Thursday, April 2, 2009

Kota Kinabalu

It's hard to begin writing about a wonderful Work/Spring Break Vacation. Sounds funny doesn't it? My school thought it would it be a great idea to plan our Spring Break during the
EARCOS Confernce in Kota Kinabualu (aka KK), Borneo. Yes, I know, it's Borneo what am I whining about? But still I had to work 3 out of the 10 days on vacation. So i decided that the conference is all on my terms. I left Tokyo on the 21st of March and planned to stay until the 29th. How I needed that break. I felt I was going to explode if had to spend another day in the massive city without a feeling of being lost in nature. So it was on a plane to Borneo.

I knew it was going to be a great time because I was going to see some good old friends from Warsaw. I knew I would see Jeremy, Jill, Chip and Lillian, Paul and Amanda Jacob and to my suprise Sally. I had not seen most of them for two years and having a great reunion together in the middle of the Malaysia was an ideal location. We met out for drinks and spent some good times together as well. It made me really miss Poland and my friends who are still there. So to those of you reading, lots of love for you.

For the first day I sat at the pool side and drank up some beer and relaxed. I met some nice new people from my school. I hadn't met many from the main campus but did meet Steve, Peter and Glenda. I had a great time with them and hope to keep seeing them. But, the main campus is so far away it's tough but i will make it happen. Later on I met others from all over the world and had a wonderful time talking, laughing, singing and being happy. Most of you know me pretty well and are saying "figures, you always meet so many people". I am a social butterfly and I was feeling very good buzzing around talking and enjoying life. I hadn't done that in a long time.

Now, one of my highlights of the trip was going to dive on Mantanani Island. Oh my! If this place isn't heaven then I don't know what is. We took a nice skid across the bay for about an hour to arrive on a dive shop, restaurant and rooms to rent stilted in the middle of the ocean. Not on the beach. Just out in the middle surrounded by water and islands. So amazing. If I had known about that before I left Tokyo I would have stayed there for 3 days diving and living the life without electricity, phones and computers. If you want to know where the place is and feel the need to get away send me a message and I will give you the contact. I don't want to put up a link cause it needs to stay secluded and peaceful. I hope it never changes. The diving was good and I saw some wonderful creatures. I am so happy I took the classes in Bali. It's changed my life and my outlook on life. Being out in the middle of nowhere was so wonderful. Blue skies, blue water, beautiful people, wonderful food and Peace and Quiet. Maybe the best place I'd been in a long time...OK 4 months. I hope to be there again or someplace like it soon.
When I was out on the Mari Mari Lodge I met this great traveler name Carlo. He was out there hanging out for a few days and just relaxing. We talked and enjoyed traveling stories and laughed about how crazy people are in the cities. Getting away from the world and life outside of nature is something I need as often as possible. We said our farewells and said to each other "I hope to see you again."

About two day later I decided to take a trip to Mount Kota Kinabalu to do some birding and hiking alone with a guide. Before I go on I must say this was the first time going birding on my own and I am so happy my friends Ken, Rhonda, Kat and Coletrain turned me onto this wonderful world. A lot of you know I am from Kansas and born and raised as a hunter. Listen, looking for birds and not shootin' them was hard and a very different for me, but realized now that my hunting life is over thanks to these wonderful friends. Well, at least until i get back to Kansas in the Fall, which may never happen. Anyway, this guide I hired, CK is an amazing guide. You can reach him at Borneo Birds if you are in the area and need to get out. I won't go into the names and species but I did some some amazing birds that can only be found on that mountain. I really enjoyed my time in the mountains and wished I had more time. Hoping for more time will become a repeated pattern in this post. After finishing up hike and heading to the truck for another site who do I see walking down the stairs? Carlo!!
There is was again just as we said to each other meeting again. Funny how life works and throws good people back your way. It's proves what I have said many times to many poeple "Whenever I look over my shoulder to the places I have left, I always know someone has helped change my outlook on life."

People People and more People on my vacation. I have a friend, Ellen in Bangkok who told me some good people were coming to the conference. She told me I should try to find them. So one day out in the pool I see 5 lovely ladies swimming and decide to approach and see what's going on and sure enough, it' Ellen's friends from Bangkok. We talked, drank, laughed and made plans for the Happy Hour evening provided by the conference. We all met up and planned a night out after the free drinks and set out for a good time on the city of KK. When getting out of the taxi and going to the bar I hear from behind, "Hey, do you know Heidi Laffey?" Heidi is a friend who works in Warsaw. After some searching through my brain and talking I realize this is Nancy from Zagreb who worked with Heidi in Mexico. We had met 4 years before at a conference in Croatia. Crazy huh? We talked and she introduced me to a great person, Jen. Soon after meeing I learned Jen worked with the Schwartz family in Hong Kong and was new in Bangkok. We had a great time together for a few days and once again I hoped I had more time but i had to catch a flight back. I hope to see Jen and Nancy again in Bangkok real soon. It might be sooner than they think it could be tomorrow so be ready ladies.

This international world of teaching is a very small world and I love it. If you have ever thought about getting out of you routine and day to day life then CHANGE IT. I beg you to do it. If it's not traveling then it needs to be something. Just make the change. It was the best choice of my life. Look at this view. Could I have ever seen it if I was still teaching in Kansas? Glad I never had to find out.

1 comment:

Mrs. E said...

I love seeing vicariously through you, Neal! At this rate, I may never get a stamp on a passport, but I'm seeing and hearing about a lot of interesting places!! Happy travels!