1. Woke up early to see Sibu's Central Market on Oct 29, Day 16 of the trip, before we we began the 400 km drive to Kuching.
2. It is a huge market, possibly 100 m by 400 m, reputed to be the largest indoor market in the whole of Malaysia. Ground floor contains hundreds of stalls selling fresh vegetables and meat, household items, plants etc. A food court is on the first floor with many stalls selling clothes. At 6+ in the morning, the crowd was beginning to come in. Coffee shops across the streets were filling up with people having their breakfast.
3. Strolling further to the other end of the market brought me to a Chinese temple and 7 storey pagoda and the river bank. The river bank was already busy with activities. A barge with a full load of logs, pulled by a tugboat, was sailing down the river to the coast. The temple, Yong Ang temple, must be about a hundred years old. A story board near the temple talked about the arrival of the Chiang Chuan clan from Fukien province in China in the mid 19th century, encouraged by the Brooke Administration and how it went on to make significant contribution to the development of central Sarawak and further inland along the Rejiang River.
4. Walking back to the hotel, I saw a park attendant issuing a parking fine to a car in the public car park. It was 8.15 am. Its serious business in Sibu. Car attendant hard at work at 8 am in the morning. The government here means business. In the square near the hotel was a Swan Garden, erected by the Lim clan of Sibu. Swan is a city symbol of Sibu.
5. Left the hotel at 10+ for the drive to Kuching. After a lunch stop and a couple of coffee stops, we arrived Kuching at about 5 pm. It was hard driving. After checking a few hotels near the river bank, we checked into Grand Margherita Hotel for RM170 ++. Our plan was to stay 2 nights, and then head for Kalimantan the day after, 31 Oct. Opposite the hotel was a cat artwork (persumably because kuching is cat in Malay). The origin of the city name, Kuching, however, remains a point of dispute. One version says that it came from the Chinese words, "old well".
6. We had a couple of things to sort out in Kuching the next day before our departure for Kalimantan. We wanted to have the car suspension checked as we could hear occasional noise when we drove over bumpy roads, and to buy the car insurance for our travel in Kalimantan.
7. We got to the EON workshop, which handles the servicing of Mitsubishi cars, in Bintawa Industrial Estate by about 10 am. The staff there were very service oriented and immediately asked a technician (Jafar) to check the car. After test driving for some 20-30 km, he concluded the noise was internal to the car and possibly came from the seat. When we returned to the workshop, he jacked the car up for further checks. There was no charge for the checks done. Cant say more about the friendly service given.
8. As for car insurance, we checked out 3 insurance companies but none of them sell insurance for coverage in Kalimantan. We will have to buy them when we cross over to Kalimantan, either at Entikong, Singkawang or Pontianak.
9. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the rows of shops that looked like the town's Chinatown for lunch. They were prewar buildings painted with charming colours.
10. We rested for the rest of the day, and did some blogging. With laundry completed, we are all set to begin our journey to Indonesia's Kalimantan. It will be nearly 10 hours of driving to Singkawang tomorrow.