The land of delivery KFC!!

Trip Start Sep 26, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Premium Stay Hostel

Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Saturday, October 27, 2012

As our time in Malaysia was running out and the weather was definitely turning, we decided it would be pointless to go all the way to Sandakan just to see the orangutans as the lovely islands surrounding that area were now playing host to lots of jellyfish and rain! Instead we decided to head south and visit Kuching where they also have orangutans as well as many other interesting things that the jellyfish & rain couldn't spoil! So after a couple of days rest from the climb we booked ourselves onto the morning flight from Kota Kinabalu to Kuching on Saturday 27th October - a very special day for the Brown family as it was Harrison's 1st birthday!! Happy birthday little fella! Xx

Once we had landed we jumped in a taxi and after getting very lost our, not very friendly, driver finally gave in and phoned the hostel for directions. We were beginning to get a bad feeling about our decision to come to Kuching but this was soon forgotten when we entered the reception of Premium Stay Hostel and were met by the friendliest & most helpful receptionist we have encountered so far! He also seemed to double as tourist information as he set about explaining all the best things to do in Kuching and exactly how to get to each of them using public transport.

With his help, we really did manage to pack a lot in to our few days in Kuching...

Sunday:
We decided to spend a day exploring everything the city had to offer so we took ourselves on a tour of the area using our guide book and a map we had acquired. Kuching is the city of the cat and, as a result, is full cat statues and monuments! Along the river there are paving stones detailing the history of Kuching and how it was involved in the battle for ownership between Malaysia & Brunei and the role us Brits played in protecting it.

As we walked along the river's edge, we spotted a sign for river cruises with the next one leaving in a matter of minutes! We thought this might be a good way to see lots of the sights so we hopped on. It was a very relaxing tour but there was actually very little to see and with no commentary from the man operating the boat, we weren't really sure what we were looking at anyway! So we just sat back and enjoyed the ride!

Once back on dry land we made our way through the city stopping for an ice cream and a quick look inside a bazaar where we picked up some souvenirs. I picked up an unwanted souvenir as a big bug flew into my eye & refused to come out despite me scraping at my eyeball in desperation. Matt tried to help but he couldn't get it out either! He was just beginning to panic that it may be a leech when finally I managed to dislodge it! Thankfully I wasn't left with anything more than a slightly bloodshot eye for a while! Then made our way on to China Town & Little India (it's becoming clear now that everywhere has one!!) before venturing further out to the national monument, aquarium and museum.

All in all it was a very successful day of sightseeing as we covered pretty much all of the main areas of interest mentioned in the guide book plus some extra things we found interesting!

Monday:
Monday morning saw me & Matt up really early and making our way across the city to the bus station as we had planned a trip to the Orangutan Sanctuary for their morning feed. The bus journey took about 50 minutes and by the last stop there was only 4 of us on the bus, none of whom looked at all Malaysian so we figured they must be tourists too so we introduced ourselves and discovered the girl was from Holland (but she didn't say her name!) and the guy was Dush from Sri Lanka. Once off the bus we made our way to the ticket office and then began the short walk to the meeting point. Whilst it turned out to be a short walk, we didn't know this at the time and what we were actually supposed to do was jump in a transit coach. So you can imagine our dismay when about 5 minutes into the walk it began to pour with rain! Not knowing how close we were we dashed under a hut and hoped either it eased or we could flag down a passing vehicle... Neither of which worked!!!! In the end, there was nothing else for it other than to make a run for it up the hill and thankfully the centre wasn't actually too far away!

After a quick briefing, we followed the guide along a short trail into the edge of the rainforest where another guide was beginning his call to the orangutans to come and feed. After about 20 minutes there were still no orangutans and the guide's calls were becoming increasingly desperate! Another 20 minutes passed and still nothing, our spirits were dampening, as were our clothes as it was still pouring with rain!! It was becoming clear that the orangutans weren't going to come and see us today and who can blame them? It was really early & pouring with rain, I certainly wished I was still in bed too!!! After an hour, the guide told us that time was up and we had to head back out but our tickets were valid for the whole day so if we wanted to, we could come back for the afternoon feed & try again! Unfortunately, we couldn't as we had already booked on another trip but Dush & the Dutch girl decided they would come back. So there was nothing else to do other than get back on a bus and head back to the city to dry off and get ready for our afternoon trip to the Sarawak Cultural Village.

We were taken by minibus to the Cultural Village as it was about 45 minutes away. I was very excited when we arrived as we were given passports to use throughout our visit which you could get stamped at each different tribe you visited. As we walked around the village we came across different structures, each typical to that particular tribe, for example longhouses belonging to the Iban tribe where numerous families would live communally in what was a very long house! Inside the houses we were greeted by actors who portrayed members of each tribe and described the way of life these people would have lived and some of the activities they would enjoy such as making clothes and rugs. There was a traditional bamboo bridge to take you across to one tribe which we all managed to cross despite it being very narrow!

After spending time walking around the various buildings and meeting different tribes, we made our way to the theatre to watch the 4pm show. This was a bright and colourful display of the different dances each tribe would perform at particular times of the year, including a representation of newborn birds learning to fly and a ceremonial dance involving a big wooden pole which one man climbed and was then spun round as he laid in his stomach. The highlight of the performance however had to be when a man took to the stage and performed a routine involving a blow pipe & dart. He was a very intense and slightly scary performer so you can imagine our panic when he stepped down off the stage and started searching the audience for a victim, I mean volunteer! Can you guess who the lucky person was? Yep you're right it was one of us!!! He made his way around the auditorium until he was stood level with our row then just stood and stared at me, occasionally pointing to me and then the stage! I realised there was no way of getting out of this and the boys weren't exactly jumping up to take my place so I reluctantly stood up and and my way over to him and then onto the stage! Once he had ordered me to take off my flip flops, he showed me how to hold the blow pipe before loading a dart into it. He then jokingly pointed it out into the audience in Matt & Gareth's general direction and believe me I was very tempted to fire it at them! He then spun me round to face a balloon which was positioned on the far side of the stage and I gave the pipe and... completely missed!! He gave me a 2nd attempt and this time pushed me across the stage until the tip of the pipe was practically touching the balloon and thankfully this time I didn't miss! It popped and I got a big round of applause! He gave me a blow dart as a souvenir and let me go back to my seat where I was informed by the boys that they had kindly filmed my entire humiliation so I could look back on it whenever I wanted!!!! They are so kind to me!!!!

Tuesday:
Today saw us heading off to the Bako National Park. This was highly recommended in the brochures and our very friendly receptionist said it was good as well. This meant getting up early again to get the bus at 8. It was then an hour on the bus to the ferry port. We knew once there you needed a boat to get to the park. These cost 90RM per boat and held up to 6 so ideally we wanted to try to share a boat to split the cost. Luckily there were 2 men on our bus who were keen to do this as well. So we all hopped aboard a rather small boat. The waters here were rather dangerous as they are home to a lot of crocodiles. This being proven by the very large skull on display in the lobby. We kept an eye out in hope of seeing 1 but we had no luck. The journey took about 20-25 minutes then we suddenly slowed down near an island. It was a very low tide so we were nowhere near the edge of the water and even further from the beach but he seemed to be stopping. Suddenly he announced that we must walk from here!!! All 5 of us gave him a puzzled look and said, "Walk? You're joking right?" as the beach was probably still 3-400metres away. "You must walk," he replied. So the question had to be asked, "but I thought you said there were crocodiles in this water?" He didn't reply but he jumped in the water and ushered us out. I think everyone was a little worried at this point. The water was only about 12-14inches deep but the soil under the water was like sloppy clay which you sank into. Matt was first in followed by me, Gareth and the Germans. We waded our way about 60m in the water to dry land but it was still the horrible mud all the rest of the way with rather big crab holes in. We made it safe and sound though. Panic over! This was until we got to the beach to register and there's lots of monkeys and wild boar about and signs saying to "beware of wild animals attack".

We signed in and quickly went on our way, going in search of the famous proboscis monkeys. These are strange looking monkeys that have fat pregnant looking bellies and big noses. No sooner had we started our trek the usual happened. It poured down. With no wet gear yet again we all got drenched. The walk was only 0.8km so wasn't too far but it was a challenging walk with lots of climbing and trees in the way. Luckily out of nowhere Gareth spotted a proboscis monkey sat in the tree, which turned out to be a group of 3 of them. This was amazing luck so made getting wet worthwhile. We watched for a while then continued the walk and bumped into Dush from the day before. To our dismay, he told us he had gone back to the orangutan sanctuary for the afternoon session and saw 6 of them. Even the really big rare one came out! We were very pleased for him but couldn't believe our luck on seeing none. And the end if the trek was a lovely beach so we had a little rest before turning back - it was still drizzling so no point in sunbathing! As we trekked back, Gareth's flip flops broke so in true Bear Grylls style he patched them up - they were now being held together by an elastic band!!

As we reached the start of the next trek which was 1.5km each way, I decided to skip it as I wasn't feeling great. So the boys headed off only for Gareth to soon return with both flip flops now fallen apart and no more elastic bands! Matt on the other had carried on alone. He started off thinking he would just go a little way then turn back but it soon became a personal challenge to see whether he could do the whole trek. He was against the clock as well as this was 1hr 30mins each way, we were getting picked up at 2 and it was already gone 11 when they started. It turns out Matt got a bit of a shift of so was really walking quickly as me and Gareth sat waiting and laid on benches. As he came to his first T junction he says he almost turned back giving up early as he was already tiring a bit and the sign said it was 1 hour to go. With the time being now nearly 12, an hour each way plus the half hour ish to get back from here made it a tough decision. This is Matt we are talking about though! So he figured if he could knock 15 mins off each journey that would give him enough time to just about make it. So he somehow managed to get all the way there, get photos as proof and get back to the sign in 55mins. Even he surprised himself. Then returning to us at about 1.15 very sweaty and very dirty. He was very proud of himself. I think the Kinabalu climb had given him good practice.

On the way back to the boat we came across a family of wild boars. There was an adult and several very curious little piglets who all came running over to say hello. 2 o'clock came and we got back on our boat home. The tide was high now so no wading in the water again. During the boat ride back, out of nowhere a fish leapt right out of the water and landed in our boat. With that flapping about on the floor by the Germans' feet suddenly lots and lots of them started doing it, something big must have been trying to eat them! We scooped him up and put him back safely in the water. With the boat and the bus it took nearly 2 hours to get back so we got showered and treated ourselves to an Indian meal and drinks for dinner!

Wednesday:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEP!!!
After a final wander around the town, stopping to post our postcards and try a local delicacy (a kind of meat filled bread dumpling), we headed back to the Maharaja for lunch before catching a taxi to the airport and our final farewell to Malaysia.

I'm so glad we made the decision to come to Kuching as it really has been a fascinating fun filled few days!
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