Friday, July 17, 2015

Cycling Sarawak Gawai 2015 Day 4 : Of Zheng Ho & A Siburan Feast

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Cycling Sarawak Gawai 2015 Day 4 : Of Zheng Ho & A Siburan Feast 
Cyclists joy jump at Padang Merdeka, Kuching.
Kuching & Siburan : 2nd June 2015
Cycling Distance Covered: 48.89km.
Time: 5:45am to 4:00pm
Time Taken: 10hrs 15 mins. (including stops for breakfast, park visits, shopping, regrouping, refreshing and lots of photography).

Route Recommendations :
1. During the mid-year hot season, the weather can be hot. Try to start off cycling early and end early to avoid the heat. or do cover up accordingly. If going on longer rides re-hydrate frequently.
2. Sarawakian drivers are generally courteous to cyclists, but do still cycle with care.
3. At the rural areas, the traffic is light and trees provide some shade.
4. Interesting places along this route that we visited or passed by:
    - The Sarawak State Legislative Building.
    - The Cat Statue at Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman.
    - The giant Kapuk Tree at Padang Merdeka.
    - The Sarawak State Museum.
    - The Malaysia-China Friendship Park at Tabuan Heights.
5. Food that we tried today:
    - Kueh Chap.

    - Kolo Mee.
    - Pork Noodles Soup with home-made noodles.

In the morning of the previous day we witnessed a thanksgiving celebration and procession at the Kampong Mongkos long-house that we stayed in. We then cycled over to Kampung Mentu Pondok for a Gawai lunch feast. Later in the evening, the bus took us back to Kuching for another good meal - a Sarawak State Museum. It was a day of festivities and hearty meals.


Ride Route: Downtown Kuching>Malaysia-China Friendship Park>Siburan.
In the morning, we met up with local cyclists from the Slow Loris & Brompton Sarawak groups. Our hosts took us around 
Kuching down-town to view some of the local sites ending at the Malaysia-China Friendship Park. In the late afternoon we cycled to Siburan for a nice Gawai dinner reception held by Freda.

5:30am - In the wee hours of the morning, we rode off from our home-stay towards the Istana Jetty. There we loaded our bikes onto sampans and crossed the Sarawak River to get to the other side, the Batu Jetty.

As we crossed the river, dawn's early morning sun was just starting to peep out from behind the Sarawak State Legislative Building. We were on the way to meet some local cyclists at 6:30am, they will take us on a tour of their city.

I was wondering why the local cyclists wanted to meet so early.
Well.... the sun rises early, this group photo of all of us was taken at 6:30am and it was quite bright already. They ride early and finish early to avoid the hot sun.

Group photo done, we rode into the older part of Kuching City and passed by this regal looking column with cat statues at the bottom and a crest with a cat emblem.
Kuching in Bahasa Malaysia stands for cat, and in this city one will see lots of cats; cat statues, emblems; there is even a Cat Museum.

There's a lot to see in this section of the city; but first thing first - satisfy the tummy!
Due to the size of our group, we split into two sub-groups eating at different coffee-shops. I followed the Brompton Sarawak cyclists to the Sin Poh Poh Cafe, hoping that they will be able to recommend me good local food. For a change, I opted out of Sarawak Laksa after having taken them a couple of times the past few days. Instead I went for the Kolo Mee, a simple dry noodle dish that came with some slices of Char Siew (barbecued pork). The mainstay of this dish were the noodles themselves; these ones here were good slightly thicker and very chewy bitey.

Our Sarawakian friends were a colourful lot too, wearing nice jerseys. The above shows one with a cycling hornbill (the state bird of Sarawak) and the other from the Slow Loris group. Don't get the wrong picture though, these slow loris are not that slow; they can pump on the pedal fast when need be.

Another friend, an older man, had this jersey that shouted out "I AM UNCLE"; it's a good way to let others know that he's an older rider and not to hurry him along to fast.
Perhaps this AhPek (Hokkien for old man) should get one of this jerseys.

We were now heading out from the city, but a few more stops before really leaving it.
First at this famous cat statue at the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman/Jalan Pandungan intersection. This cat looks real native, with tribal head-gear, a traditional shirt and holding a native shield. It must be a wise old cat, seeing how long its whiskers are.

At Padang Merdeka, a tall 80-year old kapok tree dwarfs Cikgu Liliana. This tree has been listed as a heritage tree. Very green-minded of them to do this.

Further along, we dropped by at the Sarawak State Museum. Unfortunately, the place was closed for the Gawai holiday; so we just cycled around the ground which is lushly landscaped and had a few other old annexe structures.

One of the annexe, the Natural History Museum has a giant replica of the Rajah Brooke Butterfly. This beautiful butterfly named after the White Rajahs of Sarawak, is much sought after by collectors.

Eventhough the museum was closed, we did have some fun. Here's Jason posing with a "Hear no evil" which was done in a tribal wooden statue instead of monkeys.

At the Fountain Park in front of the museum, we did a joy jump.
The locals must have thought we were crazy, almost jumping everywhere we went (see top-most photo of joy jump at Padang Merdeka). No, we were not crazy, just happy.
After this most of the local cyclists peeled away, heading for home.

8:45am - Although there were still many things to see in the city, it's time to head out. We cycled the ten kilometres to the Malaysia-China Friendship Park at Tabuan Heights, reaching there about an hour later. Okay, that was not a very fast pace, but we were a large group, so a few re-grouping stops were necessary. Also it was starting to get hot, so there were some stops to buy water too (now were understood why some of the locals left earler!).
I had been to the Malaysia-China Friendship Garden in Putrajaya and found it to be a nice place that showcased Northern Chinese architecture. This friendship park in Kuching is even better; at 2.8 hectare is size it was much larger and hence contained more to be seen - dotted with gardens, it also had a small lake.

At one end of the lake, standing on a stone Chinese junk, is a tall statue of Admiral Zheng He with one hand outstretched ready to set out on his voyages across the seas.

The Friendship Globe at the entrance of the park with a very appropriate message. Yes, most times friendship is all it takes to span distances, whether they be physical or mental.
( more of this park at Malaysian-China Friendship Park blog)

11:45am - Woohooo.... it's lunch time, an early one; well the locals do everything earlier. We were lucky that Joon Awe did manage to find a coffee-shop that was opened on this third day of Gawai. At the Foody-Goody Cafe (I like that name), we had this pork noodles that came with thick home-made noodles, minced meat, some Japanese sea-weed and very fresh prawns. I must say that the home-made noodles in Sarawak are very nice, Q-Q bitey.

A few of my friend had this Kueh Chap. It's a Teochew dish with thick and wide flat rice noodles an came with lots of pork and pork spare parts (intestines, liver, etc.). Kuching's Kueh Chap is quite renown and from the looks of my friends satisfied faces, I can see why.

On the cards was a visit to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre to view orangutans there, but we caught news that only a couple of orangutans were around. The hot afternoon weather was just a deterrent, it made us laggish, letargic and lazy, and not in the mood to cycle a distance just to view a couple of orangutans. So instead we opted for something that would get us away from the heat, a visit to the nearby Cityone Megamall.
Here some of us hung around for coffee, some went shopping while others took advantage of the cool air-cond interior and took a snooze.

2:45pm - We start our 25km ride to Freda's house where she would be holding a dinner for us. Just short of 3km from Freda's place it started to rain; though we had our raincoats most of us got wet. Fortunately, Freda had a lot of spare shorts and T-shirts that we could wear while we hung our wet clothes to dry.

Freda's house is in the Siburan area, nearby to secondary forests. After the rain stopped we took a walk right to the foothills.... the brief rain had brought out the fresh scent of the forest making it a cooling, comfortable walk.

Thanks to Freda's warm clothes and that nice walk, we now have a good appetite for her dinner which included curry fish, beef rendang, stir-fried prawns...

... and in the tradition of Gawai, very good tuak. I think this "Royal" brand was more like the stronger langkau. After drinking it I got a bit tipsy and when it was time to cycle back to the bus (whcih was waiting at a field about a kilometre away to send us back to Kuching), I rode in the wrong direction. I was heading for the hills instead. Realising my mistake, I turned around and rode pass Freda's house. As I passed them, I waved at them sheepishly to their astonishment!


This blog comes in a several parts. To go to other parts click on the following link to return to the summary page:

Related Blogs :

Cycling Sarawak Gawai 2015 Day 1 : Getting To Know Sarawak 30th May 2015
Our introduction to cycling in Sarawak; to it's warm people and some of it's delicious food.

Cycling Sarawak Gawai 2015 Day 2 : Of Gawai Procession & Night Festivities 31st May 2015
A bit of cycling and then we went into full Gawai mode. We joined locals at one village for a cheerful procession round their "kampong". Then later at the longhouse we stayed in, it was another round of evening Gawai festivities.

You May Also Like :

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Cycling Sarawak Gawai 2015 /  Day 4 : Of Zheng Ho & A Siburan Feast      |     Go to Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 5
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