Kuching 2012 – The Sightseeing

I guess I have been pretty lucky when it comes to taking flights. As a student, the only airline that I have ever had experience with was with MAS, Malaysia Airlines. Then when I was traveling for work, the company’s travel policy meant that I was only allowed to take SQ, Singapore Airlines. Not once have I ever had to experience flying with a budget airlines.

This all changed in 2012, when I took an AirAsia flight for the first time in my life. The second time has not happened yet as of today by the way. I took that flight to Kuching, Sarawak, to attend the wedding of my then housemates.

I’m not going to tell you about how that flight went. I am actually going to tell you about Kuching.

I’m sure most of you already know this, but for some of the jakuns who have never been to Sarawak/Sabah before, the first thing you need to know is that although both that Borneo states are part of Malaysia, you do need your passport for entry even if you are flying in from some other states in Malaysia. Even if you are a Malaysian. You will be issued an entry pass which is basically a piece of paper, stapled to a page on your passport. DO NOT lose that piece of paper, because it will be taken away when you leave.

Okay. Now… shall we start of with the food? But… I have already written about food for three consecutive days. Maybe we should take a break from food. Maybe not you, but I certainly want that break. So maybe this time I should start off with the sightseeing parts.

Actually, we did not even do a lot of sightseeing. We were there for a few days, but most of the time was spent helping out with the wedding stuff, and also attending the wedding. This will probably be a short and boring post…

Cheng Ho Memorial Park

Well, that’s actually my name for this park. I think the actual name of this park is 马中友谊公园 Malaysia-China Friendship Park. This park is suitable located in the suitably named Taman Sahabat (Friendship neighborhood). It is very close to the apartments where we were staying in, so we got to drop by here for a quick walkabout.

You guys know Cheng Ho, right? Laksamana (Admiral) Cheng Ho? He is that legendary Chinese admiral who sailed the southern seas on seven epic voyages, making it as far as Africa. He is China’s equivalent of Columbus, I guess.

Back in those days, a few hundred years ago, Ming dynasty China was a very strong naval power in this region that got everyone cowering in fear. Being China’s protectorate meant no one would dare mess with you. And Cheng Ho was the admiral that represented imperial China when he frequently docked at our shores, so he is pretty famous here.

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Truth be told, I was actually quite confused as to why there is a big Cheng Ho statue here. Our history lessons were always teaching us about how Cheng Ho was instrumental in helping turn the Malacca Sultanate into a major Southeast Asian powerhouse. I never knew Cheng Ho was famous in Borneo too.

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Anyway, the park is actually quite huge, with statues and verandas and whatnot. But we didn’t stay for very long, because it began raining shortly after we arrived. So we quickly left.

Kuching Waterfront

Another place we visited was the Kuching Waterfront. There is a long strip of pedestrian walkway here overlooking the Sarawak River, with shops and restaurants nearby.

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There are a few historical buildings here, but I wasn’t paying attention when my friend was explaining to us. They’re mostly relics from the colonial British era, when Sarawak was ruled by the White Rajahs, the Brooke family.

You can also take boat rides from here. There are a few ways to do it. The more well to do tourists would usually take a cruise, which will set you back RM 60. But the cheapest way to feel this river is to take one of those small, man powered boats. You see, there are lots of such boats along the riverfront. They have been around for many years, ferrying passengers across the river and back. It used to be for practical purposes, now it is more of a tourism thing. Each trip costs RM 0.30 per person, so most people would take a trip across, and another trip back. All in all, RM 0.60. Yes, 60 cents.

To put things in perspective, you can take 100 back and forth boat trips with the money you spend on a river cruise with one of em’ big ferries.

There’s a few buildings of interest across the river. There’s a museum, there’s the state legislative hall, and then there’s this, the Astana.

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The Astana was built by the second White Rajah, Charles Brooke, back in 1870, as a wedding gift for his wife. Today, it is the official residence of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, the governor of Sarawak.

This means, if you go there today, you will be able to find that notorious pek moh (White Eyebrow), infamous for his “30 years as chief minister, if you use your brain, it is very easy to get very rich” speech…

Anyway, here’s another waterfront photo for you.

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I actually liked this waterfront area very much. I thought it was a very nice and peaceful place to hangout on a stressful day… until I paid closer scrutiny to my surroundings.

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Sigh… rubbish galore in the river. Reminds me that I am in a country with first world infrastructure but third world mentality. 🙁

And… that’s about all the sightseeing that I managed to get on this trip. Not a lot, but there’s nothing much I can do. Most of our time were spent on the wedding, and I can hardly blog about my friend’s wedding, can I?

28 Comments

  1. I have not been to Kuching. Never been to Borneo, Sabah or Sarawak. Mainly because it as never attracted me as a destination to visit. I’ve heard there are good things about hiking, trekking and visiting bushland there but apart from that, I don’t know what else is there to do there. But I’m sure it’s a nice play to visit, at least once.

    • Well, you are right. Maybe not Kuching, but Sarawak and Sabah in general, people go there for the nature more than anything else.

  2. I have been to Borneo several times and this Kota Kinabalu is the best for food and vacation. Kuching is a bit quiet but I enjoyed staying at the Sheraton Hotel besides eating their Kolo Mee and Sarawak Laksa!! Damn heavenly.

    I am shy to say that I didn’t go sight seeing so much like you. I am equally surprised that Admiral Cheng Ho landed in Borneo too. I wonder if that Princess Hang Li Po found no suitors and told him to go Melaka! LOL Anyways, Cheng Ho is very much more famous and glorified in China than here… Thanks Buddy for sharing this.

    • Hmm, maybe I should earmark a trip to KK then…

      LOL, as of now, we don’t even know if Hang Li Po is real or not. Seems like more and more sources are saying she was just the daughter of a warlord in Southern China. 😐

  3. Ehhh, this post talking about me ahh, coz I’m one of the jakuns you mentioned leh, never been to Kuching/East Malaysia before, hehehehe…Own country only been to Penang, Melaka and Langkawi, OMG..

    • There are so many jakuns among us. In fact, I would still be a jakun too if not for having to attend a wedding there. I guess there is nothing to be ashamed of hahaha! 😛

  4. You know, after reading this post last night, I had a nightmare where I was at the airport and couldn’t find my passport! Can’t remember where I was flying to 😀 Anyway, I have never been to east Malaysia and also didn’t know we need our passport to enter. So I am one of the jakuns 😀

    • Malaysia is actually a federation between some states, with Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo. When these 2 Borneo states joined Malaysia, there is an agreement that spells out certain areas where they remain autonomous. Immigration is part of it. So, they made it a law that anyone NOT from Sarawak (or Sabah) entering needs a passport.

      It is a bit like England and Scotland I guess. If one day Scotland decides to set up checkpoints at the borders, they can do so and it would be legal.

  5. You sure were one lucky student not having to travel on budget airlines – although, the long time ago that I was a student there weren’t any budget airlines – so I guess I could say the same thing. 😉

  6. Been to Kuching once, I think in 2001.. long time ago.. zaman dahulu but I remember not taking the passport with me.. I thought just IC will do? Not sure about the regulations now… or is it that I am from Perak, I do not need the passport to enter Sarawak? 🙂

    • I don’t know, maybe they changed policy sometime after 2001. 😐 … Cannot be Perak different lah, I think they treat all Semenanjung the same.

  7. I have never been there too. OK, is that all that is worth seeing in Kuching? I know it is your friend’s wedding but since most of your time was spent helping out with the wedding, maybe you can write about what you did to help out. What do you need to do? I thought you went there as a guest just to attend the wedding only. Need to work also?

    • Probably not just these. We didn’t even take pictures with the kucing statues! These are probably… 5% of what are worth seeing in Kuching, I guess..

      Hahaha, my job, mostly as ahmat, ferry the visitors who arrived later than me from airport to the apartments. And then of course got the pre-wedding dinner, and the morning ceremony, and the dinner… Aiya nothing much to write about lah, all the photos got a lot of people, privacy privacy…

  8. That company is very good, pick SQ as the only airline, guess many wish to have that, Hahahaha! (Not many actually, is just only me!)

    • Er… actually got 3, MAS, SQ or United Airlines. United no good for long haul flights, they didn’t even have personal screens >.< .. MAS is well, MAS.. so only left with SQ hahaha! 😀

  9. Singapore Airlines is SIA rite? didn’t know that it is called SQ also…well, besides that im also a jakun with Sabah/Sarawak, never step foot in Borneo before…

    • SQ is their IATA code for their flight numbers. Like SQ192 or SQ385 for different SIA flights. I used to calling them SQ, because SQ shorter than SIA hahaha! 😀

  10. I’ve been to Kuching in 2002 (if not mistaken since it’s so long ago).. yeah, I took AirAsia and I remember they just started operations then and many things were still new.. no marked seat and whoever boarded the plane first get to choose the seats they wanted.. it’s like boarding a local bus, you know?? haha~~

    • I guess certain things it is still better if the seats are marked, especially when Malaysians are involved. Flight is one, cinema is another. If first come first serve, it will seriously discourage Malaysians from queuing, and might even cause fist fights in the airport. They probably learnt their lessons, AirAsia… Plus selling “good” seats is a nice bonus hahaha! 😀

      • I thought only need to show your passport to the Immigration Officer, didn’t know that will be issue with an entry pass…

        • Maybe Singaporeans different, I don’t know. But we were given that piece of paper each. I guess they decide their own immigration rules, and they are on friendlier terms with Singapore than Peninsula Malaysia >.< ...

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