Ever since I applied for graduation, my life has been - for lack of a more unique phrase - speeding by like a race car with no breaks. On the last day of finals was my 21st birthday, after which I was thrown into organising an event, attending job interviews, sorting out school paperwork, doing some freelance work... all the while trying to maintain a decent social life.
It was IMPOSSIBLE. The combined effort of maintaining it all was slowly wearing me down, and last week, I was almost ready to raise the white flag. Heck, I was already making plans for 72 hours of uninterrupted sleep. But for more practical reasons (like the fact that we already bought plane tickets), I went with my family on holiday instead; to our neighbour across the sea - Kuching, Sarawak.
I feel like I should preface: My parents are adventurous folk. My sister and I? Not so. I don't know how those two people's genes combined to create the sloths that my sister and I are, but their meaning of the word 'holiday' meant something entirely different from ours.
For those three days in Kuching, our schedule was packed to the brim. We went hiking, island hopping, pottery shopping, wild animal spotting, and did so so much eating, thinking about it is enough to give me a food coma. While I enjoyed the food, however, we also had to wake up at 7am for it, which is just blasphemous. I can't believe I made it through at all. Every given opportunity during the day, I was out like a light. It didn't matter if it was an hour long drive or 15 minutes down the road, that was my sacred nap time.
For that reason, and many others, the whole holiday almost felt like a fever dream. Every time I woke up, we were in some place new. Sometimes I stepped out to a speed boat ready to embark across the choppy seas, other times to needlessly elaborate cat exhibitions that only incorporated a minute amount of Sarawakian history.
No matter what it was, each time, I be forced to shake off the post-nap grogginess and step into something weird and fascinating. In a way, that was half of the experience.
Over those four days, I eventually picked up a few things about Kuching. Mostly, what made it different from Kuala Lumpur. For one, almost everyone there speaks Chinese or Hokkien. It is home to an incredibly diverse mix of aboriginal races. There is a huge tourism industry in that state, accompanied by an admirable pride for their wonders of nature. And if you choose right place to stay, you can wake up to the sight of the sea every morning.
I think that's what I loved the most. For four days, not living on the main road where roadworks assault you during the day and mat rempits wake you up at night. Instead, waking up to a seafront view where people are hired to make your beds and plump up your cushions, and the scent of good food in the morning doesn’t mingle with the smell of exhaust fumes.
Where daily activities involve crunching leaves and walking in the rain. The regret from waking up early washes away when after I smell that cool forest scent, hear the sfx of nondescript bugs and birds chirping, squirrels rustling leaves as they dart through the trees. Even as my eyes furrow at the silly looking cat statues, or when my knees wobble climbing down old wooden structures, I find a peace in me that the city would never provide.
Writing about it now, I miss it. Not really Kuching, the place, but just the feeling of escaping out of town. It's difficult to come back home knowing that there's piles of work waiting for you. Even worse when all that's there to greet you is the blazing KL heat and the four walls of your workspace.
Ah, well. Maybe my next holiday will be by nature again.