A day wasted travelling to Kapit

Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Friday, February 26, 2010

We left early in the morning to get catch the boat to Sibu. The only boat that leaves Kuching for Sibu leaves at 08.30 in the morning, this meant we had to get up at 06.00 to get the public bus to The express ferry terminal 12km out of town. We waited at the bus stop next to the Margarita hotel for 20 minutes before a mini van driver pulled over offering us a lift to the boat terminal. We would normally turn the offer down but he was offering a lift for 3rm which seemed a reasonable price. He also explained that the bus would not get you to the terminal in time to get catch the boat. Its nice to know that they do not over charge tourist for lifts, we know this as we watched every Malayan person pay the same fee.

We arrived at the ticket office in enough time to buy our ticket and to grab some quick breakfast. You have the choice between first class and second class we picked the second class for 40rm, which is a lot for a 4 hour boat ride. Looking through the our travel books, Borneo seems a lot dear on transport than on the peninsular. As we board the boat we walked into the indoor seating area and found our seats. We were shocked at how nice the seats were for second class, it wasn't until we noticed people go below the deck to another set of seating, did we realise we were actually in first class. We remained sitting here in hope that no one would notice and they didn't so we thoroughly enjoyed our seat in first class which were more like aeroplane seat with a fold up tray on the back of the chairs.

As per usually Leah curled up with a blanket and had a knap for an hour. It can get so cold on the public transport, they love to have the A/C on full power. Its such a waste of electricity as everyone is sat in jumpers and coats in the end we sat out side in the sunshine. At the back of the ferry there was seat under a tarpaulin, we spent of the time here watching the live around the river. As you can see from the picture the river is a coffee colour, we later found out from a local that years ago it use to be crystal clear. The colour change is due to the logging that takes place in the rainforest surrounding the river. The cutting down of the trees results in unstable ground, which then under heavy rainfall (they get a lot of that around here) the lose soil runs down into small tributaries which feed into the main river resulting in the mocha choco latte. While streaming up the river we got to see the local villages living by the river fishing, tug boats pulling huge barges full of wood or logging equipment. Another amusing thing to watch was a small tug boat struggling to drag 150 tied logs floating in the river down stream.

This boat ride had probably been the smoothest means of transport we have experienced except for the boat leaning when turning corners it remained flat. We arrived in Sibu at 13.10 we thought we had missed the last boat to Kapit but it turns out that they run boats up until 14.30. it was all a bit of a rush because we booked the 13.45 boat but went and got some food at a local cafe. We have noticed that we don’t turn up early anymore, we arrive when they transport is due to leave, I guess our confidence has grown. We also booked a 2nd class ticket for 20rm, this time we weren’t so lucky and couldn’t sneak into 1st class as all the seat were full. The inside of the boat was tidy, and clean which we were very surprised at. The only down side was the leg room, it was 5inches too small for brad to even get his legs behind the chair in front. This was another 3 hour journey this time you could not get out on deck as it is a long thin rocket shape vessel. This is one of the express boat that ply the river, running a huge 10 cylinder diesel engine.

We must have arrived at 17.30 into to this small town. You could tell my the glances and stared that they don’t see many westerners. 'Hello my friend’ the young boys would shout as we walked past, it didn't sound a friendly welcome but more of a patronising fun joke amongst friends. Brad sat down with the bags whilst Leah looked around the town trying find a cheap bed for the night. Why? Does it always seem to happen to us, they were all fully booked, how could this possible a small town far from any major city be full on a week night. While we sat on the park bench frustrated with things an old couple from England joined us. They told us the place they were staying in and luckily they had a room available. We sat in the park with the couple and discussed  their long house trip they went on yesterday and their previous travels. They had paired a fair bit of money for a 3 days and 2 nights tour and was extremely disappointed with the outcome. They were promised by  the tour guide  they would get what they want, a indigenous village tribe in the jungle, something they have already experience in Indonesia. From what we gathered they spent most of their time in a smoky 4x4 crossing the forest when they arrived it was nothing what he had promised. They were local people dressed in normal clothes and watching TV living in a long house. We don’t really want to name the person but we feel people should know who not to book with. His name is Joshua and he makes his way around the town looking for tourists, if you ask any local bout him, they will not tell you exactly what he is like they will just say, no, no, no, which should be a big enough clue.

We checked in a hiked our bags up 97 step to the top floor, the room was very basic and extremely hot compared to the rest of the place. Other than a long house visit there is not much to do in this town. We discussed what to do as we don’t want to spend a lot of money and be disappointed with what we get. We both have strong ideas of what we want out of this tour and realised this is not the place to get it. We think we will wait until we get to Indonesia and go and visit the tribe this couple had seen. Apparently they are on an island of Sumatra, where you have to cross dense jungle to get to there house. They wear leaf pants and survive by hunting and fishing. It would definitely be worth paying more for this experience.

By the time we put out our wet washing and on to the streets it must of been 19.30. all the shops and cafe that were open an hour ago were closed, the odd person walking around. Apart from that it was a ghost town. We went to buy a can of Pepsi in a shop but they didn't have any so we walked around try to find another shop, unfortunately we had no luck so had to go back to the first shop and get a coke instead. By the time we got there she was just locking the doors. The only place to eat was the hawker stands in a car park.

We grab some food and went back to our hot stuffyroom to 10 bees flying around the light try to mate, we squashed a few out of their boundaries. We went to bed early as it is another early start tomorrow, I swear travelling is not about the early starts.
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Ho on

Hello !
Greetings ! First of all I am glad you came to my part of the world and that is Sarawak. Secondly, I am sorry it was not an exciting trip to Kapit. Sarawak has still got a long way to go in terms of development. So for Kapit which is one of the most interior towns in Sarawak, you can imagine how many more years will she be bigger and has more people and more economic activities going on. For now if you want to soak into the lives of the Kapit people, you have to know them and they have to know you as a friend. Once you are their friend and you do what the Kapit people do, you will find that there are things to see and things to do. But in a way it is good that you have experienced the interior part of Sarawak. May be you can come back again say, after the next 10 years. May be by then there are regular plane trips instead of just the express boat ride. Actually Kapit has a small airport and once upon a time small planes flew. But because it was not so economical, commercial flights had to be cancelled. Peace.

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