**Contains snippets of in-between thoughts from the author’s crowded mind. May be boring.**
I find myself once again in a familiar place – the check-in counter where I almost missed my flight home. The only difference is that this time I’m on my way to another foreign land, a sleepy town called Sandakan at the Land Below the Wind. I have a zero-fare ticket in my pocket and the perfect companion/host by my side. So why shouldn’t I go?
And this time, I beat the check-in counter.
33,000 feet, high up in the sky.
I like taking flights because it’s as though I’ve disappeared from the face of the earth for a few hours, I tell my travel buddy and host – Alexis. But the truth is I haven’t really had my feet on the ground at all. It’s a strange thing, to be in one transition after another. I haven’t even started missing my work colleagues yet and I’m already heading to another place filled with all things unfamiliar. And not seeing my buddy for so long, sometimes an estranged feeling creeps over too. I start to wonder if this trip was planned way too early.
I chuckle. Vern, having cold feet for adventure? Have I become that old? I try to catch some sleep and to silent the odd thoughts in my head.
1,800 kilometers away from home.
Having a lot of friends from East Malaysia has prepared me for the differences in culture. To witness verbal descriptions come to life is always amazing. From the countless four-wheel-drives to my friend’s cosy home and seafood everywhere, my feet are getting higher and higher above ground.
All the way to the rooftop.
With a glass of Mojito and Diana Krall crooning in the background. Suppressed thoughts are expressed – no, it isn’t the drink speaking. A friend reminded me that some things should be said, especially if that person is worth the nerve wreck – before you never get a chance to. It feels like the last straw, a subtle one. At least I know I’ve tried.
A toast to being on top of the world. A toast to friendship.
I don’t think I’ve ever been this hopeful to a toast.
And what goes up, must eventually come down.
To the grounds of warm hospitality.
I think when you become a parent, your role is universal to all the “kids” out there. Alexis’ parents are pretty good at that. Their bubbly charm made it easier for the melancholy me. Now I know where my buddy’s strong-will, intelligence, independence and accommodating personality came from. It is a weird yet funny realization altogether.
When your hosts tell you “We’re small eaters”, chances are they’re lying. Because food is always abundant during meal times. A little bit of everything make up for a lot of something.
And the clock doesn’t stop ticking.
From countless monkeys, crocs and all the glorious beasts of nature to being immersed in the slow-paced lifestyle in a sleepy town, 6 days have come and gone. It is a much needed getaway from the hustles and bustles of the daily grind. I didn’t do much physically, but I’ve managed to gather my thoughts over the things that has happened and changed over the last 8 months. Unknowingly, some lines have been drawn while one or two faded on their own.
I wish certain things would go back the way they were, but not everything is in my control. Some changes do leave a void inside, but only to be filled by greater things ahead. In God, I still trust.
I need to stop now. It’s time to say goodbye. And Thank Yous. I’ve got another flight to catch.
It’s time to go home. Again.
(End of Part 4)