Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Daytrip to Kuching

Last Saturday my roommate Seon and I woke up early for our daytrip to Kuching. Our choice of transportation was between the public bus and the privately operated vans. The vans are of course slightly more expensive and they leave from the old campus rather than the new, but they are quicker and more reliable. So we headed to the bus stop near our hostel to catch a ride to kampus lama. We apparently just missed the 9AM bus and ended up waiting in the shade until 10. UNIMAS' campus has a private golf course, so while waiting I took pictures of a golfer who'd sliced his drive into the banks of the stream. See the white ball? He never found it.

We hadn't eaten breakfast, so the first thing we did in Kuching was find a food court. We ordered from the Indian booth, and I got roti (bread) Chennai.

Next we went to the famous Sarawak Museum. It opened in 1891 (a year after Whitworth!), making it one of the very first museums in all of Southeast Asia. Dr. Schatz's paper "Structural transformation and rural development in Sarawak, Malaysia, 1963-2006" was published in the Sarawak Museum Journal.

The Sarawak Museum is actually one out of a collection of eight state-run museums. Conveniently, each is open every day and admission is free. On this day we hit the Sarawak Museum (the building behind us in the photo) and the Islamic Museum. Inside the Sarawak Museum were the preserves of many Sarawakian animals, native arts and crafts, models of longhouses of the various indigenous groups, illustrations of indigenous tattooing, an aquarium, and so on. The fourth picture below is the upstairs of a longhouse reconstructed inside the museum. The last one is a replica of prophet Muhammad's sword inside the Islamic Museum.

After the museums, Seon proposed we go for some ice cream at McDonald's. It was a decent walk to get there, and I was starving as we waited for at least fifteen minutes in that line. McDonald's is very popular. It's surprising that Kuching has only two McDonald's: one at the airport and one downtown. Being advertised at the counter was the Prosperity Burger, which is available annually leading up to Chinese New Year (January 26th).

After Mickey-D's Seon went off to catch a van back to UNIMAS while I stuck around Kuching to meet up with some friends for dinner and a movie. We first stopped at Kuching's newly-opened shopping mall called The Spring for groceries and some doughnuts from Big Apple Donuts and Coffee. It's like Krispy Kreme in that the doughnuts float in frosting on conveyor belts before your very eyes, but these doughnuts look really fancy and have really cool names. I failed to take any donut pictures or write down any names, so I will be returning to that place soon – strictly a fact-finding mission, of course.

We had time to kill before the movie, so we walked to the McDonald's for ice cream. Round 2! Below is the road along Kuching's waterfront. On the right is the Hilton Hotel, and notice - as seen on Malaysia's currency - the hibiscus flowers.

We saw the Adam Sandler "Bedtime Stories" flick with Bahasa Malaysia subtitles at Kuching's only cinema. It was very well attended and most people seemed to enjoy it. The theater also shows Malay-language movies made in Indonesia or Malaysia, but the guys said they're not Hollywood-level and so not very popular.

On the way back to campus we stopped for a supper of nasi lemak (rice fat) and 'Bishop's Nose,' which they delicately described as "chicken ass." Nasi lemak consists of rice cooked in coconut oil alongside some kind of meat, a hardboiled egg, cucumber slices, and spicy fried anchovies. It’s considered the national dish of Malaysia and eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.