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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Cat Calleth

On Friday (7 Oct 2005) we began the last leg of our vacation - this time we headed East.
Destination: Kuching.
Accommodation: Harbour View

[Meow... posing with the bronze cats of Kuching]

Almost as soon as we arrived at the hotel, we booked ourselves on a trip to visit the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) situated in Santubong, a 45-minute drive from Kuching. On arrival, we are given a 'passport'. We visited the longhouses of the various natives of Sarawak - Iban, Melanau, Bidayuh, Penan, Orang Ulu - and traditional houses of the Chinese and Malays. At each house, we get our passport stamped. It's actually something fun for visitors to do instead of just walking and looking at the houses. We also tried 'shooting' with the blowpipe, and we watched a cultural performance.

[Sarawak Cultural Village: Some longhouses with Mount Santubong in the background]

[Having a go at the Penan Blowpipe: With a huff and a puff...]

After the SCV, we walked to Damai Beach to see the scenery and take some photos. Then we headed back to Kuching. Dinner was Sarawak Laksa and Kolo Mee (Sarawak version of the wantan mee here). We were so hungry that we dug in immediately and totally forgot to take our customary food photo! However, for the record, both were tasty.

Saturday: We did a city tour. Kuching has a 'city tram' (a bus that is made to look like a tram - not those that run on tracks) which takes tourists around the city for free. You can get on and off the tram at the various stops. We visited the museum which we found interesting.

[Sarawak Museum]

Lunch was at Hartz Chicken Buffet. Not bad, but we were actually expecting more varieties of chicken preparation...

After lunch we took the river taxi (bot tambang) to visit Fort Margherita and the Astana. In the evening we went to Church at St Joseph's Cathedral. The music was fabulous and the church was beautiful.

[Bot tambang]

[St Joseph's Cathdral, Kuching]

After Mass we proceeded to Satok to visit the Weekend market. Unfortunately it rained earlier and so some of the stalls were not open. It's something like the Pasar Malam with most stalls selling fresh produce.

Sunday: Our last morning in Kuching was spent shopping for souvenirs. In the afternoon, we began our journey back home.

[Sarawak souvenirs: Take your pick...]

Due to the lack of time, we did not manage to visit places on the outskirts of Kuching which required a full day trip or overnight stay. Those are on our list of future holidays...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Swinging by Singapore

On Thursday (29 Sept 2005) we headed South for the next leg of our holiday. A friend was getting married in Singapore so we were attending her wedding and taking the opportunity to visit the Lion City.

We flew to Johor and were fortunate to be on the same flight as the bride's family. So we got a ride into Singapore on private transport :-)

Friday (30 Sept): We visited the much talked about Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. The first hour and a half was quite unfortunate as we sat under a gazebo looking at the rain instead of the animals! Luckily the sky cleared eventually and we were able to check out the inhabitants. The animals we found particularly interesting: manatee, penguin, polar bear, pygmy hippo, mousedeer, wolf, binturung...

[Singapore Zoo]

[Not quite as expected: We made sure we visited these big guys but they were smaller than we had anticipated - and certainly not as white as what we see on TV!]

[Night Safari: Where creatures of the night roam...]

Saturday (1 Oct): Here comes the bride... we attended my friend's wedding at the Church of St Francis of Assisi. Met up with a couple of primary school friends! I haven't seem some of them for 10 and even 20 years!

[From pinafore to perfume...]

In the evening we attended a concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall aka the Durian. We watched Mendelssohn's Oratorio, Elijah.

[The Durian looms...]

Sunday (2 Oct): We went for morning mass at St Anthony's Church and met my aunt's (we stayed with her) 'anak', the two dogs at church which she looks after, and her friends. Then it was some window shopping and in the evening we checked out the famous Merlion before heading for the wedding reception.

[All that walking sure made me thirsty...]

Monday (3 Oct): Our last day in Singapore. Basically, shopping. In the afternoon, we began our journey home. We headed back to Johor and took the almost deserted night bus back to Penang.