The Malaysian fashion designer shares her travel tips on Kuching and Paris
What do you love most about this city?
Kuching, where I was born, is special because of the attitude of the people. They are hospitable, straightforward and globally aware. The town and shops nestle by the river, which is clean, and it has a lot of chic restaurants and watering holes. Foodies will be spoilt for choice!
Where would you take a first-timer to in this city?
I love taking my guests to see the diversity of the city, its pretty colourful kampung houses across the river, Chinese temples with their Chinese opera performances at night, and to a Bidayuh village not too far away.
What is the one thing that the first-timer must do in this city?
To get a feel of the city, one must visit the cultural village, a 30-minute drive from the city. This ‘living’ museum is an informative place to get into the DNA of Sarawak. To get to it, you drive past modern roads, then the mountain and the sea before you arrive at the village. Here, you can find a lot of ethnic artefacts just on one street.
The best place to have dinner with:
a. family – See Good Food Centre, where they serve the best seafood right in the city. For a bit of an adventure to go along with the seafood, go to the Buntal fishing village, which is 30 minutes by car from the city.
b. friends – The Junk, it’s THE restaurant and watering hole of Kuching.
One thing about the locals.
The locals are so confident and they exude a sense of effortless sophistication, even among the older folks or the younger ones at school.
What do you find most refreshing about this city?
The elegant buildings, which have been properly restored. Each time I come here, there’s always a new discovery, whether a street or a part of the city where you feel you are in another country completely, like the Indian area, where coconuts are opened the same way they do in a village in India. Or in the Arab area, where the souks or the Moroccan-inspired mosques are all located within the sophisticated lux of Hermès and Chanel.
The one experience or place that everyone must try or visit.
The one local dish everyone must try.
The baguette or croissant with French butter. Nothing beats handmade French bread. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, don’t leave without trying the caramels. If it’s a dish, the entrecôte steak with fries and béarnaise sauce.
The best thing you can do here for free.
Visit the Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen or Paris’ flea markets to look at the incredible treasures or just to imbibe the ambience of watching the tourists or locals shop. You may pick up a centuries-old treasure or a button or nothing at all but the experience is a lesson in itself.