Saturday 25 October

It’s around midnight local time and I’m standing in a line somewhere near gate two at Dubai International Airport, with fellow Explorers Steve, Fiona, and Martin. We’ve already endured a seven hour flight from London Heathrow aboard a Boeing 767, and have about eight hours more to bring us to Bandar Seri Begawan airport, Brunei. From there, the itinerary informs us, we will be driving across the border to join the tour in Miri.

We landed at at Dubai about half an hour ago, and were promptly taken off the plane and onto the airport transfer bus, which took us on a magical mystery tour, seemingly twice around the airport perimeter, finally depositing us at one end of the long terminal building. We were then frog-marched the length of the terminal to our departure gate right at the very opposite end. Now we are staring at the gate departure board, which apparently is still open for the flight before ours.

Steve and Fiona turn out to be bat enthusiasts from Manchester, along with Martin. He has already done the Sabah Nature-watch part of this trip and so is here just for the first part before striking off on his own for Australia. All three are very much looking forward to various bat-related activities. I wonder if I should have studied the itinerary more carefully.

When they finally call our flight, we get back on what is probably the same bus, make another two circuits of the airport, and re-board our plane.