Sarawak - Borneo

Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
Trip End Apr 01, 2010

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Tuesday, March 3, 2009

We flew to Sarawak from Thailand via Singapore, there is one consolation when you don't get a direct flight if you're on a budget, you get two meals! Silk Air was excellent and the food was delicious too. Our flight over from Singapore was virtually empty, we were wondering if Borneo had closed down and no one had told us!? Still our bags came straight of the plane, we cleared customs, jumped a cab and were at our lodgings in no time at all, the whole journey went really smoothly.
A bit of background on Sarawak for you, now pay attention! The state of Sarawak is located in the northern strip of the Island of Borneo. It is the largest state in Malaysia and houses one of the world's richest and most diverse ecosystems. Despite its growth and development, the state of Sarawak still maintains its reputation as the most exotic state in Malaysia and Asia 's best kept secret. Rainforests of Sarawak are among the oldest in the world, boasting the Rafflesia - a plant the size of a coffee table, snakes that fly and bearded pigs and of course one of the main reasons for our visit is because it's home to the orangutan.
Kuching - Cat City of the World. Our base for the three days we are here is Kuching, in the national language this means cat. This is highlighted by dozens of cat statuettes around the city, we only spotted two real ones and one of them was missing a tail! This capital city of Sarawak was famed in the early days as a river port ruled by legendary White Rajahs. As the largest city in the state, Kuching is now a rapidly developing city, boasting a population of almost half a million. In the city itself, one can find bustling shopping hubs and buildings that consist of a mix of modern and post-colonial architecture.
We stayed at the Singgahsana Lodge. This is a great place to stay, set up by two passionate travellers, who's dream it was to own a little sanctuary which reflected Sarawak culture, where they could host fellow travellers and share travel tales with them, 'Singgahsana' is the fulfilment of their dream. Strategically located along Temple Street the lodge is in the heart of Kuching City, in a great location only 20 steps from the famed Kuching Waterfront and 15 steps diagonally across from the oldest Chinese Tua Pek Kong Temple, all very nice unless you happen to be here on a Sunday evening when they are singing over the microphone, eek it sounds like a cats being strangled! Being straddled between the old and new quarters of the city, we spent many hours just walking along quaint narrow alleyways in old Kuching where tinsmiths noisily go about their work and spice and textile traders sell their merchandise. This is in sharp contrast to the other side of town where we would wander around modern air conditioned shopping malls, overlooked by luxury hotels and western chain eateries like, McDonalds and KFC.
We enjoyed some great food in Kuching, Laksa is world famous from these parts, it is a bowl of noodles and seafood or meat, seeped in a rich curry soup made with spices and coconut milk, and can be purchased from most cafes for around 80p a bowl! Another great if unusual place to eat is the Top Spot Seafood Court, this is a collection of eateries situated, wait for it........ on the top of a multi-storey car park! It was so strange to see coaches arriving with customers dressed to the nines only to watch them disappear into the car park! The seafood is excellent, all caught fresh from the South China Sea. You basically pick the fish raw, they weigh it and then cook it however you want it, expensive by local standards but we can't complain. We had an enormous King prawn which was the size of a lobster! And half a sea bass barbecued and served with sautéed vegetables and rice plus Tiger beer all for the bargain price of £10 for the two us!
Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary. The highlight of our trip was to visit this amazing place. Set deep in the jungle the orangutans live here wild, however twice a day for an hour food is placed on a feeding platform and the orangutans sometimes make their way there to pick up some additional fruit. The sighting of the orangutans is not guaranteed even during the feeding times but we were really lucky and were joined by six of them during our visit. Two were just babies, one only two weeks old, aaah it was so cute. We were also very privileged to get a visit from Richie the largest orangutan in the area, boy he was big and weighed an estimated 20 stone, that's more than I weigh! (No comments, thank you!). This was an amazing experience, one we will treasure in our memories for years to come, that said we plan a visit to another sanctuary when we get to Sabah at the other end of the island, fingers crossed!
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