Tuesday, October 31, 2006

TV Dinner Outside of Home

If you fancy watching a soccer match while dining with a loved one under the protection of proper roofing with some rather pleasant interior decorating and furniture arrangement plus some warm welcoming ambience (not forgetting a cheap price to pay for the reasonably good food to be served), then pay a visit to Great Kitchen Cafe at Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce. It's just behind McDonald's, a corner lot. You can't miss it. The place used to be called Nice Cafe (during my heydays it was one place where the younger generation used to dine, well after midnight). They also serve alcoholic beverages and smoking is allowed inside (they use ceiling fans instead of air-conditioning). No pets allowed though.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Not So Cheap place for Good Grub

Eating out in Kuching City tonight are we? What about trying some Vietnamese food? If you happen to be in an area called RH Plaza/BDC, try a meal at a vietnamese restaurant called Little Saigon. I know, probably not the only restaurant outside of Myanmar to be called that name. The food is quite good for the price you are paying for. It's dead cheap for anyone who normally deals in US dollars, but for Kuching City standards it's a bit on the dear side. Easiest way to get there? Take a cab. Else take a mate who knows his or her way around the City. Know no one? Ok. Try some local food then.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

National parks accessible via Kuching: Kubah

I went to Kubah National Park a little over a year ago. One of those short holiday excursions again. The park is located about 20 kilometres from Kuching and one of Sarawak's most accessible national parks. 30-40 minutes is all it takes to get there from the city centre, provided you know your way of course. The Park consists largely of undisturbed natural forest with five main vegetation types:- alluvial forest, lowland mixed dipterocarp forest, kerangas (heath) forest, submontane forest and secondary forest. Its rich forest, proximity to the mangrove forests and its terrain all ensure that Kubah is home to a variety of wildlife, including bearded pigs, black hornbills, mousedeer, squirrels and numerous species of amphibians and reptiles. It is also rich in palms and orchids. I didn't see any bearded pigs or other faunal species while there, probably because we did not try to hide our presence there by keeping our voices down.

For those of you who enjoy tranquility in a natural environment, then you just have to make your way up one of the trails within the Park (don't remember what it's called now) which will lead to the water fall area. Beautiful place. The rocks have a certain kind of naturally-cut stairway formation which is just beautiful. We were there for the entire day, didn't do anything except lied down on the cold stones, closed our eyes while listening to the water gushing down the rocks. Heaven.

On the other side, the Matang Wildlife Centre is located just off Kubah National Park which will eventually house endangered wildlife in large mammal enclosures. These enclosures will be located in the rainforest so that the living environment is rather similar to that found in the wild. I didn't manage to go there but will do so in the near future. Next, Similajau National Park.

National parks accessible via Kuching: Gunung Gading

I spend almost 80% of my time in a year in a city environment. Not really to my liking but what other choice do I have. When I do get the chance, I enjoy a quick break to nearby national parks, of which some are very accessible fortunately for city guys like me. The one I've been to most recently (that being 2 years ago) is Gunung Gading National Park. It's located in the Lundu District, northeast of Kuching. The Park is just 5 minutes drive from Lundu town or about 2 hour's drive from Kuching. The Park consists of rugged mountain peaks which provides a scenic backdrop to the nearby beaches at Pandan and Siar. Best places to go to are the waterfalls in the upper reaches of Sungai Lundu and of course the 800 meter plus hike right up to the peak of Mount Gading. The climb is a piece of cake for those of you who've scaled the likes of K2 and the Himalayas. 4 hours tops, including time to stop and take photographs.

On the celebrity profile, the Park is famous for being home to the world's largest flower, the Rafflesia tuan-mudae (bunga pakma). At full bloom this giant flower streches nearly one meter in width. However, these unique plants bloom infrequently and have brief flowering period. If you want to see it bloom, check with the The National Park & Wildlife Division (Forest Department Sarawak) before you go. The Park has plank walks and jungle trails constructed close to where the Rafflesia are commonly found, these allow the visitors to tour the park without damaging the delicate ecosystem particularly the young Rafflesia budding all over the forest floor.

There is no canteen within the Park but we had a barbeque the night we were there, bought fresh seafood from Lundu town. The seafood in Lundu is fresh and cheap. There are several restaurants there too. Accommodation at the Park is either a 3 bedroom chalet or a forest hostel (4 rooms each with 2 double bunk beds). Check out the rates with the Park people if you want to book the rooms.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Walking the Dog at Night

Last night I was out with a friend of mine walking another friend's dog. A pup to be exact. We were walking through a rather posh part of the City at about 10.30pm and the weather was quite accomodating despite the fact that le haze was still at large. It's been quite a long time since I went out for a walk in the City, let alone at night, since most of the time I'm either racing through the streets in my car, or stuck in front of the pc in my office, or resting in front of the tv, or strumming my Tele nonchalantly, or doing tens of push-ups in my living room (with my 3-year old son riding on my back). So last night was a bloody whole new experience for me. After a very long time. One and a half solid hours of walking through a small part of Kuching City at night. Try it. You see more of what's around you than you could ever imagine if you even had the time to do it from the comfort of your car, whether you're driving or not. The feeling is that of subliminal awe and constant surprise, I was always saying to myself as I walk, hey I didn't know that this thing was here....this thing was there...etc. Learning new things everyday.
For enjoyable, free and meaningful walks in Kuching City, try the Reservoir Park area after 8pm on a weekday. Bring a dog or two. Or if you don't have access to dogs, bring a friend or two. At least you don't have to leash them all the time.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The haze is clearing a bit

I've not been posting anything for nearly 2 weeks now, been busy with work and family and all other stuff. The haze down here in Sarawak hasn't helped much either, it's been giving me an almost constant flu and dry cough. But thankfully the sky has cleared a bit now, with the air pollution index averaging about 75-80 in most parts of the City. Hell before that it was way over 100 and even up to 150 at some point. I'm at a cyber cafe now somewhere in the middle of town, a place called Cyber City. It's just behind Hilton Hotel actually. Ok gotta go, grubbing time.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Caves near Kuching City

More on caves. If you just happen to stop by in Kuching for a short business trip and can't really spare much time and money to go gallivanting across the state, then I suggest you take a trip up to a town called Bau (pronounced "Bow"), approx. 25-30 Km from Kuching City centre. Just on the outskirts of this small town there is a cave system known as the Wind Cave and Fairy Cave. I've been to both but that was quite some time ago. Quite easy to walk through it because elevated wooden walkways have been built inside the caves. Except for some parts which might be inundated with water, if it has been raining heavily the previous night. You got to pay a minimal entrance fee to go in (just a few Malaysian Ringgit, wouldn't burn a hole in your pocket) and remember to bring a good torchlight and a hat or a jacket with a hood. Check my link "Useful for Travellers" for some more info. See photo in this link which shows one of Wind Cave's entrance (http://www.flickr.com/photos/39657093@N00/25268588/).

National parks in Sarawak

I was talking about Mulu National Park the other day. If you want to know more, check this site http://www.geographia.com/malaysia/gunung.html to get further details of the place. So Deer Cave is THE largest cave passage known to man. Been there.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Kuching City, with Sarawak River on the foreground

I live in this city. It's clean, beautiful and very far from hectic. The sky isn't always as blue as you see it but I'm not complaining. Nuff said. Enjoy the photo, courtesy of the internet. I'm still learning how to use my camera to take photos such as this. Maybe it's time I get the 350D, at the very least.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Caves of Mulu - truly unique

In 1998 I had the opportunity, thanks to the nature of my job, to visit one fo the natural world's unadulterated places - Mulu. Declared a world natural heritage site just over 10 years ago (I stand corrected on the exact time it was declared as such), Mulu houses one of the world's oldest - if not the oldest - cave systems, plus a very unique natural limestone structure which protrudes from the side of its mountain range - the Pinnacles. When I was there in '98, I didn't have a very good camera with me so I didn't manage to get any photos worth bragging about. However just recently I stumbled upon this very nice photograph (courtesy of Hamadi) of a view taken from inside one of its largest cave, the Deer Cave. I remember this view vividly in my mind, admist the nauseating odour emanating from the cave floor - thanks to millions of years of rather well-preserved bat guano - and the light drizzle we had the day I was there. I kind of like the way the sunlight peeks sublimely through the cave entrance. Excellent photograph. By the way, the ceiling height of this cave is well over 30 feet. Mulu. Remember the name if you are ever in Sarawak. For any reason.