Thursday, July 05, 2007


Room 230, Belmont Marco Polo Hotel
– where everything must be taken with a pinch of salt (otherwise makan tak rasa, tawau kan..), Sabah.

5 July, Late

What a tiring tiring day. Took the first flight out from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu, then KK to Tawau. Landed here an hour later than scheduled. Sleepy for having stayed up the night before. And half-dead tired from plane-hopping. But, the show must go on. Tawau being the last port before I can head home.

Sleepy and tired, true, but in a way, excited too. I have never set foot in Tawau before. And I have been told that Tawau is very near to Sampoerna and near Sipadan as well. Now, after Captain Jack Sparrow, how can i not think of swashbuckling pirates as something romantic? But better not think my thoughts out loud, kan? One must be careful with what one wishes for. Ya? I dont want to inspire Yamtuan into piercing his ears, goldplating his teeth and skipping showers.

The driver was waiting for us at Tawau’s airport. Nice guy, lurus like ruler. Being the over-ramah person that I was, I asked him whether he has ever been to Malaya. He said no, the farthest he had ever been to was Kota Kinabalu. And so I jokingly told him, ‘pasai awak kerja bawak kereta! Kalau awak kerja bawak kapalterbang, tentu dah sampai semenanjung.’ He considered what I said for a few seconds then agreed with me. True what, how to drive across the ocean, kan? My brilliance blinds me sometimes.

He took us to the office in Kunak (my colleague who travelled with me thought the place is called Kuntilanak. Haha..) and from the smell alone, I was transported immediately back to my hard-hat engineering days at a palm oil mill. And I remembered the oily slippery floor, the orange-coloured fungi growth on spent fruit bunches, the persistent fruitflies, the wet heat, the heavy hard shoes, the wolf-whistles, the oil on my face and hair, and the smell of ripe and cooked fruits that stayed stuck on my clothes. Life as an engineer at a palm oil mill is so very not glamorous, no sir. Forget your make up, high heels and Chanel No.5. You have gotta ruggerdise yourself.

And so just now, I walked through the mill (in my heels, white crispy shirt, face done up and reeking of Chanel No.19), taking pictures while having all my senses awakened to its recorded memory of having-been-there-having-done-that. By the time I was through, I managed to walk like a cowboy complete with the messy i-dont-give-ahoot look just like I always did back then. Never mind the high heels.

I don’t exactly miss being an engineer but maybe Mak does. It was easier for her to answer then, when asked by her friends on ‘dia kerja apa?’. Now she isn’t sure how to answer. I told her that I am Pegawai Mesyuarat because frankly, that is about all that I do now. Attend meetings, one after the other. Pre-meeting, meeting, post meeting, meeting on meeting etc. That’s all I do, a professional in attending meetings.

Come to think of it, throughout the years I have worn quite a number of hats. I have worked as:-
1) Waitress
2) Salesgirl
3) Cleaner
4) Tuition teacher
5) Technician
6) Engineer
7) Writer
8) Trainer
9) Tukang masak kantin sekolah
10) Data entry clerk

Soon I will be Pengarah Rumahtangga merangkap Pengurus Yamtuan & Anak-Anak . Ok also.

6 July, Morning

Had breakfast and went scouring the town right after. My boss asked me to buy for her 1kg each of udang kering, bilis halus and bilis besar. That’s already 3 kg of extra luggage. Have I also mentioned that there were ‘1kg of each’ of things from Sarawak too? *Groannnn*.

Walked over to Tawau’s Central Market then its Pasar Tanjung where, between Hez and me, we must have bought many kilos of half the ocean’s content. I actually had a wild time shopping, seriously. Do you know that here, goldsmiths also sell ‘dedak ayam’ and jackfruits - all in one shop? And restaurants offer typewriting services too, like a cybercafé in a way? Then shops that sell clothes also sell ‘periuk ayan’ and ‘mesin parut kelapa’. Absolutely delighting! Oh and, one goldsmith also sell, ‘Handset boleh menukar wang’. Hez wouldn’t let me go and ask but I wonder if it is a handphone that you can use to tap other objects to turn them into money. What great technology! I want! I want!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
One shop had an advertisement on its wall, ‘pekerja lelaki, ada ic, tidak merokok, rajin.’ Yep, in that particular order. Being hardworking will not exactly give you an advantage, halloo, nut unless you have a Malaysian IC!

After 2 hours, we could already map the town. I love this place, the people have a wacky sense of humor, and they understand my wazata jokes!!!

I am back at Room 230 now. Hez wants to go to the saloon downstairs to do damage control to her hair. I need to figure out how to align the dried fish and prawns between my palm-oil-mill-smelling clothes. Do I need to just sit on my bag or jump up and down on it? Certainly, dilemma of the highest order.

Oh, should you visit Tawau, stay at this hotel. The internet is charged by the minute, less than 20 cents per minute, via dial-up. Service is great. Just don’t ask them if they have a gym or swimming pool, they don’t. But this is the most posh hotel in Tawau.

Now, packing time. God willing, tonight I will be sleeping in my own bed with Sun and Dot! Woohoo.. and Yamtuan too, of course.


Blogger JoKontan said...

Sometimes in Late 90's I was there. Tawau - Beluran - all the way to Semporna. Met my friend Haji 2 @ Sibuga. Or was it Sibuya.

On the way to Semporna, inside the 4X4, it felt like 25 years ago. Macam kat Felda Sungai Pancing, kontan.

On the way back, Tawau to KL via KK, the turbulence was sooooo bad, I left the plane while transiting KK. Lantakla boss nak kata haper. I was near puking and my hand literally shaken.

Seram-seram sejok..

9:57 PM  
Anonymous kna said...


I can't stop smiling while reading this post. Is there a Sampoerna town in Sabah? Isn't that a kretek brand? Hahahaha!


8:04 PM  
Anonymous Hana said...

Jokontan, it's Sibuga.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Uncle said...

Bila baca all the jawatan yg pernah disandang, it seems that you started work quite a long time ago...hmm... And there are still young guys giving you corny pick up lines...? Hmm...interesting....

12:01 AM  
Blogger OOD said...

I didnt get to see Sampoerna. Best tak?

When i was a kid, naik kapalterbang Charlie hok askar punya tu, then it was sama lah, bad turbulence, everybody muntah and i asked my mom, nak terhempas ke ni? Kena penampar satu. Hehe..

So bro jo, tak kena tangan kan dengan bos ka?

i salah spell ke? *blink blink*.
Bukan rokok sampoerna tu memang from sampoerna ka? Dulu geografi dapat P7.

heyho you. Thanks.

young guys are after all short-sighted, like u must have been once too. You must have used corny lines too, at least once? Hehe... mengaku!! Mengaku!

8:46 PM  
Blogger Uncle said...

Me? Using corny lines...? Like, "Oh no, you're giving me diabetes with your smile" thingy? On you, perhaps...? Muahahaha! (with pinky finger between my teeth..)

11:51 PM  
Blogger OOD said...


I will fall for the diabetic line ANYTIME (*puke....*). I mean fall on my face.


8:04 PM  

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