Tanjung Aru’s beach is not the cleanest one you’ll encounter in this lifetime. Locals and foreigners would tell you that if you’re looking for an awesome beach experience, you should ride a jetty and go to one of KK’s many islands. Tanjung Aru? Laughable. Well, not for me. Now let me defend my favorite Sabah beach.
While you would see cars coming in and people swimming, I think what they are really after is the vibrancy of the area: the social activities, the night life. With a lively bar and some resorts that double as golf clubs or videoke bars, there’s too much to observe or experience. The promenade makes up for the so-so brown sand. The muddy water smells a bit, but the kids don’t care. Just some ten minutes of walking from the airport and half of that from my guest house, this beach proved to be very accessible. In fact, I was wondering why I did not go there earlier during my stay. Perhaps, this is also the reason why people tend to frequent this beach. Besides, who would shell out 17 ringgit each time for a daily dose of Gaya or Manukan, right? Not to mention that jetties to those islands have some sort of curfew Tanjung Aru is open to everyone who wants to come, and the bar does not close until 2 in the morning.
It was at that bar where I had my first taste of alcohol in a very long time. Out of curiosity I ordered a cocktail called Screwdriver, which is just a stylish nickname for a rather bitter orange juice. Wikipedia would tell you that it is 1/3 alcohol and 2/3 orange drink. In short, Tang na may tama. Whatever, I don’t like it, and I don’t get why people would pay that much for it. Those people would also probably think that me eating Tang Grape Powder straight from the sachet without water is weird, or that Cry Baby and Sour Skittles are inedible. The feeling is mutual. Let’s weird each other out, but to each his own.
What I like about beaches is the calm that it brings you despite the chaos happening everywhere. You have the noisy kids, their equally noisy parents, the smooching couples, the resident weirdos, the stereotypical tourists. I don’t know why, but when I sit on a log by a beach all sounds seem muted, and what’s left are the gentle clap of waves against the shore, accompanied by a magnificent sunset that my eyes would definitely capture if it had a memory card embedded in it. At Tanjung Aru I did nothing but sit on that log, look at the horizon, and reflect on a lot of things. In fact, the creative juices were just flowing in my brain all the time while I was there and I could have written a beautiful short story altogether, but recording my thoughts would have interrupted the free flow of thoughts running around my head, so I decided against it. I promised Tanjung Aru, though, that if and when I write my first novel or screenplay, I’ll write one chapter while relaxing on her shores.
I guess that would explain why in my Budget and Itinerary article for Sabah I had a lot of “Tambay at Tanjung Aru Beach” entries. Beaches make me feel this way, regardless of their cleanliness or appeal (unless they truly stink, which would be plain distracting). But Tanjung Aru was accessible, so very accessible and I would like to thank her for sparing me some space where I could organize my thoughts, clear my head, and just relax. And so I don’t give a rat’s ass if your favorite Sabah beach is in Sipadan, Pulau Tiga, or Manukan. Tanjung Aru is mine.
KOTA KINABALU: 02 - You, Beach!