Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sandakan To Tawau

I will resume reporting on my Sabah holidays, sorry guys, for the long delay. The coffee house at the Swiss-Inn Waterfront in Sandakan opened earlier than usual specifically for the 4 of us as my friends had to catch an early fight to KK while I needed to be at the bus termainal at 7 am,travelling west ward to Tawau alone.

The early morning sun rays reaching the coffee house were so delightful and interesting. We just had some tea and coffee as most of the food were not ready for breakfast. The taxi ordered by the hotel had arrived, so we hurried off as the time was already 6.45 am. We went in the same taxi because on the way to the airport, it would just drop me off at the bus terminal.

The Tawau bound bus was leaving at 7.30 am, but it was already nearly full when I arrived at 7 am. I thought I was still lucky to get a front seat on row No. 5. But it turned out to be a nightmare. Sitting beside me was a guy who had irresponsibly stuffed a large bag between his legs, encroaching a fairly big portion of my space. Worst still, his soiled shirt smelled very bad. But I had no choice, I had to endure all these unpleasant circumstances for the next 6 hours. The bus driver was careful for he did not speed. The 320 km journey could have been completed in under 5 hours. The bus made a brief stop at a roadside restaurant in Kota Belud district to have refreshment and to visit the washroom.Here a small boy, probably only 7-8 years old, washed our bus for RM1. It was really a case of child abuse.

Along the journey my friend in Tawau had called me several times asking about the time I would arrive.He would be at the bus terminal receiving me and later we would go for lunch together. I arrived shortly after 1.30pm. My friend, who is also from Sibu, is now a General Manager for a timber company in Tawau. He introduced me to stay in King Lee Hotel (above), which was just opened for a week. The promotional rate was RM80 nett, which I thought was quite reasonable for a spacious and new room.Moreover, the hotel is within short walking distance to the market and wharf areas which I had planned to visit and take photos early the next morning.

My room was on the second floor and this picture was taken after I returned from the market and wharves. I walked to the wharves before 6 am, but was a bit disappointed that there were not much activities, unlike in Sandakan, the wharves there were already bustling with activities as early as 2 am.

Fishing boats at the wharves

These bales of goods were waiting near the wharf for express passenger boats going to Nunukan and Tarakan in Indonesian Borneo.The express boats here are also built by ship builders in Sibu. Many years ago, probably in 2001 or 2002, I did travel to Nunukan and Tarakan to inspect logs with a Japanese buyer from Marubeni Lumber. I still remembered he lost RM2,000 in his hotel room in Tarakan.

Much of the goods in the earlier photo were probably carried to the wharf by this guy. He was taken in the above picture at 7.36.30 am opposite the goods, soundly asleep on an iron cart and leaning against a cement water tank.

At the market I met this pitiful and miserable man,waiting for people to give him money.After observing him for a few minutes in a distant and noticing no one had helped this poor guy, I walked over to give him Rm10. I asked for his name but unfortunately I could not catch what he had murmured. I then followed him around the market with many curious early morning shoppers staring at me. One kind lady vegetable stallowner who also donated some money to him told me that this man with a "big nose' has been living on donations for at least 15 years. She said he would be seen at the market (below picture) every morning.

Physically, Tawau Town is quite like Sibu, but probably smaller than Sibu.The town still has some rows of wooden shophouses (below) I heard it also has quite a sizeable Iban population who came to settle there from Sarawak. Several medium-sized hotels here are owned and operated by the Sibu Foochows. Timber and oil palm dominate the economy.

Less than an hour by car from Tawau is the coastal town of Semporna. It is bustling with tourism activities as the town is the gateway to several world class diving sites. I will write about Semporna in the next entry.


Nelson said...

there is a lot of sarawakians doing business in sabah. they venture into timber, shopping malls and tourism there. sibu as usual makes express boats for the whole south east asian nations and china and tug boats for the world. kudos to sarawakians. As compared to other towns in other states, i think the towns in sarawak are cleaner and neater.

suituapui said...

I think I stayed at King Lee too when I went there a few years ago... Probably new management, newly-renovated. Room looks a lot nicer...but outside, looks familiar.

-eiling- said...

I pity the man. The press should highlight this so that he can receive some help.

Yan said...

Must log on to your other story on Sandakan - going there on Monday, by plane and onwards to Tawau. Back to KK and will take an express to Labuan!

Quite an adventure, I think! But on business, not leisure.

See you in Sibu soon.

Bengbeng said...

At first I didnt notice the nose. Pity the poor man

Benghui said...

Hello Uncle Philip, Brownie is fine. Brownie is very naughty. Brownie is big and fat

Philip said...

nelson: you are probably right!

stp:Is it? It looks totally new to me.The taller building next to it houses the Great Easter Insurance. And CCK cold storage is beside it. Wondering if the hotel also belongs to CCK.

eiling:I actually wanted to write about him...but he was too shy to speak. Moreover, I could not understand him. Hope authorities in Tawau are reading this and will do something to assist him.

Yan: you must try the seafood Bak Kut Teh,visit Agnes Keith House and have tea/coffee at the English Tea House in Sandakan.Should also visit the fish market. Have a nice trip ya.

bengbeng: He deserves our care and prayers.

bh: Wow...thanks so much for commenting here.I must see Brownie one day...he sure already forgets me.You take care and have more rest.