Kuching and Baku National Park

Kuching Travel Blog

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16/07/09

 

Another rough night on the road, but I had made it to Kuching.  I tried Laksa for breakfast in an attempt to blend in with the locals, but it kicked my ass with its spicy twang. 

 

I hadn’t slept much on the cold air-conditioned bus, but in an attempt to regulate my body clock, I tried to stay awake and go out and sight see.  My plan was to go to Kuching Mosque via Hang San Temple and Harmony Arch, but when I got there, I was a bit disappointed with the almost plastic dolls house appearance of the mosque.

  I didn’t stay around too long and instead tried to focus some attention on staying awake by going to Sarawak’s museums. 

 

Sarawak museum has two floors; the first is a ground floor where pictures and photographs are on show, but this is more of place to purchases paintings and photos than a museum.  All the pictures seemed to have a price tag attached.  I went straight for the upstairs where the information carries you through more of Sarawak’s native and colonial history, but it just got far too tired to keep reading about the British and Japanese colonisation, or the Independence from the Empire. 

 

Across the road was the more simple Museum of Ethnology and this was more at my concentration level as it contained hoards of stuffed reptiles and animals.

  I wondered past the snakes (cobras, vipers, and pythons), tortoises, crocodiles, loads of fish, orang-utans, a honey bear, monkeys, birds, a leopard, and even a porcupine.  I spent a bit more time here, but when I got to the last section, which was on Shell oil and gas, my reading lethargy kicked in again and it was time to move on to the funkier art museum.  I really liked the wooden carvings and the modern art and this kept me awake a little longer.

 

I went back to the hostel via the Brookes Monument (the founder of the British colony of Sandakan) for a little snooze.  Finally the day had gotten the better of me. 

 

17/07/09

 

I actually used the ear plugs this time instead of the ‘I didn’t do it’ kicking tactic to block out the roars coming from another Malaysian guy in the hostel, though I probably would have used a combination if the beds had of been closer.

 

 

My plan for the day was to go to Baku National Park, but I was still far too tired, so I opted for another easy day off.  I was ready to see the Peninsula now after all the trekking, but I really did want to see Baku, and I thought it would be better for me to go when I had more energy.  Instead I went around the city to see the Great Cat of Kuching and hopefully find a cinema (the new Harry Potter film had just been released).  I couldn’t find a cinema, so carried on to Margharita Fort.  This was built by Brookes in 1879 and sits strategically on the river to protect Kuching from invasion.  It’s free entry, but you have to pay a ringgit to cross the river by boat. 

 

There was supposed to be a pretty interesting Police Museum, but I guessed that was just a rumour as I wondered through vacant room after vacant room.

  In all fairness, there was a lot of construction work going on at the time, so I thought the artefacts might have been temporarily re-housed. 

 

All-in-all I found it a bit of a boring fort, and in fact, the most interesting thing about it for me was climbing to the top of the lookout tower.  I didn’t think it was allowed as a wooden board blocked the way, but a broken padlock said it could easily be pushed aside, so up I went and absorbed a better view of Kuching.

 

I crossed back over the river, but in the boat I got chatting to a couple of girls from the UK.  It turned out that they were from Nottingham as well (I recognised the distinct accent) and actually lived only a few minutes away from my brother’s house – small world eh?  Yeah right!  I know better than that after being away for five months and only scratching a tiny corner of the world.

 

18/07/09

 

Some beach time at last!!!  I caught the local bus to Baku National Park and got there for around 11am giving me the best part of the day to balance trekking with bathing.  I shared a boat ride with five other travellers so we could split the cost, and after quickly registering, I was off along the Lintang trail and then Teluk Patu trail.  Apparently this offered the most sightings of wildlife, though I personally saw nothing.

 

It wasn’t a long trek and I soon made it to the beach and got settled there.  I did consider going back and doing another trek towards Telak Pandon Besar Beach as it is said to be bigger and nicer, but I was content where I was with the secluded cove I’d found.

 

 

Together (the people on the boat coming in) we’d all agreed to meet back up for a 3pm meet up time, and the same boat driver would pick us all up.  I made it back with a bit of time to spare, so wondered off into the close by forest.  I got pretty lucky here as a load of Chinese guys had gathered around looking at what seemed at first inspection to be a plant.  Curiosity got the better of me as one of them flagged me to come over, and he pointed out a camouflaged snake wrapped around the branch.  It was a brilliant bright green colour and there’s no way I’d have seen it on my own.  It made me wonder what I’d actually missed on all those treks. 

 

I carried on into the forest, just a little deeper as I could hear crashing sounds of branches.

  I kept perfectly still knowing I had been seen, but I wanted to appear unthreatening and my tactic worked as a proboscis monkey presented itself high up in the trees.  He was soon joined by two others, but when a few more people came into the forest as well, they soon departed.

 

I was a bit disappointed I’d missed a local resident though.  Apparently, around about dinner time, a wild boar always shows up to scavenge the left overs from the canteen.  I think that would have been pretty funny to see.

 

I met back up with a Welsh couple who were on my boat, but the rest were no where to be seen.  The price of the boat is set, irrelevant of the number of passengers, so we could have done with a couple more to share with.  I noticed a German family coming and they didn’t seem to have a boat booked, so I offered them to join us and split the costs.

  They accepted and we were on our way.  Our driver was a really nice chap and pleasantly explained the rules of if you book a boat to pick you up, you cannot go back in a different boat as the driver of that boat faces a fine of the fare to the original driver.  The family insisted they had no prior booking which turned out to be true.  The problem was though, the night before they believed they were being overcharged as the last boat of the day may have upped the fare considerably.  Now I don’t know the truth, but I was on the side of the family, simply because I wanted to get back.  The boat driver from the night before turned up and arguments were ongoing and ongoing.  Myself and Welsh couple had no choice but to say quiet and patiently wait for an outcome.  In the end the boat driver gave up arguing and left, but I wasn’t sure if he was truly the one in the wrong.

 

We got back to the port and paid our driver and all left the park.

  The German father offered us to share a cab with them, but we thought it would be more appropriate to get the bus.  He then offered to pay the whole fare as an apology for the trouble and a thank you for our patience.  We got in, all was forgiven.  In truth we did little more than empathise, but they were pretty embarrassed by the whole debacle.  I actually believed him to be one of the more objectionable types and quite uncompromising, but I was happy enough to put any judgements aside and accept a free lift back.  We all parted on good terms. 

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A snake - look closely
A snake - look closely
Kuching
photo by: aotw