It started on yet another dreary day in England.
It started with a sight seeing trip to Portsmouth Naval Dockyards as a farewell from a good friend.
It started with a 3 hour journey to London, that’s where it really started.
A flight half way around the world, a flight that would reunite me with my wife and my son, a flight that’s destination was going to change my life.
I waited nervously in the terminal building at Heathrow, waiting to board my plane that would touch me down in Oman before catching a connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur and a final short hop into Kuching. A journey from home of some 7111 miles.
Before embarking on this journey I knew very little of the city of Kuching, the capital of Malaysia’s largest state, a state that in terms of size is way bigger than the UK.
Yes, of course you can find information on the Internet but that is never really a true reflection of what you are going to find.
Wrongly I treated the idea of Borneo as this backwards jungle environment that hadn’t really moved into the modern era. Not that that lack of movement into the modern world is actually a bad thing.
As I stepped off the plane the first thing that hit me was the intensity of the heat, it was 11pm when I landed and yet it was still a very warm 27c.
You can’t prepare for that kind of heat in England.
The humidity stifles you and you instantly start to perspire, the kind of perspiration that you would expect if you had just done 60 minutes on a squash court.
As I embraced my family, who had dutifully collected me from the airport,I got my first hint of what this adventure was going to be like.
Kuching is not anything like I had imagined, it is much more built up, much more sprawling in it’s size and in its apparent growth. What is different to other major cities of the world though is the Kuching has seemed to grow outwards rather than upwards.
Yes, there are some high-rise buildings but we are not talking 50 storey behemoths, the highest seems to be around the 22 storey mark currently which gives you the feeling of space rather than suffocation. Nor are these buildings built too much on top of each other again allowing for other things to flourish.
The car journey back to our apartment showed me how westernised this city really is, a very modern road network that is superbly maintained. Couple this with the shopping malls and commercial centres and you would be forgiven for thinking you were in a US city or one of the major commercial hubs of Europe.
On initial inspection Kuching also seemed quite charming, as I made my first daylight trip to nearby Carpenter Street or Padungan Street you see what perhaps you think Asia will be like. Small commercial dwellings, lots of cafes and restaurants serving what smells like amazing food.
The Smell of a City
The smell of a city when I first arrive is something I always notice. In Rome there is a definite sewer smell for example so when I stepped out into the street for the first time I was surprised at how clean and relatively fresh the place smelt.
It soon became apparent why.
It’s rain forest just outside the city, which of course means lots of rain. This rain has a very useful trait within the confines of a city. It keeps the sewers running and keeps the streets relatively clean.
The only thing I would add straight away as a first impression in terms of cleanliness is the amount of plastic, this as we know is very difficult to break down so does seem to linger around the city and be moved rather than cleared.
A New Home
This is only my very first impressions, my first visions and thoughts within the first couple of days of being in Kuching and stepping off that plane for the first time.
It is of course my new home, our families new home, so over time my opinions will change, they will sway and hopefully they may well improve as I get sucked into what is charming about this place on earth.