Bye, bye Venetia!

Trip Start Aug 14, 2009
Trip End Nov 13, 2009

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Where I stayed
Hotel Li Hua

Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Thursday, August 27, 2009

So given that we had only booked our Longhouse stay for one night we expected to be back in Kuching on the Monday, however we found it such a relaxing place and the people of the village so friendly and interested in us, and we in them, that we rang the hotel in Kuching and extended our stay at the longhouse by two more nights.  In that time I recovered from my slightly upset stomach, swam in the river, learned to play the Pratounk:  a Bidayuh bamboo instrument that has is made completely from bamboo, strings are cut from it, a sounding board is carved out and reinserted and there is a hammer to hit the strings and you also pluck one in particular.  Arthur - the resident Pratounk expert - taught Venetia and I some basic Bidayuh tunes with a range of techniques involved.  Both Venetia and I found the instrument enchanting and we have vowed to come back and learn more.  Arthur has said he'll get his instrument out for us anytime!

We sadly left the Longhouse on Wednesday 26th as Venetia had booked her flight back to KL on the Thursday.  Their were hugs all around with Rowena and Emily and a firm handshake from John (Emily's husband and resident historian and keeper of Bidayuh artifacts and cultural items).  We all received a small gift from them too - a lovely beaded necklace.  Rowena drove us back to the hotel in Kuching and we said goodbye again and promised to look her up on Facebook (which we have done since - hi Rowena!).

Cait, Erin and I decided that we didn't want to spend another night in Kuching after Wednesday so we set about finding out how to get away from there on Thursday morning.  It involved getting up reasonably early and catching the Express Boat to Sibu - it travels across the Simunjan (a bay of the South China Sea) from Kuching to the mouth of the Bajang(river) Rejang and then up that river to Sibu - approximately 4 and 1/2 hours (it took us 5).

Up at 7am - wake up Erin (to pack and get ready) and Venetia (so she could say goodbye) and get the hotel staff to call us a taxi to the boat terminal.  It all went pretty smoothly.  We were tired but excited, Venetia gave Erin and I some travel calm tablets as we were going across the sea and my last experience with a boat and the sea had not been so pleasant.  Once we left that was it.  Venetia could only be contacted via email and facebook as her mobile had been stolen with her camera, and we were not necessarily going to be near to internet for a little while.  The trip was uneventful except for the extremely cold air conditioning.  Erin was so cold her legs felt like iceblocks - no really!  Evectually we figured out that we could go up onto the deck where we could fry but by this stage that was preferable to freezing.  We had watched two exceptionally bad James Bond films (the Timothy Dalton phase - sorry to any fans out there but he was not a good Bond) and we were on to the Pierce Brosnan one by this stage.  Cait had started chatting to some Australians who had been travelling for a month in Indonesia - Peter of the intense blue eyes and his travelling companion who we suspect was more than a friend.  They were going to get off the boat at Sibu and then jump on another boat to Kapit straight away - another 3 hours - not for us that day.

Erin was pretty stuffed after her near freezing episode, which I think contributed to her throwing up her lunch in the streets of Sibu on the way to the hotel.  It was just the one time though, nothing permanent, and she recovered in our room that afternoon with a sleep.  Dinner that night was found at the night market.  We had Bao and rice and chicken.  Cait continued to have difficulty getting people to understand the concept of 'vegetarian' with frequent offers of fish, seafood and chicken to go with her vegetables.  She settled on a freshly made Rojak - this tasted delicious but she later found out that the chilli sauce is usually made with Belacan (fermented shrimp paste) but by that time she had thouroughly enjoyed it.  Sweet sleep was had at the hotel, we were heading off again the next day to Kapit to find an Iban Longhouse to visit.
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