As the plane hurtled down the runway, I was armed with my hiking boots and glad rags ready to cram in as much as possible on this mini break. With just three days to explore, I had my adventure hat on and was about to escape the tiny Sultanate of Brunei and explore another part of Borneo:  Sarawak, more specifically, Kuching. Three days may not seem long but with a bit of forward planning one can achieve a lot in a short amount of time.

Kuching, the capital of Sarawak is a mixture of Chinese colourful shophouses and temples with a streak of British colonialism running through its veins, more specifically Charles Brooke- the one-time White British Rajh who ruled the state of Sarawak from 1868 until his death in 1917. A museum and other monuments detail Brookes’ time here in the 19th century.

Kuching takes its name from cat in Malay and this fury feline features in its monuments, statues and even has its own museum dedicated to the furry bundles of joy.

The Sungai Sarawak snakes its way through the city and one can take a boat ride, best at sunset, to enjoy watching the sights float by. The riverside comes to life at night when stalls set up and hawkers sell their goods.

Wildlife has to be on most peoples’ bucket lists as to one of the main reasons why they come to Borneo.  I’d read and watched numerous wildlife documentaries over the years about our ginger haired cousins and was keen to get out to see them upfront at the Semenggoh wildlife centre for orangutans. Located around a 30 minute drive from the capital.  What I hadn’t bargained for though was a 150 kg of sheer King Kong like presence staggering out of the jungle, with no barriers or protection right in front of our eyes! The fact our taxi driver had dropped us off at the top car park meant that by pure chance we got to see this magnificent beast up close and personal in all its glory. Swiftly moving along the carpark, it made its way to the other side of the jungle and began swinging from treetop to treetop, the branches almost buckling under its sheer volume of weight! Captured on film, this was an unexpected and quite spectacular sight that will stay with me as a Borneo highlight.

Although most of the orangutans live quite freely in a protected jungle, the park is run by rangers who are on hand to tell you all about the creatures.  Feeding time takes place twice a day at 9am and 3pm, however, it must be stressed that these creatures are free to roam the jungle and choose whether or not they fancy the tasty snacks on offer.  ‘Grandma’ as she is fondly known has quite a partial taste to refreshing coconut juice, whereupon being given a coconut, she deftly bashed it against a rock and slurped its contents fresh from the shell. The big daddy amongst them was keen to chill on a rock, whilst mother and baby walked the tight rope whilst slotting bunches of bananas between fingers and toes. We were warned by the rangers that unless we wanted a ‘warm shower’ to not stand directly below the ropes overhead!

If shopping is on your agenda, then there are many modern malls with Highstreet fashion waiting to be explored along with countless stalls and smaller boutique shops for batiks and other souvenirs .

Keen to enjoy the nightlife that Kuching has, we ventured out to explore the night life of this small yet buzzing city. There were pubs, bars and restaurants galore so this was great escapism. There are numerous eateries and refreshing watering holes that will satisfy all palates.

My final day, I was intent on using my hiking boots that I had lugged along with me. I set off bright and early to explore Bako National Park, located about 40 minutes form the city. The first and oldest national park of Sarawak, established in 1957 this small 28 sq km area is a treasure trove of jungle delights.  Upon arrival at Bako jetty, I quickly found some fellow travellers to share the speedboat with.  A quick 20 minutes from Bako jetty and I had arrived at the beach and made my way to the National Park headquarters.  It costs $5 for a permit.

After a quick coffee, I chose which route I would do in the few hours that I had there.  I had hoped to do the Lintang trail but with time constraints and a boat and plane to catch later that day I decided on 2 short trails. I set off on the first trek, a short but scenic coastal path towards a stunning deserted beach. A short while in, I heard the sounds of what I first thought could be wild boar, only to turn the corner and see a group of hikers gazing up at the trees.  There sat three magnificent proboscis monkeys in all their glory. With their long tails, huge feet and floppy conks, they were grunting their unusual sounds whilst sitting in the trees.  With hushed silence we gazed up at these wonderful creatures native to Borneo, truly in the wild. Once again, I was excited to marvel at the wonderful wildlife found on Borneo.

Tearing myself away, I continued on towards the beach.  Having decided to take a quick breather, I perched on a rock gazing out at the South China Sea, only to turn and yelp as an unexpected visitor had decided to grace his presence. This time a grey haired, white bearded macaque had decided to chill along side me on the rock.  Nervous to be in such proximity, I jumped up and swiftly moved away, not having had time to snatch my day pack.  He had other ideas.  Like a small curious child, he rifled through my backpack searching for food. Unluckily for him, I’d decided against tasty ape snacks, much to his discontent he slung out all my belongings onto the beach. Waterproofs, phone charger and Lonely Planet were all tossed aside in the hope of finding a tasty morsel of food.  Much to his dismay, he found none.  Meanwhile I had been filming with my phone from a safe distance.  Another traveller tried to intervene thinking I was in danger but when I said I was ok and tried to get my backpack back, it snarled at me and I thought twice before attempting again.  Eventually, a boat man came charging over with a pole and the monkey ran off, likely in the pursuit of tormenting some other poor hiker.  Once again, I had to marvel at the prolific wildlife of Borneo!

Moving on to my second trail, after a good hard slog through the jungle I came to another vantage point, this time to be interrupted by the quiet stridulation of a different species.  There below my feet were 8-10 polished green turbo hermit crab shells quietly going about their business.  Perhaps irritated by my presence I managed to capture another kodak moment before moving on. Not wanting to head back, I knew I’d be pushing it to meet my fellow travellers in time for the boat back to the jetty.

Showered and changed, there was just time for some food and a farewell drink in the hotel’s bar before I had to make my way to the airport for an evening flight back to Brunei.

The end of my 3 days was quickly approaching. A 50-minute flight back to Brunei gave me time to relax and reflect on my minibreak in Sarawak. One thing for sure was I knew I’d be back.