Kota Kinabalu

It’s late Sunday afternoon and I haven’t slept since Friday night.  I flew out of Tullamarine midnight Saturday and landed in Kota Kinabalu, via Kuala Lumpar,  10 am this morning local time.

I’m surviving on a mixture of adrenaline that accompanies arriving in a new place,  some chicken and rice concoction I found in this cafe around the corner, and Tiger beer.  I’ve popped back to my hotel room to escape the humidity and follow the Roos and the Saints on the web.  The Saints have kicked five in a row in time-on second term to hold a twenty point lead at half-time.

Kota Kinabalu is in the province of Sabah on the island of  Borneo, East Malaysia.  Out my window is the South China Sea and the island of Labuan where the Japanese surrendered South East Asia to the Allies in 1945.  Directly west is KL and the Malaysian Peninsula.

I’m in this part of the world to trace some family World War Two history.  Great Uncle Joe was captured at the fall of Singapore and spent some time in Changi before being transferred to Sandakan POW Camp, on the Eastern side of Borneo.  It’s there the Japanese committed some of their worst atrocities against prisoners and locals.  Those POWs who didn’t die at Sandakan, almost certainly did on the Sandakan Death March which stretched for nearly 100 kilometres through impregnable and dank jungle all the way to Kota Kinabalu.  Of the 2,434 Allied prisoners at Sandakan, only six survived.  There’s a memorial to Uncle Joe and the other Sandakan victims on Labuan.

After arriving this morning, I went for a walk along the waterfront.  The markets sell everything from trinkets and clothing to fish and meat.  Although the dry season, the humidity is still thick and the wretched smell from the markets isn’t one I’ll not forget in a hurry.  Hungover Aussies were sleeping off last night on deck chairs outside Australian and Irish themed bars while staff hosed away stale beer and vomit.  A crew on a bachelor’s weekend were haggling over the price of fake designer watches.  Local kids hid behind a filthy public toilet block and sniffed glue.  Tired fishing boats bobbed and swayed on the green sea.

A floating  shanty town clings to the edges of an island just off shore.  I asked a barman who lives there.  People from the Philippines.  Illegals.  Don’t go there, it’s dangerous, he said.  It’s a snapshot of Malaysia’s asylum seeker problem.

I kept walking through the grimy shopping district.  Locals were friendly. Many were wearing England, Man U and Chelsea shirts.  I found a local newspaper.  The sports pages were dominated by the EPL transfer market.

Arriving tonight from Hong Kong is my mate, Handsome Joe, international playboy and Magpie supporter.  He wants to kick on.  I’m going to bed.

I’m not making any sense.

Lindsay Thomas kicked out on the full and the Saints held on.



  1. John Butler says

    Andrew, that’s dedication. Posting through jet lag.

    Safe travels.

  2. Dear Andrew, I was at the game and I felt I was jetlagged too, disjointed and out of kilter. You write beautifully and I feel your surrounds as you talk. You have some great players at North, but we confused them to death in the last two quarters.

    Yvette, the happy Sainter (for this week at least)

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