How often do you go on a family vacation? Once or twice a year or never?
I often go on a family vacation with my sisters, nephews and nieces. My last family vacation was with my younger sister, my niece and one of my nephews and his family including his wife, children and in-laws. That was during the Chinese New Year in February this year.
It is good to take family vacations together. Taking time off can help you relax and recharge. Family vacations promote family bonding, build life long memories and open your minds to new cultures, foods and experiences and are good for your health.
My late younger brother, who passed away at the age of 40 many years ago, was a firm believer in family vacations. During the public holidays, he would take me, my sisters, nephews and nieces who stayed with us on family vacations. We would spend our time either at a beach at Santubong or at Sungai Cina in Matang.
He would diligently drive us there, find a good parking space and barbecue the chicken wings he had marinated beforehand while the rest of us would play by the sea or river.
During the recent Gawai Dayak public holidays, my best friend from Sibu, who is not as adventurous as I am, did something unexpected. She decided to go on a family vacation to Kuching with her niece, nephew and grandniece.
They came in a Hilux lent by her elder brother and driven by his son (the nephew). Indeed, lucky are those who have caring nephews like this young man who did not mind the one-day trip to Kuching. I told my friend and the young man this also.
Although I talked to my best friend almost every day, I had not seen her for years. So when she told me she was coming to Kuching, naturally I was happy. When she asked me to be a tourist guide for her family, I was very pleased.
Initially, I had prepared myself mentally for a lonely Gawai break. However, news that she was coming to Kuching changed everything for me.
My friend and her family departed Sibu at 2 pm on May 31 and reached Kuching at 8.15 pm. Although the journey from Sibu to Kuching normally took five hours, my friend’s nephew took seven hours because he chose to drive slowly in view of the heavy Gawai eve traffic.
After the Hilux picked me up from my home, I immediately performed my first task as as tourist guide that night by recommending them the nearby Premier 101 Food Centre. After their long journey, they were all hungry and thirsty.
Although he was not familiar with the roads in Kuching, my friend’s nephew managed to find his way around the city, thanks to the navigation aid, Maps.
The next day, since my best friend’s grandniece, a secondary school student, wanted to see the sea, I recommended Santubong to them. At Pantai Puteri in Kampung Santubong, she had the opportunity to walk bare-footed on the wet sand and collect a few sea shells.
When we were there, there were many cars and holiday makers. But there were no public toilets and no tap water to wash our feet. I wondered where the holiday makers would go if they had to answer the call of nature.
My best friend, who visited the beach ages ago, lamented the loss of the beautiful beach she once saw. But she loved the view of the majestic Mount Santubong from the beach.
Our next stop was Damai Central, an innovative resort-styled multipurpose complex built in Sarawak ethnic-concept design at Pantai Damai, Santubong. It was hard to look for a parking space that afternoon because of the good public turnout there.
The entertainment oasis, built on a coastal land fronting the panoramic South China Sea, takes the advantage of natural ambience of sun, sand and sea and offers a beautiful view of Mt Santubong.
With the mountain as the backdrop, I took pictures of my best friend and her family. I am confident that the pictures will remind them of their interesting family vacation in Kuching.
But I was sad to notice that Damai Central was not as well kept as before. I hope the management will strive maintain this beautiful place well for the sake of local and foreign visitors.
After tasting delicious Malay food like Tom Yam Seafood, Mee Mamak and Sup Tulang and sweet cold drinks at the food court there, my friend, her family and I made our way to Kampung Buntal, a famous traditional fishing village.
As usual, on sale at the small wet market were all kinds of seafood including fish, crabs and seashells as well as Malay kueh and fruits like mangoes. Because it was hot, we bought bottles of coconut water at RM5 each to quench our thirst.
Next on our itinerary was a Hari Gawai visit to a friend. My best friend and her nephew said they wanted to try some Dayak food.
That night, my son treated my best friend and her family to a meal at a restaurant before inviting them over to his house. He had also not met my friend for years and it was time for them to catch up. It was bonding time for my son and my friend’s nephew too.
The next day, my best friend and her family returned to Sibu, leaving me beautiful memories of their short visit and this year’s Gawai Dayak.