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Friday, February 25, 2011

Sarawak Land of the Proboscis Monkey

Day 3 and it was still raining. Sighed. Originally, we had wanted to go to Gunung Gading National Park to see the Rafflesia flower but according to hotel sources, it wasn’t blooming and there was no point in going. Anyway, with the rain, figured we need to go somewhere indoor and where else but the caves. So we got the taxi driver to send us to the Wind Caves. Sighed again. It wasn’t really our day. The caves were closed for maintenance. So we made our way to the next cave, the Fairy Caves. This wasn’t so bad with a spectacular interior. Like a mini park within the cave. 

But with 1 destination down, we had time to kill and nowhere to go. In the end, the taxi driver suggested we go to the Annah Rais longhouse, an hour drive away. RM200 and 1 hour later, we reached this place and was in and out within 10 minutes. Not the type of things that we want to see. What a waste of time. 

Lunch was at this popular coffeeshop in Carpenter street where we had more local food. This time, the specialty here was the tanghoon fishball yong tau foo. 

Back to the hotel and then it was one more try for the Wildlife River Cruise. This time, the sky held up and we were aboard. But it was high tide, in fact more than high tide. The people there called it King tide and with the high tide and fast flowing river, we did not manage to see any dolphin or crocodile. We did managed to see the Proboscis monkey and firefly. Even managed to cup the fireflies in our hand. Cheap trill but it was the best of the trip so far. 

Back in Kuching, we had dinner at a local food centre where we had zhizhar. Prawns, vegetable, sotong, ngoh hiang, soup and rice for just RM58. It’s a miracle there are so few obese people in Sarawak. 

And so we move on to our last day. Will the weather held up for us to go to at least one of the National Park? Read here.

All the photos here

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sarawak Land of the Crocodile

We woke up bright and early the next morning to the sound of rain. And it rained and rained. It was still the rainy season after all and so we had to cancel our plan to visit one of the national park. We managed to find a friendly taxi driver and he took us to the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre where the Centre rehabilitate wild Orang Utans. By the time we reached there, we had missed the Orang Utan’s feeding but we were still fortunately to see a mother and her child perched up in the tree feeding each other. 

From there, we went over to the Jong’s Crocodile farm where we watch ‘jumping’ crocodiles jumping high up to eat the baited chicken. That was a mighty awesome sight, seeing those big beasts jumping so high. 

There were some other animals at the farm but the highlight was this little creature that we found on the floor. It was so pitiful, must have been dropped by a bird of prey and ants were crawling over it. We couldn’t identify it although I think it should be a puppy. Eventually we handed it to the farm worker. I hope they didn’t toss it into the arapaima’s tank. 

As it was still drizzling, we abandoned all plans to go any other places and went to the Satok Weekend market, a huge place where they sell all sort of market produces and more. We had our lunch there – traditional Sarawak food like the Kolo mee, Sarawak Laksa and Mee Sapi. Back at the hotel, with time to kill, we decided to book the expensive RM200 per head Wildlife River Cruise where we hope to catch a glimpse of the Irrawaddy dolphins, crocodile and Proboscis monkey. Alas, when we reach the Santubong start point, the boatman pointed to the sky and called off the cruise in view of the impending rain. What a bummer! 

So we had to go back to Kuching town and after walking around aimlessly in one of the tiny shopping mall, we made our way to Top Spot Food Court where we made the most wonderful discovery of the whole trip! Seafood! And at fantastically low prices. We ordered 1 lobster, big prawns, crayfish, noodle, soup and a weird looking forest fern and it cost us a total of only RM137!. 

In fact, we were so stuck by the pricing that we decided to abandon our plan to eat at another highly recommended place and went back to Top Spot on the last evening for another shot.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sarawak - The Land of the Headhunters

 It’s not often now with the kids growing up rapidly, to find time to go together for a holiday so when the opportunity arises, we grab the first plane out for a short holiday. Out destination – the Land of the Headhunter, Sarawak. We booked the trip through AirAsia portal. Air tickets were fairly reasonable and plus the room (a double room), it cost the 4 of us a total of S$1,346 for a 5D/4N stay with full breakfast throw it. What a deal especially when we saw our hotel room! It was the biggest room we ever stayed in. There were 2 bedrooms, 3 toilets, 1 living room, 1 dining room, 1 pantry and 1 hallway and it came with a 180 degree view of the Sarawak river and Kuching town. In fact the hotel called it a Suite. And I thought the only people who can afford suite were celebrities and big shot businessman! But of course, the hotel is showing its age, there were big giant stains on the ceiling, there was a musty smell from one of the toilet and the TV program sucks. But what the heck, we were only going to spend our time there sleeping so it wasn’t a big deal.

Right after check in, we walked over next door to the Sarawak Museum Etnologi which houses the Natural History. There were lots of stuffed animals and 2 whale skeleton. Kind of remind me of our old National Museum. The highlight was the recreation of an entire Iban Longhouse with authentic (read genuine) skull that were the war booty of the Iban. No photograph allowed but I die die had to get a souvenir of this and sneak 2 pictures on my not so trusty Casio camera. 

From there, it was a cursory visit to the Islamic museum across the road before we walked down to the  2 km stretch Kuching Waterfront. We took a RM60 per head river cruise and was rewarded with amazing sights along the river. On the south bank where we boarded, the place was mainly occupied by Chinese shop houses and commercial buildings while across the bank, the place was dotted with kampung houses and predominately occupied by Malays. The mode of travel between the 2 place was small little river boat. Down the river, on the far bank was the obscenely huge cluster of houses of the Chief Minister of Sarawak and a stone throw away, that of one of his relatives. 
Kampong on the far bank

High Rise buildings on the other side

The Chief Minister's Mansion complete with boat

After the cruise, it was time for dinner and we managed to find our way to the Junk Restaurant, a highly recommended restaurant on Tripadvisor website and we were not disappointed. It was a quaint old places with a lot of knick knacks and junks but the food was certainly not junk. We had pasta, steak, pizza and all of them came in giant size dishes with giant portion to go along. But of course that comes with a price and so the dinner wasn’t exactly cheap by Malaysia standard. We paid about RM180 which was in my opinion almost on par with the cost of food in a similar joint in Singapore.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Mask

3 weeks ago, for 2 days, I traveled to and from work wearing a mask. I had caught the flu(cold?) and since it was nearing the Chinese New Year, didn’t want to pass it on to anybody else and marred their holidays. I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction, or rather non-reaction that I got.

I had thought people will avoid me like the plague; nobody will want to sit next to me in the trains but I didn’t even get a stare. The only exception was a girl in the office who when she saw me coming out of the toilet, looked shocked, covered her nose/mouth and backed away! So unlike the experience of this gentleman 1 and a half years ago, it wasn’t a bad experience for me.

In the past few days, I also noticed a few people in the street wearing masks. This is a good sign. While we are still not up to speed like in Hongkong, Japan or Korea, we are getting there in our civic consciousness and social responsibility.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bruno's Pizzeria & Grill

The last time we were at this particular outlet in Tanjong Katong, it was known by another name. Now it is called Bruno's Pizzeria and Grill. That last time, we were the only customer. 1 other customer walked in and then walked out but this time round, the place was packed. Luckily, we had been forewarned and we had made a reservation. 

We ordered 1 pizza to share and individual portion of various type of pasta. The average price per dish was about $20.00 but it was certainly worth the money as the portion was fairly large. The pizza was one of the best I had in a long while. 

Black Ink Squid Pasta
Mussel Pasta

Prawn Pasta
So I hope the next time we get round to coming back here, it will still be around. Somehow, those Italian places that we have dined at in recent years – by the time we decide to go back, practically all of them (except the chain outlet like Pizza Hut or the hawker centre/food court outles) have closed down or change owner. Let’s see. there were Finalmente Gastromomia at Macpherson (heard that they moved to Goldhill, still there?), Artz Pizza.. gone with the golf driving range, VI Pizz (replaced by Bruno) and Olive Restorante (closed down together with the spa at Labrador now under new management). Maybe we are a jinx to these places?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ang Pow

The kids love it, the adult - well they collect it and I guess have a love hate relationship with it. Every year, I get loads and loads of it but unfortunately none of them comes with money inside:(

But still I love to get the different ang pow from all the different companies that give them out. The trend has moved from the all red to pink, then gold, yellow and seems like this year in colour is purple. This year also see some new stylo milo type and these pair top the whole lot that I got

So what so special about it? Firstly, it is a pair which put together forms a complete picture and secondly, it comes with shiny beads! Not just plain old gold stamping or even last year gold foil but shiny sparkling crystal like beads! 

Anybody want a set? I only got 3, keeping 1, already gave alway 1 so 1 more left. Any takers? First come first serve.