07 November 2007

11 Hours To Malalin of Jambongan Island

I went on a very long boat-journey today. It was a trip to a remote island called Jambongan, partly bordering Kudat on the North and Sandakan on the South. IT was, without doubt, the longest boat trip I’ve ever been onto so far. It was a torturing return-trip of 11-hrs! Though I enjoyed going out to the open-sea, I couldn’t help but dozing off several times, even fell asleep a few times.
Since the sea is said to be not so friendly at this time of the year, we started off as early as 6.30 am in the morning (taking off at Sandakan’s fish mongering market) to prevent getting caught out in one of the November storms later in the evening.
It’s always been cool to be on board when the dawn is just about to break. Cool to see the sun making its way up over the horizon. The was such a freedom feeling looking at the Sandakan town looming away while we sped off towards the open sea. I passed by a series of islands which I couldn’t identify most of them. I had come to realize that we were not alone on the sea because I could see so many boats, probably owned by the local fishermen (if not tourist agents – some of the islands are said to be under the Sabah Parks where the main attraction is the rare Salingan Island, famously known as the Turtle Island), looking as if they were lining up along the edgeless horizon.
The Sulu Sea to the east of Sabah is said to house some underwater rocks (they were real granite ‘rocks’, as the boatman described) jotting barely out of sight from the water surface, there was a possibility of the boat crushing into one of them. And it could pose a real danger to the boat and us, the passengers. As part of precautionary action, we stopped to pick up a local guide at an island called Puru Puru who was more familiar with the routes to the intended destination– A village called Malalin – than the boatman himself. Thanks God, the weather had been perfectly fine and just nice for a boat riding. It was an amazing sight-seeing and nothing was more exhilarating than cutting freely through the blue ocean on a very fine day.
We arrived at the village of about 300 residents at 11.30am. It was a village nestled on a hill  and overlooking the Sulu Sea with a beautiful beach bedding jotting some kilometers out into the sea. What a beautiful view.
The people had seemed to be expecting us and we were welcome by a few gentlemen at the jetty. It was one of the longest village jetties I’d ever seen in my entire life. And believe me, it is beautiful.
We made our ‘round’ at a school of less than 40 pupils (or 36 to be specific), with a teaching staff of 4. Being at the school myself, I would say they were teachers of greatest willingness and courage. At a place where every penny might count, I wasn’t even surprised to see none of the pupils wore a uniform. We were there for less than an hour before saying good bye to the headmaster. On the Ketua Kampung (head of village)’s request, we made our time to pay him a quick visit before returning to the waiting boat.
The returning trip to Sandakan had gone pretty smoothly and I was glad to hit back onto the ground without much problem.

16 October 2007

The Erection of Sandakan Dioese

What a weekend to look forward to in Sandakan. It would become a historical moment for the Catholic parishioners especially in the Eastern Part of Sabah. Oct 15, 2007 was chosen to be the day of history and people from all over the state had flocked over to witness the ordination of a priest into the first bishop of the newly-instituted Sandakan Diocese.

So, I was as excited as everybody. I was fervently hoping that I’d meet up with some friends, by chance. I did see some friends, but I didn’t manage to talk to them because there were quite too many people. It was good to see a big number of religious gather up in one place at a time.

There were more than half a dozen of bishops from all over the country as well as from Singapore, the Philiphines and Brunei (I didn’t know there were churches in Brunei), not to mention dozens of priests and religious. They also invited a representative from the Vatican to represent the Pope.

As expected, I didn’t manage to catch a seat. Reaching over the compound half an hour before the mass began (most attendees had come as early as 6am for the 9am Mass), I was kept in a standing mode outside the church for almost three hours.

I thought I was lucky coz the atmosphere was cool and quite windy in the beginning, until it suddenly began to rain one hour before the mass ended. Everybody without an umbrella had to compulsively run for cover, and I chose to squeeze in for a space inside the church instead of any of the makeshift canopies and I was glad I did because I had the chance of witnessing the whole process happen live just before my eyes.

Of all the speeches presented, I found the one by Bishop John Lee most captivating. He told of how he’s relieved and sad at the same time for the Sandakan which was part of KK diocese, was going to stand by its own. Well, I could understand it quite perfectly. It certainly involved a lot of emotions.

Apart from a friend, I had my sister and her friend came to stay in my place for the event. So, things went quite unusually hilarious. They left this morning, and things just returned to normal.

08 October 2007

Kaniogan Island

I recently went to an Island called Kaniogan in Beluran of Sabah and despite the sweltering hot climate, plus the salty atmosphere crawling all over my sweating skin, I still took sometime to take some photos.
The Floating Kids

On the way to Kaniogan Island

Almost half of the fishing village was caught in fire in 2006, leaving almost 50 families homeless.

My first live encounter with a jelly fish. We got stuck in a shallow area for half an hour and we were left with no other option but getting off-board (well, some of us) to push the 20 feet boat back into the right path. Some sprinkling gesture had seemed to work well to scare this lethal thing off and mind to tell you, a mild contact with this thing can put you into a painful burning sensation. Some contacts have been known to send their victims instantly paralyzed. This thing is a damn beautiful creature though. It looks so.... flamboyant..

07 September 2007

My Trip to Tagas Tagas & Kolopis, Beluran + Dandulit, Sandakan

Oh yeah. Earlier this week, I happened to drive up to a place called Tagas-tagas in the district of Beluran. We were there to check out some potential project. I hadn’t quite expected it would be far off from the main road. Even to my ‘horror’, my nerves stirred as my driving skills were challenged as I drove the car onto a ferry that brought us across the river of Sugut. The entrance 'ramp' was quite dangerously narrow and a little bit of mistake of imbalance could send the car and all of us plunging into the growling river. Jeez.. I wished I was driving a kancil. It really was a nerve-wrecking experience. So, it was a first time experience to be highlighted.

Another place I went to was a fishing village called Kolopis. It was my second time there and the thing that fascinated me most about this village was its cleanliness. It was almost free from the usual garbage. The village could have simply made a good model to other fishing villages. It was a perfect day with a perfect weather. We took a small boat at the jetty to the other side of the river, changed the boatman before journeying through a small stream into a place called Kolopis Seberang. It was a place that was still largely unoccupied. Standing from a high point, I could see the sprawling estate and the Sulu Sea far in the distance. The place was so quite that all I could hear was my own heartbeat. It really was such a marvelous experience. So quite and peaceful.

Only yesterday, I 'escorted' my staff to a place called Dandulit. As we neared the place, I had almost lost my sense of direction. The usual Oil Palm plantation, through a series of kampungs and it was at the end of a road where it stopped at a private-owned beachside land. I had no idea Sandakan had a beautiful beach. It should be open to public but on the contrary, I was glad it was a private property. At least it was spared from the ever expanding squatters area.

19 July 2007

Getting Adventurous in Sukau

I had heard a lot about river cruising in Sukau from a tourist guide friend, but never really got there until recently when I made my time driving all the way from Sandakan to spend a weekend at the famous tourist destination. It'd be my very first trip to Sukau.

Well, I wasn't really attracted to the animals there because most of them might not really be as attractive as they are to the tourists then to locals like me. You know, tourists might spend hours to watch a bird when the bird can actually be found easily in the backyard of my house. The only animal that really got me excited when I got there was the pygmy elephant. At least I don't have them in the backyard of my house.

12 July 2007

A Night in Beluran & Tetabuan Island

Day 3 (July 3, 2007)

We encountered some difficulty making a decision. Well, we should be heading to Kota Merudu before continuing doing some more project visits around the district of Paitan on the next day. I couldn’t bring my car to covering such a long distance (local car bah). I could just park my car in Ranau but I just couldn’t imagine having to come all the way back to Ranau to take it. So, we split with the other group. They carrying on with the Kota Merudu plan while us driving back to Sandakan. We stopped for lunch in Telupid, and later for dinner in Sandakan. We invited another friend to join us for a steamboat dinner at a Golf Club Chinese restaurant. We were all tired so we made our outing a brief one. By 10.30pm, we were already on bed. Soooooo… tired wohh..

Day 4 (July 4, 2007)

Having done getting adventurous with the not-so-virgin rainforest in Ranau-Paitan, we were set to go on another journey. This time, to an island called Tetabuan located a 40-minutes of boat ride from the Beluran township. We were to meet up with the other group at a motel called The Legend (one of my favourite ‘perching’ spots on the East side of Sabah) where we would stay in for the night. The admin was expecting us when we got there. Somebody had booked two twin-bed rooms for the whole four of us. While waiting for the other group to turn up, we took some nap under the full swing of the air-con. Later in the evening, we went out to an adjacent restaurant overlooking the sea to get some fresh air. It was fully a restaurant during the day, but it’d turn into a karaoke in the night.

I happened to see the boat that we used when we got stuck for 18-hrs while doing a project visit a few weeks ago. I got some flashback in my head. That was real scary. Haha. It was almost dark when we returned to our room. We needed to get ready for dinner. By then, the other group had arrived. We returned to the restaurant, this time a table had already been prepared for us. I’d say, it was quite a fancy dinner. We talked mostly about our impending trip and how we were going to arrange it. Later on, we moved to another table where we could see the stage more clearly. Some of us had ordered beer, but I’d be too vulnerable to the prying eyes to take some alcohol, so I decided to order a glass of orange juice. Well, it turned into a happening place really. People were taking turn to sing and quite most of the time; somebody would dance on the stage. Some of the visitors seemed to be too drunk to stay around. People were still having fun when we left at about 12am. In fact, the karaoke was still on when I woke up to go to the toilet at about two in the morning. Jeez, don’t they sleep at all?

Day 5 (July 5, 2007)

We met up with the ‘participants’ over breakfast. We re-arranged our schedule and started off the day by traversing along the river of Beluran to a jetty built at a Muslim cemetery. It was a very old cemetery and I was told that a prominent pre-War leader called ‘Pengiran Sharif’ was buried there, along with some of his loyal followers. Well, there was something odd about the cemetery. I mean, I had some odd feeling when I first visited it before the jetty was rebuilt. But upon reaching there a second time, the jetty was built up in a quite striking color, casting out a new look and the odd feeling was no longer there. Flowing steadily sea-bound, Beluran river was believed to be once infested with wild crocs. Even though people could hardly see them nowadays, most of the local people still believe that a number of crocodiles were still there, hiding deep in its brownish murky water. I was shown a house where some of the best crocodile hunters in the whole state was residing. They were said to have been called in to the vast operation of capturing the famous “Bujang Senang” that killed a number of humans along the Rajang River in Sarawak. Of course, they failed in their venture since Bujang Senang had never been captured up until today.

So, off from the cemetery, we took a boat from the Beluran main jetty to a fishing village in Tetabuan Island. It was my third time there and I would say, there was something fascinating about the village that captured my attention ever since my first visit. People there had their own identity as a community living in ‘seclusion’, as though a world apart from other communities. They have their own leaders who have some unspoken power over the other residents. Some of them were known to put up a fight against each other to get any government-sponsored local projects to be implemented there.

Education-wise, they have a primary school which is located some 1 km from the village, and interconnected by a long wooden bridge, which ran through a beautiful stretch of swamp area. Jeez, traversing along the bridge is like walking through a vast display of flora and fauna. I missed going to that bridge this time, so I didn’t take any photo. I was there on a formal mode, so making my time to drop by the bridge would be quite questionable to the others, or so I thought. May be next time. The village itself is divided into two by a tiny bay. I could see that most of the grounds under the houses were covered by vast piles of cockles. The local people actually worked on them to get tiny pearls for commercial purposes.

After doing our things there, we bought a few kilos of prawns to be brought home, fresh from the sea. It was almost 1pm when we returned to Beluran jetty. There was another project to visit, so we were so eager to get over with it. We did that last one under the sweltering sun before cooling off over lunch at The Legend. Hmmm, it gotta be The Legend. Hehe. It was almost 2pm when we pulled out from there, and arrived at home in Sandakan at almost 5pm. Hmmm, had meant to see a doctor friend who was in Sandakan attending some conference but I was too tired to hang out. May be tomorrow..

A boat in the making..

Traversing along the river of Beluran to the cemetary..

The Legend.. and the boat we used and got stuck for 18-hrs..

One catch at the Tetabuan fishing village.. Eye-catching, huh?

Interconnecting the two sub-villages..

Out to the open sea of Sulu..

08 June 2007

Retrieved My OLD Blog - Finally..

I thought I had lost my last blog. SOmehow, the 'service provider' had reconstructed its blogging system a couple of months ago and all my tracing efforts to get back to my blog had proved to be futile, until recently when it finally gave way. So, who needs two blog addresses? ORIGINALITY, that's the keyword that I'd be sticking to. I'll just need to do some compiling works. Enjoy!

What have U missed? Check out http://www.jippgbee.blogspot.com

25 February 2007

Turning the Page..

It’s kind of hurting inside me having to leave just about everything that I have worked for in many years. But then I believe in the idea that it takes some guts to venture into something as important as one’s career. Well, whatever I am doing now might be something I never expected ever before, but then, I like to open up myself to a variety of options. Apart from the religion that I’ve been affiliated to ever since I was born, I’ve never quite let myself get stuck to one thing for long, unless it guarantees outstanding satisfaction. I mean, OUTSTANDING. May be, just may be, this is something that I was meant to do. Yeah, may be things had somehow ‘derailed’ and I have to put them back into the right direction. Life is like a novel. It is filled with suspense. You have no idea what is going to happen until you turn the page. Everyday is a different page, and they can be full of surprises. You’ll never know what’s next until you turn the page.

So, that is exactly what I am doing now. Turning the page.

27 January 2007

My Very First Entry

Yeah, just getting familiar with blogging stuffs. I'd consider myself a beginner. For a starter, I'd just put in something simple, something that simply describe a bit about my daily routine. So, please do not comment just yet, but I believe in the idea that Practice Makes Perfect. Chio Chio!

So, here are some pics of what I call my daily morning views. My own secret of recovering fast from a morning sickness is to look for a green scenery where my eyes can relax and get unleaden. Luckily I got all these right at the back of my residental area. Photos were taken from the balcony. They might be nice to see but swampy areas tend to produce unbearable foul smell especially at a rainy day's night and this one I have here is not anything exceptional. Well, I've gotten used to it by now I guess. In fact, I'm beginning to like the smell. Haha.


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