Monday, April 22nd, 2019
As the end of my one year maternity leave loomed, the idea came to me that L and I should take a trip together just the two of us. As the time drew to an end, I was conscious of how lucky I was to have had the time with L and that it was a chance that I wouldn’t have again. If I have another maternity leave in the future I’ll have 2 kids to consider and I suspect the time off will be a lot less relaxed.
I decided to visit Kuching in Borneo with her. It’s a very quick (and cheap!) flight from Singapore and I’d not been to Borneo before. We flew with Air Asia and stayed at the Grand Margherita hotel which I selected due to it’s location.
Kuching is often named Cat City due to the similarities with the Malay word for cat – Kucing. However it could also be that it’s named from the Chinese for port (Cochin). Wherever the name comes from, the town has latched on to the cat origin and cats can be found all over the town and there’s a dedicated museum to them a short taxi ride from the centre. It definitely added a fun spin on the trip.
In the centre of town we found an “Upside Down House”. This is a trick art museum with a house set up – there are staff on site to take pictures for you and when you flip them the wrong way round it looks like you’re hanging from the ceiling. As well as giving us lots of fun photos, it was actually a great place for Lyra to crawl around although it’s possible she photo-bombed a few other families pictures.
Perhaps a slightly misguided choice, one evening I thought it would be nice to take a sunset cruise. It turns out a crawling 11 month old doesn’t really enjoyed being contained in the sling for an hour, especially when mummy runs out of snacks. She did enjoy the dance display however and waving at other people is always fun. It was nice to see the city from a different perspective but we might leave boat trips for a couple more years.
Of course Borneo is most famous for it’s orangutans and it is quite easy to see them when staying in Kuching. Semenggoh nature reserve rescues orphaned orangutans or rescues them from captivity and teaches them how to survive in the wild. The orangutans are free roaming within the reserve with feeding time twice a day. The reserve opens for two hours at each feeding time. Of course seeing the orangutans isn’t guaranteed, and in fact not seeing them is kind of good as it means they are finding plenty to eat on their own and relying less on the staff at the reserve. There is an entrance area where you are briefed on the orangutans and then it’s a short walk through the forest to the main feeding platform.
We were lucky enough to see 3 orangutans, and they appeared right at the entrance rather than at the feeding area. We were lucky as in the morning they hadn’t seen any. If you do go in the morning and don’t see any then you can use the same ticket to go back again later in the day.
In the evenings, we took a walk along the river and managed to find plenty of restaurants with trusty Ikea highchairs. Our favourite stop was a restaurant called The Junk which was full of knick knacks and decorated nicely for Christmas. The huge chunk of bread they provided for L was a hit, as was the wine for mummy! L was great at eating out in the evenings and had lots of fun waving at fellow restaurant patrons. She also enjoyed the lights along the riverside which makes for an enjoyable post dinner walk. We mastered back carrying with the sling on this trip mostly so that I could enjoy an ice cream on the walk.
I’m so glad that I made the trip. Kuching was the perfect destination for us – not too far from home and a nice mix of city and nature to keep us entertained for a few days. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to families looking for an easy break from Singapore and it was a great way to get a taste of Borneo.
We used Grab lots during our trip and took our carseat which we were able to leave at the desk in the cat museum and at the visitor centre at Semenggoh. Heads up – when heading to Semenggoh it would be better to book a driver who will wait for you, or pay and ask your Grab driver to wait. We were nearly stranded after hailing a grab was not as easy as I had read it would be (possibly due to the season).
We didn’t use the buggy at all while we were there and it sat in the hotel room folded up. Highchairs were easy to come by in restaurants so no need to bring a travel one.
We went in December which is rainy season. This wasn’t too much of a problem and the day we went to the nature reserve it remained dry. Summer is the more recommended time to visit if you don’t want to risk plans being scuppered by rain.
Kuching Airport is one of the worst I’ve been to – it was impossible to buy water or fill up from a fountain after security in international depatures! Don’t go through till the very last minute.