Note - this entry was written in retrospect, from notes written on the day.
Nothing planned until the evening so we all got a sleep in. After breakfast we headed out to do some shopping but dad had vague stomach cramps and went back to the hotel, leaving mum and I free to shop without dad whinging all the way.
We bought a few shirts and I got a few kitchen utensils. My nose led me to some mangoes for sale and a local who seemed to only have 3 teeth let gave me his recommendation (this was a lot of gesturing, sniffing the mangoes, making a funny face or a thumbs up and making weird sounds that I’m not sure was Iban or no language at all). I bought two mangoes which cost about 1Rm (seems every fruit item costs that much). We bought a few HUGE pork buns and took them back to the hotel for lunch.
We then packed our fruit stash, a plate and a knife into a bag along with some reading material and headed to the pool. The pool in Kuching was actually warmish, rather than freezing like the KL pool. Swam a bit, ate some fruit (the first mango was a bit overripe and acidic but the second was lovely), laid on the banana lounges and read and snoozed. It was all very tough and exhausting. :)
Me lazing beside the pool at the hotel.
Our evening activity was the Santubong Wildlife Cruise. Now, I thought this would be a cruise on a large boat. Nope, they were smallish parties on small boats boarded from a rickety jetty. I was a bit disappointed that we got the boat with the most enclosed area – therefore blocking the view, but I still ended up being able to sit right up the front where the view was unobstructed. We headed down to the mouth of the Sarawak River towards the mouth of another nearby river. I found myself watching a log intently, just in case, and it turned out to be an Irrawaddy dolphin. Only the French couple on the front of the boat with me saw it. We then moved towards the coastline and got some bad looks at proboscis monkeys before the rain started to spit. It was nice while it was just vaguely drizzling, but soon enough it started to rain tropical style and I was thankful we had a largely covered boat. Some other boats out that evening had pretty much no cover.
The climb to the top involves various rope ladders over vertical limestone faces.
These boats are meant to have spotlights so they can spot crocodiles – one of the main reasons I wanted to do the cruise. Well, the spotlights on our boat weren’t working for some reason (perhaps because maintenance is a foreign concept in Malaysia), so we had to make do with a very weak Dolphin torch. I did see eyeshine of a croc, but the thing our guide swore was a baby croc? I think it was just a log. We were also lucky that the rain had eased up a bit by then and some fireflies came out to give us a show.
Eventually it started to rain again (an awesome electrical storm that lit up the sky) and we headed back to base. It seemed to take ages to get back, it seemed that the boat was meant to have a headlight, but of course they weren’t working so the boatman was looking carefully for where he was meant to go. Dad also noted that the engine was overheating, hence why sometimes stopped and the boatman checked the engine. We made it back alive and not too wet.
It was about 10pm by this time and we still had to have dinner. We were taken to a restaurant near the mangroves and eventually served dinner, which wasn’t bad. After chatting with our fellow tourists for a bit we all decided to let the tour guide know it was damn late and we all wanted to get back (about 11:30pm, and we had a big day planned tomorrow).
The bus trip back was VERY uncomfortable due to the driver not seeming to know how to turn the air-conditioning down or off. It was FREEZING in there. I was glad to get back to the hotel and in to bed.
Trip to the longhouse tomorrow. Eep!
More photos from day 9 can be seen here - http://pics.livejournal.com/gemfyre/gallery/00016676