Semporna Shopping Trips

Twice a week TRACC goes to the mainland to Semporna to pick up weekly supplies and new volunteers. Pom Pom island is very isolated, with no local village or town, so all food, drinking water, gas, reef making supplies, general camp and building supplies, and individual personal things must be brought over from Semporna.

Semporna is a chaotic little seaside town, and anybody who has been their knows that if you can skip a stay in Semporna, it's probably for the best. Doing the shopping is an interesting experience to say the least. Different people take responsibility for the job each week. In my time here I have helped out four times. The last time decided to lead the shopping trip rather than just helping out. I remember lying down to go to sleep the night before, and thinking " oh god. what have I done?"

We leave Pom Pom at around 8.30 in the morning with our amazing boatman Pak Cik and any volunteers that are leaving TRACC. When we arrive at Semporna we sadly farewell our volunteers, before getting down to business. First up is remembering how to drive stick in a big white people mover van. After a few deep breaths we were off. I had been given a map marked out with places to go and my amazing sidekick Aisyah directed me on our way. We dropped off empty water bottles, filled us petrol canisters, found bags of cement and wheelbarrows, brought pillows and fans for new volunteers, found fresh local fruit and vegetables, bargained over fish and ice, dropped off the TRACC laundry, and flew through the supermarket with two trolleys buying our groceries. At about 1.30 we stopped for roti for lunch at Bismillah, before continuing on with the jobs. In the afternoon we met up with the new volunteers who all offered a hand at loading and unloading the van and generally being in awe at the madness of Semporna. Of particular help on the last trip was an Australian joker by the name of Owen Jones-Hawke.

By the time 4.30 swung around and we were back at the jetty with all volunteers safety found, I was well and truly ready to sit down. And with everything loaded onto the boat i relaxed into my seat and let the wind dry my face from the sweat of Semporna, as we drove back to our happy place.

The return the the island is definitely the best part of the day. We come into view of the jetty and see volunteers waving, and Monsoon howling at us to get onto dry land. The boat is unloaded and I relax into a chair with a cold beer.

Shopping day is chaotic, but the satisfaction of navigating a foreign town, and providing the camp with all we need for the week is secretly very satisfying. It is another necessary and important part of life at Pom Pom- fist pump to the volunteer who takes up the challenge next week.

Check out this clip I made of one of our tips on facebook-  Semporna Shopping Video