Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Au revoir, Kuching
I've been very busy while in Kuching, working on a marketing textbook as well as some smaller jobs. I've met a lot of new people this visit. Through Jackie (investment banker who started the Batik Boutique Hotel where I'm staying), I met Jay (formerly with the World Bank), who organises a lot of hikes. Two weekends ago I joined a hike to Jangkar Falls, c. 100 km from Kuching, with visitors from Melbourne Stephen (HR with World Vision) and Anthony (a "retired venture capitalist" who looks about 25!). Their friend Byron (a mortgage broker whose family lives in Kuching) was out of action for the day. I ended up slipping on wet rocks and banging my chin hard on a boulder. This led to a visit to Normah Hospital a day or so later for X-rays. Not broken, but badly bruised. I caught up with the boys for a brief lunch the day after the walk.
On 2 January I picked up where I'd left off with my training, and really enjoyed running along the river in the morning. I ran into Johnny (who I know from my last visit) a couple of days ago and we had a run yesterday. It's too wet to run this morning, and I have a breakfast meeting, but I'll catch up with him and Sim, Madeline and Alan in May when I'm back for a month. I loved seeing the same faces in the morning; people are just so nice. I talked with a lot of them. After running each day, I went to a cafe at the far end of the Main Bazaar for roti, which is where I met June. She's into kayaking. One morning Feeza, from Batik, came with me.
Mas, who also works here at Batik, and her husband Jun took me out for breakfast one day and to a karaoke cafe one night. Lovely people. I had to promise to learn a song for next time I'm visiting!
Had dinner a few times with Emily, Rita and Ka-Yee, Darroll and James; met Emily's mum and dad and uncle. We went to see "Tron" at Spring Mall last week. Emily and Rita are very special.
On Saturday Jackie and Jay organised another hike, on a trail that was supposed to lead to a lost antimony mine. Instead we ended up in a leech-infested swamp for three hours. The nice people – Jackie, Jay, John (banker), Kho (office equipment), Tan (?), Joanna (landscape designer) and Sharon (ICT) – made up for the leeches.
Through Jay I met Ruth S, who is working here with Sarawak Energy Berhad on an 18-month assignment. Ruth mentioned me to Nick W, who is involved with a huge rebranding exercise at SEB. Nick got in touch and we had a meeting here on Sunday morning. Today I'm having breakfast with Ruth to go over the brief for my first job for them.
I had my first appointment with Josephine, beauty therapist extraordinaire, yesterday: a three-hour facial.
The crew here at Batik have been amazing: Lily, Kenny, Peter the Great, Hafizz, Raj, Jake, Jo-Lyn, Hafeeza, Mas, Umpai...
On Sunday morning I met a group of runners just after they had finished their regular long run. They have invited me to join them in May when I'm back: Min is an architect, Lim an English and PE teacher, Belinda a teacher and vice principal, Samantha an interior designer and Sara, a student (daughter of Min and Sam).
I think Kuching is unique in the friendliness and openness of people you meet casually on the street. I'm really looking forward to coming back in May.
Today I'm flying to Chennai, India, to spend time with my friend Uma. We met at Norbert Attard's studio in Malta in 2007. On Thursday we're flying to Mumbai for six nights. I'm looking forward to meeting Sanjay, a friend since 2009 through the Dead Runners Society.