Kuching, the ‘City of Cats’, is the capital of Malaysia’s Sarawak State on Borneo Island. (Note, that’s nothing to do with furry animals but the nickname actually derives from a tributary of the Sarawak River along which the city was founded and which in turn was named after a common local fruit, the cat’s eye longan.)
Kuching was founded as the former 19th century capital of Raja Brooke and today the compact town centre and somewhat sprawling suburbs are home to some 1 million people.
Unlike many of Borneo’s historic towns such as Sandakan or Kota Kinabalu, Kuching wasn’t bombed to bits during WW2 so has retained a sort of colonial charm, architecture-wise and today possesses an eclectic mix of old British buildings; modern Malaysian constructions with a large, well preserved Chinatown and Little India. A friendly and lively town reminiscent we found of a smaller version of Penang’s George Town.
The above pictured Fort Margherita – named after Raja Brooke’s wife rather than a cocktail – is a spectacular sight on the banks of the Sarawak River opposite the old waterfront area as is the old Kuching courthouse below which dates from 1868.
Plenty of sights to see, some good museums to visit or just stroll along the old waterfront plus with the aforementioned Little India and extensive Chinatown there’s plenty of great nosh to be found. If that’s not enough then just a few kilometers from downtown will see you in amongst some truly spectacular scenery such as the Sarawak estuary – seen below.
By Mark Ord