AN INTRODUCTION TO KUCHING
Described as one of the most attractive cities in Southeast Asia, Kuching is the State capital. It is a city rich in history, and modern day Kuching is a delightful blend of modern structures and old-world charm. Kuching is divided by the Sarawak River; the south is a commercial residential area, dominated by Chinese, while the north shore is predominantly Malay in character, with old kampong houses lining the river. The two parts of the city are very different in character and even have separate mayors and separate town halls.
Kuching is known to be the highest populated city in the entire Sarawak in Malaysia. While the Bruneian Empire was in administration, Kuching was the third capital. Only after Kuching was handed over to James Brooke, it became the capital of Sarawak. While Charles Brooke was the ruler, the city kept flourishing. It saw some major development like construction of hospitals, schools, lavatories, prison and souks. World War II made Kuching a part of the Japanese province post Japanese invasion. However, the town was not damaged even after the war.
|The Waterfront has been transformed into a landscaped esplanade through restoration and a land reclamation project. Earlier there were warehouses and looked like an ancient dock with many ships coming in. It has become a popular meeting place, with food stalls, restaurants and entertainment facilities including an open air theatre. There is also a restored Chinese pavilion, an observation tower, a tea terrace and musical fountains. Traditional architecture like the Square Tower is also a thing to take note of. The view of the Sarawak river from the dock is mesmerizing.|
|The Darul Hana bridge is a beautiful pedestrian bridge, which opened in November 2017. The inhabitants of Kuching always had to cross the Sarawak river with a "bot tambang" or "water taxi". Now the population and also the tourists can cross over the bridge to make the crossing from the south to the north of Kuching. The bridge stands out because of its special shape. It is not a straight bridge, but an S-shaped pedestrian bridge, resembling a Yin and Yang sign. The bridge is 336 meters long and is supported by two cables that are 45 meters high and connected with two outward-facing steel pillars with hornbill wings. The steel pillars face outwards at an angle of 48 degrees.
They stand in opposite directions and it symbolizes the balance between the cultures that live together in Sarawak. The long S-shaped bridge has elements of the bamboo bridges of the Bidayuh community, but it is a futuristic design. The supporting structure of the cable bridge consists of cables, which are in a steel tube. There are two resting places on the bridge, inviting the pedestrians to enjoy a spectacular panoramic view over the river. The name "Darul Hana" bridge means "a place of peace and quiet" in Arabic.
|Fort Margherita was built in 1879 to guard Kuching’s river approaches from pirates. In the old days, a canon shot was fired from here every evening to mark the end of the government work day. Named after Charles Brooke’s wife, Ranee Margaret, it is a unmistakable landmark along Sarawak River. As the Fort is situated within the police training barracks, visitors may be asked for some form of ID
The Brooke Gallery at Fort Margherita, was officially opened on September 24, 2016 coinciding with the 175th anniversary of the founding of State. Housed in a Fort named after James Brooke’s wife, Rani Margherita, the gallery’s irreplaceable historical documents, artefacts and arts from the White Rajah’s era, wrapped in steep history and preserved in time. The gallery also includes new addition such as a portrait painting of Rentap painted by the local artist, Alena Murang, depicting the man who was a hero to some and a villain to others. This gallery was a joint project of the Sarawak Museum Department, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture as well as Mr. Jason Brooke, the grandson of the last Rajah Muda and the Director of The Brooke Trust
|India Street is lined with shops selling all kinds of goods, particularly textiles. Mid-way down India Street (if you can find it!) there is a narrow passageway that leads to Gambier Road. If you follow this passageway you’ll pass a small Indian Muslim Mosque hidden away in the middle of the city. The Mosque’s structure has undergone many changes since it was originally built by Kuching’s Indian Muslim community in the mid 19th century.|
|Chinatown: Chinatown is where most of Kuching’s Chinese population live in the shop houses lining the narrow streets around the Main Bazaar. The street, opposite the waterfront, is the oldest in the city, dating from 1864. Kuching’s highest concentration of antique and handicraft shops is to be found here. The characteristically Chinese Red Archway welcomes the travellers with complete warmth. The best thing about the streets is that they are devoid of garbage. The cleanliness of the city and the bright paints of the walls are just great to look at. Lined up book stores, coffee shops, hardware stores and antique furniture stores have enhanced the grandiose of the city.
One can also choose to visit the myriad Chinese temples that are to be found on Carpenter Street. Areas around the Main Bazaar feature some other important buildings dating from the Brooke era. The Supreme Court on Main Bazaar was built in 1874 and in front of the grand entrance is the memorial to Rajah Charles Brooke (1924). The clock tower was built in 1883 and Fort Margherita in 1879 (now the Police Museum). The General Post Office, with its majestic Corinthian columns, stands in the centre of town.
| The Kuching North City Hall Family Cat Statues can be found in the intersection of Jalan Padungan, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Abell. This cat statue is the easiest to spot because of its strategic location near major shopping complexes and hotels in Kuching (it is directly in front of Holiday Inn).
Kuching is also called ‘Cats City’ or ‘City of Cats’. The cat statues not only give a unique feel to the city, they are also nice photography subjects. This white cat is the Kuching South City Council Cat Statue, it was built in the 90s, the first ever cat statue in Kuching. It sits in front of the Little China Town along Jalan Padungan and looks like it is welcoming visitors with its waving hand.
|Sarawak Museum is one of Kuching’s biggest attractions. It is the oldest Museum in Kuching that holds many secrets of the state’s glorious past. Opened in 1891, the museum overlooks pleasant botanical gardens and the Heroes Memorial, built to commemorate the dead of the Second World War.
It was established by Charles Brooke upon the support of the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. This museum displayed the local arts and crafts in earlier years. During the second World War, this museum was protected by a Japanese officer who had a fondness for it. The specimens of Sarawak's animals, reptiles, flora and fauna are displayed in the ground floor of the museum and in the first floor one can notice various artefacts, musical instruments and boats crafted by the local people.
|Kampung Budaya is possibly the finest "Living Museum" in South East Asia. The Sarawak Cultural Village combines history, tradition, lifestyle and architecture with a dash of education and portion of theatre to create a unique multi-cultural extravaganza. Seven unique traditional houses, spread over a beautiful 17-acre site, gives you the perfect introduction to Sarawak, its people and cultures. Whether you are looking for insight into longhouse lifestyle or a taste of exuberant Sarawak hospitality, Sarawak Cultural Village is a must visit for visitors to Kuching.|
|Bako National Park is a national park in Kuching Division, Sarawak, Malaysia. Established in 1957, it is the oldest national park in Sarawak. It covers an area of 27.27 square kilometres (10.53 sq mi) at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula at the mouth of the Bako and Kuching Rivers. It is approximately 40 kilometres by road from Kuching. Millions of years of erosion of the sandstone have created a coastline of steep cliffs, rocky headlands and stretches of white, sandy bays.
Wave erosion at the base of the cliffs has carved many of the rocky headlands into fantastically shaped sea arches and seastacks with colored patterns formed by iron deposition. The most famous of them is shaped like a cobra's head which can be spotted on a boat ride from the headquarters or one of the beaches. Some of these rock formations can be seen on entry to the Teluk Assam Beach, which fronts the park. The park can only be reached by a 20-minute boat ride from the village of Kampung Bako. It is often visited as a day-trip from Kuching, though accommodation (campground and forestry service bungalows) is available.
| Built on a coastal land fronting the panoramic South China Sea, the Damai Craftsworld & Event Centre takes the “center stage” of Damai Bay with the advantage of natural ambience of the sun, sand and sea, all set against the backdrop of the lush tropical greenery of Mt. Santubong. It is born out of a vision to transform the Santubong Peninsular into an entertainment oasis to enhance the experience and the living lifestyles for both the local populace and tourists. The complex is complete with F&B, shopping and recreation facilities.
The availability of an open-air arena now makes Damai Central (Damai Craftsworld & Event Centre) the ideal platform for the staging of carnivals, concerts, weddings, corporate and other theme functions. Its strategic location and comprehensive facilities open doors to the public and cultivate healthy outdoor activities for all. Whether you just want to have a cool drink by the sundeck, treat your family to a sumptuous meal or simply admire the sunset with your loved one, it is the perfect getaway for all. Now, there’s an open beach for Kuchingites to go to, away from the hustle and bustle of city living.
|If you ever wanted to visit an old Chinese temple, this is it. Sitting on a foothill and commanding the view over the river and Main Bazaar, the ornately decorated Tua Pek Kong Temple, which was one of the few buildings that survived the 1884 Great Fire of Kuching, is said to have the best Feng Shui location in the city. It is believed to date back to 1843 and has been on official records since 1876. Various traditional festivals are held here every year, including the famous Wang Kang Festival to commemorate the dead.|
|Sunday Market Kuching’s best market, and also one of the best in Sarawak, is along Jalan Satok. The market actually begins late on Saturday afternoon, when villagers bring in their produce and livestock and start trading. They sleep at their stalls and resume trading at around 5am on Sunday. The vendors here are quite congenial and bargaining is also accepted. People from the village gather here with lots of fruits, vegetables, spices and various fish and sell them at the Sunday Market of Sarawak. Mainly, it is a perfect place for grocery shopping and not only tourists but the citizens also swarm at this market for buying their regular food.|