First Asian experience

Trip Start Sep 18, 2009
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Trip End Feb 01, 2010


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Where I stayed
Waterfront Lodge

Flag of Malaysia  ,
Monday, September 21, 2009


After a long, but managable, flight from London to Singapore, I had several hours to kill in Changi airport.  Airports used to be such thrilling places, now they're places I can't wait to get out of!  Eventually, it was time to board the JetStar flight for the short hop over to Kuching in Borneo.  First thing to hit me was the heat and humidity, even at 9pm local time.  After a small amount of confusion over the taxi arrangements (it's necessary to pay for your trip in advance, and obtain a voucher.  This is great, as it means you pay the set amount regardless of how long the trip may take due to traffic etc.), I was on my way to Waterfront Lodge to meet Hayley and Kate.  Arriving somewhere new in the dark is both exciting and frustrating, as you can't really see your surroundings, but that leaves some adventure for the first morning.  Hayley and KAte took me to a restaurant near the hostel, where the food was good and the service terrific.  
On the first morning, we got up early and were picked up outside the hostel by a tour operator, Kuching Kayak.  We drove for 30 minutes, affording me my first daylight views of the country, and arrived at a postcard perfect beach scene.  Palm trees, singing birds, mirror-still sea and morning mist.  I felt like the adventures were starting immediately!  Our group (several friends and colleagues of Hayley and Kate's Singapore-dwelling English friend Rob) got into our life jackets, picked up our two-man kayaks, and headed for the waterline.  It was so calm, other than the Muslim imams early morning calls coming from somewhere nearby, and so peaceful.  We paddled about on the kayaks, getting used to the feel of them.  At one point, a small fish leapt into our kayak (we were sitting so low that it was more of a flop than a leap), and promptly disappeared up my shorts, necessitating a short and frantic search of my nether regions to recover the scaly bugger. 

After a few hours on the water, it was time to head back.  Despite the tour guides assurances that he knew these waters well, we arrived back at the beach where the vans were parked to find that low tide had revealed at least 500m of mud to wade through before we'd be on firm sand.  At first this seemed funny, but once we were all up to our waists, literally, in mud, it wasn't so funny anymore.  It took an exhausting hour to cover 500m, during which time my heart rate doubled and sweat poured off me.  I was helping the tour guide, Francis, to haul one of the kayaks to shore, and I seriously thought he was going to have a heart attack.  I was struggling with the effort, but he couldn't manage more than two or three strides before needing a rest (the pansy).  The others got to firmer beach ages before we did, and at one point I started to imagine that I'd have to leave Francis where he was, waist deep in mud, and go for help.  We eventually made it, however, and the relief was so great that I couldn't stop laughing. 

That was my first morning of travelling.

After that, I visited a cultural village, made up of several traditional hand-built homes, and an orang-utan sanctuary.  After three days, we flew back to Singapore. 
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