Farewell to Cici. I head to Kota Kinabalu!

Farewell to Cici. I head to Kota Kinabalu!

Today is the day of the transfer to Kota Kinabalu. The day to leave Penang and say goodbye to Cici. I felt very sad. When you meet someone, you also have to say goodbye. With this in mind, I woke up at 9:30 in the morning and took a shower. I packed my backpack and headed to a cafe, promising to meet Cici at the hostel lobby at 11:20.

It had been a while since I had been on my own. It felt kind of fresh. I don’t like the idea of always working with someone else, because I can’t discover myself and I don’t have my own space. That is why I enjoyed my morning alone for the first time in a while. After all, I am both diplomatic and introverted, and spending time with Cici takes energy. Of course, it’s fun energy. That’s why it’s tiring but fun.



Write a letter to Cici at the cafe

The reason I went to the cafe was, of course, to write a thank-you letter to Cici. I had bought a Kodak portable photo printer before I left Japan, so I used it to print out some memorable photos of me and Cici. She doesn’t smile all the time, so I decided to print a picture of that moment when I semi-forced her to laugh. I think she is very pretty when she is smiling. I chose a picture of Cici in her kindergarten hat and on the swing and printed that.

After printing it, I write her a message. I love to write letters, but I was running out of time, so I couldn’t write a good one. But I wrote my gratitude, that I had a good time, and that we should both do our best to achieve our dreams. I hope she will be happy. Because it was a letter, I could write things that I normally can’t say. That is what makes me happy.

When I was writing the letter, I felt very happy. Because I was imagining Cici’s happy feeling and smile when she was reading the letter. Humans are like that. I think that giving something as a gift or doing something for someone is what makes us feel the greatest happiness.

The rest of the time was spent revising and working on the project.



Return to hostel and wait for Cici

Back at the hostel, I finish checking in. I sit on the bench with my packed 10 kg backpack, Cici didn’t show up at 11:20, I wondered if she was sleeping? I wondered if she was sleeping, or if something was wrong since she didn’t read my instagram. I was really impatient because I was worried that what if I couldn’t give her the letter….



Hostel Entrance



Across the street from the church


But Cici arrived three minutes late, which was a relief.



The thrill of heading to the airport

I am always very tired on days when I have to fly, because I wonder if I will be able to pass through immigration safely, or if I will be able to pass through the baggage check, or if someone will put drugs in my bag as a prank, and if I am caught at immigration, it will be a death sentence. What am I going to do? I would think of such impossible things. I also wondered if my luggage would be safe when I checked in, if the plane would fly safely, and how the new city would be like. Will it be okay?” and so on. That kind of thing.

Once again, I felt that I am a human being. And this time, I was even more nervous because Cici was there too. Not that I was nervous, but I felt sad. I really enjoyed my week with Cici. I always enjoyed talking with Cici, she was always stimulating, curious, and fun. Besides, it was the first time in my life that I was able to travel through the jungle with her, and we had all kinds of experiences. With these thoughts in mind, I was sad to have to say goodbye at the airport, and I sadly thought that Cici probably didn’t feel that way at all. But to each her own, and that’s okay.

On the way to the airport, I ask her to translate the letter David wrote me when I was in Georgia.

It was really nice to know the contents of David’s letter, and his writing was very, very sweet. I was really happy. We also talked about where to see Cici next.

Apparently, Cici is not nervous at all on the day of the flight, in fact, she seems to have a good time. Of course, getting on the plane is fun, but there is a lot of process and things to think about. So that’s what makes it all the more nerve-wracking for me. Once again, I am amazed at how calm she is.



Arrive at the airport and check in safely

Finally, we arrived at the airport. My hands were shaking. I felt really nervous. I asked the man carrying the cart, “Where is the departure gate for domestic flights?” Apparently, the gates for domestic and international flights are in the same place at Penang International Airport, so there is no need to take a bus. That was really nice. Time seemed good, so I decided to check in; I left my computer, clothes, etc. at Cici and made it no more than 7 kilograms before heading to check-in. Interestingly, when I checked in, they didn’t ask me how much I weighed at all. So, I guess I was too worried. In Japan, we are a perfectionist country where even baggage is weighed, and I have never been able to get over that, so I am always nervous. However, I have never had to have my baggage weighed outside of Japan. So, once again, I felt that it is important to have an actual experience, not just information from the Internet.


After checking in, I went to Cici. I measured my luggage with a scale and found that it weighed 10 kilograms. I knew it is heavy. But I was glad to be able to check in safely.

Now my worry was, “Will they measure my luggage before I board the plane?” I was worried that they might measure my luggage before boarding the plane. Later, they never actually measure you, and of course they don’t.

So, in the end, 90% of my anxiety never happens. It’s very important to always think of the worst case scenario, but I felt I was optimistic in a weird way and nervous in a weird way.



Farewell to Cici

Apparently my friend Sufi was in Penang International Airport and had come from KL because he had some business in Penang for 2 days. So we decided to meet inside and say goodbye to Cici.

I told Cici I was going, wished her success in the future, thanked her, told her I hope to see her again somewhere in the future, and gave her a hug. And for her, it seems like a horror movie to see so many people hugging at the airport lol. But this hug was so natural that I wondered if she really thought that. If she got used to me, that makes me happy.



Last photo before departure


I still love hugs. I think it is a wonderful tool to feel connected and to share feelings. I also think it’s romantic to hug someone at the airport.

Cici also asked me if I was going to Georgia this year. So I thought, if I get a chance, I would love to see her in Georgia. So I said bye bye to Cici and headed to the baggage check.



After baggage check, meet up with Sufi

The baggage check was very simple, and it was really simple because it was a domestic flight after all. Then I met up with Sufi! I never thought I would meet Sufi in Penang International Airport, so I was really happy to see him. And we had a great time talking together. I talked with him for about 30 minutes, during which he gave me a lot of information about places to go in Kota Kinabalu, what to eat, bus stops, and so on. I always have a great time when I talk to him. I feel positive energy from him. I had a great, great time.



And suddenly my name is announced.

This was the first experience in my life. At the airport, I heard the name Kota Ishihara announced, and I was very impatient. No way, is the boarding gate closed already? I wondered why they were calling my name when it was not even boarding time. My heart was racing and I quickly said bye bye to Sufi and headed for gate B3 as fast as I could. And when I arrived…lo and behold, it was my passport!



I had apparently left my passport there after passing through the baggage checkpoint. So I had no passport in my bag. I was in a hurry for a moment, but three staff members at gate B3 handed me my passport with smiles on their faces. Perhaps someone had delivered it to them. I was really happy to know that such a thing can happen in a foreign country like Malaysia. It was also the moment I lost my passport for the first time. But God saved me and I was so relieved. This is an unforgettable memory. Thank you very much.



Boarded the plane safely and headed for Kota Kinabalu

It took 4 hours and 30 minutes. Actually, it is quite a long way from Penang to Kota Kinabalu, 4 hours and 30 minutes, which I think is very unusual for the same country. But it was really great because there was no one next to me on the plane. Thanks to the staff for putting me on the window side. On the way, I enjoyed taking pictures of the clouds and watching the scenery go in and out of the clouds like Laputa.



Then, I arrived safely in Kota Kinabalu. I take a cab to the hostel. The price is 8 ringgit ($1.8). I was surprised at how cheap it was.




Checking in safely at the hostel and strolling outside

The hostel was a very nice place. It was a hostel where many travelers had left their pictures, and there were pictures of many people. It was a very lively but friendly hostel and looked very comfortable.



Shells sold outside



Is it famous for its dried food?


After dropping our bags off at the hostel, I was hungry and immediately decided to go to a restaurant recommended by Sufi. I heard they had exotic food there. So I ordered it right away.



The coke was good after a long time. And the food exotic. It was a dish with rice in the center, fish, jackfruit, green leaves, potatoes, ginger, and steamed eggs arranged around it. The taste was, well, exotic. I had never experienced anything like it before, it tasted so good, and it tasted weird too. I felt like I was experiencing Malaysia.



Besides, I was the only customer, and I was very happy to be in the restaurant by myself. Maybe I’ll get used to it soon.



After dinner, I went to Starbucks. Starbucks has a siphon!

I walked to the hostel and decided to work at a Starbucks near there. I ordered a regular coffee, and the clerk who worked the register there said, “How about a coffee with a siphon?” He said, “I recommend it,” so I decided to order it. Indeed, I had not expected to be able to drink coffee with a siphon at Starbucks. So, a very valuable experience.

Besides, he is very friendly and when he knew my name was Kota, he immediately told me I am Japanese, which I thought was amazing. I was talking with him while he was making me a coffee using a siphon. Apparently, he has been working at Starbucks for 5 years and has made many foreign friends there. He enjoyed it so much that he is now working at Starbucks part-time while studying IT and C++ programming at university. When I was in college, I worked at a 7-Eleven. Convenience stores and Starbucks are different.

I also told him about my problem.

I am very embarrassed to tell Kota at Starbucks in Malaysia because the name of the city here is Kota. I said “Because the name of the city here is Kota Kinabalu, so to you, Kota is City, right?” And he said, “No, it’s not.

And he said, “No, no, Kota is Kota. I love unique Japanese names.”
I was a little bit in love with him lol. It was a very nice thing to say.

We had such a conversation and became friends with the Starbucks clerk for the first time. At the end, he told me to come back anytime and handed me a cup of coffee made in a siphon.

Then I went upstairs to work.

It was an amazing experience. I am usually so shy that I never really talk to Starbucks clerks, but to come to the point where I could have a normal conversation like this, I felt like I had grown up a lot. It was a happy moment.