I can feel memories are slowly slipping off…so I better finish blogging about my East Malaysia trip before I forget!
At the beginning of the trip, we started with Sarawak. In the beginning, we had some rough spots – and it all started with our ‘resort’.
But superman Randy and superwoman Clare saved us and brought us to Kuching for a breath of air. We toured Kuching, ate some awesome Kuching food and return to Ayer Manis with a calmer heart.
Then we traveled on a 12-hour bus ride to Miri. Due to miscommunication, we found out that we only had 1 performance instead of 2. That was a blessing in disguise because the night off gave us a chance to catch up on our sleep, rest, practice, and reorganize. We also had a chance to see a little bit of Miri. Although our accommodation was simple, we felt very much home. We were taken care so well that by the time it was time to start our program, we were energized and rejuvenated to sing! That was our best performance so far.
And now here comes the second half of the trip: SABAH aka my home state Woohoo! 🙂
But before I start with Sabah, I must not forget to tell you what happened in Miri airport (to be more precise, in the plane we were boarding).
I entered the plane, only to find Ivonne frantically running past me with a worried look.
Ivonne couldn’t find her wallet in her backpack. She checked and rechecked and still, no sign of wallet. So she ran outside the plane and into the Departure hall to check whether her wallet was at the seats that we sat earlier on. Nada.
At this point of time, I was dead worried too. How am I going to deal with this? What steps do I, the trip coordinator, take? Do I need to bring Ivonne to see a police officer? Do we report the missing wallet? But the main question that bothered me was,
Are we going to leave Miri without Ivonne’s wallet?
Even I took Ivonne’s bag and checked it several times. None. Jun said something, but I didn’t really hear him (I was too busy concentrating on locating a blue long and thick wallet).
Ivonne came back, shook her head, return to her seat and sobbed. A sort-of airport police attendant came not long after her and politely asked her questions. He was quite nice, actually…very attentive. He took down details and I gave him my phone number, my house phone number and even my mom’s number. He assured Ivonne that they will try and locate her wallet and will call me if they found her wallet.
The police attendant left. We were all trying to comfort Ivonne. Jun, who has been trying to say something (but none of us were listening) managed to capture Ivonne’s attention. He asked her to check her small handbag that she’s been carrying all along.
It was a real small Thai handbag and her wallet was thick. Ivonne didn’t look convinced but figured she might as well tried.
She looked into her bag, digged in a little, and paused. Then she looked up with an ARGH expression and later faced us.
“DON’T SAY ANYTHING”
Yup, Ivonne found her wallet! Everyone felt so happy and relieved! 🙂 Only Ivonne knows how she really felt after she discovered her wallet =).
Back to the trip, we’ve been a team of eight. In Sabah, we had another team member who joined us and I’m glad to say that it was Julie!
I cannot tell you how fiercely HAPPY I was when Julie joined us. As soon as she arrived, I was already on a storyteller-roll, telling her what happened on Day 1 up to then. Julie has been on similar trips before, so she knew how the experience would be like. It was good to have someone who understood the struggles we’ve been through and the awesome blessings we’ve received. Having someone who has participated in this kind of trips AND who is also a reealllly good friend of mine was a true blue blessing!
Look at the picture above again. I really adore that picture because it encapsulated the fun that I had with Julie – we were cracking up jokes and laughing at almost every opportunity. On a personal note, Julie’s presence brightened me up. Ju, I’m really glad you came along! 🙂
Okay, back to the trip!
In Sabah, we traveled from so long, so far. After we touched down KK, we stopped by my house for a good 40 minutes. After that, it was a 6-hour journey to SANDAKAN. I’ve never been to Sandakan in the 25 years of my life, so I was excited to go to a new place…in my own home state! 🙂
For lunch, we stopped by at some Chinese restaurant. The group, not done with the 3-layer-tea, ordered for it. Unfortunately, Teh C Special was not available, so they had to deal with plain ol’ Teh C.
Past 5 in the evening, we reached our destination – Sandakan church.
We had only little time to get ready (had to wait for the pastor for a long while because he had the key and he wasn’t there). But we managed to be on time and we performed.
Over here, I had to speak Malay too (nobody was there to translate for me). Uhm, no my Malay wasn’t polish yet…although certain phrases like “Lagu seterusnya bertajuk…” (the next song is entitled…) were slowly coming back.
This was the church also where I introduced myself as Pegawai Komunikasi (in direct translation, it means ‘Communications officer’). If you speak Malay, you would laugh at the Malay title BECAUSE ‘Pegawai’
connotates I’m sort of a government officer…like a police officer.
The next morning, Julie and I woke up early and had a morning excursion with one mission – to go downtown and find a kedai kopi (restaurant) to bring the group for breakfast.
After a wrong turn (saw a roundabout, a highway and more trees) and a 911 call to our friend from the area, we took a right instead from the church, and about 15 minutes later, we were sort-of in town. We saw a Chinese restaurant, took a right in, pass a couple of restaurants, and finally stopped at this Malay restaurant.
The menu looked promising,
and another factor why we decided to bring the group here was because of the AVOCADO SHAKE.
So we went back, gathered the group, and came back to this restaurant.
Oh man look at the kuay teow basah above. Just look at the egg gravy. This is Rae’s (it’s supposed to be a vegetarian dish).
And look at mine:
Haiyah, it was so dissappointing! For a kuay teow basah dish, what’s really important is the kuah/gravy itself. There should be egg straining in the gravy (similar like the previous dish). So I REALLY did not enjoy my noodles. Not only was the gravy all dead wrong, it was quite bland. Eurghh, so dissappointing! *Don’t worry Adventist friends, I took out the prawns.
Anyway after food, we went back to the church, packed our stuff to our van, and travelled to our next destination – ULU DUSUN.
Ulu Dusun is one of the top memorable places we’ve had in our trip.
Way before the trip started, we knew there were places where we would literally sleep on the floor. Ulu Dusun was one of those places and the group was prepared to use the sleeping bags that was solicited by a kind friend earlier in the trip. However a call in the morning by the district pastor completely surprised me:
“…we have changed your place of stay. Instead of the church, we are putting you in a resort nearby…”
Frankly speaking, I was a tad doubtful. Resort? The last thing I wanted to do was raise the expectations of my members, and later be dissappointed by it (and thus, more complaints about what IS a resort, etc). Julie knew, so both of us kept quiet during our journey to Ulu Dusun.
And when we arrived at JS Riadah Resort, the group was completely taken surprised.
It was an actual resort. Sure, not like the kind with a swimming pool, but it has comfortable rooms with private bathrooms is air-conditioned. And a TV. And a restaurant conveniently located right outside of our rooms. It was more than perfect!
I found out later from Julie that the church sponsored our stay at the resort. I went, What? A similar experience we had in our marketing trip was in 2007 when someone mysteriously sponsored our classy guestrooms at the Union in Singapore.
Again, I was completely humbled by human generosity again. The church is apparently very excited about us coming and they wanted us to be comfortable. Wow. Julie and I said our thanks to the pastor and told the rest about what just happened. They were also humbled too.
With great hospitality we’ve received, we were more than ready to visit the church whom have reached out to us even before seeing us.
See how overexcited I am? 🙂 If you look at the pictures from the previous blog entries, you can actually trace a progression of my facial expression. The trip was definitely getting better, less stress :).
There were also church members who traveled about 50 kms to hear us sing. Unfortunately, they came late, only to arrived at our second last song.
When we knew about this, I immediately rounded up the members, and we sung them an acapella upbeat number in the potluck hall.
They were delighted! To see their reactions – we probably wouldn’t mind continuing singing. This was also the church who prepared two big combined tables, JUST FOR US. We were completely blown away!
Ulu Dusun not only redeemed the title ‘resort’ – they were living testaments on human generosity. Bless their hearts.
The entry on Ulu Dusun is incomplete without mentioning the awesomelicious MEE GORENG MAMAK. Oh it was SO GOOD! If you ever go to JS Riadah, do me a favor and try Mee Goreng Mamak. It’s seriously so delicious!
Our next stop was Telupid. It was raining this time, so by the time we got out of the van to get into our place, it was muddy and wet. Some of them were tired and managed to catch some eye rest.
The place where we stayed to the church where we were performing was about 15 minutes. We got there on time and began the program. The audience absolutely loved Dalam Yesus, a Malay song. Imagine when I said:
“…so we’ve sung a Malay song, a Thai song, English songs…what do you think is the next language we are going to sing in?”
“Dusun? Okay we try ah.”
They were very excited and sang Mulong Pia along with us. If you want to grab the locals’ attention, I completely recommend finding and learning a song in their language! It was absolutely a joy to sing in my supposedly-mother tongue and seeing the smiles on congregation’s face. 🙂
This was also the church where Julie and I slept on the floor. Luckily we had a mat and sleeping bags to sleep on!
Something exciting also happened that night. It was Matthew’s birthday on Saturday, so we tried to stay up until midnight to give him a birthday shower – literally. But we were getting sleepy so we decided to make it an hour earlier. Jun managed to get Matthew to be outside of the house to see the “Milky Way” (we can’t believe he actually fall for it!), while the rest of us were already set with our mineral water bottles and talcum powder (that’s me, that’s me!). The second he stood out, he was showered and Ivonne chased Matthew on the compound with her water bottle. Hahahaha it was a funny sight! We tried our best to control our laughter and noise movements (the pastor’s house was right next to us!) – we even sung Happy Birthday at the level of a whisper. Here’s a picture to commemorate the event:
The next morning, we traveled another 2 hours to Ranau. On our way to Ranau, we were blessed to see this beautiful view:
Hello, Mount Kinabalu!
At Ranau, we had to make readjustments to our program on the spot. Unlike our previous experience in Sarawak, this time we were more prepared. And I was less frantic compared the first time we were presented with sudden last-minute changes.
I found out later after the trip that it is actually expected to be suddenly given the ‘opportunity’ to give a sermon, a talk, a this and a that. It’s NORMAL. Even though this is not my first trip, I did not remember this norm AT ALL. Perhaps maybe before I was just a participant (not the organizer) and we have faculty with us, so perhaps THEY took care of the sermon, etc. Anyway, I’ve learn BIG from this – whenever you visit a church, it is normal and expected that you are prepared to give a talk. So the best way is to prepare BEFOREHAND…a sermonette, a devotion, etc.
A good lesson to indeed.
After Ranau, we continued another 2 hours journey, which is our last destination – Tamparuli!
While waiting for pastor for a ride to another guestroom.
Tamparuli is the district where Sabah Mission is located and where Sabah Adventist Secondary School (SASS), one of our two Adventist schools, is situated. This is also Julie, Daron, and Lorena’s school. Aww. 🙂
This is the Pioneer Memorial Church, the church where we performed.
After potluck, with the help of Julie and Nathan (and joined by my family and Lorena), we brought the whole group to Secret Recipe, Warisan Square in KK. My sister helped to reserved the second floor for the whole group (plis ok plis!). It was Matthew’s birthday, so we wanted to make it extra special. It was so special that he didn’t know a birthday cake has already been prepared with his name on it.
Deanna’s favorite chocolate mud cake from Secret Recipe.
Another surprise was that my name and Julie’s were also written on the cake (we’re April babies!) too. Awww. 🙂 It’s nice to be surprised once in a while (I still prefer being the organizer behind the scene…hihihih).
At that point, I was truly enjoying myself in the trip. I had good company and I had a great experience. What more could a girl ask for? 🙂
Thankfully, I was able to go home that night and spend a few hours with my family. We had an early flight the next morning, so before entering the departure hall, we managed to take a group photo.
This entry has over 30 photos! So I’m writing my overall reflection the next blog entry.