Monday, July 11, 2005

Kuching - Day 6, Rest Day

The plan – go to Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre
Reality - Sleep sleep sleep

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Kuching - Day 5, workshops and the tree of life RWMF III

Day 5

Characters :
Ramon and Me
Side Characters :
Usama, the beach party goers, Rainforest people

Yea finaly we made it to the workshops. Choices choices. Which workshops should we go to. First stop being a Malaysian and living on rubber time, we were late for the songs and stories On Mayan cilivilization workshop. There was monsters and wonton women rampaging in the Iban house…well at least in our minds and in the stories.

Next on the menu is by my favourite group from yesterday before Petrona Martinez from Columbia and this time there were men trying to get another mans woman and fights happening. Well at least that is how I interprete what is going on in the dance.
Man can those drummers really beat those drums. At one time one of them were going so fast that it seems that both of his hand become one. There was a bit of a naughty dancing going about with some gungho girls from the crowd.

The call of the Celts reeled us in. Well guess who is heading the next workshop ? Those hot Polish guys playing Celtic music in Scottish kilts. Yeap its Shannon. The full band wasn’t there dang, still there is lots of rhythms and it is basically a jamming session with a twist. Paused for a Q and A session then its back to jamming again. I really like the atmosphere. Its goood music with a laid back atmosphere. After the session I just felt compelled to buy thier CD. RM 75 is a little pricey for me but heck it was worth it. Wao talk about great marketing

Phew workshop is over.Hung around at the lake a bit. After some time a raft with a group of kids and 2 adults floated by. They challenge another raft with 4 Chinese but they back out. They seem to be having fun especially when and they almost fell in.

Orang Ulu Long house
Decided to have a look around at the Orang Ulu’s (Orang = people) long house. Admitedly I am a little intrigued by the Orang Ulu and if I am not mistaken the Orang Ulus are a tribe of people who worships nature. Their long house is really impressive with big poles sticking out of the ground as a base. With bright swirls on the walls I can say that it’s the most colorful house in the village. I think I would like to stay in that house the next time I come around. My faourite design is the one that I call the tree of life. Well it’s my name for that picture/design. The most photographed person of the day can be found at the Orang Ulu’s house. He had a giant moth that flew onto his shorts and it was a beautiful moth. It wings look like the tree bark that can be found on most of the souvenirs in Sarawak. Really beautiful.

There aren’t as many people as yesterday. The music started out with a slow beat to it and everyone was just relaxing. Dang forgot to get a bottle of beer. Nah had my share on the first day. Back to the music. Chulalongkorn from Thailand held a particular interest for me considering the fact that I visited their university a year ago. Ramon said one of the girls is nervous when she had to do a solo but she warmed up later on.
Finally I can hear what the Old Spice Boys are singing about and man they are funny. Everything was laid back until The Foghorn String Band from the USA. I was off to the ladies and when I returned there was a massive crowd. Where did all these people come from? Almost everyone in front was dancing and hopping about. I did a bit of a jiggle but I just could keep up with the crowds massive energy. Everyone is enjoying themselves to Foghorn. The crowd is crazy. Next up Yelemba D’Abidjan from the Ivory coast. Now this group is special. They had a fire breathing monster on stage. (Well ok it was a guy in a mask that spurted embers ). Loads of dancing on and off stage with tons of drumming.
The finale had everyone of the performers up on stage. Interesting to note that the Pakistan group headed straight to the mic. The Pakistan group dissappear for a while and magically reappear in front of the stage soon after. Everyone was playing their instrument (don’t get naughty now) or singing. Ramon, me and a caucausian was singing a tune together with the performers. Seriously I think that point in time I felt like the audience and performers were one. At least on my part it felt that way.
The music is gone but everyone is still milling about. I think most of us just didn’t want the festival to be over. The leftovers only got a move on when the security came.
Hmm…appanrently the party isn’t over for some of us. Found out from Ramon and Usama that there was going to be a beach party at Camp Permai. I guess the night isn’t over yet. Usama is a happy little boy tonight. Maybe a little tipsy. De-ja vu. Reminds me of my state on the first day of the festival. A little too much tuak.eheh. The best thing about tuak according to Usama is that tuak don’t give you a hangover. Neat ehh.

Camp Permai look like a really nice place to stay in. I really hope that V-Lin and Des can come with me next year. I now know why this festival is the best music festival in the world. Everyone is just so friendly and unpretentious.

Beach After Party
I think it was magical for me not because of the people but more of the surroundings. I have never seen so many stars in the night sky. It all felt rather magical with drums and especially with the fire licking away at the dry wood and leaves. Someone commented that it seems more cult like and it freaked him out a little. Me? Sand is defintely harder to dance in but I definitely had fun. Time to head home but was held up because Usama felt sick

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Kuching - Day 4, shopping + RWMF II

Day 4
I want to go to MJC. Lady with Lizard Hat told me you could get 2nd hand stuff there. Missed the 2nd day of the workshops. The day was spent shopping and the best buy I got was a velvet black hat for RM 3.99.

The sun was setting and we were heading to Santubong. The sunsets in Sarawak are one of the best I have ever seen.

The beat at the performances today is a little more mellow as compared to yesterday. Hmm it seems that there is a bigger crowd today. Maybe its because it’s a Saturday night and everyone just want to enjoy themselves.
Longest singing session ever : the group from Pakistan.
At first I was super impress with the vocal range but honestly after half an hour (or maybe less) I got a little bored. Still you got to admit that singing for an hour plus is commendable.
The group Namgar playing Mongolian music is pretty interesting.
The old Spice boys are very entertaining and I heard the name Jimi Hendrix and Stephen Hawkings but the crowd was rather roudy so I couldn’t hear the rest of the lyrics.
When the Italian group came on the swirls of the gypsy dance is intriguing. I really got to get a gypsy skirt.
The most upbeat of them all for tonight is from Colombia.
Petrona Martinez are a group of musicians and dancers with a lead singer of 66. The rhythms are upbeat and when they dance it makes you want to move your feet too.

By the time the final group from Algeria Djamel Laroussi was up I was a little pooped out. The were very energetic and lively and I throughly enjoyed the music but I couldn’t dance at all. Me cannot dance no more, but I did get a couple of shots of people dancing eheh.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Kuching - Day 3, HC people, the poser cat, RWMF I

Day 3

Characters : Chaiu Fang, Mona, Me
Side Character : Ramon
Meeting a hospitality Club (HC) member today. Her name is Chaiu Fang and she is going to bring me to makan Laksa Sarawak. Yum. Ramon drop me off and surprise surprise there is someone else there too. Come to think of it I think Chaiu Fang mentioned she was bringing a friend but daylight render my brains a little inactive. The other person is Mona. She is a HC member too (this is sounding like some cult meeting huh?). Anyway back to breakfast. I am not too sure where we are but I think the area is Bormill. Finally I get to taste Laksa Sarawak. The coffee shop is pack like mad. Hmm food must be good I guess. I saw Anthony but I wasn’t too sure he remembered me la. Yea I am shy. Well the Laksa tasted quite good. Very different from the Assam Laksa that I am used to. The gravy is very rich in santan (coconuts milk). Don’t remember any prawns on it though.

We chit chatted and I found out the Chaiu Fang hosted a couple of people already. Mona is going to host a French girl sometime soon in Miri. Ahh good food and good company what more can a person ask for.
Its shopping time. Headed to Riverside to do some damage. I never got the hang of shopping with people. Some how I can’t take my time when I know people are waiting for me.

Damage control :
chaiuFang – nil
Paikyin – 1 shell bracelet,1straw bag while contemplating on a cat mug.
Mona – Couple of bracelets and necklace. Contemplating an Iban cloth.

Shopping Queen Title goes to Mona :D

Anyone who loves shopping should definitely go shop with Mona. Dang. Well the againI have a habit of checking things out and spending my dosh on souvenirs on the last day of the trip so watch out Mona grrr.

Ok enough shop talk.
The story of the poser cat and Vespa.
Vespa oh my dear Vespa. Every since I saw you in a dark olive suit in Penang I just can’t help taking pictures of you. I cross the chains confining you. I bend down and the sleeping cat under you got up and started walking towards me. I thought that you were going to send your love to me, but NO, all the cat wanted was its picture taken with you. Oh
how I fumed but there was naught I could do.

In reality the cat got up just to get its picture taken and you know what is the best thing, the eyes are close the entire time. Ahh what a vain little cat.

First day of RWMF

Characters :
Ramon, Rosheen, Usama, Me
Side Characters :
Rina, Rick, Other people who gave me free beer

No workshop today because the window of the Tiara (the car) needed to be fixed. The window just refuse to budge up. Window no go up, no go. In the end Ramon’s dad was kind enough to drive us to the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong where the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) is held. First stop, check out the booth. I am a sucker for clothes. These tops are really nice but I just can’t afford them. RM75 a piece for the top and RM 85 for the sarong. Well if I can’t buy it I guess the next best thing is to keep a picture of it. Took a quick walk around the Cultural Village looking at the different sturctures and archiectures. Didn’t bother looking at the Chinese sturcuture considering the fact that I am Chinese.
Dinner time. Got Kolo Mee another Sarawak delicacy. It tasted a little like the instant Indo Mee you could get at the supermarkets. Not too impressed.

There isn’t as many people as I expected. Maybe its because it’s a Friday night? I got my lips wet with tuak. Not too bad. It’s a little like bitter sweet beer. Alcohol was free flowing with strangers offering one another beer and wine. Where do these guys come from? The oldest performer of the event is from Belize. I think he is about 74 years old. It is so impressive that he made the harp, violin and fiddle all by himself. The crowd definitely got in the spirit of things when he came off stage to show us a local dance. Apparently the guys are suppose to sort of dance hop around with one foot and the woman who is dancing with the dude are suppose to try and trip them with their skirts. Ok Bollywood rolling on the hills ala Star Wars episode 2 is coming to my mind.
Apparently its to show that the guy is macho or something. Especially if he doesn’t fall or manage to avoid those damn skirts.
I really like the crowd. There was a mix of people. Foreiners, locals, ah mahs, ang mohs etc… The coolest people of the night is the group of ah mahs and and ah kong doing the joget. It just goes to show that the older generation still rocks. Dance a hell lot and stumbled in a drunken stupor once..ohh I don’t know I don’t keep count, but hey I am OK. The great thing about the entire night is the fact that people are dancing and having fun. Non of this icky grinding-my-pelvis, I-want-to-score kind of dancing. This is dancing in a I don’t care how about anything I am having fun mode. There were strangers dancing together regardless of race or color. If Miss Universe wants world peace maybe she should organized an event like this.
Lots of dancing with the alcohol waning its homeward bound for me.

Shannon a group of Polish, playing Celtic music with Scottish kilts on is the best performance according to Paik_Yin-O-Meter.

Ohh yea Usama didn’t come back with us. He left us for Rina. sob

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Kuching - Day 2,Bako NatioNal PaRk

setting – Bako National Park
main Characters – Ramon, Rosheen, Usama, Me
side Characters – Wild Bearded Boar, Proboscis Monkey @ big nose monkeys, Silvered Langur, Long-Tailed Macaques


Bako here I come. The ride took ages. I think it was about an hour plus by car. Thank God, I did not take the No 6 bus. I can’t imagine how long that would take. Bako village had a rustic look to it. Step right up and get your day pass at the booth (at the foot of the jetty la)
The boat ride is uneventful, then again it could be because I am not much of a morning person. Our boat driver (?) is call Ismail. Ismail dropped us off and told us that he would be back at later to pick us up

Checklist 1 – Wild bearded boar
The first thing we did was head to main building and pay our entrance fees. Show your ID card if you are a student and tadaa you get half price off. There were some pretty butterflies flitting about a stunted palm tree on the way to the headquarters, I wish I thought of taking a picture.
First sighting of the day.At breakfast, I got excited when this brown hairy thing on four legs stroll around the canteen. It’s a wild bearded boar and it was everything was covered with brown hair except for a pink bit that was sticking at the bottom of its face. I was grossed out with the pink bit. I thought it was the mouth twisted in some grotesque curl. Found out it’s the nose and I was still grossed out but in some weird way found it cute too?

Checklist 2 – Proboscis monkey@ Rastapopoulos
Changed into a bikini and we started heading for the jungle trails. Rosheen spotted some Proboscis monkeys at the mangroves. These monkeys are extremely rare and I felt fortunate to have seen them. The most distinct feature of these monkeys is their huge bulbous noses that reminded me of Rastapopoulos, Roberto; a character in Tintin.These creatures are rather shy and loud noise could scare them away. I noticed that they had a white tail and bottom which really is a stark contrast to their orangy fur. It kind of look like they had a white plunger stuck to their bottoms.
I couldn’t take any pictures so its off to the jungles now. Onwards to the beach.

Phew I am out of shape. Ciggarrette dangling on lips while trekking uphill is not a good idea. Another bad idea is trekking with slippers on. I brought my shoes but it was in Ramon’s bag most of the time. I kind of wish we went a little slower sob.

Not because I couldn’t keep up with the pace (in a defying tone)…

but I would like to take some time to look around.

Eyes glued to the ground looking out for tricky little branches waiting to trip you up. I did noticed that we pass by some moss covered rocks which incidentally reminded me of Japan. They were beautiful. If only I had time to stop and take a shot.

The Barren Lands ANd its Multi-ColoRed Waters
10 to 15 minutes of trekking and instead of lush overhead greenary, we were greeted with dry barren rocks and clayey sands.
Watch out for the wet parts. Lichens are slippery. A couple of us slipped. It is sort of akin to roller skating in a one foot rink. Saw a picther plant and some tongkat ali which got Usama a little excited. The root of the Tongkat Ali plant is reputedly great for the libido. Application open only for males of the homosapiens species please.
People do look out for pools of water found in these areas. Ok to you they may be just pools of water with orangey brown water but to me they are really beautiful. To prove it here is an unphotoshopped photo. Hmmph
I don’t know why the water is orangey brown. Maybe minerals you think?
Wildlife ?Saw a couple of multicolored dragonflies and some weird looking ants. Oh yea and lots of slimy worms slittering about in the mud and pools. Bleh

The Beach
At the cliff the view of the beach was amazing. Getting down to the beach was a little tricky. I some how prefer going uphill as oppose to heading down. I think its this fear of not being in control if I slipped. Well back to the trek. Got down to the beach by slowly treading down some rickety makeshift ladders and steps.
The beach the beach. No one is here except for 2 other people. The beach is all ours Muahahahahha. The water is so blue and inviting.
There is an opening at the side of the cliff where anyone could have a little privacy…no not to make out, I meant as in to change your clothes. (Eyes rolling)
Where is it you say? Well its on the left of the beach (person facing the sea).
No no. what are these boats bring more people in. argh. Well for folks who don’t want to trek you could actually hire a boat from the headquaters for RM30 a trip. We took a boat back, after 4 hours of burning in the sun. I have never seen my skin go so red. Ouch.

Ismail our driver (?) again. It is now 2pm. Lunch is over NO. Still no worries, just get yourself a couple of instant noodle from the canteen and wahla magically a huge bowl of mouth watering instant noodles appears.
(Reality - you pass the noodles to the canteen staff and they cook it for you).

Checklist 3 – Macaques @ KL monkeys
There were some rather cheeky Macaques hanging about the canteen. Usama calls them the KL monkeys. One particularly young Macaque is rather bold. Well I have to say that Ramon started it.
With a strand of Indo Mee noodle dangling of his fingers, the bold little monkey snatch the noodle of Ramon’s hands.
Feeling triumphant from the high jump competition, little bold monkey spotted a Caucasian man with a packet of Oreos.

Yum. Ready! Attack!

Tug of war between tourist and local habitat ensues.

Winner? Tourist.

The crowd goes wild. In the first place, tourist wins a large packet of Oreos. Runner up, crumbs on the floor.
After all that excitement, we needed a nap. Soon the gentle snores of my colleagues could be heard. How do I know you say? Well I stayed awake smoking a couple of Malboros and watch as two squirrels battle it out for a patch of greens.

Checklist 4 – Silver Leaf Monkeys
3:55 pm. Time to go. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t spot any Silver leaf monkeys.
Hey look more monkeys. Thinking they were just KL monkeys I was wallowing in self pity until a glint of silver caught my eye. Lo and behold a group of Silver Leaf monkeys feeding. They are extremely shy and the silver gleam is from the fur. I saw 2 mothers with their child. The baby monkeys are a bright orange as oppose to the graying elders.

Boat ride back all tan and red.
1. Wild Bearded Boar CHECK
2. Proboscis Monkey CHECK
3. Silver Leaf Monkey CHECK

We had dinner at Topspot. Seafood galore. I wanted to try Ambal, which Sarawak is reputed for but it wasn’t in season. I had Jungle fern (Midin) though but it tasted like any normal vegetable. Dinner consist of rice served with Buttered Prawns, Midin, Sweet and sour Crabs, Sea Cucumber soup which taste a little like shark fin soup, Fish… well that is what I remembered eating.

Man I am stuffed.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Kuching - Day 1, Arrival

- Stay a night at Bako National Park
- Go for the 8th Rainforest World Music Festival for 3 days
- Visit the Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.
- Tuck into some local delicacies : Laksa Sarawak, Kolo Mee, Ambal, and Jungle Fern(Midin), Sago worms

Day 1

Flying at 09:45 with Air Asia. The view of Kuching from the plane was beautiful. The winding rivers and tiny dotted houses made an interesting design. Touch down and met up with Ramon and Usama.

– go to Bako National park and stay a night.

– If one wants to stay overnight at Bako, one would need a permit. Where to get that nasty permit? Well just off to the Sarawak Tourist Information Center across the Square Tower. Some how I thought the Square Tower would be bigger. Found out that the dorm beds were booked up so we decided to head off to Bako tomorrow.

Ended the day meeting Ramon’s family.

Travel Notes:
1. Where to get your Bako Permits?
Overnight permits, get it from Sarawak Tourist Information Center.
Day permits can be obtained at the jetty
2. Cost?