Thursday June 9

A 0200 start to catch the tide up the river to Kuching. Still spring tides so the currents would be fierce and the marina is 15 Nm upstream. To tie up in the marina you need slack water high tide. There was lots of debris, logs and tree trunks in the river we had to weave between. Even an old fridge floating down the river at the marina.

We timed it well and Psycho Puss and Katini directed us in and took our lines. Lea and David washed down the boat while I went into the harbourmasters office at the marina to clear in. We then walked a few kilometers to Immigration and Customs to formally re enter Malaysia. Organised a hire car for tomorrow.

Friday June 10

The spring tide ebb flow at the marina was incredible. Debris piled up behind the boat which we pulled away at slack water.

Morning run was very tough after a few days off. Car arrived 35 minutes late but then we could start on our shopping list. First was a fuel run for 110 litres then into town looking for a new waterfilter housing. The Quote from Spectra via Labuan was over $200 USD. Found one at a water filter shop for 78 MYR (~$20 USD) with the help of Google Maps. Then a plumbing shop for a new shower fitting that had broken. Struck out on some “O”Rings and nylon washers.

Lunch in Chinatown then a bit of an explore. Some great architecture and colonial buildings as well as the gorgeous cat statues.

The State Legislative building was stunning.

The river cuts through the CBD

Then off to find the “Springs” shopping centre. Beer and wine were very expensive but our reserves were very low so we had no choice; well we did but we didn't like the other option of going without.

Back to the marina for drinks on the balcony of the marina building with other Rally folk. Then piled into our cars and headed into town for a meal and a nighttime explore of the city.

Lea played with the cats.

Found a brilliant Seafood, Food Court on top of a high rise building. It was packed with locals breaking their Ramadan Fast and the meal was fabulous washed down with Chinese Beer.

Saturday June 11

Another 110 liter fuel run, dropped off the laundry in Chinatown then headed out to the Cultural Village at Santebong. We just made the 11.00am show; a very professional production of traditional Sarawak dance and the use of a blowpipe in a modern auditorium. Lovely costumes and some humerous miming made for a great show.

The grounds are beautiful and contain the site for the Rainforest Music Festival held every year. Many buildings of different styles and demonstrating local food preparation, handicrafts and artifacts.

We wandered about the extensive grounds, viewing the different longhouses of different tribes.
Sarawak has a large Christian and Chinese population and the Chinese influence is evident everywhere. The indigenous locals of these coastal area are the Sea Dyaks. The interior jungle areas were the domain of the blowpipe weilding Orang Ulu.

The village is well set up and we enjoyed our few hours there. Then it was time to drop David off at the airport on the other side of town. Tried to find a Giant Supermarket but Google led us astray so we went back to the Springs for a few more supplies.

Sunday June 12

Final fuel run and lots of boat cleaning before meeting Sazli at 0930. We haven't seen him since Puteri as he has been very ill. Nice to see him again although there is now a bit less of him due to weight loss.

We headed off in the car to pick up the laundry and visit the Cat Museum before heading down to Santebong for a Rally party.

The Cat Museum is housed in the North Kuching Council building which looks like a spaceship on top of a beutifully landscaped hill.

The museum itself is a quirky and kitch collection of everything cats. Kuching means “cat” in the local language. The origins of the association with cats is still a mystery but there were a number of native cats that lived in the area. These native cats are now extremely rare and endangered. A number of stuffed varieties were on display.
Then on to Santebong for a Rally gathering which was held on private property overlooking the anchorage. A great venue generously provided by our host together with a couple of slabs of cold beer. The film crew making a documentary of Sail Malaysia had been aboard Esoterica for the last 3 weeks and we were the next host boat. The handover was filmed and we were wired up for sound for the first time. Each boat that participates will have a 30 minute episode made of life on their boat.

We then all descended on a nearby Chinese Restaurant and they did a great job catering for nearly the whole fleet. Jan (Anthem USA) and Marie (Allure) become honourary waitresses making sure the meals got to the right people. A great atmosphere with lots of catching up.

Rod and Heather (Psycho Puss), in great form thanks to too much vodka, caught a ride back with us. They were very entertaining. Stopped at Giant to pick up some fresh and frozen chicken,

Finally home and shopping squared away by midnight.

Monday June 13

6km run to clear the cobwebs. Picked up at 1100 for a tour. First stop the South Kuching Council building shaped like the upside down flower of the native Lily and set in beautiful gardens.

Then off to the museum via Chinatown and another “Cat” Statue.

The museum was fascinating with collections of stuffed and preserved Native Sarawak snakes, turtles, birds, feline and small animals, fish, shells, beetles and buterflies. Skeletons of massive crocodiles, small whales and elephants. The replica of an Orang Ulu Longhouse included dried human skulls hanging over a fake fire place as would have been the case in earlier times.

We then went to the Oranutan Rehabilitation Centre and Conservation Park. This is over 600 Ha of untouched rainforrest only 35 km from the city centre. The park was established in 1975 for the release of young rehabilitated Orangutans that had been captured and held in captivity.

The park is now enjoying the third generation, born of the originally released Orangutans. A total of 26 are in the park and the rangers say this is too many for the area so suplemental feeding still has to continue. Some of the more wild ones don't come to the feeding stations. Others show up regularly. We saw 2 mothers with their offspring. One was a very young and tiny male who was off and about exploring away from his mother more than we have seen before. Mum still held onto the rope he was on to get some feedback on his whereabouts. It was great to watch them close up again and admire their flexibility and strength. Lea was very envious of their extensions. (that's Ballet extensions)

This cheeky mum pinched the whole plate of food off the ranger.

Once the food was gone they were off. A couple of crocs were caged nearby as well. The information centre was excellent (and airconditioned). The film crew interviewed us about the place. Abother stop at Giant where we had to settle for poor quailty fresh food. One of the problems with becoming a city is that the local wet markets have been pushed out of town.

Finished the day back at the “Top Spot” Seafood food court for another fabulous meal.

Tuesday June 14

Lea's last chance for a run and her time was better. I took the car back into town to the Chinese Bakery to get some rolls for the film crew. There are 3 of them, Naz the producer, Moque the cameraman and Awol the sound technician. They are adhering to Ramadam so feeding them will be easier for us as no lunch required and they will get up around 0400 for breakfast.

Everyone and all the mountain of gear was aboard by 1100. We cleared the marina close to high tide slack water but had to push a little tide heading down river. The crew set up Go Pro cameras all over the boat. Not so much debris in the river today and we arrived at Palau Lakei with plenty of daylight left. Lots of really large jellyfish about. Good turtle food and sure enough it wasn't long before Lea spotted a turtle.

After being wired up for sound we took a dinghy trip ashore with the crew onto the little Island of Palau Lakei and checked out the decaying and delapidated remains of the small accomodation and tourist spot.

We climbed the rickety stairs up to a grave site and sacred pool. The grave was of the legendary Ibrahim, a good and widely respected Muslim from a few hundred years ago. The pool waters are believed to have healing and fertility giving properties.

The jungle was quickly taking back the old resort and stairway. Before leaving the grave site we did another interview before dropping the boys back on the boat and escaping to Esoterica for a cuppa.

I had asked Sazli to purchase a copy of the official charts for the Rajung River Delta, which he did, so we invited any of the fleet who were going into the river to come aboard to study the charts. The saloon and cockpit were soon crowded and lots of discussion re routes, tides and bridges. Tides looked good but bridges we were a bit unsure of. We knew about 1 that had been completed and was too low for us but the satelite imagery of a critical section of our planned route was poor. Ended the evening with some concensus on routes and soundings for more chanels being found in CM 93 Charts.

Fasting was about to end for the film crew so we shooed everybody off and Lea got dinner on the table quickly as the boys were hungry. Our first night with the crew was very interesting with some good discussion and debate on Islamic laws, religion and politics. Finally a captive audience of English-speaking Malaysians to grill. Awol surprised us all with his more hard line Muslim beliefs.