Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sandakan, today?

The air here is so cold. The heater is on and Shiro is licking my heels.

This makes me miss dear old Sandakan.

Rainy days in Sandakan were always a hassle. With no shopping malls around (at least during my time), one can hardly walk around town. But it is the only time I could wear my jumpers with hoodies and act like it is winter. Or maybe Mount Kinabalu to be more 'realistic'.
On rainy days, my favourite places to go were bakery-restaurants like what used to be called Thiam Kee and Cool Bubble Tea for their Polo Bun.

The topic of eating brings me to the fishing villages. The Tai Fen soup with seafood for breakfast, fresh seafood sale in the evening and the less than AUD100 seafood banquet for 10 people for dinner.

How I miss the taste of crabmeat. And the sight of floating artificial 'jellyfish' (plastic bags) in the shallow waters. Oh and commenting about the smell of salted fish.
Highly similar to the houses in District 9, except that not Prawns but Salted Fish stay there. And they are mighty friendly and pleasant to your senses (sight, smell, taste).
Ultimately Sandakan is all about family. The old family house withstanding countless powercuts, watercuts, fighting dogs and family feuds.

For the first half of my life I lived with my paternal grandparents, aunties and uncles. A big family, indeed and without Astro at that time, lots of time bonding over rental dramas, chinese dessert and playing cards.

Then there is the picture of Grandma cooking in the kitchen - something I used to see everytime I reach home - a picture of assurance and home.

I used to always poke near to her and ask, "What are you cooking for tonight, Popo?"

Instead now I ask over the phone, "Are you cooking shark's fin soup for everyone tonight?" To which she will reply, "Not until you come back. I won't cook for the rest of them!"
This is the water tank. Sturdy fella.

The superbness of meals prepared by my Grandma. Always a bowl of soup for everyone. Mine without spring onions :-)

Like the little gestures from my Grandma (leaving out spring onions in my bowl of soup), it is the little things about Sandakan which make me miss the place.

One of my friends used to say that looking up to the ceiling of Sandakan Airport makes her feel dizzy. True, I used to think it was the most amazing construction every - the high ceilings, the colourful glass ensemble, the . . well basically that's it.
But as I grew older, the airport became a bittersweet place. Bitter for all those times I departed only to wonder when I would get to return, sweet for all those times familiar faces appeared after such a long time apart.
My friends, when will we be meeting again in Sandakan?

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