I flew into Kuching International Airport and met up with a girl from Vermont who I became friends with in the hostel I stayed at in Seminyak. We grabbed a cab into the city and checked into Seahare Guesthouse. The hostel is smack in the middle of the small city, across the street from the river. There’s on air conditioned dorm that holds sixteen people comfortably, and a nice couch/tv area. A British man owns the hostel and he was great at telling us all about the city and area around.
We ventured out right away and decided to check out the museums around us, which are all free. Both the Natural History museum and Art museum were closed for renovations. The Sarawak Museum was similar to a natural history museum. The downstairs was all animals stuffed from the regions around, and upstairs was ancient artifacts.
It was storming when we were done with the museum so we had to wait under an awning for a while for it to stop. We then walked towards the Mosque and through Little India, which was as very colorful. We bought green beans to snack on along the way.
We stopped for lunch at Borneo Delight (on the corner from our hostel) and tried the local Laksa, vermicelli noodles with chicken and shrimp in a curry broth. Later on we walked back towards Little India to Jalan Powers to check out the street art. Here Ernest Zachaervic, the Lithuanian artist who painted all over the street of Georgetown, Penang, has painted two 3D images of orangutans.
We then walked along the waterfront towards the modern downtown area. There were food stalls along the water as well as local musicians. The waterfront is beautifully landscaped and has random street art. It was also full of local people enjoying the evening.
The next morning we jumped on public bus #1 to go to Bako National Park. The 30 minute bus dropped us off at a port where we purchased a park ticket for 20 rm ($5.50) and a one-way boat ticket for 20 rm. [A return ticket also cost 20 rm.] We boarded a roofed canoe and rode to the park. We pulled into a massive flat beach and deboarded into the water. First we did the trail Telok Pandan Besar (1.75km) then Telok Pandan Kecil (2.2 km.) The trails were almost the same just two different tips of a Y shape. The trails were not too difficult but the heat and humidity made the trip harder.
We walked past a small waterfall, up and down hills, and over millions of roots. At one point we reached a flat section that looked like the moon with large craters. Here we got lost finding the next part of the trail so we wandered around the moon for a while.
Besar led us to the top of a cliff, while Kecil led us to a massive beach. Both had beautiful views and rock formations. We ate our lunch on Kecil beach and watched as the tide changed.
On the way back we attempted trail Telok Paku because it’s supposedly the best track to spot monkeys, but we quickly ran into a large group who said they didn’t see any so we decided to turn around. I went swimming but the ocean was not refreshing, it felt more like a hot bath. After returning back to the city we went back to Borneo Delight and had the curry noodles. We then walked to 7/11 to get ice cream.
In the morning we walked towards the modern part of town. We ended up walking right through Chinatown and checked out all the local food goods. There were pink cakes and large marzipan towers. We found out there’s a Chinese holiday tomorrow to celebrate the deceased; it’s also Easter. We then stopped for wonton soup because they served pork (a rarity in Muslim Malaysia.)
At the entrance of the city is a large Chinese archway with a large cat statue. Kuching means cat and therefore this is Cat City. There are statues of cats all throughout the city. We walked through the cat garden after.
Later on we took a boat across the river to check-out the other side for 1rm (30 cents.)
When we got across we stopped in Mira Cake House for some samples of colorful cake, which we had been seeing all over the city. All the cakes are different flavors- chocolate, cheesecake, strawberry, etc. There are hundreds of flavors made. I kept wanting to find the peppermint but there were never samples available.
We walked to Fort Margarita, where they do not sell margaritas. We then walked back to the water to check out the Hawkers. The food there did not sound that appealing and it was more expensive than our local spot in town so we decided not to eat here. We took a boat back across the water, and I picked up fried rice and ginger fish from Borneo Delight. We stayed in and watched Harry Potter.
At 7am we got into our rental car and set out for the day. There were five of us- me, Vermont, a girl from LA, a Dutch girl, and a German guy. We did the entire day of driving using two regular paper maps, old school and difficult.
I was most scared about driving on the left side of the car and road, but Malaysia seemed like the safest place to try. I drove the entire day and only had a few mishaps, mostly I kept turning on the windshield wipers instead of signaling. But I had a great time driving through the beautiful roller coaster jungle roads.
We wanted to make it to Semenggoh Nature Reserve to see the orangutans for their morning feeding at 9am
, so we left the hostel at 7:30am
. We took one wrong road to get there and ended up taking a random road that we think brought us into the actual reserve. So we back tracked and made it to the feeding at 9am
on the dot. First we saw Delima the baby being fed with her mother, then we switched platforms and saw Ritchie the gigantic male being fed. Ritchie is no joke. He looks like a sumo wrestler wearing a fur coat. He strutted his stuff as he walked down the pathway.
After the monkeys we drove farther north towards a Longhouse. Again we got lost and ended up on the wrong highway. We stopped at a strip mall to ask for directions and picked-up local pastries (I got a pork bun.) We got back in the car and decided to not backtrack. Up north (once off the highway) the road was damaged in many spots from a recent landslide that the government is making no attempt to fix. It took us one more wrong road (and backtracking a bit) to make it to Annah Rais Longhouse. A Longhouse is one long wooden platform with houses build directly on top. One family or community lives there. In this case it’s a community. Most remaining longhouse’s are now homestay’s (guesthouses) for tourists.
We were greeted with local rice wine samplings, and then walked around on our own. There was a shop that was closed and an empty restaurant, but other than that it wasn’t touristy at all. We were the only tourists there simply observing their homes from the outside; although many asian homes are as much on the outside as inside.
After the longhouse we headed back towards Kuching and just before the airport we turned off the highway towards Bau town. Again we got lost, or so we thought, but we made it to the Wind Cave at 3:30pm. We had originally wanted to do the Fairy Cave but it was closing at 4pm and was farther away.
The Wind Cave was completely dark and even with our flashlight it was hard to see; although I’m sort of happy I couldn’t. There were thousands of bats all over the ceiling, and bat nests in the crevices. We saw a few large spiders and some frogs. The air was moist and there was bat poop all over the walkway and railings.
While we were in the cave in started to downpour and lasted all throughout our drive home. Holland, who was sitting shotgun then, put in a Malaysian pop CD and we rocked out to local jams in the rain. Overall it was a fantastic day and we saved a ton of money by doing the trip on our own. The car cost 100rm plus 45rm for a full tank of gas. The monkeys cost 10rm, the longhouse was 8rm, and the cave was 5rm. So total we each spent 52rm for a 10 hour day. At a tour office is costs 150rm for a trip to the monkeys and longhouse.
After returning to the hostel we drank some beers on the back porch to wind down. We then went back to Borneo Delight for a final meal, this time I had the curry fish with fried rice. I had to eat my meal in less than ten minutes then run to get my stuff from the hostel. Vermont and I left at 9pm
for the bus station and got a 10pm
bus to Miri. The bus took 15 hours getting us to Miri at 2pm
. Luckily before when we stopped at noon we were at a market.