Thursday, December 26, 2013

Monkeys and Cats

More wind & rain, so we cancelled our plans to go to Bako National Park which would have involved a hair-raising boat trip, and instead 'did' a few of Kuching's museums which are open today (including its Art Museum which used to be the British Council office).
After lunch we took a taxi south of the city to Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to tick off the orangutans. It did not look promising. December & January are fruiting season so they have enough food up in the trees and tend not to bother coming down for feeding time. The ticket office politely informed us that the chances of seeing them were slim or virtually non-existent. 
A large crowd of us (itself enough to frighten them off) were sent on a wild goose chase into the forest where a warden called out to the 27 semi-wild apes who live in the reserve. None came. So we traipsed back to another viewing area... and were rewarded with the sight of two orangutans dangling by absurdly long arms from vines as the rain chucked it down. 
To be honest, I'm not big on monkeys, whether they be orangutans, gorillas, chimps, baboons, whatever. There's something a bit unsettling, a bit naff about an ape - possibly because if we'd taken a wrong turning several millions years ago, we could have been one.
However, talking of stupid and naff, on our way back to the resort we dropped in on the Cat Museum, housed in an architectural monstrosity (a cross between Liverpool Catholic Cathedral and a UFO) atop a hill in the north of the city. 'Kucing' means cat in Malay so the city plays on its feline theme... mercilessly. There are three large cat statues in the east of town and cat merchandise everywhere. 
The museum contains an utterly random collection of cat-related stuff: big, slightly scary plaster-of-paris models, fluffy feline photos usually found on Hallmark cards and Woolworth jigsaws, others of cats wearing clothes (the equivalent of a chimps' tea party), a display cabinet of cat food, a 1971 poster of Dutch band The Cats (once big in Indonesia), a list of cat-related films (or films simply with Cat in the title) which for some reason stops in 1982 with Cat People. In fact everything seems to have stopped in 1982, even though it opened in 1993. 
Still, we hoped once and for all to find out why Kuching is named after Felis Catus. Finally, somewhere between a photo of Brigitte Bardot clutching her favourite moggy and a diorama of a pet cemetery, we found a panel which said: "No-one knows why Kuching is named after a cat". 

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