Kuching Mini Guide


Kuching, Sarawak’s state capital, is often described as one of the most attractive cities in Southeast Asia. It’s a city that is rich in history, and modern Kuching is a perfect mix of modern structures and old world charm. The city is divided by a river named Sarawak River. Kuching south is a commercial and residential area dominated by Chinese, and the north of the city is majorly Malay in character, with really old kampong houses lining the beautiful river. Those two parts of the city are very different in character, and they even have separate mayors and town halls.

The city of Kuching is known as the highest populated city in the entire state of Sarawak in Malaysia. When the Bruneian Empire was in administration, the city was the third capital. Just after Kuching was given to James Brooke, the city became the capital of its state. The city kept improving while Charles Brooke was the ruler. It experienced some major development like construction of schools, souks, prison, lavatories, and hospitals. Kuching was made a part of the Japanese province post the Japanese invasion by the World War II. The town wasn’t damaged even after the war.

 

 

Like many places in the world Miri has grown from a small fishing village to a metropolitan hub on the back of “Black Gold”. Oil was first commercially produced in 1910 by Royal Dutch Shell who remain there to this day under Shell Sarawak along with Petronas Carigali. Other industries include commercial logging and more lately palm oil production.

 

There are tons of theories as to how the city got its name (Kuching means cat in Malay), but the name roots are as a trading post, built by Sir James Brooke family, the first of “White rajahs” who governed Sarawak for over a century.

Going to Kuching today reminds me of a time when Asian cities weren’t clogged with pollution, traffic, and skyscrapers. The city’s architectural heritage and famous Chinatown are preserved well even though Kuching lacks protection from
UNESCO.

 

What to do and see

The perfect introduction to the city is to take a stroll along the huge pedestrian promenade that follows the astonishing Sarawak river. Across the river lies sleepy Malay kampongs, the imposing colonial Fort Margherita and, of course, the White Rajah’s palace, both of which are dwarfed by an enormous modern parliament building that resembles a golden spaceship.

The 19th century Old Court House with colonnaded terraces is located at the end of the prom, and opposite of the ancient prison that became a fashionable restaurant. The old courthouse has become a cultural center since the people behind Penang’s Bohemian China House arts and leisure center took over the place. Multiple court buildings usually host theater, exhibitions, live music and poetry reading, and a fashion boutique, restaurant and café too.

Just parallel to the waterfront is the Main Bazaar Street, and it’s lined with small shops selling handicrafts. Streets at the back of Kuching’s Chinatown form a maze of coffee shops, temples filled with incense, street food stalls and really noisy workshops of tinsmiths, carpenters, cobblers and tailors.

Where to eat

Kuching is the paradise of food, especially street food, where dishes cost less than a dollar. You should start at the adventurous Kueh Chap a feast of braised pork intestines and ribs or Chinatown’s Seng Kee where there is a choice of pork satay, Sarawak laksa, fishball soup, Chinese rice porridge with preserved vegetables and salted egg.

People usually head to Top Spot at night, which is a cheap (Main dishes from 2 dollars) and enormous open-air food court on the roof of a parking lot.