One night in Kuching

Somehow the cap for the DSLR camera lens I was fumbling with flew off just before the plane took off from Miri to Kuching in the early afternoon of 23rd August (Friday). I was sitting by the window seat and had wanted to take some pictures. Seriously I had no idea how the cap could terpelanting with such mysterious force, narrowly missed the passengers beside me and landed one or two rows behind, possibly on the aisle. The passengers around me who heard the noise were equally surprised and simultaneously turned their heads to the back. I wanted to slap myself for being unable to keep still. ‘Lena Lena, why do you have to be so banyak hal?!’ I muttered to myself. I heard the lady behind me asked her husband in Hokkien, “What was that?” The husband informed her that it was a camera cover. The man told me I had to wait awhile before he could help me retrieve the cover as the plane was about to take off; we were supposed to remain in our seats that time. When he finally passed me the lens cover, he joked: “I thought it was a bullet.” I thanked him and laughed.

in the plane

An officer at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka had recommended me to stay at Penview Inn; according to him that is the nearest hotel to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in Petra Jaya. If I like to explore the city then he suggested I should stay at Merdeka Palace. There is no nearby hotel in Petra Jaya. Since I would be there for one night only, I opted for the inn. If I’m on vacation, then I would choose a better hotel. No point wasting money if I’m not going to stay there long enough. From the airport to the inn, taxi ride was about 15 minutes and costs RM 28. The taxi driver drove very slowly and I was worried he might collapse from fatigue or old age or something. I peered at the cab speedometer and to my amazement, it showed zero even though the vehicle was moving. I guess it’s not functioning.

After I checked in at the inn, I called up a cab to bring me to The Spring; that would be my first visit to the mall. Taxi fare was RM 20. I didn’t do much shopping, only entering shops which are not yet available in Miri. I purchased some goodies from la Senza lingerie, Crabtree & Evelyn, Mango, Poppies (a Sereni & Shentel headband of course!) and Sakae Sushi.

shopped at The Spring - Kuching

I went to the food court to sample the beef noodle. It was yummy! Before I arrived at The Spring, I already sampled mixed kolo mee in a coffee shop nearby the inn I was staying. That was good too. I ate twice in just one afternoon!

my day in Kuching

For dinner I headed to Sakae Sushi. Their salmon sashimi and salmon asparagus yaki were delicious. I quickly finished my dinner and took a cab back to the inn. Time to rest.

stayed 1 night at Penview Inn kuching

Room was small (enough for me anyway) and windowless, but it is worth the amount I paid for. The rate was about RM 90++ per night and the receptionist asked for RM 150 as deposit. I replaced the inn toiletries with my own soap and covered any reflective surfaces such as the tv and mirror with towels because they faced the bed directly and I do not like that. I didn’t sleep soundly that night, kept waking up but couldn’t remember any of my dreams; tossed and turned around the bed which felt like a stone floor. Why was the bed so hard? Am I being too sensitive? Even the pillow felt like a block of wood. Maybe I miss my own bedroom too much. Maybe I’m on my toes, alert to any little noises outside the door. I was sleeping alone so I left the lights on. Before the alarm goes off at 6am, I was already up.

24th August 2013:-

At 7am buffet breakfast was served in the inn’s coffee house, The Oasis Coffee House. There were not many guests when I walked in. One lady in particular looked over at me and gave a faint smile. I smiled back at her. The Malay lady somewhat looked like a senior teacher to me; after taking her food she sat opposite me at the table while I was having my koko crunch cereals. She asked me which department am I from. I explained to her that I’m not representing any department or companies, that I was there to participate in an event Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka was organizing. I found out that she’s originally from KL but has been in Kuching for quite awhile. Just as I suspected, she was sent by the Ministry of Education to give out out lectures to participants (selected teachers) in one of the function rooms there. I remembered the day I arrived there was a program banner at the foyer, something about “Kursus Pengurusan Program: Perancangan Strategik” but never thought that I would be chit-chatting with an important person in that program over breakfast. I finished my breakfast just as more guests poured into the coffee house. There was another Malay lady who joined her at the breakfast table. I excused myself gracefully and went back to my room, making sure I didn’t leave any personal stuff behind. Then I checked out of the inn and called a taxi to get me to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka before 8 am.

I asked the middle-aged taxi driver whether he knows where Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) is, he quickly replied: “Pustaka mah, I know, I know, on the way to stadium.” I asked how much, he said: “RM 25.” Alright then. Traffic was quite smooth. We passed by a bridge and toll; the toll fee was RM 1.60. Last year it used to be RM 1.50 as per the taxi driver. After about 10 minutes of driving, we reached an area with a beautiful lake. The taxi uncle pointed to it excitedly. I was perplexed, but amazed at the beauty of the landscape. That place stood out among others in my eyes. The last two years when I visited DBP, I don’t remember seeing any lake. When we reached the entrance, I realized that huge building is Pustaka Negeri Sarawak (Sarawak State Library). The uncle taxi had made a mistake. I would love to visit the State library someday but now I’m almost late for my event. I told the uncle taxi: “Not this one.” I repeated: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Then the uncle taxi went like, “uh oh, the other one… at the other side.” I was praying he really know where the location is. Less than 5 minutes’ drive later, we reached my true destination, but uncle taxi charged me RM 28 instead of RM 25. According to him, it took more fuel to correct the wrong turn. I paid him without expressing anything. Besides, I needed the uncle taxi to fetch me from DBP after the event finished and send me straight to the airport to catch my flight back to Miri.

I didn’t want to argue with him that it was actually not my fault that he got the directions wrong, he didn’t listen properly when I clearly mentioned: ‘Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka’. I guess he mixed up the two buildings. Note to self: Next time if people mention Pustaka, must make sure they know which one they are talking about.

Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Cawangan Sarawak

After the event finished, as promised, the same taxi driver fetched and sent me straight to the airport. This time he charged RM 40. I had plenty of time to waste at Kuching airport, so I roamed around; looking for a quiet corner to jot something down in my mini notebook. When I’m hungry, I eat. Twice. I discovered Plaza Premium Lounge, where a normal citizen like me could walk in without having to pay for VIP membership / package or anything like that. It is such a pity that I was going to leave Kuching without tasting its famous Laksa, so to sooth my disappointed heart, I ordered a laksa from the menu in Plaza Premium Lounge. I didn’t have chance to visit the famous laksa stalls in Kuching because of my tight schedule.

at Plaza Premium Lounge Kuching airport

To my surprise, there was no egg in the laksa. Maybe it wasn’t the authentic Kuching Laksa. I don’t know, but it wasn’t what I expected it would be. The latte was alright. The best thing about this place is that you could relax comfortably there. I love the ambience there, I think I could write hundreds of novels if I stay there forever. There were no other customers while I was there. The screen was showing a movie called The Tourist, starring two of my favorite stars: Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Yes, that’s Johnny on the screen. Total cost for the latte and laksa was RM 19.70. Before I paid, the pleasant officer who attended to me asked for my boarding pass and scanned the bar code into their system. When she handed me my change and receipt, I noticed the receipt has my name printed on it.

I continued to scribble on my tiny notebook. Still having time to waste, I roamed around the departure hall and did some crowd watching. It’s quite interesting, really. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I ate at KFC before I entered the departure hall. That would be about half an hour before I ate the laksa. My god, I thought to myself, is my stomach akin to socks? ‘Perut stokin’ – never full, always hungry, small frame, big appetite. Yeah, I ate at the airport twice.

eating KFC alone at Kuching airport

As for the event I was attending at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Cawangan Sarawak, it was called the Simposium Penulis Wanita Sarawak 2013. I will spill the details soon on my official site at ElenaWee.com. During the event, I rubbed shoulders with some big names in the local literary and publishing scene; luminaries that graced the event included Datu Dr. Haji Adi Badiozaman Tuah, Puan Sri Diah Sharudin (General Manager – Editorial of Grup Buku Karangkraf), Puan Nisah Haron (novelist), Dr. Nur Afifah Vanitha Abdullah, Dr. Saleeh Rahamad, Dr. Hazami Jahari, Puan Rosani Hiplee, Puan Radzemah Bolhassan, Puan Bibi Sabariah, Datin Hajjah Jais and many more.

I came home exhausted but feeling very inspired.

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