The Shangri-La buffet breakfast is something I have experienced before -in Kota Kinabalu almost two years ago. This morning I surprised myself. I only had three courses instead of six or seven.
The only complaint I have so far about this hotel, is the dirty windows. I can’t take photos of the sunrise or sunset outside without it being interrupted by bird poo or soot.
Dirty windows aside – this hotel is spotlessly clean inside, and the staff are happy to bend over backwards to help.
This morning we got picked up at 8:15 by our guide, Alex. Possibly the first tour guide to ever have a western name.
With no seat belts on, we sat in the back of a mini van with Alex in the front narrating some history about the city. From previous experiences, the drivers have mimicked driving tactics of Michael Schumacher. Luckily, our driver was very cautious and slow both climbing 3000 metres up, and down the mountain to the golden temple.
We were lucky again with blue skies, and no clouds, just a bit of haze over the city 3000 metres below.
We walked up 306 steps, with the body of two rainbow serpents lining the staircase.
The golden temple glistened above our heads, and small golden bells with tourists names engraved hung on the awnings around the temple. With bare feet, we tip toed around the shiny buddha’s and watched as Chinese tourists took photos of one another from every angle possible.
A monk walked by cuddling his pet corgy, speaking to it in Thai whilst rubbing it’s belly.
On the way out of the temple, I touched the giant gong for good luck, and as we walked past more markets, I saw a little white dog with six teets. When she turned around to face me, I noticed that someone had drawn eyebrows on her face with a black marker. The dog ignored me as I snapped photos of it lying on the ground.
Every few twists and turns down the mountain, I had to pinch my nose and pop my ears.
The van approached two small motorbikes that were carefully rolling down the unusually wide roads in the lush jungle. Anxiety struck as we inched closer and closer to a young woman on her bike, then only five centimetres away, the driver overtook and squeezed between her and the bike in front before quickly taking his chance and crossing the double yellow lines – hoping that no tourist busses would zoom around a corner ahead.
Releasing my white knuckles from the firm grip on my skirt, my ears stopped popping and we safely made it to the foot of the mountain.
The driver took us about 25 minutes away from the city centre, to Baan Celadon, a pottery store. I watched closely as a lady daintily flicked her thin paint brush over a mid-sized vase. Her still hand made intricate swirls of yellow, orange, green and blue into neat pictures of Thai religious imagery.
Really made me think about the absurdity of modern western art, and how truly shit it is in comparison to the beautiful, hard work that is done here.
It’s 1pm and we’re about to go across the road to a beef noodle restaurant recommended to us by Alex. Fingers crossed his tastebuds have the right idea.