Kuching and Tales from an Airport Lounge
12.01.2011 - 17.01.2011 26 °C
That was what the security guy at the metal detecter in Kuala Lumpur airport said to me after checking my boarding pass....miaow miaow. Thankfully I already knew that Kuching's nickname was Cat City, otherwise I would have thought this guy was a bit special and really shouldn't be given the responsibility of airport security. It was fortunate that we were actually able to get on our flight. 48 hours beforehand, an Air Asia A320 had skidded off the runway at Kuching in heavy rain. No one was injured but the nose cone was stuck in the mud and no flights were allowed in or out of the airport until it was cleared.
Yes I did say heavy rain, and it was still raining when we got there too, quelle surprise! If another taxi driver tells me I've arrived somewhere at the wrong time of year again I may cry. At least it seems that it's not a case of a little Irish cloud hovering over our heads, apparently we're all blaming El Nino and all I can say is I'm glad I didn't travel to Brazil or Brisbane, and that we got out of Sri Lanka in time. Lets hope we can avoid any flooding in Borneo too, but something tells me they're used to rain around here.
Kuching is a lovely city built upon the Sarawak River which provides a gorgeous waterfront to stroll along, when it's not raining. Our number one priority was Semenggoh Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the Wild Men of Borneo, the orangutans. Despite the rain we went along for the 3pm feeding. The park is completely open and the orangutans are essentially wild and allowed to freely move wherever they like. They do appear for the bundle of food that is placed on feeding platforms in the jungle at 9am and 3pm. We were extremely lucky (lucky with animals, not so much with the weather it seems). At one of the platforms we sat under a shelter to watch a mother and young baby in the trees. At first mammy was clearly pissed off with the rain like ourselves and had placed a large clump of leaves and foliage on her head to keep her massive body dry. Baby wasn't too keen on this idea and decided to pull all these leaves off and generally have a play about. After a short while they were on the move, down from the trees, on to the feeding platform, down the steps from this platform and on the ground just a few feet in front of our shelter.
It was at this point I remembered the large poster of lovely graphic images of the results of an orangutan attack on the wall behind us and decided we should probably retreat and give mother and baby their space. So we retreated out into the rain a few feet from the shelter while they sauntered in and had a sit down, now comfortably out of the rain. Absolutely an amazing experience. What a difference 3% makes!
We had planned on taking a river cruise to try spot some irrawaddy dolphins, but the weather was so bad no boatmen were sailing so that was scrapped. Instead we spent a day wandering around Chinatown and browsing the many shops of Borneo wood carvings, artwork and jewellery. Kuching has a great chilled vibe to it. There was no one hassling us for anything, on the streets or in the shops, it was all very relaxed and pleasant and I would highly recommend a visit....in the dry season (or in Borneo's case, the less wet season).
I'm currently in the Executive Lounge of Miri airport. We were meant to fly to Mulu National Park this morning at 9.30 but the flight was cancelled because of...you guessed it...bad weather! The next flight is at 2.25 and we've been bumped to that one and given a free lunch voucher. It seems the weather is fine enough to fly in Miri but crappy in Mulu so unless it clears up we could be spending another night in Miri and possibly bailing on the park altogether which will be a bit disappointing. I'm currently in two minds as to whether it'll be a good thing if the flight goes this afternoon, there's a real prospect of being stuck in the park if flights get grounded again on Wednesday and it aint a cheap place to stay and that will then have a knock on effect on our plans for Kinabalu. That I guess will be left up to fate. There isn't much to Miri, which is why I wasn't planning on writing a blog post about it, it's really just a stopover for Mulu and all we really have to show for our time there are memories of a hangover after a great Indian meal and too many beers.