Mukah – The journey

bus mukah

I went down to Mukah for a night’s stay at Kingwood Resort, Mukah during the weekend. Mukah is the nearest beach to Sibu and is about 144 km away. The journey takes approximately 4 hours despite the relatively near proximity due to the road conditions – there are potholes galore and parts of the road is made of gravel.

bus ticket

I didn’t want to drive down to the resort since it would cost me more to change the suspension of the car and all that after the ordeal it’s been though in Mukah. πŸ˜‰ I figured taking the bus would be cheaper so I headed down after work on Saturday with my travel companion Clare. It’s RM 18.70 for the Sibu – Mukah ticket and we took the 2:30 PM bus down.

bus inside

I had gotten a really good deal for the Kingwood Resort in Mukah thanks to Henry. It cost me RM 160 nett for a Premier Room – Sea View with breakfast for two and lunch thrown in to boot. The published rate for that room is RM 368 nett during weekends and peak season. Cheers for that!

clare

The rooms comes with two queen sized beds which is a Good Thing (TM) since Clare claims she snores in her sleep. Heh!

joker

I had gotten supplies the previous night (namely alcohol) and we found this drink called Joker. I figured having some liquid entertainment would help with the tedious journey to Mukah. πŸ˜‰

It’s a really crappy locally produced liquor but I can’t help but get two bottles of it just coz of the “Why so serious?” quote from The Dark Knight.

bus blurry

The journey took 4 hours and the road was so bumpy that I couldn’t even take a proper shot. See all the photos all blurry one. It’s also senget a bit due to the potholes and all that. I’m really glad I didn’t drive my car down – it would wreck havoc on it.

paddy fields

The view is scenic though if you’re into paddy fields and all that. I managed to get some sleep and you can tell the bus driver to drop you off at the Kingwood Resort in Mukah (which is about 14 km away from Mukah town).

arrival

The fresh breeze from the sea and the beach made it all worth it though. πŸ™‚

Sarikei

sarikei

Sarikei is a town located about 105 km from Sibu. Sarikei is famous for its pineapples, which is cultivated here and exported. I drove down with Faye to sample the Asam Tom Yam Big Prawn Noodles over there (see previous post) and had an acute case of the post-lunch coma after the enormous serving was consumed and decided to stay the night before driving back early next morning.

pier street

Sarikei is a pretty small town by anyone’s standards and the main commercial area is concentrated around the pier (esplanade). There are only a few main roads in town and you’ll be hard pressed to lose your way around the town.

sarikei pineapple

There is a gigantic 3.6 meter pineapple located at the Sarikei waterfront. This distinctive feature pays homage to the famous Sarikei pineapples, most of which is exported and is renowned for it’s sweet and juicy fruit.

pineapple prick

The Sarikei pineapple replica is perhaps the most popular photo op available in this sleepy little town. There were a couple of other tourists taking photos with the prickly fruit too. I don’t know what the structure is made of but the thorny leaves are not very conducive to sitting, as I found out first hand.

pineapple us

Faye also wanted to take a photo with the famous Pineapple of Sarikei. Please, no jokes about inserting bromeliads where the sun don’t shine. πŸ˜‰

kings inn

I was feeling rather drowsy after lunch and didn’t feel like driving back home so I cruised around town for hotels to check into. I had seen a billboard on the road leading to Sarikei advertising King’s Inn and decided to spend the night there. It was a rather impulsive decision since we didn’t even bring a change of clothes (or even the basics like a toothbrush). I had an extra pair of pants and a spare pullover in my car from a road trip several months back and Faye elected to wear the shorts and T-shirt I was currently wearing at night so it worked out alright.

kings inn outside

King’s Inn is newly renovated and has WiFi in every room. The proprietor of Glory Cafe recommended the place to us since it’s clean and relatively cheap. It cost us RM 40 for a double room. The occupancy rates are very high – we saw a FULL sign being put up as soon as we checked in.

kings inn lobby

The lobby at King’s Inn is smaller than my bedroom but it’s comfortable, with a couple of rattan lounge chairs and some reading material (mostly newspapers and magazines) on the shelf. There is also a water cooler and a chiller with sodas and snacks.

kings inn bed

The room at King’s Inn is indeed clean and neat. This is pretty good by rural standards – there are no international class hotels over here, most of them are budget hostel accommodations and dodgy old inns. The only complaint I have is the desk between the single beds, which prevents the beds from being joined together. King’s Inn ran out of queen sized bedrooms so we had to go for a double single bed room.

kings inn tv

The fittings in the hotel room is pretty standard – there’s a vanity mirror on a desk, a very small 14″ TV set, several cloth hangers and a plastic stool. It’s only RM 40 per night nett so it was alright with us since we’ll just be staying until 4 am before we have to drive back to Sibu. The room is clean and the air-conditioning is cold and that’s all that matters. πŸ™‚

main street

I crashed for about an hour due to excessive consumption of alcohol the previous night before waking up to go exploring around the small town. The last time I was here was back in 2002 so a good six years had passed since I have been in Sarikei. This is the Main Street of Sarikei town taken at dusk.

sarikei toilet

I would be remiss if I didn’t do a reenactment of the popular pose at the Sarikei Public Toilet that received critical acclaim (?) back in 2002. The photo is somewhere in the archives of sixthseal.com – this is our version of the “I was here” photo.

sarikei clock

The Sarikei town clock is also another landmark in Sarikei. The town clock served an important function back in the days when wristwatches and cell phones weren’t available but no one probably bothers to look at it nowadays, except for the visitors. I took the liberty of squeezing myself into an empty waste disposal post. I don’t think that worked out very well for my shorts…

shell

Sarikei Wharf Esplanade is another popular place to watch the sun set (and for lovebirds to gather at night). It’s conveniently located at the main row of shophouses in Sarikei town. You can take a leisurely stroll in the evening when the sun sets as the cool breeze coming in from the Rejang River makes it ideal for a nice walk down the wharf.

playground

There is also a playground at the esplanade where the children play on the plastic swings and slides. It seems to be a very popular pastime among the families over here. I guess there’s nothing better to do on a lazy Sunday evening.

fishing

The other popular activity for locals is fishing by the pier. We saw quite a number of anglers whiling the time away at the wharf. I went to have a look and saw that the people here mostly use baited hooks instead of the jigging or popping method which is more popular with recreational fishing enthusiasts elsewhere.

pineapples

We also went exploring at the local market and found a cache of pineapples. Pineapples are Sarikei’s claim to fame and the variant they cultivate is noted for its juiciness and sweet texture. It costs RM 4 for a kg of the fruit. One pineapple weighs about 1 kg or less, depending on the size. Sarikei’s pineapples is a must try if you ever come over – it’s delicious!

pasar tamu

The local marketplace has received a makeover of sorts and is now painted in (rather garish) tribal designs. The taller building behind the market is an old Chinese operated hotel which has become rather run down since the glory days of Sarikei as a wharf town.

local foreign

The difference is clear.

mangrove

Sarikei also has numerous smaller jetties and docking bays made out of roughly bound timber. I found a little path opposite a place selling coffins (of all things) which led to a mangrove beach (it’s actually silt deposits from the river).

jesus

Jesus walks on water (with adidas trainers)
“Ye of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:31

sheraton

Dusk came over pretty soon and we took a shower at the hotel before heading out for dinner. I had asked for recommendations from the receptionist at the inn we were staying at and she suggested checking out Sheraton Seafood Centre.

prawns egg

This is the steamed prawn with egg, which is flavored with chilli, ginger and Chinese red wine. It tasted absolutely fabulous! The prawns were so tender and juicy it came off the shell with just the gentlest of nudging from a chopstick.

deer meat

This is deer meat cooked with dried chillis. I’m not sure about the legal status of deer as a protected species, but they serve it (as well as bats and other exotic wildlife). It’s good, tender and spicy.

pork

This is sweet and sour pork which is one of our staples. It’s nothing to write home about – I’ve had better. We wanted sweet and sour fish but the proprietor (who is also the chef) advised against it since it would take a long time with the crowd at the place.

dinner

The meal cost us RM 40.20 inclusive of drinks. Faye paid for the dinner. That’s why I sayang her while posing for this photo. πŸ˜‰

chicken king

We saw a couple of bars and pubs around Sarikei and was intending to check out the interestingly named Fire before noticing the distinctive Guinness sign and neon blue lighting above Chicken King Restaurant. Chicken King Restaurant is er…emulating, shall we say, the KFC operational model and has almost the same menu items.

chicken king interior

However, the second floor is al fresco (albeit covered) and offers a cafe style environment. I asked the proprietor and he told me it’s been open for six months and they serve a small selection of beer. It’s called Chicken King Cafe and is meant as a watering hole with a more relaxed ambiance.

chicken king tv

The entire perimeter of the place is open and there are plenty of ceiling fans to provide adequate ventilation. There are various seating arrangements and a huge projection TV to attract customers but we were the only ones there.

view down

The place affords a nice view of the main street of Sarikei, though it seems that this town becomes a bit of a ghost town after 10 pm. Perhaps it’s due to it being a Sunday, but the rural lifestyle seems to adhere to the sleep early, rise early philosophy.

drinks

We ordered a couple of beers to relax and chill out at the place before heading back to the hotel. The Guinness Stout is priced at RM 7 per bottle and the Tiger Beer is priced at RM 7 per bottle.

pier night

There is another pier opposite King’s Inn where we were staying and we saw a bit of man-on-man love going on at a secluded bench when we went for a night stroll. I was surprised to see such tolerance of GLBT relationships in a small, rural town. πŸ˜‰

pier night us

Despite our decidedly heterosexual orientation, the two male-male couples were kind enough to take a photo of us by the pier at night before we went back and hit the sack. I had to wake up at 4 am the next morning to drive back to Sibu in time for work.

pineapple night

Sarikei is a sleepy, quiet town that’s ideal for a weekend trip away from the city with friends and family. The hotels are cheap and the seafood and the pineapples are great! It just cost us a little more than RM 100 for the entire trip.

Note: You should be careful when driving back at night. There is a turn going into Durin before reaching Sibu and the 40 km of unpaved gravel road is seriously going to mess your car tires up. It took us 1 Β½ hours to drive back due to a wrong turn into Durin. It takes MUCH longer for that detour and there are no road signs but if the marker jumps from Sibu – 100 km to Sibu – 50 km within a kilometer, you’re on the wrong road. Stick to the main road.

Rene from Singapore

rene

This is Rene. It is one of the two photos she has allowed me to post. She’s the same Rene that baked me homemade cookies [sixthseal.com] several days ago and sent it from Singapore. I met her at JB airport before we took a taxi straight to Genting. I won RM 100 out of two games of baccarat (hey, at least it paid for the theme park access) before leaving the casino.

Choonie, Rene says hi. πŸ™‚

…and I think her hair looks great. πŸ˜‰

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Greetings from Melbourne

melb_arrive.jpg

Hello, I’ve arrived in Melbourne yesterday or the day before, I
really can’t gather my scattered thoughts right now, The outdoor doof
was very cold. More about that later, got back yesterday and slept for
more than 24 hours (what a waste) to recover from my non sleep in the
day before I left and the non sleep in the plane. Anyway, I’m going off
now, I’ll do a day by day run through when I reach home, it will be
sporadic posts like this until I get back. Later!

Sarikei

I went out at 8 am this morning to get some breakfast with Diana. Picked up Daniel too and headed off to Sugarbun to get something to eat, partly because it’s air-conditioned and partly because we haven’t eaten there in a while.

Me and Diana

Hung around there for an hour before Ah Chan joined us. We had to leave at 10 am though, to meet up with Yi Ching and Justina to go to Sarikei. We went to the city bus terminal to catch the bus, but the buses leaves in 2 hour intervals and we just missed the 10 am bus. We decided to take the express boat to Paradom and catch a bus from there. The bus fare from Paradom to Sarikei is RM 5.40, the most I’ve paid for a bus ticket in Sibu. Heh.

Me and Daniel

An hour later, we were in Sarikei and got some lunch while waiting for Jonas to pick us up.

Lunch at Sarikei

Obligatory picture with Sarikei signboard to show I was there

The pineapple replica in Sarikei town

After lunch, we walked to the tallest building in Sarikei (some government building) because it was air-conditioned. It was really hot today. We walked to Courts Mammoth after that to pretend to try the couches there. Another thinly veiled attempt to enjoy their air-conditioned premises, of course. I saw this interestingly named coffee shop besides Courts Mammoth. It’s named Ma Li Cafe which cracked me up.

Ma Li

If you speak Foochow, the words “ma li” will no doubt elicit chuckles. For those of you who don’t, it sounds like a mild profanity in Foochow. After that, we walked to SMB St Anthony (a high school), who seems to produce several individuals of high caliber.

St Anthony High School

Jonas picked us up from St Anthony’s and we headed to get some ABC special to cool down and headed off to Ngiu Kee to get a large bottle of cold mineral water.

Eating ABC special (an iced dessert)

We went to this new park in Sarikei after that, it’s called the Water Tower Park, if I’m not mistaken. The main feature is an old water tower.

Water Tower Park

The Water Tower

Jonas dropped us off at the government building again after that and we got visitor’s passes to go to the top floor. The top floor is the 10th floor (what did you expect?) and there is nothing much there, except a good view of the river and some exceptionally cool air conditioning.

View of the river with ferry in dock

A friend of Justina’s picked us up after that and took us to Sebangkoi, a nature reserve about 30 minutes away from Sarikei town. Took heaps of pics there and Yi Ching had cramps and was trailing us all through the reserve. =D

Bridge over a waterfall

Rapids

Arrrggghhhhh…the croc got me!!!!!!!!!!!

We headed to Daniel’s uncle’s orchard after that, where I was promptly bitten 1000 times by 1000 mosquitoes.

The orchard

Managed to walk though most of the orchard, which contains ‘landmines’ in the form of holes (some going down as far as 1 feet) which are covered by shrubbery.

Landmine

Tr navigation. I also managed to drive this mini tractor thing, which has no gas pedal, but only a lever to move faster. The gear shift is in between the legs too, and the tractor jittered all the time, which makes an interesting experience.

Mini tractor

We drove Daniel’s uncle’s car to Jakar (har har…sounds like penis in Malay) to get something to eat. Headed back to the orchard after that and hi uncle drove us back to Sibu at around 8:15 pm. Interesting day, but I managed to get mild heat stroke from the obscene heat. Poor Yi Ching was struck by heat stroke too, we’re both sensitive that way. Now where did I put my Poh Chi Kit pills?

all.jpg

From left: Huai Bin (me), Yi Ching, Justina, Daniel

Day trip

I’m heading down to

Sarikei
[sarawaktourism.com] tomorrow with Daniel, Yi Ching and
Justina for Part III of my Rural AdventuresTM. Heh. We’ll be
taking either the express boat or bus there, depending on which one leaves
first. I was also surprised to receive a call from Diana today, who is in
Sibu for only two days. She’ll be leaving tomorrow evening, so I’m going
to grab some breakfast with her tomorrow morning and catch up on things.

Flight Cancelled – Fog

I have finally arrived in Sibu at 10:10 am today. I couldn’t take the
Sunday flight out coz the fog grounded all of the incoming planes, which
were routed to Sydney. After a 2 hour wait, the airport cancelled all
remaining flights and put us up at the
Rydges with dinner and breakfast
vouchers and a cabcharge coupon (lets you get on a cab for free). The
hotel is in corner Exhibition St. and Lt. Bourke Street. Right in the
middle of the city…I would have thought they will put us up at the
Hilton opposite the airport. Heh. Rydges is not a bad hotel nevertheless,
I think its a layby hotel for cabin crew coz there are heaps of them
walking around. I got a suite with a king sized bed all to myself. Not bad
at all, although I would have preferred to fly out on Sunday. Well, there
were two flights out of Melbourne on Monday, the 3 pm and the 11:50 pm.
The MAS people said they will try their best to put us on one of those two
flights. I didn’t get to go on the 3pm coz I have a connecting flight that
couldn’t be made with the 3pm, so they assigned me to the 11:50 pm one. Oh
well. I didn’t do much though, just slept through the night and woke up at
9:30 am to line up at the MAS counter and grabbed some breakfast after
that. I slept most of the afternoon as well. Heh. MAS paid for two nights
at the hotel, but I had to check out at 9 pm to catch my flight back. The
flight was overbooked so good thing I was there earlier. Anyway, I
couldn’t get the pics up coz I don’t have image editing software at my
home computer. Will pick up a warez CD of Photoshop on my way back later.
Feeling tired now…nearly had an accident just now too. Those damn brakes
need to be changed.

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