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lundi 13 février 2012

The Tale of Two Cities Kuching and Singapour

The Tale of Two Cities
Singapour and Kuching

Benny at the front desk was so helpful, and when I returned from meeting the Remarkable Men of Zheng He Society, he had called and had the bus come and pick me up sooner than I thought.
The shuttle is only 1/3 the price of the taxi and within twenty minutes of leaving the Hotel, we were at Terminal for Low Cost Flights. I checked in my baggage for the Kuching flight. Everything is done well and efficiently. The flight was a short one and I had the first three seats to myself and I was the first one to leave the plane and after the usual finger scanning you were outside in a flash and that is where you begin to notice that you have changed the countries.
While Singapour offered a visual relief, Kuching is built up and continuing to be so, it remains as a concrete eye to the vast interior of forests. The Taxi driver who was Chinese spoke no English and made no attempt at greeting. The taxi voucher was taken in silence and when I got into the car, it was an ancient car with over 189000 km on the odometer, the windows were not easily manoeuvrable but he sped along without a worry. New buildings one after another passed by and soon enough we were in the middle of the concrete jungle, the hotel was easy to find, glad that he had not deposited me somewhere else.
Affy (short for Qaddafi, god forbid) was at the door and Sylvester at the desk were extremely friendly. Cant say that about the lady manager who wanted the clerk to charge me for the telephone calls while he was trying to find out something for me. I didn't mind paying for the calls, at one ringgit a minute, but I disapproved of the surreptious manner it was done. I had fleetingly considered extending my stay there, but with such a manager in place, it is better to take my business elsewhere.
Walked towards the waterfront, past malay mee stalls and people selling trinkets, the waterfront was not well lit even though one could see the other side with lots of empty chairs on open air restaurants were well lit. Everyone including the front desk clerk had cautioned me about snatchers, so I had left all but my books when I went walking. I went into Harbour view Hotel and the reception was equally warm and they offered me a river view room for the same price as that I was paying at the other one, The Abell Hotel.
Just as I turned around, I recognized the Hilton Logo and fondly thought of that distant day when I spent two lovely days holed up there and yet another visit to Hilton, which would have coincided with my last visit to Kuching. The front desk clerk, looking no older than a High School student was very courteous and as Hilton Honours Gold Card holder, offered an unbeatable bargain. So dear friends you will find me at the Executive Floor overlooking the River drinking a cocktail tomorrow afternoon, after my meetings at the Greatest Anthropological Museum in all of Asia, The Sarawak Museum..
Good Night to all…This does not feel like Malaysia but it does feel like Borneo…