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Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Malaysia: Top Things to Do and See in Kuching


Photo © wander2nowhere.com


“Where Adventure Lives” couldn’t have described Sarawak, a state in the Malaysian part of Borneo, better. From diversity of its people and culture – which even intrigues other fellow Malaysians! – to nature and World Heritage attractions, the list of adventure possibilities is endless. For this instalment of “Top Things to Do and See in…” with a local perspective, Ramble and Wander has invited Noel Lau of Wander2Nowhere, a Malaysian nomad and travel blogger who originally hails from Sarawak, to share with us some insights about Kuching, the capital city of his homestate.


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Even though I wasn't born and raised in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak has always had a special place in my heart. My grandma used to bring me here whenever she came to buy orchids and run some errands. I have fond memories of going to shops housed in old colonial buildings, and strolling along the leafy and serene waterfront right in the centre of the city. If I ever settle down in Malaysia, Kuching is one of the only 2 cities that I would choose to live in.


Sarawak Laksa

Photo © wander2nowhere.com

Have breakfast at Chong Choon Café. Housed in an old building smack in the centre of the city, this coffee shop offers many delicious dishes such as Mee Jawa, roti bakar, etc. But most people come here for Laksa Sarawak. This is one of the most famous places to have the iconic Laksa Sarawak; many foodies and food bloggers swear by it. Because of its popularity there is always a crowd in this kopitiam but it’s well worth the wait. It’s not uncommon to see Malaysians of all races and religions share a table here to enjoy this heavenly dish.

Address: Lot 121, Jalan Abell, Section 3, 93100, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak.




Ethnology Museum (Sarawak Museum)

Photo © wander2nowhere.com

There are a few interesting museums situated right in the centre of Kuching city. But the most interesting is the Ethnology Museum (previously known as Sarawak Museum). Often claimed as the finest museum in Southeast Asia, it is the best introduction to the culture and history of Sarawak. The stately colonial building was built by Rajah Charles Brooke in 1891. There are exhibits showcasing the handicrafts, weapons, carvings, and masks used by different tribes who called this land their home. The highlight of a visit is the real-size wooden replica of the inside of an Iban longhouse, complete with actual human skulls hanging from the ceiling; a reminder of the Dayak’s headhunting tradition in the past. And it’s free entry.

Address: Sarawak MuseumTun Abang Haji Openg Road, 93566 Kuching, Sarawak.




Kek Lapis Sarawak (Sarawak Layer Cake)

Photo © wander2nowhere.com

Another icon of Sarawak is the kek lapis – beautifully crafted layer cakes with every colour of the rainbow and every flavour combination imaginable; even belacan flavour! A whole cottage industry of kek lapis-making has mushroomed in the otherwise idyllic Kampung Boyan, just a short sampan ride across the river from Kuching city centre. Of the 10 home-stores fighting for your attention, the most famous is Kek Lapis Dayang Salhah. The place is nicely air-conditioned with wall-to-wall of colourful kek lapis, some with strange names: Ombak Rindu, Pandelela, Sisik Ikan, etc. To help you select, they have generously put out samples which you can try. Moreover they are reasonably priced, ranging from MYR10 to MYR30. Kek lapis makes very nice souvenirs!

Address: Kampung Boyan, 96000 Kuching, Sarawak.




Bako National Park 

Photo © wander2nowhere.com

At 37 km outside of Kuching city, Bako National Park is easily accessible and provides a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s one of the few places in Sarawak where you can see wildlife in their natural habitats: the rare proboscis monkey, wild boar, flying lemur, etc. There are many hiking trails catering for all kinds of visitors; from easy strolls to the more hardcore treks. The reward for most of these trails is finding secluded and beautiful beaches that you get to enjoy without the crowd. Take your time, stay for a night or two, and disconnect from the outside world. There are chalets and basic accommodation options in the park.

Address: Bako National Park, Sarawak.




The Rafflesia at Gunung Gading National Park

[ Photo above ]

There are only 2 places in the world where you can see the Rafflesia – the world’s largest flower  and Borneo is one of them. Gunung Gading National Park, 85 km from Kuching city is the best place to see this unusual yet spectacular flower. The Rafflesia is a rare flower in that it has a very short flowering period, so seeing it in full bloom requires a certain amount of luck. The national park monitors the buds of the Rafflesia and knows when it’s about to bloom. So it’s best to call the park before you make the journey there. But the Rafflesia isn’t the only attraction at Gunung Gading National Park, there are a few challenging hiking trails, including one to the summit, and a few waterfalls for a nice swim to cool down.

Address: Gunung Gading National Park, Sarawak.




Staying in a Longhouse

Photo © wander2nowhere.com

For travelers who like to have a more in depth cultural experience, you can spend a day or two in a longhouse. With improved road access and some longhouses opening up for homestay business, it’s not hard to find one. Annah Rais Longhouse, about 1.5 hours by car from Kuching city, is one of the nearest and easiest longhouse to access. Here, the traditional and communal ways of living haven’t been corrupted by modern development. Besides the cultural exposure, you can also go on jungle hikes, cool down at a beautiful waterfall, and relax at a natural hot spring. If you want to stay for a few days, Annah Rais Homestay provides modern comforts in a rural setting.

Address: Annah Rais LonghouseNo.71, Kampung Annah Rais, Jalan Borneo Height, Padawan, 94200, Kuching, Sarawak.


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Have you been to Kuching and/or other parts of Sarawak? What did you like most about the place? What are your top things to do and see there?




Noel Lau is a Malaysian nomad and travel blogger who hails from Sarawak. He left his corporate life, and Malaysia, about 10 years ago to travel to Europe and ended up living there for a bit before moving to South America for a few more years. Nowadays, apart from travelling and blogging, he writes for magazines and runs private tours in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Bhutan and Colombia.

Wander2Nowhere | Facebook | Twitter | Google+




In conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014, Ramble and Wander would be inviting fellow Malaysian travel blogger friends to share their knowledge and insider info, through a guest post, about places and things they would personally bring their guests to see, do and try in their local area. This is the third of such guest post.

For other www.RambleAndWander.com blog entries on Malaysia, click here.

For other travel blog series on "Top Things to Do and See in...", click here.



11 comments:

Comments and feedback are always appreciated. So do leave one or two if you have the time. Thank you!

  1. Kek Batik ke Kek Lapis.. Dulu kat Miri ada pencangahan dari penjual ada tulis Batik ada tulis Lapis huhuu.. apa pun ia tetap sedap .. :D

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Kek lapis kalau design dia masih berlapis2. Kek batik kalau design dah tak berlapis2 tapi berkotak2. Kot? Hahaha!

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    2. Hahahaa.. mungkin juga.. :D By the way hebat Bro Noel Lau nie.. Menambahkan lagi inspirasi nak terbang jauh ke amerika selatan :D

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    3. Yup! He not just went there but lived there too!

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    4. Jom! Let's go to South America next year ;)

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  2. Wow, nice article,thank you for share this information thing, keep it up bro!
    http://akumohdfakhrulislam.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks to Noel for sharing a bit about Kuching :)

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    2. You are most welcome :)

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  3. well noted bang, dari dulu punya plan, mau ke Kuching via Pontianak by bus. Would be great journey, but it takes time ya... dan itu, laksa & kek lapis kelihatannya enak bangettttt !!

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    Replies
    1. Ooh! That would be an adventure, I'd imagine! Yeah, laksa Sarawak and kek lapis are really popular among those who travel to Sarawak.

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    2. Now there are direct buses from Pontianak to Kuching, taking out the adventure part but it does make it more convenient to travel between these 2 cities.

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