As always, the magic kicked in as soon as I arrived back in Kuching.
I had listened to the advice of the spiritual psychic I met in Ubud about doing some singing as a form of active meditation and made a date as soon as I arrived in Kuching to go to karaoke with Mas and Jun. An hour later, in a taxi, I was talking about singing with the driver, Hamitaf, who remembered me (and my name!) from a year ago. He said that he loves to sing, so I asked if he would sing me something. He sang some of a Paul Anka song. It was really lovely.
A couple of days later, I made my karaoke debut with Mas. I think our rendition of Doris Day’s “Que Sera Sera” could be heard in the waterfront district on the other side of the Sarawak River, because a few days later I could hear singing coming from that direction at karaoke hour. I was so nervous I had to hang on to Mas, but I threw myself into it as best I could and it was lots of fun. Jun is a real character and always makes Mas laugh. What more can you ask for after 30+ years of marriage?
Jun and Mas
On a couple of mornings during the week, Mas and I continued our sing-along while she was doing my room: our favourite was another Doris Day song, “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps”, which we sang along with on YouTube.
I made four visits to Normah Hospital for the whole gamut of tests that make up a full health screening. The initial purpose had been to get a letter from my doctor there to say I’m fit to run races in Italy and France, but it seemed like a good opportunity to cover all the bases. Hamitaf drove me each time, and also took me to the airport on my last morning at 4 am. If a suitable song had come on the radio, I think we would have sung it together.
Also on my agenda for this visit was a long run with Min and the Kuching contingent. We had downscaled from our planned 29 km Lundu run (rescheduled for next year…) to a 16.4 km Robyn’s River Run, so named by Min. Our runners were Steven, Alfred, Larry, Pang Yen, Swee and Sara. Sam was support, meeting us at various points along the way with water and encouragement.
We crossed back across the river in a sampan (tambang) and then had breakfast at a riverside place. When I got back to my hotel, I ran up and down the footpath a few times out the front so that graphic designer Wendy Lee could take some photos for a publication she is putting together for Batik’s owner, Jackie.
The next morning I ran again with Min and Swee at the waterfront and joined in Eng Hooi’s core exercise session. This is the Sunday morning regular meetup that I’d chanced upon two years ago that opened up a whole world for me in Kuching and elsewhere through my close friendship with Min and Sam.
Pang Yen, Min, Swee, Sara, me, Alfred and Larry
I had two get-togethers with Emily, who is one of the planet’s very special people; and dinner with Rita, whom I’ve known also since my first visit to Kuching in 2010. She went with me in the ambulance to hospital when I got heat stroke in a race in June of that year.
Emily (top) and Rita
Had lunch and a catch-up natter with my friend Bernard, who is now the honorary British consul in Sarawak; a three-hour session with the queen of facials, Josephine (who was also on my flight from KL); and a visit to Bernie, who does my hair. They are among my support people and it’s always good to touch base with them.
A farewell dinner with Min, Sam, Sara, and Belinda and Eng Hooi at Junk. The Wees were flying off to Burma the next day. I had been meant to join them, but there hadn’t been time to get a visa for Myanmar when I was in Oz, and I moved on to plan B, which was to return to Ubud before returning to Italy.