Recuperating in Kuching

When we arrived in Kuching, both Chris and I were sick. Chris had just started a head cold and my symptoms were getting worse – sore throat, swollen glands and congested chest with coughing. I had been sick for a week by now with no sign of letup so I, or rather Chris, decided it was time to see a doctor.  Sam, our hostel owner, suggested we go to the Asian Clinic down the road where we would find a doctor who spoke English.  When we arrived, the power was out, so the doctor examined me in the dark, with a  strong light shining in my face.  He didn’t say much, mumbled a few words about infection, and then prescribed antibiotics and some pills for my cough and the pain which was pretty intense.

Much of our week in Kuching was spent resting at our hostel, Marco Polo, although we did manage a few excursions just to prevent us (ok, me) from going stir crazy.  Marco Polo felt more like a home stay, rather than a hostel.  The owners, Sam and Georgette live there and are very hospitable and friendly.  The place is super quiet which was great for us trying to recover.  It really is geared towards couples and families, not the party crowd.  Everyone goes to bed early and gets up early so we fit in nicely.  Staying there gave us a real sense of what life is like for the average Malaysian.  The daily breakfast was varied but you had to be up early if you wanted it hot.  The lady who did the cooking arrived at about 7:00 and cooked up everything – fried eggs or noodles or rice, whatever was the dish for the day – and it was left out all morning for guests to help themselves.   This seems typical in Malaysia – we noticed most street stalls and buffet restaurants cook up their food early and then leave it sitting out in the heat all day.

Everyone who stays at Marco Polo, raves about it.  While we enjoyed the friendliness of the place, I must admit we tired quickly of our windowless room, and the dimly lit, equally windowless common area.  The place is well worn and a little grungy around the edges.  It didn’t help that we were sick, and had to spend so much time in our room.

Our first excursion was an easy one.  A simple bus ride out of town took us to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre where they have a program similar to the one we visited at Sepilok, but this one is not limited to Orangutans.  Since it began in the early 70’s, this Centre has cared for almost 1,000 endangered mammals, birds and reptiles from dozens of different species.   Of course we were visiting to see more Orangutans.  When we arrived, we were warned before buying our entrance tickets (10 RM each) that no Orangutans had visited the feeding platforms for days because this was high fruit season giving the apes had easy access to fruit in the jungle. We figured we were there, so we may as well enter the park and see if this would be our lucky day.  Nope.  There was not a single ape to be found during our visit.  It was a complete bust.  Oh well, at least it got us out of the house for a few hours.

Each day we went out for a little while, mainly to get food, but it also gave us a chance to see something of Kuching.  This is a very pretty city, with a population close to a million, spread out over a large area, about 1,800 km².  There is a well maintained pedestrian promenade that snakes along the river through the downtown core.  This was a great place to people watch, especially on Sunday afternoon.  We were staying in the middle of China Town, which was easy walking distance to the downtown waterfront.

Our next excursion out of town was in search of some caves.  We travelled again by bus, but this time it wasn’t on a comfortable, modern, air-conditioned bus.  No, the bus that day had seen better days.  It was old, dirty, and quite uncomfortable, especially for us.  Even my short little legs couldn’t squeeze into the space between the seats!  But it got us safely to the town of Bau from where we hired a taxi to take us out to the Fairy and Wind caves, two local attractions that were well worth the visit.

We saved our best excursion for the end of the week, when we were both feeling much better, although still a little weak and low on energy.  Bako National Park  is one of the smallest parks in the area, yet it offers abundant wildlife, beautiful rainforest,  jungle streams and waterfalls, secluded beaches and well marked trekking trails.  Accessible only by boat, after taking a 45-minute bus ride from Kuching to Bako, it’s remoteness helps to protect the natural habitat.

Immediately after getting off the boat, we were greeted by a large Proboscis monkey sitting in a tree at the entrance to the park.  He didn’t seem to mind us gawking at him and taking a few pictures.  Just 15 feet away, it was the closest we had been to a Proboscis monkey yet.  After deciding on our trekking route – the two easiest and shortest trails – we saw a female Bornean bearded pig with five piglets tagging behind her.

The first trail was more challenging than we expected – up and down over tree roots and rocks through dense jungle.  Soaked to the skin from sweat within minutes, we huffed and puffed slowly to the end reward, a crescent shaped beach and a troop of Proboscis monkeys high in the surrounding trees.  Back at the park headquarters, we had some lunch, carefully guarding our food from the thieving long-tailed macaques who boldly jumped on our table and snatched food right from our plates.  Later we followed a troop of smaller monkeys onto the beach at low tide and watched as they fished for shellfish in the crevices of the exposed rocks.  The heat, humidity and our low energy made us rethink our plans for a second hike, and instead we just stayed near the beach for the afternoon, enjoying the cool sea breeze and beautiful surroundings.  Just before we left, we saw the family of pigs again, but this time there were only four piglets with their mother.  Something happened to one of the little guys during the day, a stark reminder that we were in the wild jungle, not a zoo.

During the week, we spent some time working on our website and you may have noticed a few changes.  Most notably, we have added some click through advertisements where we get paid a small amount each time someone clicks on an ad displayed on our site regardless if the user buys anything at the other end.  We’ve also added some ads for iPage which is the hosting provider we use for this website.  This is a referral ad which means we get a small commission if someone clicks through and purchases one or more services from iPage.  I hope the ads aren’t too invasive and if they are, please let us know.

Chris has also spent some time getting photos listed on a few stock photography sites.  When someone purchases one of Chris’ photos from these sites, he receives a small commission.

So, is it possible to earn money on line from blogs and stock photography?  Given our limited experience with this, the answer is yes, as we have both already made a few dollars.  However, to make any real money, I think the secret is in volume: volume traffic on your website, which we don’t have on this site, and a volume of photos on the stock photography sites.  It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve the kind of volume needed to earn good income.  It’s safe to say we aren’t going to get rich off either of these endeavours in the short term.  We might be able to buy a cup of coffee with our earning each month, if we’re lucky!

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2 Responses
  1. Sylvia says:

    Hi Christina,
    Hope you will be feeling better soon.
    Let me know when / if you plan to travel to Thailand, South Korea or Japan. It may be possible to meet up with my brother.
    The Songkran Festival in Thailand is a lot of fun, if you don’t mind getting soaked! It runs from April 13-15 (which might be a little too far in the future for you to participate in).
    I’ll be sure to click on some of those adds so you can upgrade to a “large” coffee.
    Take care.

    • christina says:

      Hi Sylvia
      We’re heading to Thailand next week, but we still don’t know where to go. We’d like to find a reasonably priced bungalow (hut) on a quiet beach for a month or so, and then spend another month in Chiang Mai. So far, everything looks really expensive and over crowded, especially this time of year which is the high season. We may visit Japan in the spring time, but that’s just an idea right now. We need to figure out where we’re going in Thailand now. Is your brother sill in Thailand? Would he know of anyone renting out a house or apartment? We’re very flexible on location and dates. I doubt we’ll be in Thailand in April – we can only get a 60 day Visa, but I think we can do Visa runs to extend it, although I’m not sure for how long. We still want to visit Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and possibly Myanmar before we head home.