Sunday, January 17, 2010

Part 1: Tranquil and Pristine Tanjung Datu

(This post was first written for in 2004. Time has passed, and what was true then may no longer be so. For example, the bridge across the Kayan River in Lundu has now been completed. The bus station in front of Kuching General Post Office is also no longer there. So read this as a travelogue from a time past. Some amendments have also been made.)

I first read about Tanjung Datu and the home-stay programme at Kampung Teluk Melano in a local newspaper last year. The article excited me because it spoke of the clean and beautiful beach at Tanjung Datu. It certainly sounded like paradise. However, there was scant information on how to get there and any thought of visiting these places quickly evaporated.

About two weeks prior to this year's Gawai Dayak holidays, I thought of walking down memory lane to Sematan Beach, a place I first visited when I was a secondary school student in Kuching. It was there that I saw the sea and waves the first time! You see, I was from Bintangor, a place far removed from the sea. It has been many years since then. In my search for travelling information to Sematan, I discovered beautiful descriptions of Tanjung Datu and Telok Melano again. So, I decided to go there, passing through Kuching, Lundu and Sematan along the way from Sibu.

How beautiful is Tanjung Datu? I have been to Manukan, Mamutik and Sapi, three out of the five islands that made up the beautiful and famous Tunku Abdul Rahman Park of Sabah. It is as beautiful as Manukan, the best of the five. Probably better. Unlike Manukan which has only a short stretch of beach, the beach of Tanjung Datu is so long, so clean, so soft to tread on, and there are beautiful granite boulders lying on the beach and in the water, making a picturesque scenery. The beaches slope gently into the clean calm South China Sea. Anybody will be tempted to jump and frolic in the crystal clear turquoise green water. No kidding. I did that. Leave your footprint in the beautiful golden sand to announce your presence.

Tanjung Datu is a place where you can truly be yourselves, to let your hair down without anybody watching you. It is an extremely quiet and lonely place and you have almost the whole place to yourselves to play in. The only other human beings are a handful of employees of Sarawak Forestry Corporation and they are based at the Park HQ on one end of the beach only. Walk to the other end of the beach and you will be all alone. There will not be anybody watching you, no tourists, nobody at all. Play as you like, scream and shout as you like, jump in and out of the water, do anything you like, and be children again. Have fun of your life. Let go of all the stress from work and you will feel so good. You will feel carefree and happy, and life has indeed a meaning again. God has given this place to you to enjoy. A tranquil and pristine land. Isn't that paradise?

Being there would also give you the supreme right to brag to your friends that you have been to land's end of Sarawak. Not many Sarawakian have done so and you could be one of them.

Tanjung Datu is in fact Sarawak's latest and smallest National Park. Once you have enough of the beaches and sea, you can go trekking. According to Sarawak, there are three existing trails. The first is Telok Melano - Telok Upas - Tanjung Datu HQ Trail. This 1½-3hr trail starts at the village of Telok Melano and ends at the Park HQ. The second is the Tanjung Antu Laut Trail. This 1-2 hour loop trail is mostly quite flat, starting at the Park HQ, and ending at Tanjung Antu Laut. The third is Viewpoint Trail. This is a short but steep 15minute walk to a viewpoint built on the southern arm of the bay at the park HQ.

According to some sources, Tanjung also has a small beautiful coral formation off the beach. This unexplored site is ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling. However, I do not know where the location is exactly. Tanjung Datu is also one of the few places where turtles come to lay their eggs.

While in paradise, do not lost touch with time. You still have to return to Telok Melano. There is no accommodation for tourists at Tanjung Datu. No place to eat and drink. Just nature and you.

(Map of Tanjung Datu National Park, Western Tip of Borneo)

(The sea between Kampung Telok Melano, a coastal Malay village and Tanjung Datu National Park)

(The beach at Tanjung Datu National Park, Sarawak)

(Turtle's Nest)

(The space in front of the National Park Office)

(The Eastern Shore of Tanjung Datu National Park Beach)

(The best and cleanest beach in Sarawak is here at Tanjung Datu National Park)

(You don't see a soul here. That's tranquility)

(The Western Shore of Tanjung Datu National Park Beach)

(The constant drizzle compelled me to leave the beautiful beach early. I regretted that decision later)

(Approaching Kampung Telok Melano, where we put up for the night)

I am thinking of going back to Tanjung Datu again. I have not enjoyed the tranquility enough. I should have come back again the next morning after having spent one short afternoon there a day earlier. There were many other beautiful spots which I did not go because of rain. What luck! I have yet to explore the western end of the shore, to the furthest point where there are so many granite boulders along the shore. I have not gone to Teluk Upas, a beautiful short strip of white sandy beaches just a short distance from Tanjung Datu. According to our boatmen, most tourists go swimming and snorkelling there. It is accessible on foot from Tanjung Datu. I also have not gone on the trails yet. There is still so much more to discover and enjoy.

Perhentian Trip Package

A regular reader and avid traveller (, Jam, asked in a comment how much it cost me for the package to Perhentian and Redang Islands. If he was asking, I believe, others would be asking too. Well, here is the answer.

(The quotation. Click to enlarge)

(The packaged itinerary. Click to enlarge)

(The deposit. Click to enlarge)

The owner of Fauna Holiday Sdn. Bhd. tour agency, Ong Seng Yeow, is a family friend of my Kota Bharu friend. Ong was recommended to us by my friend, who called him Ah Yeow. He has an older sister who was a classmate of my friend, hence the relationship. He can be trusted.

Although a Kelantanese, Ah Yeow operated from Kuala Besut in Terengganu, from a coffee shop called Restoran Makanan Laut Lucky which my friend said was owned by him, although Ah Yeow said it was a relative's coffee shop. The sister has a shop on the same lane.

(Ah Yeow in blue t-shirts collecting the balance of our payments in his coffee shop)

(Another scene inside the coffeeshop)

You can visit Fauna Holiday Sdn. Bhd. website for a package very similar to ours here Our package was customised.

In dealing with Ah Yeow, do not use the email stated on his website. He will tell you that his computer is down, etc. When we were there, I did not see any computer in the coffee shop. Call him on his handphone. A fax will be handy for the correspondence. He is the Managing Director, Office Manager, Account Clerk and Despatch Boy all rolled into one. He has no assistant to deal with the "email" at the "office" in the coffee shop, although he has a driver cum porter in Kuala Besut and tourist guides based at the chalets where he has business relations. The only time he would be at the Terminal Pelancongan in Kuala Besut was when he sent his clients off at the jetty or when he received them there.

(Ah Yeow leading the way to the jetty from his coffee shop)

If you want a good guide, ask Ah Yeow for Annuar. Annuar was based at New Cocohut Chalet & Restaurant when we were there.

(Annuar, the friendly and helpful guide in the middle)

(Annuar in a group photo with us before our departure from Perhentian Island)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kisah Soh Chin Aun & R. Arumugam (Mendiang)

I just came across this joke. It is written in Malay.

Cerita ini berlaku masa tahun 70-an, masa tu Malaysia tengah hebat dengan bolasepak.

Soh Chin Aun & Arumugam turut serta pergi ke Jepun kerana ada jemputan pertandingan club-club Asia. Malaysia adalah salah satu pasukan yang bertanding.

Bila tiba waktu breakfast, mereka ni nak makan telur. Tapi masalah tak boleh nak berkomunikasi. Oleh kerana dah habis ikhtiar, Soh Chin Aun dapat idea. Dia panggil waiter masuk ke toilet, buka seluar dan tunjuk telurnya. Hait jepun tu cakap.

Arumugam pun buat benda yang sama, tunjuk telurnya.

Bila breakfast sampai, Arumugam pun mula makan. Tiba-tiba dia merungut. "Shit why the egg is so salty?".

Oleh kerana dah bising satu restoren, maka Manager pun datang dengan waiter tadi. Tanya punya tanya, dan Manager pun explain balik pada Arumugam. Translationnya lebih kurang begini :-

"Tadi awak tunjuk telur hitam, so dapatlah telur masin".