Only a few days in and I knew that I had made the right choice by starting my vacation in Kuching. The people, food, sights, yoga....everything was awesome, the only thing I could've asked for was a bit more sun - but that's what you get when you plan a vacation during the rainy season. Thursday morning came and we were off on another adventure, this time headed for Gunung Gading National Park. The main attraction at this park is the Rafflesia flower which can grow up to one meter in diameter (and I'm told) is pretty impressive. Unfortunately the flower blooms pretty much whenever the hell it wants to, with no particular season, and only lasts for 4 to 5 days. We figured the drive would be worth it even if the flower wasn't blooming considering the park is huge and has multiple hikes, some including waterfalls
We stopped just outside of the park in Lundu, a sleepy beach town, for a quick snack before our hike. Richard told me the toast at this particular shop was famous and that people would drive the hour and a half from Kuching just to eat and then drive home. Well, kudos to them but I'm not sure what the fuss was about - it was just toast... There were actually multiple times during my trip which I was told such and such food was famous and that I must eat it - I personally think that whole famous phrase was thrown around a bit too liberally in Malaysia Asia.
As we got closer to the park the rain gods decided to pour down on us once again, but what's a little water? The park ranger notified us that the trails would be a bit dangerous and also there were no flowers in bloom, but we made the drive so we decided to at least visit a waterfall. I also found dangerous to be thrown around quite loosely during my travels - there was nothing wrong with the trails and even the current in the waterfall pools was mild. We made the trek to the 3rd waterfall trail and stayed for a swim, despite the freezing water temperatures and my timidness at getting it, it was a lot of fun.
The next day Richard planned to drop me off in town and leave me to do my own thing, totally fine by me. But, when he found out I was planning to take the bus to Semenggoh nature reserve, he insisted we just go together. He only had to first stop at the office, so I killed an hour at the mall. We had a completely unexpected surprise waiting for us at Semenggoh; turns out an Aussie crocodile trainer was in town teaching the locals how to properly wrangle a crock...apparently there's a problem with the crocodiles in and around Kuching so they want to relocate them back into the more rural areas. Anyway we got to watch as a team wrestled the crocodile out of it's cage, tied it up and proceeded to weigh all 250kg of it. Definite bonus considering we only caught a short glimpse of two orangutans that day.
I kept expecting Richard and co. to get sick of me or tell me to go do something on my own, but this was not the case, they only because more and more welcoming as the time went on. Saturday started with a family lunch (plus Sue and I) and then it was off to the Annah Rais Longhouse, a real version of what we saw at the cultural village. Richard was hoping i'd be able to do an overnight stay at one of the longhouses but because of distance/time and cost we opted for a one day visit.
After the longhouse we drove back across town to the Sunday market - which actually takes place all weekend long. The market was huge with rows upon rows of vendors selling loads of deliciousness. Unfortunately I forgot my camera in the car so you'll just have to take my word for it. I was like a kid in a candy store with all the rows of fresh and exotic fruit at my disposal, Richard introduced me to Jackfruit which is a new favorite and unfortunately no where to be found in Korea. That evening I joined Richards family for a feast of Chinese food, crab, oysters, veggies, etc. Spoiled I was.
Close to a week with these people and they still weren't sick of me!? I must have been doing something right. Sunday morning Richard and his wife picked me up for lunch, another version of the famous Sarawak laksa, second time just as delicious as the first. We spent the day running errands and preparing for that evenings dinner. We had decided it'd be a good idea to do a pot luck dinner at Richards and they so kindly volunteered me to cook Korean food - that's where i'm from, isn't it? I'm proud to say though I pulled off a delicious 김지전.
I got lucky picking this as my first major, solo=backpacking trip. The locals that welcomed me into their homes and taught me about their culture fueled my fire for travel. The food is diverse and delicious, as is the country itself. With heavy influences from both China and India there is a lot on offer.