Australian schools break up for the year-end holidays, and I’m back in Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah. It’s hot and humid, and my skin needs no moisturizer because it’s like a sauna here. But I use plenty of sunscreen, just as I would in Australia.
I had laksa for breakfast at Yee Fung Kopi Tiam coffee shop) on Jalan Gaya (Gaya Street).
Gaya Street would have been the original “Main Street” in the days when KK was called Jesselton, British North Borneo. The area has cobbled streets, and some windows still have French-style wooden shutters (very faded now) above old shop fronts.
I stopped in front of the Singer sewing machine shop which I am guessing has been there a long time.
Look at that beauty! (Sorry about the glare. I couldn’t find an angle to get rid of that). I remember we had a manual sewing machine when I was a child in London, before Mum bought an electric one. These are still used along the waterfront. You can bring your jeans to someone who will take up the hem for you, right there on the street.
My best friend Sophie is about to start maternity leave. She works here as a doctor and was my violin partner in our duo called Klasik Elastik (Sophie likes to bend and stretch the music. She trained me to follow her. Here we are at a wedding about 6 years ago)
This is Komplex Karamunsing, floors of wall-to-wall IT and gadget shops and services. This is the place to get IT help, and where the price of anything tech will be very competitive.
I picked up a DVD of San Andreas, because I was an extra in the movie, when they filmed parts of it on the Gold Coast. And here I am being an Asian female doctor. Looking very serious, I must say.
I caught up with my mates Yap Kv and Roger Wang, at Roger’s studio.
I hope to spend loads of time with them, writing about music or other Sabah-related topics. Here’s Roger testing a 7-stringed acoustic guitar which another Sabahan David Chin (retired engineer who lives in Melbourne) made for him.
Yap is a luthier. People are always looking for him to save their violins, cellos. Yap is also an acupuncturist. Here he is working on Mike, who always has golf-related injuries.
Yap is also overseeing IT installation at a new hospital in KK. He’s amazing, and always in demand (read: on the run).
But today he was with me, and took me to an area called Kampung Salut, to have burnt coconut!
Here are some old ones outside the stall. They act as a shopfront sign!
Yap ordered the burnt coconut, so the coconut water is warm and has a biscuity taste. Yap said the oils from the flesh flavour the water, and it reminds him of drinking Milo as a child and dunking a cookie in it. A nice memory 🙂
The coconut flesh is thicker, which means the coconut is not very young, and the flesh is easy to peel away from the shell, to eat.
Yap also ordered chilled coconut pudding, made then poured back into its shell. The flesh is thin and soft, sign of a young coconut.
Tastes delicious, perfect for a hot afternoon.
[Below is a cut and paste from last year’s post. A bit about my relationship with Sabah.]
SABAH is a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. Its verdent soil has supported my family since the 1880s when my great-grandparents arrived by boat to KUDAT from China.
They were the first batch of Hakka-speaking Chinese Basel Christians brought to Borneo to clear the lands of jungle, for the British. In time, my ancestors became plantation owners themselves: rubber, timber, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, oil palm. This led to other lines of work: building railroads, owning trading conglomerates. Eventually the children took up other professions. My dad was a journalist and press officer to the last Governor of British North Borneo William Goode. Some of my relatives still own plantations today.