Experience the best of the East Malaysian city from the comfort of home
The capital of Sarawak, and the state’s most populous city, Kuching is known for its diverse food offerings and a calendar packed with festivities throughout the year. Here’s how to spend a virtual day in this vibrant destination.
9.30am: Start your day with the “breakfast of the gods”
The late Anthony Bourdain once proclaimed this variation of coconut-milk-laden laksa the “breakfast of the gods”, and for good reason – the tangy, spicy flavours of tamarind and sambal belacan pair beautifully with a rich chicken and prawn broth that’s finally mellowed with coconut milk. Ladled over rice noodles and topped with fresh lime, poached prawns and fragrant coriander leaves, this dish is a great way to start a day of exploring Kuching from your couch. Try this traditional recipe.
11am: Take an artsy tour around the city
If you’re an art lover, Kuching locals will be proud to direct you to any of the city’s myriad graffiti-lined streets. From the adorable baby orangutan mural by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic spotted at Jalan Power to the hardworking tradesmen of old lovingly depicted by local artist Leonard Siaw in Kai Joo Lane, immerse yourself in Kuching history through these contemporary masterpieces with a handy Google map created by Sailingstone Travel.
Noon: Whip up a bowl of Kuching kolo mee
No dish is as synonymous with Kuching as kolo mee – roughly translated as “dry mixed noodles”. Don’t let the name fool you; the egg noodles’ springy texture combined with a shallot oil and soya sauce base results in a delicious mouthfeel that’s far from dry. Try making your own version at home – either the Chinese style or a halal variation – and just remember that the key is to fry the shallot slices till they are golden brown! Then cap off the meal with a hearty mug of butter coffee; all you need in your freshly brewed black coffee is a wedge of butter and a spoonful of condensed milk.
2pm: Walk through the city’s landmarks virtually
The newly launched Sarawak, More to Discover campaign by the Sarawak Tourism Board now has street-view tours and even video footage of local landmarks such as Fort Margherita, a former guard post facing the Sarawak River, and the statuesque General Post Office (supposedly the only building in Sarawak with Neoclassical architectural elements and striking Corinthian columns!). You’ll also find panoramic tours of attractions such as the colourful Tua Pek Kong Temple and the Sarawak Cultural Village, where the various ethnic groups of Sarawak are celebrated in individual “houses”, which you can also virtually explore individually.
3pm: Time for a catnap? Check out Kuching’s kitties instead
Kuching’s name literally means “cat” in Malay, so it’s no wonder that feline friends can be found everywhere in the city – from the famous white cat sporting wild whiskers at Padungan Roundabout to the world’s first museum dedicated to cats. Spend a lazy hour marvelling at some of the statues around town here.
4pm: Adopt an orangutan from the Semenggoh Nature Reserve
A thriving population of adult and adolescent semi-wild orangutans call the Semenggoh Nature Reserve home, where the biggest orangutan rehabilitation centre in Sarawak is located. And you won’t find just great apes here – pygmy and giant squirrels as well as gibbons can be spotted now and then too. While you wait to see these rare creatures in person, you can always adopt one for a year. For RM200 (US$46) – all proceeds go to reserve’s wildlife conservation trust – you’ll receive regular updates on your adopted orangutan as well as an adoption certificate.
5pm: Explore Sarawak’s literal dark side with an online caving tour
The state of Sarawak is home to numerous geological wonders like the limestone caves found in the Unesco-listed Gunung Mulu National Park. Make an appointment to go virtual caving with specialists from Kuching Caving, and explore the recesses of well-known sites such as the Fairy Cave (about 40km from Kuching) through tours over Zoom. Each tour lasts about an hour, and you may even catch a glimpse of native wildlife such as bats.
7pm: Kway teow with a twist for dinner
You may have had char kway teow, but Sarawakians have taken the aromatic, normally dry-fried dish to new levels by adding tomato paste and ketchup to the mix. The result is a filling rice noodle concoction that’s coated in a deep-red, tangy and slightly sweet sauce. Fry up a plate of your own, sit back and unwind as you tuck into this satisfying meal.
8pm: Groove into the night
By far the most famous event that’s put Kuching on the world map is the renowned Rainforest World Music Festival, an annual celebration of diverse sounds that brings international and indigenous musicians together to perform for and host workshops with over 20,000 festivalgoers at the Sarawak Cultural Village. And even though it’s sad news that this year’s edition has been postponed until further notice, you can still get your music fix through these RWMF-inspired playlists with previously featured artists. We especially love the traditional tunes of indigenous musician Jok Jau Evong, who plays an ancient lute-like instrument called the sape’.
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