January 14th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0
Kuching museum

Quite a lot to do this morning.  High priority was preparing a large parcel to send home, containing our Christmas presents to each other, the usual accumulated pile of photos, + few other odds + ends to get rid of to lighten our packs a little.  Val went off to find a box to use, while I sat at the desk to write this.  She was quite a while, having problems finding a box big enough, the big problem being the leather puppet which is so long.  When she returned, we set to work modifying the box she had bought – we ended up with a Toblerone-shaped box – + packing it.

We checked at the Diocesan office to see if they could arrange a room for us – we’d been told we’d have to vacate our room – but the bloke in the office wasn’t very helpful, insisting we take 2 single rooms, one (expensive) downstairs, one (less so) up.  While Val waited for them to be made ready for us, I took the parcel off to the PO.  The man there was both friendly + helpful, but the parcel, tho’ heavy, was very expensive – M$26.  When I returned, Val had been moved to a room upstairs, but a double room – the man in the office there is not very efficient.

We paused for a bite to eat, then embarked on what was to prove a busy afternoon.  First we made the mistake of trying to cut through the school grounds, but all the gates were locked, forcing us to retrace our steps.  A waste of time, + even more important, being a bakingly hot afternoon, a waste of energy.  We managed, nonetheless, quite a lot.  Visited 3 shipping offices, to check on boats up the coast, + the results seemed fairly encouraging, since it seemed likely we could catch a boat either Wed or Thurs up to Miri, from which we could visit Niah Caves Nat. Park.  Since we were returning from Bako on Wednesday, this would be very good.

We visited a travel agent, + received some information about flights, both from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah to mainland Malaysia, + inland from Miri to Bario.  Tom + Jan had done this trip, + strongly recommended it.  We bought all of our shopping for our Bako trip, including some oranges, which were just out of this world. 

And by now it was getting quite late in the afternoon, so we headed off at top speed to visit the museum, which is apparently a must, + we could well not have the time when we get back.  And the museum really is quite excellent.  The old original building, built in the style of a Normandy town hall, was full of a varied + fascinating range of exhibits, where one would keep coming across something unusual which was of interest.  And everything was so well-labelled + written about, in both Malay + English, so that was obviously a great help.  The upstairs section was closed for renovation unfortunately, but there was an extension built just on the other side of the main road, across a footbridge, so we went over there.  And were totally knocked out by the whole place.  It was a big, modern building, + inside it was airy, spacious + attractive.  Clearly not only a lot of money but a lot of care had been devoted to it.  And if anything, the exhibits were presented even better than in its older brother across the road.  We spent a lot of time looking at the section devoted to Sarawak’s history (remarkable to think that a soldier/adventurer should simply have taken over a kingdom + founded his own dynasty.  More like something out of Rider Haggard or Kipling than historical fact.)  We had barely made it to the first floor when it was time to close, so there is still much we haven’t seen.  We dashed back across the bridge with some concern, since we had left all our shopping there, but fortunately it hadn’t been locked inside.

In the evening, we ate at a small Chinese restaurant opposite the Post Office.  We had a very tasty meal, beef cooked in ginger, plus some soup (which, upsetting to our notions of how things ought to be done, came afterwards.)  I also had a pau, a dumpling filled with meat – a Saturday night special we were told.  Very tasty.

It might, on reflection, have been a bao, but pau was what I thpught it was at the time, so… The museum really was superb – we still remember it with enormos fondness – and it did seem we were able to accomplish a good deal, more that the more usual one thing and thast’s it (if you’re lucky.) Another advantage of Malaysia over Indonesia.

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