Published: May 25th 2010May 25th 2010
What happens when you put an Iban, Australian and Englishman together with some instruments and whiskey? I shall tell you in a moment dear readers
We booked a flight back to Kuching as we didnt end up going to Brunei as it is too expensive and we didnt think it would be worth blowing a few days budget over 2 days.
The flight from Kota Kinabalu was good, a bit bumpy but we made it here in one piece which is always a bonus! We took a taxi to our hostel which we had booked the day before, Tracks Bed and Breakfast, we'd booked a double room with shared bathroom.
Tracks is great, lots of people coming and going but a really chilled out place with a great vibe and we would definitely recommend it to other travellers. It is owned by 3 Iban (one of the Sarawak tribes) men and has only been opened for a year.
Yesterday we thought we would take a walk back to the Sarawak museum as we didnt get to see all of it last time we were here. We took the long walk up there and thought we would
go in the Natural History Museum first, which was a big mistake. I have no idea why, but some clever person has decided to close the actual museum with all the interesting things in and open the upstairs and put lots and lots of fossilised tree trunks in there. It was basically 3 rooms with nothing but pieces of wood which have partially turned in to stone. We had to pay RM4 each to get in and it so wasnt worth it. We did get to sit at a wooden table that had been made out of 15 million year old wood.......sounds exciting doesnt it
So, we left there feeling a bit peed off that we'd wasted precious time and money looking at wood.......still havent got over the fact it was just wood......anyway.......
We thought we would cross over the bridge to the Islamic Museum on the other side, we started walking across the grass when we both trod in a couple of small puddles. Nothing sinister there I hear you say, well I managed to escape, but Phil fell in to a 3ft deep 'puddle' going right up past his knees! It was very deceptive, it
couldnt of been any more than 5 inches across and a few inches long but as soon as he put his foot down his whole leg sunk in to the sink hole.
I have to say it is possibly one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. Ok, so I shouldnt of laughed but it was absolutely hilarious, I wish so much that Id been filming and caught in on camera!!
So, Phil half way in the ground and me wetting my self laughing, a little Malay lady (who'd sold us our tickets) came out and decided it would be a good idea if someone found a long stick to fish out Phil's flip flop that had been lost to the mud.
Phil got taken round the back of the museum to wash himself off as he was absolutely covered in mud, and then came back round to the hole where he was given a long stick to try and find his lost flip flop. Im afraid to say that said flip flop was never recovered, and it one day might make it in to the history museum as a fossil in a
few hundred years time.
We didnt really know what to do as its quite a walk back to Tracks, so we tried to get in a taxi but the taxi driver had no idea what we were talking about so we set off in look of a shoe shop. After about 10 minutes and lots of funny looks at Phil walking around in bear feet we found a shoe shop and bought him some more flip flops (his 3 pair in 2 months).
So, we were going to go back to the hostel as Phil's back was covered in mud but we were still close to the museum so decided to go back to finish what we had started a week or so ago. The museum was brilliant, we read all the information they had on Borneo and the Second World War then we went upstairs and saw all the displays on Borneos history.
We did walk back to the hostel after the museum and Phil had a well deserved shower, then we headed out again about 5pm to the river to see if we could get on a river boat cruise, which we did. We just
made it as the boat leaves at 5:30pm for the last cruise of the day 'The Sunset Cruise'.
It was quite expensive at RM60 each, but we were on a huge boat which is hired out for parties and weddings so was very posh. There is another boat in Kuching that goes down the river for RM19 each but its tiny and by the looks of it once you were on you wouldnt actually be able to see anything apart from the other people sitting next to you anyway.
We sat on the top deck of the boat at a little table and were given a plate of cakes/desserts each and a glass of fresh orange juice.
The cakes are interesting.
There were 2 slices of sponge cake which taste just like cake from home and then there is a soft rubbery jelly type thing (hard to explain) with coconut inside. It tastes nice, but is strange. Then there was a small ball of rice with curry smelling flakes on top which was wrapped in a banana leaf - we didnt eat this one!
We sailed down the river one way and looked at the
sites on either side, getting a running commentary from the guide on the boat. Then we turned around and sailed down the other way, we saw lots of houses on stilts which are built in the river and some huge houses which are owned by various people in the Malaysian Government.
The sunset from the boat was beautiful, and of course we both took lots of photos. Then there was a cultural dance, which was a bit embarrassing as the boat wasnt full at all and the young girl and two young boys doing the dancing looked a bit awkward.
After an hour and a half of sailing up and down the river we went back to the river front in the city and then took a smaller boat over to the other side and the hawker stalls for dinner. We both had Mee Goreng (noodles) which were lovely (a bit spicy for Phil) and only cost 80p each.
It was a short walk back to Tracks, they guys that work here went out night fishing the night before and had caught loads of fish from the South China Sea, bought them back to the place had
a BBQ and then decided to open a few bottles of whiskey, no change there then from every other night
The blokes here are really cool, then main man that has been here every day since we've arrived is Nick who's parents are Iban and still live in a longhouse in the jungle. He has so many different tattoos and I asked him yesterday what the lines meant on his fingers, he was telling me that his Great Grandfather was a headhunter (as the Ibans are) and they are for every head that he collected, which still hang in the Longhouse a few hours drive outside of Kuching.
There is an Australian staying here as well whilst he is waiting for a work permit for Singapore and he was telling us about the people who own this place and the place next door and that they are all Iban as well, this explains all the tattoos. One of the part owners, Ernesto, is a legendary tattooist (the traditional way with tapping needles instead of the gun) and used to be a pop/rock star. I had read about the tattoo place (Borneo Headhunters) in the Lonely Planet Guide
and had been looking at it online during the day. So was surprised to hear that the man who's hostel we were staying in also owned that, and he's videos are on Youtube.....
We stayed up with everyone, playing guitar and listening to Nick play everything from Jimi Hendrix to Led Zeppelin. Phil was playing the other guitar and learning from Nick, Jerry was telling me how he could play the didgeridoo and decided to give me a demonstration on a vacuum cleaner pipe! It worked so well, and really sounded like a didgeridoo.
I had a go and did quite well apparently, although to me it just sounded like I was blowing raspberries into a pipe. There is also a traditional Iban instrument here as well, unfortunately Im not sure what its called, but apparently there arent any chords or any correct way to play it so if you know how to play the guitar you can just make it up as you go along! Easier said than done, I couldnt get anything that even resembled a tune. We had a brilliant night playing the instruments, drinking the whiskey and hearing ghost stories about Bako Forest.
So our night of jamming in Tracks had to come to and end some time unfortunately and after the other guys staying up for over 24 hours they began to crash out around us, understandably.
Tomorrow we are taking a taxi to the airport and flying to Kuala Lumpur then taking a bus to Melaka and should be arriving at about midnight.
Will be sad to leave Borneo, especially Kuching as we've had a really good time here. But other things are waiting and we are planning on coming back here so I can hopefully make use of Ernesto and his work at Borneo Headhunters. Our Route So Far
Kuala Lumpur - Ipoh - Tanah Rata (Cameron Highlands) - Perhentian Kecil - Kota Bharu - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching (Malaysian Borneo) - Kota Kinabalu (Malaysian Borneo) - Kuching (Malaysian Borneo)
There are more photos below