fredag 3. april 2009
Kuching is surrounded by things of interest. There are a couple of national parks nearby, a wild life centre where former captured orang utans which the government has confiscated, are put back in their normal habitat and are rehabilitated to live freely., a cultural village where you can get a glance into the traditional life of the inhabitants of Sarawak (and Borneo as a whole), and much more.
I did plan to visit at least one of the national parks, but my legs where not at all fit for more hiking after the climb to Mt Kinabalu so I had to just take some easy days there. I got to talk a little to one of the ferrymen there (small boats are shuffling people from one side of the river to the other, I guess river taxis or river rickshaws would be a better word), and he offered me a one hour sight seeing for 30 ringgit which I gladly accepted. Though he couldn't speak much English we communicated quite well and I got a good idea of where there lived mostly Chinese, where it was mixed and where there lived mostly Malays. He also picked some fruit growing on trees hanging out alongside the river, but I never learned what the fruit is called. I have a pic of them, so if anyone recognizes them, please post a comment.
In Kuching it would have been convenient to have a travel partner. I would have liked to take a kayaking trip which looked very interesting and would take me into some of the best parts of the nearby nature. But it had to be a minimum of two persons, and though I tried, I did not manage to find another person to go with me.
After some days of rest and also some painful massage I could walk something like normal again, and decided to at least get to see the wild life centre where they both have a botanical garden and a part where they rehabilitate former captured orang utans and bring them back into their natural environment. Though heavy rain (in Borneo the sun always shines when you start your daily adventure and suddenly changes into heavy rain, so always bring your raincoat – I did not) it was really worth seeing, but I had to wait a long time to see any orang utans..
On my way back to Kota Kinabalu, my legs where almost as normal again and I was able to visit another national Park, this time Niah National Park which you find between the two cities Bintulu and Miri. I first took a boat to Sibu, then 4 hours bus drive to Bintulu. I stayed overnight and then another two hours by bus and cab to the National Park. Niah is famous for the caves, which houses a lot of birds and bats. The birds build their nests up under the ceiling, mostly of their own secretions and these nests have been collected for years, used in the Chinese cuisine for bird nest soup. The bird nest harvesters can get paid up to 1000$ per kilo, depending on the quality. The ropes you see hanging down on some of the pics is used by bird nest harvesters to climb up under the ceiling.
Also guano harvesting has a long history here, and it is still going on. Today the guano harvesters are only allowed to use brooms to harvest it, due to not disturb the ecological system the guano is a part of. Well I “harvested” some myself, and had to wash and scrub my hiking boots for guano afterwards (guano is such a nice word for bird pooh...).
I should have had much more time in Sarawak. I think next time I will take a two months round trip on Borneo and go around the whole island. So far I really haven't seen much of what it has to offer. I hope it will be soon...