I am alone again after bidding farewell to the beautiful people of Brunei. I bought my ferry ticket to Labuan, Malaysia and took a seat. On my right are a couple of French-looking backpackers. The Korean tourists arrived in their usual bus. It was packed with retiring couples. That moment, I promised myself not to wait for my retirement to travel the world.
After a couple of minutes, I saw this mid-30 guy wearing a brown shirt and a shorts. He is Filipino looking but still having second thoughts because Malaysians and Brueneians look like Filipinos. But I would love to meet another Filipino in my journey in Kota Kinabalu.
When the gates to the immigration opened, the guy walked towards the queue to the Foreign Passport Counter. He walks really fast as if he’s rushing on something. He handed his passport to the officer and I saw the gold Filipino seal. I grinned. “I must meet this guy”
After passing the usual hostility of immigration officers, I stalked the guy and finally found a seat next to him in the ferry.
“Hi there. Are you a Filipino?”, I double checked.
“Yes, I am”, he answered while gasping. As I’ve said, he walks really fast.
I introduced myself, my travel plans, couchsurfing, and the usual introduction stuff.
“I am Anthony. I am working in Kota Kinabalu. I’ve been working there for 3 years now. I am originally from Manila”. Anthony is a soft-spoken man and a man of mystery, but his humility and his willingness to help is very evident. I forgot to ask about his work in Kota Kinabalu since he failed to mention it in his stories.
After an hour of relaxing ferry ride, we docked in Labuan, Malaysia. I told Anthony to help me find a simcard in order for me to contact my couchsurfing host in Kota Kinabalu. He told me that it is easier to acquire a simcard in Malaysia than in Brunei. He took me to this corner store and I bought the Hotlink sim card which is a sister company of our very own Globe Telecoms.
At lunch time, Anthony brought me to a hole in the wall serving local cuisines. When we were about to pay, Anthony insisted on treating me. That’s my first meal in Malaysia. And I am just happy that I gained another friend in the form of a Filipino stranger.