Friday, August 19, 2005

Pisang goreng and diesel prices


The Kudat Express ready to set off at the appointed time, Kudat, Sabah, 2005.

I never expected to be back a day earlier from my scheduled trip, a combination of factors in the end made it possible though in the end. The journey to Kudat was as usual again, catch an Unser transport from Kota Kinabalu and be driven all the way to Kudat. I had my trusty MP3 Player with loaded songs to keep me company along the way and a thick book to last me for the next few days. Not an eventful journey, slept and awoke a few times and before I know it I found myself in Kudat.

There were still a few hours left before the ferry arrived from Banggi Island and thus I had lunch at my usual place, Kentucky Fried Chicken near the shop houses by the marketplace. Even after having my fill it was 2 hours away from departure and walking to the ferry terminal I had to find shade and drinks to quench my thirst as a result of the scorching heat. Not too much has changed here, things are as usual besides a small troupe of carnival being set up near town, all I can see from the outside was a modest Ferris wheel that stood tall among the tents. People were mostly congregating at the coffee shops with iced drinks else sheltering at the various billard halls or arcades that are so prevalent here, outside under the sun, there was nary a soul addled enough to trudge through the oppresive heat.

I like visiting small towns; somehow people here are often friendlier and more welcoming. I sat down and ordered a teh-oh-ping for starters and when it came, the serving maid laid down a plate of pisang goring (banana fritters) along with it and said it was on the house with the drink. So though it was only a few pieces, the gesture was a nice one really appreciated by me. The single glass of iced beverage wasn’t enough for my parched throat, I went ahead and ordered another drink and thus she came with a can of Coca Cola, and yet another plate of freebies, I’m starting to like this place, got to remember the restaurant’s name for the next visit. Beside me is the trawler jetty where the smell of fresh fish waft through the air as they are sorted and loaded onto trucks heading for other parts of Sabah with their bounty.

Soon it was 3 p.m. and the ferry was finally seen. Stepping into the place and putting down my luggage, I decided to go to my usual first class seating (first class in this sense was that the seats are individually divided and upholstered in plush covers instead of the cracked plastic 3 in a row seating of economy class, plus the tv and air-conditioning is just right in front). The next thing I know I was boiling in the place, the captain had turned off the air-conditioning to safe costs as fuel prices are up, so it was sweltering inside, going outside was no better so I decided the shade was better, even though it felt like a sauna within.

Next I saw a notice posted in front, it stated that due to increase in diesel prices, the fare would be increased accordingly from RM18 to RM23 for a first class seat and from RM15 to RM18 for economy class, there goes my budget allowance. True enough on this journey, where in the past seating were usually full of villagers back from shopping in Kudat packing the economy seats yet today there could only be seen 4 to 5 heads and none in the front. I looked outside at the wooden boats and people were cramped on the deck to the brim, taking advantage of the lower costs, sacrificing a few extra hours of transit. Thus I headed off to Banggi once again…



fishtail said...

Gee, I love visiting small towns do, and often do so when I go on road trips. Rub shoulders with the masses, visit the street markets, etc.

Kervin said...

fishtail: I'm in concurrence with you, small towns have their own character and pace, very different from cities like KL, you find the most interesting things walking about and observing.