Kuching

Date Links: Sat 18/06 │ Sun 19/06 │ Mon 20/06 │ Tue 21/06

Accommodation: Lime Tree Hotel

Introducing Kuching

Sprawled lazily along the bank of the Sungai Sarawak, state capital Kuching has a leisurely charm all its own, cultivating a sophisticated but relaxed atmosphere where high-rises tower over traditional river ferries and souvenir shops rub shoulders with bird’s-nest traders. The name means ‘cat’ in Malay, and a distinct feline langour characterises Kuching life, as if the city might at any moment stretch, stir and slink off on its own mysterious business.

Built principally on the south bank of the Sungai Sarawak, Kuching was known as Sarawak in the 19th century. Before James Brooke settled here, the capital had been variously at Lidah Tanah and Santubong. Kuching was given its name in 1872 by Charles Brooke.

Unlike some of the other large towns in Malaysian Borneo, Kuching’s historic buildings escaped damage during WWII, and many have been tastefully renovated. Like the state it represents, modern Kuching enjoys an admirable level of racial, re ligious and social tolerance, partly thanks to a long custom of intermarriage. Even the local branch of KFC only employs speech- and hearing-impaired staff.

Although Kuching is quite a large city, the centre is compact and isolated from the suburbs by the river. Landscaped parks and gardens along the river promenade provide territory for strolling and atmospheric views of the Bungo mountains looming out of the morning mist. Combined with the city’s cultural attractions and the lively eating and drinking scene, it’s small wonder that no-one ever complains about spending a few extra days here. Once you do get around to leaving, Kuching is the best base from which to start exploring the state.


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