Thursday, April 9, 2009

Photoblog - Scenes of Sarawak

On board the Express Bahagia No.8, mid-trip shopping spree is limited to three basketful of junk food and canned drink. Take it or starve for the duration of 5 hours for the trip from Kuching to Sibu. Mind you, business hours is limited to the time the vendor is awake from his catnap. When all transactions are done, he stows away the merchandise and continue his slumber!

This tug boat is rusting under the sun by the wharf of Sibu, with the Rejang River as the backdrop. Boats like this play important role in the transport of timber logs along the river.
Cut-throat competition among the cabbies would have been acrimonious in this lean times, but these taximen have the good sense to work on a roster instead of grabbing customers. Here the cabs line up near the Sibu boat terminal and the bus stations waiting for passengers.

A very common mode of hauling cargo is these tricycle, which is endemic only in South East Asia. Riding this vehicle with full load require extreme skill only attained by years of use! Steering the cart is by holding the horizontal bar in of the rider and turn according to the desire direction, but the weight of the cart may dictate going the other way, and beginners laways ended in monsoon drains! This tricycle is parked at the five foot way of Wayang Street, an old section of Kuching.

This is the Hong San Si Temple of Kuching, a popular "show-case" Chinese temple in the city, so much so it had to print brochures to curious visitors and tourists posing the usual questions of its origin, the name of the deity bla bla bla. But the temple welcomes visitors warmly and photo shooting sessions are permitted even in the inner court. Just don't start a religious discourse!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A ship called Happiness

Express Bahagia No.8 is a high power motor vessel plying between Kuching and Sibu. The journey takes 5 hours and courses through the murky waters of the Sarawak River, then a two and half hours sprint across the South China Sea and another two hours into the mighty Rejang River, the longest river in Sarawak, and finally into Sibu.

Smoking section of the open deck are provided with bone rattling "seats" - 7 parallel stainless steel tube - to give your buttom a free massage. I can only tolerate 10 - 15 minutes of the discomfort and had to give up the space to the next bystander. Perhaps thats the way the management rotate seat availability to the usually overcrowded vessel.

"Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes..." this photo reminds me of the lyrics of The Carpenter's song. Clear blue sky, open seas, fresh air mixed with the cigarette smokes from your fellow passengers, unfortunately.

Fresh air (with cigarette smokes), and sunshine not for you? Then chill out in the cabin with the temperature dropping to 16C (?) thanks to the industrial strength of the air-conditioner. Bring your winter clothings, I'm not joking. Its even worse in the lower cabin.

Want fresh air and open sea view without the cigarette smokes? then move to the far end of the open deck, but be prepare to get roasted. The sunshine plus the blowing wind is a lethal combination in getting a tan before you can finish singing "Top of the World".

Ah, what is a holiday without shopping, even though the selection is quite bare. Mineral water, chocolate, junk food and smelly prepared cuttlefish to tickle your taste buds (and annoy your seat mates). However business hours is limited to the time the seller is awake from his nap, when he cart three basketful of merchandise and plonks them in front of all eager passengers. Then all transactions are done, he light up a cigarette, count the taking and haul the remainding goods back to the store and continue his slumber.

Coursing through the murky waters of the Rejang River near Sarikei, a somnolent collection of shophouses and a lethargic atmosphere. A retiree's paradise maybe.