Borneo Destinations Malaysia Travel Journal

TRAVEL JOURNAL #15 | Wonderful Kuching & Bako National Park

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By bus we travel from Brunei to Miri, but we only stay there overnight. The next morning we catch the early bus to Kuching. It is a long bus ride of 716 kilometres (445 miles) in total. We leave Miri at 7am and we arrive in Kuching at 10:30pm, how crazy? We have lots of rain during the day, so it took longer than expected. We’ll stay in Kuching for almost a week before travelling further to Singapore. We find Kuching is a lovely city and Bako National Park, close to Kuching, is one of the highlights of our world trip so far!

Another Couchsurfing experience

Our new couchsurfing host Hamady arranges our pick-up at the bus station. He’s a Senegalese professor who lives in Malaysia. Upon arrival at his home we are welcomed open-armed and with pizza! After the long day we can definitely use some pizza. He lives relatively far away from the city centre, but he tells us we don’t need to worry about transportation: he will fix it for us whenever we need.

The next day we go with him to the University where he works. He researches mosquitos at the University of Kuching and we check out his laboratory. We wander around the University and see his work. Together with a friend of Hamady we go to the supermarket to do groceries, for the BBQ at night. Soon we notice we are used to the Dutch way of BBQ with lots of baquette, vegetables, fruit and different kinds of meat. Still we enjoy the BBQ very much – with lots of meat – and have a fun night together.

Exploring Kuching

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Then it’s time to explore the city centre of Kuching! We heard very good stories about it, so we are really curious. Hamady arranges our transport, but let us wait for two hours. We quickly learn Hamady is a very laid back who takes everything very easy – a bit too easy. As Dutchies we don’t like that too much: we like people who are on time. When we are finally picked up we ask our taxi driver to drop us of at the Canon shop (remember that horror story of camera breaking down and customer service being not helpful?). The Canon shop called us and told our camera is FINALLY fixed and has arrived in Kuching! Yeeaaah! We are SO happy.

Let’s not celebrate preaturely

However, when we arrive at the shop and see our camera, we immediately see there’s something wrong with our lens: the lens cap is damaged. It looks like it bumped into something or the lens fell down, or they simply did not pack it correctly. Obviously we don’t want our lens back that way. But their only solution is to send it back to Kuala Lumpur again for repair. Idiots!! Of course we don’t have time for that, so we disagree. Instead, we have them write a letter that something happened with the lens while shipping. So now we have proof it wasn’t our doing.

With mixed feelings we get our camera back and take a Grab (southeast Asia Uber) to the city centre. We can finally take pictures with our (especially Maartje’s) baby again! And how fun: Kuching is a very picturesque city. It reminds us a little of Georgetown on Penang and we have very good memories of Georgetown. We wander around the city – the waterfront mostly – and at night we are picked up again by the taxi driver Hamady sent us.

Bako National Park

Near Kuching there is a national park called Bako National Park, a park that’s famous for the Proboscis monkeys. We decide to go there and stay overnight. We leave our bags at Hamady’s house and take only the necessary things with us. The only way to get to the National Park is by boat. We are dropped of at the entrance and buy tickets for the boat. We enjoy the 30-minute boat trip and are super excited when we arrive in the park. It looks very beautiful and the best part: we don’t need a guide to walk around. We can just walk the trails ourselves. All our previous adventures in parks or jungles, we had to book a tour with a guide because we couldn’t walk around by ourselves.

travel journal borneoOf course we immediately want to see more, so we start with a hike to a cliff and beach. Bako National Park is not only famous for the Proboscis monkeys, but also because the park has seven different vegetations – not that we’re really interested in that, sorry. At the cliff we enjoy the beautiful scenery and make some cool drone shots. From the beach and cliff we walk back to the start of the trail, because it’s time to see monkeys! The best time to spot them is in the morning and afternoon. So we quickly go to the ‘monkey-spotting trail’. Or actually I go to the trail, Maartje has walked enough, but I get so excited. Monkeys are awesome and will not come back until I saw some. I like them so much; I could watch them all day.

Proboscis monkeys

While walking on the trail I see a couple Proboscis monkeys but they are all a bit too far away. When I hear thunder I quickly walk back. Maartje took our bag with us with both our raincoats and umbrella in it, stupid me. I carry our newly-fixed-and-expensive camera, so rain would be a big problem. Luckily I reach a place to take shelter when it starts pouring cats and dogs. But the headquarters is still far away so hopefully it’s going to stop raining soon. I don’t mind getting wet, but our camera… I just sit and wait for 15 minutes when I hear a voice say ‘pieffieee’ (our form of saying sweetie): my superwoman Maartje came to pick me up in the pouring rain, with umbrella and raincoat. Romantic right? Turns out she came to save the camera, not me. Still romantic though.

travel journal borneoAt night we join a night safari and see spiders, frogs, snakes, birds and bats! The following morning we wake up early to see sunrise. The plan was to go to bed afterwards but when I see monkeys I can’t sleep again. I go monkey hunting with our camera and it’s the best! I see so many Proboscis monkeys at arm’s length: it’s truly amazing. There are also lots of silvered leaf-monkeys: it’s a monkey paradise.

Time to wake up Maartje again and do the hike to the waterfall. It’s a long hike and eventually the waterfall isn’t that spectacular as we hoped it to be. It also doesn’t help that Maartje slips and lands on the camera. Thank god only the UV filter broke and the sun cap is damaged, the rest is fine. What’s it with us and things breaking all the time?!

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Instagram famous

We walk decide go to the cliff again to make some last drone shots. The only problem is if we walk there we won’t be in time to catch our boat back. So we call and arrange a boat pick up from the cliff. On the trail we pass by a cute guy and girl and say hi to each other, little did we know that later on we see each other again at the jetty. When we’re back at the jetty and I go to pick up our bags, the girl asks Maartje ‘Are you Rox or Maartje? I know you from Instagram’. Woohoo we are famous haha. The girl’s name is Gretka – from the Instagram account My Beach Addiction. She’s such a delight; seriously the happiest person we know. We decide to meet up the next day again –when we’re less sweaty and gross – and it’s a lot of fun.

It’s also our last day in Kuching and Malaysia before we go to Singapore. The next morning we catch our early flight and say bye-bye to Malaysia (for now). Read about Singapore in our next travel journal!

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