It’s a long road…

On Wednesday last week, we decided to drive to Melissa’s school in Selangau to clean up her room prior to her moving in on Sunday before school reopened the following Monday.

Yes, it isn’t very far – about 1½ hours’ drive away but when it is me who is driving, I may stretch it a bit but it would be less than two hours, that’s for sure. I don’t really drive very fast but I am not one slow coach either – just that I am in no hurry so I just cannot understand why there is a need to rush. After all, we do not have multi-laned highways like the ones our counterparts in the same country enjoy in the peninsula – here, we have one lane going and one lane coming back…

To Selangau 1

…and traffic can be pretty heavy sometimes so overtaking may not be all that easy…and if it is not your lucky day and there are people working on the road along the way…

To Selangau 2

…you will probably be delayed a bit. That is why it is better to plan ahead, start early and give yourself lots of time to get to your destination and you will not have to be rushing like a lunatic on a one-way ticket to Hell! Well, that is the impression that I get looking at some of those people on the road and honestly, it’s no wonder at all that accidents happen…and fatal ones, at that.

Get it into your heads, guys – you’re no hell-raiser, no F1 driver…just another road user like me and everybody else and if you see it fitting to put your lives at risk, just make sure that you do not drag everybody else down with you. If I am going 80-90 kmph (that’s the speed limit here) and you can overtake me and disappear from view within a split second, I can well imagine how fast you’re going, my friend.

On my part, usually, when I see people tailing me, the moment I see that the road in front is clear, I would signal and move as far left as possible to make it easy for the fella to overtake. I’m in no hurry…so after you, if you please. I do not have a problem with that, not at all.  But unfortunately, there are some very slow vehicles especially some old jaunty jalopies that have seen better days, looking like they are about to fall apart any instant now…or those overloaded trucks or lorries that seem to be groaning at the weight of the things they are carrying and the sad thing is they will just plod on right in the middle of the road, never mind that there is already a long queue of cars trailing behind them – it’s their great-grandfather’s road and there is no way they are going to let anybody overtake them!!!

My dear friend, Mandy, once went to Selangau on a working trip and she can tell you that it is generally one hell of a roller coaster ride and the condition of the road isn’t really cut out for fast driving. Sure, there are some nice bits and pieces along the way, few and far between…

To Selangau 3

…but most of the time, the road reminds me of Swiss cheese – full of holes…or a patchwork quilt where they have filled those potholes instead of resurfacing the whole thing, making it one hell of a bumpy ride so one would have no choice but to go a little bit slow over such stretches. Perhaps I am not that well-seasoned so I do not know how to manoeuvre around to avoid all those without having to slow down, I wouldn’t know.

You will drive past lots of longhouses – some modern, looking quite pleasant, really…while there are others for which time seems to have stood still. I would think these would be more authentic, very much more worth a visit than the nice-looking ones. Past the small Selangau town, you will come to this place where the Miri/Bintulu-Sibu buses would stop…

To Selangau 4

…for the passengers to go for their tea and pee-breaks. They’re nowhere near those very nice rest areas along the highways in West Malaysia , of course.

Then you will go past the Selangau police station…

To Selangau 5

…and the klinik kesihatan (health clinic)…

To Selangau 6

…and the junction to Mukah and when you see this milestone…

To Selangau 7

you will know that you are 122 km to Bintulu (over 90 km from Sibu) and you have reached the school – there, you can see the red roofs behind the row of banana trees.

They are still waiting for the green light from the authorities concerned (After three years already, mind you!) to move into the “new” teachers’ quarters…

…so in the meantime, Melissa has to stay in a room in one of the old wooden ones…

To Selangau 8

Of course, they’re not in very good shape since obviously, nobody has bothered to maintain them properly. I can guess how difficult it is to get the school to do that (and they in turn will need to pass the buck to some other department) plus they may have other “better” things to do with the allocation that they get…but if I were staying in one of these and knowing that I would need to stay here for a while, I would do something about keeping the place in good shape and looking more presentable – no need to depend on others and wait till kingdom come before anything happens.

Actually, does it really matter one bit that you will not be staying there forever and others will move in after you…and reap the harvest of all your effort? I have only one word for the likes of this – SELFISH…and perhaps, irresponsible, not very innovative, couldn’t-care-less and everything negative, all rolled into one! Gee! If this is the kind of person you are, I can imagine what kind of teacher you will make! This is what is MOST important – the simple basics in life – things our parents (mothers) taught us before we went to school…and we need to educate ourselves in these matters first before anything else. And never mind what philisophy, what blueprint, what syllabus you have, what experts you spend a fortune to rope in from abroad to assist, if this is the mentality of the educators concerned, it is really very easy to see the direction things are going.

Still, despite the not-very-pleasant condition of the quarters, I would think it is really a very nice place to live. One can just sit back and relax and enjoy the peace and quiet all around, the clean fresh air, the soothing green grass and forests and the clear, blue sky…

To Selangau 9

…and one can plant some vegetables in the vicinity of one’s house…

To Selangau 10

…like these terung Dayak (Dayak brinjal), for instance…

To Selangau 11

…or even some pineapples, if one so desires…

To Selangau 12

These cangkuk manis certainly look a bit too old already…

To Selangau 13

…but one can always replant and get a steady supply of free, pesticide and whatever chemical-free vegetables right outside one’s door.

It was around 3.00 p.m. already when we decided to call it a day. We stopped by the market in Selangau and I saw some Iban ladies selling this – with a swarm of flies hovering over the meat. I bought a bit to bring home to cook soup , our traditional way…

Wild boar soup

…to see if it was any good and it was. Maybe I would buy more next time. In case anyone’s wondering, I was told that if there are a lot of flies, it is good and you can just go ahead and buy – just wash clean or if you are fanatical about the cleanliness, trim away the outer layers before cooking. If there are no flies, the people must have used some chemicals to kill the animal or to prevent the meat from going bad, so much so that not even those common houseflies would bother going near.

All in all, I would think that was a rather fruitful and rewarding trip, indeed…and after what we managed to get done, we certainly hope Melissa will find it a little bit more comfortable staying there in the days ahead.

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

39 thoughts on “It’s a long road…”

  1. That is why it is better to plan ahead, start early and give yourself lots of time to get to your destination and you will not have to be rushing like a lunatic on a one-way ticket to Hell…..I like this phrase…But many never realised that….

    Sad, real sad… Everyone will wait till the last minute and weave through the jams, thinking that they’re the world’s best drivers. Well, if this post can get one to change from that kind of attitude towards long-distance driving, that is at least something – better than nothing.

  2. So does Melissa like the place?

    She’s ok with it – all the years at the God forsaken teacher-training institute in Sg Petani has prepared her well for this. At least she can cook her own food in the quarters which was not allowed in the institute’s hostel.

    1. Oh Melissa was from teacher institute @ SP?

      Long time ago during my Uni life at UUM. I can’t remember why we were there… But I know I’ve been there once.

      She was on a government scholarship twinning programme with New Zealand – 2 years in Wellington and 2 years in SP plus 1 and half years Foundation, i.e. 3 and half years there altogether – and after all that time, this is actually pretty good. You were in UUM? Not much better there, I hear?

  3. So much thoughts were put into this blog post Arthur. I enjoyed reading it with a big 🙂
    Hmmm…my first time to hear about the flies on meat concept :O
    All the best for your daughter’s future!

    I did not know at first until somebody in the business told me. The previous trip, I saw a mountain of the meat left by the pavement at the back of a restaurant there – not a single fly!!! I guess that would be the meat cooked and served to customers at that restaurant – and you can bet I am never ever going to eat there, thank you very much!!! Thanks for your good wishes.

  4. wow at the teacher’s quarters… :/

    The new one? Or the old one? Wouldn’t make much of a difference, I tell you. Will be the same after a while. Melissa’s coursemate – the one posted to a school here – he was told to go and rent a room outside as the nice-looking teachers’ flats are all in pretty bad shape as the previous occupants did not take good care of them. Sad…really really sad – this kind of attitude among young people/teachers these days.

  5. Gosh! The skies are awesomely blue!

    Not so in KL, with all the pollution, haze and what not, eh? The gradual poisoning and killing of the people and no one seems to care…

  6. The road to Selangau never been smooth since I was staying in Mukah. Let me recall… oh my.. it was almost 20 years. I still remember there were old wooden shoplots in Selangau. From the picture above, Selangau has improved a lot. All the best to your daughter. I’m sure she will manage to adapt living in Selangau.

    Yes, the buses to Mukah or Bintulu would stop by those wooden shophouses…and you could enter anyone of them as you like to pee. I did once – and I felt quite uncomfortable going into some stranger’s house to ease myself… Ya, Selangau is a whole lot nicer now and to think that those people simply refused to budge from those wooden shophouses for years and years – guess it’s the same even till today when people call out for change – what they mean is others should change, they themselves are actually resistant to it and are fixed in their ways.

  7. It is sad to see “our people’s” mentality.. from the road to the house and many other stuff that comes naturally to other people/nations. As the saying goes, we need 7 generations to get things changed but for us I wonder when and which generation is ever going to make that first move. Very sad indeed!
    I’m very surprised that Sarawak is a very rich state with their logging and oil and yet not much is being done. The roads are pretty bad… from your pictures la. Anyway, very nice post today, Arthur.

    That’s why it has always been a thorn in the flesh – that all our oil royalties are used to develop the peninsula. 3 or 4 lanes – would it be asking too much to just spare us one of those lanes? Logging, of course, is off the list now – controlled…and they have vested interests in other 3rd World countries, not so much here anymore. I guess not the present generation – they are more engrossed in their ipads & online games and what not to be anything but house proud…or to have any interest in gardening and the like.

  8. This post brings back memories of me moving into a residential school in Terengganu for my matriculation. The school was beside the beach so we get a nice cool breeze at night. Living conditions were OK, not luxurious for sure but decent enough. That meat that you bought, it is boiled and then sold? Or is it a soup dish by itself? I am quite curious 🙂

    No, you buy it fresh from the market. I had to cook it myself. In the restaurants, they kill it by frying it with lots of ginger, lengkuas, serai, chili and drown it in soy sauce….so much so that you cannot taste the meat at all – could have been beef or venison or anything – no difference at all.

    In my family, we cut the meat into bite-size chunks and cook over a small fire/low heat…till the fat has melted and all the juices have come out of the meat (the fragrance would have filled the whole house by then) – then, pour in hot boiling water to make the soup, add salt and msg according to taste. This way, we can enjoy the meat and the rich fragrant soup.

    But I hear the wild boar in West Malaysia – not the same, probably due to the diet…and is only good for cooking curry. We never cook it that way here.

  9. Nice post today. Love the green scenery of this little town. Can just imagine breathing in the fresh morning air , feel the quiet, peaceful surroundings and hear the sounds of chirpy chirpy birds. The new teachers’ quarters looks nice but the wooden ones looks so run down. Wow, love the terung dayak.

    Yes, pity the wooden ones – they could have got them repaired and restored – would be pretty nice places to stay really. Wouldn’t take much of an effort. The trouble with the admin and management at all levels here – they have other “more important things” to deal with.

  10. Looks like a very nice place…but what about entertainment? But at least she gets to go back on every weekend !

    Entertainment? There’s the internet – I guess that’s all the entertainment young people today need with their ipads & smartphones & all – how unexciting their lives can get, really! Tsk! Tsk! Besides, when one starts work, one should get one’s priorities right – there are other things more important in life than entertainment.

  11. See bullets are getting more expensive, so poisons have been used……. So your hypothesis on the flies is a good indicator on the safety of the food. King Arthur, you should have posted the before and after cleaning condition of the quarter. After all that is your primary purpose of the trip.

    We only did her room – did not do much else as there are two other occupants and they may not be too happy that we are invading their territory – we did leave a nice new linoleum on the floor of the living room though – sure brightens up the place – the old linoleum, so faded…and different colours and designs – all campur… I really wonder how that came about – why they did not buy the same one to cover the floor completely. 😦

  12. … and a very LONG post too!! hahaha.. no worries, i am sure Melissa is a big girl now and she will be able to take care of herself and enjoy her life there.. she survived in NZ and sure that’s not a problem right?? 🙂

    She survived Sg Petani, Kedah more likely!!! What do you mean she survived NZ? Those were two wonderful years there – own apartment with kitchenette, attached toilet and bathroom – electric cooker, microwave…everything. It was so nice there compared to here – and before she left, there was a stringent check – everything must be clean, functioning properly and so on before they release the occupant. Dunno why they cannot implement that here e.g. in the uni and college hostels – the students simply MUST learn some responsibility for their own things and other people’s things that they are given to use. They’re really a disgrace, I would say…those young undergrads today.

  13. Here’s to Melissa’s new journey in life! 😀

    I hope she gets to move into the new quarters soon….

    Thanks. Well, if the attitude is the same, the new ones will be like the old ones very soon, not much better, that’s for sure.

  14. Hmmm..although the wooden house looks very old, overall the place is very serene surrounded by lush of green. Nice.

    The wooden houses actually look quite nice – dunno why they cannot repair and renovate to make them look more presentable.

  15. Once she’s more confident driving to and fro, maybe she can make a trip back mid week especially if there’s a public holiday. The teachers’ quarters looks very run down. Hope Melissa has a less stressful time there. More time to prepare lesson plans with no entertainment around.

    Nothing much to prepare really – pupils are illiterate or near illiterate…and retention of what is taught and learnt is basically nil. Good enough to teach them very basic simple stuff and keep drilling…and hopefully a bit will stick.

  16. Bro, you were snapping pictures and driving at the same time?!!

    I love the clear blue sky in the photos…

    I’m curious about the meat that you bought too… Read your reply to Phong Hong that you bought them fresh… I’m confused now… the photo showed boiled cooked meat… Was that taken in your kitchen?

    I stopped…or I asked my missus to take – those with the reflections in the glass – she took those! 😦 Yup! Yup! I took the meat home and cooked – you would not want to see it raw, not a very pleasant sight:

  17. The scenery is so green. Love it. Look very peaceful.

    Yes, I would love to live there too…but Melissa only has a room – sharing the quarters with two other ladies. If she had the whole house to herself, I certainly would love to move in.

  18. So during the day’s she’s not teaching, will she be going back?

    Malaysia school, is it from Mon to Fri or ?

    Yup…Monday to Friday, and after lessons on Friday, she’ll get a lift from a colleague to come home…and Sunday, we’ll send her back to the school with the week’s supply of clean water, food, clothes and everything.

  19. Sharing this analysis with your readers and make a lot of sense to me:
    A pilot friend of mine (long haul) told me the plane will be half an hour plus/minus late if headwind and vice versa if tail wind.On the road half an hour usually meant travelling at 120km ph or 80kmph..depending on the distance.Stopping for a smoke=? minutes;having a coffee break=? minutes: going to the loo= ? minutes: taking photos(in your case)= ? minutes;visiting the road side stalls etc….all adds up to plus minus Half an hour. In other words half an hour or slightly longer is nothing. The difference is the speed. Crashing at 120kmph or more or crashing at 80kmph means life or death
    Make a lot of sense to me.

    p/s…get students and parents to gotong royong to have the place cleaned up and painted.

    Ya…I would go at 60-70 but the momentum will push it up to 80-90 at times. Anything beyond that, my speedometer would make some kind of lau hong noise – don’t ask me what that is, I don’t know…so I will have to slow down. I may be old already but I do not intend to join the heavenly choir just yet.

    The students would love to help, I’m sure. That day when they saw us, they came to ask if they could help to carry the things to the house – but we were too early, no one around when we arrived in the morning…and by the time, they came, we had already moved everything to the house. Nice kids. Don’t expect that from town/city kids – no eyes see one!!!

  20. Praying that her housemates are not Ah Hwa and Ah Lang…..who may just decide to fence up the ground floor to rear chicken, ducks or other animals..LOL

    One (Sarawak) Malay and one Iban – Melissa and another guy (my ex-student – twinning Brisbane) are the only two Chinese there…and I think I saw an Indian. No problem rearing livestock if sama-sama kongsi makan. Hehehehehe!!!!

  21. The thing that I hate the most is people walking along the road, it’s so dangerous for them…!!! =[

    Hardly anybody on the road leh? But I know have to watch out for them all the time – if you knock one down, the whole longhouse will appear with their parangs to chop of your head…never mind who’s right and who’s wrong!!!

  22. Swiss cheese? Muahahaha, this is such a good comparison for our roads here.

    Here, you mean? Over your side, your roads all so smooth, so very nice…and so many lanes…not like here – even the ones in the town centre are horrible.

  23. Beautiful greenery. I don’t much like the look of that one lane traffic though.

    Well, we do not have a choice… 😦 Count your blessings! You people over there have it so good, so very lucky!!!!

  24. How nice if Melissa can stay at those new apartment for teachers. It looks cleaner and nicer there.

    Hopefully, soon…but hopefully, she gets good housemates – otherwise, very soon it will be back to Square 1. 😦

  25. nice scenery photos! i haven’t driven out of the city in a very long time (not this year so far), so it’s nice to be reminded of what’s out there 😀

    Come on over – I can take you on a drive to one of these small towns – would be a good experience – a nice change from the hustle and bustle in the city!

  26. Blue sky and green grass..very soothing to the eyes.

    I think you have a big cleaning last week. The wooden house look very run down, pray hard and hope Melissa can move to the new quarters soon! So today is the third day of teaching? So far so good?

    Ok, so far…nothing much seems to be happening. Wednesday already, and day after tomorrow, she’ll be home for the weekend.

  27. I miss driving, tho i have done it in a high way!
    i think it was lovely to drive for that long

    Hmmm…ok when you have nice smooth highways – not the narrow and bumpy ones that we have here.

  28. well, as long as she’s comfortable and happy,
    the look of the place would be okay, tho it would be nice
    for it to be fixed

    Yup, I would second that…100%!

  29. Terung dayakkkkk….oh so this is how the plant looks like…thanks….

    The house looks rundown…well…with Melissa there she will sure brighten up the place soon enough


  30. Very scenic. I totally dislike ppl who drive like maniacs on the rd… I can never understand why they need to rush… if they r in such a rush, then perhaps they shd have woken up earlier. 😛

    Hokkiens say” “Kua khee see….” – rush to their death…literally!!!

  31. So your girl is now working… earning her own pay check… the thought of this makes you feel proud, right? Very proud I am sure… She is a teacher now..following your footsteps 🙂 I am sure you have a lot to share with her… the wooden hostel looks a bit rundown… how about the interior? How long will she need to stay there? Knowing Melissa, she will get along fine and I hope that she can shift to the new hostel soon…

    Ya, the interior is pretty nice now – after we had done a bit here and there to spruce up the place a bit. She’s under what is called “interim posting” – may be temporary, may stay put at the same place – dunno yet…and in the meantime, they get a flat rate pay – RM1,800…no allowances, nothing. 😦

  32. After driving here for such a long time, I feel like traffic moves rather slowly back home (in Kuching), but it is a good change of pace. The highest speed limit in this state (that I have come across) is 70MPH (about 113 KMH) and I sometimes tend to drive it about 100MPH Over (129 KPH) and there are people zooming past me at an unbelievable speed!

    I hope Melissa settles in at her new place, it’s always a pain for a few weeks, but then I am sure she will feel right at “home”. Tell her I wish her the best and she will enjoy these adventures and look back one day and just love/miss it!

    More haste, less speed… Why the rush? The time will come when people would wish that time would slow down, and they had stopped along the way to smell the roses…enjoy all the things they missed. Ya, I guess she’ll be fine – just needs getting used to – the work, the people, the surroundings… I would love it there!

  33. Hopefully the “new” teachers’ quarters will get their CF soon.
    You are such a considerate driver. Unlike some drivers…snailing and hogging the whole lane. Like what you’ve mentioned “it’s their great-grandfather’s road”! 😀

    I dunno why there are this kind of people really… The world would be a much better place without the likes of those.

  34. I have a friend in Selangau and have been there before too. It’s not so bad compared to other “ulu” areas.

    I hope Melissa enjoys here new posting! 🙂

    Ya…it’s pretty good…and a whole lot stressful than teaching in the town.

  35. So, Melissa is off on her first posting? Cool! Psst.. will you then be doing up her new home? Painting and all? Is this free accommodation or does it incur a monthly rental?

    Best wishes, Melissa!

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