April 23rd, 2016 - Day 21 - Docked at Kuching, Malaysia on Borneo Island

We woke up docked at Kuching, Malaysia pier on Borneo Island.

We had breakfast at the Terrace Cafe.  Jim had oatmeal and Pat had grapefruit, kiwi and watermelon.

Our tour to the Highlights of Kuching left at 9:00 AM with Selena as out guide.  She was part Chinese.  We had a hard time understanding her so we did not get much information from her.

The population is one half million

There are 2 parts to the state North & South

South is Chinese people - North  is Malaysia people

There are 27 tribes

50 local languages

City area speaks English, Malaysia & Chinese language in town

Kuching is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Located on the enormous island of Borneo, Kuching is often said to be one of the cleanest cities in all of Asia.

The name Kuching derives from the Malay word for cat, and in honor of felines there is a cat museum, and the cat statues are prominently displayed throughout the city.  Our first stop was at the famed Cat Monument.  This gleaming white kitty with its deep blue eyes is the oldest cat statue in Kuching.  It stands proudly on a roundabout on Jalan Padungan. Sitting in front of an ornate and colourful Chinese archway, it offers the purr-fect welcome to the city!

There are several spiritual and decorative Chinese temples around Kuching, including the historic Tua Pek Kong Temple with its 7 story pagodas.  We stopped and visited this temple which dates  back to 1870.  Perched on top of a raised piece of land, the outer wall is particularly bright and impressive.  We could inhale the aromas of incense and see many traditional symbols and statues.  There were people burning bunches of white and yellow paper in the furnace.

I thought this was an interesting story.  Tua Pek Kong was a man named Zhang Li (张理) from the Hakka clan. His Sumatra-bound boat was struck by wind and accidentally landed on Penang island of Malaysia, which at that time had only 50 inhabitants.  After his death, the local people began worshipping him and built the Tua Pek Kong temple there. Today Tua Pek Kong is worshipped by Malaysian Chinese throughout the country.

The Sarawak Museum / Ethnology Museum is a great place to learn about the local culture and history. The ground floor has an assortment of tools, machinery, and stuffed animals.  They also had a snake room and bird room, that were preserved.  We both said that Rachel would not like the snake room or the bird room.  There were large preserved turtles.  There were bones from 2 killer whales and they were huge.  They showed seashells from the region.  Browsing through the galleries show the history, traditions and beliefs of the diverse ethnic groups of Sarawak and Borneo.  These exhibits have been collected, salvaged and preserved for the last 120 years.

The upper level had a fantastic collection of tribal carvings such as masks, statues and totem poles that were over 100 years old and all different varieties.

There was  a replica of a traditional home called the Iban Long House which would typically hold 15 people.  Long houses were typically built near waterways with axe-hewn timber and natural materials such as leaves for thatching.  Long house interiors were always open with verandas running the length of the buildings. The more urns they had the richer they were.  If there was a door between rooms that meant they were sharing the house with family if not it was closed.

We then drove to the starting point of the Heritage Walk which is a trail through town that show many of the Kuching's main attractions. We passed through historical buildings and we walked down narrow covered passages lined with shops.  We saw a Taoist Temple.  People were friendly and smiled.

We then had two hours to walk around and explore the town.

We found a mall called Parkson and walked through it but didn't find anything to buy.  It was difficult to purchase anything in the little shops as you had to have their money which was ringgit and most of the little shops did not take credit cards.

We then walked across the street and found one of the most famous Cat fountains close to the waterfront in the middle of a roundabout on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. The cute fountain statue shows mommy and daddy cat standing proudly with their brood of playful kittens.  Each kitten is shown doing something different.

We walked along Kuching’s Sarawak River  which is a popular spot for locals and visitors. It is lined with food sellers in the evening so we didn't see any food displayed during the day just the empty carts.  Across the river we saw the elegant Astana, a white castle-like palace that is home to the state’s governor, as well as the tall pavilion-esque New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building complete with its golden umbrella-like roof.  Boats were on the river and it was a very picturesque view.

For dinner we ate in the Grand Dining Room.

Jim had Frank's Childhood Pate in Croute: French style Encrusted Pate with Smoked Ham and Pheasant.  For his salad he had Baby Greens with Red Delicious Apples, Toasted Almonds and Pancetta.  For his main course he had Lobster Thermidor "Café de Paris" with Steamed Jasmine Rice.

Pat had Dorado Ceviche and Lime Juice with Cilantro and Heirloom Tomatoes. For her salad she had asked for Iceberg Lettuce with Creamy Goat Cheese Miso and Anchovy Dressing but she got Baby Greens with Red Delicious Apples and Toasted Almonds.  For her main course she had Grilled Lemon Sole with Piquillos Peppers on Tarbais Cassoulet. 

 

For dessert Jim had no sugar cinnamon ice cream and Pat had raspberry sorbetL

Good night from Kuching!  We had an awesome departure from Kuching with a beautiful sunset!