Kuching -
Our Borneo
The Sarawak River at dusk.
January 26, 2008

Kuching is the cat city. If you didn’t know this before arriving (which I did because my sister told me that Kuching translates to
‘cat’), you would certainly have a hunch there was something going on with cats out here with all of the statues in the middle of
the streets dedicated to cats. Now this is great for cat people…but what about us dog lovers? Didn’t really love cats before – and I
still don’t. I have come up with something though – a city dedicated to English Bulldogs. Now
that would be something I would be
onboard with! I can already imagine how I would just die from seeing the cuteness all around me. Okay, I am getting ahead of
myself. I guess I will just have to settle on visiting Athens, Georgia where the city seems to revolve around the University of
Georgia and their wonderful bulldog mascot named UGA.

But what does any of this have to do with Kuching? Absolutely nothing. I need to focus.

We decided this would be our day to roam around Kuching. No, there is not a lot to do here. But it still is a pleasant place to check
out. Especially with the practically-free water taxis that constantly make their ways back and forth across the river. Our pleasant
surprise came when we went to check out the villages on the opposite side of the river from where we are staying. The people in
the village we walked around in couldn’t have been more friendly – both children and adults. None of them expected a thing. It
was just pure, raw kindness. I snapped loads of pictures of the kiddies and they were loving it. There are sure some hams out
there. I think we spent about five minutes just waving and yelling good-bye back and forth with one group of kids. Absolutely

We spent the rest of our time walking through the street markets and walking along the river. We also hired a taxi driver for
tomorrow who we found through the tourism center. His name is Mr. Arthur. I like saying that. There is just something cool
about the sound of that. I’m weird – what can I say?

The sad news we received while at the tourism office was that the rafflesia – the largest (and smelliest) flower in the world –
which is native to Borneo is not going to be in bloom while we are here. I’ve seen other people’s pictures – but there is no way the
size can be captured in a picture as it always looks just like a flower (albeit a cool flower). So the rafflesia would have to wait until a
future trip to Borneo.

We ended our night at the night market. We were led to believe that this market would have everything (after all…that was
exactly what locals were telling us). We didn’t see this to be the case. Mostly, we saw lots of food (produce, fish, chickens, street
food). It was picturesque to walk around certain parts (clearly, the poultry section was not one of them) – but we didn’t leave
with more than just some rambutans, teeny tangelo-like things and an ‘apam bilak’ – a pancake-like thing sprinkled with sugar
and crushed peanuts and then folded over like an omelet.

Tomorrow Mr. Arthur picks us up early in the morning. Time for some shut-eye.

January 27, 2008

Mr. Arthur was in our hotel bright and early waiting for us. He was absolutely adorable. So adorable, in fact, that he’s going to be
our driver tomorrow when we head to Bako National Park.

But today we would go to Semenggoh Wildlife Center. What is at this wildlife center, you ask? Orang Utans (I even looked up the
literal definition for this and it translates to ‘People of the Forest’). There was one glitch with this Orang Utan expedition. Call it a
major glitch, if you will. We didn’t really have the Orang Utan sightings we were hoping for. That said, at least we did see
and she was with her baby (1-year old Analisa). We saw her swinging from tree to tree. Would it be shocking if I said that it
looked like she was swinging on ‘monkey bars’? Hahaha. I really kill myself sometimes. Anyway, she stuck around for about five
minutes or so. Then she left and we were hoping for another sighting. And hoping. And hoping. But it never happened. Instead,
about fifteen minutes later it started raining. And then pouring. And Orang Utans are a lot like people (go figure, huh) where they
are going to try to shelter themselves from the rain versus embracing it. Damn. But we at least felt lucky to see one. Well, more
like ‘one and a half’ if you include little Analisa.

Then Mr. Arthur took us to visit a longhouse. Michelle originally wanted to do an overnight visit at a longhouse she found through
Lonely Planet. I vetoed that decision. It was quite expensive and wasn’t willing to make the commitment before arriving in
Kuching. I thought it would be something that would border on a made-for-tourists experience. And I wasn’t really in the mood.
So we decided we would do it as part of a day-trip instead. And, in a total sheer coincidence, Mr. Arthur took us to the longhouse
that Michelle had read about called Annah Rais. We paid a small price to roam around at our leisure and explore. We were
greeted with some rice wine. And we couldn’t stop checking out the bamboo ‘floors’ we were walking on. Pretty cool. We spent the
rest of the time wandering from house to house and crossing bridges, etc. Our timing was impeccable – just as we were finished
with our self-guided tour, it started to rain.

On our way out Mr. Arthur stopped so I could take pictures of the cute pineapples growing from the plants. Talk about being
easily entertained, huh? He also drove us by a statue (actually probably some sort of monument out here) of a cat. Yup. Just a
cat. But we requested this stop as it’s supposed to be a pretty famous cat. Or at least as famous as a statue in Kuching can be.

We spent the rest of our day exploring more of Kuching. That’s when we found our restaurant for the night – Little Lebanon! A
little weird while in Malaysia, huh? But they had the Malaysian specialties we wanted (bamboo chicken with rice and umai) along
with some hummus. Give us a point or two for being multi-ethnic. Everything was delicious and the atmosphere was cute – and it
put us out just over $5. I
love that!

When we got back to our hotel, we decided to turn on the tube. Turned out Amazing Race Asia was on. And it was the finale.
Michelle was in heaven as this is her favorite show – and now she was getting to see the Asia version. We started watching and
things were looking quite familiar – the contestants were standing on the same bamboo flooring that we were just on today. How
many places have floors like that? Then they showed another pair of contestants and the location popped on the screen. They
were heading to Bako National Park – the place we are going tomorrow! What are the odds? I had never even heard of this place
before a couple days ago…and now I was seeing it as the locale for the finale of Amazing Race Asia. Too cool!
And the fact that
they were also doing challenges in longhouses – something that I had never seen before today. (I hope I don’t ruin anything for
anyone when I say that two cool-seeming female co-workers won).

Now it’s time for me to stop journaling and read up on Stephen Colbert’s book. It’s taking me
far longer to get through than I
thought as every page makes me laugh out loud. This ends up interrupting my reading flow. All I can say is that I simply love this
man. If I could pick one person to talk to or hang out with, it would be this man. A comic genius, I tell ya.

January 29, 2008

This morning was a happy morning for Michelle. She was looking forward to this for the past couple days – getting her stitches
out. We went to the clinic in Kuching right when it opened. Within about fifteen minutes, we were walking out – and Michelle just
had a look of relief on her. She was a happy camper. And I was happy to see her happy. Considering she has been asked by
approximately 1,463 people ‘What happened?’ it looks at though the questions might soon come to an end as she no longer needs
bandaging on her. Another thing for her to be relieved about. We both were talking about how at home you wouldn’t really bring
attention to something like that when talking to a stranger. But here people have no problem whatsoever asking detailed

Now it was time to do some last minute things before leaving Kuching. We first went to look at the museum. The main part
(Museum of Natural History) was closed for some reason. So we wandered into the Art Museum. We were pleasantly surprised –
it was more like going into a gallery somewhere in SoHo. Extremely modern digs with concrete walls. We really enjoyed it.  

We then bought a few Borneo-esque things. Well, they didn’t really scream ‘Borneo’ – but they were at least
from Borneo so that
was good enough for me. We actually got our really cool finds from a small gallery. We each got small vases that sit on a wooden
stand (they are much better than they sound). Then we went back to the bookstore so that I could buy the cookbook that caught
my eye the other day. But then a sad moment happened. The book wasn’t there! Who else would want a book called ‘Steam It’???
I was now regretting not buying it the moment I saw it. So sad. So very, very sad. I already have every intention on trying to find
it on the internet (though I have been unsuccessful so far).

It just so happened that our timing was perfect as far as leaving Kuching – there was nothing but heavy rain for our last hour or
so here. We are now at the airport and about to head off to Singapore just for the night before catching a flight to Tioman Island.
Back to Malaysia.
Beautiful produce at the night market.

Absolutely adorable village kiddies.