We’ve spent nice, yet hasty Christmas day. After the arrival to the Kuching marina, a government ran and thus cheap place on the outskirts of the industrial zone, we unfolded our bikes and went to town for a Christmas dinner (there’s a gorgeous Indian place called Foodsmith not far) and a cold beer. Soon after dinner we fell asleep.

Dark clouds are gathering above

Dark clouds are gathering above

The next day we started to deal with the most pressing problem. Our house batteries were behaving rather oddly for couple of days and we had to do something about that.

We bought them quite recently, the great Trojans, mind you, but they must have been from a bad batch or something. Got them in Taiwan, before we left. They didn’t last more than a couple of months. The first two we had before, lasted more than three years and still had life in them, but we wanted to be sure and bought the new ones.

Anyway, we realized (after being warned) that all we need is one battery failing and we lose all power. That’s the curse of 6V batteries, particularly if you only have two of them.

Shame on us. Shame on me, really, because Jana has not yet ventured into the world of pleasures of dilettante marine electrical engineering.

In Kuching, however, there is a plant. A battery making plant. I’ve always had a weakness for factories. That might sound strange, but there’s a kind of eerie beauty in all those entangled and twisted pipes and tubes, smokestacks and flues, conveyors and lifts… Unfortunately, this one was just an ordinary dirty building, so my aesthetic expectations were not met. Fortunately, though, they produce all kinds of batteries. If you’ve ever been in a candy shop, you know how we felt. We ordered two 12V deep-cycles ones. It took about a week. No, they don’t keep any stock.

When we entered the factory lobby, we were very kindly received by a Chinese manager. When we said our final yes and offered a deposit, he replied calmly:

“Kuching is a small town, it will be easy to find you.”

I would like to think there was a joking tone somewhere in there, but I’m not entirely sure what he really meant.

Before I continue, I should explain our state of mind. We spent last 4 months in a laid back and sleepy Kudat at the top of Borneo. We forgot about crime, pickpockets and thieves. We were expecting some of the good old civilization diseases in our next planned port of call, Johor Bahru. People have reported incidents there. But not here in Kuching.

So we visited an ATM, got the money for the batteries and went to town on bikes. Our lovely folding Dahon bikes are equipped with racks at the back and Jana’s has a plastic basket for veggies attached to it. While in the sleepy Kudat, we got used to carrying our bag in that basket. Do I need to continue…?

I was riding in front of Jana and suddenly I hear a scream and a shout. I slow down, turn my head and see a guy on a motorbike leaving shocked Jana with our bright yellow and green bag in his hand.

We start chasing him. But the traffic is sparse and he gains speed and soon disappears.

We curse and call him names. We feel violated. First thing to do is to get back to the boat, get on the internet and get our credit card blocked.

I took care of that and Jana went to the harbourmaster office (also the management of the marina) and tried to get hold of the police.

I met her there after about 10 minutes. One of the harbour officers was on the phone, obviously being transferred from one office to another. I started to be impatient (a big mistake in Asia) – how long does it really take to find a policeman in Malaysia. An older Chinese guy who was waiting in the office tried to educate me that Malaysia is not same as my country and that they do things differently here. That did not help. Not at all!

We called off the search for the police that would be interested in our case, I apologized for being angry and we went back to the boat to make an alternative plan.

First of all we needed money for the batteries. Fortunately we always keep a little bit of cash on boat. It was getting late, the banks will be closed soon.

We had to ride to the town and find a currency exchange.

When you come to Kuching don’t let anyone persuade you that the town is far from the marina. If you have a bike and a little courage, it’s about 15-20 minutes and only two short uphill climbs. The only trouble is the traffic, but it’s not too bad.

The next day our batteries arrived, we installed them into a new box that we got for them. And then we decided to wait for our new credit card. The weather was not great anyway, so we buried ourselves in the boat and worked. In the afternoon we went for bike rides, did odd jobs around the boat and generally enjoyed ourselves.

And then there was a flood…

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