Tuned up, Sarawak simple, Dodgy tours?

Trip Start Dec 12, 2012
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Trip End Jan 03, 2013


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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Thursday, December 13, 2012

Up early at Tune, woken throughout the night with various transitters moving through our floor, including some over excited children running up and down the balcony walkway about 3am. Still, a very good bed, good aircon and a nice hot shower.

5.30am and I'm feeling deliriously energised by the humid weather and decide to run up and down the fire stairs a few times. Good exercise but testament to the heat and humidity even at that hour I’m dripping like a sodden bathroom floormat after my vigorous outburst.

We make our way on the 1Rgt bus to the terminal (38 seconds) and check our bags in, over to the gates and we are sitting at Gate12 wondering why noone else is there. The Kuching flight sign says "closed’ and we have a small moment of nervousness until we realise this is the signage for the earlier flight to Kuching…we going from Gate 8. Doh. We look over that way and there looks like more than a planeload, maybe they’ve double booked everyone and it’s first in best dressed. A Malaysian stampede awaits.

There’s barely any seating left at this gate but there are a bank of a dozen or so flash looking massage chairs. To de-stress from the impending stampede I relax in one and drop in a Ringitt, whereupon the padded shackles on the chair clamps my legs unnervingly and I’m not sure it will ever let me go. Once I calm from the almost threatening mechanics of the device it’s quite a good massage. We wonder if you sit in these chairs too long do they clamp you in and demand more Ringitt?

The gates open and we steel ourselves for the contest over seats until we realise they are boarding two flights at once from the same gate. Phew.

Flying into Sarawak it’s laced with wide brown rivers and covered in jungle and the endless palm oil plantations…must find out what they do with all that palm oil.

We wheel around Kuching and into the airport. John from LimeTree picks us up and we have entered the semi-autonomous state of Sarawak with such ease we are a little bemused..this Malaysia is too easy. Johns van smells of limes. The hotel smells of limes, it’s all very limey. It’s nice. A sign at the elevator bans all fruits from the rooms…except limes.

We make our way down to the riverfront in the ever increasing fierce heat of the day. By the time we’ve reached the end of the riverfront walk we have found none of the Iban Longhouse tour guides we were seeking and have no idea where to confirm our Bako booking with the Forestry Dept.

Smartphone and Google Maps come to the rescue. We find the Tourist office, gee it was so hard to miss in the grand old courthouse we were sitting directly opposite not 2 minutes earlier thinking we were completely lost.

Book Bako and continue back to seek a Longhouse tour. Just finding the tour agents is an adventure in itself. There are a few at the Tourism Office but they are bit expensive for my tight arse Malaysian tastes so we wander off back down to Borneo Adventures (thanks again Google Maps) to see what they had to offer. Each of them were over $500AU each for 3 days up the river..eating fruit and nuts..sleeping on the floor…getting rained on ..and wondering if they had toilets… So we were showing real caution in who we booked with. Our very first guide (the guy at the desk Borneo Adventure) steered us to a restaurant to think about our decision. Around the corner on the way to the recommended restaurant we spy another tour office up a steep flight of stairs. 'Ooo Haa’ tours – it looks decidedly dodgy. My kind of place.

In a stroke of ominous serendipity we step across a mange of sleepy kittens at the top of the stairs, the first real cats we’ve seen in Cat City. Into the office and the lovely David OooHaa, (nee Lim) steps us carefully through our potential itinerary, a point taken by us as none of the others had bothered at all to ‘sell’ their excursions other than handing out the photocopied sales material.

So, after showing such extreme caution in handing over our hard earned to some dodgy character we promptly signed up by handing over our hard earned to some potentially dodgy character. Besides, it was nearly 1/3 the price of the others and the tour itineraries really do all seem the same, same but different. We’d really only decided because it was the only tour with others booked. We didn’t really want to go up the river by ourselves, and at least if the other tourists we’re horrible we’d have something to amuse ourselves. It’s too late now so we’ll find out tomorrow….

Mr OooHaa kindly points us to another cafe as we still haven’t eaten and J-she in her starvatious haste grabs all the luke warm meat dishes from the buffet. “Mmm….hours old luke warm meat in this environment..?" I query hesitantly, but I am hungry too and its only 5Rgt. We throw caution to the wind and eat.

Chasing some soda water to mix with my Coruba rum, but no luck, 3 supermarkets later and we come to the conclusion Malaysians only drink soft drink and juices, not one plain, unflavoured carbonated fluid to be found.

In a complete stupor we wander into a shopping mall and in a cooling flash we realise the Malaysian obsession with shopping – free airconditioning !! Perhaps the Gruen transfer has better effect when adulterated with cool air?

Back to the Lime Tree to sort out moving our accommodation as we’re off tomorrow.

Out for dinner after a couple of lazy drinks surveying the Kuching landscape from the 5th floor outdoor bar, not quite Traders SkyBar but this is Kuching and we are beginning to appreciate it’s torpid character, cats n’ all.

Off to Top Spot for some seafood delights and it’s actually quite good. Outdoor dining in the cool breeze, more than ample seafood and couple of beers end the night well. We also, by pure luck of our seating near the only TV in the food court, got to watch Malaysia take on Thailand in the ASEAN cup semi final, alas Malaysia went down 2-0

We’re off for a cheap mystery tour tomorrow into the Sarawak jungle. We have no idea what we’re up for at this ridiculously low price compared to the ‘big’ names (i.e. those with internet sites), but it should be interesting if nothing else.

And today everyone we met told us to eat Durian…we’re not sure why, but we’re determined to have some tomorrow. It’s Durian season and 5 for 10 Rgt apparently….cheap as. We like Malaysia. :-) Not so sure we’ll like Durian though, especially if we have to buy 5 of them ! and we can't take them back to the hotel….another mystery awaits tomorrow.
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