Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cat City

I have been remiss in posting the last few days. That was because I was (a) packing, and (b) flying, and then when I went into an Internet cafe the second day we were here I promptly got my first mosquito bite of this summer, and left without posting anything. Japanese mosquitoes do not seem to like me much, but Malaysian Internet cafe mosquitoes do. I haven't been bitten outside yet, though.

We arrived in Kuching on the 16th, and have been having a lovely time. Today we had a lovely but somewhat bewildered time, as we decided to check out the other side of the river. This turned out to be easier than we expected, because there are very cheap water taxis dotted along the various piers, but we decided to see the orchid garden the brochure from tourist information told us about, and that was when we ran into trouble. We got off at the other side, bought disgustingly coloured drinks from a stall there, and then wandered around aimlessly for a bit wondering where to go. One path petered out to nothing, and there was a sort of boardwalk arrangement which had broken boards and a viewing tower thing that was closed, and finally we went back to the stall and asked them where the orchid garden was.

"Gone," they told us.


"Yes. Gone."

"Oh. What about the Istana?"

"It's over there," said the guy, pointing.

"Can we walk there?" we asked, hopefully.

They weren't sure. They thought it was too far, but here everybody uses a car and thinks practically anywhere is too far to walk, so we set off anyway.

Unfortunately it was a very good road, which meant that it was perfectly designed for cars but was horrible for pedestrians. There was no shade, and it was very hot, and when we got to the first bend and saw how long it was without shade we turned back.

We went back to the jetty, and ... well, to cut a long story short (there was one more boat trip in there somewhere) we ended up asking a boatman to take us somewhere interesting on this side of the river. He decided that 'somewhere interesting' meant 'somewhere weird tourist types would be interested in,' and took us to Fort Margarita, which I may have spelt wrongly. This entailed dropping us off at a jetty that was clearly not used very much, and which apparently lead nowhere. He told us to take the path, which looked rather overgrown. In fact I couldn't see it at all, at first.

There was a sign. It said, ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. The Man did not see it.

"What did the sign say?" he asked.

"It said, 'If you have an accident or kill yourself it's your own stupid fault," I said.

We entered at our own risk.

At one point we had to cross a bridge with missing planks. We crossed it anyway, and eventually ended up at the fort, much to our surprise. We read the sign, which told us the history of the fort and said that it was now used as a police museum.

"Another museum!" said The Man, despairingly. (I dragged him to two yesterday.)

The fort, however, was completely empty, aside from the courtyard where there were some rusted cannons, and also a door up in the corner of the courtyard which had a skull painted on it. That was kind of interesting. Out the back we could see some guy washing a motorbike, but other than that there was nobody. The Man signed the visitors' book. We shouted hello to the motorbike man, out the window. He was very friendly.

"Can we go upstairs?" I asked, and he said we could. We went upstairs and found a large room. It was empty. We went up another flight and found another room, also empty. Then we went up on the roof, and enjoyed the view.

After we came back we asked the man (the curator of the non-existent museum?) if we could reach a kumpung from the other direction, instead of going back to the jetty. He said we could, and pointed in the general direction. "Can we get a drink there?" we asked, and he said we could, and also that there was another jetty, so we could get back to the other side of the river.

To cut a long story short AGAIN (because The Man is waiting for me) the only place open in the kumpung was a cake shop selling violently coloured cakes. There were lots of stalls along the waterfront, and not one was open. Some small children wanted me to take their pictures, so I did. Some other kids told us that the stalls only open at night. We passed a few foreigners looking for the fort, who had come from the kumpung jetty and got lost, and pointed them in the right direction, telling them that it was very interesting in a nothing sort of way. They laughed, and I got the impression that had already experienced quite a lot of interesting in a nothing sort of way on this side of the river. We also told them that to get a boat from the fort jetty they'd have to yell and wave to the boatmen on the other side of the river, which was what our boatman had told us to do.

Tomorrow we are going to visit a rainforest. It will be a day trip. We are not adventurous, daring, tough travellers. The particular spot we are going to we chose partly because of the easy 45 minute walking path. All the others seem to entail four or five hours of hard slog, and a guide. We want to see the rainforest, but not THAT much of it. We are also hoping to see orangutans.

Did I spell orangutan right?

Oh, and the post is entitled 'Cat City' because that is Kuching's nickname. In fact there are not many cats.

Must run. More soon.


kenju said...

Enjoy! and I hope you are able to get some good pics of the rain forest and find some orchids after all!

Lia said...

The rain forest should be nice.

I want to see what colors the drinks and cakes are.

Badaunt said...

Kenju: No orchids yet (although actually I probably saw some today but just didn't recognize them), but I got some good pictures of the rain forest, I think.

Lia: I got shots of some revolting pink drink The Man had yesterday, but not of the cakes. I'll try to get some, though. Cakes are often amazingly coloured here, so there will be other chances.

lynnylchan said...

"revolting pink drink": let me guess, bandung? Rose syrup? If it's what I think it is, yes, it's practically neon. As for cakes, the light-green ones (usually pandan-flavoured) are perfectly safe to eat. Unless you found a blue or purple one somewhere - I'd love a look at that!