Sarawak’s capital is bursting with culture as well as wildlife – and not just of the feline variety
The capital city of Sarawak is often considered to be a quiet and homely destination that can offer a traveller a worthy respite. But Kuching is certainly more than a place that offers well-deserved relaxation. It’s also a place that boasts its own hidden secrets amidst its landscaped parks and gardens, colonial buildings, colourful markets and bustling waterfront. If you want to maximise your visit to ‘Cat City’ then take heed of these essential visits…
If you crave getting up close to wildlife, pay a visit to the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, located some 30km from the city. Established in 1975, the sanctuary was specifically built and managed to rehabilitate Orangutans that have been injured in the wild, orphaned or have been rescued from captivity. With the probable extinction of the species to take place in 20 years, the centre’s work and specifically their breeding programme has extended a much-needed lifeline for these endangered animals to continue their survival in the wild.
The Orangutans here roam freely around the lush tropical forest reserves of Semenggoh and have been trained by experts to survive and breed by themselves in their natural surroundings. The animals, however, do continue to return during feeding time, which has created an avenue for visitors to catch these unique creatures in their natural habitat. Nevertheless, visitors are advised that the Orangutan interaction does rely solely on the animal showing up (which they rarely don’t) so should they fail to turn up, rest assured the centre also offers optional forest walks and a chance to observe other wildlife like monkeys, honey bears and hornbills, who have made the rehab centre their home.
RUN THE RIVER
Sarawak’s rivers have played a crucial role in the development of the state in terms of transportation, development as well as giving rise to its diverse eco-systems. Which is why no trip to Sarawak would be complete without the chance to explore its riverine system, especially if it’s done on a kayak. The folks at Kuching Kayak offer such eco-friendly tours in rivers on the outskirts of the city – it’s an excursion not to be missed, especially if you’re the adventurous sort.
Held predominantly in the Bau district, the river kayak tour takes you on a meandering river shaded by overhanging canopies of trees through the surrounding lush tropical rainforest. The tour takes approximately three to four hours, sweeping you through mild rapids where you will be greeted by the sounds of rustling water, chirpings of birds and insects as well as views of dolomite hills and caves. It is also inclusive of lunch on the riverbank. In addition to allowing you to be up close with nature, the kayak tour also gives you an insightful experience of visiting a Borneo village along the river route.
EMBRACE SARAWAK CULTURE
Situated some 35 minutes away from the city is the famed Sarawak Cultural Village, an award-winning living museum that showcases Sarawak’s unique and diverse cultures in an accessible, welcoming setting. The village stretches over 17-acres and consists of several authentic traditional buildings and long houses that are populated by members of Sarawak’s many ethnic groups. Here you can witness the local folk go about their daily activities such as growing pepper and presenting their skilful handiwork with wood and bamboo carving, beadwork and weaving. If you’re up for a challenge, you can also attempt throwing a Malay gasing (top), shoot a traditional blowpipe or try your hand at an Orang Ulu sape (string instrument). Each tour at the Sarawak Cultural Village concludes with a 45-minute multi-ethnic cultural performance in the village’s main theatre.