Friends in random places
This trip through Asia became a bit of a random trip. Part of it was driven by galivanting around Asia during the monsoon season, but not wanting to actually be rained upon every day. The other reason it was a bit random, was that we were keen to catch up with some good friends who just happen to live all over Asia.
And that’s how we ended up visiting Adrian in Kuala Lumpur for a few days, catching up with Kei and Ken in Japan, as well as with Mariano, Marta and Lila. We also managed to time our arrival in the Philippines at the same time as Guy and Cheryl and spent a few days with them in Manila.
Another ‘friend-destination’ was Brunei. We arranged everything for our visit with Alan and Elaine, who we hadn’t seen for about 14 years we think (a flight to see them in Aberdeen some years ago was cancelled, so we never managed to make it up there). And then we realised their next-door neighbours in Brunei used to be our next-door neighbours and friends Karl and Debbie from Tanzania! It’s a small world and it meant we could catch up with them too as a great bonus.
We arrived late at night in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital. And if you thought we could add another country to our list, then you are wrong…. Both of us had already been here before we had even met. We spent one night in a small guesthouse before Elaine came to pick us up the next morning to go for breakfast. It seemed nothing much had changed since we had last seen each other.
Alan and Elaine had just arrived in Brunei so we explored together. We visited the ‘billionth barrel of oil monument’, went bird watching at Luagan Lalak Lake, enjoyed a guided walk in the rainforest at the Discovery Centre and took a boat trip out to see the proboscis monkeys and the water village. Of course we also went out for several dinners and cuppas, and checked out the little towns close to the area where they live. It was fantastic to see everyone again in person and finally meet Freo (Alan and Elaine’s dog).
Our last stop before arriving back in Australia was to see how Kain was doing in Taipei, as well as catching up with Yvonne and Ivan (Jude’s cousin and her husband) who were also in Taiwan on holiday.
Kain picked us up form the airport at 2am and we quickly realised he hadn’t changed much since we last saw him 15 years ago in Adelaide. Crazy how time flies.
We spent lots of time chatting together, solving the world’s problems, and going out for dinners. We drove to the mountains for a hike (and a quick swim), and put our feet into the local hot springs whilst sipping on a beer thanks to a lovely lady who sat next to us who spoke some English.
With Yvonne and Ivan we explored Taipei and went for a short walk up Elephant Mountain to see the view over 101 (a building with 101 floors which at one point was the tallest in the world) and feed the squirrels. We enjoyed some lovely meals out with them too and found a ‘hidden bar’ up some random stairs, behind a blank wall. They served wicked cocktails which meant we missed the last metro home.
We also explored a little bit of the east coast, taking the train to Hualien and renting a scooter to explore Taroko gorge. We even managed a quick dip in its stunning waters, so beautiful.
On our last day we joined Kain to work. Normally we are not that keen to see where someone works, but Kain works in the bicycle industry and it was fascinating. He showed us around the museum, and then took us on a tour of the factory where they were in full swing building several different types of bikes. Very cool.
Our random trip had come to an end, although we were still extending it with some time in Perth and Adelaide before heading home to Esk, Queensland. A 3-month roughly-planned trip turned into a 7-month random one and we look back on some pretty special memories… thanks everyone!