Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Purr-fect Family Trip! (Part I)

Whuahh! A long overdue post that was meant for last year. This 3-part blog entry was 
part of AirAsia Bloggers Programme. If you can't wait for me to post up part 2 and 3 
(I admit I can be a tad slow at blogging.), then check out the complete entry on AirAsia's 
very own in-flight and online magazine, Travel 3Sixty. It's there as a Digital Exclusive 
since November last year. Imagine that! 

Here we go!

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Discovering Kuching on a shoestring? 

It’s hard, yes. Travelling for one and travelling for four is very different but not impossible. With the right kind of help and proper planning, I successfully took my parents and my sister to the ‘Land of the Hornbills’ - Sarawak in East Malaysia. And it all started with the greatest saving one can enjoy in a travel - flight tickets!

Ticket price for four from Penang to Kuching, inclusive of luggage was only RM242. 
That’s about RM60 per person. I can barely make it to Kuala Lumpur and back with this price. The key is to book early! So when 30 June 2011 came, the entire family packed up 
and flew to Kuching! 


 The first thing we did upon landing and settling down was naturally to hunt for food.

It’s cheap, good and a totally different culinary experience from those back home. 
Kuching is famous for its ‘Kolok Mee’, a plate of dry noodles that tastes pretty good in my opinion. The ‘Kolok Mee Special’ (photo on the left) that we ordered was filled with extra fish fillets and other ingredients. It was so good that we actually had a few servings of 
‘Kolok Mee’ throughout our holiday in Kuching. 

 So what can you do on a shoestring trip in Kuching? 

 Easy. Like everywhere else in the world, you head out to town. In this case, the old town 
and make your way towards the Kuching Waterfront.


The Kuching Waterfront 

 Here you will find stalls selling all kinds of things, from the famous ‘Sarawak Layer Cake’ 
to unique handicrafts and souvenirs, such as bracelets, necklaces and ornaments made
from beads and wood.

Walking along the waterfront, we found many signs of ‘cruise’ rides and many boatmen offered to take us on a ‘cruise’ along the river. My advice, skip it! It is nothing a cheap sampan ride can’t offer. There are numerous sampans along the river and for less than a ringgit, you get to experience the real way of commuting along the river! 

 Right by the waterfront is the Chinese Heritage Museum that is funded independently by the Chinese community here in Kuching. It is a small and humble museum with just enough exhibits to make it a short yet enjoyable visit. What’s more, entrance is… yup! Free!

What’s interesting here was the short audio commentary available under each description board which plays the dialects of each Chinese community. Apart from Cantonese and Hokkien, the other dialects were almost foreign to me.

There was a set-up of an old coffee shop inside the museum. That’s me sneaking a shot right there, posing as if I’m in deep thought for my next move in the Chinese Chess. :)
As a visitor, you can also help out the museum by offering a little contribution…

…that is if you can find the donation box! 
Yup, it’s that finely carved pagoda right next to the Chinese drum. 
That’s the donation box right there! Who would have thought right? 

We spent the entire afternoon museum-hopping throughout town. I probably visited more museums that afternoon than I did in my past 26 years. If museums are not your kind of thing, I would suggest to at least visit the Natural History Museum. It’s educational yet spooky at the same time! Yes, a good way of course, with all kinds of preserved animals at every corner to even the full skeleton of a whale. Sorry, no pictures though as cameras are not allowed in here. 

 Right behind the museum grounds was a beautiful garden with water fountains 
and shady walkways. Don’t give this a miss because hidden in the middle of the garden 
is the ‘museum cafeteria’

 But if you’re expecting yucky cafeteria food, boy, are you wrong!

Because what we discovered were the eccentric ‘Sarawak Laksa’ (which is an acquired taste in my opinion) and a very yummy plate of ‘Sambal Bihun’. Obviously, I love the latter more. It tasted very similar to the cuttlefish with ‘kangkong’ dish, except in this case, you enjoy it with ‘bihun’ (rice vermicelli). It might sound weird but I stand by my words - yummy to the last drop! Suffice to say that these Sarawakian hawker delights make a delicious yet very affordable meal.

Of course, how can we come all the way to Sarawak and 
not see the great Orang Utans, right?

Next up! Meeting Richie the Great. 

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