I left the country alone..

To explore exotic places alone..

But I realized that I was never alone during the trip. I am always with someone–an angel in disguise. I have nothing against being with people. I love to travel with my couchsurfing hosts and friends but something inside me just want to be quiet, to set on a course and just be alone. You haven’t really traveled if you haven’t traveled the place alone, in a quiet pace and with a calm heart… Balance will always be the key. Sometimes you need to be with your friends. Sometimes you need to be with strangers. Sometimes you need to be alone.

The following pictures were taken during my Me-time in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
















Last night, I have been reading a Bob Goff book entitled Velvet Elvis. 3 pages were devoted about his “Holy Ground” stories. Bob Goff believes that we all have “Holy Ground” moments where God is evidently at work–as if everything was perfectly intertwined giving us breathtaking, heart-pounding and words-cant-express moments.

Although most of my experiences in Borneo are “Holy Ground” moments, this one is my favorite. Adam have decided to take us to Tanjung Aru Beach. Andris and Anne were with me. Anne is an American Couchsurfer who left everything to travel the world (well, true to most of the western couchsurfers I met). Anne is one though girl. She inspired me to take a course which I desperately want to take. She took French Studies. She encouraged me to take Asian Studies because I have mentioned to her earlier that I want to take that.

Anyway, Tanjung Aru is a public beach.  Upon arrival, Adam bought some mangoes dipped in sweet and sour syrup while I bought some peanuts. The beach scene was crazy. It feels surreal because I still can’t believe that I am here.

While walking along the shore, we heard some upbeat music. Much to our surprise, it came from a small Couchsurfing party 300 meters away where we were standing. There’s a dj and a Coleman filled with light booze. As we approached the small party, the DJ handed us some beers. Some of the girls invited us to eat chicken wings. It was 5:30pm and the sun is setting.

A Private DJ..

Good music…

Adam, Andris and Anne still with me, and probably the most important people for me during that time..

Chicken wings…

Heineken Beer…

The Sunset…

The beach…


My Holy Ground…







At dinner, Adam and I fetched Andris, the Indonesian Couchsurfer.

Andris is another interesting character in the story. He is an employee of UNESCO . Adam and I were like “How can one enter that company? Hire us please” Andris’ job is mainly travel making him really outgoing and knowledgeable about Asia. At a very young age, he was able to visit Europe and USA. His English skills is terribly great!

Adam decided that we eat at the Filipino Market. Yes, you heard that right, FILIPINO MARKET! There is nothing Filipino in that place, don’t even bother asking me why it’s called Filipino Market. Bitch please!

Again, the conversations we had were really interesting. Adam and Andris were really updated on what is happening around Asia–the good, the bad and the ugly. Adam talked about the issues among the federations in Malaysia. I can hardly cope up. I was really tired that moment that I cannot even swallow my Nasi Goreng. You know those moments when you are really tired and forget about eating–that sleeping is the top priority? But looking back, I still find that moment really unique and I still dream about it. Why? I am conversing with a Malaysian Local and an Indonesian who works in Unesco, while eating Malay foods with all sorts of good smell in the area. Again, this is travel. This is how one should travel. It should be vivid. It should be tasty. It should be sensible. You should use your 5 senses.

After eating, Adam toured us around Kota Kinabalu…


At Jesselton Ferry after the Hell Ride…

“Anthony, my Chouchsurfing host is over there! I can see him already. I’m gonna introduce you to him”, I said to Anthony as he was also dizzy as hell.

I am bit nervous that Adam, my host, is furious about me not answering his calls and texts. But Adam was all smile when he saw me. It was a relief.

“Adam, I am sorry. I just…..”

“Don’t worry. I understand and its ok. I ferried my sister here earlier so its just cool”

“Thank God I survived that ride. By the way, this is my friend, Anthony. We met in Brunei Ferry Terminal.” The guys shook each others hand.

“Where do you live here?”, Adam asked Anthony.

“I live in ##########. Darby mentioned you are a Filipino”

“Yes, I am. But I grew up here. My surname is ###########”, said Adam

“Oh. Do you know Ryan ########?” Anthony asked.

“Yes, Ryan is my cousin. How come you know him?”, Adam asked with a surprised tone.

“Well, he is a member of our church. I am his Pastor”, answered Anthony.

“WHAT? You are a Pastor?” I said shockingly. I remembered myself cursing and using F words and S words during our hell ferry ride. I am a bit embarrassed now.

“Yes Darby. I am a pastor of ############ church. I don’t usually tell people that.”, Anthony replied. Adam was laughing at me.

“You were with him for 6 hours and you didn’t know he is a pastor?” Adam asked jokingly.

Still embarrassed…


After the three of us had a short conversation, we parted ways. Adam took me to his car and drove me around the city.

“Hey Darby. Is it ok if I do some errands before we explore the City?”

“Of course it’s ok. This is actually the dream. Becoming a local, immersing in culture and helping out my host”

Adam is an enterprising guy. He helps run his aunt’s cake shop and do some cooking for University of Malaysia Sabah’s Cafeteria. For this day, he needs to deliver a Minnie Mouse cake to a birthday party in town. I admire Adam. He can juggle work time and fun time. I enjoyed doing errands with him as well as the conversations we had while doing them. It was always a meaningful one with Adam. He knows a lot about his country especially economics and politics. Not to mention his love for Malaysian and Filipino culture. As I’ve said earlier, he is a full blooded Filipino who was born and raised in Malaysia. He was always proud of this mixture.In fact, I have learned a lot of things about the Philippines from him. The irony.

Aside from that, Adam loves his Islam. He is an advocate of Halal. Back home, I encourage Small and Medium Enterprises to be Halal certified. Then he told me that he had conducted a seminar in the Philippines about Halal years ago. That’s when I found out that we have a common non-Couchsurfing friend. The world is really small. The 6-degrees of separation is an understatement.

After finishing the errands, Adam decided to have dinner and fetch Andris, an Indonesian Couchsurfer, another character in this long detailed story.