Here is part two of our visit to Agnes Keith’s home and the English Tea House just near by. Randal and I fell in love with both places and would have moved right in.
We are coming to the end of our visit here in KK. If all goes as planned we’ll leave Wednesday morning for Tiga Island (of Survivor fame), next Labuan and then back to Miri, Kuching, Sebana Cove, and a new stop Danga Bay, Indonesia, just outside Singapore as we retrace our route that will take us back to Peninsular Malaysia. Then we’ll head up the west coat of Peninsular Malaysia. Some old places and then some new ones. We both really like Kota Kinabalu but we’re both ready to head on our way. I’ve attached a photo of an excel file that show the lat and long numbers. Randal really does spend lots of time looking at the routes to make sure they don’t have us cruising into obstacles, oil rigs, shallows or whatever. You don’t just draw a line on the chart from point A to point B. You have to look very closely at the entire route to see what you’ll encounter. We have autopilot to steer the boat but it doesn’t do the thinking. Randal does the navigation thinking. If I absolutely in a pinch had to plan a route, I could do a crude one without factoring in current and weather….not a good idea, but in a pinch. (A pretty big bad I don’t want to think about it pinch!) I think I could use the electronic chart. Randal actually sort of agrees.
The two lucky stones I found on the beach several days ago seem to be helpinf the Sox! I’m going back for more. And I found enough sea glass to fill an empty large size instant coffee jar. I’m going back for more of that too. It’s almost impossible to find anymore but there’s lots over on the little beach near the marina. Better than lots of plastic in my opinion.
So that’s it.
Agnes Keith continued..
It’s funny that it’s always called Agnes Keith’s House because she wouldn’t have been there without her husband who worked for the British Charter Company. The original house had been destroyed during the war but was rebuilt on the ruined foundations of the original house.
“Agnes Newton Keith was born Agnes Newton in Oak Park, Illinois. Her family moved to Hollywood, California when she was very young. Her father was one of the founders of the Del Monte Company. She attended the University of California, Berkeley for four years, and upon graduating got a job with the San Francisco Examiner. Eight months after starting her journalism career, she was attacked by an assailant who was convinced that the newspaper was persecuting him by printing Krazy Kat cartoons. She received serious head injuries which affected her memory. She also became seriously depressed, and after two years of illness her father sent her and her brother Al to Europe to recuperate. Returning refreshed to the States, Agnes decided to become a writer, but soon afterwards lost her eyesight for two years as a delayed result of her injuries. During this period she studied dancing, modeled clothes and ‘did bits in the movies.
In 1934 she married Henry G. Keith, known as Harry. Keith, an Englishman, had been a friend of Al’s when both boys had been at the same school in San Diego, and Agnes had first met him when she was eight years old. Keith had gone on to work for the Government of North Borneo, and Agnes had not seen him in ten years when he visited California while on leave in 1934. However, as soon as they re-met they decided to get married, and were wed three days later. Three months after their marriage, following an operation to cure Agnes’s eyesight, they sailed for Borneo.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnes_Newton_Keith
Agnes Keith and friend. Agnes treated the native animals as we do cats and dogs; they became part of the family. Photo from the brochure.
Randal and I spent a good deal of time in the house looking at the photos and reading all of the captions. Obviously we’re both big fans. If you read, Eat Pray Love or Under the Tuscan Sun; you’ll like Agnes Keith’s books too. Claudette Colbert played the part of Agnes Keith in the movie version of Three Came Home about the war years. I think Katherine Hepburn would have been great for the part. Randal and I really just wanted to move into the house and spend the night. Instead we said farewell to Agnes and Harry, retrieved our shoes and walked over to the English Tea House for scones and tea.
http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9502EFDE173DE03BBC4951DFB466838B649EDE is a New York Time review of the movie that came out in 1950.
English Tea House. Randal found the stick on our way up the “100 steps.” I don’t know if it helped but he carried it all the way up and all the way back down.
This is the view from the Tea House but would also have been the view from Agnes Keith’s House.
This was our waiter Din during our first visit to the Tea House. Din is taking away the freezing cold damp wash cloth that I was given to wash my very sweaty hands, face, anything else I could reach that wasn’t covered by my clothes. It felt wonderful.
We went to the Tea House twice and both times had wonderful tea and scones. Well, I had the tea; Randal had 100 Plus which is like carbonated Gatorade.
You could try your hand at croquet.
They had an old phonograph and telescope. They played big band music softly in the background. We could have spent the night here too!
After our warm scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam we were off to walk around Sandakan and see the sights. A good thing too since we had just eaten about a billion calories of mostly cholesterol. The scones were more like a heavier southern biscuit. When we were finishes there wasn’t even a crumb for the birds or a sign that there had ever been any butter or jam in the small serving dish. Randal was in heaven and I was good too!
We’ll probably be here till Wednesday. You have to check out of Sabah with the Harbor Master etc and all government offices are closed until Tuesday because of Merdeka which is Malaysia’s Independence Day August 31st. Lots more traffic in town is noticible this week and schools are also closed. More small tents up along the sidewalks. Today Joy and I are going in to the Sunday Morning market.
This attachment is about our visit to Agnes Keith’s Home in Sandakan.
Agnes Keith and English Tea
I’m going to make this next email all about Agnes Keith because she’s why we went to Sandakan. The rest of our Sandakan tour was more for the exercise. Not that it wasn’t interesting; it was. But Sandakan history isn’t even as old as Roanoke history and half of it is British Colonial History. Odd, but off-hand I don’t remember British colonial leftovers in New England other than putting vinegar on our fries at the beach. When I smell vinegar I still think of Acushnet Beach in New Bedford where I first ate French fries with vinegar.
Agnes Newton Keith and her home Newlands.
This is the cover of the brochure they give you at her home. No photos are allowed in the house so I don’t feel so bad stealing their photos.
I forgot in the hotel photos to add this sign. We went to all of those places including the stairs with the 100 steps.
This map is also in the brochure. You can see both Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. Cruisers call it Kota (Breathe) Kinaba LU when locals say Kota KinaBAlu (no breath between.) To us it’s SAN (breathe)daKAN while locals say San da kan. Actually I can’t even recreate how locals say Kinabalu because it’s so different really. It was a 6 hour slow bus ride so you know it’s really not all that far. We did stop after about 4 hours for a snack and rush for the tandas. Sandakan was part of British North Borneo and that’s why Agnes Keith was living there. Her husband worked for the British Charter Company that administered the area.
Beginning the “hundred steps” that take you up the hill to Agnes Keith’s home.
These steps weren’t included in the one hundred; only the stairs before these walks and after.
What they really meant to say was the “one hundred stairs” because the flat spaces between the stairs weren’t included in the one hundred number! But it was early enough in the morning and there was some shade and it was a lovely walk. Huff puff sweat!
After you pass the English Tea House and the ticket counter and the small welcome building you finally get to the house.
Off with their shoes! The gorgeous wood floors make up for the annoyance of having to remove your shoes. But removing your shoes is really quite expected here and I’m almost more surprised when you don’t have to do it.
This brochure photo shows the beautiful wood floors. According to the brochure “the house is furnished simply with reproduction colonial furniture and antiques.” Lots of wonderful photos too and great displays of information.
Too be continued with more about Agnes Keith and our visit to the English Tea House.
Last week Randal and I traveled overland to eastern Sabah to Sandakan to see Agnes Keith’s home. Having read her books, we both wanted to visit her home in north Borneo before we left Sabah. We spent a few days, saw a few sights and came home. Sandakan is the kind of place that grows on you. Not so much there; but the people are very friendly as we’ve found all through Malaysia. Most cruisers go there as a jumping off point for the river and island destinations nearby. Randal and I visited the town of Sandakan I took lots of photos so it will take a few emails to tell the whole story. .
Sandakan: Part one
Randal and I had one main reason to visit Sandakan: Agnes Newton Keith. I have mentioned her lots of times. She wrote a series of books about Sabah and Borneo spanning the years from 1934 to 1952. Both Land Below the Wind (1939) and White Man Returns (1951) were written in their house in Sandakan. Three Came Home, written on bit s and scraps hidden in the Japanese internment camps during the war, was published in 1946. All of the books are illustrated with wonderful line drawings done mostly by the author. They are wonderful books. Don’t be put off by the fact they were written so long ago. Agnes Keith trained as a journalist in college and writes directly and with much humor.
I had it in my head that I wanted to take the bus to Sandakan. I really don’t ever choose to fly if I can help it. The bus would take 6 hours; but we’re retired and have time. (While in the Philippines we’d never minded the 3 hour bus trip from Subic Bay to Manila; even with people crammed on boards wedged in the aisle.) And we would see the Sabah country side and maybe catch a view of Mt Kinabalu. It takes 40 minutes to fly from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan but you have to be at the airport and hour early so I figured that we were really only saving 4 hours…..The punch line is that we flew back to Kota Kinabalu. But that’s the end of the story.
We left the marina at KK Thursday, the 20th, at 7 am taking a taxi to the main bus terminal in Inanam 20 minutes north of KK. As soon as you get off the bus you are besieged by men “in your face” trying to get you to take their bus line to Sandakan. I don’t like this sales pressure but Randal absolutely hates it. It drives up the cost of anything because these middlemen get some kind of pay from someone. Basically there were two choices and you pick one. One bus had horses painted on it and one dolphin: inside they looked about the same. Randal picked the one with horses.
The bus ride was, well, cheap and not terrible. No one was sitting in the isle. But the road was mountainous and curvy and some of the passengers had a hard time with it. The lady across the aisle one row back kept gagging into a black plastic bag they hand out when you get onto the bus. Luckily our stomachs have been hardened by ocean waves so Randal and I were okay. But I had to suck on candy every now and then to keep the queasiness away. And then there was the trio of violent action films they showed along the way. Read the review for See No Evil and think about the fact there were young kind on board. The other two were just as awful; but it made the time pass. It was too hard to look out the window at the views and not get motion sick. We’ll just chock it up as an experience. Actually I’d have taken the bus back to KK; but Randal refused; so we had a fairly cheap, easy, quick, pleasant flight home. The walk back from the airport is another story….
We stayed in a small, cheap tourist hotel in Sandakan not far from Agnes Keith’s home. It was 55 ringgits per night, about $15 U.S. You get what you pay for; but it was clean, had a bathroom with a toilet and hot water in the shower, AC that sort of worked and a TV that got the movie channel when the desk clerk remembered to flip the switch that made it available. The lobby had cheap, very fast Internet. There was a simple toast, butter, jam and coffee breakfast. It was fine. It had lots of stairs.
We were on the 3rd floor; two above street level. The lobby and internet access was one below us. Breakfast was available on the roof which was two floors above our room. We walked lots of stairs.
Randal helping himself to coffee.
Actually it was quite nice and you could have as much toast and tea as you wanted. We ate about 7 am when it was cool, breezy, and pleasant.
On one side was a small fountain with turtles swimming around, more places to sit and lots of plants.
Two views from the roof top.
Library and Internet Access. Many small hotels have book swap areas because there are no English language book shops.
We’d arrived in Sandakan about 2pm and had taken a taxi from the bus terminal to the London Hotel. After checking in and dumping our stuff we went out to look around. We decided to leave the real sight-seeing for Friday so we could have an early start when it would be cool. We did walk to the Tourism Office where we were given a Sandakan Heritage Trail map. We also visited the small Sandakan Museum next door. We were surprised that there were few photos showing the time of Agnes Keith. Turns out they were hanging in the Agnes Keith House.
Next email we’ll start the tour. Our hotel is just near # 1, the Jamek Mosque on the far left.
August 18th, 2009
Sutera Harbor Marina
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Randal and I are enjoying our time here in KK. Randal does boat work and I go off to town and take art lessons. I do the day to day chores; but mostly I’m off in town, at the pool doing laps, reading. We’re both doing exactly what we want.
Tomorrow or Thursday we’ll go to Sandakan. Sandakan is on the east coast of east Malaysia and was the home of American writer Agnes Keith whom I have mentioned several times. She was the author of Land Below the Wind, Three Came Home, and White Man Returns about her life before, during and after World War II here in Borneo. We won’t take our boat. We’ll either fly which takes an hour or take a bus which takes 7 hours. Both cost about the same. We’re actually thinking that we’ll fly there and bus back to see the countryside.
So that’s what’s going on. Not so much but it’s nice after the constant travel of the Rally. We’ll be here until the end of August. Then we’ll make our way back to Peninsular Malaysia and up to Thailand by about November.
This attachment is about my art lessons. I am learning more than meets the eye when you look at the photos. But watercolor (watercolour here where they use the British spelling) isn’t intuitive to me. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s as much about the water and paper as it is about the paint. I certainly am gaining an appreciation of anyone who can paint with watercolor and get it right.
Mastini Asap : My art teacher in Kota Kinabalu
My newest art teacher is Mastini Asap. She was born here in Sabah; is 38 years old and has children. She has been exhibiting her work since 2000. Her work is showcased at the Ranjung Aru Resort and is mentioned an article from the Sabah Times I’ve excerpted below.
I take my art lessons at this combination open-air studio and gallery.
Mastini shares this space with another artist who does portraits. We us the small desk for my lesson.
This is one of Mastini’s paintings. The Malaysian Watercolour Society has annual exhibitions. Information about the 2006 exhibition and the participating artists with examples of their work is posted on the NN Gallery’s website. http://www.nngallery.com.my/exh/72/index.html
http://www.nngallery.com.my/gallery_a.html is a link to the NN Gallery located in Kuala Lumpur.
This is what I painted my first lesson….with help instruction and help from Mastini. I was learning to see light and shadow shapes and how to try to paint them.
I had painted these while in Singapore. But the orange and pepper didn’t have either shadow or as much detail. Mastini and I worked on adding light and shadow during the lesson. Mastini can imagine where shadows would be and I can’t; but I am learning. We actually painted the eggplant in the previous photo from this eggplant but imagined a light source so we could create light and dark and shadow.
My homework. I painted this myself on the boat. I kept moving my light source (a lamp) and myself so the shadows kept changing. The lemon has several…but I kind of like it. I got way too heavy handed painting the eggplant and lemon and used too much paint and not enough water when I should have left the white of the paper showing to indicate light. You have to really REALLY plan ahead with watercolor because when you try to fix things it makes it too muddy and “not fresh.” Fresh is the whole point of watercolor. The tomato is probably the best.
I had taken this photo in Terengganu and have failed several times in my attempt to capture the women in a painting. I took the photo to my second lesson with my failures to show Mastini.
This is what we did in my second class. Mastini painted most of what’s on the left side and “made me do the part in the middle. On the boat I did the parts on the right but couldn’t recreate the same green. We will add the shadows in my next class. I learned how hard it really is to do this….patience and thinking ahead are what it’s all about. You have to look at the subject much more than you actually paint. That should be done quickly to control the paint and water.
Mastini had asked me to paint the head scarves without trying the shadows. I then tried to paint the green dress but just didn’t really know how because I can’t see the detail in the photo or imagine it the way Mastini can. I hope that at my next class we can fix what I’ve done.
Mastini asked this young man to take a photo during “our third class.” You can see the photograph of the subjects we are painting.
Mastini patiently showing me what to do. She demonstrates what to do and then I have to paint. I don’t always get it right. “Never mind,” she says so I don’t just keep painting over the mistake and make it worse. It’s helpful for me to watch Mastini paint. It’s scary for me to watch me paint.
Mastini is teaching me how to paint shadows. She painted the green headscarf shadows and I painted part of the pink one. Now I’m supposed to finish the green dress. I wish I could take a better photo of the painting because her parts are so fresh and much more interesting than the photograph shows.
Sabah Times article…. I’ve excerpted the parts about Mastini.
ITALIAN restaurant, Peppino, of Shangrila™s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu was recently re-launched with a new interior design concept…..
Contemporary and chic in design, the walls of the restaurant are painted olive green while some areas are covered with gunny sack, natural wood and black glass…..
Meanwhile, the natural wood represents tradition and simplicity, values derived from the old Peppino concept. The paintings of live trees that decorate the walls and the entrance, as well as being found on the menu, present an interesting feature for diners.
Olive trees not only signify peace and truthfulness, but also health and balance, and olives are widely used in Italian cuisine.
The paintings of olive trees were done by Mastini Asap, a local artist who is adept at working with different media such as watercolour, pastel, acrylic, oil and charcoal.
Her paintings are pastoral in nature and often include the iconic Mount Kinabalu. Many of her works are exhibited at the National Art Gallery Malaysia, NN Gallery Kuala Lumpur, Johor Gallery, Sarawak Gallery and Sabah Art Gallery.
One of her original paintings of an olive tree was auctioned off during the re-launch dinner and RM7,500 was raised for Seri Mengasih Centre.
Here’s part 2 of how to wrap a sari. I know you’ve all just been holding your breath to see what I looked like. I’m finding that I’m becoming interested in the cultural differences in women’s clothing. Fashion, depending on your perspective might be fun or frivilous: but it’s also a way to interpret social history. I was a history major once upon a time, back when I thought the world was Massachusetts, New York, Maine, New Hampshire, and eastern Canada. All places where I lived, had relatives or went on summer vacations when we were growing up. When I went to Chicago in 1970 I told friends I was going “out West.” It was hard to fit world history into that framework. And for much of the time the study of history was the study or men and war. It’s much easier now to think about how the world got to where it is when I have seen more of it. Much more fun now that the only test is to see if you can wrap your sari and not write a 10 page paper with footnotes in correct bibliographic fashion.
How to Wrap a Sari Part 2
The rest of the story…..
I don’t know if anyone will ever actually wear their material as a sari, but it was a fun morning and a way to learn about another culture through its clothing. The material comes in lengths of 6 or 9 yards depending on whether the piece of blouse material is attached. Mine has the blouse material attached so I was dealing with 9 yards of material which is more than half the length of our boat!
http://goindia.about.com/od/shopping/a/sarishopping.htm seems to do a good job of explaining the material and what the specific name for each part of the sari. It also mentions the special petticoat that is worn under the sari. Hadeep had told us about it: I forgot. Good thing there was no test on what we had learned. Also if you do all of the wrapping correctly there are no buttons or pins needed and it still stays up.
Helping hands because it seemed to take at least 4 of our unskilled hands to do what Hadeep could do so easily by herself.
Can’t imagine what Che’ Guevara must be thinking as Joy covers his face with her sari.
You can see the variety and colors of the different material.
How to gather the material into pleats……..
After a first wrap, you have to make pleats in the remaining cloth to gather it all in. Then, “Neatly tuck the pleats into the petticoat, at the waist, slightly to the left of the navel, in such a manner that they open to your left.” http://hinduism.about.com/od/artculture/ss/wearasari.htm
Hadeep wraps Margaret who actually did look lovely in the green material with her red hair. I wish I’d gotten a photo. I must have been trying to deal with my own sari at that point.
We look like we’re dressed for the theater….the ancient Roman Theater. Something is definitely lost in translation. Indian women always look so lovely proving that a sari is more than just a piece of cloth. It’s a cultural icon and you need to understand it to be able to wear it comfortably. Some of the women have learned to wear the sarong as a skirt and they look great. I actually wear my huge pink one as a pool cover-up and that feels fine. You can decide if anyone looked OK in their sari.
If you wrap it correctly you can see the different patterns on the material. Hat, big black glasses, black wrist watch, white blouse, …… definitely not traditional sari accessories. Low heeled open-toe sandals and lots of gold bangles would be more appropriate.
The material is lovely and I’d like to have a simple sleeveless shift made and maybe a blouse or two since there is so much material. We’ll see.
Yesterday I had my second art lesson. Mastini is teaching me new things,and reminding me of things my first art teacher Katie had said. Katie had said, “keep it fresh!” In Singapore my teachers said, “keep it fresh…” Mastini points out when my tomato is fresh but my lemon and eggplant are not, fresh. Keeping it fresh means not over-working it with paint to try to fix a mistake. I am learning from Mastini to really think ahead…and to work logically. Because I did a lot of “homework” Mastini lets me get away with watching her paint more than I think she would normally do. But it helps me learn and I do work too slowly when I should be working fast and too fast when I should take my time and think first. A plus from my class: when I’m off the boat I’m not “in Randal’s way” while he works. He was sanding off rust and repainting the anchor shute and also other areas of the boat that needed sanding and repainting.
But this email is supposed to be about how to wrap a sari. I’ll save my art lesson story and Randal fixes the boat story for another time. Part 2 or sari wrapping tomorrow.
How to Wrap a Sari…… Part one
Odds are I will never wear a sari. Because a sari isn’t just a piece of clothing; it’s a way of moving and behaving and how you feel while wearing it. If not, well then, you’re just draping yourself in lots of pretty material. But it was great fun learning how one is supposed to be worn. And it was especially fun to have a “ladies morning” and get to spend time with the other cruising women. Unfortunately neither Ruth nor Elizabeth could be there. Both had commitments away from the Rally.
Hadeep, the co-organizer for the Rally, began by explaining about the material we were given. The night of the final dinner each woman participating in the Rally had been asked to select a bag with material. After looking in a few bags, I chose one with green material since the boat is green and I tend to wear more green than any other color. Plus, I honestly didn’t want to look like I was being ungratefully picky so when I saw the green, it’s what I chose.
Although one piece of material, the top part is has one pattern, the circles. You are supposed to have that part cut off and turned into a separate blouse since the bulk of the sari is skirt and then shoulder wrap. It’s a very filmy sort of material and weighs almost nothing though it’s either 6 or 9 meters and I can’t remember which. I just know that it takes at least 2 people to fold it and not that I’ve taken it out of the bag again for this photo, Randal will have to help me get it back in.
My photos of Hadeep aren’t all that great. I was trying to pay attention and take photos and that just leaves you with bad photos and no idea how to wrap your sari!
Hadeep on stage explaining about the complimentary pattern that will be cut off and become the blouse. You can see how much material there is.
Getting ready to wrap the sari.
Hadeep seems to be disappearing into her sari.
Terrible photo of Hadeep, but you can see how the sari is to be worn.
Or you can wear it this way and show your blouse or tummy and the pretty pattern of folds made by the material that you tuck in front into your waist. Hadeep really did look lovely and these photos don’t do her justice at all. I’ve others later on as things progressed and they are a bit better.
Then it was our turn!
Some women were quicker learners than others.
Lily Dorlot! Isn’t that a great name! Lily looks about how I felt and she has a Ph. D in computer math modeling or something. Lilly also sews the most wonderful pants for herself and shirts for her husband from material they buy while sailing around the world.
You’ll just have to wait for part 2 to see how I looked.
This is the second part of the Rally farewell dinner. I had to double check with Jim Carey about the “cheesburger incident,” how to spell the co-organizer Sazli’s name, and whether the fraction one-third takes a singular or plural verb. Not having a grammar book or better yet, my former co-worker Jane Conner, I searched the web. I just didn’t like the advice that Word was giving me. Funny enough the web site I landed on was something like Grammar with Jane. And though the rules sort of made sense; I truly like the rule that says, “go with what seems right.” So I ignored Web Jane sine it wasn’t real Jane, reversed the order of the words in my head and stuck with what I’d written originally before I started to worry about collective type nouns and such. I have to worry about something other than the Red Sox……though I still love them. And the season ain’t over till it’s over.
I went for my second art lesson today and really like Mastini Asap, my teacher. Can’t wait to write up that story. But first I have to write up our sari demonstration that was lead by Hadeep, the Rally co-organizer the morning after the Rally ended.
We’re going over to Icicle One for dinner. Cliff is making spaghetti and I am making the salad and garlic bread so I need to get going. Randal, who truly has been working long hours doing boat chores and is happy when I’m off the boat and not messing into his boat paints, is out cold on the settee in the saloon.
Another good day about to end…
Sail Malaysia Farewell Dinner
One third of the festivities was the dancing, one third were the traditional dance performances and one third was the wonderful dinner buffet. There was duck, there was lamb, there were several kinds of fish. There were veggies and salads and fruits. There were desserts; though you’ll be astounded to know I didn’t visit that table at all! I have gotten enamored of lamb so focused on the lamb, some roast duck, salad, and a couple of glasses of wine. I’d hit my food limit before dessert. Plus during a morning visit to the Sunday Market, I’d had an enormous cookie with my lemon ice tea. I was still feeling that cookie when we went off to the dinner. I do know they had ice cream because Jim, Joy, and Randal had some. Now I wasn’t watching what anyone else was eating, so I have no idea how much buffet food Jim Carey had already eaten except for the ice cream. The next thing I see is this…..
Jim eating a cheeseburger!
During the pre-dinner wine and beer gathering, Jim had jokingly had said to Sazli, the Rally organizer that it was time to move along to dinner. Sazli asked if Jim were hungry and when the answer was “Yes,” asked, “What would you like to eat?” A cheeseburger,” was Jim’s reply. Our friend Cliff was standing nearby, just innocently listening. Always eager to accommodate the cruisers, Sazli had the marina kitchen cook up a cheeseburger and fries: not only for Jim but for poor Cliff too! And I don’t know how he did it, but Jim ate every bite. Joy looks less than amused! Cliff’s version is that he was totally innocent and trying very hard to implement his new plan not to over eat and the next thing he knew there was the cheeseburger plate. He also made a valiant attempt to be a good sport and eat it. Sometimes, as in Brunei especially, we were swamped with eating events and it’s hard not to overindulge. There were always such a variety of dishes to try.
Joy had her own evening surprises to deal with. She is being lead up to the stage to participate in the blow-dart demonstration.
This is what it’s supposed to look like. I can’t show you Joy’s attempt; the photo was too dark and blurry. But I can tell you that she did pop the balloon that she was aiming at!
Cath Blakey and 6 yr old Emma learn some traditional dance steps.
Cath amazingly had gotten herself from England where she’d been working to Kota Kinabalu by crewing for different boats! She was on her way home to Australia. Lynne and Craig Sharp on their boat Solan were heading for Australia and invited her to join on as crew. One very plucky 29 yr old. With her new short hair cut she looks quite a bit like Jodi Forster. When I’d asked who’d cut her hair she said, “Lloyd.” Lloyd’s boat is Déjà vu lll and Cath had crewed for him during part of the rally. Lloyd turned 70 during our stop in Miri and was the good-natured target for some shenanigans at the Rally dinner. Actually 6 year old Emma is pretty amazing too. She’s not afraid to try anything and always seemed so calm and well behaved.
There were some VIPs at a table near ours and it was this young woman’s task to keep their wine glasses full. All the cruisers could have as much wine and beer as we wished; we just had to go to the wine table for wine though servers came to the table with pitchers of beer.
She was all decked out in traditional costume and beads and looked lovely and sweet.
Along with the blow-dart demonstration was the bamboo dance. Men seated on the floor would move bamboo poles to music which started slow and quickly increased in speed. Dancers had to negotiate their way across the poles. A kind of form of a jump rope game, sort of. Quite amazing to watch.
Bamboo jump rope
You could try it if you wanted. I don’t know why I didn’t other than I’d always been terrible at jump-rope and have 2 left feet.
I don’t remember the story behind this performance. But different tribes were represented with the traditional costumes and dance. This was one Borneo tribe; the bamboo dance and the blow-dart were customs from other tribes.
With the party still going strong, Randal and I said our good-byes about 11pm. My head was pounding to the music and you had to shout across the table to talk. Time to go home! The last official event of Sail Malaysia had come to an end.
Sail Malaysia ended August 2nd with a morning reception and brunch August 1st and a wonderful dinner event on the 2nd. At the dinner all of the women were asked to pick a bag containing material and the next morning we would learn how to turn the yards and yards and yards of material into a sari. I think it will take me about 3 emails to write it all up because I did take lots of photos. This email is part one.
Since I sent many emails about Kota Kinabalu the last time we were here, I probably won’t have much new to add. I really should write one about all the boat work that Randal does. He spends most of the day doing boat work or researching boat products. But he does like that kind of thing because he really likes boats. I never minded cleaning up after horses I worked with because I really like horses.
Final Welcome and Farewell Dinner of Sail Malaysia
Sail Malaysia certainly wined and dined us here in Kota Kinabalu. August 1st we had a welcome brunch at 10:30 am. There was so much wonderful food; but alas I had just eaten some yogurt on the boat so I wasn’t very hungry. We hadn’t known there would be food; just a reception. There were speakers and news-people and when asked by one of the cruisers where they could play golf since the resort fees were too high, the owner halved the fee on the spot. I should have asked for pony rides! Then some folks stayed for a round of bowling; we went off to take Randal’s computer to be fixed.
Each stop, at the welcome dinner, a representative from the Rally would speak for all of the cruisers. Aussie Julian Way, second from left was the speaker at Kota Kinabalu. The men on stage show the wide ethnic variety of people that make up the population of Malaysia.
The next night was the big do and the marina here went all out. Lots of wine, beer, food, music and performances from local pop singers and traditional dancers.
Pre-dinner festivities. Anne, Lily, Michelle, Jan, and Me We had all been given the beaded necklaces and the bags we’re holding have the material we’d us to learn to wrap a sari.
Then a whole group of these young men rushed through and indicated we should follow them to dinner. The covered tennis court had been transformed into a lovely setting for our final dinner.
Randal and I sat with Jim and Joy Carey, these two lovely ladies, and two men who were part of the team organizing next year’s Sail Indonesia. The lady in the head scarf, Datuk Amisah Yassin was from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Environment of Sabah. The young Malaysian woman whose name I don’t know had just been to the United States and is a staunch environmentalist.
Proving you can’t judge a book by its cover; here they are on the dance floor where Datuk swung her arms and hips to the music of the really wonderful performers. The guy singing could be Roy Orbison, Mick Jagger, you name it. He was great. There was a woman singer too who did a mean Tina Turner imitation. Randal and Jim sat; Joy and I danced!
Jennifer from the Australian boat Mahili jumped onto the stage and “shook it up. Baby!” while the astounded singer seemed to have no idea how to respond except to just keep on singing. The American cruisers in the group could definitely take lessons on how to party from the Aussies, Kiwis, and even the Brits!
Cruisers getting in on the act!
Brian and Anne, former dance instructors, knew how to do it right.
End Part 1.
That should definitely tell you where we are. I’m sending the last email from our Brunei trip. Then I’ll catch up with the last events of Sail Malaysia that included a wonderful dinner and a class on how to wrap yourself in 6 meters of material to make a sari. The Rally ended on August 2nd. Many of the boats are still here in the marina, but many have set off to continue their own journeys. We’ll remain here in Kota Kinabalu for the month of August. Randal is doing boat work and I’m doing the wandering around. I did find a watercolor teacher and have taken one lesson so far. I like her and will go again. Every teacher I have is different but the principles are the same. The more lessons I have the more I seem to “get it” even if I can’t always do it.
I’m still hopeful that the Red Sox season isn’t blowing up. But it seems every third year they win the Series and every third year they have a terrible year….At least since 2004. We’ll see.
I’m off to town later to Borneo Books where we can swap books. Randal will do boat work. Then he’s going to try to check on his computer. The R stopped working and he took the computer back to the store where he’d bought it this time last year. They have a Dell person working on it. For now we’re sharing 70 – 30 and you can guess who gets the 30.
So that’s it for now.
Ulu Temburong National Park
“Visit the best protected rainforest in Borneo to see the unique forest, hike to the top of the Canopy Walkway to be above the trees, visit a longhouse and see the rural side of Brunei. Travel in longboats up the rapids of the Temburong River for 15km to reach the National Park. Lunch (afterwards) provided beside the river. The river trip back downstream from the National Park will include a couple of our inflatable rafts and numerous Rapid Riders (inflatable air mattresses made from raft material) to have fun shooting the rapids.”
How could any thinking person not figure out she would get wet? Make that half a bus load of people. Somehow Randal and I zoomed in on the word hike and tuned out the “shoot the rapids” part. So Randal wore socks and hiking boots and I wore my sneakers. Agnes Keith in Land Below the Wind said sneakers were her footwear of choice for jungle treks and I take her advice about anything Borneo. (Borneo is the island that Brunei and East Malaysia are on.) As it turned out, they’re not so bad for rapids shooting because sneakers dry pretty fast overnight in the engine room. Funny enough too, though we all wore life jackets going up-river to the park, no one did on the way back when half of us were in the water and where at one point when Joy and I tumbled off our yellow Rapid Rider into the river, I couldn’t stand up. Randal chose to take one of the motorized longboats back down river and I’m not sure what I would have done had Joy Carey not asked me to share a Rapid Rider with her. Her husband, like Randal opted for the longboat. I handed Randal all of my gear, camera, watch, phone and that was a good thing! But alas, no way to take photos. Luckily, Jean-Marie’s wife Lily did take some and shared them with me. I do have lots of photos of our hike into the rainforest and canopy walk.
Getting to the Rainforest……
We traveled by air conditioned bus; zooming 400 horsepower butt beating water taxi at 60 mph locally called the “Flying Coffin” , a second air conditioned bus, and finally butt numbing flatboat to get to the National Park. This is what the flatboat looks like.
Very shallow and narrow. You sat on a plank about a 6 inches off the bottom of the boat and a board was put in back of you to lean against. When you went past a rapid water would slosh into the boat and wet your sneakers and splash onto your shorts. By the end of the trip you butt was tired of sitting on the plank. Agnes Keith would travel for days on a longboat powered by natives with poles.
We’d be zooming along and then hit a shallows when our young bow boy would get out and pull us along. It was in some ways like canoeing along the James if you have ever done that. At this point we were going upstream so definitely needed the 30 horsepower engine.
Arriving at Ulu Temburong National Park.
Our first stop was at the Park HQ located in a replica of a longhouse and the only “Ladies Room” for miles around. Some folks listened the guide’s short talk. I went off to the “Ladies.” There would be no going off to pee in these leech/spider/who knows what infested forests.
Then we got back into the longboats for the 2 minute trip to the trailhead, got back out of the longboats and started up the 385 meters to the Canopy Walk.
Up the steps though in this photo it looks a bit like a ladder.
Then up the trail with rope railings that you needed to negotiate the giant dirt steps.
A very unflattering photo I asked Randal to take. I’m hot and pooped at this point and was glad there was a bit of a wait to start climbing the metal scaffold’s stairs to the canopy. And I was glad for my sneakers. Lots of folks had on flip flops and sandals prepared for the rafting part of the trip. You can see part of the metal canopy climb behind my head.
Up up and up…..about 45 meters Randal remembers. The air was breezy and cooler.
I hadn’t counted the steps, but the fellow who wrote this following passage did.
“Ulu Temburong National Park has the tallest canopy walk in the world and it is a feat just to reach the bottom of the canopy walk’s metal scaffolding, as to get to the canopy walk you have to climb more than 1200 steps. Add the steps to climb up the canopy walk scaffolding and you have at least 1300 pain-inducing steps.
Before we started the park ranger told us how many “big giant western sized” people could be on the steps or the towers or the scaffolding at one time. (He told us they allowed more of the small local people.) So of course I was worried the whole time because it was different for the steps, scaffolding and viewing towers and I couldn’t remember and thought no one else seemed to care. I especially worried on the bridges between the towers. You walked along the bridges to the next tower and climbed up to the top with a viewing stand.
The top of the top of the top. I don’t like heights that well so didn’t really take time to enjoy the view. But the experience was worth doing for sure.
The way down was straight down. You walked down some steps then stepped onto a platform then down the next flight. The trip up is broken up by the bridges and different levels and time to stand in a tower and look around. The trip down you just go. On the very last level both Randal and I got bee stings on our palm from bees that obviously congregate on the railings.
Then it’s back down the steps through the woods and the dirt steps through the mud and then you’re done. You get back into a longboat and then are taken down the river for a picnic lunch.
Randal getting from our longboat onto shore for the picnic lunch.
The river was full of these rocks and we had to walk barefoot over them a short distance from the longboat. One of the kind guides held my hand while I gingerly ouched my way from boat to shore. At that point I was still trying to keep my sneakers dry. It was a wonderful lunch of local foods and a drink that tasted like sweet Rootbeer.
Then it was time to go down the river.
Photo from Intrepid Tours web site
Joy and I started out on the yellow “Rapid Rider.” She was sitting in front and I was in back. Getting nowhere paddling with our hands, ours being more like a “Slow Rider,” I grabbed on to the rope at back of one of the large rafts. Bad idea. We soon hit a rapid and weren’t able to stay connected to either raft or our yellow mattress and both of us ended up in the water. I managed not to lose either my prescription sun glasses or my B hat; Joy kept her hat too! We then gave up on the yellow mattress and climbed into one of the larger rafts.
Joy in the straw hat, Jean-Marie in back and our young bow person from the tour group. Originally Jean-Marie was in the paddle raft with 2 young men from the tour group. When we got into this paddle raft one of the young men jumped out and took the yellow mattress. Somehow as things went along Joy and I ended up with the paddles. We kept chatting away and Jean-Marie kept telling us to quit chatting and paddle. Somehow Joy and I couldn’t talk and paddle straight so sent us sideways into some of the rapids. You can’t tell from the photo, but Joy and I are both soaking wet from hat to sneakers. Randal and Jim were perfectly dry from their longboat trip. While we waited to board the bus for the return home I stood out in the sun and dried quite a bit. Luckily I had brought a large sarong. I was tempted to take off my wet clothes and just wear the huge pink sarong. Alas, No nerve! So I just wrapped it around me for the bus ride to keep off the blowing air conditioned air. We made a quick stop midway back while waiting to board one of those Coffin Zooming water taxi boats and that would take us home. Then we squashed ourselves into a small van for the mile or so back to the yacht club. Finally it was into the yacht club water taxi and back to the boat!
This morning Joy from Kelerin, Cliff from Icicle One and Ken from Panache and I went into town for the Sunday morning market. I didn’t take my camera because I knew I’d be loaded down with veggies and fruit (as well as a small bronze goat bell I just had to buy and a small basket woven from old magazines and shellacked that I couldn’t pass up.) I bought lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, scallions, cucumber, 3 kiwi, 4 hard red apples, 2 loaves of bread and one very dense, dry cookie to go. Sounds light but weighs a lot. If I’d had my camera I’d have taken a photo of the grubs someone was selling in old water bottles. (And then you’d have to look at it and I’ve been told that’s not everyone’s cup of tea by some of you.) As it was I had to hold it for Joy to take a photo and it moved enough that it was yucky.
We walked around for about an hour and a half and then had a cold drink at a neat open cafe/regular old restaurant. Randal and I had not come to this section of KK last time so it was neat to find a new area. I also might have found an art teacher. There was a booth of lovely watercolor paintings. I asked the 3 people working the booth if they knew anyone who taught and the men pointed to the woman, Ms Asap. We discussed the possibility of lessons and I will do it probably some time next week Yippiee. Randal was heroic and stayed on the boat and did boat chores. Tonight we have the last Sail Malaysia Rally dinner.
As for the Sox who I haven’t mentioned of late; not eveyone out there who reads this cares about the Red Sox; or they their own team to cheer for. But I have to tell you that when the Sox hit the skids after the All-Star break I pulled out and put on every lucky piece of thing I had ever bought (but not the big heavy red chunk of rock stuff I could have worn on a string around my neck,) and they lost worse. So I took it all off and they won 3 in a row so I’m off the hook. I still always wear a B hat, but that’s it. Go Sox!
This attachment is our tour of the Water Village. I still have to write about our river trip to the rainforest and the canopy walk and the “yellow rubber raft/mattress” float back down the river. On the way there I tried to keep my sneakers dry so you can imagine what happened on the way back! At least Martha can; who must be hysterical reading that last line given what happened to us on our rafting trip on the Colorado when we tried to keep our sneakers dry. Who knew?
So that’s it from sunny Kota Kinabalu.
Kampung Ayer – Brunei Water Village Tour
“The rustic collective of 30 stilt villages on either side of Sungai Brunei is referred to as Kampung Ayer (Water Village.) It’s home to a population of around 32,000 who pursue a mostly traditional way of life, albeit in prefab dwellings with plumbing, electricity, and color TV.” Lonely Planet Guide
Apparently Malaysians and as I remember, Indonesians too, prefer to remain in the village of their birth. So if you are born in a water village that’s where you stay adding your own marriage family to the village. The water villages have schools, medical clinics, police and fire services; just as if they were land villages. Villagers travel by insanely speeding boats but have cars parked on land for land travel.
You can see the wake from our boat and how vast the other one was going but we saw no crashes!
We’ve gotten off the water taxi and will walk down the wooden walk way to visit a Water Village B & B.
The men in the background were flying kites.
The front of one home across from where we had our tea and snacks.
Allan leading us along.
The owner of the home serving tea to Jean-Marie, a French Canadian. Shoes are always left outside. If you have tie shoes that is much less convenient than flip flops or sandals. I wore my sandals; Randal his big walking boots.
During Hari Raya homes, especially the big front rooms, deck themselves out and are always prepared for visitors. Hari Raya is the celebrated at the end of the fasting season of Ramadan. Hari Raya lasts for a month but is mostly celebrated during the first 3 days…. I think.
Because this is a business as well as a home it is required to have photos of the sultan and his wife. The hallway leads back to other rooms including the kitchen which we visited. The hallway had 3 TV sets.
Another vies of the front room. There were snacks and tea set out on the long tables. The front door was in the middle and when you entered there were two halves of this very large room. You can see that we were there at 6 pm. The tour was supposed to be over about then, but we were an hour late getting started and we were just enjoying ourselves too much to speed it up.
Our host answers Gloria’s questions while the rest of us tour around the kitchen. There were 3 microwaves on one counter and a very small washing machine in one corner; the room itself was quite large.
This treat was so cool! It is all wrapped up and closed with a tiny bamboo peg. You unwrap it and have a sweet, slightly sticky, very dense, semi-solid jell-o like substance. It reminded me of taro or pandan or something I ate in the Philippines. I, of course liked it. But very very full of sugar! Maybe some rice flour in it? As Joesephine would say, “I’m a sucker for the wrapping.” I had to eat one just so I could unwrap it.
I know you can’t make heads or tails of this photo. You are looking through and opening in the kitchen floor at a beam and at the water below the village. There is where some of the biggest catfish in the world must live. Many families keep catfish in enclosures below the house and it eats anything that goes down there, food or human waste. The water villages don’t smell at all like waste though lots of it goes into the river. The river moves too fast apparently.