Monday, July 14, 2008

A visit to Kuching

Over the weekend, we took a short break in Kuching, Sarawak. Eugene was going for work so we took the opportunity to tag along, and to give Caitlin her much-awaited first-time plane ride.

Kuching is the capital city of the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. Sarawak is one of the two (the other being Sabah) Malaysian states located in the island of Borneo. We normally refer to these two states as East Malaysia, as it is to the east of Peninsular Malaysia, separated by the South China Sea.

It was our first visit to "Cat City". "Kuching" means "cat" in the Malay language. I don't know how it got its name. Caitlin asked if there are a lot of cats there!
We woke Caitlin up at 5.30am and she shot out of bed like a grasshopper, unlike normal days when she whined and lingered, unwilling to get out of bed for school. Her excited chatter began immediately and continued non-stop (even when brushing teeth!)all the way to Kuching!

We left home at 6.00am to catch the 8.00am flight which took two hours to Kuching. Caitlin thoroughly enjoyed the ride and was talking and questioning excitedly. We stayed two nights at Damai Puri Resort in Santubong, one hour's drive north of Kuching.

View from hotel lobby

Happy to have arrived!

After checking in and lunch, Caitlin and Eugene headed for the resort's private beach and family pool while I relaxed at the spa with an aromatherapy massage. The massage was tension-relieving although I wish it could have lasted longer than the one-hour allocation. After the massage, I joined them at the beach and pool for a while. Caitlin was only willing to leave around 5.00pm.

Beach babe

After a shower and her afternoon snack and dose of milk, she 'knocked out' like a light. It was a deep sleep and attempts to wake her around 7.00pm for dinner and a visit to the Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival were futile. She was obviously tired out from the early morning flight and fun at the beach and pool.

The adult infinity pool

View from our balcony

While Eugene went over to the Sarawak Cultural Village for the event, I stayed in the room, ordered room service for dinner, watched TV and waited for Caitlin to wake. She finally did at 10.00pm by which it was too late and raining too heavily to join Eugene at the event. Eugene got back soaked to the skin and reported that despite the rain, the turnout was good, with many going shirtless and enjoying the outdoor concert in the heavy shower. I guess the event lived up to its name "Rainforest".

The next day after breakfast, Caitlin and I did some batik painting.

After that, the three of us took a one-hour shuttle ride into the city centre to see what Kuching town is like.

We visited the Chinese History Museum and browsed at some curio and native handicraft shops along the Waterfront.

Old and new: The brightly-painted Tua Pek Kong Temple located opposite a stainless steel sculpture near Chinese History Museum at Waterfront

That outing was physically tough for Eugene and emotionally tiring for me. Caitlin was grumbling about the heat and complaining that her legs were tired, asking to be carried all the time.

I guess at her age, a holiday is one filled with fun at the beach/pool, or visiting some children-related attraction ie zoo, carnival, mall... In an attempt to pacify her, we dropped into a mall and found a bookstore. We got her a book which she read while lunching on pizza.

In the evening, we went to the Cultural Village to get dinner and catch that night's performance.

Sarawak Cultural Village main entrance

Caitlin got her face painted at the Celcom XPax booth and was very pleased with her Princess Jasmine look. She refused to clean her face that night and went to bed with the make-up. She still had it on yesterday all the way home to Kuala Lumpur and only allowed her cheeks and eyes to be cleaned last night. She insisted on showing her classmates her make-up today at school so she went to school this morning still sporting whatever's left on her forehead...and brought along a photograph of herself with the full make-up. Eugene had printed the photo for her to take to school in an attempt to get her to remove the make up entirely last night.

Pretty in pink

All in all, it was a good change from the daily routine, although this morning, we all groaned as we walked out the door to head to school and work. It was too short a break to have provided the much-needed relaxation but it was quite good nevertheless.

Our return flight to KL was delayed one hour and we encountered some turbulence upon approaching KL. We touched down on a wet tarmac and reached home to unpack loads of dirty laundry. Last Thursday, Caitlin declared she wanted her very own room, so we continued with what little we could last night in transforming the room to make it 'hers'. I changed the curtains, Eugene re-positioned some furniture while the 'lady of the room' occupied herself with her favourite toys on her new bed....

If I were to go to Kuching again, I would want to spend more time at the World Music Festival. This time, we did not get the opportunity because Caitlin, despite being a music fan, was not too keen with the natural rainforest jungle set-up (read hot, humid, dark, grassy, muddy, haphazard, crowded). Eugene and I figured that we should get her more used to travelling and roughing it out so that she'd outgrow her Miss City Girl disposition, the aircon-loving, minimal-walking, sterile and sanitary type of environments.

For general info on visiting Sarawak, check it out here.

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