For many culture, a broken mirror means bad luck in the unforeseeable future. But for Italian-born contemporary artist Lidia Qattan, seeing her daughter with scattered glass shards on the floor sparked a creative idea. To minimize her daughter’s wall doodling, Lidia started to place the mirror pieces on the wall with artistic patterns. This was the start of decades of work to transform her humble home in Kuwait as the only house in the world covered in mirror mosaic – the Mirror House.
“I’ll climb this mountain as long as I still can” Bing exclaims as she gleefully trod the trail on the pasture lands of Ivana, Batanes, as we head to the summit of Mt Matarem. Carlotta Borromeo-Charbonney, or Bing, for short, is a native adventure-loving Ivatan who has learned to be independent from her family early in her life as she studied in Manila during college. Much more when she married her foreign husband who took her around the world and eventually settled in Switzerland. She makes it a point to go home every year in Batanes for family and be rooted to her home. We sure am glad Bing was there to join us for this climb.
As one of the most populous city in Malaysia, the City of Kuching seemed provincial and laid back despite the city developments. I like those kind of cities where it doesn’t feel rushed yet has the infrastructure comfort of urban living. Sarawak River threading through the city, adding a steady flow of balance between tranquility and hustle. We had a chance to see more of Kuching when friends from Place Borneo gave us a little tour to compliment our own wanderings.
A five-star and 272-room property, Riverside Majestic Astana Wing sits at the heart of Kuching City overlooking the winding Sarawak river. Conveniently located across the waterfront and walking distance to a lot of attractions in the city. It was a perfect home base for us as we cover the Kuching Jazz Festival in 2019.
Prior to visiting Kuching, the capital of Sarawak is under my radar of places to visit. I had an initial impression it would be similar to other cities in Borneo like Kota Kinabalu. Surprisingly, the city along the meandering Sarawak River has a different vibe. With my usual practice of exploring new cities on foot, Kuching felt more like a counterpart of George Town in this side of Malaysia. The vibrant and artsy streets, affordable and tasty food and the easy going lifestyle of the people.
Coming from Cave of the Winds, we had very short boat ride to our last cave visit – the Clearwater Cave. On the boat ride to the cave, I noticed the plank walk hanging by the rock walls leading to the cave. It looks fragile but walkable. I’m sure it would be fun to take that trail if we had more time. The boat was faster as we arrived soon at the scenic picnic area before clearwater cave. The colorful longboats gather by the riverbanks as the boatmen await each of their guests. We’re excited to explore Asia’s longest cave system but not before having our lunch first.
It’s not often that you’d find a Pinoy traveler headed for the Middle East for purposes other than work. But coming from Southeast going towards where the sun rises over dramatic desert landscapes and modern iterations of ancient cities can be one heck of an adventure. And it doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive either, if you get your flight tickets to fly via GulfAir using the Tajawal website. After all, priceless adventure trips needn’t be expensive.