Day 147-148: Semporna to Tawau, Borneo

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June 21st 2009
Published: June 23rd 2009
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Semporna to Tawau, Borneo

June 22nd

Today we're heading to Tawau, a town two and a half hours west of Semporna. After breakfast we packed the last of our things and walked to the mini-bus station. These buses only leave when full so we were prepared to wait a while.

We didn't sit for more than 5mins before we left, even though there was only three other passengers on board. We drove around the block and picked up another three people. Then we stopped again near the mini-bus station and sat in the boiling vehicle for 10mins while we waited for more people to join our little gang. The bus filled slowly but surely and before we were totally boiled we left again, this time with a full load of passengers.

We were excited to be moving on again. The gypsy in us becomes restless when we stay in one place too long. Over the last few days we've become really excited about our visit to New Zealand. We're missing the western culture, the food and the ease of communication. We've still got Indonesia to visit but we feel that after almost five months in South-East Asia (we'd only planned on staying for three) it's time to get on with it. We've trusted God to be our guide this far and will continue to do so.

After about 45mins on the road Talita noticed that our driver looked a little too sleepy for her taste and she kept a vigilant eye on him, coughing every time he looked like he was about to take a nap.

46km from Tawau the woman sitting two rows in front of us threw a bag filled with porridge or puke (we hoped it was the first) out the window. It hit our open window, spraying the guy in front of us with goop. He was not happy. We still don't understand how these people can continue to just chuck their garbage out the windows. Unfortunately Asia and Africa are very much alike in that aspect. It's horrible how they destroy and defile their environment. How hard can it be to throw your garbage in a bin?

We arrived in Tawau just before lunch so we grabbed some roti before searching for a hotel. We booked into Hotel Soon Yee. The rooms are clean and cheap and the owners are very friendly and extremely helpful. We dropped our bags and headed to the hospital. This turned out to test Ferdi's patience beyond breaking point. We got shunted around so much we felt like ping-pong balls. It's a good thing Talita has her father's patience because Ferdi just gave up after a while. Eventually Talita's patience paid off and we found the right place. As we waited for our turn with the doc we prayed that he'd be able to speak intelligible English.

When it was finally our turn we got a friendly Pakistani doctor. He's got a birth-mark almost identical to Ferdi's, has a job offer in Kwa-Zulu Natal and has the same surname as Talita's friend Assia Khan. It was meant to be. He did a standard exam and then sent us to Pathology to get our blood tested for Malaria. Our blood was drawn and after 10mins the results came back negative. We were relieved and went back to the doc who prescribed four more weeks of malaria prophylactics. We'll try to be in NZ by the time our meds run out.

After getting our pills we went to see about boat departures to Indonesia but couldn't find any info. Hot,
Pathology waiting roomPathology waiting roomPathology waiting room

"He stuck me with a needle, mom!"
tired an irritated we returned to the hotel. Later we went to the KFC, the only place near us that had wi-fi, and tried to book a flight to Bali. This turned out to be an exercise in futility. None of the budget airlines websites functioned properly. We also researched the anti-malaria meds that we got and realized that we couldn't use it cause if we do we might end up being parents sooner than we planned (not that Talita would mind after seeing all the new born babies at the hospital).
We returned home thoroughly tired of Asia and ready to skip Indonesia altogether. This isn't possible from where we are now and financially it would be best to fly from Bali, so we decided to continue into Indone as planned.

Today's highlights:
1. Arriving in Tawau.
2. Testing negative for Malaria.

June 23rd

After yesterdays mini-meltdown we woke feeling better about everything. It was interesting to notice how our mindsets had changed over the last few weeks. Our journey had started as a pilgrimage, an adventure, a way to grow even closer to each other and to God, but somewhere along the line it had turned into a holiday, a search for personal pleasure and comfort. This is a dangerous attitude to have because the smallest complication is then perceived as an interference with your holiday instead of an adventure or a character building experience.

It also seems that the more we travel the more forgetful we become. We took a taxi to the Indonesian Embassy. We didn't think of taking a pen, ID photos, cash or onward tickets. It's like we've never done this kinda thing before! Luckily (more likely by Devine Intervention) Ferdi had two pictures of each of us and just enough cash in our wallet to get the process going. Our visas cost us a whopping RM340 (it's equivalent to our budget for two days). Since we don't have onward tickets we had to let them copy our credit card. This gave us the willies, but we had little choice.

After an hour and a half we got our visas and headed back to town to get info on ferry tickets to Indonesia. We were shocked to find that the tickets were three times more expensive than the guide book had indicated. Most ferries go to Nunukan but after asking around we found one that goes straight to Tarakan, which is much more convenient. After paying for our visas we were broke so we had to visit the ATM before we could buy the tickets. After a nap and lunch we went back to buy the tickets. There were six people all talking at once and it was hard to figure out exactly what was going on. We understood that they needed our passports in order for them to sell us tickets and since we didn't bring them we just decided to get the tickets prior to departure.

There was a refreshing breeze blowing so we went and sat by the boardwalk and enjoyed the cool air. Later we visited the KFC again so we could blog and catch up with the world.

Today's highlights:
1. Getting our visas.
2. Finding a boat to Tarakan.

Thought for the day:
Our beliefs colours our attitude, our attitude colours our perception, and our perception colours our reality.

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


Cool colourful treeCool colourful tree
Cool colourful tree

check out the weird bark

23rd June 2009

Amper daar
Byt vas julle ouens, julle gaan NZ net soveel meer enjoy na die hele Asia experience, dis dalk bietjie kouer daar.
23rd June 2009

Sien uit daarna om saam met julle NZ te ervaar na al die maande in die Ooste.Glo dit gaan weereens 'n nuwe culture shock wees. Bly egter dat 'ons' tog eers 'n draai in Indo gaan maak;-) Enjoy!
17th March 2010

i had read your travel story from semporna to tawau. i'm tawau people and i would like to say that im sorry for all negative things or experienced you had in your journey.. visiting tawau actually not a good idea for people who love inviroment, natural lover. it's because of mentality for most of the people around there. even for me, i cannot accept behavior of my own people there. lack of education bring problems that you see. good luck to you and may god bless you.

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