Last night wasn't too bad. The hostel/Inn is at a busy intersection just a block from the waterfront and there is a large Chinese temple overlooking the intersection. There is a large urn burning incense most of the day - hopefully bringing us good fortune. As expected there is some street noise - brrrr of motorcycles and occasional sirens. The room has no windows other than one high up near the loft. The lighting isn't the best either. We've resorted to reading by flashlight. But it is part of the adventure. Maybe my second childhood since I never got a chance to backpack the world when I was young.
We got up early and walked to the Laksa place. It was great. The kopi (coffee shop) had three booths in the front, one selling mee (noodles), one selling laksa (spicy soup) and I can't remember what else was being sold. We sat down and ordered kopi and laksa. The kopi came hot, milky and caramel sweet. It was either from the gula (palm sugar) or condensed milk. We paid 3.6 RM or 1US. Next came our bowl of hot soup. She cooks the rice noodles in a pot of hot water and the covers them with a spicy broth. I could taste chile, cumin, coriander and a bit of anise. No turmeric. It was topped with slices of fried egg, boiled chicken and prawns and some bean sprouts. It was served with a half of a small lime similar to mexican limes and a dab of hot chile paste. Oh so good. It was better than what I made - less coconut milk and ginger.
That got us going. Then it was off to try to catch the bus. We got there 15 minutes early but didn't see the bus. We finally noticed the ticket hut and went over and realized the schedule that we got from the tourist bureau might be wrong. We hung our for about 30 more minutes before I got real cranky. We walked back to the tourist office to check about getting a taxi because the schedule said we had just missed the bus and it wouldn't come for another 2 hours.
The bus would have been about 3 RM. The taxi was 30RM, but the driver was very nice and talkative. We walked about Kuching and the economy. The Malaysians are being affected by the economy also. He said that there had not been as many visitors or locals going out because of the economy. Many malaysians have been encouraged and hopeful that Obama can bring change. They are as excited as Americans for a change.
We arrived at the orchid and pitcher plant garden in padawan just a small suburb of Kuching. It was very interesting with lots of pitcher plants and orchids in bloom but rather small. We finished in about an hour and thought we might take the bus back. We saw it pulling away just as we walked out of the garden. Rats. We went over to wait. It was probably going to be another 2 hours. grumble.... But we had luck and a minivan bus pulled up. These vans run routes between different locations. They are kinda like a taxi van that pickups people along they way. He was heading to Kuching and had room. It was only 3 RM. Perfect! He made a couple of stops along the way to drop off and pick up more people. It was a great different experience.
I'm back at the hostel and relaxing before we go out for dinner. We're not certain but it may be a restaurant called Bla...Bla.. Bla. Funny name. They do fusion dishes. It will be expensive but sounds fun.
Tomorrow we have a pickup to go to see the Orangutan Refuge. They have a feeding at 9am and we can get picked up at the Hostel. Should be interesting.
Kuching has also been very interesting to visit. The town has an old colonial feel. There is also a big Chinese influence locally near our Inn. We have been seeing many Chinese temples and cemeteries. It is also along the river and there is a wonderful promenade - very western. Across from the promenade are a wide variety of shops which are fronted by covered sidewalks. These are the same type that I saw in Singapore. They provide nice shade from the equatorial sun. There are women selling a local coconut cake that is brightly colored in strips. I had a taste but it was too sweet. There are also other trinkets along the street. Lots of bright colors along with mildewy stucco that you see in the tropics. We've also seen a very cool Hindu temple close to where we had breakfast and the large gold domed Mosque. More evidence to the wide variety of different cultures which make up Malaysia today.