Location : Kota Tarakan, Kalimantan Utara, Indonesia.
From there we had to catch another taxi which was a short distance to the Malundung wharf for our immigration stamping.
The CIQS office was quite a distance to the ferry and one kind lady on a motorbike offered us a ride but we just let her bring our luggages instead.
The 4hr ride was comfortable as the sea was calm that day. Lots of ‘bagan’ or ‘kelong’ along the way to Tawau which should explain why Tawau is so famous for sea food.
Upon docking at the wharf in Tawau, we had quite a shock. As soon as the doors were opened the ferry was mobbed by purple shirt stevedores yelling, pushing and pulling at our luggages, somewhat insisting we used their services.
Alighting from the ferry, more surprises awaited. The pier was filled with bags, covering most of the floor spaces available that we had to stride over all those obstacles. The local seasoned travelers were running towards the immigration check point. Everything was so chaotic since the ferry doors opened. The place looked more like a refugee camp.
Honestly, it took me a few minutes to settle down and adjust to all the loud commotion which happened so quick and sudden. I could not believe this was happening in Tawau and in my own country. Surely, the Sabah government could make things more civilized. We were standing at the back of the very long queue for about 5 minutes before someone came along and announced in a loud voice that Malaysians could jump the queue and moved to the front. Thank God. There was only one counter serving more than a hundred foreigners, some with babies or toddlers. Not only did we feel sorry for the inhumane way we welcome visitors to Tawau but embarrassed too. No wonder there was a signage saying ‘no photos allowed’. I was ticked off by one of the immigration guys for trying to steal a snap or two.
What an eye opening experience. An experience I would try to avoid at all cost in future should I decide to go to Tarakan again. Flying would be the only choice to travel between Tawau and Tarakan unless of course the long overdued new CIQS complex is completed.
Next : Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
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