Sze”. This was my first time in temple grounds and we learnt quite a bit about Buddhism from our guide. He’s a Buddhist himself afterall…

And then we went to the new “Likas Mosque”, which according to our guide was the only (biggest?) mosque in Sabah. Apparently, according to our guide, most Sabahans are Christians…which I presume was why we didn’t go to check out any Churches since there were several…

After that, we proceeded to see this unique architectural piece, a building built from the top to the bottom instead of the usual foundation-first approach for high-storey buildings. For a building that doesn’t have a strong foundation (our guide said it would shake if there was a strong wind) it was kinda ironic that the building is called the “State Foundation Building”. 😉

With that we ended our “City Tour” and proceeded to 1Borneo, the Biggest Mall in Borneo, where we checked in at the Grand Borneo Hotel (previously known as Mercure Hotel), one of the 4 hotels in the 1Borneo complex.

Our group was apparently odd-numbered and thus everyone had a twin-sharing room but me, DY and SK were 3 to a room. This was a convenient arrangement for us (since the 3 of us were close) and it was a nice surprise as none of us knew how the hotel arrangements were until then. At that point I was sure there was nothing that could possible go wrong with our whole vacation. 😀

BUT there was a glitch. It was noon when we arrived at the hotel (standard time for check-in) but apparently, our room was not yet ready. So we had to hitch one of the other rooms to freshen up before lunch.

Lunch was inside 1Borneo itself and it was “self-catered”. That meant we could all split into smaller groups and go eat wherever we wanted. 😀 The 3 of us went to “The Chicken Rice Shop” as 2 of us had been studying in West Malaysia a few years back and we missed that…it was yumm…

Then we went to Golden Screen Cinema (GSC) and bought tickets to watch “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” that night before we proceeded to shop. 

We went back to our hotel at 4pm+. We were told earlier that our room number was 504 (which was why we hitched one of the rooms on Level 5) but when we went to claim our room key from the Front Desk, the guy there couldn’t be bothered to entertain us but simply insisted that that was not our room. We were tired (from the trip and walking around the Mall shopping) and weren’t feeling too great (we needed to bath and rest!!!) and he really pissed us off. After about a quarter of an hour squabbling with him FINALLY did he give us our room key – and our room was on Level 6! Furthermore, when we went to the room, the door could NOT be opened as he did NOT activate the key! SK was really pissed then so I stayed to accompany her (we were stranded on the Level 6 corridors) while DY went back to the Front Desk. Only after that did we manage to get in. And we had to go down to Level 5, get our luggage, and get back to our room. By the time we were decently settled down, it was almost 6pm – which was the time we were to assemble at the Hotel Lobby for dinner.

Needless to say, we were late and everyone was hungrily waiting for us. Darn that Front Desk guy!

Anyways, dinner was at the hotel’s “Soul Out Restaurant” on Level 2. It was Buffet and the food was goooodddd…I’m not much of an eater but I tried all they had to offer! There was rice, pasta, and lots of dishes and several kinds of deserts! 😀

It was an early dinner so we had ample time to bath and freshen up in our room before we went out at around 8pm. The plan was to take the Shuttle Bus to Plaza Warisan but it was kinda rushed as the next bus leaving was at 9pm and last bus came back around 10.40pm so we decided to postpone that until the last day as we were “free” then. So as for the first night, we continued to make our rounds in 1Borneo until the Mall closed at 10pm and went back to our room. We were dead tired and really2 sleepy then, but we already bought tickets to watch HP – we chose the last show at 11.40pm! It was only then that we realized how crazy that idea was since the movie would finish around 2am and we had an early day the following day…Crazy as it was, we were not about to waste the RM9 tickets so inspite of the fatique, we sleep-walked our way to the cinema. LOL. As far as I’m concerned, IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT! The movie was AWESOME!!! Sad at the end but awesome still. Can’t say much for my 2 roommates though – they slept theough most of it! LOL!

So yeah, after the movie finished, we walked back to our room and called it a day. It was 3am.

~To be continued~
Next: Day 2 (Treks, Canopies, Hot Springs & Seafood)

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