For the second part of our fabulouso holiday, we went to the more urban area of Kuching. It was so we could eat out more, explore etc but I was very sad to leave the comfiness of the Damai Beach Resort. Luckily, we had checked into the 5 Star Pullman Hotel, which is the best hotel ever, so I was not sad for long! It was super new and modern and had a bar which did 2 for 1 cocktails at happy hour (we became nightly regulars) it was really luxurious, we had a gorgeous room and a love motel-esque shower room. The pool was also massive and mostly empty so I did exercise for the first time in a long time! The pool area also had cabanas (free!) so we hung out there for many an hour being completely lazy!
It was great! Unfortunately, the hotel was up a massive hill, which walking up in the heat is never a good thing. Kuching was a bit of a dump. They had some really beautiful hotels and colonial buildings dumped in the middle of a big shanty town with crappy pavements and shacky houses - it was like a bigger version of Ancheon! The tourist industry is obviously the biggest economy in Kuching because of the wildlife, but it's like they don't get how to make the most of it - very random! But all the people in both hotels and in restaurants were really lovely, which is more than can be said for Kuala Lumpur!
On the first day we decided to explore Kuching, with myself the seasoned traveler and crap map reader deciding that I knew the way to the Waterfront (Kuching’s main feature). However, as I am a crap map reader, I instead took us on a massive detour in the burning midday sun which almost killed us! Luckily a friendly Kuchinger (?!) took pity on us and showed us the way to the waterfront. We were then too knackered to do any sightseeing so just ate at an overprice Bistro (Charles Brookes Bistro), which had rude staff and is racist according to the bible that is Trip Advisor!
In the evening, we decided to go to a restaurant, Junk, that had been recommended by Trip Advisor, but we didn’t know how to get there. So after a half price pina colada we hopped it to reception. The reception guy was not helpful at all – Women here were so much friendlier, except the friendly concierge, he was ace! So we got a taxi to the restaurant. Unfortunately, our taxi driver didn’t have a clue where we were going – we were very worried that it would be super far! When he eventually worked it out, we got in his taxi and it stunk of wee! It was the grossest thing ever! As it turns out, the taxi ride took about 2 seconds and the driver ripped us off for 10 ringitts (it should have been about 3), so we were not happy! The meal was nice though, and we had a lovely pizza (not very Malaysian) and mmm garlic bread!!
The Friday brought a trip to Bako National Park. Due to our crappy state of health (and my laziness) I had been pondering whether to do this trekking trip, but our massive walk yesterday had led us to the offices of the lovely CPH company and we booked a tour with them. So we were up bright and early for the adventure! There were only 7 people on the tour, but the rest of them appeared to be super fit Europeans – NOOO! And our guide, Ramen, had grown up in Bako, so was determined to lead us on a trip full of animals and away from the general tourist trail. This was all well and good, but it meant we had to wade up to our knees through an insanely slippy swamp and then trek up the worlds most uneven tree trunk roots to reach our destination! It was all worth it though, as we got to see loads of fab animals – including snakes and 3 types of monkey – and a giant hog! It was very satisfying to finish the trail, although we were completely wrecked and my hair was just WRONG!
We then got a boat back to the mainland from the park, but the rest of the group (who were in another boat) missed the tide so spent over an hour making the 20 minute journey back – we were starving and had to wait in the sun for them and by the time they reached the mainland all the food had run out so we had to eat in a ‘locals’ café. I have eaten in some right holes in my time, but Mags was pretty appalled by the dirtiness. We had the benefit of a local crazy guy constantly hollering outside to add the ambience as well! The food was tasty though, and didn’t take long for us starving folk to eat it! We were absolutely knackered by the end of the day, so retired to our beds to await happy hour cocktail goodness!
Due to our massive overexertion on the Friday (my usual amount of weekly exercise is dragging myself to the Buan Bus Station in incredible heat daily and then collapsing on a bed), we decided to make Saturday Pool day! Yay! Normally on my holidays I don’t get any time to rest (Greg!), so this was a lovely relief! Especially as the pool was so fabulous. We settled under a cabana for the day and swam, ate and hid from the sun – it was a great day and definitely showed why you should go 5 star (when you’re in Asia and it doesn’t bankrupt you to do so!)
On the Sunday I unfortunately became very old - but it was good as I got lots of presents and cards, despite being millions of miles from home - thanks guys (especially Mags who carried them all and gave me an actual wardrobe of clothes I wanted to wear!).. plus it was good cos I got lots of attention and cocktails! We started the day very early (unusually for a birthday) so we could see the orang-utans eat their breakfast. The orang-utans here lived in a sanctuary called Semenggoh so were only semi- wild but we were well excited to see them! We got there and there were already lots of orang-utans eating so that was very cool - it was a little disappointing as the set up was not as wild as I had hoped - now I am a professional trekker, I expected it to be a lot more wild and not have marked paths etc, it was still very good though and amazing to see them so close in their natural habitat!
After an inital look at some enthusiastic orangutans we headed out to a more isolated area (well it was isolated until about 150 tourists, including loud Asians, grrr, turned up!! We waited for ages and none appeared, and we only had 30 minutes to wait, so we were just about to give up when the cutest thing ever happened and a mum and baby orang-utan came by!! It was soooo cute!! They were playing so close to us and it was just the best thing ever! After a while we were forced to leave and so were gutted, but everyone ignored the keepers for a while, just so we could see them cuteness some more!!
After our adventures in the rainforest tried to get some lunch, but the cafe we wanted to go to was closed and we ended up trekking through the streets - AGAIN! After a mini shopping trip in the tourist shops, which was unfortunately aborted as I thought I had lost my birthday bracelet (it was actually broken and fallen into my bag) we ended up eating the lunch special at McDonalds! I think its kind of appropriate to eat there for my birthday, as that's the only food I've been able to eat this year, plus we were REALLY starving, so it was all good! Weirdly McDonalds in Malaysia only sells Coke and Sprite though, very odd!!
After the lunch trauma we decided to be lazy bitches (well I did, cos it was my birthday so I was the boss) and lay in our room for an AGE! We eventually decided to go for a swim, and just as reached the pool the heavens opened! (they were prone to opening in the afternoon for all our time in Kuching and KL). Luckily, as we were staying in a super posh hotel, we got to sit on fancy couches under covers and watch the thunderstorm - I actually really enjoyed it as I was warm, comfy and could be lazy - my favourite things - plus it looked pretty impressive! Eventually the rain stopped and we swam some token lengths, good times!
In the evening, we had our usual Pina Coladas and then went out to a restaurant called Magenta, it was kind of weird because there were about 5 staff and we were the only customers, and it didn't have a toilet, but the food was really fit (fish and chips) and the wine was doable! After this we went back to the hotel to the bar, where the staff were getting really overexcited about the Man Utd v Man City Charity Shield Match - they were cheering united, much to Mags' amusement!
On the Monday, we had to say goodbye to Kuching and fly out to KL. After an early morning swim we didn't have much to do, as I had stupidly booked a 5.30pm flight! We went to the airport and excitingly I bought a dairy milk! (why is Korea the only country in the world no to sell them?!!?!?!?). We also ate in this god awful hole called Marry Brown (Malaysian McDonalds) which I think is the skankiest fast food ever, and I've eaten at Chicken Cottage!! We had to wait there a long time as a storm came again and delayed our flight so it was with relief and much turbulence that we finally boarded the plane to Kuala Lumpur, ending the peaceful part of our holiday!