Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Shamed Tip of Borneo

Dear Blog,

14 June 2008 is special because my wish to see the tip of Borneo is fulfilled miraculously. You see, the stretch of unsealed road going there is accessible only to four wheel vehicles. Alas! A poverina can never afford a four wheel drive. But on that day, manna dropped from heaven in the form of four friends who graciously invited me to accompany them in a four wheel pick up.

Our butts hurt from the rough bumpy ride on that long stretch of road purposely left unsealed to deter visitors. The magnificent scenery compensated for the uncomfortable trip. Soon, we were absorbed in snapping photos and collecting seashells. There was this chatty tall Malay guy who sold me the shell of a sea urchin and a coral which to me, resembled a lobster. He told me that he dived to acquire these merchandises and how much he relished the sea urchins before cleaning the spikes and selling them to me. As he was warning me about a rest house yonder being haunted, his wife came, sauntering with branches of fresh papaya florets which was to be their dinner. With that, I bid them goodbye, anxious to climb the cliff that oversees Pulau Banggi.

The steep stairway going down to the wide open Sulu Sea was overwhelming for me. Although I was immediately attracted to the wild rocky cliffs and waves, my vertigo prevented me from venturing further. So while all my friends had a time of their lives at the end of Sabah's dog ear, I had to be contented with admiring the breathtaking sunset on a bench at the verge of the cliff. There I spotted a chic teenage girl.

She was busy vandalizing a wooden post with her younger brother. She turned back to meet my eyes casually and returned to carving the post with a pocket knife presumably leaving personal signatures. Her mother was nearby, watching her and oblivious to my disapproving stares.

"Forgive me wooden post, a poverina is not able to save you from these veracious vultures," I whispered apologetically.

So I went around to admire the facilities: The pavilion had Rungus patterns, so did the cute round stone dustbins labeled loudly "Tong Sampah". Then I saw three small monuments erected in a row. Ooops, turned out they were actually reminders shouting " Do Not Litter" in English, Malay and Chinese, framed neatly within primitive Rungus patterns again. Judging from trash lying around OUTSIDE the dustbins, I guess it would have been worse without these "Do Not Litter" monuments.

There were some simple houses on stilts built at the most vantage point of the cliff. A poverina is most inclined to support this kind of not-too-fancy lodging affordable to common people. However, the chairs looked obvious that they had not been wiped since day one. I studied them for a while as I fought with mosquitoes, before opting for a quick exit.

I feel sorry for the insults heaped upon the Rungus people right in the midst of their significant landmark.

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