Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nov.24-26 Sabah Adventure Day 9-11

Our destination today is Kudat up on the NE corner of the state. Driving north from KK you go up through mountains and then back down into plains where I saw *gasp!* an actual combine harvesting rice, so obviously Malaysia is better off than Thailand or Vietnam where the harvest is still done by hand. For my brother Dave's curiosity, it was a New Holland 1545.

Further north we found a Rungus village longhouse and stopped in for a bit. Luckily we ended up at the homestay that Julie had found for us to stay. The fellow Jimis showed us around, cut us a coconut to drink and also some Tabu grass to munch on. I like the tabu - tastes sweet as you chew the juice out (don't eat the grass itself) and I would best describe the taste as the juice out of a young stem of wheat.

We booked a room for the following night and scooted off to catch the sunset at Tip of Borneo. Got there just in time to watch it, and it Click for today's picture slideshow was splendid! Then the little cafeteria shut down on us before we could order any food. The 2 old security guards couldn't speak any English but the sign for the homestay had a phone number on it. New phone to the rescue! We got a hold of the lady and she came right over (entire family and all) to open up a chalet and cook us some food. [After failing at getting Julie’s phone to work with foreign SIM cards I finally broke down and bought a cell phone for Rm90 on the HotLink network. Malaysia is really cheap for cell service and I am blown away by how many stores sell phones – there’s one every 20m it seems. With the phone I also surprised my mom with my first call home.]

Accommodation was basic (bamboo hut with mattress and mosquito net) but at least we didn't have to drive around in the dark searching for a place. Cost us Rm124 for the room, supper, beer and drinks. Bargain!

Julie decided it was about time to drink the bottle of wine we've been carrying around for a week, so under the spectacular starry sky we enjoyed the wine and our time alone on the point watching the fishing boats on the horizon. It was a magical moment.

After leaving the Sempang Mengayau we stopped at the beach nearby. Save for a few kids far away we were the only ones on the km of white sand. The waves were just right for a little body surfing and not bad enough to warrant the "Beware - Rip Tides" warning posted. It was a fantastic experience; being in the ocean so far away from anything, catching a wave and riding it in, and overall being so secluded. But then the rain came and spoiled our fun...

Due to the dreary weather today we just went to Kudat to see if we could find a cafe near the water. We ended up at an esplanade that wasn't busy at all but a vendor was open so we had some Tenom coffee. It's strong stuff: brewed in a bag (like tea) and mixed with condensed milk to sweeten it. [We ended up getting hooked on the stuff and sent a package of it home.] Julie played ball/catch with the little kids and we sort of got to know the couple who was running the place. We snacked on some fresh seafood rice before heading off.

Back at the Rungus longhouse was a neat experience. We had the place to ourselves and Jimis' mother-in-law took care of us: our dinner was satisfying (mostly vegetables for a change) and the room in the longhouse was OK. The longhouse is exactly what it sounds like: a long house with rooms running along one wall and a common materials used in the longhouse area running along the other half of the building. It's all made out of materials from the jungle - split bamboo flooring, bark walls and palm leaf thatched roof. Jimis arrived in time to describe the cultural show that was to take place. The dance they did and the attire they wore are very similar to N.American native peoples. And they even got us involved in the dance, hopping and twirling around. Highlight of the day was getting our own traditional scarf knitted by Jimis' mother that was quite beautiful (and a whopping 10 ringgits!).

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