45 minutes drive from Kuching is the Damai beach & Sentubong peninsular area. Apart from the beach, the main attraction here is the Sarawak Cultural Village, a living museum. Worth the trip to come here for a glimpse of the local ethnics way of living and culture.
The famous Cat Museum (famous because "Kuching" is "cat" in Malay) is housed in the City Hall of Kuching North.
Entrance to the museum is free but the exhibits may not be to everybody’s liking. Some people find it rather kitschy and if you come here expecting a historical museum, you will be dissapointed.
So, what can you find here? Well, there are pictures and figurines of cats (what did you expect?) and other cat trivia such as movies and books with a link to cats. Personally I liked the figurines and cute cats, but the trivia stuff was not really that interesting for me.
Located in the Petra Jaya which is just outside of Kuching town, you’ll need a car (or taxi) to get here. You can also take a long walk up to the hilltop where the building is.
The building looks like an alien space ship but is actually based on the design of a traditional Melanau hat. The Melanau are a group of people native to Sarawak.
Charles Brooke, the 2nd Brooke Raja named this fort after his wife. Built on a hillside to guard the town against pirates approaching by river, it is now a Police Museum. It’s a small simple structure and in the courtyard is a display of old police vehicles and cannons.
In the rooms, exhibits include police uniforms and weapons of all types including the homemade guns of communist jungle fighters from the 60’s.
I walked along the battlements and was rewarded by a nice view of Kuching city from across the river.
Best way to get here is to hop onto the many boats that shuttle back and forth across the river. See my “things to do tip”. Once you get off the boat, it’s a 15 min walk to the fort.
This charming little park deserves an entry on my page simply because of the imposing statue of Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho). To me there was an aura about this statue - an aura of power, of dominance...maybe it's the size and posture of the statue that give it that effect.
The brand new park is located in an upper middle class residential area within the Tabuan Jaya district. Only a year old, the park's construction was paid for by the Chinese govt to commemorate 30 years of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China. That's why it's named as "Taman Sahabat" or "Friendship Park". There's not much to do here other than to rest and relax. However there's a restaurant in Chinese architectural style that serves "dim sum" - just the thing to have after your "tai chi" routines
For those who don't know, Zheng He was a Chinese Muslim admiral from the Ming dynasty and a eunuch too. He made 7 voyages in the 15th Century to other Asian countries, including India and as far as to the west coast of Africa. Zheng He was recently made more famous with the publication of Gavin Menzies "1421: The year the Chinese discovered the world" where the author postulates that Zheng He discovered America before Columbus.
There was an interesting plaque at the site of the Satok Suspension Bridge.
When the bridge was constructed in 1925, ....it panicked wrong doers who feared being buried alive at the site. Apparently, Dayak tradition calls for several slaves to be sacrificed and thrown into the first hole to be dug.... to drive away demons
It then continues to say however the tradition was never followed.
As Ripley says - Believe it or not!
Orchid says: Let your imagination run wild. Afterall, this is head-hunting country!!
We're arriving late for Sarawak Cultural Centre visit. Anyway, I will revisit Kuching in near future hope to update more on Sarawak Cultural Centre.
Since we cannot visit the centre, taking one photo also "jadi"-lah!
We adjourned to Damai Beach & having seafood at near by restaurant.
Few of us return to Cultural Village for Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) the following year and the festival in the village setting is great.
Alas, you won’t see the Satok suspension bridge anymore as it collapsed towards the end of last year. While there was initially some talk of the govt rebuilding it, nothing more has been said since then.
The bridge was built in 1926 to hold water pipes transporting water to town and had a very narrow passageway for people to walk or wheel their bicycles across. Until a concrete 2 lane bridge was built just beside it in the mid 70’s, cars had to get across by ferry service. The construction of this bridge spurred development on the far bank which now has many residential estates, the Sarawak Parliament, the Cat Museum, sports stadiums etc,etc.
The open air market is a market place selling various groceries items and agricultural products. There is also outdoor dining place here with stalls offering various local dishes. Adjacent to it is the Electra House which is among the earliest shopping mall in Kuching. An interesting feature of the open air market is its watch tower which used to be a watch tower for fires.
Even though there are various other bigger and better malls in Kuching, the open air market and Electra House still manage to attract patrons as they are located in the heart of the city. Additionally, the Petrajaya bus stop nearby and car/van rental area in the vicinity make this area become lively during the day. When nigh falls, its all quiet around this area.
Padungan Road is sometimes referred to as Chinatown which is very misleading as most parts of the city is like a Chinatown.
One end of this road is marked by this arch in chinese architectural style and the other end is marked by the cat statues opposite the Holiday Inn Hotel .
I found nothing interesting along this street. There were many clinics, drug stores, car parts shops, repair shops and grocery shops, so it does'nt offer anything interesting to a casual visitor.
North is north and south is south but the two are one in Kuching!
The small city of Kuching is actually two cities, the city of Kuching North and the city of Kuching South. Each has it’s own city hall and mayor…and the total population is only 500,000!
Does this imply the city is for some reason extremely difficult to run? Well, not exactly but this is the politics of accommodation – which tries to ensure each racial group doesn't feel left out in matters of state.
The picture shows the Kuching South City Hall. Kuching North City Hall is located across the river that runs through the town and is more popularly called the Cat Museum.
If you only have time for one trail, I would recommend the Paku Trail past the jetty. There we saw a family of proboscis monkeys feeding overhead in the trees. Also saw lots of macaque monkeys, a monitor lizard and the bearded pigs.
Bako is definitely worth the trip, esp. if you like jungle trails. Bring Deet, or other mosquito repellant, you will need it!
Rafflesia is a genus of flowering plants that is made up of 16 known species, the 16th species being discovered as recently as 1988! The scientific name of rafflesia is Rafflesia spp. and the Malay name is Bunga Padma. The best known of these species is Rafflesia arnoldii, which has the distinction of being the world’s largest flower, reaching a diameter of about three feet. The genus Rafflesia gets its name from Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of the British colony of Singapore. He first discovered it in Sumatra with his friend Dr. Joseph Arnold, after whom the largest of the species, R. arnoldii, is named
The 16 known species of Rafflesia are found in the jungles of Southeast Asia. To date, the Rafflesia flowers have been found only in Indonesia - on the islands of Sumatra and Java - and Malaysia, in particular in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak..
Rafflesia, dubted as "Queen of the Parasites" is totally dependant upon a vine called Tetrastigma, which is related to the grapevine. Lacking roots, leaves and stems, the Rafflesia are parasitic upon their host vines, draining nourishment from them.
The Rafflesia can be seen only when it is ready to reproduce, when the parasitic growths on the vine form a lump that develop into a structure somewhat resembling a cabbage. This cabbage-like bud bursts through the host’s bark, and after about 9 months will open to reveal the massive 5-petaled flower, with stamens and pistils, which develops into a fruit with seeds.
All of the known species of Rafflesia are threatened or endangered. It is a "Totally Protected Plant" by law in Sarawak, but elsewhere in Malaysia it is only safeguarded by laws when found in protected areas like National or State Parks.
Please contact Gunung Gading National Park for any Rafflesia in bloom.
The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, located within the boundaries of the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, was set up in 1975... The Semenggoh Forest Reserve has been an important site for Sarawak Forest Department experimental studies and houses an arboretum, a wildlife rehabilitation centre, a botanical research centre, trial plantation and experimental plots, forest nursery and the former Forest School...
The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre carries out a successful orang utan rehabilitation programme as well as conservation of other endangered wildlife... It is also a centre for the study of orang utan biology and behaviour besides providing a safe haven for semi-wild orang utan which have undergone the rehabilitation programme... Today there are 25 orang utans in the Semenggoh reserve, including 14 who were born there...
It is located about 20km south of Kuching city... It can be reached by public bus which takes about 30mins to the Forestry Department Botanical Research Centre and a further 30mins walk thru the forest to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre...
The best time to visit Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is during feeding time from 9.00am to 10.00am and from 3.00pm to 3.30pm when there is a good chance of seeing semi-wild orang utan returning to the centre for food... The centre is opened daily from 8.00am to 4.00pm with a break from 12.30pm to 2.00pm (11.30am to 2.00pm for Fridays)...
About 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Kuching. Bako is an all-year-round-good-to-visit place.
Overland access from Kuching to a small fishing village, Kampung Bako. Then by boat to the park. Timings of the short sea crossing are dependant on the tides (expect rough seas between November and February).
Check out my Bako page for full details.
Tidal bore is a crescent of waves formed when a violent rush of water flows into a narrow channel when the tides are high... Only rivers with a fan-shaped shallow mouth will experience this natural phenomenon every month, depending on the tidal calendar... There are only 56 river sites that experience the monthly tidal bore phenomenon and two of these rivers are in Sarawak ~ the Batang Sadong and Batang Lupar (batang is the local Sarawak dialect for river) in Sri Aman...
The world’s other tidal bore rivers are Huang Ho River in China, the Amazon and some rivers in Indonesia...
Depending on the tide, the tidal bore, locally known as benak, can reach a height of three metres and will last for about 10 minutes... It will be quite an experience for the first-timer to watch the benak in the evening... It comes all of a sudden with a loud roar, followed by the sight of white crescent waves rolling in the dark at the point where the river flows out to the sea... The sight raises a spooky, spectacular feeling... And in a matter of minutes, the series of tidal waves are gone...