Picked up by mini bus at 4pm yesterday and driven through North Kuching to the Santubong Wharf. The trip passed through wide open suburban areas with wide roads, large roundabouts, lots of large trees, gardened median strips and no pot holes! Mainly bungalows on this side of the river. 65% of the population in North Kuching is Malay. Arrived at Santubong wharf (The Sarawak Boat Club) and boarded our boat. Just one Dutch couple, our guide and boatman. Set of towards estuary of the river. Spotted a croc on the way. Once in the South China Sea outside the estuary we spotted several Irrawaddy Dolphins (a smaller shyer species than Aussie ones). Passing a Turtle Hatchery island we arrived in the mouth of another river and cruising slowly (now after 6pm) we spotted groups of Proboscis monkeys feeding on the young leaves along the river bank in dense jungle. Saw many juveniles, females and then in another spot 2 large males. It was a great experience and was the second time we had seen them in the wild.
Sun began to set and we passed a Malay fishing village, almost untouched by time, on the river bank. Houses were on stilts into the river and multi-coloured boats moored below. There was about a 100 houses there.
We returned at high speed in the dark with no navigation lights, first striking a swell in The South China Sea causing us to slow after we hit one and spray covered us. Gained speed again in glassy river and Captain used the technique of shining a spotlight in our boat when he heard another unlit boat to avoid collision. All in all a stimulating ride!
Near the wharf we went to the river’s edge and spotted fire flies their lights looking like decorations on a Christmas tree. The trip was great and surpassed our expectations in every way. It was truly a new experience for us to venture into such a vast river system and we returned to the hotel a very happy couple.
Have been in contact with Chris Cheong from the Regal Group and he is picking us up at 1.30 to show us some of their developments.
We are really enjoying the space at The Batik Boutique Hotel as the room is large and the bright green Batik Motif above the bed contrasting with the white walls and lots of natural light from the big windows gives it a wonderful feel and we have “spread out” our belongings for the first time in Malaysia. The breakfasts at the Bites Café where they are served are all perfect and we find ourselves lingering over breakfast reading the Star newspaper. Very relaxing. None of the pretentious types that you often find in 5 star hotels here! Glad we have booked 11 days. The rack rate is 286RM or about $100 Australian.
Where to stay here is a matter of your individual needs. The Hilton is 5 star and starts at 300RM. The newer Riverside Majestic is 200RM to 400RM and another new hotel just down the road from us is The Padungan Hotel that has modern but not large rooms from 100RM. The Waterfront Lodge is also a great place to stay providing your knees are in good shape and really gives you a feel of the Old Kuching. Current exchange rate 2.8RM to Aussie Dollar.
Just had lunch at the Chinese Barbeque Specialist near our hotel again. Both of us had Roast Pork Rice and spicy Green Vegetables. Every child would eat its vegies if cooked like these ones. As usual 2 honey lime juices and we walked out paying 22RM or $7.85 Australian. These sort of prices would make it easy for an expat on the Aussie pension able to fly around Asia every month or so. We are still managing to fly, stay in hotels and lodges for around the equivalent of an Aussie couples pension! If we were renting permanently in say Melaka we would be able to save and virtually travel at will with the super cheap air and bus fares.
Used cross river sampan to Astana the very large Governor’s Residence to see the Kuching Orchid Garden situated behind it. Our expectations were low after seeing the Kuala Lumpur one which was very disappointing. Well this one was fantastic. There were thousands of orchids of all species beautifully maintained and displayed. The staff obviously had great pride in their work. The flowering ones were absolutely superb and we could not stop the camera from clicking. We can recommend it as a must see in Kuching. They hold an International Orchid Show in September which would be a good time to visit.
While in the cross river sampan Erica noticed that an old man had his ferry money stored in his ear as he had no pocket. Took a pic as many would not believe it! He then helped us find our way to the Orchid Garden.