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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kuching Holiday 2011: Day 5

7 May 2011 was our last day in Kuching. At about 9.30am, we drove to Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in Kota Samarahan. We drove around the campus, admiring the golf course, the huge lake, and campus facilities.

At about 11.00am, we were back in the city. We boarded a bot tambang, crossing the river to visit the Kek Lapis (layer cake) Dayang Salhah shop. What seemed to be a village house has now turned into a thriving cake business with a countinuous stream of customers. Prices range from RM10-RM20 a slab. Some even had interesting designs and colours.

Kek lapis samples
[Kek lapis samples at the shop]

Kek lapis being made
[Kek lapis being made]

Kek lapis and chocolate cheese cake
[Colourful kek lapis and chocolate cheese cake]

After the cake shop, we bought some souvenirs at the waterfront bazaar. We then had a simple lunch at the Borneo Cafe before heading back to the hotel to check-out.

We made it to the airport in good time and returned our rented car. However, our departure wasn't without a little "drama". During the security clearance, we realised that Julian was without a boarding pass. At the check-in counter, I had just taken the whole pile of boarding passes without ensuring that all was in order. So, Julian and I made a mad dash to the check-in counter to have his boarding pass re-issued. The rest of our journey was uneventful.

Our plane
[We're leaving on a jet plane: That's our ride home]

On the whole, we enjoyed our holiday in Kuching. Perhaps we will explore other towns in our future visits to the Land of the Hornbills.

More on our final day of our Kuching holiday on
Chris & Connie's Blog.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kuching Holiday 2011: Day 4

We made a trip to Bako National Park today. We left the hotel at about 9.30am in a rented automatic Proton Wira sedan (RM240 excluding taxes for a day-and-a-half). Armed with a GPS, we drove to Kampung Bako about 30 minutes away. At the jetty, we hired a boat (RM94 per boat, return) which took us to the mouth of Sungai Tabo out into the South China Sea before arriving at the park headquarters. It was a 20-minute ride.

Jetty at Kampung Bako
[The jetty at Kampung Bako]

Fishermen
[Fishermen catching prawns in the South China Sea]

Before setting foot in the park, we asked the boatman about seeing the sea stacks. He obliged, taking us on another 20-minute ride (RM35 per boat). There were many interesting rock formations - an eagle, the Sphinx, a proboscis monkey's nose, and the famous one looking like a cobra.

Sphinx sea stack
[Doesn't this resemble the Sphinx of Giza?]

Cobra sea stack
[The cobra-like sea stack]

We arrived at the headquarters at about 11.15am, having to wade through shin-deep sea water. As we were washing our feet near the cafeteria, we were greeted by the "resident" wild pig. While my parents went off on a hike, we and the boys had a simple lunch before setting off on our own kiddy-paced hiking experience. At 12.30pm, we first attempted the Telok Delima trail. After about 30 minutes we decided to turn back as the boys seemed restless (or bored) on the boardwalk trail, and Justin had soiled himself.

Bako wild pig
[The wild pig: Looking for the toilet, perhaps?]

Bako monkeys
[Monkey business]

At about 1.30pm, we decided to try out the Telok Paku trail. We had to walk past a mangrove area before arriving at the start of the trail. This was when we met my parents who, being experienced hikers, had already made it to the Telok Paku beach and back. The hilly Telok Paku trail was a hit with the boys. They loved scrambling over the rocks and uneven ground. But when we arrived at the 100m mark after about 30 minutes, we had to turn back although the boys seemed to want to explore further. We had agreed to meet our boatman at 3.00pm.

Bako snake
[A small snake]

Bako mangrove
[The mangrove area just before the Telok Paku trail]

Telok Paku trail
[Marching along the Telok Paku trail]

Telok Paku 100m mark
[A hiking landmark for the boys]

Bako trail signboard
[The list of trails at the Bako National Park]

We rendezvous-ed at the cafeteria at about 2.30pm and ordered some cold drinks. We left shortly after 3.00pm and arrived back at Kampung Bako at 3.25pm. It was a short visit but considering we had the boys with us, we were happy to have made the most out of the time we had.

There is a bus service between Kuching and Kampung Bako. The fare, as advertised on the bus we saw, was RM3.50 one way. Not sure where to get the bus in Kuching, but it stops right at the Kampung Bako jetty.

For the record, that night, we had dinner at Planet Sambal located not far from our hotel. The food was quite spicy and not bad actually. However, the dining experience was marred by the restless boys *sigh*.

More on our visit to the Bako National Park on Chris & Connie's blog.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Kuching Holiday 2011: Day 3

It was the day of the Imagine Cup competition. Bart accompanied his students on this day. For Dad, Mum, the boys and I, we hired a van with a driver to take us round (RM300 per day). This was a better alternative to joining any package tour as it gave us more flexibility in our itinerary.

In the morning, we went first to Semenggoh to see orang utans in their natural habitat. Entrance fee was RM3 per adult. It was feeding time when we arrived and so we got to see the orang utans. Visitors have to be very quiet so as not to provoke the dominant male orang utan which was present. We left as soon as the boys started getting restless - which wasn't too long after we arrived.

Orang utans
[Orang utans at play]

Next stop was the Jong Crocodile Farm. Entrance fee was RM16 for adults and RM8 for children. Justin went in for free :-) Julian liked his visit here as there were many animals to see. If you're thinking of visiting, consider using insect repellent. Lots of mosquitos. The 'highlight' at the farm was the crocodile feeding in which the crocodiles would be lured to jump up to catch their meal. Frankly, what started off as an amazing spectacle turned to a pitiful sight after a while. There appears to be only a limited number of 'bait' so the feeders would pull the meat out of reach of the poor hungry crocodiles as they jumped in order to prolong the show. Imagine having your meal snatched away from you over and over again! Once or twice, I can accept, but the poor crocs, especially for the last two chickens, had to jump countless times. No, I can't say that I enjoyed watching that.

Julian looking at crocodiles
[Julian looking at the crocodiles]

Crocodile feeding
[Jumping crocodiles tyring to catch a meal]

Cassowary
[A cassowary at the crocodile farm]

From the crocodiles, we made our way to Bau, about 40mins away. Justin and Julian slept on the way. We had lunch at a coffee shop in Bau. Justin continued sleeping (the boys had already eaten while at the crocodile farm). After lunch we went to see the Wind Cave. We didn't go inside. Just took a few photos at the entrance. Next, we proceeded to the Fairy cave. The entrance is very high up and we didn't fancy climbing, especially with Julian in tow, so our driver took us to another spot nearby for us to take some photos. After that we headed back to the city.

Julian at a cave
[Julian at a cave]

Enroute to Kuching we stopped to see pottery-making. Nearer the city our driver took us to see how bird's nest is processed. It's a really tedious task.

Potter at work
[Potter at work]

Bird nest factory
[Hearing a briefing at the bird nest factory]

Finally we visited the Sarawak Museum. It has two storeys of exhibits but we only covered the ground floor because of the boys. The boys were delighted to see the exhibits of old model vehicles (bus & train). There were also taxidermy of animals which we found educational for the boys.

Cannon at the Sarawak Museum
[The boys and Dad at the Sarawak Museum]

We arrived back at the hotel at about 4.30pm. Bart arrived at about the same time. After a shower and a short rest, we went out for dinner. We decided to eat at Top Spot, a popular seafood foodcourt. We ordered midin (young fiddlehead ferns) cooked with belacan (prawn paste), sotong goreng tepung (squid deep-fried in batter), and ray fish with sambal. Our meal cost us about RM30. This was the best meal that we had during our Kuching holiday.

Top Spot
[Top Spot]

Midin
[Midin in belacan]

Ray fish in sambal
[Ray fish with sambal]

After dinner, Bart went back to Pullman Hotel to hear the announcement of the results of the Imangine Cup Malaysia Finals. Unfortunately, no overseas trip this year, unlike two years ago.

More on our Day 3 in Kuching on Chris & Connie's blog.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kuching Holiday 2011: Day 2

In the morning of our second day in Kuching, we went to the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) in Santubong. Our package was RM80 per person for transport and entrance fee (the published entrance fee is RM60). We left the hotel at about 9.00am and the journey to SCV took us 40 minutes. For Angie and I, this was our second visit to SCV, but the first for the boys and my parents. Everything seemed pretty much the same as our last visit in 2005.

Bamboo walkway
[Julian and Mom on the walkway to the Bidayuh longhouse]

Fire at the Bidayuh longhouse
[The boys and Mom stoking the fire at the Bidayuh longhouse]

Weaving
[Justin and Daddy observing a lady weaving at the Iban longhouse]

Blowing the blowpipe
[Dad trying out the blowpipe at the Penan hut]

Exiting Melanau tallhouse
[Justin and Daddy making their way down the Melanau tallhouse]

Boys on swing
[The boys on a swing under the Malay house]

Julian with chinese hat
[Julian trying out a chinese ratan hat]

While my parents watched the cultural show which ran from 11.30am-12.15pm, we took the boys for lunch as they were hungry. Not even the cool interior of the theater could entice them to stay in (it was sunny and hot during our tour around the SCV grounds). Having our lunch during this time proved to be a wise move as the restaurant was less busy.

Sarawak Laksa
[Sarawak Laksa at SCV]

Mee Kolo
[Mee Kolo at SCV: Minus the char siew (barbecued pork) :o)]

We left SCV at about 1.30pm and made a quick stop at Damai Beach for a look-see before heading back to the city.

Upon our return to the hotel, we noticed that Justin developed red patches all over this tummy and parts of this face. Our initial suspicion was that it could be an allergic reaction to sweat. So, in the evening, while I joined my students at the Pullman Hotel for the preparations for the Imagine Cup Malaysia Finals, Justin was taken to a clinic in Satok.

After being prescribed some Calamine lotion and anti-histamine, Angie and the boys and my parents had a little adventure returning to the hotel. From Satok, they took a bus supposedly back "to Kuching" but the last stop was not anywhere familiar. So, they walked in the direction of the riverfront as this would then lead them back to the hotel. However, as they were walking, it started to rain. As they had only one umbrella, they decided to head to a nearby eatery for dinner since it was already about dinner time. They made it back safely to the hotel on foot at about 7pm.

JUstin's rashes improved after that. Our later suspicion was that it could be due to dust on the bed as the boys were jumping and playing all over. Justin slept on the other bed the second night onwards, and no more jumping on the beds for the boys!

More on our visit to the Sarawak Cultural Village on Chris & Connie's blog.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kuching Holiday 2011: Day 1

We went on a 5D/4N holiday to Kuching from 3-7 May 2011. Mom and Dad came along with us. The trip also coincided with the Microsoft Imagine Cup Malaysia Finals in which my students were participating.

Approch to airport
[Our approach to Kuching International Airport]

Justin and the plane
[Justin's maiden flight]

We arrived in the afternoon and checked-in at the Grand Margherita Hotel. We had a quick chicken rice lunch before heading back to the hotel to rest.

Grand Margherita room
[Hotel bed tested and approved: We chose the Deluxe Double which had 2 queen-sized bed... this suited our needs perfectly]

Later in the afternoon, we introduced the boys to the "bot tambang" which took us across the river (50 sen per person, one-way). We didn't venture very far as it was very hot and humid. Furthermore, all this while, Julian was pestering us to "see kucing (cat)"... he had seen photos of us with statues of small playful cats from our previous trip to Kuching. So we crossed the river again to see Julian's cats.

In the bot tambang
[The boys' first bot tambang experience]

Posing with the bot tambang
[Posing with our bot tambang]

The boys with the cat statues
[The playful cats of Kuching and the boys]

James Brooke bistro
[Daddy and the boys at the metal hornbill monument beside the James Brooke Bistro and Cafe]

In the evening, we went on the Sarawak River Cruise from 5.30-7.00pm (RM60 per person). It was a nice and relaxing cruise, enabling us to see popular landmarks such as the Astana, Fort Margherita, the new state legislative assembly building, Brooke Dockyard, the state mosque, and the traditional Malay villages. We were served orange cordial and kek lapis (traditional layer cakes) on board. Halfway during the cruise, the boys konked out... they had had a tiring day.

River cruise
[Mummy and the boys on the cruise]

Sarawak river at sunset
[The Sarawak River at sunset]

More on our Sarawak River Cruise experience on Chris & Connie's blog.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Our 7th Anniversary

We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on 1 May 2011, successfully keeping the Seventh-Year Itch at bay :o).

It was pretty much a usual Sunday. We attended mass in the morning and joined some friends for an early lunch.

In the evening we decided to take the boys to watch airplanes from the carpark of the second cargo complex in Batu Maung.

We had an early dinner at Victoria Station in Bayan Baru. The boys didn't pay much attention to the food *sigh*. After dinner, the boys had some fun in the locomotive. Later, we bought 2 slices of cake and headed home for a small cake-cutting ceremony courtesy of Julian.

That night, as we were preparing to go off on a holiday on 3 May 2011, we forgot to light our Unity Candle and say our anniversary prayer. However, we managed to do this, though belated, the next day.

Mixed grill
[Victoria Station's Mixed Grill]

Seafood platter
[Seafood Platter]

Julian in the locomotive
[Julian behind the wheel]

Justin wants out
[Justin wants to get off]

Our unity candle
[Lighting of our Unity Candle 2011]

Julian at 47 Months

Julian turned 3 years 11 months on 28 April 2011.

Here are his updates:
  • He seems able to apply his phonics skills to read some unfamiliar words :-)
  • He loves reading.
  • He's hooked on the games on daddy's phone.
  • He often accuses Justin of hurting him, especially when he's moody. "Daddy/Mummy, see... Justin kick/push/bite me!" Sometimes they are false accusations...
  • When he is in a playful mood, he has no problems having Justin push him, roll over him, etc. They can get quite rough in their play!
  • He's 'sensitive' about being reprimanded. He would retort "Eh..don't scold me" or "Eh, no shout". He would cry whenever we spank him even if it was very lightly. Then he would ask to be carried.
  • He likes to make funny faces when being photographed.
Julian after haircut
[Julian after a recent haircut]

Julian's Mamee moment
[Julian's Mamee moment]

Julian climbs
[Julian loves a good climb]

Julian sniffing pencil
[Julian sniffs out a suspicious pencil]

Julian pulls up pants
[Julian pulling his pants]

Julian giving a recital
[Julian giving a recital]