Monday, January 23, 2012

Vacation to The Land of the Hornbills

Should future teacher’s posting be made a conversation hot topic, a bunch of people choose not to mind their language! Pok pek…pok pek… mulut tak ada insurans ke? They and their big mouth. Let ‘em be, then. They claim, "Kamu ni bujang lagi. Patutnya korang ditempatkan kat kawasan nun jauh di pedalaman." Ewah-ewah...sedapnya mulut. Aku cili kang baru tau!

I’m so freaking pissed when they thoughtlessly suggest that we be posted on the island of Borneo (Either Sabah or Sarawak). To cover this trick, the smart alecks persuade, allegedly, we’ll get banked with plenty of monthly allowances. Yes I know that – BUT, truly sorry, I’m not a kid anymore. Don’t you see I’m growing older now?! Well…easier said than done.

Used to hear heart-to-heart stories ala Bersamamu TV3 regarding a huge number of teachers grumbling like a baby so they’d be sent back to Peninsular Malaysia. Nak pulang jugak! Nak pulang jugak! Tak kira!  – *sigh*

On the other side, there’re happy-go-lucky teachers! This category is said to allegedly have fallen in love with the Borneo Island at first sight. What a romantic love story! Kalah kisah cinta Romeo & Juliet kot. Whatsoever, you like or dislike, ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’, right? 

The question is, have you ever been there? If not, you better watch out your mouth when getting yourself into this kind of topic. Because firstly, somebody’s feeling might probably get wounded or secondly, you’d have to take your words back. What a shame!!!

The hornbill - Sarawak's trademark

Given an opportunity to be in Bumi Kenyalang (The Land of the Hornbills) for approx. five days or so remains a moment to be remembered. Despite of the fact that I never thought of reaching the state, what to do, lucky me for a dream has already come true! Prior to my arrival in the state which is very synonymous with a wide range of ethnics and cultures, my first hypothesis I made was the state couldn’t be as modern as those states in Peninsular Malaysia. Obviously I’m total right! 10 marks!!!

My status as a local tourist made every predicament we underwent turn out just enjoyable for me and family. By the way, before I forget, it’s family holidays! Our mission would seem unaccomplished if I refused to share all the sweet memories during the vacation with you all. 

Here we go…

On June 3, last year, as early as seven-five in the morning, our flight Airasia (Sarawakians call it ‘belon’) departed high in the blue sky leaving the district of Sepang, Selangor. That’s the longest domestic flight I’ve ever flown with, about 120 minutes long. Because that’s the typical period of the flight flying from Kuala Lumpur to Bintulu – one of the eleven districts in Sarawak and is pretty near to Miri and Brunei Darussalam. What’s more, Bintulu was the first district we headed to.  

Overhead, we could only see beautiful islands and the South China Sea. Once my eyes caught the land of Sarawak, something damn high was stealing my attention, that was Mount Santubong. Tinggi siot!

KUCHING - The capital state
Can you see Mount Santubong behind?

As soon as we arrived at the Bintulu Airport, I felt a bit impressed cos I got to get here at last! Before that, welcome to Sarawak, people! We got a bus on heading to Medan Jaya (a town) and stayed at a budget hotel, the Wilden Inn (to be as thriftier as possible).

As a matter of fact, seemed a bit tricky for us to get halal food here, to be honest. Fortunately some Allah’s slaves helped us out. So generous of them. Thanks! All that I know the Malays are the minority here. For an evening activity, we went shopping at Farley shopping centre. Just like Mydin to me.

Farley Shopping Centre in Medan Jaya, Bintulu
Pretending as if we're celebrating a birthday party!

On the next day afternoon, June 4, about a half past one, we left for Sarikei by bus. The journey generally takes six hours long. Just like a six-hour journey from KL to Kuala Terengganu by an express bus. Along the journey, we’re served with a ‘package’ of evergreen environment including all long houses, churches and quite thick tropical forest. Where's the mosque? I found pretty much none. The statistics of the local population here I figured was too small.

The Long House

The bus as well picked a few more passengers up in Sibu. Yep, the bus also stopped by in Sibu – another good-to-know district found in the largest state of the country. Recalling my classmate coming from the district, Miss Ila is her nickname, I then texted her to inform the good news. Of course, she sounded so happy.   

At 2000 hours, we eventually reached Bandar Sarikei. Phew! Dad’s former buddy and his son picked us up by a couple of Proton cars. They drove us to a budget hotel shortly after that. Once again, we said NO to extravagance! That night, we guests were invited by them to have ‘grand’ dinner at their house, not far from the town. There, I ate Laksa Sarawak as well as Sagu with Udang Salai for the very first time. I’m addicted to Udang Salai sometimes. LOL.

This 'grand' dinner turned out more like Majlis Tautan Kasih on TV. Kidding!

On June 5, after the sun rose, we looked a halal restaurant over right opposite the hotel we’re staying at. A long time waiting, the restaurant was closed on that day after all. Shoot! We’re still lucky for noticing another restaurant ala Mamak stall nearby with Basmallah written on the signboard. So we made our mind up having breakfast there. The name of the restaurant is Biryani House, belonging to a Pakistani.

At noon, we chanced to go sightseeing around the town. Then, we headed to Tanjung Manis by boat and it’s sort of an old boat. I mean a very very old one. By rights, our bags were supposed to be put on the roof. Realising it’s such a dumb idea, we brought all the bags in and hid ‘em at our seats. Super great idea, wasn’t it? Kalau beg-beg kitaorang ditakdirkan terjatuh ke dalam Sungai Rajang dan buaya ialah penghuninya, ada diaorang nak selamatkan nanti? Tak ada maknanya lah!

The voyage in general takes an hour. I got to see Dayak’s villages by the riverside. Please take note that smoke in the air here doesn’t mean a building or something is on fire, get it? Please don't you ever call 999 or you're dead! Maybe something to do with Dayakian’s customs and traditions. I don’t know much! So just go ask them in detail to make things crystal clear. Capiche!

On the boat - the voyage! Yeeha...

The jetty of Bandar Baru Tanjung Manis

Alhamdulillah. Praise be to Allah. After the one-hour voyage, we safely arrived at the jetty of Bandar Baru Tanjung Manis. We’re greeted by two Dad’s former male fellas whose nationality is Melanau. You got to know that ‘Bandar’ here doesn’t signify they got all those tall premises and offices like a very city.

About half an hour later, we arrived in a small village called Kampung Jerijeh. Nothing to worry about: No traffic jams, no traffic lights and I found less vehicles on the road. Not pretty sure about robbers and burglars. At the village, the villagers could afford to have their own transports like cars and motorcycles but WATCH OUT, petrol stations are nowhere. I mean real far. On top of that, their home designs look exactly like many of ours in West Malaysia. They enjoy electricity but then still rely upon the rainfall for bathing and cleaning stuff up. Come on, this isn’t a joke!

The Melanau's village - Kampung Jerijeh

Getting dark after 6 p.m.

They’ve got the only one primary and secondary school in one area. You know what? The width of the school area is merely as big as a football field. The total of students and teachers is far smaller than us in West Malaysia. The coordinates of the local houses appear so close to each other. Hence, I bet they all have a much better neighbourhood than we do. Besides, once you’re out of the village area, no big deal you can only see the thick forest in the surrounding. A little scary!

The primary school: Sek. Keb. Abang Buyuk, Jerijeh
PS: Only 11 teachers are teaching & 6 classes available

Don’t get surprised, they’ve got an airport! Kau ada? Yet, it’s only a very small one, normally for a light aircraft, not for MAS or Airasia. Not to mention, things change when you’re on the Borneo Island. Time for prayers will be way earlier and you gotta get used to this condition. It’s getting darker after 1800 hours and Isyak is around 8pm whilst the sunrise is around 6am. Beware or you would miss your Fajar prayer!

On June 6, me and siblings walked around the village, searching for something unique and extraordinary we can never find in Peninsular Malaysia perhaps. Before noon, we’re taken to the mouth of the Rajang river – in fact, the longest river in Malaysia. Before long, we started packing and got ready to leave. We headed to the jetty and subsequently left for Kuching – the capital of Sarawak.

At the riverside of the Rajang river (Sungai Rajang)

A model by the sea. Ada gaya tak?

On the ferry all the way to Kuching.
PS: The strong wind somehow got me look like an ugly Garfield. 
Haha tak ada kena mengena langsung! =P

We preferred the voyage because it’s a whole lot faster, only three hours long compared to the roadway which can take hours. No big deal ‘cause no highways that can offer you shortcuts. Getting a bigger ferry on ala many ferries on the Langkawi Island was a very fantastic experience although not that comfortable. Because the passengers were too crowded, even worse the weather was too hot. The strong wind anyway faded our discomfort away. Imagine both on your right and left, all that you can see is the ocean! Woo creepy. Apparently, the rain fell when we’re sorta reaching Kuching. Welcome to Kuching!

Terminal Penumpang Kuching
Sorry the photo looks slightly vague - taken using a cell phone

At the Kuching jetty or ‘Terminal Penumpang Kuching’, we’re then greeted by a teacher around 40’s who’s actually Dad’s former friend’s friend. Do you see my point? Hehe. He took us to Kuching City. So generous of him! I knew he’s kind of a qualified tour guide for us and he really was. Speaking about Kuching, personally, what a surprise! Kuching is physically a quite contemporary city with a great number of tall skyscrapers and excellent roadways. Be informed there’re no buses that function like RapidKL and Metrobus in KL.

Welcome to Kuching!!!
The cat statue

Few days after Gawai festival

The five-star river cruise I guess

Kota Margherita was built by the British

Speaking about traditional food, Sarawak is pretty popular with ‘Kek Lapis’. And, we too bought ‘Kek Lapis’! Other than that, we’re able to see the glory of the city on our own. Kota Margherita a.k.a Astana James Brooke, a five-star River Cruise and a lot more. In a word, COOL!

Kek Lapis. Yum Yum!
Some are worth at RM5 & some are of RM10 or a little more expensive.

However, I got shocked all the way to the teacher’s house. The very wonderful scenery of Kuching just now could only be seen very temporarily. Out of the city centre, all that we could enjoy was the mere thick forest. Again! And it took us an hour to get to the teacher’s house. More interestingly, this is a village the houses of which have been built on the water even a bungalow. We had to walk on a very narrow long wooden bridge heading to the house. Don’t laugh! My little sister fell onto the swamp on account of the darkness. Nevertheless, we enjoyed free dinner at night. How’s the food? It’s finger lickin’ good buddies!

At 11:00 pm, we left for the airport. Just in case you forgot, I’d love to remind you that 11:00 pm in Sarawak is like 12:00 am to us in West Malaysia. Here, the local time is an hour earlier. This really matters and do keep it in mind! Since our flight was scheduled on June 7, the next morning at 6:00 am, we therefore decided to only sleep at musalla in the airport for the rest of the night and that sure made things better.

FYI, the Kuching International Airport looked really nice being lit with yellowish lights. Nonetheless, the scenario of the airport was so very much quieter than LCCT and I must say. After performing Fajar prayer, we went check-in immediately. Nay, we had already checked in online. Actually, it’s our boarding time! So sad, it’s time for me to say Goodbye to Sarawak!

The Kuching International Airport at night

 On the board prior to departure back to West Malaysia
The front seat was being taken by a pretty sexy stewardess. Aaww!

We finally arrived at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang, Selangor after a one hour and forty minute flight. Before moving to the next destination, we had had our breakfast at KFC. Phew! I was starving, my dear! 
The end

So, how do you find my experience?


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