THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)

Monday, 1 March 2010

Kuch… kuch… Kuching!


As early as 7.30 am on Friday 26th February, I was already at the Ipoh-LCCT bus station in Bercham, for our all-girls office trip to Kuching. I was the one holding all the bus tickets, flight boarding passes, hotel booking confirmation etc AND the office cash for use in Kuching (to pay for group payments, shopping masing-masing sendiri punya cashlah!), I figured I might as well be there first. Oh well, I’m most of the time the first to arrive anyway…

With our flight ETD at 12.55 pm and our bus ETA at LCCT at 11.45 am, I didn’t want to risk not having enough time to check in, so I opted for web check-in and so we didn’t have to rush once we got to LCCT as we already had our boarding passes with us. There was no luggage to check-in anyway (time pergi hand luggage enoughlah, time balik different story).

Anyway, our bus was on time, our flight too was on time. We didn’t have enough time to have lunch first though, and we didn’t think it was worth buying lunch on the flight, so we only had lunch when we arrived at the Kuching airport. Only after our tummies were filled that I went to purchase our taxi coupons to get to our hotel. When I asked for 2 taxis, the lady suggested that I took the van instead. 2 taxis @ RM30 each, 1 van at RM50. Oh yeah, might as well take the van. There were 8 of us.

Our hotel? Oh, just a budget hotel, not at the Waterfront, but still within walking distance. Good enoughlah. And adjacent to the hotel lobby is Chillipeppers, which offers a variety of food, and opens 24 hours. So food-wise was not a problem even if we got hungry in the middle of the night.

After checking in, and having a short rest, off we went heading to the famous Waterfront. Just jalan-jalan enjoying the scenery.


basking A diiferent kind of basking?

We wanted to go for a river cruise, but the bot tambang, with a fare of only 50 sen one-way, would only bring us across the river. We wanted a short cruise along the river.

Well, there was a special cruise…

cruise

…but after looking at the fare, we decided not to.

cruise rate

So we asked one of the bot tambang operators how much he’d charge if we wanted him to bring us for a short cruise before dropping us off on the other side of the river. He said he charges RM5 per person, so yep, we grabbed his boat.

boat cruise Nothing close to the earlier cruise boat, but whaddaheck!

It was only when we were already cruising along that I realised the boat we were on didn’t have a single life jacket on board! Uh oh… other than my partner’s daughter (seen here in this pic with me), all the rest of us couldn’t swim to save our lives!!!!

sarawak river cruise

But the boat ride went smoothly, and I still managed to get a lot of pics from inside the boat. I’ll just put one here…

DUN

We were then dropped off on the other side of the river, so we walked around to see what was on that side. While there, we saw dua ekor kucing-kucing di Kuching ready to get into a kucing fight!

catfight

We waited until sunset before getting on another bot tambang to get back to the Kuching Selatan side of the river.

sunset Sunset at Sarawak River

Once back on the other side, we just walked around, “surveying” the place – where to get souvenirs etc. Then our tummies started grumbling… “woi, laparlah!” and so we walked over to TopSpot, one of the famous food centre in town. All of us being newcomers to Kuching city, we didn’t know there was a lift from the parking lot (we went to the place on foot anyway, so didn’t see the lift), and so menapaklah all the way to the roof top! Ordered seafood for dinner and we had good food for quite a reasonable price. Burp! Err, sorry, no pics… we were so hungry we grabbed the food the moment it was served (the food came quite late as there were soooo many people that night).

After dinner, we decided to get back to the hotel. We had a long day of travelling, so we might as well get a good rest before another long day the next day. Anyway, we decided to use the staircases on the other side of the food centre which was nearer to our hotel side. Konon-konon short cut, no need to walk so far. We got to the ground floor, and we were at the car park, with a divider at waist level separating us from the road leading to our hotel. Too lazy to walk back to the front, we decided to climb over the divider! There weren’t any male species around anyway, so whaaaddaheck!! (didn’t notice if there was any CCTV though…)

So yep, on the very first day of our trip, we were on a bus, a plane, a boat AND we climbed over the divider!

Day 2 : I had already booked a van and a driver for day 2. With a rental of RM270 for a 10 seater van inclusive of petrol and driver from 8 am to 10 pm, I considered it a good deal. Most of the others that I found on the internet offered 9am to 6pm package. The guy I dealt with already had other engagements but he promised to make arrangements for another driver to come and fetch us.

First, we had our breakfast, at Chillipeppers near our hotel, while waiting for our van to come. I told the driver Zul that we wanted to visit the Cultural Village in Santubong and that we wanted to make sure that our timing would be right to catch the 11.30 am cultural performance. I left it to Zul to decide where to go first and what time to get where. He’s a local and he’s used to driving tourists around so he should know better.

Zul said there was still time, so he brought us to the Cat Museum first.

cat museum

cutey cats The girls becoming catwomen for the day!

After about half an hour or so at the museum, we headed off to the Cultural Village which was about 40 minutes drive from Kuching. Zul was so good he even offered to buy the tickets etc even though we didn’t ask him to. He even got the tickets at a cheaper rate (I think probably it was sort of “commission” paid to him for bringing in tourists, but mind you he returned every single sen of the balance to me, we managed to save RM10 per person for our entrance fee!)

OK then, in we went for our walk around the cultural village. First stop, the Bidayuh longhouse.

bidayuh The lady sportingly posing when I said I wanted to take a pic with her.

According to the lady (in the above pic), this chicken in the pic below (called Manok if I’m not mistaken) had been staying at the longhouse since small and is already used to having visitors around.

cv chicken


anak dara atas tangga

Anak dara duduk atas tangga…


iban Coming down from the Iban longhouse.

penan

The girls taking a breather at the Penan hut.

orang ulu The Orang Ulu longhouse



melanau Melanau Tall House

gasing One of my office staff giving the Sarawak gasing a try. She ended up almost hitting me with the gasing instead!

malay A makcik posing at the Malay Town House

chinese Finally, at the Chinese Farm House

Anyway, it was a very hot day and walking around to all 7 Sarawak houses was quite a feat! I was sweating so much, and my face felt so oily, I think I produced enough oil to fry an egg! We finished our rounds just in time to get to the theatre for the cultural performances. The place was packed with people, there weren't anymore seats for us, but we managed to get a standing space at the back row, good enough for us to get a clear view of the performances on stage. Luckily the theatre was air-conditioned, I was dry again by the time the 45 minute show ended.

cultural show

After the Cultural Village, we told Zul to take us for lunch. We wanted to try mee kolok, and asked him to recommend us a place. So he took us to a small restaurant in Satok. Our mee kolok looked somewhat pale, but mak aihh… pedasnya boleh tahan!

After lunch, off we went to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre with the hope of catching a glimpse of the semi-wild orangutans there. Before giving us our tickets, the guy at the ticket counter told us there was no guarantee we’d be able to see any orangutans at all. Apparently, those who visited during the morning feeding time went back disappointed as none of the orangutans showed up. It was fruiting season, the orangutans could easily get food in the wild and didn’t bother to come during feeding time.

semenggoh

But guess what? We were lucky enough that during the afternoon feeding time, while we were there, a few orangutans turned up, including one the rangers call “Hot Mama” (this one if she starts coming towards you, you’d better run for your life!). So yep, we managed to clearly see some orangutans at quite a close range, distancing ourselves just enough for our safety.

orangutan Hot mama and baby

Before sending us back to our hotel to freshen ourselves, Zul brought us to the civic centre. There was a tower which we could go up to have a good view of Kuching city. It was only when we got there that Zul remembered that just 2 days before, somebody committed suicide by jumping to his death from the tower. True enough, the guard there told us that the tower was temporarily closed to visitors. So what he showed us was just the spot where the guy fell and died. So much for a view of Kuching city…

We then went back to our hotel to freshen ourselves and told Zul to fetch us again in 1 1/2 hours time. We were tired, yes, but it would be such a waste to stay in the hotel for too long since we were there just for a short holiday. There was no time to waste. Zul then took us around Kuching city, heading towards the kampong area in Kuching Utara. The day before we were on that side by boat, this time we took the longer route by road. Zul even showed us the Chief Minister’s house.

Zul then brought us to Kg Gersik, to buy the famous kek lapis Sarawak. I didn’t know buying kek lapis Sarawak would be quite a task! There were so many varieties we didn’t know which ones to buy! Yes, they provided samples for tasting, but with so many varieties, I got confused even after tasting. So I ended up with my usual “hentam sajalah” approach. Just took 5 types – ikut nasiblah!

For dinner, again we went to TopSpot, and ordered things which we hadn’t ordered the night before. This time Zul took us in through the car park and dropped us off right at the door to the lifts, so we were spared from more huffs and puffs up the stairs to the roof top! And after dinner we didn’t have to climb over any more dividers. Hehehe…

Then we went one more round at the Waterfront area as my office staff wanted to buy souvenir items. But most of the shops there close quite early at night and so we didn’t really have time to buy much. We just headed back to our hotel and I paid Zul for the day’s services.

Although I booked the van and driver for just one day, we were sooooo satisfied with Zul’s services, we decided to hire him for the next day. Our flight was in the afternoon and so we decided to check out in the morning, get Zul to fetch us at the hotel and bring us to Pasar Satok before sending us off to the airport.

So yep, after breakfast (again at Chillipeppers), we checked out and the total we had to pay for the hotel (for 8 people for 2 nights) was only RM480! That’s just RM30 per person per night. Cheap no? And the place wasn’t bad at all.

Anyway, off to Pasar Satok we went.

pasar satok

I bought myself the “mandatory” terubuk masin and a few souvenir items to bring home. There was still enough time after that, and so we asked Zul to bring us back to the Waterfront for one last round as the girls wanted to buy more small souvenir items for their kaum-kerabat back home.

I decided not to buy anything else, so I just lepak-ed at the riverside while waiting for the girls to shop. By 11.15 am, we made a move to the airport as we hadn’t checked in yet. Our flight was at 1.55 pm. And guess what? Usually for van charges from hotel to airport would be RM50. For the additional 2 1/2 hours or so driving us to and waiting for us at Pasar Satok and then Waterfront, Zul just charged us an additional RM10. I bet if I had approached him direct for Saturday whole day rental, we would also probably be charged at a cheaper rate. So yeah, if anyone out there plans to visit Kuching and needs the services of a reliable van + driver, I’d highly recommend Zul.

27 comments:

pakmat said...

beautiful write up, lady..didn't Hot Mama make a rush for you?..

Naz said...

Just my kind of holiday, Kak Pi! ... and wonderful pics too.
Did you get my sms before I left Msia the other day?

Pi Bani said...

Pakmat,
I was a good girl... just stood there quietly and making sure my camera's flash was off. If I had forgotten to off the flash, mau dah kena kejar dengan Hot Mama!

Pi Bani said...

Naz,
Yep, got your SMS... masa tu I dah nak terlena... :)

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Pi,
Good of Zul to offer to buy the tickets for Kampung Budaya coz he would have got it at locals' rate. Tourists (incl non-Sarawakians) are charged a different rate. Am glad you had a good time in "my" town. Eh, tak sempat ke cari teh tarik kat Waterfront tu? Is the free tram still around? purrr...meow!

Pi Bani said...

CiS,
Oh... kira we all got the local rate lah eh? Very good lah Zul, he could have offered to buy the tickets and save me the trouble of having to queue up, charge us the normal RM60, at least he could have easily got RM70 untung for himself. Lurus betul Zul ni.

Tak sempat nak pekena teh tarik although I did see quite a few of those red and white stalls.

Tram? Didn't see any.

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Pi,
The last time my parents were there, the hotel gave them a sticker to stick on pocket of your top, then there were special stops for this tram. Saves walking from the hotel to the Waterfront at least. It covers most of the touristy places in town. purrr...meow!

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Wah Pi,

Nice pictures, especially those longhouses. Do u know that the stone grinder at the Chinese Farm House, that is first generation blender primarily used to grind rice into liquid form then steam to make into ‘kueh teow’ or ‘chi cheong fun’.

Hey u ni accountant ka? I see u r very cost conscious & very ‘calculative’, everything must check prices first...hahaha. That’s a very good trait to have but alas u r no fun to be with lah, semua nak kira-kira one where got syiok leh. I say u must have spent too much time with those ‘Yeepoh’ aunties, everything should be fresh, good quality & at the lowest price b4 they buy…hahaha.

Cheers,
Tommy

Pi Bani said...

CiS,
Takpa, walking is good exercise anyway... :)

Pi Bani said...

Tommy,
Wah, very clever lah you. Memang I do accounting & company secretarial work.

But in this case I have to be calculative lah. You see, the deal was that the Company approves a certain amount; anything over and above the approved amount, the staff will have to top up. Since they want to spend more money on their shopping spree, I try my best to arrange for other costs not to exceed the approved amountlah.

Anyway, takpalah I jadi Yeepoh auntie pun... Yeepoh and Kaypoh! ;)

Lyana Mauseth said...

kak pi, jalan2 kuch kuch nmpk hehe...bila nak mai sini lagi?

Pi Bani said...

Lyana,
Teringin juga nak mengarah ke utara lagi (& hopefully with more time for myself), but so far belum jumpa kesempatan. Kalau Pi pi Kedah, insyaAllah I sound kat you.

Anonymous said...

Cik Pi, kebetulan saya akan ke kuching dalam 2 minggu lagi. tolong beritahu hoptel mana, dan bagaimana menghubungi mereka, dan juga cara menhubungi zul. t'kasih.

jasmani, singapura
(jjalilsuaib@hotmail.com)

Salt N Turmeric said...

Sekejapnya Pi. 3d/2n aje ke? Sounded like you got a very good driver. Very rare species that Zul person.

Memang food kat sana byk varieties and i find seafood kat east msia better than at west msia. Did u try/buy the fern leaves? i loved fern leaves fr there sbb they are big compared to kat kl.

Pi Bani said...

Jasmani,
Nanti saya hantar separate email.

Pi Bani said...

Farina,
Office trip lah my dear, tak leh lama-lama... nanti lama benar pulak tutup office.

Fern leaves? We did try paku midin for dinner on both nights.

sakmongkol AK47 said...

Awal2 lagi I dah drop by at your blog entry. Tak tahu nak cakap apa..mengah ikut you touring Kuching!

So glad you had a great time..you must give yourself a recharge more often!

Love the catwoman pose! Cuma satu missing..must be Cat-in-Sydney!

sakmongkol AK47 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mamasita said...

Pi..I terpakai Dato' punya blogname..leceh betul!
Akibat pakai laptop dia..banyak kali dah ter macam ni..tulaah..I tak check dulu, pakai tekan jer..haha

Pi Bani said...

Mamasita,
Tu lah, terkejut jugak ada orang datang blog I bawak dia punya AK47... ;)

Cat-in-Sydney dok kat museum entrance ... yang mulut menganga luas nak telan we all tu! Hehehe...

mekyam said...

i betul2 ingat u gi naik belon.

i thought wow msia dah ada hot-air balloon, something to try bila balik.

tipu kaum lah u, pi! :b

but nonetheless thank you for taking us kuch kuch along with you. lovely writeup and pix.

Pi Bani said...

Mekyam,
Laaa... ingat kot Tipah je tertipu, rupanya Mekyam pun tertipu! Haha!

Eh, tapi mana ada I tipu. Memang di Sarawak kalau kita kata naik belon tu maknanya naik kapalterbang laa...

Azizah said...

Assalamualaikum,

Boleh tak tolong emailkan contact driver tu?

su.azizah@gmail.com

Thanks.

Pi Bani said...

Azizah,
Dah email dah!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pi

Saya akan ke kuching akhir bulan ni. Boleh tak share contact number driver zul? Terima Kasih

Noor
noorman@pacific.net.sg

Pi Bani said...

Noor,
Cuba hantar email to your email add, tapi kena tendang... over quota?

Tak apalah, will share Zul's contact here:

Zulhaji Abd Rahim, +6012-8496603

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing.....

Noor