I have dreamed of visiting Borneo ever since my mom read the adventures of Pippi Longstocking to me as a child. I love it when childhood dreams come true! With some extra time off work, my coworker and I decided to embrace the our freedom and spend Lunar New Years in Malaysian Borneo.
Gallivanting around Kota Kinabalu on the city bus is a wonderful way to explore this lovely Malaysian town. Although sightseeing is great, sometimes beach time is a requirement. The beach, a good book, and a cup of coffee. That is paradise.
One of my favorite aspects of travel is the unexpected. Meeting new people, discovering unique places, and experiencing things I didn’t have on my “to do” list are what make a trip special. In Seoul I happened upon a martial arts demonstration, and in Split, Croatia my friend and I, by chance, stumbled upon a music concert down by the harbor. Both occasions were completely unplanned, but are among the most memorable of my travel experiences.
It just so happened, unbeknownst to me, that Kota Kinabalu had just such an event in store for us.
In dire need of some relaxing beach time time, we jumped on the city bus and headed across town to Tanjung Aru Beach. It’s a lovely stretch of sand with a few oceanside restaurants and cafes with a perfect view of the waves.
After a few hours of sunbathing and reading, my coworker and I decided that a coffee fuel-up was in order. As we began to pack up our belongings we noticed music, increasing in volume, coming from the cafe area.
I have learned from other trips that if one hears music it is imperative to seek out the source.
We made our way to the restaurants and found ourselves in a large crowd looking at a stage that had been set up with the ocean as its backdrop. We didn’t realize it at first, but later discovered we had chanced upon a Malaysian music and dance festival. All the performers were groups of students from numerous universities around Malaysia.
We found a small patch of ground to sit on, and watched in delight as each group took the stage.
There were camera crews present to televise the performances, and also a TV host with the most amazing mullet I have ever seen in my life.
He noticed our presence in the crowd (we do tend to stand out), and informed us in English, that there would be another show that same evening at 7 o’clock.
I wish people would not walk in front of dancers as they are performing, but it might be due to the very informal nature of the show.
After such beautiful demonstrations of Malaysian culture we immediately decided to return later for the night show.
Little did I know that we would become minor celebrities and I would find myself the blushing focus of a Malaysian TV broadcast.
To be continued……..