Cat City Chronicles [19-20 May 2012]

Three weeks after returning from TPE, I was going out of SIN again. This time was to Kuching with two friends.

Two of us had bought our air tickets for S$100 during one of AirAsia’s promotion in January. The last friend only decided to join us a few weeks prior and his tickets was costlier at S$140.

The start of the trip almost always seemed to begin with Bus 27 to the airport

One of my friends had arrived before me and printed the boarding passes from one of the self-service kiosks.

Self-service kiosk

Despite having the boarding passes we would still need to get our documents verified.

Document Check

Busy baggage drop counters

T1 Departures

Breakfast @ BK

AirAsia planes were docked at D gates, the far corner of SIN T1.

Area D

Last Call

Boarding had commenced by then but I still had one last thing to do.

9M-AQL – No special livery

Boarding…

Flight: AirAsia AK 6674

Depart: Singapore (SIN) – 11:45

Arrive: Kuching (KCH) – 13:10

Duration: 1h25m

Distance: 439 miles (707 km)

Aircraft: Airbus A320-200

Registration: 9M-AQL

Seat: 20 E

Got 20E from online check-in. My seatmates were a Chinese woman on 20F and a Malay/Iban man on 20D. He would be snoring rather loudly later during the flight.

View of cabin

Safety information at the back of seats

Another AK plane

Did my usual rummage through the seat pocket.

Menu

3Sixty

The inflight magazine didn’t disappoint as usual and there were some interesting read to keep me occupied during the hour-long flight.

Brunei – Been there, done that

If only my flight’s crew was this hot

Reminded me of Joey Barton

The plane would take off from 20R and I actually spotted my house from the window.

As soon as the plane reached cruising altitude, the crew went around checking manifest and distributing pre-booked meals.

My lunch

Uncle Chin’s chicken rice

The chili and the chicken’s texture were surprisingly quite good; however it was let down by the rice which was too dry.

Despite the short flight time, I was getting restless. Am I spoilt by all the flights in J? Probably!

The descent was rather bumpy and I was glad to see the land of Borneo.

There were little action on the ground at arrival and I only saw one other plane (a MH 737) parked at the terminal.

Scramble!

Staircase connected to rear door but was unused

Sarawak has its own immigration which even Malaysians from outside Sarawak have to go through.

Arrivals A – for flights arriving from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and overseas

The airport terminal looked newish but I didn’t bother to go through the shops.

While waiting for my travel mates to be done at the washroom, I snapped few shots of the baggage claim area.

We could have stayed at Pullman

Or Four points by Sheraton

Since there were three of us, we thought that it might be a good idea if we rented a car. We got a Hyundai Accent 1.6 from Hertz for 162 MYR (inclusive of zero excess insurance).

No need for cabs

QAY 1446

We had some issues with the GPS (powering it up and keying in the address) but we were soon on our way to our accommodation.

Stuck in heavy traffic

After a few turns within Kuching city centre, we stumbled upon our hotel: Limetree Kuching.

Found our hotel

Lobby

Lobby

After payment (200 MYR for the room and 50 MYR deposit), we were issued the access card to our room, chits to redeem welcome drinks from the rooftop lounge and password to WiFi.

The security was pretty tight; one would need to tap his/her room card to press the lift button. There was only one card for the three of us which meant that we had to stick to one another within the building all the time.

Our room was a standard room with an extra bed. It had no window so without natural light it felt kinda dark. Although to be honest it didn’t feel as bad as the prison cell that I had at Citin Langkawi.

Beds

The extra bed

BIG = Saw it in Brunei as well

Toilet

Towels and shower caps

I thought that the room was not too bad for the price we paid. It was ranked number two in Kuching on Tripadvisor so it must be doing something right.

After the late lunch at a nearby Taiwanese porridge place, we headed to Kuching’s riverfront.

Almost there

Managed to find a parking lot after going round a few times.

Rolls Royce?

Riverfront

Dominating Kuching’s skyline was Sarawak State Legislative Assembly.

Reflection

There were several operators offering boat rides along Sarawak River but we decided to give it a pass because of the hoe weather and my fear of getting motion sickness.

Turning away from the riverfront, we made our way to Jalan Carpenter where Kuching’s Chinatown is located.

Any self-respecting Chinatown needs an arch

Chinese temple

We had a pit stop at a kopitiam in front of a Chinese temple.

Interesting location

Fish and meat balls soup

There wasn’t anything interesting to us on the Saturday afternoon at Chinatown so we drove ourselves to Kuching’s Sunday Market which operate only on weekends.

Fresh veg

Kuchingites doing their shopping

“Who’s buying my stuff?”

Cheap cheap

Fresh seafood

Something slimy

Besides the fresh produce, there were stalls selling clothes and accessories as well.

Just like Singapore’s Pasar Malam

Of course there were cooked food for sale

Ended up having some cow’s liver; on hindsight should have just stick to hotdogs.

The market managed to keep us occupied for the most of half an hour before we were off again.

Tried to use the GPS’s function but all the POIs weren’t so nearby

We took a wrong turn and ended up across the river to the north bank. Ventured into a shopping place which happened to have a 3-on-3 football tournament going on. We whiled some time away there before turning back to look for the seafood place recommended by the receptionist at our accommodation.

It took us some effort to find it but Top Spot was definitely the place to go for seafood in Kuching.

Top Spot

The seating were mainly alfresco and its atmosphere reminded me of the old steamboat places at Marina Bay.

Still rather early

We decided to follow the crowd and chose to dine at the most popular stall.

No 25

One would order by choosing whatever food that was on display.

Take your pick

River prawns

Despite having to wait quite a bit for our food to arrive, we weren’t disappointed.

Grilled prawns

Steamed fish

Water spinach

Tofu

In all it was a pretty satisfying meal. The bill came up to be 75 MYR which was very reasonable IMO.

After the dinner we decided to drop by the cat statues.

You couldn’t escape these cats in Kuching

After the mandatory photographs, we headed back to our hotel and straight up to the rooftop lounge to collect our welcome drinks.

Lime soda – Yummy

View from rooftop

Back in our room, it took quite sometime before all of us were done with our showers and washing up. With nothing much on TV (there was Malaysia FA Cup final which Kelantan won with a penalty), we turned in early in order to catch the Champions’ League final at 2.45am.

I was awakened by probably most annoying alarms ever and saw Bayern missed chances after chances. The dramatic finale proved that the trophy was destined to be Chelsea’s and the big man’s last kick for the Blues sealed it.

Picture taken from Skysports

After watching all the celebrations, we all went back to sleep. My friend reset his annoying alarm so that we could wake up a few hours later, in time for the hotel breakfast.

Buffet breakfast

Only remembered to take photograph midway through eating

The breakfast was more than adequate but I didn’t stuff myself as I was looking forward to local food later.

We checked out after we were done with showers and washing up. The reception returned our 50 MYR deposit and we were off to hunt down some local Sarawakian dishes.

Ended up at a coffee shop packed with locals having their brunches.

Ordered laksa from this stall

The 4 MYR laksa

To be honest it was nothing to shout about. On hindsight we should do more homework and track down the famous stalls in Kuching.

Kolo mee – so-so too

Teh-O kosong

With some time left we went back to do some shopping near the riverfront. All of us got some kek lapis for the folks back home. They cost 10 MYR for one; I would later learn from my colleague that the same cake cost S$15 in Singapore.

One of the many shops catered for tourists

We remembered to top up the tank before reaching the airport.

Najib: Thanks for the subsidy

Parked our car at the carpark and said goodbye to it.

Thanks for the ride

I dropped the key at the unmanned Hertz counter at arrivals before making our way up to departures.

Pays to be late? Nah I don’t think so

Two of us would be taking AK 6675; my other friend would be taking the later TR flight back. We printed out our boarding passes at the machine and then went to the counter and verify our documents.

Yeah I have the app

Document check

MASWings flies daily to Pontianak

We still had more than an hour to while away after getting our documents checked. Ended up at KFC where we shared a meal.

Malaysia’s KFC tasted slightly different

Parted company with my friend traveling on TR 2493 when it was time for us on AK6675 to go through immigration and enter the security area.

KCH departures

Spotted: MH and Y6

We would be leaving from Gate 4.

Our ride today

On closer inspection, I realized that it was the same plane who flew me in yesterday.

Hi again

There were advertisements of free WiFi in the airport but I couldn’t connect to it at all. I occupied myself with a book instead.

Borneo

Flight: AirAsia AK 6675

Depart: Kuching (KCH) – 15:40

Arrive: Singapore (SIN) – 17:05

Duration: 1h25m

Distance: 439 miles (707 km)

Aircraft: Airbus A320-200

Registration: 9M-AQL

Seat: 17 B

Boarding commenced slightly later than the scheduled time. Got yet another middle seat (17B). Take off was delayed for around 10 minutes due to heavy traffic over Kuching’s airspace.

The seat pocket’s content was identical as the inbound; although I didn’t recall seeing SkyShop on my previous flight.

SkyShop

Taylor Swift

As usual, the crew went around distributing meals after the plane reached cruising altitude.

Hotdog meal

Took the chance to snap a photo of the cabin on my way back from the washroom.

Cabin shot

Realized that there were rows of empty seats at the back of the plane but couldn’t be bothered to shift my bag there.

Note to self: DO NOT CHECK IN ONLINE NEXT TIME!

Went back to my seat and entertained myself with the 3Sixty.

Funny write-up

Didn’t know that AirAsia has angmoh crew

Due to the late take off our plane got caught in heavy traffic over SIN. Eventually we landed fifteen minutes behind schedule.

To my surprise, I saw a SQ plane beside us at the gate.

Are we at T2??

It turned out that our plane was assigned to Gate D40, located right at the end of T1.

Instead of turning right towards T1 arrivals, we turned left into T2 instead. T2 was very quiet at our time of arrival and we were through the immigration in no time.

T2 Bus stop

Once again I reached home in less than an hour after exiting the aircraft. Impressed!

Post-trip thoughts

Two days were definitely too short for Kuching. There seemed to be plenty of attractions around the area (longhouse, Bako National Park, Santubong, etc). I wouldn’t mind going back again.

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