Monday, October 21, 2019

Kuching: Following the Opium Coffee Trail, Satok and Other Stops

Kuching's iconic Darul Hana bridge at sunset
Our guide, Margaret on India Street
I've been to Malaysia several times but this marks only the second time I'm venturing further east to Sarawak (the first was to Miri about five years ago).   Then, as now, it's a trip about finding more of what's familiar and similar to Pinoy culture and stuff than looking for differences.   It seems almost everywhere I turn in Kuching, I find something that reminds me of home.     

The morning before the Kuching Waterfront Music Festival, we were taken on a morning city tour by the Place Borneo team along with our Hokkien city guide, Margaret.    Our first stop was the Satok weekend local sellers market, about 20-25 minutes drive away from the waterfront area.  It's bustling with sellers and buyers as it was still early on a Saturday.  Well, we wouldn't go hungry here as most of the items on sale are familiar not only in appearance but oftentimes in names (and flavors).  Occasionally, some vowels would be different but phonetically, they're similar to the ones we use back in the Philippines.  Members of the garlic family are called bahwang (Pinoy bawang).  Noodles used in Chinese and Malay cooking?  Beehon (Pinoy bihon).    A stack is called tempok (Pinoy tumpok).   So pardon me if I used the local colloquial expression, "Sounds family?"

Monday, October 14, 2019

Mulu Marriott: The Rainforest Experience

Wooden walkways, rainforest location, Mulu Marriott experience
A Marriott is a Marriott is a Marriott, right?

Well, not if it's one located in a tropical rainforest.  And the Mulu Marriott is exactly that.

The Marriott touch of understated elegance and sophistication is there alright.  The architecture is different though.  In lieu of concrete, there was the generous use of wood.  In place of vertical monoliths, the hotel is almost all single-storey, like modern longhouses built on stilts and spread horizontally in the forest.  Treading on wooden walkways, walking to and from your room becomes an occasion for nature immersion.  We saw squirrels clambering up and down the trees; a catfish in the occasional pond on a depression underneath the stilts; swifts flying all over.   It's a radical departure from a clinical, carpeted existence really.

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