Any ideal hangouts?
Published on: Sunday, January 19, 2020
By: Sylvia Howe
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I am looking for a real café, a refuge with comfortable chairs, decent coffee and no music  where people can settle and work or read or talk to friends. And come back again and again, and meet people and be treated to thoughtful service so they feel as if they belong.  I can’t find one. Is this so difficult? So far, if the coffee is good, the chairs are uncomfortable, or the service is so so – and if it is cool and trendy-looking, the staff think they qualify for the hipster of the year award, and don’t really have to interrupt their conversation to see what you would like. If the service is friendly, the coffee’s not so great. And there is probably music… If there was such a place I am certain people would keep it alive by spending money and telling people about it.

I am also seeking an evening place where people can drop in for a drink (or three) after work, and perhaps something fresh, simple and delicious to eat.  A nice view would be good, and affordable prices. What do you reckon? It shouldn’t be so hard – but it is.  Anyone got any ideas? 

I’ve settled back into KK life again, and am about to welcome the influx of guests. Which I like, don’t get me wrong, but I am still working on putting together a list of places they might like to go, without having to pawn their jewellery to be able to afford it. I went to Gaya Island Resort the other day. It was quite good – a nice pool, slightly dated rooms (but spacious and clean with lovely views) and nice touches like a private beach and a seafood restaurant called Fisherman’s cove.  But it isn’t wonderful – and it could be. There’s such terrific raw material there – and all over Sabah. The state should capitalise on this, especially as it is in the New York Times’ s travel section’s top 52 things to do. This is no mean feat, and there is so much to offer here – it just needs – in my humble opinion – a bit of polishing up. 

Clive James died recently, aged 80, after having had leukaemia for several years. I was sad. An Australian, he was one of the wittiest and most original speakers and writers I have come across. He came to the UK in 1962, struggled for some years to break into what he desperately wanted – to write and present – and then there was no stopping him. He could be pithy, often superficial, thoughtful, and always excellent company. Not that I met him, but curling up with one of the volumes of his Unreliable Memoirs comes a very acceptable second. A quick graze of the web produces these statements, some of which are funny, some elegant, and all, I think, spot on  If you haven’t read him, you are in for a treat. Or almost better, download him on Audible and let him read his books to you. Settle back and enjoy.

Fiction is life with the dull bits left out.

Common sense and a sense of humour are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humour is just common sense, dancing.

She was good at playing abstract confusion in the same way that a midget is good at being short.

Anyone afraid of what he thinks television does to the world is probably just afraid of the world.

Stop worrying — nobody gets out of this world alive.

It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are.

I have brought two books back from the UK with  me, and I am sampling them in bite-sized pieces.  Matt Haig is a writer I admire for his style and his honesty. I loved his Reasons to Stay Alive, and I am enjoying his Notes on a Nervous Planet. 

The other one is by Shunmyo Masuno, called Zen, the art of simple living. Simple, clear, commonsensical, with a lick of the spiritual and a sense of “what you see not being all there is.” Shakespeare knew all about that (“there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” if I remember correctly). We all need to be reminded of the reason why monks go barefoot – I’m not going to tell you: you need to read it for yourself! Or not being “bound by a single perspective”. It makes me think, and that can never be a bad thing.  

WordPower 2020 is coming closer, and my co-director and I are limbering up for it.  One of the initiatives we have devised is Corporate Communication Training. 

Our theme this year is storytelling and the first day will be all about storytelling in business, to spread the word, attract attention and customers. And help your staff shine in order to do this for the organisation. 

It’s original, powerful stuff, using our years of training and experience.  We have become very good at it, and we have plenty of happy customers. If you want to know more, send me an email on and I can tell you all about it.

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