|The famous orang-utans of Borneo.|
|Nothin' like a good foot massage - Miri.|
Whilst our destination was Kuching, we had to fly from Miri. Without getting into it, Air Asia does not fly from the capital of Brunei to Kuching, so we had to catch a bus across the border to Miri, which is in Malaysia, and then take a flight to Kuching. Easy, peasy! The bus was leaving early and from the city centre, so we had to get up early and get a taxi from the Empire Hotel to the bus stop. It was an interesting bus ride - although people in the country of Brunei clearly do not live like those in the capital, they clearly aren't poor either. As we crossed over to Malaysia, this clearly changed. Upon reaching Miri, we promptly looked for a place to stay. We bumped into a Malaysian woman who was living in Australia, and she proceeded to tell us that she had a friend who had a guesthouse. In no time at all, she made a phone call, and we were on our way to the guesthouse. It was a good little find; clean, safe and quiet. We were only really here long enough to have a bit of a wander around town and eat some fantastic food (always a good thing!)...oh, and get a brilliant foot massage from some Chinese massage students. THAT was definitely an OMG moment. I have always said that a truly good foot massage is better than a body one. And that was a good foot massage....Linda and Alex were agreeing in unison!
|In a temple in Kuching.|
Kuching (which means cat in Malay) is very easy to navigate, especially as the main sights (and sites) are on the southbank of the Sungai Sarawak, or Sarawak River. A decent dose of fitness and some decent walking shoes is all you need to explore. Oh, and water...lots of it, as it gets mighty hot, especially by mid afternoon. We thoroughly enjoyed this place, walking around, trying different foods, sampling the local beer (Alex and Linda!), going to and through markets, visiting different sites and museums. It truly is the kind of place you can just wander around in, and see where you end up. The southbank of the Sarawak River has been really tastefully developed, with a one kilometre stretch of paved walkway, lawns and flowerbeds.
|The 'ferry' between the two banks of the river in Kuching.|
|I must say...the rambutans were good!|
How can one come to Borneo and not see the orangutans? We did our homework, and found out that we could go to the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Established in 1975 for the rehabilitation of confiscated and surrendered animals, it's only 20 kilometres away from the centre of Kuching. Too easy, we caught a bus out there one morning, in order to get there for when they are being fed (they're fed twice a day, which is really the best time to see them in action). It's said that 20 of Borneo's great orang-utans (which means people of the forest, by the way) live there and although there isn't sufficient natural forest in the surrounding area to make actual reintroduction possible, it's still a wonderful way to see our relatives interacting with each other. Shy, cheeky, jokesters, wanting to be the centre of attention...they are all of these things, and watching them was fascinating!
|One of the houses we saw walking around Kuching.|
|L to R: With I Beddi (Davide, PierPaolo, Giampaolo, Mimi).|
|The very talented men from Galandun Galundaina.|
|Giampaolo playing the harmonica.|
|Dressed up in traditional clothes at the festival.|
|Ombi, Alex and Linda with I Beddi, from Sicily!|
Time off? Yeh, there was some of that. I did not get to see lots of either Alex or Linda during these days, as we were all off doing stuff with our own band, but when I did have time off, I was hanging with the boys from my band, Davide, Mimi, Giampaolo and Pier Paolo. I truly hit the jackpot with these guys - they were talented, intelligent, interesting, fun, and included me in everything. We hit the pool together a few times, and chatted whilst swimming and sun-baking (probably my other addiction apart from travelling).
|Many of the artists jamming at the hotel.|
Apart from the festival itself, on many nights, members from the various bands would come back and jam at the hotel, staying up until the early hours of the morning - this had a totally different vibe from the festival, as it was more intimate. Having said that, there were some huge egos amongst some of those performers...
And just as it had begun, it was time for it to end. The day after the last day of the festival was again a day full of activity, as the various performers, photographers, volunteers etc packed up and left, one by one, group by group, and person by person. We stayed until one of the last buses took a group of performers to the airport (so we could hitch a ride). When the Italian group left, we were all crying - a real friendship had been forged between the five of us. They all looked out of the bus window, and I waited outside waving, with them waving back. When the bus finally took off, I ran waving after it with tears in my eyes. I will see those guys again! I told them that!
|Some of the performers.|
What am I reading?
Pandemonium - How globalization and trade are putting the world at risk by Andrew Nikiforuk
Dedication: I want to dedicate this blog to the four beautiful ones from I Beddi: Davide, Mimi, Giampaolo and PierPaolo. You were an absolute pleasure to be around and I will always remember you fondly. Davide, you made me laugh so much; Mimi, tranquil, down to earth and with amazing insight; Pier Paolo, I loved our discussions on the meaning of life; and Giampaolo, so sweet...it was with such warmth and integrity that you would show me with love the pictures of your children. You all hold a special place in my heart, and I know that I will see you all again some day.
Dedicazione: Voglio dedicare questo blog ai quattro "belli" del gruppo, I Beddi: Davide, Mimi, Pier Paolo e Giampaolo. Eravate un piacere di avere intorno e vi ricordero' sempre con molto simpatia. Davide, mi hai fatto ridere tanto (diciamo, che mi hai fatto pisciare sotto); Mimi, tranquillo, molto alla mano e con tanta perspicacia; Pier Paolo, mi hanno piaciuto i nostri discorsi a riguardo il significato della vita; e Giampaolo, cosi dolce...era con tanto calore e integrita che mi mostravi con amore le fotografie dei tuoi bambini. Ognuno di voi avete un posto speciale nel mio cuore, e lo so che un giorno ci rivedremo.
"Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies" - Aristotle.
|A couple looking over the bridge - Kuching.|
|Closing night, with Giampaolo and PierPaolo (I Beddi).|
|Traditional painting, Borneo.|
|With Peggy, Randy and I Beddi.|
|Closing ceremony 'mud slide'; infront of stage, in the pouring rain!|