Breaking it down

on Wednesday, 2 June 2010
How is Sabah?

That's the typical question that they ask me when I get back to Ipoh. I don't really know how to answer the question because there are many aspects of the place (which I assume that they're asking about my teaching career here as well) that are too different to be chunked into one definitive answer.

Being the typical cynic, I always give an answer which doesn't directly answer the question but in turn questions back the person asking the question. I know who you are and I'm sorry. I don't mean to evade the question. I'll try to break down the answers here as much as possible.

Your typical semi-rural area. Not really a down-and-out place but just quiet enough to make you want to get out of it occasionally to let loose. The place has nothing interesting besides nature sites which you have to drive for a couple of hours to reach. Small town, definitely livable and comfortable if you don't plan to live in your typical 'terrace house' or don't plan to do anything but play sports all day (sports facilities that I go to are all free of charge: tennis, badminton, volleyball, soccer. Futsal is not free by the way). My place is a really low populated area which means you can get anywhere comfortably with a bike. Also, being a small place, everyone knows everyone. Even if you don't know their names, you know their designated positions in the area:
1. The Electrician
2. The Rich dude.
3. The Pirate
4. The teachers/PPD fellas
5. The Restaurant Fella
6. The Boss
7. The Samseng
8. The Nice Aunty
9. The Nice Uncle.

The list goes on, but you get the idea. Living there is OK I guess, if you're the kinda guy that can tolerate lesser standards and don't mind having NO entertainment besides sports and what you can get in your own home, Kinabatangan is a fine place to be. In fact, being the new guy there, everyone gets a little bit excited about you. Really.

Nothing surprising. Nothing in the system can catch you off guard anymore. I'm not surprised by the lack-there-offs or the red-tape that comes with the job. I'm also not surprised by the level of education in the area or the one or two EXCELLENT students you can get  from such a place. In fact, I think the only thing that surprises me is the size of the school I'm working at vis a vis the size of the place surrounding it. Generally, the people there (colleagues and staffs) are very nice people. There are of course a select few that you wish you could burn alive but nothing surprising. I'm sure you find these sort of bums wherever you land in. The teaching aspect... hmmm... it's kinda challenging because I feel my TESL course is a little bit irrelevant most of the time. I feel that in most of the classes, a TEFL student would really feel comfortable because that's what it is most of the time... foreign.
But... don't let that get into your head. Being a teacher is challenging regardless of the type of challenges you're facing. You'll just trade off one for another so might as well be happy with what you are given. Just remember that whatever challenges you face is your problem, not someone else's. Give your kids a break; don't make them your outlet.

I've never been island hopping like this ever! There is not better way to write up about holidaying in Sabah than just giving you the link to my facebook page.!/album.php?aid=182085&id=507101837

A picture paints a thousand words.

You have to experience it. Even the pictures don't justify the beauty that I've witnessed in Mabul and Kapalai. You have to go there and feel it on your skin. Come back, and post your pictures for others to drool at.

My Relationship
Long distance? No? Are we always together? Are there any problems stemming from career starts? I would say that everyday becomes a challenge in terms of having to understand each others' position. We've been having more bickering sessions (most of it coming from me) but I cannot help but think that I've been really lucky to have the best woman in the world. Whatever problems we could have now or would probably face in the coming years, the best thing that could come out from all of that is that...

... we'll be facing them together.

In the words of Robert Frost,

and that has made all the difference.

So, how am I going to answer the question,

"How is Sabah?"

My answer:

"Still feels like the fresh prince,"


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