My work-related trip to Sabah’s Tawau Division which began at Lahad Datu and followed by Semporna was about to be concluded in the town of Tawau.
Thus far, I have been quite pleased with how the trip went. Work-related matters went according to plan. But the icing on the cake for me was the fact that I am currently in a part of the country that I have read so much about throughout school.
We left Semporna for Tawau at about the same time as when we left Lahad Datu for Semporna. And by road as well.
Since the road trip was about half an hour less than that from Lahad Datu to Semporna, we managed to kill a bit of time and had a bit of a walkabout at the waterfront where we had dinner the night before.
The road trip to Tawau may have been uneventful but was as insightful as the road trip to Semporna. The more villages I saw, the more it impressed upon me that there was essentially not much of a difference between the villages in Sabah and of that in the Peninsular.
Of course, I may have a different view if I were to stay for a night or two in the villages. That would be the real test.
We arrived in Tawau in good time. As we were about to reach the hotel that I had made reservations for my stay in Tawau, it struck me that ‘downtown’ Tawau was no different to the ‘old’ part of Kota Kinabalu and even ‘old’ Lahad Datu.
It would be interesting to make the same observation for other Sabah towns like Sandakan, Beaufort amongst others. If that observation holds true, there must be a story there somewhere.
Upon arriving at my hotel, I went through the registration process and as it was as the night before at Semporna, placed all my luggage in the room, checked the faciities and once satisfied, went out for dinner with my two Sabah companions.
We were joined by two others : their counterparts who had flown in from Kuala Lumpur the day before, to join us. Dinner was at a nondescript place that looked ordinary. As I was wandering why they chose that particular eatery, dinner arrived. We got tucked in and therein was the answer to my questions. The dishes were more than tasty but without the frills.
After dinner and coffee, I went back to my hotel and since I was not in a rush, I decided to have a good look-see around the neighbourhood.
From what I observed, I felt like I was caught up in time capsule and the year was either the late 70s or the early 80s. Almost all that I observed including the hotel looked or feel so late 70s or early 80s.
With the exception of the all-night convenience stores. That said, at least I know where to go should I have the sudden urge for late night munchies: just across the street from the hotel.
My stay in Tawau was for two days and one night. In that time, I noticed that, as in many towns, you have the old and the new. Tawau is no different in this respect and like many coastal towns, the waterfront is always the main attraction.
After settling work-related matters for the day, my companions and I made a beeline for the waterfront. The evening sun was still strong but that did not deter us from taking a stroll up and down the waterfront.
As is Semporna, Tawau is located by the sea. If the locality of the previous night’s dinner was chosen by guys from Kuala Lumpur, dinner on the second night was at a spot chosen by the two Sabah guys.
As we reached the eatery chosen by the Sabahans, we noticed that the stalls lining the waterfront at this part of town, were already full of patrons, a sure-tell sign that the food served there is good.
As anyone can tell you, when you go to a popular dining spot, parking is always a problem. As luck would have it, we found a parking space soon enough, without having to circle the place more than once.
With the cool night’s breeze and the sound of waves lapping underneath is, it made a good setting for a very good night out. We made our orders and soon it was delivered to our table.
Dinner was essentially rice, complemented with the necessary veggies and, it being Tawau, fish, prawns and squids. Definitely looks appetizing and after the first few mouthfuls, definitely tasty.
To make dinner more memorable, there was a trio of buskers performing at the stalls there and I dare say, the performance was quite up to par, with fine singing and good acoustic guitar play. The thing I liked was that the buskers made their selection of songs as if it was their own, and not like some karaoke session, and it sounded good too.
Lately, I seem to chance upon quite a number of these buskers performing at strategic locations like eating spots, railway stations and the likes. Its good that they want to perform and earn an honest living at the same time, but sometimes i do worry if that is not symptomatic of the times we live in.
We headed back to our respective hotels and turned in for the night. After a dinner like that, there was no danger of me having late night hunger pangs. Lay on the bed, switched on the air con and the TV and before I knew it, the TV was watching me.
The next day flew quite fast really. Work-related matters were practically done by lunchtime and since this is my last day in Tawau, we had a working lunch (no escaping that, as is working dinners) to sort out minor details.
Lunch was a no-frills lunch and from all accounts, a rice-and-chicken dish famous in Tawau. its tasty but different from what I am used to. With food, my wife is more adventurous than I am but then again, when you are travelling, go with the flow, I’d always say. And that includes food.
Made a quick and early dash to Tawau Airport after closing up work issues, to catch a flight to Kota Kinabalu International Airport and from there, a connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur International. No time awasting.
Would love to come back here again. Unlike this time around, it will be for leisure. Places to visit and explore : the market place, the pearl shops etc.
Definitely on the Things-to-do list.