Friday, September 04, 2015

On the nature trail in Kuching (Borneo)

From the Cameron Highlands I headed down to Kuala Lumpur to catch a flight the next day to the Malaysian city of Kuching in Sarawak on the island of Borneo. I bough my ticket here on a bit of a whim after checking the AirAsia website - the flight was about £20 return!

In KL I met up with Fiedel (who I met in Tanah Rata) for food and drinks.

The following day I took the short flight from KL to Kuching. My flight was very interesting as I was sat next to a Malaysian environmental conversationalist who lived in Kuching. we spoke about my travels and as we got closer to Kuching, she told me about the palm oil plantations around the city that concern her and the work that she does with the local community to try and promote conservation. She also told me about her brother who is a tour guide in Kuching and so we swapped details.

My flight landed in the afternoon where I caught a taxi into the city centre and checked into Malibu Lifestyle hostel, which was really great value and I absolutely loved! I ate across the road at a simple cafe and had one of the most amazing meals mostly (I think) down to the MSG which made my tongue tingle, but still it was delicious!

My first full day in Kuching I teamed up with some of the other people staying at my hostel, Jason (American), Ingrid (German) and Antonio (Spanish). We walked around the town, dropping by the tourist information centre to pick up some bus timetables and park opening times.

From the information we were given, we decided to catch the afternoon bus to Semengoh Orangutan Reserve to catch the 3pm feeding time... Unfortunately we missed the bus, but a taxi there between us was only a few ringgit more.

At the entrance to the reserve we were warned by the wardens that since it was fruiting season in Sarawak, the possibility of actually seeing an Orangutan was extremely low as they were able to feed themselves and stay away from the wardens. We were told that nobody at the reserve had even seen the troop in over a week... still, we thought it was worth a shot and so paid the RM10 entrance.

We walked through the reserve along the main road towards the feeding area, where the wardens place food twice daily in the hope the Orangs will break their camouflage in the jungle to visit. We waited here with a large crowd of mainly domestic tourists for around 20 minutes before one of the wardens broke through the crowd to announce that the troop had been spotted just a short distance away. He told us that the walk was through thick jungle and the probability of leeches and ticks was very high.

In hindsight, this seemed like a scare tactic to make sure the families with young (and noisy) children wouldn't come, as I didn't see a single leech or tick along the frequently used path...

That evening, Jason, Ingrid and I went to a local bar 'SpeakEazy' where the owners were so friendly; plying us with free shots and tasty hot snacks. We played a few games, first scrabble but after a few beers we our brains were fried and we turned to Jenga!

The next day I chilled out around Kuching with Jason. The day started very well, with a bowl of Sarawak's version of Laksa. Laksa in Malaysia varies so considerably between districts and towns, I was surprised.

In the UK, I enjoy 'Laksa' dishes, they usually always taste the same, a soup-like pale-yellow coconut broth with chicken and prawns, flavoured with lemongrass/ginger/tumeric... I think... My first Laksa, in Penang, was pretty far from this I assumed back in England we had just made up our version of 'Laksa'; a strong fish broth with bitter tasting leaves, fermented fish and prawns, I must admit I didn't enjoy it. However, the Sarawak laksa.... where do I begin?

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: On the nature trail in Kuching (Borneo)