Real “adventure”, going deep where there are no tourists

Today is the day I leave the hostel for Kota Belud. Kota Belud is a small town about 1 hour and 30 minutes by bus from Kota Kinabalu. It is a small, small town with a village-like atmosphere surrounded by mountains.



The view from the hostel where I am staying


I am going there today. It was not my original plan at all, but Sufi, whom I met at a hostel in KL, told me about his wonderful adventures and inspired me so much that I decided to go to Kota Kinabalu and Kota Belud, which he recommended.



After packing up, I went to KFC for sustenance

Today I have a runny nose and a very sore throat. So I thought perhaps I had some kind of cold or corona, but that didn’t dampen my spirits.
Sufi told me that even in Kota Belud, there was not much for sale, and that once I reached the village, there was nothing to be found. So it was better to take a lot of nutritional supplements and buy things in advance. So I ate lunch at KFC. I woke up at 10:00 a.m. today, which is quite late, and I think it will be enough to arrive at Kota Belud around 1:00 p.m.



Finally, I arrived at the bus stop! And board the bus for Kota Belud!

I was really worried about where the bus stop was. But Sufi had given me that information at the airport and I had pinned down the location so I was able to get there quickly.

At a nearby pharmacy, I tried to buy some azithromycin, an antibacterial drug, but was told that they “don’t sell it” in Malaysia, apparently you have to have a prescription, so I decided to just buy water.

Then I arrived at a nearby stop! There was a bus marked Kota Belud, so I approached it and an uncle told me “We are going to Kota Belud” and guided me to a minibus. There were already about four people on the bus. It was more like a small minivan than a bus. I waited there for about 30 minutes, paid 20 ringgit, and headed for Kota Belud.


The view outside was so beautiful

Once again, the scenery of Kota Kinabalu was very beautiful. It is a resort area, with lots of palm trees and a light blue beach near it. I saw such scenery from the window of the minivan. I thought it was very beautiful. The bus took 1 hour and 30 minutes to head toward the mountains. The scenery on the way reminded me of Japan, and there was so much nature.



After all, humans are creatures who used to live outside, so when they see greenery, I wonder if it is really healing or something.



Arrive at Kota Belud!

Before I knew it, I was listening to music with my SHURE earphones on, and we arrived at our destination. It was a really rural town, and there was really nothing there. Of course, there was a restaurant, but it seemed like a small village.

As soon as I got off the bus, I was immediately approached by a nearby person who asked me what kind of person I am. I told him I am Japanese. He also asked me where I am staying.


I always respond carefully and skeptically. Because these people are “sales/business” people. He just says, “I’ll take you to your village to get money.” When I told him I would find a cab, he said, “Great!” But if I couldn’t find a cab, he said he would take me there for 15 ringgit. But I have to admit that I was scared. Getting into a stranger’s car means that you have to make a judgment about that person on the spur of the moment.

What kind of person is this person? Is he a trafficker? Is he someone who takes money? Or is he or she a very nice person?

I can usually tell from my many experiences and observations of people. So I go with my gut feeling. So, I decided to decline the invitation this time.



Go to the best reviewed restaurants in Kota Belud

Since it was a great chance, I decided to explore Kota Belud on foot. It is a really small village, so there is not much to see. However, there seemed to be a 7-Eleven, a bazaar, and a restaurant. I walked toward a restaurant that had many reviews. It was very hot and sunny today. When I arrived at the restaurant, there were many Malay people there.

One young girl seemed to be very interested in me with a sparkle in her eyes. This is what I like about the locals. Everyone is so kind and so genuine.



I realized the importance of coming to a local place and that it can be a wonderful experience.

At the restaurant, there were so many menus that I didn’t know which one to choose, so I ordered the chicken and rice menu anyway. Then I ordered lychee juice. Everything on the menu is in Malay, so I have no idea what it’s all about. But I was grateful that they spoke English. The waiter asked me where I was from, and I told him I am from Japan.

I eat lunch alone at a table. One of the customers around me asked, “Where is he from?” He asked the waiter. I immediately recognized his question because she said “Japanese” in Malay.

I asked the waiter to take a picture of me at Kota Belud! This is one of the charms of being a local. I felt that everyone was very genuine and warm.



After finishing my meal, I remembered Sufi’s suggestion that I should buy food in the city of Kota Bleud, and decided to order some noodle type rice to go. I told the lady that.

And when I paid the bill, the young girl looked at me with a very glazed-over look, which made me feel that Malaysian people are wonderful and lively. But in Malaysia, even in the local countryside, everyone is very lively and you get the sense that they don’t care about small things. I think this is fascinating. The fact that the girl is also working with a smile on her face, without complaining about the environment she is in (rural, low-paid life). This is something to be really proud of.



After stocking up on water, I decided to walk away.

While I was eating at the restaurant, I checked the map and apparently it was about an hour’s walk, totaling eight kilometers. I feel like it’s not that tough. So I go to the 7-Eleven, buy some toothpaste, two bottles of water, and a large bottle of water, carry them, and start walking.

I walk.



I just kept walking. It is not that there are many hills, but it is really like a country road, with houses here and there. I put on my hat and just kept walking. I was honked at and talked to, and people would say, “Where are you going? I’ll give you a ride.” But I thought to myself, “Someone who can’t walk eight kilometers like this doesn’t deserve to be on an adventure.” It is because I overcome these hardships that there are treasures to be found there. Remembering this, I refused the suggestions of those who would be kind to me and just walked on. I was a little scared that I might be kidnapped or something while I was walking.

After all, there was no one else walking around.



A black minivan stops in front of me

As I walk all the way down the street, a black car pulls up in front of me. I think to myself, “Here we go again,” and try to walk by, but the man looks like a nice guy, so I walk up to him. Where are you going? he asked, and I explained using Googlemap that it was a nearby village. I immediately knew from the way he spoke and his choice of words that he was not someone who would apparently “kidnap” or “rob” me, so I talked to him. Then I looked at the car and saw that there was fruit on it and that he didn’t seem like a bad guy. He was very friendly and said, “Get in, get in! He was very friendly and offered me a ride. To be honest, I wanted to go by car. But there was no way to call a cab, so I had to walk.



So I was only grateful for his suggestions and kindness. I was very happy. He said he would get in his car and take me to the hostel. But he wanted to go to his friend’s house first, so we were driving further down the road than the hostel. I was a little scared. I was afraid that he would take me far away from the hostel. But I managed to reassure myself and talked with him. He told me that he had a wife and children and that he wanted to visit Japan someday, and he was very interested to know where I live. This made me feel very relieved. When I arrived at his friend’s house, he got out of the car and had a conversation with him. He was not suspicious of me at all, and at that point, I felt that he was a really kind person.

His friend also got in the back and we were taken to the village where I was staying.

When we arrived there safely, his friend took the trouble to call me because there was no one at my accommodation. Then the owner’s wife came and showed me around.

I was so happy that this was possible. Before we got in the car, I asked him, “How much do I pay you?” I asked him, and he said he didn’t need it. Apparently, he runs a hostel, so he gave me a flyer and showed me the hostel he runs. Finally, I took a picture with him, told him that I would visit his hostel next time I come to Malaysia, gave him my business card, and said goodbye.



I thought this kind of human drama is very nice.

Here, the big challenge is “the courage to trust strangers.” It all comes down to this. You have to make a decision instantly. I think this is very important.



The place I was staying was a place made of bamboo.

It was a really human place. I stayed in a really small, detached, sort of a roach, and it was made of bamboo. There were usually lots of gaps in the walls, and I was sure there would be a breeze to keep me cool at night. Besides, there was a mosquito net hanging from the top that prevented mosquitoes from getting inside. It reminded me of my elementary school lesson about malaria. I was really excited because this was the first time in my life that I had stayed at such a wild inn.



Even to go to the bathroom, you have to wear slippers, very inconvenient. And there was only a fan, not a modern air conditioner. This is the kind of place I was looking for. Once again, I have nothing but gratitude to Sufi for encouraging me to have this experience. Thank you so much. There were many animals nearby, such as cows, chickens, and dogs, and they were so cute.

I really like animals. I feel so happy to be able to spend a relaxing time in such a natural environment. Sitting on a beach chair nearby, reading a book and just looking at the nature. It was really a wonderful time. The air was so delicious, and I felt that if I lived in such a place, I would be very lively. But there was nothing to do around me, so I decided to take a nap.

I was not in excellent physical condition, so I decided to take a nap to get back in shape.



Dinner with the homestay owner in the evening

I chatted with my homestay owner and asked, “Is there somewhere I can eat?” I asked him if there was any place where I could eat, and he said, “I’ll be there in 20 minutes, so wait.” His wife told me that he was in KL and would be back today, and I thought it was the charm of local people to be so friendly even though I booked the place through I have never had such a friendly experience before. I feel that the perception that Southeast Asia is not safe is just an impression created by TV, and that safety is not bad at all. I felt that everyone was very nice. While I was replying to a voice message, the owner came back and came to see me.

So we decided to go out for dinner together. He took me to a nearby restaurant where we had a noodle night dinner. I drank Coca-Cola, which was very tasty.

He said he usually manages this place and provides cleaning services. I asked him if Japanese people come here often, and he told me that they don’t come here very often, but that they have been here before on a day trip. So I thought that there are not many Japanese who come to such a rural area alone like I did. That alone made me very happy.



Besides, I was told that I must stay three nights next time I come. Apparently, there are firefly watching and river rafting trips. It sounds like a lot of fun. We had a full meal and returned to the hostel. I told the uncle about what happened today, and he said I was very lucky. He told me that it usually costs 10 ringgit to go to the village from Kota Belud.

So I was very happy to hear that. Tomorrow morning, the uncle was going to take me to a food stall, and we would leave at 8:00 in the morning. I don’t think I’ve ever found such a conscientious place to stay. But I feel that this is the charm of being a local. When I looked up at the sky at night, the stars were so beautiful. I think I haven’t seen so many shining stars since the place where Jelena and I passed the year together.



Before I knew it, I had become a “Adventurer” instead of a “traveler” or “nomad. I was very happy about that. I was a adventurer who walked, carried heavy loads, and went on adventures. I felt that I had grown a lot through my adventures, and I was very happy that I had improved my communication skills and my ability to talk normally with people I had never met before. It takes a lot of energy and courage to venture out and take the first step. But what you get out of it is immeasurable. That is what I have gained through this encounter with Sufi. Thank you so much.