Bintulu Uno

May 9, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

The Internet in the hotel is pretty horrible, so this blog post includes the past few days. I apologize I can’t upload any pictures with my current connection. I’ll try to make up for it later. The last working day in Miri was nice. I went back to the Banana Leaf Rice restaurant and finished work successfully.

Yesterday, I had quite an experience getting to Bintulu (I’m currently safe in the hotel, not to worry). The drive to Bintulu from Miri was three hours, and most of it went smoothly. The driver spoke no English, so it was pretty silent except that we listened to the same fourteen track Malay CD three or four times over. We drove past one beautiful beach, a lot of Palm Plantations, and some oil stuff, and it was pretty rainy. When we got to Bintulu, the driver got lost. He kept calling his friends to ask for directions, and the friends were clearly not helping. I tried to have him call the hotel (I had the number right there) to ask for directions, but he dismissed me. He kept pulling over to ask people for directions and everyone was saying a different thing and we kept driving around in traffic, until we spoke to a taxi driver who seemed to know what he was talking about. I even caught a glimpse of the hotel in the distance so knew we were on the right track. By the way, the car was not automatic so we kept stalling because the driver was on the phone.

The driver, distracted with his phone calls, didn’t feel confident in our route, so he stopped another time. He got out of the car and walked over to a group of guys, and to my shock he brought one of the guys back and this guy got in the back seat of the car, because this guy “knew” where we were going and was going to direct us to the hotel. There’s no English being spoken, only a language with different tones that was giving me a headache, and the drivers phone calls are continuing so there is even more distraction. The guy in the back is the worst kind of back seat driver and he was breathing on me. We ended up turning into oncoming traffic, which was pretty scary. Eventually, I saw the hotel in the distance (It’s a huge hotel, pretty hard to miss) and pointed to it. Fifteen minutes later, we arrived because the guy in the back kept directing strange things, and my driver kept listening to him. I was so angry and upset at this whole thing. I’m going to let the taxi company know that this happened.

Another thing that I noted about the car drive was that the driver had a very long nail on just his pinky nail. I’ve seen it before a few times during my travels. I looked it up and a long nail here especially in Asian cultures is a sign of wealth and that you don’t have to do hard labour that would break the nail (I guess). It’s not a drug thing.

I had a glass of wine, and a nice dinner. The hotel is fine but I had to change rooms because the Internet REALLY wasn’t working in the other room. It’s only sort of working here. Also, they don’t have Lock Boxes in the room to put my passport. I tried to get one in the other room. They brought one up. This doesn’t solve anything because it’s not bolted to the wall. My mom pointed that out. UH! I’ll have to carry everything and do a whole splitting up my valuables act.

Today, the first full day in Bintulu, was a solid working day. I checked out the other hotel to see if I wanted to switch, but it turns out mine is actually nicer. And the restaurant is way better. After working, I went for a nice walk down the promenade that funs along the coast.

Love, Annie

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