A day at the office

Trip Start Mar 17, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Saturday, March 29, 2008

Today, we stay home. My knee needs some rest. Almost 3 hours diving a day, 2 days in a row, stretched it a bit. Also I have to write stories and Hubby has to do research for our next destination. I know what I want to see in Borneo. What do you think, girls?
Do not miss this part: an Indonesian nickname is 'monyet belanda', meaning 'Dutch monkey' or 'Orang Belanda', the Indonesian word for 'Dutchman', as Indonesians noticed the Dutch colonisers often also had a large belly and nose.
While I write and look at lots of diving pictures, the Tomcat looks for monkeys with euh, funny shaped noses. And finds them! From Sandakan, we can see `my´ monkeys, the orangutans (means `person of the forest´ in Malay), explore the jungle AND there are islands close by, so diving should be possible too.
Sandakan is the second-largest city in the state of Sabah, located on the north east coast of the island.
The area is also infamous as the site of a World War II Japanese airfield, built by the forced labor of 6,000 Javanese civilians and Allied prisoners of war. In 1945 the surviving prisoners were sent on the Sandakan Death Marches; only 6 of them survived the war.
Enough to do, I would say.
Tony also knows how to get there. No planes fly from here, it is ferry-bus, bus or taxi. Hubby is NOT keen on bus. I think taxi will be expensive.
At noon, after brunch, we go and look for the bus station. The price is 35 Ringgit/person (7 Euro) leaves every morning at 7h30, takes 5 hours (we change that into 6,5 in our head) and is air conditioned. Good enough for me! We shop and Hubby carries a big back pack full of water, coke and beer home. We do not find a pharmacy, though. We ask the dive shop and are directed to one. We need Dramamine: against motion sickness and Sudafed: unblocks the sinuses. THE divers´ medicines. Easy enough in a diving town. Forget it. If the sea is not calm the coming days, Tony will puke and we have to keep our fingers crossed, that we do not get sinus problems. All through town, there are little stalls selling `stuff´. Not only tourist stuff, like sunglasses and watches but more: medicines (also per piece!), cigarettes, chewing gum, ... . An old lady sit in squat position with a box between her legs with about 10 packages of cigarettes and 20 packages of chewing gum. Does she have to live of what she sells?

People drive around town, blowing their horns. Mostly, they play taxi. 0,2 Ringgit for the locals to hire them in town, 2 Ringgits for us. Sometimes, they offer cigarettes. The horn blowing is annoying!
Also, there are tens of street dogs around, nobody owns them. Some are quite fat and have a normal fur. Others are skinny, almost naked and miserable. A baby dog already broke his paw. I think his life will be short and bad. The underdogs get beaten up by their mates often you can hear them screaming, day and night. I do not understand why the city does not do something about it.
We booked Sipadan dive site for tomorrow and Hubby also want to do the Mabul dive site, we ask the owner of our dive shop (Jerry) and he agrees to go to Mabul, the day after tomorrow. All booked! He also tells that a taxi to Sandakan costs 700 Ringgit: 10 times the price of the bus, so T agrees with the bus.
Back in our office, we continue the research/writing.
In the evening, in our stamcafé, there is a baptizing of a dive master. First, the poor guy gets written on and next, he has to do the `snorkel test´: he gets a dive mask on, filled with paper, so he cannot see. A snorkel is put in his mouth and Jerry pours pink stuff in it. The guy swallows like crazy. Afterwards, he gets to drink a beer: bottoms up. I cannot believe he can do that without throwing up! Certainly when we find out what was in there! Someone asks and Jerry offers a sip (there are 2 sips left). The dive master asks: `what were those grains in there, at the end?´ on which Jerry answers: `washing powder´. To us he tells the truth: a small bottle of really cheap whiskey, mango juice concentrate and sugar: yuk! Jerry says to give him an hour and then see what happens. And indeed, all of a sudden he is gone!
Bed not too late: tomorrow one of the top 10 dive sites of the world!!!
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