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. Here is 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 helping 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.
Archive for August, 2009
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.
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.
Aug 28 2009
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.
Aug 17 2009
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.
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.
Ruth and Randal
Boston Red Sox hat travels the world.