An adventure of boats, voms, markets and cafes.
We decided about 3 weeks ago that a little trip up river would do us all some good. The direction: Sibu – another city in Sarawak. By car I would guess around 11 hours and by boat a mere 4 -5 hours depending on the weather and wind.
Chef’s boss and his family were easy participants in this family holiday and so I began the research and planning thereof. Thank heavens for tripadvisor! Accommodation, boat fares and what to do in Sibu in 24 hours.
After a slight altercation and having a reservationist slam the phone down on me (big hospitality nooo noo) we booked in at RH Hotel. A shout out to Kenneth (Assistant GM) who saved the day with complimentary breakfasts for all and certainly made our stay pleasant. The hotel has amazing views of the rivers and the city rooftops.
Packing – AGAIN – my favourite past time. Although this time I honestly packed like a pro, and even included my emergency medical bag which was used twice. Food for the army took up 1 rucksack and 1 packet. The other rucksack housed all our clothes and toiletries. My husband always laughs and says we will never use all of this stuff, and the truth be told, we normally don’t but this time we certainly did. Yay to me.
Oi vei the boat trip was horrific going there. It was overcast and raining when Bahagia Express departed Kuching at 8:30. I / we were pretty good for the first hour and then… then I watched as large grown men succumbed to the sea sickness that would make the pale and silent. Poor Kel, he really did try super hard to supress it, but after a couple rounds of vom tag he gave in. With the revolting sewerage smell coming from the toilet, which actually regurgitated ebb and flow, it didn’t take me long to give my river contribution. And we are only 2 hours in… how will make the other 3. Kel and I curled up into foetal position and slept for the next 1 hour, only to wake up in the calmness of the rivers leading us to Sibu. I have to admit that those dreadful hours reminded me of the natural birth labour I endured with the boys. The cussing in those moments of agony when you promise not to repeat this stupid and yet you do. And we did. The next day return trip was a walk in the park. Guess we all found our sea legs after all.
Taxi fare is around MYR 10 for 4 people from the harbour to the hotels and mall, but it is also in walking distance if you aren’t with too much luggage. Check in was seamless and the hotel room a real treat. The boys were shameless with their amount of jumping on beds, bedroom tv they watched and hotel amenities that they took. No point in repeating what cost saving GM’s would drill into our heads… save on the amenities people.
I could see that Chef was getting restless as his urge to explore the new city grew rapidly. By 6pm we were walking the streets and admiring the simplicity of the city with all its colourful buildings, rural rooftops and friendly people. The smell of the seasonal Durian (local fruit with a really pungent odor – not for everyone’s liking) led us to the huge undercover market and the festive night market. Some of the things that I saw, I would like to unsee now, but I did find 2 unfamiliar fruits which I have tried since being back in Kuching. One being the buah tarap and the other mangosteen. Both very delicious and very healthy for you.
On recommendation we went to the Payung café for dinner. Their award winning reputation certainly stands. Every plate served was fresh, full of flavour and absolutely delish. My favourite has to be their herb salad. Unfortunately not cheap but with the pennies spent.
A late night walk back to the hotel and a quick orange juice at the bar and then off to bed. The boys must have be exhausted as they only woke at 8am.
I was delighted to see my name in big bold letters (thanks Kenneth) on a 9 seater table as the breakfast room was packed. Whilst it wasn’t the best breakfast in town, we certainly weren’t passing up on the free food.
The boat trip back to Kuching went surprisingly quickly with no one ill.
List of lessons learnt:
- Take the nausea pills as prescribed on the box. Do not think you know better. You don’t!!!
- Suckers and salt and vinegar chips only help for a short while, but will certainly take them with us again next trip.
- Sit at the bottom of the boat. The sides are high enough so you do not see outside the windows and therefore do not need to focus on anything.
- Keep your sarong handy. It is freezing inside the boat.
- Always get valuable information like room rates in writing when you don’t speak the local language.
All in all it was a fabulous outing and we will certainly return.