Hello from Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo.  We’re in a city called Miri right now.  This morning, we were in Kuching.  Yesterday, we were in Kota Bharu.  And, earlier yesterday morning, we were on the Perhentian Island Kecil.  It seems we’ve been on the road pretty much constantly for the last 24 hours.  Our hopscotching from place to place has mostly been caused by the realities of this kind of travel.  Unlike the vacations that most of us take in the US, where plane tickets and hotel reservations are all arranged months in advance (imagine the airfare we’d have to pay if that weren’t the case!), here, most of the arranging happens the same day that we board the plane or check into the room.  We’ve found that this is really the only practical way to make our travel plans.  We booked some of the plane tickets for the first leg of our journey earlier this summer and, when it came time to use them, the flight times had all been changed–sometimes by hours, other times by days. The whole process takes some patience and flexibility, but there’s something very exciting about not knowing for sure one night where we’ll be sleeping the next.

Tomorrow night is one of the those nights.  We leave in the morning for a Borneo town called Bario. It’s the “capital” of an area called the Kelabit Highlands that’s right on the Malaysian/Indonesian border in Borneo.  We’ve heard amazing things about the highlands from our guidebook (which promises “some of the best jungle trekking” in Borneo) and fellow travelers alike, and we can’t wait to get there.  We’re both hoping to have the chance to do a homestay with a local family, so there’s really no telling what our sleeping situation could be like tomorrow.

Tonight, however, we’re in the comfortable Pacific Orient Hotel in Miri. Unlike the Perhentian hotels, this one passes my is-the-shower-a-mere-spigot-on-the-wall test.  It also has hot water, AC and wireless, so, at about $30 a night, we feel like we’ve found a real bargain, Which is good because we splurged tonight on dinner at the Seaworld Seafood Centre.  IMG_0641 003.JPGThe open-air restaurant featured giant tanks of lobsters and various kinds of fish.  Menu selections were made not by reading a written description of our choices, but rather by pointing at an unlucky culprit swimming in a tank and then describing what kind of sauce we wanted him to be served in (definitely not a place IMG_0643 005.JPGfor the vegetarian-leaning among us…).  Our lobster (black pepper sauce) and snapper (sweet chili sauce) were both excellent, although I did feel somewhat guilty during our meal when I looked at their cohorts still swimming nearby.

We arrived in Miri today after leaving Kuching in a hurry because we discovered that, if we didn’t get on a plane this afternoon, we’d miss our only chance to see the Kelabit Highlands.  We were sad to leave Kuching so soon, though.  It’s a bustling city with a cosmopolitan feel and a tropical flavor, and I know we could have had a great time there.  As it was, we had to settle for a good lunch and the opportunity to get our laundry done in a real washing machine, as opposed to our hotel’s sink.  Ah, the little things.