Loving all the wildlife around us, we couldnít wait to see this part of the world. Kuching, our port of entry, the capital of Sarawak and known as the City of
Houses on stilts and many pot plants in the colorful
The village nearby has a few small shops, one or two eateries and friendly people. The people of a private house with a jetty let us use their landing and water and we could have our laundry done for 2RM a kg. There were
Market ware: Layercake in unappetizing colors and intricate patterns next to the tools for negotiating the jungle and its produce.
Except for clearing in and out, we seldom went in town. Just once or twice to go to the colorful weekend market, where the best layer cake (picture left) was sold amongst many other things like handicrafts, clothing, traditional knives and tools and of course the usual fruits and veggies. And to see the textile museum, a dark little place, but ok. Another time we visited the cat museum. Which was just a collection of pictures and statues with a few stories, not bad, but only good for cat-lovers.
The imposant building on the left houses the cat museum, on the right a painting by a local artist. Cats are highly regarded, but the average street spec. looks like any other, with the usually knotted tail and slit eyes.
Killing a cat in Kuching however, can get you a fine of RM300 (60 euro)
And that is a lot of money here!
It wasnít only sightseeing, we had work to do onboard. The dirty fuel tank that had caused us problems on the trip from Johor had to be cleaned and new fuel filters were needed. Jaap walked all over Kuching, but couldnít find any for our Yanmar. The answer to this problem came from Anne-Marie, a friend in Langkawi. This busy lady, the manager of Devís Adventure tours, was about to go on a well deserved holiday but managed to get hold of some and send them to us within a few days. Thank you Anne-Marie. How could we possibly stay out of trouble without helpful people like you!
Materials in all bright colors for the muslim ladies on the left and the new government building on the right.
Other yachts came sailing in. Many were part of a rally, others came for the Rainforest Music Festival, most did both. We certainly wanted to hang around for this 3 day festival of ethnic music where skilled musicians from many countries played various traditional instruments and held workshops and jam sessions. We saw 7 groups performing and listened to traditional Borneo music, played on the sapi, a string instrument made of bamboo, Indonesion gamelan, Korean drums, (very good!) Chinese chamber music, like Japanese goto, French gypsy band Poum Tchack and the topper: The Saint Nicholas Orchestra from
The stages were set up in the cultural village, an interesting place worth visiting anytime. There were many food stalls serving local dishes and good handicraft exhibitions. Even the weather provided the right rainforest feeling, but we were not discouraged and huddled under raincoats and umbrellas.
Somehow through the grapevine one Dutch physical therapist heard about the other and so we met Caroline from Terneuzen and her family: Husband Chris, a local M.D. and kids Tim, Kim and Didier. They took us out in their spare free time, to see caves and some remote kampongs or longhouses.
A longhouse consists of many houses lined up under one long roof, all facing a communal room, like a covered veranda. Traditionally they are built along rivers and occupied by the river people: the Iban tribe. In the old head-hunters days there were 2 major tribes, the land- and the sea dayaks. The Iban are descendents from the first one and are little farmers who grow rice, vegetables and fruit. Very peaceful, but a collection of skulls in an old storage room speak of different times.
Simuti Longhouse looks more like a kampong (village) on top of a mountain. Deep in the interior, near the border of
Another Dutchman, Jan from Otterloo and his wife and daughter came along as well, his wife being from this area and they too came and went like family friends. How wonderful it was to be with them! What we saw was so special. People doing their daily jobs as usual, a bit shy and not eagerly posing for the camera, as in the Annah Rais Longhouse, where we stopped on the way back and which is set-up for tourists, with a parking lot for tour busses and a ticket counter.
And here we all are: Jaap in the middle and from there clockwise: Caroline, Timothy, Kimberly, Didier, Tanja, Jan, Linda and Chris.
Another day Caroline picked us up to go to Bau, a small rural town where Chris has his clinic. From there it was not far to the Fairy and Windy caves, one an enormous chamber in a limestone formation, the other a tunnel-type, where swallows and bats fly in and out when you come at the end of the day. Both were very special, even for Jaap who doesnít like narrow caves much.
We (mainly Marijke and the kids) found all sorts of cave-dwelling creatures and small skeletons, thinking up stories of imaginary ghosts amongst the many limestone shapes and structures.
Left : A swiftlet on a nest, not edible, lucky for her. Right: A cave cricket.
Bats, bats and more bats. Oh, they stink!
Last, but not least: the
The big alpha male that dominates the area is known to come in regularly, more to show off his muscular power to some baby-carrying females who like to hang around this take-away outlet, I think. The day we were there he didnít show up. Too bad, but then the mothers were more relaxed and had ample time to play with their young ones.
Some teenagers were there too, male and female, not old enough yet to be sexually active and take part in the game of dominance.
We saw about 8 apes in the morning, went for a hike afterwards and hung around for the afternoon feeding session, but none showed up for that and the fruit was taken by cheeky squirrels and flower-peckers.
At the end of the day Jan and Linda came to collect us with their car, take us to their house for a meal and drop us of at Santubong. Thank you!
All you friends at Kuching made our time quite special. Chris and Caroline, we admire you for what youíre doing, the time you spend helping the locals, your care and energy that is literally getting people back on their feet. Keep it up, but take care!!! We hope to see you during your holiday in
The mudskippers of Santubong
Chased by a Dog-faced Watersnake and bright blue crabs.
Butterflies and dragonflies everywhere
Pitcher Plants found in the bush at the edge of the jungle
And some birds of course.
Olive-backed Sunbird at its nest with chicks
Swifts nesting under a house
Never saw so many Wood Swallows
Two different Drongos acting like a pair?!