I just got back from a lovely holiday at. It was my first real excursion out of Kuching since I got here. We took the chance to go, since Monday and Tuesday were State holidays in honor of Gawai Day.
Gawai Day is the biggest holiday of the year for the native tribes. Nobody I asked seemed to know exactly what was involved in the holiday though, aside from people returning to their villages to be with their families. The holiday calendar here has a great deal of variety in it from state to state, depending on which ethnic groups are more numerous. Sabah and Sarawak have Good Friday off due to all the Christians, Sarawak has Gawai Day, Perak and Penang have Thaipussam for all the Tamils. Each state with a monarchy also has a holiday for the birthday of the King. It all evens out in the end, it seems. At my last job in the states, employees had an official “floating holiday” that they could use to observe whatever holiday of theirs wasn’t honored by the calendar. That was pretty good, though I could use at least one more of those. I’ve been told that Sri Lanka wins for having the most national holidays a year. Sri Lanka observes all the high Hindu Holidays, both Eids and Mawlid Nabi, and all the Buddhist holidays, including every full moon! That’s a gauranteed holiday once a month. Now who’s going to complain about that?
Santubong was great. From our balcony we could see Mt. Santubong and the South China Sea. A ten-minute walk led to a gorgeous sandy beach. The sea was as warm as bath water, and gentle. The sun is too fierce to go in the middle of the day, but morning and late afternoon is great. The kids loved it, especially after I assured my five-year old that there were no crocodiles. All the crocodiles are over in the Sarawak River, but that’s a topic for another post. As a muslim, it’s the little things that made the trip so pleasant. Nobody complains if you jump in the pool with shirt and pants on (issue discussed here). Every hotel room has the direction of prayer marked in a corner of the ceiling. Forgot your prayer rug? No problem, housekeeping has complimentary ones for you. The complimentary breakfast buffet? Halal corned beef. Man, I haven’t had corned beef in ages! Of course, the hotel is a little pricey to make a regular thing out of it. But it turns out, Kuching is only about a half an hour drive from the sea, easily close enough for a day trip. Now I just have to find a public beach.