Wednesday, October 03, 2012


The family outing had been planned months ago but due to various reasons it was postponed several times. However, last Friday, we decided that that was the day. Fortunately, after a week of all-day-long rain the gods smiled on us and we had a fine and dry weekend before the rain poured again on Monday.

What fun we had! I realized only after the event that we mostly went two by two—like the animals in Noah’s ark: Mama and her maid; two brothers with their two wives; two sisters with their two husbands; two young nieces; two female cousins; a niece with two kids; two siblings without their spouses; and the odd ones—one of the cousins took a grandson, and a lone dog completed the company.

The caretaker of the lodge had assumed that we were bringing the whole kampong and so had turned away other visitors for Friday night!

It was our first time at Tambatuon, a lovely place by the river at the end of a long and winding side road between Taginambur and Kiau in Kota Belud. Mount Kinabalu loomed in the distance. Nearer the lodge was Mount Nungkok which Oscar Cook mentioned in Borneo the Stealer of Hearts (1924) as “the smaller hill of Mt. Nunuk, which the Dusuns poetically called Kinabalu’s child”.
Mt. Kinabalu in the centre and Mt. Nungkok on the right.

So at the foot of Kinabalu’s child, with the sound of the rushing river in the background, surrounded by greenery and far, far away from traffic and city crowds, we did what we do best. We cooked, ate and talked.

It was a shame that one sister, although she lives in Kota Belud, was too busy to join the clan. However, Ramon was persuaded to take the bus and ride all the way from Sandakan. (It was hinted that he had been given a serious cuci telinga over the phone by John! Btw, if you’ve read Footprints, John was the brother who was bullied by Ramon when they were kids.)

Blood will always be thicker than water and as kids we learnt through our parents’ words and deeds that family is important. We sometimes argue on minor things (like politics and the choice of beer brands); we talk behind each other’s backs; we have serious disagreements over certain issues but we will always be a close-knit family.

Pretty flowers at the edge of the paddy fields, and river rocks.

Who would have thought that Mama’s stroke could bring us even closer together?

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