We’ve reached Kuching! Finishing off with the amazing #RWMF last week, and learning about the wonders of Sarawak the week prior, we finally got to rest our tired feet in Sarawak’s capital city; Kuching.
Balanced with a combination of historical buildings and modern infrastructures, it is no wonder Kuching has been listed numerous times as one of the most attractive cities in Southeast Asia.
Better than we imagined! Waterfront, Kuching, Sarawak
There are multiple versions of how Kuching got its name, but the two most popular theories are;– The name Kuching is derived from the Chinese word kochin, meaning “harbour”, which makes sense because the town is erected by the Sarawak River.
– Kuching, being a literal translation of Cats in Bahasa Malaysia, also mata kucing which literally translates to Cats Eye, a fruit which grows in abundance around the area.
No matter how this charming town got its quirky name, Kuching is very much well preserved and we love it all the same!
Old but Gold. Fort Margherita, Kuching, Sarawak
Rich in its culture, while travelling through town we saw plenty of eye-catching sights like oriental styled Chinese temples, grand golden domed mosques and colonial-styled buildings. It truly highlights the harmony of the multiracial country of Malaysia.
We must say, right of the bat, Kuching managed to warm us with its quirky charms and cat statues that’s scattered around town.
We hit a goldmine! Waterfront, Kuching, Sarawak
Cat statues? You read right. True to its name, you’ll be happy to note that walking around the city, we found so much happiness at the sight of wonderful statues of cats being erected everywhere in the city. But! The best part was definitely the dedicated cat museum! It is the purr-fect city for cat lovers all around!
FOLLOWING A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRAIL
Being the centre of Sarawak, Kuching is a melting pot for all the cultures of the land. You know what that means? They have all sorts of different kinds of scrumptious local delicacies from the 27 ethnic groups in Sarawak. So it’s no surprise when we say we went there to get a taste of Sarawak. Pun intended, we went on a food trail!
We tried prized local dishes like Sarawak Laksa, Kolo mee and a vast array of seafood (which is very cheap in these parts of Malaysia), you can see what we ate in our Taming Borneo episodes.
You might be enticed to go on your own food trail during your adventure, but what food should you be looking out for? Well, through our travels, here are 5 dishes you absolutely need to try:
- Sarawak Laksa
The Sarawak Laksa is a staple dish of the state, vermicelli noodles cooked in a shrimp-based broth that is thickened with coconut milk. This dish is served with a generous handful of crunchy bean sprouts, boiled prawns and garnished with shredded chicken and slivers of egg omelet. If you can handle some spice, a thick sambal (chili) paste is usually served on the side and to complement it, a slice of lime to add some tang to your palette.
- Kolo Mee
A bowl of piping hot Kolo Mee (Kolok Mee) is just the thing to kick start your day. This dish of light yellow egg noodles consists of lard, char siew (barbecued pork) sauce and black vinegar. A common enough dish found in Sarawak, Kolo Mee is available for breakfast, lunch and even supper! (Note: Halal version is also available at Malay stalls)
- Kek Lapis Sarawak
Sarawak Kek Lapis is considered one of the ‘art-food’ introduced by the old generations of Sarawak. It is not only delicious, but also pleasant to look at with intricate multi-coloured cake layers. Domestic travellers usually buy these as souvenirs to give to family members so as to bring home a piece of their travels.
- Umai – Umai (Umei)
This would be the Malaysian equivalent of Ceviche. Umai is traditionally a standard lunch dish for the Melanau fishermen. Usually served cold, it incorporates thin slivers of raw fresh fish, thinly sliced onions, chili, salt and juice from sour fruits like lime or Assam. A bowl of toasted sago pearls usually complements this dish and is sure to tickle your taste buds.
- Ayam Pansuh
Also commonly known as Manok Pansoh, this is a unique Iban dish cooked in a bamboo shoot. Ingredients like cut chicken, lemongrass, and tapioca leaves are stuffed into bamboo shoots before it is cooked over an open fire, for a smoky flavour. Besides that, this method would also ensure that all the flavours are sealed in the bamboo shoot and would result in juicy and tender chicken with gravy perfumed by the lemongrass and bamboo shoot.
GOING AROUND, HOPPING TOWNS
While we only visited Kuching during our Taming Borneo trip, there are also other great towns around Sarawak worth noting down when planning your own Taming Borneo adventure.
Miri is a coastal city next to Kuching and is the second largest city in Sarawak. It is the birthplace of the petroleum industry in Malaysia.
Miri is a popular shopping destination for both Malaysians and neighbouring Bruneians alike for its modern shopping malls, food haven and traditional handicraft centre at the Miri Handicraft Market. The annual Miri International Jazz Festival is also a huge attraction for music lovers.
Lastly, one of the major attractions for nature lovers travelling to Miri is the Niah Caves. Dating back to 40,000 years, the oldest human remains in Southeast Asia can also be found here. Here you can also visit the Painted Cave, named after the prehistoric paintings on the cave walls.
Sibu town is mainly populated by the Foochow settlers originally from the Fujian Province in China. Sibu’s seven storey pagoda is one of the historical Chinese buildings that symbolizes the Foochow influence in its unique design.
In Sibu, the hand painted Sarawak fine pottery make very popular souvenirs with tourists. At the Lembangan Market, don’t miss the unique opportunity to go shopping at around 700 stalls in the area. Vendors sell some pretty fascinating items, ranging from jungle produce, including flying foxes, squirrels, snakes, turtles, snails, edible jungle fruits and ferns. Not only that, vendors also sell a variety of garments, toys, electrical goods and foodstuff at a price everyone can afford. At night, the atmosphere is thick with a carnival-like feeling.
If you have more questions regarding our Taming Borneo adventure, please do leave a comment in the comment section below, or start a discussion; tell us your personal Taming Borneo experience!
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