Disclaimer: Featured picture belongs to http://sarawaktourism.com/
Solitude – the state of being alone. How do you feel about them? Can you enjoy being outside by yourself. Or simply staying indoors? That being said, this post was driven out of solitude. Why? One must ask. Because, when you are almost always alone, you learn to enjoy it. You learn to explore a place by yourself and enjoying your own company regardless of which of the Briggs Meyer type you might be. Be it when you are travelling or when you’re just stuck at one place. You will find a way that’s the most enjoyable to you.
That’s how I feel about Kuching.
Kuching is my hometown. Where I was born, and where I grew up. But because of circumstances, and perhaps attitude, I didn’t get to explore much of the city growing up and then I moved out of town. All I ever dreamed of was to leave the city, what more when I started seeing all the other vibrant parts of the world that fills up that void a wanderlust craves. Sounds familiar? You know how novelty goes away after a while. But June 2015, I relocated back to the city when all my closest friends moved out. This is when I searched for my haven in Kuching. This is when I learned to get to know and to fall in love with Kuching, rather than it just being home.
Kuching is the biggest city in Sarawak. Sarawak is a Malaysian state located in the North West Borneo. This city was built from a mesh of cultures of the indigenous tribes(over 30 races mainly the Dayaks), Malay, Chinese and had a White Rajah(King) before Sarawak joined Malaysia in 1963. The city was own by the Sultanate of Brunei before it was handed over to James Brooke(The White Rajah) who eventually had to gave it back to The Colony(British). A few days ago, I spent some time chilling with my friend’s grandmother who was around during the Japanese Occupation in Sarawak. She was telling me how the people loved the White Rajah and of course how life was awful when the Japanese army came to conquer. But back to present time, in Malay, ‘kucing’ means cats. Hence, Kuching is also well known as the Cat City and we have the cat statues all over the city to prove it. We also have dolphins(I spent 3 days surveying for them!), but they’re not as famous. In fact, not famous at all.
I am not very good with history and facts, so I recommend you to check out these websites:
Otherwise type ‘Kuching’ on a search engine and your Wikipedia/Lonely Planet version will be there. Tehee. 😀
That is why you can see the colonial style buildings all around town. The town is located by the Sarawak River which divides the city to North and South. Across the river from the town side, at the Waterfront, you will be able to see the Governor’s Residence, Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building, and a row of Malay Villages(they have the famous Sarawak layer cake shops here). You can take small ferries at the cost of 50cents one way to the other side of the river. Driving would take roughly 15-20 minutes, but why not try it once? At the waterfront itself, you can always book for the Sarawak Sunset River Cruise. Anually, there would be a Dragon Boat Race held at the Sarawak River. I am lucky enough that my grandparents’ house is located on a hill right in front of the river so I always watch it from the comfort of my grandparents’ living room. Apart from that, you get a really nice view whenever there is a Decorated Boat contest.
Photo from: http://www.sarawak.gov.my/web/home/photo/226/72/
I work in a mall. A mall that’s located in the city center, very near to the Old Post Office, right next to China Town. One fine afternoon, I decided to take a walk there to get coffee. For me(and many others), Black Bean Coffee is the greatest coffee in town. The price is not sky rocketting like many other commercialized coffee. It just feels more genuine and I love the distinct taste of the coffee. I would always get the Iced Coffee with Condensed Milk. Shaken. Double shot. And this would cost me RM 7.50.
Photo owned by: http://www.justgola.com/u/maria/plans
Little did I know that, that little walk would keep me coming back. The China Town is merely one stretch of small road with temples and old shophouses – with bed&breakfasts, hawker style cafes, laundromat, trendy hipster cafes, bars, furniture shops, jewellery shops, bookstores and of course Chinese sinsei(medicine man). There is just something about that street. It’s quaint, chill vibe. The worn out buildings with a mixture of new ones.. The creative cafes. The faces that I see whenever I walk pass the buildings. This is definitely not the regular busy NYC type of China Town.
Just opposite Black Bean Coffee, there is a Chinese restaurant called Life Cafe . This is where I would go whenever I am craving for a good noodle and spring rolls. I brought Sabrina and her boyfriend here once and he is absolutely crazy about the food here. The price are in the range of RM6.00-RM15.00 for a dish. They definitely have delicious drinks as well. There is also a Vietnamese restaurant. Yes, that’s right, you can get drip coffee in Kuching. I have never had drip coffee back in Vietnam but I have to say the one I had tasted good. The place is called Saigon Fusion. They have two branches in Kuching, one in China Town and the other in VivaCity Mall food court. If you want more options, go for the one in China Town. They are open morning and evening(6pm onwards).
And nearby, is a local pub with a very nice mural which also serves tuak(the local rice wine). Then, there’s the Drunken Monkey, an Irish bar with real nice selection of music. You can choose to chill outdoor or indoor. It’s often crowded on weekends night. The drinks here are slightly more expensive than other places but if you want imported drinks, this is where you would go. The menu is thick but since I have a lot of gas(gluten issues) so I always go straight to the Ginger Ale section. Right next door is my most favorite cafe, which is called the Wrong Place. Apparently, they also have a hostel. Their menu aren’t extensive but they’re okay. The place is decorated with furnitures built from things you can only imagine sitting in a junk yard. They creatively put up a collection of chairs made from old iron bathtubs. I just find it really cool. While I admire the place, sitting in one corner, listening to music I can do my own thing, like reading or planning stuff. The vibe is really suitable for working and it’s not overstuffed like most Starbucks.
There is a gallery cafe around the corner called Indah Cafe. It is small, closes early and yes, trivia, has a gallery on top. They used to house these two artisan jewellers before they moved. Do check them out – Left & Right Handmade Jewelleries. China Town is very small but it’s filled up this whole post.
But before I end this post, I’ll share some more pictures of what you can see around town.
I cannot put Kuching in just one post. I didn’t even talk about half of the touristic places in Kuching but I hope I made you curious enough to ask me to write more of Kuching City. Maybe you can drop a line and ask questions and tell me things you want to know about this city. Dolphin stories? Food? Attractions?
Kuching is boring. Is it not? Home is boring. Is it not?
But home will always be home…