I was driving from Kota Kinabalu to my hometown of Sandakan recently when I dropped by at Pekan Nabalu, a hamlet along the road to the Kundasang highlands. It was tamu (farmers' market) day and there was more bustle than the usual travellers and tourist crowd browsing through the myriad of handicrafts and souvenirs on sale.
And then I spotted this man having a feel of home-made parang (machete). He took his time holding the machete while he and the vendor had a long chat. No one appeared to be in a hurry.
For rural communities, the tamu is more than just a market. It is a time to socialise, catch up with relatives and friends and then perhaps sell or buy a thing or two.
Now that's to me is the right kind of retail therapy.