On day 11 all but two of us bid farewell to Malaysia and one last walk through the state capital Kuching. It is a city rich in history, and modern day Kuching is a delightful blend of modern structures and old-world charm. Divided by the Sarawak River; the south is a commercial residential area, dominated by Chinese, while the north shore is predominantly Malay in character, with old kampong houses lining the river. The two parts of the city are very different in character and even have separate mayors and separate town halls.
Just when we thought the highlight of the trip was behind us we had the most amazing morning at SMK Batu Lintang (high school). As always we were treated like Australian royalty and given yet another silver service welcome ceremony, with a grand hall exhibiting student work, competent and excelling students to take us through the day. As confident MCs the students introduced an array of school performances, including a talented orchestra and choir (without the opportunity of a specialist music teacher!), dances of the many different traditional Dayak tribes that we would pay to see at the theatre in bright and vibrant traditional costumes, many of which were made by the students.
The principal, staff, students showcased the school whose regular academic results are also outstanding. We toured the gallery of awards and prizes won by students and staff across academic and cross curricula, needless to say they put us to shame.
To top off an already amazing day of the brilliance and dedication at SMK Batu Lintang we set off for even more richness of the Sarawak Cultural Village which portrays the state’s rich cultural diversity in a ‘living’ museum. At the end of a tour of the village we were thrilled with a magnificent multi cultural dance performances in a modern theatre context.
Day 9 had an education focus on the sustainability of the palm oil industry, the wildlife trafficking trade (google TRAFFIC) and the big picture of APE and it’s work.
But first we had a morning free, so most set off to explore the city of Kuching’s waterfront and main bazaar. The Waterfront has been transformed into a landscaped esplanade through restoration and a land reclamation project. It is a popular meeting place, with food stalls, restaurants and entertainment facilities. There is also a restored Chinese pavilion, an observation tower, a tea terrace and musical fountains, oh and did I mention cat statues.
Chinatown: most of Kuching’s Chinese population live in the shop houses lining the narrow streets around the Main Bazaar. The street, opposite the waterfront, is the oldest in the city, dating from 1864. Kuching’s highest concentration of antique and handicraft shops is to be found here.
In the evening we ventured out in time for the beauty of dusk in Asia where the colours of everyday life vibrantly glow in the final sun light, and where better to take advantage of the waterfront than on a boat cruise on the Sarawak river.
Day 8 was definitely the highlight for the majority of the group. Spending the day with the fantastic staff at APE Malaysia was such a fantastic experience. There is so much to do and so little time.
The APE Malaysia team are passionate in developing a generation that would work environmental conservation, animal welfare and people development into our daily, contemporary lives in as sustainable a method as possible. Armed with knowledge backgrounds ranging from zoology to education, we work with the single minded determination to create holistic volunteer and education programmes at every project site we work on. Implementation of programmes are always creative, meaningful and down-to-earth. More can be found about APE Malaysia at http://www.apemalaysia.com/
Matang Wildlife Centre was home to many rescued animals, from owls to crocodiles and of course the sun bears. Two on whom here have had the horrific lives of living through the bile farms. The orangutans in the sanctuary were very content. As we were watching them close to the evening they all headed for the doors of their night dens on their own to go in for the night. It was such an honour to expereince the day, the centres and hear about the work they are doing. Volunteers are welcome in the centres for two week or longer spells, look on their website for more information.
Leo provided us the opportunity to design enrichment activities for the animals who can’t be rehabilitated, these activities enable the animals to practice natural habits and provide them with things to do to engage them.
Before returning in the evening we had the privilidge of visiting a local village who are not part of the tourist circuit, the villages were amazingly friendly and took us in their stride. The children were so happy and healthy. It was yet another rich experience.
Friday was spent touring the richness and heritage historic Malaka has to offer, taking in the Chinese Hang Li Po Temple and Bukit Cina. Bukit Cina is the resting place for people of a different culture in the early days such as the Imperial Ming subjects, colonial heads and as well as Malay chieftains. Later we robed up and viewed the Masjid Selat Malaka Mosque.
For those who are interested in the Baba and Nyonya heritage, Jonker Street (Jalan Hang Jebat) is the place to visit. In the early days during the Dutch colonial period, the Jonker Street is actually known as the rich man’s street. Jonker Street is very popular with shops selling antiques. The rich heritage of the Baba and Nyonya can be clearly seen on the walls and pillars of the buildings as all of the walls and pillars of the buildings on this street are carefully engraved with various carvings. For those who like the kitch and the trinkets as well as the delights of nonya food the night markets are the place to be on Friday nights.
If you wonder what Baba and Nyonya actually means, Baba (masculine) and Nyonya (feminine) are actually off springs of inter-racial marriages where generally speaking in a sense, it is the marriage between a Chinese male and a native non-Muslim female. The result of this marriage are the appearance of the culturally distinct community where this community (sometimes also known as Peranakan or Straits Chinese) has a unique variety of attires, language, customs and as well as architectures.
After a 5.30 am start we set off for Malacca by bus at 6.30 am to arrive at our schools by 9.00 am where many of us had the challenge of teaching 50 students per class. Lis, Lynn and Katia had the pleasure of visiting SJKC Yok Bin, Malaka. SJKC Yok Bin was established by Hokkien eng Choon Association in 1922. It is now a modern and well equipped school in central Melaka. Madam Lim Ting Theng and her wonderful staff showed us around the schools and its wonderful facilities. Stduents, staff and community made us feel very welcome. We were made to feel especially welcome and experienced a number of classes. We were shown some of the intricate and artistic student scrapbooks which creatively display their learning of a number of different topics.