On Tuesday ( 3/3) we left Kuching for Bintulu by road. The journey began early in the morning ( 9.00 am) and would normally take about 10 hours inclusive of stopovers for refuelling, lunch and afternoon tea breaks. On this trip my daughter who works in Kuala Lumpur ( capital of Malaysia) joined us after a four days stay in Kuching. Our two cats Daisy and Inul will make this their 12th trip to Bintulu in their record breaking journey through Sarawak on the Pan-Borneo Highway. At the start of the journey, Daisy was not pleasantly pleased and snarled at Inul every time she approached her for comfort. However, all's well after we made the first leg of the journey.
On the first leg of the journey like the rest throughout the day, the weather was fine and hot. Luckily the car's air-conditioning worked well and we drove to Bintulu in much comfort. Not a single drop of rain fell on us and that indicated pretty well that the monsoon season is over. It does indicate too that water will be the most sought -after resource for the months ahead especially for those involved in the agricultural sector.
From Kuching I would drive with the barest fuel and then refuelled at Serian, a forty minutes drive from Kuching. The first refuelling would bring us half-way through the journey. The picture above shows a well landscaped roundabout as an introduction to Serian. Observe the symbol of the Durian fruit in the centre of the picture, which is done in cement ferro technique and coloured. However this time around we wouldn't be able to savour any real durians because the fruiting season has passed.
The second refuelling was done at Saratok, a small town within the Sri Aman Division and roughly situated half-way along our journey. Sarawak is divided into 11 Divisions or administrative units. The various divisions as one drive north from Kuching are Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Kapit, Sibu, Mukah, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang. I noticed that Saratok is the only town in Sarawak that plant the Wild Cinnamon tree ( Cinnamomum iners) as introduction to the town roadside landscaping. On this trip I saw the cinnamon trees were having a new coat of leaves where the young leaves appear reddish or light orange before they turn light green. The bark of one species i.e. Cinnamomum zeylancium yield the spice cinnamomum which is used for flavouring food and cakes.
This unique building houses the District Office or the local administration office of Saratok. What attracted me was the date of its construction - 1888. The building sat on top of a small hill facing the river.
Before leaving Saratok, we did the second refuelling . At today's price we can reach Bintulu from Kuching with a full capacity tank costing RM 100 - an amount that will ensure some reserve just in case. At the petrol kiosk, Inul became the centre of attraction as the pump attendants inquired about her. They all look surprised as I narrated them our cats adventure thus far.
The sight of heavy timber trucks loaded to the brim is common as we approached the end part of the journey especially from Selangau to Bintulu, the timber country of Sarawak. At the rest area near Selangau town, we came across a roadside canteen where every available car parking space was taken up by the timber trucks because the drivers were having a break at the canteen ( building with blue roof).