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Yet another weekend away from the city

It’s my first day back to work. I spent the entire weekend and two working days (Mon and Tues) in Semporna and Tawau, Sabah, attending an ICT camp for a bunch of primary school children.

How lucky kids these days are. When I was a kid growing up in the 80s, I never had the chance to fly to a different country to learn how to use the computer and the Internet. But I’m glad to know that four Org Asli children from Perak got a chance to do so.

It must be such a big thing for them. First time being away from home and flying to another State, staying in a nice hotel, learning new skills and making new friends. And they got to do this at age 10.

I could tell from their faces that they were surprised that someone there could speak their language. (I spoke in Semai when I interviewed them). As expected, they were pretty shy and reserved. But no more than an average shy Malaysian boy or girl at that age.

To get them warmed up to me, I ask them how old they were, how many brothers and sisters they have etc. I was pretty shocked to hear that one of their fathers was jobless while the mother is a rubber tapper.

I hope that his father is still in between jobs because God knows how much his situation will influence this boy when he gets older. But God is great and he gave the boy a smart brain. He got the 5th place in class during the recent exams.

He’s a smart kid but smart kids can go astray if they are exposed to negative surroundings. I hope that everything will turn out well for the children.

Other than that, I had fun in Semporna. I went island hopping (to Mataking, Mabul and Sipadan) on a speed boat. The group left at 8am and only returned close to 5pm.

It was amazing. I’ve been on a speed boat before in Langkawi but the island hopping experience in Sabah was totally different. First of all, the water was really choppy. The stomach-churning kind of choppy. Then, getting from one island to another took between 30 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. On choppy waters in the middle of the high sea, this is one helluva boat ride.

Many times I felt like I was on a jetski rather than on a boat. Waves from three directions would hit our boat at once causing the boat to be lifted and then slam back onto the water with a loud, back-breaking thud. Most of the time, the boat ride felt more like a rollercoaster ride than a boat ride.

I was lucky that I didn’t get sea sick at all. Actually, I was quite amazed with myself. However, I suffered from back pain for the first two days. I feel better now but I think I should get a back message one of these days.

The sea food at Semporna was delicious. I think I ate healthily there because I actually lost a bit of weight. One of the first things boyfriend noticed about me was my now less-obvious double chin. Miss SP confirmed it 😛 Actually, I feel it too. Again, I think it’s because I ate little rice there, stuck to non-rich food, ate more vegetables and fruits and drank more plain water. I think I owe it to the gruelling boat ride and all the travelling in vans and flights. Because, I really make a conscious effort not to eat rich food

If only I can stick to that very healthy diet. Well, one could try.

Overall, I think Semporna is a unique place. You’ll be amazed when you see all this kelong’s perfectly erect in the middle of the sea. You wonder what keeps them strong despite the strong waves and storm during the monsoon.

But I do think it needs to be cleaned up here and there. Environmental awareness is somewhat lacking there. You can see rubbish floating in the green sea – and that is a shame because the sea and scenery there is breathtaking.

Tawau, to me, is an odd place. It is a bit of a letdown because certain parts looked like it is stuck in the 1980s. It’s a little bit less clean than some of the small towns that I have visited in Peninsular Malaysia. Even little old Tg Tualang is pretty decent.

But thank God for the beautiful islands. Mabul Island (http://www.mabulwaterbungalows.com/) looks like a promising honeymoon spot where a couple can dive, and then have sex all day and night, taking breaks in between to eat and maybe swim or read a book. I’m serious! It’s a place where you can just “disappear” or “run away” from all your problems and worries. It’s a diver’s paradise so there are no shopping malls. I could be wrong but apparently it costs RM250 per day per person (inclusive of boat and meals). Not too bad, huh?

The famous Sipadan however is a bit run down and deserted. If you fancy the company of very bored and deprived abang-abang askar than you should probably head there. The abg-abg askar have nothing to do that they have learnt to snorkel. Tak lama lagi, they’ll be learning how to dive too. When they’re not patrolling the island, they will play pool, sing karaoke and watch Astro. You’re welcome to join them but you can’t stay any longer than 4pm because no visitors are allowed after 4. You wouldn’t want to hang around there anyway because pirates still loom large there.

But I’m glad I can tell people that I have been to Sipadan post-Abu Sayyaf.

As much as I find the islands intrguing, by Tuesday though, I was more than happy to board that flight to KLIA. I was missing my baby.

I’d love to see more of Sabah… next time around capital city KK.

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