2007 South East Asia – Kuching

We stayed in the Holiday Inn Damai Beach resort, which is a fine hotel indeed at a superb location but a bit too massive for our liking (are we spoiled gits?). Fortunately we stayed in a beautiful chalet in the garden and not in one of the rooms in the wing buildings.

The first day in Kuching we arranged a trip to Semenggoh, the Orang Otan rehabilitation center just 60 km away. The trip was great and we arrived just in time for the morning feeding session. Orang Utans, stubborn as they are this time decided not to show up at the feeding platform in the forest but came much closer to the park entrance. That was a hike for nothing…. Well, luckily we saw 5 Orang Utans, a mature female, mother and child (which were so funny, the mother assisted the child grabbing food from the platform and then ate together higher up in the tree). Also we were very lucky to see a mature male, which does not show up at the camp very often. All after all a very good trip.

We requested to be dropped at the Sunday market in Kuching where we wandered around for some time to enjoy the local food: vegetables, fish and chicken. Markets are always a lively place to visit and offer good photo opportunities. From the market we headed on further to Kuching and enjoyed a bit of city life over there. Kuching is a nice mixture between Chinese and Malay and the waterfront by the river is absolutely beautiful. We had a small bite in a local restaurant, visited some more shopping centers and then headed back to the hotel.  

On Monday, when most of you were suffering from Monday Blues, the both of us visited the cultural village. It’s a really well arranged park with 7 different houses from the different ethnic groups in Borneo. All very interesting, in each house were storytellers who explained about the local way of living and demonstrated handcrafts. Also a dance show was part of the treat and that one was surprisingly well done while each ethnic group had its turn to demonstrate ritual and festive dances. A very good experience.

We wandered around a bit more and once back in the hotel spent the afternoon sunbathing at the Cliff pool, one of the two large pools of the hotel. A couple of beers (cocktails were unfortunately not served at the cliff terrace), a book, some music, and lots, lots of sun, what else does one need for a relaxing afternoon…. We skipped dinner as we did not feel hungry at all but went to bed early (20.15 !!!) as we had an early rise the next morning. It is amazing how tiring doing absolutely nothing can be 😉

Tuesday morning, 6.00, wakeup call… We took out time to pack for the day and enjoyed a lush breakfast. Had some problems with ‘Borneo belly’ but fortunately that settled soon. At 8.00 we were picked up by a minivan and together with a Danish couple living in Beijing were brought to the entrance of the Bako National park. From there it was a 45-minute boat ride to the park HQ. In the river mouth we saw a saltwater crocodile, just over 1 meter long but with small sharp teeth, as he was proudly showing. Nasty little creature!!

On arrival at park HQ we were very lucky to see a troop of Proboscis monkeys who were feeding on the tree leaves in the mangrove forest. Proboscis monkeys are extremely funny looking with their big noses. It was really hilarious to watch as they jump from tree to tree.

Lee, our guide, was an expert on all the flora and fauna in the area. He had a lot to tell about each different specimen in the area which made our morning hike an extremely interesting experience. It was amazing how quickly the vegetation changed during our 1 1/2 hour hike.

The big surprise was at the end of the hike though. From high over the cliff tops we had a stunning view over an idyllic and pristine little beach. It looked amazing and extremely inviting. We descended to the beach and it did not take long before we were wading in the warm water of the South China Sea. WOW, WOW, WOW, our own private beach, no one around, just us…. Absolutely fantastic. It was a shame that we only had one hour over here as we could have easily spend the rest of the day here.

However, the boat arrived to pick us up and bring us back to park HQ. Due the low tide we had to wade through the water to reach the boat but that was all part of the experience. At park HQ we had a simple but lovely lunch after which we took off for our afternoon hike. This was just a short one but we saw some silver leaf monkeys and a small, bright green colored and lethal snake. One bite could easily kill an adult so I was very happy to have a strong zoom lens with me so there was no need to come close to this green little devil. Mid afternoon we the boat back to the park entrance. This was a very choppy but fun experience. We were constantly jumping over the waves of the incoming tide, this to the joy of all of us.

Back in the hotel we spent some time at the pool, zipping Damai Island Tea’s, as one does after a day in the jungle. It had been a stunning day. A small bite in the ‘treez’ restaurant and then the bed was waiting for us, the final night in Borneo.

Continue the journey to our last stop, Kuala Lumpur