...head up river and more.
Trip Start Mar 05, 2012
58Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Hiao Chiang Hotel
What I did
Runah Enking (Longhouse), Kapit wet market
Grab a boat from the Kuching jetty to head up river toward Sibu. Try to ignore the 7th straight day of rain and be glad you have a cabin inside the boat, but bring a blanket or sweater as the AC inside the cabin only has one temperature setting - bloody freezing.
Once you reach Sibu you can jump on another boat and head for Kapit. Be ready for a tight ride in a boat that looks more like a spaceship, and moves upriver at about the same speed. Should the weather allow it, you can ride on top and watch the numerous longhouses and fishermen as you cruise along.
Reach Kapit by about 6 after your 8 hour journey upriver. Begin your treasure hunt for the cheapest room in town. 48RM for an aircon room with a private bathroom...an affordable luxury in these parts.
Begin the next day with a nice kampua nisi noodle breakfast before your hunt for a van to get you to longhouse. Deciding to visit a longhouse on your own with no guide and essentially no Bahasa Malay skills can be risky. You might reach the place and run into the chief who will show you around. It seems more likely though, that you will get to the longhouse, find nobody to talk to, then watch as people slowly emerge to their respective doorways of their rickety homes to stare at the two confused white guys standing in the middle of the compound. At this point you will probably decide it was a bad idea and that the guy at the hotel who seemed so sure about his travel advice suddenly didn't seem so helpful.
Hop a van back to town and fill your day up with wandering, iced coffees, wet market (open air markets that sell goods that the farmers bring in, snack stalls, clothes, meat, seafood, and herbs) strolls
The journey back to Kuching will bear a striking resemblance to the original journey upriver. Rain prevents you from sitting on the roof of the boat and it lasts about 8 hours. The one difference you might find is that the boat crew have figured out how to change the single aircon setting from 'bloody cold' to 'standing naked in a snowstorm in the southpole while eating a popsicle'...be thankful if you have brought a small blanket and a pair of pants.
Back in Kuching, if it turns out to be St. Patrick's day, hunt down a bar that will serve you a Guiness that won't cost you your left arm and enjoy the rest of your day.