So far we’re loving Borneo.
Borneo is the world’s third largest island, after Greenland and New Guinea. Most of the island is in Indonesia, about a third is Malaysia, and a small sliver of the island is Brunei. We weren’t at all sure what to expect from the culture, the landscape, or the weather.
It hasn’t taken us long to think this might be grand. We arrived in Kuching yesterday afternoon after flying from Langkawi. It’s a medium-sized city – about 325,000 people – but is the largest city in Malaysian Borneo and the capital of the state of Sarawak. And after a few weeks on peninsular Malaysia with more Islamic presence than I’d expected (burkas, lack of alcohol at most restaurants) Kuching seems delightfully more cosmopolitan.
We went walking in the early evening and quickly discovered a city spruced up for Valentine’s Day (how do our worst “holidays” get exported to places like Borneo?), a lovely river walk, fun architecture, some nice-looking bars and restaurants – bars that open right onto the sidewalk!! – and cat sculptures.
Cat sculptures you ask? It turns out Kuching is the Malay word for cat, and they embrace that heritage fully. Cat sculptures and even a cat museum. Mark informs me that we’ll be going to the cat museum very soon. And maybe tomorrow, too.
And there’s lots of other stuff to do: cloud forests to hike in, kayaking, orangutans to spot – a real jungle of opportunities. On top of all that coolness, the weather is a wonderful change. It’s overcast, maybe even raining on and off, and not oppressively hot. After weeks of heat and sunshine, a little gloom is really nice.
The only sad note is that when Mark’s father and brother were planning their trip to Malaysia, flying into Singapore, we had a choice of going north up the peninsula or east to Borneo. We chose the former, but now it seems we’d have done better to come this way. Next time, John & Lidd!