Friday, October 7, 2011

Kuching sightseeing

Tomorrow we're going to the apparently-gorgeous national park where we hope to see proboscis monkeys and monitor lizards, but today our sightseeing was focused on the town itself, and food. Malaysia is this really interesting intersection of cultures -- India, China, Thailand, and England -- so the food is just a great mishmash of lots of flavor. Our very cool hotel unfortunately gave us a thoroughly uncool breakfast (an "omelette," hot dogs, and beans, plus plain boring toast). There are all kinds of food hawker stalls everywhere, so after breakfast we headed out to wander around, check out the riverwalk in the daytime, and find an interesting lunch.

a great example of the cultural mishmash -- the neighborhood Chinese temple amid large buildings and this piece of art
it's gold during the day but bright-white during the night -- this is the DUN building (Sarawak museum, I think), and notice the mountains in the distance
Kuching means cat in Malay, and there are cat sculptures everywhere
On the riverwalk we found a boat tour, one hour, in a traditional Sarawak boat, so we signed up for that. There was a very sweet family of 4 on the boat with us, two young boys, and I was thoroughly charmed by the way the dad was so affectionate with his sons. His gaze was pure adoration, and he kept rubbing his youngest son's head in such a sweet way. For me, the boat ride was much more about the experience of being on that boat with that young family than it was about the sightseeing, which was middling -- partly because the boat driver's English was limited and partly because 1/4 of the trip ended up being about shopping, which we hadn't expected. The boat pulled up into a marshy puddle and we had to take our shoes off, roll up our pants, and step into the mud for a squishy walk to the paved area. Well, we had no idea what was going on, but we just followed the Malaysian family, who did seem to know. We walked to this little shop where we were encouraged to buy food. They did, we didn't. When the shopping time was over, we were led to a concrete platform to board the boat......why we had to disembark in the swamp, when we could've gotten off at the platform, was a big question. Marc think it saved the boat driver some extra work.

a famous dockyard (no idea why, though), and the mosque.
and yeah, that's the boat we took
After the boat excursion, we found our way to a set of food stalls which all seemed to be closed -- a real shame, because it was sweltering hot and we'd walked a good distance. We're right on the equator, and it was straight-up noon, and I'm telling you: hot. We walked around to the other side and found a few stalls open and serving lunch, so we approached one and the woman who owns it helped us order some food. Noodles -- soupy or fried? Fried please. Chicken or fish? Chicken please. Comes with vegetables. Drink? Water please. She directed us to a table and made our lunch, which was completely delicious. Spicy, crunchy, satisfying, and ~$2.60 for both of us (including our water). There are fancy restaurants and hotels here, but we are loving the food stalls.
waiting for our food
where we ate
that's her, preparing our lunch
fried noodles with chicken
We're resting a bit, then we'll head out for coffee or something, a walk, who knows. What I do know is that we're going back to Topspot for dinner tonight --- shrimp, clams, whatever we get it'll be wonderful.

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