A short local bus ride and et cetera.
14.05.2012 - 18.05.2012
Labuan, May 17th 2012
Off the ferry, entering Labuan International Ferry Terminal for immigration checking. Apparently I wasn't the only foreigner. I saw Westerners carrying huge backpacks on their backs which identify clearly who they were. The other some were pushing suitcases.
To my great disappointment, the 3 o'clock ferry I had planned to take back to Brunei was canceled. The next one was like 4 o'clock something. I was worried I wouldn't catch the bus back to BSB if I took that ferry. Hence, I bought the 1:30 PM ticket. Meaning, only 2 hours plus, to explore Labuan. Okaylah. I can't afford risking being left for the last bus to BSB and then having to take a taxi all the way from Muara to BSB, or having to pay a night in Muara. Hah... next time, I'll travel North coast of Borneo overland and sea, starting from Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Bandar Seri Begawan, Miri, Kuching, and ending in Pontianak. That covers 3 countries, you know! If only I need not sit behind a desk 5/7...
I always find it fascinating how just a matter of kilometers or even less, can make a difference in aura and environment. More people in Labuan, that's for sure. The Chinese aura is as strong as in Brunei. On the other hand, the Moslem aura feels, for me, thinner here. I think that's because shop signs don't use Arabic letters. Chinese restaurants were everywhere within the vicinity of the ferry terminal. I had a rather hard time to find a place to brunch. The menus hung on the walls where all written in Chinese. No English, don't ask for Arabic. The word 'halal', where is it? Phew.
Almost at the end of another road, I found a restaurant with menus written in Malay. The waitresses were wearing scarfs. Great. It must be pork free here.
I made my order with the waitress and she asked me, "Dā bào?"
What? That's Chinese! I thought I already got away with the Chinese things already. Luckily, by experience, in previous Jiuzhaigou, I learnt what "dā bào" is. Otherwise it would be a shame to say to her, "Excuse me, what do you mean?"
Solemnly I shook my head. "Tidak, makan di sini." No, I'm dining in.
9 ringgits for all this: Lemon sauce fried chicken and teh tarik. It seemed quite awhile since I last ate with financial ease.
When I asked for the bill, the waitress ushered me to a cashier table in the corner. Ah! The owner is Chinese! No wonder she knows "dā bào".
Nearby is a small park. Pigeons again! How lovely and peaceful.
LOL! Look! Top right: Lamp Chop. Surely enough the owner meant 'Lamb Chop'. Memangnya kuda lumping? In my country, there's a traditional dance called "Kuda Lumping". The dancer rides on a wooden horse and while in trance, chews glass. Only such dancers can eat "Lamp Chop".
Having only 2 hours to explore, I gave away my dream of island hoping. I just let my happy feet take me wherever they were happy with. Hmmm... how do you ride on a bus here?
Bus terminal! Great!
Interestingly, the buses vary on sizes and forms. One bus number can form in several different kinds. So to get on a bus, you shouldn't depend on the form or size of the bus. There can be a big real bus and a minibus with the same number.
A list of the routes of each bus number was displayed. But I just couldn't figure out which one was heading to the water village. I had wanted to compare the water village in Labuan with the one in BSB. On the second thought, I might have no enough time anyway. So I just got on the bus that was about to leave. Where to? To when I think it's time to go back to the ferry terminal. How do I know it's time? Easy. Divide the time I have into two. When half the time has passed, get off the bus, cross the street -- but be sure its a two-way traffic -- and then get on a bus with the same number.
The interior of my bus was old. It seemed worse than most of the city buses in my hometown. But the engine was much smoother. Less noise, less smoke. The front seats by the window were all occupied. I sat on the second row from behind. Fearing I was making a show of myself again, I examined my fellow passengers. Are they staring at me? Left...? Right...? Fine! They seem not to even notice me.
This is a video clip of my bus ride.
Some other shots from the bus:
A Chinese kindergarten school.
It's just a bus stop. But I think, the shelter is unique. As you might have noticed in my video clip also, almost all bus stops are like this in Labuan. I also like the contour details of the sides. Instead of forming flat straight, they cared to make curves. The most thing I'm impressed of is the landing path on the left. Is that supposed to be for disabled passengers on wheelchair? How thoughtful.
Through the way, every now and then, the bus would stop to pick up or let off passengers. My question was how to get off. First the bus would stop, and the passenger stands up, walk to the door, and get off. How did the driver know a passenger was getting off? I didn't hear anyone calling the driver.
The bus stopped again. A man from behind my seat got up, walk down the aisle, gave money to the driver, and stepped down. I was shocked! Has my ears turn that bad?? If that driver far in front, could hear this man calling him, I who sat just right in front of this fellow passenger should have heard better. I had heard nothing! Oh dear! I don't expect to age this soon.
I straightened my back and took a deep breath. I cast my view upwards as if looking towards heaven. Please don't make me old too fast. Suddenly my eyes bumped on a white button on the ceiling of the bus. What's that for?
A passenger raised his hand up and pressed the button. A few seconds later, the bus stopped. That passenger walked down the aisle, and repeated the previous passenger's process. Bye.
Oh... so that's how you get off the bus. Press the button, stupid! That passenger sitting behind me must have pressed the button also. He didn't call the driver. Of course I heard nothing. Heeeyaaa. I am not getting old, but stupid. Heeeyaaa. Getting old is inevitable. But getting stupid is terrible.
The most interesting happening was when my bus stopped in front of a school. Many children were running and playing outside. I thought the driver was waiting for passengers as it's custom in my hometown. But my driver got off the bus. And then I couldn't see him again. Ah, maybe he wants to smoke. A minute later, I heard the door opened. That must be my driver.
"Umur berapa?" I heard a woman's voice at the front.
What?? Is she asking how old the driver is? What is she up to?? It's impolite for a man to ask a woman's age. But it's insane for a woman passenger to ask a driver's age out of the blue, isn't it?
"Enam tahun." I heard the driver answered.
Ah. Six years old. That mustn't be the driver's age. I stood up and looked to the front. Hahaha. The driver has just picked up his son from school! That woman was asking how old his son is. What a handsome job! You get paid for picking up your kid from school!
At Kampong Bukit Kalam I got off and crossed the street to the unique bus stop. While I was taking out my camera from my backpack, through the side of my eyes I noticed a vehicle had stopped. I looked up. Oh, it's a minibus with the same number I had taken. The driver looked me with a "are you coming along?" look. I pushed the sliding door open and got in. It's a big contrast with my previous bus. Not just that the interior looked more sophisticated and had air conditioning, the air condition was extra cold! The fare was the same: 1.8 ringgits, which looked like a flat rate for all city buses in Labuan.