We are off to Borneo.
The visions we had were of a vast, unexplored jungle where wild animals and indigenous tribes mingle beneath the dense canopy of the forest.
Borneo is a haven for wild animals and exotic flora: for now, it’s one of the last places on earth to find wild orang-utan. It's also the only home of the Borneo pygmy elephant and the Proboscis monkeys - all of which we have great hopes of seeing during this trip. But Borneo, like the rest of Asia, is rapidly changing and fighting a losing battle with deforestation; the world’s oldest rainforest is quickly giving way to vast plantations of the oil-palm. We knew that so much of the island was changing so quickly that, if we didn’t see it now, it might be gone by the time Olivia is old enough to return with her own family.
My little girl ready to set off on her first backpackers trip .... I'm sure the first of many
After a very long trip, flying from Menorca to Barcelona to Dubai to Kuala Lumpur, we finally board our last flight, across the South China Sea, to Kuching, Sarawak’s riverside capital.
Surprisingly, we are all feeling quite fresh after checking into our hotel and decide to go out for a quick bite to eat and a walk down the promenade in Kuching (meaning Cat in Malay), before turning in for an early night.
The following morning, after breakfast, we wandered the city’s historic area and riverfront quarter, admiring the interesting architecture that’s a blend of old and new, eastern and colonial and generally enjoying the laid-back atmosphere of the city.
We passed a Mosque, then a Taoist temple and a Sikh temple. We went into the Chinese History Museum, which portrays the rich and fascinating history of Sarawak's diverse Chinese groups.
Like much of Malaysia, Kuching has a strong Chinese presence.
Across from the waterfront, the Sarawak State Legislative building looms large, visible from nearly anywhere in the city.
The streets of the old town are lined on either side with long, colourful arcades that enclose the sidewalks Selling nearly anything you could want, and this being Malaysia, most have a strong emphasis on food, which we love.
Shady and cool, these arcades give shelter to those wishing to escape the relentless midday sun.
Olivia takes 'time out' on her own in any Church, Temple or Mosque we go in.
After a visit to the Taoist temple, we enjoy a delicious Sarawak Laksa, Chicken satay and a noodle soup in the Chinese food court next door, washed down with an ice cold Chrysanthemum tea.
Following with our tradition of cutting Olivia's hair in quirky places, whilst on holiday, Olivia chose this little salon up some very narrow stairs. They turned out to be very good and extremely cheap.
Olivia off to find out where this taxi boat goes and to see if it will take us across the river to the little village on the other side. We climb onto the boat and travel across the river for just 0.50 RM each
Rickety wooden Malay houses stand alongside rajah-era mansions. Contrast is everywhere.
We walked through the little village, with children playing with their homemade kites and football in bare feet on an old concrete pitch, all shouting out "hello" as we walked past. One of the little boys making a heart shape with his hands, shouted out "I love you" to Olivia.
For the evening we went to find the famous TopSpot Food court - known for it's great seafood. So fresh that I even watched one of the Crabs escaping! The place was full, and as far as we could see, we were the only Europeans there.
We chose our two crabs, which you weigh along with anything else you select for your dinner, agreeing a price per kilo before you accept. Then you choose how you want your food done and in what sauce. We chose for our crabs in a chill butter sauce, hoping to get what we had chosen a few years ago in Selangor, Nr Kuala Lumpur, and has stayed in our minds ever since. What we got though was the strangest food combination ever, the crab had a very sweet sugary butter dough. It was quite nice, but more like a desert, rather than what you would expect when ordering seafood. All in all a wonderful meal.