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I made it to Survivor Island: Borneo!

I'm like a kid in the candy store and stoked to walk the grounds of the original castaways from Survivor 1: Borneo

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Today is going to be a great day! I have butterflies like a kid going to Disney as I am going to the very first location of Survivor. My favorite reality show ever and for those that know me it is a dream of mine to play the game…and I will…someday. It is 7/24/10 and I haven’t even been back to Kota Kinabalu city for 12 hours and I am off for the next venture in Borneo. I was informed that there was a single Malay guy that wanted to share accommodation with me to cut the cost and I was fine with that. I told the woman from the office that I would meet him at the resort and see for sure. I saw no problem in it as it is just like sharing a dorm. It was a 3 bed dorm basically so we did have 1 bed in between us.

I began my local bus venture from outside my place in Kota Kinabalu around 7am and would get to the junction in time to find a local transport to the jetty. One thing that wasn’t brought to my attention was that it was Saturday and some buses don’t run. No stress, I will make alternate plans and try to hitch hike to the jetty. I couldn’t contain myself as I was super stoked to hit this now famous island thanks to Survivor. I could see signs at the junction and while waiting for the local bus (that never came) I decided to make good use of my thumb and get a quicker lift. A lesson I learned is that sticking one’s thumb up for a lift is not the way they do it in Borneo. I was getting honked at left and right but no one stopped. They would just give me a “thumbs up” back. The others waiting for the bus just laughed at me but not for long. Once I got a nice guy to pull over and give me a lift, well, another guy asked for one also. The nice man never charged either of us a dime and I said it was his good deed for the day.

Nothing was stopping me from getting on the boat over to Pulau Tiga, aka Survivor Island. I actually met the woman who I spoke to so much about it and she told me Peter (the “maybe” roomie) was already over there. Everyone knew of my obsession with all things Survivor and really enjoyed my eagerness to get out and walk the trails that the very first tribes walked…even “naked” Richard. There was a Canadian couple (actually a bro and sis combo) among the group and they couldn’t help but chime in on the Survivor world. And I thought I was obsessed. Let’s just say they have re-watched seasons and followed them on twitter when possible. They knew so much that it became rather creepy. I did tell them they would see me play the game someday though and they commented on how awesome I would be playing the brutal everyday battles to outwit, outlast and outplay. Duh, I knew that.

After much delay and many hours of travel, I have arrived at Survivor Island and was greeted with great grub and a roomie for the night, an older gentleman Peter. I couldn’t help but think of "if only" they set me up with an age appropriate hunk of a guy but oh well. I was just spending one night and 2 days here and he was taking the very early boat back to the mainland so no worries.
After lunch, I had a chat with Martin from the resort for a bit and he showed me the rec room that housed many Survivor paraphernalia. Like I said, a kid at Disneyland was no joke. I was hopeful to someday be carrying my very own torch in hopes it would never be without fire. I took my fair share of photos and then it was time to hit the trails of the first 2 Survivor tribes. Martin knew of my where abouts and if I was not back by dark he would send the troops to look for me. I had my video camera and was ready to trek in 1 km to the mud volcanoes used in the first series. They had signs up every 100 meters so no worries on getting lost. The mosquitoes had their way with me and it was at the mud volcanoes where I lost something very near and dear to me or my foot rather. My croc flop of over a year of daily use had given up on me. It was stuck in the mud and when I tried to take my foot out, it just snapped. What was a girl to do that still had to trek 1km more to the Pagong Beach and then all the way back? I was ready to give it a go with just one flop but that would be a long trek due to the endless branches on the trails. That is when I spotted something big and blue near the bench…a men’s size 13 right flop. I know I lost my left one but being so big in size I could wear this on my left foot and not worry about cutting up my foot. I was impressed with my survival skills yet again and before I began to trek to the famous beach that was home to the Pagong tribe I ran into the Canadian duo. I completely forgot that when I go into the mud that I will have to trek back all dirty so I handed my backpack over to them as they headed back to the resort. I kept my camcorder in a plastic bag with me. I wore two right foot flops (one very large one in fact) and trekked to the beach. I spotted my roomie in route and he had to take a photo. It was classic. Just made me want to play all the more. Here I was full of mud, bites and I was not giving up. Peter lent me his flashlight just in case I didn’t make it back by dark. My camera was on the fritz but I still managed to take a few photos of the beach before going back to the mud volcanoes where I made many survivor application videos as I submerged my entire body into the very nasty mud. No worries on drowning as there was no possible way to stay down.
Some may wonder how one can entertain themselves for long periods of alone time but I managed very well in trying to make a video to send to CBS yet again. I say my 30th time should be a charm. Not many can say they headed to Borneo where it all began to make an application tape. I consider that to be a bit crazy but just the right amount one needs to be able to commit to such a viscous game. Heading back from the mud volcano was rough, and itchy as hell. I thought the mud layer would repel the mosquitoes away but I think they liked it. That and the itchiness of the mud drying on my practically naked body didn’t help either. I came across another couple and couldn’t help but laugh at the image they saw of me full of mud and with a huge flip flop. I was feeling the “survivor” life right there for sure. Never in my life did I want something more than at that very moment.

Once back at the resort I had to fight the ocean waves to get the mud off my body as we couldn’t go back to our rooms drenched in it. Did my skin feel smoother for doing it? I can’t really say I noticed a difference but it sure was an experience. My shower never felt so good and then it was on to the dinner with my two right flops. I spent much of the night chatting about the show with resort employees and one of which worked there at the time of all the filming. He informed me of a little kept secret that he actually gave one of the players some food while they were on the boat and both parties decided to never discuss it. He chatted about how the players thought they were the only ones on the island and when they did tribal council they had to shut the lights out at the resort because it was just meters away. It was fun to learn the tricks they used in keeping the show entertaining. I sure would have loved to be part of the original crew, before all the backstabbing and what not that goes on now.
Peter had long been asleep but I stayed out having drinks at the “survivor” bar which I was told was opened 24/7 during filming. Many employees, I and the Canadian duo had some homemade brew of something until after 2am. There was massive down pours so we had to stay in the bar until it settled down. My late night out led to a sleep in the next morning but no worries as Peter had already gone at 7am. The sharing of the rooms was fine after all. I only had to tell him once to stop snoring and the nice guy even brought my clothes in when it began to rain and I was still out at the bar. Breakfast was quick and I went back to the room to finish a movie before checking out the room where Jeff Probst stayed and a few other spots. I really enjoyed this island time and feel closer than ever to all things Survivor. I will not lie and know I will probably be scared to death to actually play but I am ready to be scared.
Lunchtime came rather quickly and it was back to chatting with the Canadians before our boat took off. I was still sporting the big blue flip flop and hoped to get a new pair back in Kota Kinabalu. I will sure miss my worn out croc flops though. Sometimes you just have to let go though, don’t you? Once we hit the mainland, I was able to get a free lift back from the Canadians as they pay heaps to prearrange transport. I was back and ready to hit my own room again back at the Asia Adventure Lodge but unfortunately that never happened. Sheila had off and the man working decided to let someone stay in my room one more night because they said they were ill. Yeah right, let me be the judge of that! Having felt super bad for me, Sheila put me in another hotel next to her and paid the difference. I was upset and ready to take down the “sick” guy but let it go. I had help carrying my things and still used the wifi at Asia Adventure and free breakfast. They were all too kind to me. One of the other ladies that worked there, and often did my laundry, asked me to go get local grub with her and a friend. Next thing you know, I am in a car with Nancy and Gung and eating local fish and rice with my fingers. They taught me the special way to use my thumb as a sort of shovel. Thank you ladies! Dinner was amazing and you would have been shocked to see me eating fish straight out of the sea on the Barbie. The tuna was one of the best yet and I loved the whole vibe of it all. I am grateful to be given the chance to eat locally with locals themselves. Kota Kinabalu is a must for those traveling to Borneo. I spent the rest of the evening using some wifi and spotted a cute American bloke staying at Asia Adventure as well. Unfortunately, I had to trek across the street to City Inn to sleep though.

It was a new day, July 26th 2010, to be exact and my brother and sister in law’s wedding anniversary. Today was also the day that I would leave Borneo and head over to Philippines. When and where was undecided until I found a Hilton in Mactan Island outside of Cebu. Let’s go flash packing yet again before I head back to Australia for Anissa’s baptism. I loved the travel and luxury to be able to flash pack that I even invited the cute American bloke I saw to tag along. Unfortunately he had a flight to Bangkok the following day. Looks like another solo adventure for me was underway yet again. I was having internet difficulties which led me to pay a bit more for a flight but what is new? That happens all the time with me and airfares. I booked my one way on Cebu Pacific and would leave later that evening.

In the meantime, I had to check out and was able to store my stuff back at Asia Adventure Lodge with Sheila and Nancy. They even did my laundry again. I spent the rest of the day sorting out a box to send back to the states, found some new flip flops and had a run in the rain and parking garage before I had to shower and catch a cab to the airport. What seemed to be a smooth ride turned nasty after my cab driver decided to side swipe a car and just as they were trading information I figured I had to walk in the rain to find another taxi or I would miss the international flight. Thank God I found a guy from earlier and he gave me a lift. I ran out of Malaysian money so he took a bit of American as well.

Check-in was complete and I was ready for a long night of flying and spending from 10pm-450am in the Manila airport before my connecting flight to Cebu. Just another chapter in the randomness of this thing called traveling without a plan. I knew of the connection but there was no other way and I figured then I would have free accommodation for the night as well, that is, if you could sleeping on a random airport bench as accommodation. Cebu Pacific is known to have late arrivals and long delays before connecting flights and one could tell by the massive amount of people fighting for the benches all throughout the airport. I managed to find a bench that I shared with an Irish lad until I had to use the toilet. I came back and it was taken. Just before I about took the lady down for stealing my seat (it was that or taking the old man out for allowing her to take it) I noticed she was pregnant.

Damn it! The time was nearly 2am and I just wanted to rest my eyes. I noticed a vacant hallway by the café and even though the wall was glass and you could see below, I didn’t care. I used 6 chairs to create a comfy bed, put on my eye mask and ear plugs in and grabbed my sarong for a blanket. I was set for a 2 hour sleep, or so I thought. I did notice a security guard checking me out from below but I wasn’t too fussed because I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Just as I got comfortable and acted asleep he tapped my shoulders saying I was unable to stay there. What?? I begged him for a little sleep and told him of the girl stealing my seat earlier. He asked the owner of the café if I could stay there and wanted me to pay him $10 USD to stay there for 2 HOURS because he needed food money. Now, I will give a bit but that is more than a night’s accommodation. I didn’t want to get into a brawl with the guy so I gave him $4 and even got a wake up call at 4:20am from the guard as part of the deal. Not sure how deep my sleep was but it was worth the $4. I didn’t fuss much either on the lack of sleep because soon enough I would be flash packing at the Hilton yet again.

Fun in the Philippines is about to begin. I made my flight from Manila to Cebu and was ready for the next adventure in the Dish Travel experience. I landed in Cebu very tired and managed to buy me some yummy dried mango and attempted to get a phone card and taxi to the Hilton. There was no free service but was given help by several airport employees to walk across the street for cheaper taxis. It would be a 20 minute ride at best to the flash packing headquarters in Mactan Island. Let the games begin!

jk livin’

The Dish is out :)

Posted by Dishtravel 06:45 Archived in Malaysia

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