Sunday, April 20, 2008

The day Dr M paid for my lunch

We arrived in Tioman one late morning in Aug 1987. The flight from Subang on a Twin Otter MAS flight was uneventful - the way I like a flight to be. We could not have made this trip without an uncle PC Ya sponsoring this trip for a 3 day 2 night honeymoon.

Upon arrival at the Tioman Island Resort, we had to wait a bit as the room was not ready. As we sat on the sofa at the lobby, I could not help but noticed a Dr Siti Hasmah-look-alike sitting on the next sofa. We glanced at each other; but to be honest, I didn't bat an eye lid as I was not aware of her coming to Tioman.

Back in the room later, we could not help but noticed the sound of heli hovering the island resort.

But then I was naive. That was my first stay in a 'hotel', and definitely a first on a island resort. I thought the scenes were typical - I must have watched too many American movies!

At noon, we decided to head for lunch. At the cafe, we say a group of people having lunch, with a buffet spread. So we approached the buffet table - thinking that this is nasik campur stalls, pick up a plate and start filling it up with food.

As I have said before, being a first timer to the hotel culture - I had just started working a year before, I was puzzled how we were going to pay for the food. So I called upon the waiter to ask him if they are going to estimate the cost of the food we took.

He looked very puzzled with my question. "You can take anything here," he responded.

So we continue eating; but to be honest I didn't feel good about it. I knew food was expensive in Tioman. Then a bottle of coke would cost over RM3.50 and RM3.50 was a lot of money then, especially for me. I have to make sure we would only pay what we eat; nothing more, nothing less!

So I called another waiter and asked the same question. "Oh, you mean you are not with the PM's group?" he asked me. "PM? What's PM's group? The Prime Minister?" I asked him back.

"The PM is on an official visit to Tioman," he replied, "and this is the lunch for the group." (It could be an official visit to Rompin actually.)

I was embarrassed by then. It was obvious by then to the waiter, we were not part of the entourage. "So, how?" I asked him.

"Tak pa lah, abang dah dekat sini. Makan sajalah," he said. (Nevermind, since you are here already, just eat I guess.) He practically saved the day for me.

So we quickly eat our foods at his behest, not making eye contact with the rest of them, finished them off and making our way out from the dining hall.

Only later it clicked to my mind that it was Dr Siti Hasmah at the sofa and I didn't quite recognize her. I hope she didn't think we were 'sombong'. Honestly it didn't click to my mind that she was her. Obviously that was the last thing on my mind then! ;-) Obviously too was the sound of heli hovering the island resort. It was the heli carrying Dr M!

And I guess that was the first and the last time a Prime Minister would be paying for my lunch.


  1. and i had always tot u knew your way!!!!

  2. Not in the mid 80s. Then who would be going to the hotel for a meal with my kind of salary? Memang macam rusa masuk kampung!