In 2010 I met someone who I believe has a perfect life. His name is Chris Kong and he is a fisherman. He has the kind of outdoor life which we can only read about, like the cowboys in the Wild West steering their cattle across the plains. Except that we are talking about the Untamed East, and he’s on the sea, not a prairie.
I met Chris in Kudat.
Beautiful Kudat. It’s a town in Sabah, on the northern most tip of Borneo, and the place where my great-grandparents from both sides of my family first arrived in Sabah. It was in the 1880s, and they were on one of the first three boats of Hakka Chinese Basel Christian families, brought over when the British needed labourers to clear the land.
Apparently the British brought Cantonese and other traders over first, but these merchant-types were not up to hacking the jungle and they must have been wiped out. The next lot, the Hakkas, well we were made of sterner stuff. We were farmers. I guess we stayed the distance, and the Sabah Chinese population is still predominantly Hakka.
These Hakka guys are so BROWN! Chris is like that. He’s one of my husband Mike’s classmates. He and his mates are brown and lean and fit, they smoke like chimneys and drink like fish.
Imagine: he’s out on the vast open sea around 3 or 4AM. There are no street lamps! (Yes, I am an urban person.) It is absolutely black but for the stars! They haul in the catch and his working day is done by 11.00AM. Obviously I didn’t go out on the boat with him. If I had I can assure you this post would have been massive!
Then it’s lunch at the Kudat Golf & Country Club. Play a round of golf with your mates.
By 5PM they’re on for just another ordinary dinner, with seafood that will be fresher than almost anything money can buy. Load in the cold beers in misting frosted mugs, the amber Tiger served under a setting Sabah sun. How exquisite is that? Drink, smoke, discuss local politics and chill with your mates until 9pm. Stagger home for a solid rest.
Out on the sea before dawn – it must feel like just you and the gods. Hard work followed by recreational sport, then good food and booze. To me, it is The Perfect Life, and we can never find it using a cv.
Chris trades in Blue Swimmer crabs, and he is an environmentalist. He has a WWF page.
I also listened to the Jesselton Philharmonic Orchestra play their symphony at sunset in Kudat. Here’s a post about that from my blog SabahSongs.