Tawau is a coastal town on the south-east coast of Sabah. There are a mixture of migrants from Indonesia, majority Bugis. Despite sounding like some backward state(sorry for the pun), we visited Semporna with its famous floating restaurant, pearls and fishing wharf. It is a gateway to the numerous islands, in particular Sipadan island. We were cautioned against going for safety reasons unless we get a tour guide.Aside from that, we visited their Palong houses,wooden stilt houses on water at Tanjung Batu(the name was derived from the hills with rockfalls). It has made a Chinese man into a millionaire. The hills are still standing.
Many families have been living there for years. Despite their “unhealthy way” of doing business, most of the houses are well-maintained and furnished and the people live peacefully despite many who are migrants, having made their home here years ago.
On our way back from Tg. Batu, we enjoy the breeze of the sea, with a fantastic view of the Perairaan Toulson, an entry & exit point for those from Indonesia which is about 10 minutes drive from Tawau town.
Our hosts feted us with their local specialties, namely soto(chicken soup served with nasi impit, chicken meat, fried peanuts, cutlet and coriander) and gado-gado, a mixture of blanched & fresh vegetables, eaten with sate sauce.
Tawau town boasts of the famous Central market where there are fresh seafood and assortments of cheap, dried and wet foodstuffs and their Sabah kopi with tongkak asli(not ali). Then there is the famous Sabindo Seafood Court Centre where you can feast your palletes with fresh prawns, sotong, fish…….at very reasonable costs.
One thing is sure. Fresh and cheap seafood. Tawau lives up to its name.