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PLACES AND THINGS TO SEE IN KUCHING

Hotels and Lodging – there are well over 50 hotels and Lodging houses in and around the City Centre - see Hotels section on this website.

Kuching Waterfront Promenade and Esplanade walkway - a good place to walk and wander and get a feel for the River and City around you. Along the Esplanade you will find food stalls and historic buildings, views over the River with the State Assembly building on the other side (The round building with the ornate roof that looks a bit like a partly opened umbrella) and also Fort Margherita. The Tourist Information Centre is located in the Old Courthouse Building. There are also many tour operators in and around here too – and certainly taking a tour will provide you with a commentary about the places you are seeing.

Main Bazaar one street back from the waterfront – this is where there are a lot of Chinese Shophouses – a whole mix of different shops, traders, Kopi shops(Coffee shops), sellers and activities.

Also walk along Jalan China, Leboh China, Jalan Carpenter and Jalan Ewe Hai – all streets with Chinese shop houses and local character. The Shang Ti Temple built in 1863 is located on Jalan Carpenter. Also look for Jalan India.

Malay Kampung Houses – you can see some from the River, but better to see up close. If you head to Fort Margherita and you will be able to see them. Also near the Kuching Mosque.

Mosques, Churches and Temples

  • State Mosque – is located on Petra Jaya and was built in 1990.
  • Kuching Mosque – Jalan Datuk Ajibah Abol. There is also an open-air market nearby and Kampung Masjid next to the River.
  • Masjid Indian Mosque – built in 1837 is located between Jalan India and Jalan Gambler.
  • Sri Srinivasagar Kaliamman Temple – Jalan Ban Hock is a Hindu Temple as is the Sri Mariamman Temple – Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce.
  • St Thomas' Anglican Cathedral – built in 1956 is located on Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg. St Joseph's Catholic Cathedral is also on the same street.
  • Sikh Gurdwara Sahib Indian Temple – is located on Jalan Masjid.
  • Tua Pek Kong Temple – Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman – built in the 1800's
  • Lim Fah San Monastery – Jalan Tabuan is where you will find a big statue of Quan Yin (the Goddess of Mercy)

Religion has played and continues to play a significant role in the daily life of Kuchingites – with Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian religions all here, a reflection both of the diversity of cultures but also the respect and acceptance of other people's beliefs in the Sarawak society.

Museums – there are a number of museums that showcase the history and development of Sarawak. These are some of them –

  • Sarawak Museum – see www.museum.sarawak.gov.my is the main museum in Kuching and it has two wings – the Old Wing and the New North Wing. It is located near the corner of Jalan Tun Haji Openg and Jalan Barrack.
  • Islamic Museum – has 7 galleries around a courtyard is just behind the Sarawak Musuem off Jalan P. Ramlee.
  • Chinese History Museum – is located on the water front on Main Bazaar. It highlights the history of the Chinese pioneers who came to Sarawak.
  • Textile Museum – is in the old Pavilion Building near the Tourist Information Centre.
  • The Women's Museum – is located at the Tourist Information Centre too.
  • Cat Museum – is in Petra Jaya in the Kuching City North City Hall. If you love cats, this is the place to come and discover the world of cats.
  • Timber Museum – Wisma Sumber lam in Petra Jaya

One of the things you will find with addresses in Malaysia is confusion. If you can't find a place, ask a local – and invariably the answer will be "Go Straight! Go Straight!" They might be right, and they might be wrong. Either way, somehow you will find the place you're looking for!

CRAFTWORK – The intricate woven textile patterns in the cloths that you see are very much a Sarawak tradition, and you will see examples of this work in various Tourist shops as well as shops selling 'Songkets' and 'Pua Kumbu'. As well as the Textile Museum (listed above) also look for

  • The Datin Amar Margaret Linggi Memorial Gallery – 4th floor, Tun Jugah Tower, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. See www.tunjugahfoundation.org.my
  • Sarawak Craft Council's Handicraft Centre – Lot 32, Section 25 Jalan Tun Abang Hj. See www.sarawakhandicraft.com.my Tel: 60 82 245 652. Here you can see beadwork, woven baskets, cloths, scarves and other handicraft work.
  • Tanoti House – Jalan Tabuan – see www.tanoticrafts.org Tel: 019 281 0098. See Songket weaving and other handicrafts here.
  • Sarakraf Pavilion – 78 Jalan Tabuan is where you can see and buy Weavings, pottery, beads, furniture,bamboo work, baskets and also eat in the restaurant here or stay over in their homestay. See www.sarakraf.com.my

Kuching has lots of heritage to be proud of, but it is also a modern city too, with its high rise buildings, Convention Centre, movie theatres, hotels, restaurants and shopping centres, which means that you have both modern facilities but also there is this strong sense that Kuching also values its past too.

TOURISTS COME TO SARAWAK TO SEE RAINFOREST, WILDLIFE, BIRDS, FISH, SCUBA DIVE, DISCOVER THE UNIQUE CULTURE AND VISIT RESORTS –

These are some of the places that may want to see –

Satok Weekend Market in Kuching – is located on the other side of the River near the Bridge off Jalan Satok.

Kuching Wetlands National Park – is like a forest on water Just 15 kilometres from Kuching on the road to Damai Beach. Here you travel by small boat in and around the mangroves, small creeks and rivers to see and hear the sounds of birds, Silver Leaf, Proboscis and long tailed Macaque monkeys, crocodiles, insects and other wildlife. It is a great way to get a feel for the jungle while at the same time being on a boat.

Sarawak Cultural Village - is about 35 kilometres from Kuching near Damai Beach (Resort area). Here you can see a number of different buildings representing all the different tribal groups that come from the rainforest, river areas, mountains and sea, with people from many of the tribal groups wearing traditional clothes also here. Each building (long house, jungle house, farm house and others) has a 'storyteller' wearing traditional clothing who will tell you about the house and the culture that it represents. They also have various shows happening throughout the day, with craft work and other interesting information about the different cultural traditions.

Village Life – within 30 to 40 miles of Kuching there are a number of Kampung villages that are the real home of Bidayuh, Iban or other tribes. The best way to visit and also respect these villages and people is to take a tour to see them. Some villages also have home stays too. Check with the Tourist Information Centre to find a tour that suits you best.

Sarawak has 40 different Ethnic groups with the main groups being the Iban (30%), Orang Ulu (5.5%), Chinese (30%) and Malay (21%) with a number of other tribal groups and people of mixed cultural heritage and different countries making up most of the other 13.5%. Certainly a visit to the Sarawak Cultural Village above will provide you with a good insight into the diversity of ethnic groups in Sarawak, but also if you can visit some of the outlying villages away from Kuching or Miri, you will discover some of the unique aspects of traditional life in Sarawak. There is also still the nomadic group called 'Penan' who continue to hunt, fish and live in the jungles and rainforest. The Ibans who live in LongHouses were once ferocious headhunters, but no longer practice headhunting, something that was outlawed by the first White Rajah in the 1840's. If you get a chance to stay in a Longhouse, you are bound to have a memorable time, particularly if you try 'Tuak' – the rice wine that is made by the Iban people.

Damai Beach – is where there are a number of resort hotels and from here you can see (or climb) Mount Santabong, take tours to see rare Irrawaddy dolphins, birds, small fishing villages and head out to one of the islands that lie offshore to see turtles and other marine life. The Damai Golf and Country Club is also here in Damai, and there are also places to Kayak, do a river cruise, sail and windsurf here too, along with restaurants and the sunsets.

Talang-Satang National Marine Park – about a 30 minute boat ride from Damai Beach is where the 'Turtle Islands' are located each island surrounded by coral. Marine Turtles only breed between the ages of 30 and 50 years, and they only lay their eggs once every 4 or 5 years on the beach where they were born. Their life is hazardous, and with development Turtle populations are declining. Of the four turtle islands, only Pulau Satang Besar allows general visitors to set foot on the island to see and learn about the Turtles, also seeing the Hatchery. You can also Scuba Dive or snorkel off this island but there are strict limitations on where you can go. You should also understand that there are also dangers too – with stone fish, highly venomous Cone Shells and also sea snakes in these waters. The best way to see the island and also enjoy the day is to take a tour.

Bako National Park – to get to this very popular Park you take a small boat from the small fishing village of Kampung Baku, which is about 37 kilometres from Kuching. The Park is on the end of the Muara Tebas Peninsula near Mount Santubong and there are 18 different walking trails (Jungle Trails) of between half an hour and seven or so hours – all marked according to distance and how easy or hard they are to walk. Bring the right clothing, shoes, water and supplies with you, maybe a small torchlight/ lantern and also ask about weather conditions. There is a small shop at the Park Entrance which has some foods, but best to bring your own supplies.
Here in the Park there are said to be 25 different vegetation eco-systems, with the best times to see animals is early morning or just before dark. Some of the animals you might be lucky to see are Probosis Monkeys (the ones with the hanging nose), hairy nose and Oriental small clawed otters, the Bornean Bearded Pig, Monitor Lizards, sun lizards, flying lizards (yes, they fly), crabs, flying lemur, tarsier, slow Loris, mouse deer, palm Civets, owls and some of the more than 150 bird types that have been identified. You can stay in the Park at one of the Chalets, lodges, hostels or camping sites – which is the best way to see early morning animals and at night you might get to see Glow Worms. You need to pre-book with the National Parks Booking Office in Kuching in the Visitor Information Centre. Tel: (+6) 082 248 088.

Kubah National Park – is located around 22 kilometres from Kuching and here there are 3 mountain peaks inside the Park, the 911 metre high Gunung Serapi, and smaller Gunung Selang and Gunung Sendok. You can actually see these three peaks from Kuching. The climb to the top of Gunung Serapi will take around 5 to 6 hours to go up and back, but there are many shorter and easier trails too.

Here in the Park you will find Waterfalls, over 100 different palm tree types (see the area called Palmetum), rainforest orchids, pitcher plants, ferns and trees as well many varieties of birds and animals. Some of these include Black Hornbills, Argus Pheasants, rare maroon Woodpeckers along with Civets, Sambar Deer, Mouse Deer, squirrels and other animalsYou can also stay in the Park at one of the hostels or bungalows – but you need to book early with the Booking Office in Kuching.

Also in the Kudah National Park is the Matang Wildlife Centre (about 30km from Kuching) where they take care of Orang Utans, as well as other native animals and birds that have been rescued, injured or orphaned – such as Sun Bears, Sambar Deer, Civet Cats, Eagles, Kites, Hornbills and others. They also have 3 large aviaries, and they feed animals in the morning and again in the afternoon. Again the best way to get there is on a tour, but check with the Tourist Information Centre in Kuching. There are also jungle treks from this part of the Kudah National Park too.

Wind Cave – The Wind Cave Nature Park is 48 km from Kuching, on a limestone plateau 5 km past the small village of Bau. Here you can walk along a 1000 metre long walkway that leads past stalactites, stalagmites, limestone pillars and pinnacles through the cave, emerging at the other end to a riverside beach area and picnic spot. You can swim here too, while inside the cave you will also hear thousands of bats and Swallows or Swiftlet birds that build their nests in the top of the cave. There are said to be 14 different bat species living in the cave, while outside near the river, you may also come across other birds and animals too. Another Cave system called Fairy Cave is also near Bau, and is also big and impressive too. There is a Chinese Temple inside the Fairy Cave too.

Gunung Gading National Park - this Park is where you might see the world's largest flower in bloom – the Rafflesia – a flower that can be up to a metre in diameter. It looks like a giant mushroom with petals in the shape of a flower. It only flowers for about 5 days a year, mostly around November to January, but just seeing photos of it are amazing. (Google image search to see it). The Park is located about 55 kilometres from Kuching just past the small town of Lundu (where there are Homestays), and while the Rafflesia Flower is the main attraction, there are jungle treks and waterfalls to see in the park too.

Happy Travelling!

Geoff Stuart

Happy Traveller

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