So, I started my voluntary placement in Kuching in August this year. It was my first time flying solo and the furthest I had travelled. Malaysia was beautiful. It was very exotic and tropical and a world away from the cold grey busy roads of London.
I was met by a representative at the airport who took me to the volunteer house where I met two other volunteers working on the project also. I was shown around the volunteer house and informed of the local amenities available such as local food shops and banks.
During the first week, we were driven to the village in which the project was taking place and helped build the basic foundations of a house by assisting the home owner- a local villager, in laying steel rods and screwing bolts. After a couple of hours or so, the working day came to an end just as the sun was reaching its peak, when we were driven back to the volunteer house where we spent our free time and enjoyed some lunch from local food outlets.
The volunteers and I also painted the exterior of the local school in the same village. Unfortunately, as it was a public holiday we did not get to meet the children but we did get to watch them celebrate some of their national celebrations at the end of the week.
This week was a cultural exploration week where the volunteers and I enjoyed a number of activities in Kuching such as exploring the city by bike and visiting some popular locations such as the Fairy Caves. It allowed us to meet and interact with the local Malay residents who were very warm and welcoming.
We learned of the tribal history of Sarawak at the Sarawak Cultural Village and about the importance of the textile trade and manufacturing at a local textile gallery. Additionally, we were given the opportunity to watch how scarves and shawls were being made using the traditional method and partake in weaving a few threads of our own.
Kuching was a lovely city with a number of attractions to visit and activities to enjoy. The local food offered a variety of delicious options from traditional rice and noodles to pizza and chips.
This week was a really good opportunity to see Kuching properly and immerse into the culture and traditions of the local people.
Working with some great volunteers from other countries and meeting some local residents of Kuching allowed me to further improve my communication skills and team working skills. I feel inspired to travel even more now and explore the array of beautiful countries, cultures and amazing people around the world.