Kuching: 27-30 November 2009

Day 1 - Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and Sarawak River Cruise

It's always a mad rush getting out of Singapore before or during a long weekend. Fortunately I did an Internet check-in the previous day so I could join the shorter queue.

The plane from Kota Kinabalu arrived in Singapore late so it took off late for Kuching. I don't know why I always forget to bring a pen. I borrowed one from the lady sitting beside me. I thanked her verbally and proceeded to duly reward her with the smell of my Fish Briyani which I pre-ordered when I booked my ticket. I knew I wouldn't have time to have breakfast before boarding the plane. Besides, I somehow always feel hungry when I smell other people's food on budget flights so this was my chance to let others smell my food and drool! The briyani was surprisingly good. Within minutes the cabin crew announced that there was limited food available for the others who did not pre-order. Well, who cares about the others when I've got my Briyani :P

Briyani on Air Asia

The plane landed late in Kuching at about 12.20pm (it was scheduled to land at noon). My friend said he would be waiting for me there are 11.45am. I didn't want to keep him waiting so I rushed ahead and was one of the first few people who cleared immigration. We had Japanese food for lunch (ya, I ate again!) and then drove to Semenggoh wildlife centre to try our luck to see whether we would get to see the orangutans feeding. There are 2 feeding times: morning and afternoon.

Briefing by park ranger

The orangutans here are orphaned or rescued from captivity. They are trained by the wardens/caretakers to survive in the wild. They are free to roam in the wildlife reserve and have been breeding in the wild.

Names of the orangutans

There are feeding stations for them to return for a free meal. During the fruiting season (which is now), many of them may not come out for their meals. Depending on your luck, you may have to wait for hours before the orangutans decide to show themselves or they may not show up at all. My friend went there a month ago and had to wait 1.5 hours. His friend who works at the wildlife centre said that the orangutans did not come out in the morning at all.

I was lucky to get great weather, i.e. hot and sunny and the orangutans were already waiting for me to look at them :P

Orangutan #1

Everyone was reminded to remain quiet so as not to scare the orangutans away. We had to avoid getting too close as well. The orangutans recognise the caretakers and won't attack them but visitors might get attacked. There were some pictures of the orangutan bites on display - you seriously don't want to get bitten.

Naughty visitors are locked up here :P

Orangutans #2, 3, 4

Grandma orangutan getting her food

Grandma orangutan eating

Grandma orangutan eating

Orangutans #1 and #5

As you can see, the feeding station behind is far from where we are allowed to stand

It started to drizzle soon after and we headed back to town to check into the hotel. A number of hotels ranging from 5 star ones to B&B's can be found near the waterfront area along Jalan Wayang.

After checking in, we had a drink at a local cafe along the waterfront in front of the Hilton. Strangely they didn't even have coffee!

At Waterfront

We took a sunset river cruise. The cruise was better than expected. I got to see a few different landscapes. Drinks and light refreshments were served on the ship. They don't serve dinner on board.

Towards the end of the cruise, there was a 5-minute cultural dance performance and after that you can take photos with the dancers. Of course I did the touristy thing and took a picture with them :)

It was time for dinner! You can't go to Kuching and not have seafood. All the seafood (excluding the obvious ones like salmon) is caught here and sold locally or exported. Halal seafood is available too.

We ordered prawns, midin and lobster. I couldn't resist the steamed prawns so before I could remember to take a picture I had finished eating them :P The vegetable is fresh midin fern that can only be found here. It was crunchy and fried with delicious spicy chilli sauce. The lobster salad was grrreat! My lobster craving was certainly satisfied :)

Fresh midin fern fried with spicy sauce. Must try!

Lobster salad

Day 2 - Wind cave, Fairy cave, Matang Wildlife Centre

The Wind cave and Fairy cave are located near the Indonesian border, about an hour's drive from the city. It seems if you knock somebody down on the road in this area you should not stop to help the person but drive to the nearest police station right away because the people here may take the law into their own hands.

The Wind Cave is thus named because of the wind that passes through the cave. I didn't feel much wind though. Perhaps it was because I was perspiring from the walk. A touch is needed to walk through the cave. Some parts of the passage are completely dark and there are many bats in the cave.

People swimming in river near wind cave

The Fairy cave is a short drive away from the Wind cave. To reach the cave, we had to climb up the stairs. In the past, the stairs up to the cave wasn't as safe to climb.


Stairs to Fairy cave

Old stairs to Fairy cave

We had to climb up two more steep steps / ladder to get into the cave. The steps were steep and slippery. Shoes with reliable non-slip soles are a must! Don't carry too many belongings or heavy items with you. I saw that someone had abandoned his water bottle half way :P

Why is this cave named Fairy cave?

View of Fairy cave from the top

Status in Fairy cave

The cave is very pretty. Unlike most caves that are bare on the inside, this one has lots of greens. You will see joss sticks in certain parts of the cave. It seems people come here to pray/ask for 4D/lottery numbers.

After climbing up, obviously we had got to go back down. I had to be extra careful not to slip or fall off the stairs.

We had Kolok mee for lunch. It seems this place is famous for its meat balls and is crowded in the morning. The noodles were very tasty! I don't know what ingredients they used. Maybe it's better not to know...

Kolok mee

Next stop: Matang Wildlife Centre

According to the map, it takes about an hour to walk round the centre to the various enclosures. I love animals and nature so I enjoyed myself here observing and snapping pictures of the animals. The deer were tame and happy to be fed leaves, a bear cat was restless chasing its own tail on a small platform while another lay resting, the civet cat looked lethargic, but my favourite animal was the porcupine. The whole family of 5 porcupines ran round and round the enclosure with a baby one following and sometimes getting left behind. There was a hyperactive one too which ran back and forth and had its sharp spines up.

What landscaping?



Bear Cat

Bear Cat

Bear Cat

Civet Cat

Civet Cat



Porcupine family

Mother and baby porcupines

Lost baby porcupine

Hyperactive porcupine

I thought it might jump out at me through the opening

No harm feeding leaves. They didn't seem to have enough in the enclosure

Pitcher plant growing just outside this deer enclosure where I was standing in the photo above

Why is the crocodile enclosure beside the deer enclosure?

The weather had been great so far. It started to rain as we walked pass the crocodile enclosure. We had sufficient time to make it back to the car before the rain got heavier.

We checked out the souvenior shops located across the road from the waterfront. My friend bought me a red t-shirt (which you will see in photos for Day 3 below). I went back to my room rest, enjoy the view from the room and to nap.

View from hotel room window

My friend picked me up for dinner. I had tomato noodles. I'm not a fan of tomato sauce but this one was good! The noodles were fried crispy and serve with tomato sauce gravy. We also order "Singapore bee hoon" and Midin vegetables but they didn't taste impressive so I didn't bother to take pictures of them.

Crispy tomato noodles

After dinner we had local durian and then went to the waterfront to see the place by night. It was colourful with lights. Youths, families and couples were hanging out. I saw 2 police officers patrolling the place later at night past 10pm. It seems there's a drug area nearby so locals and foreigners should avoid lonely places or dark alleys after dark - as they should in any city.

Day 3 - Sarawak Cultural Village

The Sarawak Cultural Village is about an hour's drive north from the city. If there are traffic jams, it would take longer. We managed to get there in 45 minutes because it was a Sunday. It was too early to check-in at the hotel and my tiny backpack was resting happily in the car boot so we went to the cultural village.

In the cultural village, I got to see the various types of houses that the natives live in. 7 authentic ethnic houses can be found here with the real natives (except for the nomads) going about their activities like cooking or singing here. I bought some snacks which were freshly made and packed. The income from selling the snacks or their local produce goes directly to them.

I didn't take photos of the houses because I felt they were better experienced than seen in photos.

A 45-min cultural show is held daily at 11.30am and 4pm. There were several different cultural dances performed and some stunts even. At the end of the show everyone is invited to dance with the dancers on the stage. I think my friend was going to fall asleep because he had seen that show many times already. The show was just alright for me. I can't go all the way there and not watch the show.

Welcome dance

It was past noon and I tried to check in at the resort beside the Cultural Village. The receptionist said that the check-in time is 2pm so they only did the registration but could not give the key to the room.

It was time for lunch so we figured we would go for lunch and check in after that. My friend's preferred restaurant, about 15 minutes drive away from the resort, was not open so we had lunch at Teo seafood. The food wasn't anything special.

When we returned to the resort at 2pm, the receptionist said that the room still wasn't ready. My friend questioned her for a minute and then all of a sudden she had another similar room available immediately.

The room had a balcony with a great view. It was nice to sit there to enjoy the fresh air, the view of the mountain and the sound of the sea. It was drizzling so we didn't walk around the resort.

Relaxing at the balcony

I had an early dinner at about 4pm. I don't know what's wrong with me - I can eat anytime! My friend would have to drive back to town and it wouldn't be safe to drive in the dark because animals could run across the road anytime.

The prawn curry was delicious. Initially, I ordered the curry without rice but the curry tasted so good I had to order rice.

Prawn curry

The rain got heavier over dinner. A few hikers walked by (they need to walk through the restaurant to get to the hiking trail). The first group managed to escape the rain while the second group (a couple) was drenched.

When it was time for us to leave, the owner of the restaurant had her cute little girl shelter us to the car with a big umbrella. My friend dropped me off and made his way back to town.

I sat at the balcony again and walked around the resort when the rain stopped. Then I returned to my room to watch some TV. I slept with the balcony door open to enjoy the wonderful sea breeze.

Day 4 - Returning

I woke up to the view of the sea. What a view! It would be great to wake up to that view daily!

I made my way to the beach to get some morning exercise. There weren't many people swimming - it was Monday. I made it a point not to go too far out. I don't think anyone would notice if I'd gone missing. I didn't realise how strong the current was until I tried swimming back to the shore. I made better progress walking rather than swimming.

My friend got caught in the Monday traffic jam on the way to the resort. On our way to the airport and we stopped for lunch. He knows that I'm not a big fan of Singapore (diluted) curry laksa and Penang assam laksa but he said I should try the Kuching laksa. I found it to be very tasty and was nothing like the Singapore or Penang laksa. I would have it again the next time I visit Kuching!


What do I think of Kuching?

Kuching is a clean and organised city. There aren't many taxis around because everybody has a car. It's huge and I'm grateful to my friend for being such a fantastic and generous (with his time and money) host. But... where are all the cats?! (Kuching is the malay word for cats)
My friend said SPCA picks them up and gets people to adopt them. Are there that many people to adopt all the stray cats? I doubt it. My guess is: they put the unwanted cats down just like they do in Singapore.
Here are pictures of the only cats I saw.

Oh, in case you were looking for them, I didn't take any cheesy shots with the cat statues.


Chai said...

was waiting for ur kch post....

rock road seafood..exp
teo seafood...not as nice as ppl said

and ur looking hot as usual....

walaueh said...

its good to see you introduce kch in this way. hope to see you during rainforest festival!!

Yu-Kym said...

Chai, ya, Teo seafood isn't that good.

walaueh, I don't like crowds so I won't be there for rainforest festival :(

Anonymous said...

i went to kuching n saw two "kucings" gettin sumtin sumtin lolz

Yu-Kym said...

Hopefully more kuchings after sumtin sumtin?

Jacob said...

My accommodations during my vacation were in one of the Singapore discount hotels near Semenggoh wildlife centre, so I was lucky to see the orangutans feeding too.