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.
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…
…but after looking at the fare, we decided not to.
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.
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!!!!
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…
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!
We waited until sunset before getting on another bot tambang to get back to the Kuching Selatan side of the 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.
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.
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.
Anak dara duduk atas tangga…
The girls taking a breather at the Penan hut.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.