The little house we’ve hired for a month in Penang had a double booking for a few days, and rather than just move into a local hotel in George Town we’ve decided to catch a quick flight over to Sarawak to spend a few days and have a look around.
Still part of Malaysia, but on the northern tip of of Borneo, the island is covered mostly with rainforest jungle, and that’s pretty much where we start the short trip, a walk in the rainforest .
Our first impressions of a lush, soft easy stroll through pleasant forest soon gives way to a niggling worry about our fitness levels, it starts to get steep, then steeper, then rocky, then rockier, then even more worrying, it gets hot, then even hotter.
Despite our fitness concerns, it’s still a beautiful place to be, it’s quiet and it’s moody, almost spooky. We keep an eye out hoping for the appearance of some monkeys, but sadly see nothing but enormous butterfly’s and the occasional lizard. It’s not surprising with the amount of noise we’re making. Disappointment soon disappears as the heat really starts to hit, it’s hot, really really hot, pretty soon we’re just two balls of glistening panting western tourist.
Forget the monkeys, lets get out of here.
It’s right about now we start to feel like we’re a long way from home.
We eventually burst from the forest, smelly and dripping and decide to tackle something a lot less challenging, and a little easier on the legs, and head off to the Sarawak Cultural Village.
We’re not so sure about this idea at first, it seems a bit, well, touristy, and something we would normally avoid, we are, however, just near the site and decide to at least give it a go.
It’s a bit theme park kitsch, but done pretty well, and not too tacky, one good thing to see is the number of locals taking in the sites, it’s not just tourists, in fact there’s almost no, non-local tourists to be seen.
There are a number of old traditional craftsmen on site, creating tools and handicrafts in the old fashioned way. The schoolkids seem to be interested in all the old fashioned ways of their culture, and that has to be a positive thing for their society.
At the end we watch some beautiful women, dressed, again, in traditional costume putting on a show, it’s great and we enjoy it, but decide to move on pretty quickly after the show.
We decide to head back into the capital city of Kuching, where we’re staying and check out the river that cuts it’s way through the length of the main central district.
It’s a lovely, clean and well ordered riverbank scene, lots of small cafes and bars, the locals are all out taking the air and we join a local family and hop aboard an old fishing boat heading up the river.
The boat is just a little old wooden thing, flat bottomed, and without any seats, there’s just us and the local family group, mum, dad and three beautiful little kids, all perched on the floor of the old boat, taking in the passing scene.
The river is broad and slow moving, perfect for the boat, and us, it feels very unstable, every movement from one of us sends the boat swaying violently back and forward.
The kids don’t seem too fussed and pretty soon fall into a deep sleep as the sun sets over the river and we make our way slowly upstream taking in the sites.
We arrive at our jetty just after the sun has set and look for dinner, happy and hungry at the end of a packed day. And looking forward to tomorrows adventures.