Day 657: Precious Cargo


Before dawn could shift her crack off my face we were at the border that separates Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan) from Malaysian Borneo (in this case, Sarawak).

Malaysian Borneo made up of two states: Sarawak (the old kingdom of a potty Englishman who called himself Rajah Brookes – read ‘Lord Jim’ by Joseph Conrad for more details) and the north-eastern state of Sabah.  The road between these two states are broken (twice!) by the two bits of the Kingdom of Brunei that bite their way down in the middle of the north coast.

After blurrily getting myself stamped out of Indonesia and into Malaysia I returned to sleep, waking upon our arrival in the remarkably pleasant town of Kuching, the capital of Sarawak state.  Sadly, there was no time on this trip to chill out eating street food down by the river as the bus to my next destination – Miri, a town on the border with Brunei, was living within the hour and I had to sort out getting my visa for getting back into Indonesia sorted.  When I did this trip in reverse eight years ago, I could get a visa for Indonesia on the border, but according to the Yellow Bible, those days are long gone and now you have to get a visa in advance.


Yup, ignore that bit of disinformation boys and girls.  I called the consulate in Kuching and asked – you can definitely get a visa on that border, no prior meffing about required.  And HOORAY for that.  So then I just needed to get on the bus.  Irritatingly there was no ATM anywhere near the bus station, but luckily I found a bus company that took my Visa Debit card.  Unluckily, the bus company had obviously not taught its drivers not to drive like wild animals.  Yeah, I know we’re in the jungle an’ all, but ple-ease: you’ve got precious cargo on board matey: namely ME.

I asked the driver to slow down.  Then I told him to slow down.  Then I screamed at him to slow down: we’re in a bloody big bus, not a rally car.  It didn’t really do much good, but it made me feel better.  I sat on the back row bracing for the impact that thankfully didn’t (but will someday) come.

As I got off the bus in Miri I gave the driver the filthiest look.  What a dick.  I looked at my watch – it was 1am.  Guessing the border with Brunei would be closed for the night, I checked into the Miri Backpackers and treated myself to a much-needed western toilet and shower.

It was 2am before I silently crawled into my dorm bed.  I had set my alarm for seven.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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