Evelyn’s home-stay, just south of Kota Kinabalu, was a rambling house, surrounded by overgrown bush and coconut trees, dogs and chickens getting underfoot and oddly, tanks of small terrified looking frogs scattered around the garden. We’d stopped by on our way back from Kinabatangan River, to visit our friend Yves who’d just gotten out of hospital with a severely broken leg. He was spending a week recuperating before flying back to France. The poor guy had fallen off his boat, onto the hard concrete 3 metres below. He may have gotten a softer landing at sea, but at least on land there was someone to rescue him.
We’d been in Borneo for 3 months now, but hadn’t made it further than Kudat at the northern tip. Its a quiet little town where nothing much happens, but it does have a boat yard with a fully operational crane, so Mary Blair got her annual haul out, scrape down and repaint. Its a dirty job but someone’s got to do it… not me, I quite inconsiderately escaped back to Ireland for a month while Fred got to work, expecting it all to be finished by my return. But a man alone with an old boat and a scraper gets ideas in his head and a dirty job turned into a 6 week project. Years of paint layers were scraped back to the bare aluminium and fared to perfection. I didn’t quite escape all the work though, and got back in time to help a very thin Fred complete the last couple of coats.
It felt a little strange to live onboard, dry docked, perched atop concrete blocks, for once completely still. Below lay the muddy yard, and the stink of fish, and a pack of dogs. Our neighbours were mainly wooden fishing trawlers, in for their yearly makeover. Entire extended families, children appearing from every porthole on land for a brief respite from life lived at sea. It wasn’t the fanciest spot we’ve stopped in, the toilet block rivaled the trainspotting loo and was a mecca for every creepy crawly around. The geckos did their best to keep the bug numbers down, but were also a suicidal bunch, ever in need of rescuing from drowning in the sink.
It was, as well, a particularly accident-prone place, with sailors tumbling from their boats, down steps and off bikes, broken limbs abounded. Given my clumsiness, and the encroaching boredom, it was best to perhaps escape for a while, so we left the boat behind and took a little holiday from our holiday.
The Kinabatangan river was a wildlife wonderland, and I’ll post pictures soon. It was on our way back that we passed through Penampang and paid a visit to the convalescing Yves. We’d barely had the chance to inspect his scars before Evelyn, the owner of the B&B, herded us down the road and straight into her neighbour’s wedding. The open barn was packed with the villagers, and food and a band of gong players. No one seemed to mind 2 quite embarrassed foreigners, a foot taller than everyone else, turning up, and thrust plates of food at us, and dragged us onto the dance floor.
One guy had appointed himself official beer enforcer and made rounds of the guests insisting that they down pints of beer every ten minutes or so. It wasn’t so different from an Irish Wedding.
We escaped eventually, but not before Evelyn made us stash a few cans of beer from the drinks table to bring back for Yves. Model wedding guests! This was an audience participation kind of a B&B and Evelyn got us started on making dinner while she ran a few errands. She searched around for a DVD to keep us entertained while chopping veggies, eventually unearthing one from the back of a drawer, and waved goodbye. And so we were left alone with “House of Whips”, which started innocently enough but soon descended into a fine example of 1970s British porn, just in time for the other guests to wander out of their rooms, it was a scramble to dive for the stop button and then hide the evidence.
We left a couple of days later without anymore pornographic incidents, a tree planted in our honour and an invitation to come back and live in Penampang. Evelyn can’t imagine why anyone would want to live anywhere else. She’s already got a wife lined up for Yves!