We initially hadn’t planned to visit the capital of Sarawak, but this Malaysian state in Borneo was a cheap £40 flight from Singapore and we had time to kill. Lonely Planet describes Kuching as the island’s ‘most sophisticated city’, but coming from THE showman state, it felt a little lacklustre. After a few days of settling in though, we found there was more to this humble trading post than meets the eyes.
Remnants of its British-colonial past weave within the city’s architecture, but its culture has a unique flare that I’ve not really seen in other Asian states which celebrated independence in the 20th century. The population’s made up of Malay, Chinese, Eurasian, Indian and native Dayak tribes, so there are foods, traditions and languages that can’t be found elsewhere in Malaysia. My favourite part was watching a parade in celebration of a Chinese Deity’s birthday. Hoards of locals and tourists lined the streets, cameras at the ready, to cheer on brightly decorated floats and performers. Every few metres they’d be a table of neatly presented food offerings, and those taking part would stop and bow at each one!
‘Kuching’ in Malay translates to ‘cat’, which explains the many feline statues dotted about. I can’t help but think it’s a fitting namesake. The city doesn’t crave attention and pander to a traveller’s needs, like Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. Instead it expects you to do most of the legwork to find the sweet spots that keeps a steady pur of tourists. This laissez-faire attitude is a welcome break after months on the road. Topped off with a craving for quirky cafes and big appetite for vegan and fusion food, the city’s a great place to unwind and relax.
Kuching is also very close to several world-class national parks. You can spend a day or two tackling a rainforest or jungle, whilst trying to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife. We visited Bako National Park during our stay in Sarawak and came incredibly close to vipers, endangered proboscis monkeys, Bornean bearded pigs, and very cheeky long-tailed macaques (who stole my lunch 🙈).
Here are our favourite photos and a video of our time there…