Sitting helplessly in a shady taxi, plying through dark and shady streets in the night, in an unknown city, in a foreign country… I was scared of being mugged / kidnapped!
Earlier in the day, Adarsh and I had flown into Kota Kinabalu, late by 30 minutes due to flight delay.
We had to reach the Mt Kinabalu national park head quarters before nightfall, as we were supposed to start our ascent of Mt Kinabalu, the highest peak in S.E.Asia (13,400 feet), early in the morning next day. We knew little about the place, let alone transport options.The one thing we knew was that it took 1.5 hours in a taxi to the HQ.
After a few enquiries, we decided to go to the Mosque area and take a shared-taxi from there to the HQ. The time was 5.30pm. The taxi from the airport to the mosque area took us 15 minutes and cost us MYR 30.
Upon reaching the place, we were told that the last shared-taxi to Mt Kinabalu had already left! The other option was to hire a private taxi at a cost of 160MYR, which we didn’t want. Like abandoned puppies, we went in all directions and enquired about cheap options to reach Mt Kinabalu. All in vain! Our English was of no use with many locals and with the few it worked, answers were not forthcoming!
Frustrated and anxious, we checked the time. It read 6.15 pm.
Just then, a white taxi screeched to a halt near us! A middle aged man in a white shirt sprang out and walked towards us. He came straight to me and spoke in Malay, apparently, stammering a lot. Stammer or not, I did not understand a word of it.
He seemed to indicate that he was willing to take us to some place. He also pointed to his watch and seemed to indicate 7, 8, 9..