Sabah Road Trip Reflections, Part 1 – Food

While we drove to Sandakan, we kept seeing advertisements for KFC’s Sawadee Crunch. Baby Crab insisted that at some point during our trip, we had to go eat it. So that night, we decided that we would eat the Sawadee Crunch.

It’s basically your usual KFC chicken with a very spicy batter. It’s so spicy that if it touches your lips, which are already cracked from spending the night out in a cold Kundasang, it stings. So our challenge was how to eat the chicken without it touching our lips.

Regular chicken wings on the left, and Sawadee Crunch on the right. It’s a normal meal for us, but there are those too poor to afford food like this.

There’s an instructional video somewhere, but it’s too embarrassing to show, unless you want to see chunks of chicken moving around in our mouths.

But the highlight of eating at KFC — as opposed to a night market or night hawker centre in Sandakan where we should have eaten at — is that halfway through our meal, a kid came in to ask for money. Baby Tilapia doesn’t have a habit of giving money to the poor, so he just waved the kid away. But Baby Crab continued to watch the kid as he approached a family.

After letting his wife and children be asked for money for a bit, the man of the table made a decision. He stood up and approach the boy who shrank away in fear. But the man had only kind words for him, something like, “Go and order what you want. I’ll pay for your meal.”

The kid happily ordered the food he wanted — a large box of chicken — which the man paid for, and the boy ran off, knowing that tonight he would not have to go to sleep hungry.

This incident left an impact on Baby Crab. She observed that she should have done the same, when the boy first approached us for money, and she resolved that this was what she was going to do next time.

Her opportunity soon came the next night, when we arrived in Semporna at night. We grabbed some food — nasi lemak and sup tulang — from a street stall.

Nasi lemak and sup tulang. Cheap for us, but affordable to the street kids we met.

Halfway through our meal, a group of 6 street kids came to the row of street stalls. A boy gestured to the food we had and asked if they could have it. They could not speak Malay because they’re Bajau Laut. For some reason, their parents have decided to come to live on land instead of the sea.

They were hungry.

Baby Crab looked at the boy and remembered what happened the previous night at KFC. She stood up and took the boy to the nasi lemak stall. Before she could place an order, the boy ran off and found his group of 6 kids and they all came to Baby Crab for food.

Baby Crab then placed an order for 4 packets of nasi lemak to be shared among the 6 kids. They ran off happily, and Baby Crab sat back down, full and contented not with nasi lemak and sup tulang, but with the knowledge that tonight, 6 kids would not go to sleep hungry.


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