Friday, January 31, 2020

Road Tripping With Zack Part 2

I had a few days of going out and doing my thing around Kuching, I went to the Cat Museum and the Sarawak Cultural Village. One was excellent and one was shit. You figure it out. I spent some time at the Drunk Monkey and kept running into a fellow Canada from Hamilton. Dana and his girlfriend were retired, traveled the world and were excellent company.  I was ready for another road trip so Zack and I loaded up for part two of our "Great Sarawak Road Trip". This time we would be meeting up with his friend Bobby. Sure the more the merrier as it goes. Plus Bobby's family owned a fruit farm and we could have a look around and eat our fill, fresh from the branch. I was told to beware of the dogs. I shrugged it off and it would come back to haunt me a bit.

We drove the hour to Bobby's house and the car was immediately surrounded by 10 barking and not so happy mid-size dogs. They were not terrifying but they did not know me and were not happy about it. Zack got out and it was happy to see you. I was given a broom and told to fend for myself. They would get used to me. After a bit of coffee, Zack and I crossed a small stream to grab some lychees for the road. We were ready to go. Our first stop would be Serikin Bau. A market town on the Indonesian border.

The border is here is basically wide open but monitored. The Indonesians bring their goods and set up an active market along the main street and into a few side streets. There are so many well-crafted goods here and they are very inexpensive. It would be an importer's dream to buy everything from every shop on the street and take it overseas. It was colorful, loud, chaotic and fun. The vendors were barking but not aggressive. There was so much durian that my sense of smell abandoned me.

We checked out some rattan furniture and there was a great hanging chair Zack wanted to buy for his rooftop patio. Once it is finished his rooftop is going to be the "go-to" place for all of his guests. He has three cats, two of which are social. Cats always add to the atmosphere. The market was a nice place to visit. We had some lunch and were on our way. Now they were going to make me sweat.

Bung Jagoi Heritage Trail was a great little hike. Here is a nicely-written article to learn more and it saves me the effort of detail. I was planning on hiking Mt. Kinabalu when I got to Sabah and I figured this would be a good warm-up. That was naive thinking, but you will learn about that later.

The trail was mostly stairs, both natural and man-made. The vegetation was pure Borneo jungle and it was hot. The trip took about an hour and a half and I was soaked. We passed through the remains of an ancient village that still took in guests when planning ahead. Bobby was excited about staying one weekend. Zack would have nothing to do with it. "Too many spirits from the past". 

Aside from ancient history, the Japanese camped on this mountain during their occupation of Borneo. There were some small reminders but knowing they were here added to my imagination of the experience.

Fruit picking on Bobby's Fruit farm was a bit surreal. He was not fussed because it was an everything day thing for him. The property was huge and surrounded by the jungle. There was so much to choose from. You pick it, you eat it. Oranges, limes, jackfruit, breadfruit, durian, pineapples, bananas (not ready) rambutan, mangosteen, mata kucing (Cats Eye). Here is some information on 10 of the most popular in Borneo. I was all over the rambutans because there was so much and the mangosteen because it was new to me, and freakishly delicious. I washed everything down with a few sweet oranges, which they called lemons.

But, Bobby wanted fresh Durian and I was obligated to try it. We went back to the house of bad dogs, who had settled own a little bit. He pulled out the big blade and went to work. I tried it, they laughed and I gulped my tea. I did not have a second piece.


I can not express how lucky I was to have come across Zack. On my last night, he organized a dinner for me with Bobby and one of his long term guests. His treat. Naturally, there was the chicken in bamboo that I had the first night. My trip to Kuching would have been so much less of an experience if I had not met and hung around with Zack.

For those who know me, I am and always have been a solitary person. I don't know why those are the cards I was dealt. Historically I am quick to keep my world closed, again that is just the way it is. Every so often I open up and just "go with it". The results vary but in this case, my experience was exceptional. Thank you Zack, you are going to be successful as both a guesthouse and tour operator.

..and when the painting of the stairs begins, let me know.

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