Kuching, Malaysian Borneo
In April 2013, John and I went to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Kuching.
You can read about our Crab Feast in Singapore HERE and our time in Kuala Lumpur HERE.
Many of the locals refer to Kuching as “Cat City” from the Malay word kucing, meaning cat.
There are several cat statues in the city especially along Padungan Road.
The most famous cat statue is the one welcoming visitors to the city in front of the Padungan Road arch.
This waving cat is famous for the clothing and decorations she wears related to festivals being celebrated during that month.
I don’t know how tall she is, but I am 5’03” . . .
Maybe 5’06” on my tiptoes?
Kuching is the capital of Sarawak and the largest city on the island of Borneo.
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is divided among three countries: Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.
We only explored the Malaysian part of the island but the other two are on the list!
We stayed at The Ranee.
It is a stylishly boutique hotel that was once a traditional 19th century shophouse.
The Ranee is on Jalan Main Bazaar and faces the waterfront.
Main Bazaar is the oldest street in the city.
Here you will find old shophouses filled with souvenirs, clothing, wood carvings, produce, seafood, spices, bakeries, etc.
A block from Main Bazaar is an an old Chinese temple, Tua Pek Kong Temple.
This temple was built before the 19th century and has official records going back to 1876.
My favorite part of Main Bazaar is the waterfront esplanade.
Sampans (wooden boats) are the easiest and cheapest way to cross the Sarawak River.
We spent a lot of time walking the waterfront and watching the locals come and go.
Across the Sarawak River is the nine-storey high New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building.
Its distinctive payung (umbrella) roof is an iconic landmark for Sarawak.
The Astana is the official residence of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak, the Governor of Sarawak.
The name is a variation of istana, meaning palace.
Another of the city’s striking landmarks is Kuching Divisional Mosque.
We could hear the prayers as we walked towards the Mosque.
It was beautiful. The prayers, the mosque, the people walking out after worship… all of it.
India Street Pedestrian Mall is a couple of blocks from the Kuching Divisional Mosque.
This is the place to go for textiles, clothing, and souvenirs.
We bought several colorful head scarfs for our daughter and an amazing muumuu for me.
Don’t judge, I love that muumuu.
On our last day in Kuching we went to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre to view rescued orangutans.
Our hotel recommended Ooo Haa Tours & Travel and we were very happy with the personalized and friendly service we received.
A private tour costs about $22 USD per person and the drive from Kuching to the rainforest takes about half an hour.
Our guide was everything you’d hope for: knowledgeable, trustworthy, kind, and funny.
The orangutans are not in cages and we were reminded many times to watch our backs.
We never felt unsafe, but I think a lot of people forget that the orangutans are wild animals and not zoo animals.
A mom and baby made their way through the trees and down to the fruit-covered platform.
Next thing you know, the mom started making her way towards us and into the road where we were standing.
She wasn’t angry, just curious.
Our guide walked us deeper into the rainforest and we patiently waited for other orangutans to come out of the rainforest.
Finally, we heard them swinging through the trees as they made their way to the platform.
The word orang is Malay, meaning person. Utan is derived from hutan, meaning forest.
Orangutan literally translates to “person of the forest”.
Again, a mom and her baby became curious and walked to where we were standing. The staff slowly moved us away from her . . .
Just in case.
I’ll never forget our morning with the orangutans. I’ll never forget their personalities, their curiosity, or their eyes.
Most of all, their eyes.
I’ll also never forget the new friends I met in the rainforest that day.
Maybe one day they will see this picture and we can all reconnect.
Before I wrap this up, I need to tell you about the food in Kuching.
You didn’t think I forgot about that, did you?
James Brooke Cafe & Bistro is on Jalan Main Bazaar.
We ate their Sarawak Laksa several times during our time in Kuching.
It was delicious!
James Brooke is a beautiful place to go for lunch or dinner on the Kuching waterfront esplanade.
For a stunning view of the sun setting over the city, go to The Lime Tree Hotel for drinks.
Kuching sunsets are worth taking time for.
The constant changing of the colors in the sky are outstanding.
We mostly ate at small shophouse restaurants.
If you are on a budget, these are the places you should look for.
If you love really great food, these are the places you should look for.
No kidding, for the best food in Kuching, go to the small family owned shophouse restaurants.
Lunch for two will set you back about $4 USD, including drinks.
We really enjoyed our time in Kuching.
The vibe there is vastly different than the city life in Kuala Lumpur.
Nothing against KL, we greatly appreciated what both Malaysian cities had to offer.
And although we only got a small taste of the island of Borneo . . .
I hope one day we’ll return and soak-up more of that warm, inviting culture.
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