4 night adventure in Kuching
Getting to Kuching
This proved to be a bit of a mission. We had to catch a flight from Bali to Kuala Lumpur then onto Kuching. From leaving our hotel in Kuta at 5am, to arriving in Kuching at 3:00pm, it was a 10 hour journey.
At the airport we arranged a taxi at the counter to our accommodation for 30 ringgit (£5.50), it was about a half an hour journey.
Well where do I start. Rainforest budget stay was definitely one of the more interesting places I have stayed.
Walking into the hotel the first thing I smelt was smoke. It absolute reeked of cigarettes.
There was no one on reception at the front desk, but a loud bell had chimed as we walked in so we assumed some one would come to check us in. They didn’t.
We made our way down the hallway and found a hotel staff member. She checked us in and a man showed us to our room.
It was downstairs, right near the entrance and still stank of cigarettes. The ‘bathroom‘ was actually just a shower above a toilet within the room surrounded by a blue plastic partition.
We were just contemplating the fact we had 4 nights here, when some one walked into our room.
This wasn’t just anyone, this was a lady boy, full face of make up, wearing a grey silk robe.
Queue blank stares.
She/he apologised and scurried away. We didn’t really quite know what to do.
The sound of the road was really loud, and we figured we would hear everyone coming in and out in the night, so we asked to move upstairs.
The host was very accommodating and we moved upstairs to the ‘show room’. It was exactly the same as the room downstairs, but away from the entrance so that was positive.
We discovered when reading their flashing red sign outside the hotel, that rooms could be rented by the hour. This explained the lady boy.
It was LOUD. We got woken up every night. There is a bar just by the hotel that pumps out music into the early hours of the morning.
Kick out time of 3am meant lots of drunk, loud and apparently angry people poured out of the bar and into the hotel.
The guy in the room next to us threw up loudly for at least half an hour every night. People stomped up and down the hallway passed our room to the smoking area. Couples (Prostitute and their clients) caused loud bangs, shouting and whining, and drunken teenagers giggled outside our door.
We lay awake at 4am googling hotels and were actually considering leaving right then and there. Obviously we didn’t because we are backpackers and had already paid for the room. Boo to budget life.
It’s a funny one. I feel bad writing this negative stuff about the hotel when the host was so lovely, friendly and accommodating.
But seriously, if you are trying to attract normal holiday makers, in search of a place to stay while exploring the wildlife in Borneo (which they say they are), you need to stop renting the room by the hour. Employ a security guard and move the smoking area.
Exploring in Kuching and Borneo
Ok so don’t judge me. I didn’t come to Borneo to shop, but on the first day we didn’t have an activity booked, and we needed to get some bits so we walked from the hotel (whore house) to the Spring shopping mall.
It was a 2.5 mile walk, and gave us a chance to get our bearings, see what was around, and do some exercise after spending the previous day on a plane.
It was extremely hot and humid, and we were super thirsty and hungry when we arrived at the mall. We wondered around and spotted a Nando’s so decided to grab some food.
It was crap. Nando’s in Malaysia is not the same as Nando’s in the UK, so don’t bother.
The side came half an hour before the wrap, the medium spice was replaced by mango flavour (WTF) and the food was cold.
Luckily the shopping trip was more successful than breakfast (at lunch time).
There are lots of different shops and we managed to get everything we needed (wanted).
– 2 x bikinis from H&M – 50% off how could I not? Plus I only had 1 bikini and a swimming costume (I thought it covered my fat but it doesn’t and who wants tan lines) so I needed bikinis, ok.
– 1 pair of Levi’s denim shorts – my denim shorts seemed to stretch as I wore them. They start of tight but by the end of the night they were gapping, so shorts were also a necessity, obviously.
– 1 foldable rucksack – I have my Knomo London rucksack (my way to expensive for travelling , but I love it rucksack). But I wanted something cheap that I could take to the beach and dirty locations, and this foldable bag was pink and grey and only 6 ringits.
– One hoodie– mine had holes in.
– Shampoo, conditioner, body wash etc because obviously a girls gotta wash.
Orangutans, kayaking, trekking and caving
We booked a tour through Semadang kayak tours, which cost £50 and included all of the above mentioned activities.
They picked us up at 8am from our hotel (the brothel), and two lovely hosts drove us to Semenggoh orangutan sanctuary.
Along the way they were really informative and friendly, they told us facts about places we were passing and the orangutans.
The driver had adopted a baby orangutan, and it was great to hear how passionate he was about the animal care and welfare.
The orangutan sanctuary
Semenggoh rangers train orangutans orphaned or rescued from captivity how to survive in the wild. The animals live wild and roam the forest freely, but often return to the feeding station for a free meal.
When you arrive there are posters and family tress, giving you facts about the resident animals, past and present. Some of the stories were really cruel, but some were full of positivity, and showed how conservation efforts were changing animals lives.
A ranger gives you a briefing before you head to the feeding area, which highlights safety points and the fact that there is no guarantees the orangutans would come.
They are wild animals after all, not kept in enclosures and with a mind of their own. It was also fruiting season in Malaysia, which meant that they were likely to be able to feed easily off the trees and plants available to them.
We were lucky enough to get front row in the feeding area. The ranger calls for the orangutans to come and everyone must be silent.
Soon we saw movement in the high tree tops, and after some coaxing from the rangers a female orangutan and her baby appeared.
A short while after the ranger announced that a large male was making his way to the feeding area too.
It was amazing to see, they are such large nimble creatures. They swing through the trees with such ease and have so many similarities to humans. The way they care for their young, their coy nature and how they peal bananas.
Unfortunately, due to kayaking we didn’t have our phones which meant the only pictures I captured were on my go pro. Which couldn’t zoom.
I have never been kayaking before and I was slightly apprehensive about the prospect of kayaking down a Bornean river in the middle of a jungle. Are there crocodiles? Snakes? I didn’t want to think about it.
We kitted up with life jackets, an oar and a guide (most importantly) and were on our way.
We were going to be kayaking for a total of 11kms and luckily despite an initial shaky start we got into a pretty good rhythm.
Along the way you stop off at a waterfall, a village and a bridge over the river. Oh and you get absolutely soaked, squelch, squelch, squelch my friends.
Lunch at a village
At about the 5km point you stop for a traditional Malaysian lunch at a village along the river.
The food was really yummy and it was a chance to speak to the other 2 people on our tour. Though there were a lot of flies.
After lunch you cross a rather wobbly bridge along the river. It wasn’t anything special.
Though I took personal enjoyment from seeing the usually miss independent, nothing stops me Dom, looking like she might die.
Turns out she is scared of heights and her face really was a picture when more people piled onto the bridge and a man rode a motor bike across the bridge. I think are actual word were ‘is he fucking kidding?’, he wasn’t.
Jungle trekking and caving
So we knew we were doing the caving but there was no mention of a jungle trek to get to the caves online.
We had to scramble up vertical peaks, through dense jungle, squeeze through rock faces and basically swim in mud to make it to the cave.
It was all part of the fun, but probably something they should mention on the website. Our guide told us how many people had given up before reaching the cave and that one group of girls turned up wearing their bikinis.
Along the way we saw many creepy red spiders and dangerous wildlife. Definitely not somewhere I would want to be in a bikini.
Before coming on this trip she told me how clumsy and accident prone she was, but I don’t think I was quite ready for the reality of the situation that would follow.
The girl falls over standing still. She provided me with so much entertainment and I giggled the whole way. Which in turn made her giggle and fall over even more.
Dom you made my day!
Once in the cave
When we eventually made it to the cave we ventured in with our head torches and explored. There were so many bats and I am not going to lie, all I kept thinking was bats carry rabies. Fortunately, we didn’t get bitten by bats or snakes. Though our guide did get bitten by something and ended up with a large swollen arm.
We booked a traditional Malaysian cooking class at Bumbu cooking school in the heart of Kuching, it cost 150 ringgits which is about £27.
We would be cooking a Bornean jungle curry with vegetables and dessert. All of the ingredients used were grown in the jungle and we would cook using the traditional methods of village families. Where possible obviously, we didn’t pluck the chicken or pick the veg from the jungle.
Our teacher (we can’t remember his name) was very informative. He took us to the local market to buy our ingredients and explained all the different fruit and veg we would be using, how it’s grown and what the best quality looks like.
We prepared all our ingredients, used a mortar to prep our flavourings, marinated our meat and crafted our parcels for dessert.
One thing to note is if you are a bit screamish about bloody meat and eating meat on the bone as I am, it’s best to go for the veggie option.
I really struggled to eat the chicken and was very jealous of Dom’s veggie option.
Eating in Kuching
A lot of the restaurant options look questionable for our delicate English tummys and rotisserie meat isn’t my thing anyway.
In light of the above we used trip advisor a lot in this area to seek out restaurants with good hygiene standards and reviews.
This restaurant sits next to a painted wall with four happy children’s faces on them and is very pretty. It is a multi level restaurant with live singers, a bar and twinkly lights. The setting is beautiful and the food is amazing too.
They have various meat based platters as well as build your own pizzas and burgers. The deserts are to die for too, I had a chocolate and cookie brownie with ice cream. Yummmmm.
Again another lovely restaurant with a great ambience. We were able to sit outside (I love eating outside) and the menu had so many things I wanted to eat.
It actually took me 15 minutes to decide because I just wanted everything. We ended up sharing a bread olive and tomato platter and chicken wrapped in bacon to start. For main I had creamy prawn pasta with brandy. Tasty but the prawn to pasta ratio could have been improved.
The cocktails really good too and with lots of variety. Service here was also on point.
One night there was a really bad storm and we had hauled up in our room waiting and hoping that it would pass. But when it hit 8:45 we decided we couldn’t wait any longer, we needed feeding.
Obviously because it was absolutely hammering it down we needed somewhere close. So we made a speedy dash across the road to this little restaurant.
It was nothing special but the prices were really reasonable and the food (pizza and chips) were nice.
Kuching is a great place to base yourself if you want to explore all the Bornean jungle has to offer.
Rainforest budget stay is not for the faint hearted or those that like sleep.
Orangutans are amazing, kayaking is fun and jungle trekking is a challenge.
Caves.. I found kinda boring.
There are nice places to eat you just have to do a bit of research.