Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My trip to Sarawak

i'm surprised my laptop still works fine! a couple of days before leaving for sarawak, mum spilled half a cup of ice-cold water on my laptop while i was starting it up (strangely, at that time i was experiencing trouble starting it and had to use force shutdown 3 times)... some water entered the keyboard area, ventilation slits and projector port. i immediately shut off the computer, wiped off as much water as i could and used a hair dryer to dry the keyboard. i remembered reading somewhere that you should not use a computer for a few days to let it completely dry off if a spillage occurred. so this is the first time i'm trying out my laptop after the water incident (approximately 5 days ago) and so far, so good (i've been using it for already more than 5 hours straight). thank God!!!

so, now on to my commentaries of my trip to Kuching, Sarawak. nisha and i booked an early flight to kuching on friday morning... our first time stepping on the soil of Borneo island. we took a taxi (our taxi driver spoke english, so different from KL, but drove a little too reckless for my comfort) to our lodging, Singgahsana Lodge in kuching city. i was looking out for signs that we had entered the city when i realized that we were already in the city! our lodgings were nice, homey and most importantly, clean! since we arrived way earlier than the check-in time, we decided to take a walk around. we discovered a nearby parkson having the grand sale on and since our tummies were starting to rumble, we ate at sugar bun (i read somewhere that it was quite big in east malaysia, or at least in sarawak). unfortunately for us the food wasn't that great. we then bought ourselves our drinking water rations from giant.

the purpose of our trip to kuching was to catch the 11th rainforest world music festival (RWMF) in the sarawak cultural village. i must say that the whole event appeared to be very much commercialized... but i guess in order to host such a big event, you need to sell out abit... and also thanks to the massive cut in budget by the government! initially (i didn't know about the budget issue then), i was thinking "why on earth are there HSBC buntings in the middle of the jungle? (our bus ride passed through secluded jungle-like areas on the way to the sarawak cultural village) then when we arrived, i found out why... because they were one of the major sponsors! together with heineken, mas, shell, some drinking water company and i can't recall the rest.

overall, between the three nights the performances were good (but not very 'world music'-ish to me). the up tempo of the modern rock bands rendered the more traditional performances paler in comparison. i liked the performances of new rope string band (uk), akasha (malaysia), kasai masai (congo/uk), oikyataan (india), fadomorse (portugal) and sheldon blackman & the love circle (trinidad & tobago). the others were also good but perhaps not my cup of tea. the ross daly quartet (greece) and adel salameh (palestine) performances were unique and rich in culture. ooh, i really enjoyed the new rope string band... they were so cute and funny with their vocal harmony and violin+accordion act! fadomorse had a dynamic front man, great stage presence!

unfortunately, 2 out of the 3 nights rained... the first and last nights... so the mosh pit became some mud box where hundreds of people were having mud fights! of course nisha and i didn't venture into that region... we value our shoes more than having a stranger rub mud on our faces.

we bumped into a couple of people we knew and also spotted some local and regional "celebrities" around the cultural village... i kept bumping into a certain aiesecer who was a faci in one of the leadership seminars i attended while in university... we also met up with vikki and her sarawakian friend on the last night... they'd just finished their exams... we camped out on the small hill between the two stages... alternating our attention between the two whenever the stage lights were turned on on either. when it started raining, we had to run for cover, but we returned to the edge of the mosh pit when the rain dwindled to a drizzle. we had a blast of a time on the last night... it's really true that "the more the merrier".

besides RWMF 2008, we walked around kuching town, buying souvenirs and trying out a certain "spicy noodle" in a restaurant recommended by JH (who unfortunately was posted to a village that weekend)... it was good! hehe... we took a "sampan" ride across the river to try find Fort Margherita... but little did we know that the place was closed up (we found this out on the morning of our departure from vikki's sarawakian friend... su). during our "sampan" ride back, there were these two women who were busy posing for photos... then one lady decided to transfer herself to the other side and nearly tipped the boat! the boatman and some local men admonished the ladies and shook their heads... luckily we reached the harbourfront dry and in one piece... took a couple of pictures among the historical buildings and monuments... we visited the chinese civilisation museum too... and there was this man who was practically shouting into his handphone and bouncing on the creaking floorboards of the museum... effectively rattling the displays and causing a raucous in the normally quiet museum...

the trip was good... only thing was that i wished we'd had more time to go eco-sightseeing and see more of the natural side of sarawak. i guess i'll just have to wait for another time to fulfill this wish.

when we reached kl, getting back to shah alam was a problem. we'd arrived right smack in the middle of rush hour... workers were rushing back home and we were wielding our gigantic luggage... at first, our plan was to take the ktm komuter straight back to shah alam. but we could not get onto the train, even after 2 trains had come and gone... we witnessed a pregnant lady faint and fall onto the tracks and a couple of guys rushed down and carried her to safety before any train arrived... i think she must have had a bout of fits or something...

anyway, since we couldn't board the ktm komuter, i suggested we take putraline to kelana jaya where my mum could pick us up. and so we did... the lrt wasn't that packed and we had no problem travelling back to kelana jaya. although we wasted our fare for the ktm komuter... but the point is that we arrived safely and comfortably back in shah alam. and so ended our trip to kuching!

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