Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 4 on Silversea: Sandakan, Malaysia

So there I was on my balcony onboard the Silver Spirit anchored off Sandakan in Malaysia, working on some stories on my computer, when I realized that I had a BBM signal. I hadn’t had a working signal in two days at sea – I could receive BBMs but couldn’t reply, as the BBM service was via satellite from New York, which I think complicated things slightly. However, now we were in Malaysia so I was getting it directly from Malaysian telecoms and therefore it was a clear signal.


For a change, I decided to initiate the BBMs with J, working in Manila. After all, it was I who was returning to the folds of civilization after two days at sea.

We’d been on emails until yesterday because of the faulty BBM connection and after doing both, I find that BBM was somehow more fun – as well as more portable. It’s convenient and lots more fun to able to add all these smiley faces as well to convey emotions in a way not as concrete in email.


“Hey there,” I BBM-ed J as I sat outside my balcony looking at magazine layouts on my computer. “Hi from Sandakan. It’s my turn to say “I actually have BBM!” But not for long as we’re out to sea again tonight.” Not one to skip a beat – or to miss an opportunity to tease me – he quickly messaged back: “So you can say on your blog that I was peacefully working when suddenly my BB pinged and it was you...”

Which is exactly what I’m doing.

Then he added: “Sabah has great beaches but you need to go around the islands.” Of course, J had been to Sabah. He’d been almost everywhere and there wasn’t a single place I could think of so far that I’d already been to but that he hadn’t, except for the Ukraine. Prior to my cruise, I actually thought I could have bragging rights to Sabah with him, as it just didn’t seem to be the kind of place he’d go to – but, no, he’d been here as well.


We arrived in Sandakan this morning at 8 am after two blissful days at sea when I slept a lot, read a bit, walked around much more than I ever do in Manila, and worked just enough. Sandakan seems a truly sleepy but charming little town in Sabah, so it’s hard to imagine that this was once a bustling center of civilization that once had the greatest concentration of millionaires in the world. People grew rich in Sandakan at the turn of last century because of its timber business.

It was a rainy morning here, so I chucked plans to get on the shuttle and go into town for the morning, in favor of a civilized meal and tea on my balcony, with my feet on the table, the computer on my lap and the iPod speakers faced in my direction. I got lots of work done. And, yes, I was doing the same thing yesterday. I’m even listening to the same song still: “Do It For Love” by Hall & Oates.

There are several tours on offer and all of them look very interesting. But I opted for the three-hour tour of Sandakan’s cultural heritage which will take us to the houses on stilts and to the remnants of colonial times. I hope we get a chance to see some of the downtown as well. This tour starts in half an hour and then I’ve booked a spa treatment and then a barbecue dinner on deck with some friends. So more updates later!

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