Kuching (Sarawak, Borneo) - Day 151-152

Trip Start Jan 31, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sarawak,
Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 151 - 22/07/08

After the yesterday's disaster, managed to catch my flight this morning to Kuching in Borneo, thankfully! I'm now in the land of the head-hunters. When I say head-hunters I don't mean this in a corporate recruitment sense (I'm sure you know that). Borneo is famous for native tribal warriors who cut off the heads of their enemies, which they collected as souvenirs of their battles and triumphs. I'm sure this doesn't happen anymore, hopefully!

Kuching means cat in Malay. Cat statues are scattered around the city, loads of real cats wandering around too. Not sure what the significance of the cat is to this part of Sarawak. I'll try and find out in the next couple of days.
Had a walk around the city after checking into the Mandarin Hotel. I spotted some guys practising for a rowing race which will be held in August. There were two boats on the river with at least 25 guys per boat. It was quite a sight when they set off down stream. Never seen such a narrow rowing boat with so many rowers.

Lots of old British architecture remains in the city, mainly public and administrative buildings from the British colonial times, which are still in use. The Chinese influence can be seen due to merchants who lived here in the 19th century. The shops an houses reflect this presence, a real mix of cultures in Kuching.

Day 152 - 23/07/08

This morning I caught a mini bus with a nice Danish couple to Bako national park on the Muara Tebas peninsula, around an hour and half north-east of Kuching.
The mini bus dropped me off at Kampung Bako where I obtained a permit and took a 25 minute speed boat to the Bako national park headquarters. As we sped along the river the boat driver suddenly stopped the engine and pointed to a small sandy beach on the riverbank, a two metre long crocodile was basking in the sun. First wild croc I've every seen.
The boat dropped me off around ten metres from the beach, so I waded through the water and headed for the park headquarters where I signed in and was given a map of the forest trails. I decided to take the 6km Lintang loop trail. This is my first experience of a rainforest in Borneo. What a beautiful a place, not too many people on the trail, so walking through the primary rainforest listening to the insects and animals was magical. Saw and heard a few monkeys and a large male bearded pig which is a strange looking beast. Some great views of the coastline and the tree canopy on the high sections of the trail. The heat and humidity in the forest was intense, must of lost several litres of water walking the short loop. Towards the end of trial there's a raised walkway through a mangrove forest which leads back to the park headquarters. The sharp roots of the mangrove trees poke up through the muddy sand hence the raised walkways, you certainly wouldn't want to impale yourself on one of these roots. There're like the vicious bamboo spike traps the Vietcong used in the Vietnamese war. Had something to eat at the headquarters and returned back to Kampung Bako on the speed boat. Returned back to Kuching late afternoon on the most bumpy and rickety bus ever, think some of my internal organs were dislodged.
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