19 July 2010

The-Nothing-Much-Kuching?

While Kuching bloggers are known to hit back if you say bad things about their city, I’m not gonna lie to myself just to be on the safe side by refusing to say what I think of this capital city of Sarawak.
For a starter, Kuching is full of big roundabouts. You can’t miss noticing how they’d rather waste their land on building roundabouts that are probably big enough to accommodate 4 houses within each of its area. A Kucing Kuching friend of mine had reasoned out to me that Sarawak has too much land to waste and hence those big roundabouts are just small portions of its sprawling land. OK lahh..! :-P
I didn’t know that Kuching Airport is now an international airport. Apparently, the airport management seemed to know how to conserve energy by dimming the lights down at the arrival hall. It was just so dark! It reminded me of the fact that the Bakun Damn Project has long been overdue. LOL!
Kuching that I came to find out is divided by the Sarawak River into Kuching South and Kuching North – strangely not only by geography but also in administration.
Kuching North is more like the Shah Alam in Selangor where all the primary government buildings such as the State Palace and the Sarawak’s brand new DUN building are located in while the Kuching South is more like their version of PJ where most of the development and places of interest are found in.
Thanks to the lauching of Hapuskan Kutu Sampah campaign by the Mayor of Kota Kinabalu a few years ago, Kuching’s cleanliness had not struck me as badly as it would have been.
While buildings in Kota Kinabalu are probably more well-arranged and better-positioned among each other, Kuching can always be proud of having a number of beautiful buildings with colonial architecture – thanks to the Brooke family who had ruled Kuching like their personal kingdom for three generations.
Although Kuching is more like a smear of buildings where somebody with a bad sense of direction like me could easily get lost in it, most of the places of interest are actually within a walking distance.
You see, we started our little tour by parking our car just outside of this beautiful Memorial Park.
I mean, it really is a memorial park. In fact, it is a cemetery. It has that scary and haunted looks but somehow they are the looks that make this park even more interesting to walk around in.
And very much adjacent to the park is the Aquarium Bandaraya. In fact it was more like part of the park to me.
Just in case you didn’t know, we do have our own aquarium in KK now so being at the Aquarium Bandaraya in Kuching didn’t make me feel that bad about KK as it could have been. :-P
Just a spit away from Aquarium Bandraya is the museum. It really is worth to take a tour inside considering how they put so many things of high significance to Sarawak culture and ways of living within a relatively small building.
And shame on the Sabah Museum who still thinks it is OK to make money out of a government-owned building; entry to Sarawak Museum is FREE. My thumps up for them.
And you guys know how much I love art galleries very much that a bump into an art gallery would make me horny at once.
Hehe. What a shame that taking photo is not permitted inside the gallery so I’ve got nothing to show to you. It is actually worth a drop by if you’re into arts and paintings like me.
One of the very first things that I was told about Kuching was the series of suicides that took place at a place called Civic Centre.
I mean, how I could ever forget about the story of a Form 6 female student jumping off to her death from the top of the building because her parents wouldn’t let her marry a guy from a poor family.
AND the story didn’t just end there. 1 week later the guy did the same thing, jumping off to his death to complete an epic story of a forbidden love that remains in the hearts of Kuching people up until today.
The story couldn’t get off my head that I actually specifically asked to be brought there but luck was just not on my side that day. I had actually planned to do something funny on top of the building. I’d spare it for another visit. :-P
Ohh, and congratulations to Kuching for its tolled roads - probably the only ones that we have in the whole island of Borneo. Having the worse road systems in the whole country, it gotta be the biggest joke to have a tolled road in Sabah.
Kuching is quite famous for its local cuisines. I was brought to a very interesting area in the heart of the city centre, a place called The Carpenter Street whose old rows of shops were so fascinating to see.
Quite true to its name, the whole area was noisy with sounds of metal clattering as the carpenters come about their daily work.
You see, I was so thankful for my friend Sandra who had offered a room to stay in when I was in Kuching. The whole city seemed to have been fully-booked for the Rainforest World Music Festival that even the worse B&B at the Carpenter Street was fully-occupied.
Apparently, there was some place that they wanted to impress me with – a tiny restaurant called Next.
Next is probably the only restaurant where you’d expect a very long wait BUT you’re not expected to complain AT ALL or you’ll get scolded by the restaurateur right in front of everybody! Since the restaurant is full almost most of the time, you’d have to stand around so that you’ll get noticed and if you’re lucky, people would take pity in you and begin to eat fast.
OH well, I would say, the food was OK but it was ridiculously a long wait I would probably rather go somewhere else. I probably can wait but my stomach definitely cannot tahan wannnnnn. Hehe.
My first day in Kuching was ‘celebrated’ at a place called Satok right across the Sarawak River from the Waterfront. Although it’d be quite long to go there by car, it is actually easily reachable by boat that provides regular rides across the river for 50 cent per trip.
Satok is a famous eating restaurant in Kuching that provides you the ambience of eating on the veranda of a kampung house.
I was greatly impressed not only by its good food but also the availability of a live band performing songs that probably hadn’t been heard in the air of Sabah for at least a decade. Hehe.
On another day I was brought to get a taste of Bah Ku Teh somewhere on the outskirt of Kuching.
I gotta say there’s something in their Bah Ku Teh that we’re probably quite short of here in Kota Kinabalu.
I don’t know what it was but their Bah Ku Teh had tasted better to my tongue then most of the Bah Ku Teh that I am familiar with here in Sabah.
Ohh, and you can’t leave Kuching without having tasted one of its laksas.
Spending so many years of my life in the Peninsular, laksa that I was familiar with was totally different from what they have in Kuching. Their version of laksa is heavy with that milky taste of coconut powder and it didn’t really go well with my tongue. Sorry.
But Kuching’s version of Kolo mee is not bad at all – especially when we can still get a bowl of it for RM2.50. That is more like the price of an iced coffee in most of our restaurants in KK nowadays.
Sharing a whole lot of stories about our life back in our Uni years, my lovely host was so kind to bring me over to the UNIMAS (University of Malaysia Sarawak?) just to ‘revive’ all the memories back in our campus years.
And I was most amazed by the beautiful towers that they have for a campus. They have those…. futuristic looks. I was even more amazed when I was told they were the towers for water tanks!
The heavy rain didn’t stop us from sneaking around.
We even managed to sneak into one of the labs. Hehe.
Oh well, somehow it didn’t feel good to see those new and modern-looking buildings that they have in UNIMAS while we were forced to study at the old and weathered blocks of buildings back at the University of Malaya. It just wasn’t fair. :-(
I can’t really blog about Kuching without writing at least something about the Waterfront even though it was totally different from what I had imagined.
Waterfront is probably the most iconic area in Kuching and I can’t even think of any place in KK that I can match it perfectly up with. It stretches along the riverbank of the Sarawak River right across the city centre making it a perfect place for anybody to stroll around while watching the beautiful buildings of Astana (The Palace?) and Kuching’s latest landmark the DUN Building from across the river.
A sudden rain actually forbade me to cover the whole stretch in the evening so I returned there again to see how it was at night.
Oh well, probably due to the ongoing RWMF, the waterfront was surprisingly scarce with people, errrr, almost deserted actually.
Luckily there were still things to be seen around.
And the DUN Building is just so fantastic to see at night. With its beautiful bell-shaped building and nested right on top of a hill, it looked like a hanging bell that floated over the Sarawak River and its reflection makes it even more beautiful to see.
What a perfect night view to savor while having a foot massage after a whole day of walking around in the city of Kuching. Hehe. Whatever..
A little bit of walking around had led me this another landmark of Kuching.
NONE of my friends that I knew visited Kuching without taking a photo OF these kittens.
Or rather a photo WITH these kittens.Hehe.
Another 'highly-pictured' kitten in Kuching is actually this.
Since it is located in one of the busiest areas in Kuching, I had to jump off the car and took a brisk walk over to the kitten and gave him a high-5 before dashing back to the car.
I ended my night in Kuching by visiting what appeared to be the nightlife centre of Kuching with pubs and nightclubs concentrated on this narrow street here.
Be careful with the menu. Kuching probably has their own way of naming drinks and they can be different from how we do it here in Sabah or anywhere else. I actually ordered ONE SERVING (as mentioned in the menu) of Long Island – my supposedly favorite cocktail.
Based on the price mentioned on the menu which was RM45, I was expecting a jug of the sour mix that what Long Island is known for. Instead, it came in the form of this.
I really thought they sent me the wrong order but the waitress insisted it was Long Island. And there was no way of arguing since it was clearly stated in the receipt. SO.. it was Long Island. Their version of long island and it had cost me RM45 which is more expensive than a jug of OUR long island in KK.
And I almost threw up upon taking my very first sip – it was damn pure liquor! I don’t know what kind of shit they gave me for a Long Island but it was just so strong I had to ask for ice cubes to drink with it.
Oh well, I'd really really suggest that they name that shit with something else to avoid confusion. A little google search for Long Island would get you to what a real Long Island is.
RM45 burnt over a glass of Kuching’s version of Long Island, I actually squeezed the glass up just to make sure not even a single drop wasted. Hehe.
Oh well, it was a very short visit to Kuching, probably too short to really see all the things that Kuching has to offer.
Long time ago, I was told by a friend that I should spend at least a week to experience everything in Kuching. Somehow, coming from there, I’m glad I didn’t stay longer. Somehow….. Hehe.. Sorry...

14 comments:

thomas said...

and you call it nothing much Kuching.Hah!hah!
thanks for your quick tour.

JIPP said...

hehe. No problem. :-D

Kelvin said...

Every place have their own beauty, maybe u haven't found one there yet?

JIPP said...

Errr, Kuching was not that bad Kelvin. But I just didn't really get to like it. But may be you're right. Haven't found the wows there yet. :-)

TOLANIC said...

The sky looks going to rain soon. =)

JIPP said...

yeah, it did rain. :-)

Ellen said...

Jipp, maybe that's why it's 45 ringgit. The alcohol content makes up for it!

I'd love to visit Carpenter St. though. I miss those old working shop houses. Well worth preserving in my humble opinion!

JIPP said...

Yeah Ellen, I like Carpenter St too. There is someth about it that reminds me of those old rows of shops in Keningau my hometown. Hehe. And yes, we all agreed that the high content of alcohol did make up for the price. I actually felt sorry for the waitress after I took my first sip. I gave her a bit of a hard time. LOL!

ken said...

nothing much? you wrote song a long entry.. haha.. i've never been to east msia before so far.. always read it from blog posts.. =)

aud said...

Haha! Maybe that RM45 'tea' left a bitter taste in your mouth !

I like Kuching cos it still has some quaint old-charm quality compared to KK, and they have unique food outlets like The Junk and Magenta. A few days is good to relax and unwind, and venture out to nearby attractions. I still want to go to the Longhouse next time :)

JIPP said...

KEN: We'll be more than happy to welcome you here. :-)
AUD: yupp, I agree with you on the old-charm of Kuching. KK is putting in too many shopping malls, probably more than necessary that it is losing this old-charm that we actually look forward to in every city that we visit. Kuching still have a lot of old shoplots and many of the restaurants have operated for many2 generations.

Anonymous said...

Can you just don't critize before you even really get to know the beauty of Kuching . Your words seem offensive and is unfair to the people of Kuching . I'm from west M'sia and I have been to both cities .What I can say is Kuching way better than KK . Food , place of attraction , culture , city structure , economy and etc. Why KK is more famous than Kuching is because of the success of publicity but is so much different in reality !

Anonymous said...

Have you even been to Damai / Sematan ? Have you even taste Kue Chap , Kampua , midin , kong pia , belacan beehon and etc? Have you been driving in kuching city ? Do you know the house price in kuching and in KK ? If not just shut up !

Anonymous said...

he thinks KK is the world's best city....

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