Till we return, Malaysi

My first impressions of Malaysia, last year when we were headed up Malacca Straights to Thailand, were not heart warming. We saw mass development and the signs of economic progress, the historic towns and of course the beautiful Lankawi but the country as a whole did not grab me. Our trip around the Malaysian part of Borneo improved the picture and I loved Kota Kinabalu. KK has a strong economy and enough expats to make it home like. Once we left KK and went to the south side of Borneo we left all contact with the western world. Sandakan had some tourist attractions but mostly a functioning Malaysian town. Mabul is an oasis of international traffic for the diving.

Another thing that had a strange effect on me is that we did not see another cruising boat from KK to Sandakan, one yacht there and no others until a British yacht dropped anchor next to us in Tawau two days ago. This is the longest time I have gone without the company of other cruisers.

I spoke ill of Tawau on the first trip there, not an overtly friendly place even at they acht club. On the second visit I had no reason to change my impression at first. After a while, learning some cool places to go and getting to know a few folks at the yacht club I warmed up to the place. We found an excellent dining area full of outdoor seafood restaurants. Eating out took on a much more positive tone.

The Olympic Games have brought strange people together for centuries, it did so in Tawau. I took an interest in learning about the Malaysian teams and watched the eventsin the yacht club. This soon brought until then distant people close. On the big night for Malaysia we met Mr. Chang, the yacht club manager as we all watched. The event we badminton and Malaysia/China were competing for the gold.Malaysia had won no medals to this point and this would have been their firstgold in 55 years. The Malay guy took the first set, lost the second and in a closely fought game lost the third and the gold by two points in overtime. The disappointment ran into the next day as everyone was talking about the game.

So it was our last days there that gave Tawau a place in my heart, it took a while and it was subtle but it was there.