A week in Santubong

Well we got a hire car on Monday in Kuching town and off we went shopping to properly replenish supplies. There’s lots of good shops here, especially along the waterfront, a street named Main Bazaar. We have been to many cities around Asia now, and in many you see the same handicraft products, which I suspect may be made in a factory in China and shipped around in containers on the ships we pass, but here in Kuching, there are many exquisite items, very obviously handmade, and unique to the region. There is a local wood called Billian, or Bornean ironwood, which is dark and very tough. Many handicraft items are made of this, I bought a walking stick it looked so good, but I don’t expect it to be much use on the boat.

Above is the view from the cockpit of Mount Santubong with a bit of weather moving in.

We zoomed off in the car to visit the cultural village which is just ten minutes down the road, situated in the rain forest at the location of the festival we are off to on Friday. I don’t normally like these recreations of the past, but they had built old ‘long houses’ out of Billian and they were quite amazing.

Up to 60 families might live in these houses, most of which have gone now

The Malay houses were of a high quality compared to the more indigenous groups

And as my mum might have said ‘A  lovely show to round off the trip’ which involved blow pipes and audience participation, which had Kathy worried.

One day we headed off to see the Orangutans at Semenggoh, this is a national park area where the forest is protected and the Orangutans live there in the wild, they have got used to humans, and where they might normally be scared of us and hide, they can be quite forthcoming, even aggressive.

We also visited the Sarawak museum, I loved this place as it should have been in a museum itself, the exhibits were all in cabinets from the 19th Century, I don’t think the museum had anything new, including the staff, for many many decades. Lots of stuffed creatures. I took the picture below, because it had an uncanny resemblance to a typical drug crazed scouser, you might meet when out clubbing at a weekend, or find hanging outside the parole office 😉

On Saturday we headed off to the ‘Fairy cave’ A huge cave set up high in the hillside, it went very deep into the hill, and was very impressive. The pictures don’t do it justice, but look at the steps inside the caves to get an idea of the scale.

The modern entrance to the caves.

Above you can see the start of the original steps to the caves, that cling to the rock face

The fairy himself, no idea what that’s all about, maybe Kathy will know

A hut outside the caves.

After the caves we headed down to the border market, this is on the border with Kalimantan in Indonesia, it’s a mile long either side of the main road, we bought some fabric but mostly we bought fruit and Veg at the street market below, we bought a bag of Archidendron Jiringa seeds which we haven’t got a clue what to do with, they look like horse chestnuts, but flatter, I hope we try them before they go the same way as the Durian.It caused much amusement with the locals when we bought them, and we wondered if perhaps they were a cure for impotence or some other embarrassing ailment

Last night we did a bit more shopping at the street markets, sadly we were too late for both of them, so we popped over to an Indian restaurant we found via google maps/trip advisor and had a lovely curry served on a banana leaf.


Today we returned the car, so we are back to being boat bound for a few days, Rain Forest World Music festival on Friday, then we up anchor and head NE towards Miri, where we leave the boat and fly home.

Paul Collister.

5 thoughts on “A week in Santubong”

  1. A walking stick? You have no fireplace, no mantlepiece or sideboard. No room for knickknacks. Sounds like the thin edge of the wedge to me. I expect next time I Goncourt the boat will be crammed with the kind of stuff our parents brought back from Spain.

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