One of the great things about Sarawak is the large number of public holidays and festivals that all the different ethnic groups enjoy. The Chinese have their Chinese New Year, the Malays have Ramadan and Hari Raya, and the Dayaks or native tribes have their Gawai Dayak. Schools close during these festival seasons to allow the folks to “balik kampung” or return to their home village.
For us, we would normally take the occasion to travel elsewhere, like when we went to Singapore in 2010 and to KL in 2011 (which I have yet to blog about – I’m so behind!). This year, we stayed local and spent the long Gawai holiday weekend with a group of friends in their hometown of Sarikei, about a five-hour drive from Kuching. Besides some great experiences and memories, here are a few of the things we brought back with us.
Welcome to Sarikei
I feel the need, the need for SPEED!
When we were back in San Jose, we had friends whose kids were all the same age as ours. In the Bay Area, there are lots of choices for birthday party venues for young kids, like My Gym in Campbell, Pump It Up in Sunnyvale or even Lemos Farm in Half Moon Bay. Those were some really fun experiences.
However, we’ve not really found a lot of birthday venue options for our kids here in Kuching, especially as they approach late childhood-tween years.
Last year, we threw a birthday party for Esther at our place, but catered and organized by McDonald’s. This year, we actually held the party at McDonald’s. (Please don’t hate us!) Our kids are growing a bit older now, and parties at McD’s or KFC are just too boring for them.
Where can 10 year-old kids go for a fun birthday party in Kuching?
Well, we’ve found something that is up to their speed.
Is it really possible to do Penang on a budget?
A Hundred Ringgit and a Map of Georgetown, Penang
The Ministry of Tourism Penang Office and Project Penang invited me and 9 other bloggers to Penang to highlight that Georgetown *is* doable on a budget. To show us how affordable it was, we were given only RM100 (about USD 30) to spend over the two days we would be visiting Georgetown. This would cover our food and also our entrance fees to several heritage sites around this city of contrasts. We were also given a bus pass for a week for the local bus (Rapid Penang) which we took advantage of a total of two times on this trip.
Old / Modern.
Satellite dish on a Penang shophouse
Prosperous / Budget.
Bustling, noisy, energetic, dirty / Quiet, peaceful, meditative, clean.
Late. Frustration / Early. Satisfied.
These are all adjectives I would use to describe my time in Penang recently. Penang is such a city of contrasts that sometimes it is hard to put your finger to what makes this city work so well. When I was here this time, I came looking with different eyes.
And what I saw gave me a new perspective on this city that I love.