What to do if you only have a day in the City of Cats.
Kuching, the capital of Malaysia’s biggest state Sarawak, is also known as the City of Cats as the name is pronounced like “kucing”–cat in Malay.
The main strip of the city on the banks of Sarawak River. Thus, if you only have only 24 hours in the city, it would be best to choose an accommodation near the waterfront to save on travelling time.
Here is a proposed itinerary for a one weekend in Kuching.
1. POSE WITH CAT STATUES
In the city center, you will find two statues of cats. The one featuring a litter of cats is located at the end of Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, connecting to Jln Padungan.
A solo white cat, known as “The Great Cat of Kuching” in Lonely Planet, guards the other end of Jalan Padungan and Jalan Central. This statue is dressed up during different local festivals.
Many eateries, be it Chinese kopitiam, Malay stores, Indian shops and Western fastfood, are found on Jalan Padungan.
2. CAT MUSEUM
If you are a fan of the original icanhascheezburger.com site or are a cat person, I recommend visiting the the Cat Museum. A visit to the City of Cats will not be complete without a visit to legendary cat-themed museum.
Cat memorabilia fills the whole museum. From normal cat portraits to not-so-normal posters of cats dressed up as Japanese delinquents, this is the place to find all-things related to cats.
A stroll in the museum will take about one hour. Catch a cab to the museum as it’s not within the city center.
3. SARAWAK CULTURAL VILLAGE
If cats are not your sort of thing, you might want to go to the Sarawak Cultural Village which can be accessed by taxi. Entrance fee is 60 ringgit for adults.
Here, you get a glimpse of the traditional way (staged, of couse) of living in Sarawak, head to the Sarawak Cultural Village. As it is about 35km away from the city proper, plan to spend about half a day visiting and travelling to and from the village.
There are two cultural shows each day, you might want to time your arrival around the timings. A local noted that a whole day can be spent here so choose your time wisely.
4. GRASS IS GREENER ON THE OTHERSIDE
Head back to the city center and take a sampan ride across the river. The small boats are rowed by old men, one of whom told me it’s easy to row. I was charged 50 cents in November2011 as I spoke Malay. Non-Malay speaking folks can be charged up to 2 ringgit, which I think is still worth the ride.
Across the river are traditional houses and angry cats. You can take photos of Kuching city from this side.
If you are adventurous, try looking for Fort Margherita. The fort was built by Charles Brooke for his wife. The road to the fort is rather deserted so it’s better to not go alone.
This area has old shophouses which you can visit to buy souvenirs or eat junk food.
DINNER AT BLA BLA BLA
A slightly upscale fusion restaurant located at Jalan Tabuan. Ambiance is good for romantic dinners or hanging out with friends. Food portions are said to be huge.
For a nightcap, several watering holes are available around the area.
HISTORY ON THE WATERFRONT
The last few hours in Kuching can be spent at the Tua Pek Kong Temple and the Chinese History Museum at the water front. The Chinese museum shows the different clans found in Sarawak and the video which plays in a loop is rather touching.
You might also want to walk to the Sarawak Museum located on Tun Abang Haji Openg Road.
IF YOU GO
A local advised not to miss the “famous Sarawak laksa and kolomee” and most stall sell delicious versions of the two famous noodle dishes. But famous kopitiam include Choon Hui Cafe near Grand Continental Hotel and Chong Choon Cafe near Jalan Abell.
Other famous food include tomato sauce keuh teow, keuh chap, kek lapis (You are advised to only “buy from Malay vendors as Chinese kek lapis is terrible”).
A recommended dinner place for fusion food is Bla Bla Bla on Jalan Tabuan. The menu is “adventurous” and must tries are the cold milin (or bilin) salad and perhaps the softshell crap.
Flights to Kuching take about an hour and a half from Singapore. Low cost carriers Air Asia has two flights daily while Tiger Airways one flight daily to the Land of Cats. Malaysia Airlines, Silk Air and Singapore Airlines code share flights to Kuching.
Staying near the waterfront will shorten travelling time. I’ve stayed at 360 Xpress Citycenter which was a bit of a walk to the waterfront but has airport shuttle for extra charge.
Find the cheapest flight to Kuching and book your hotel at Flocations.
For Facebooking/foursquaring/tweeting-on-the-go, I use Digi in Malaysia. I’ve been with the telco since 2004. Internet connection is quite cheap at 3 ringgit a day
Yun Qing is a Singapore-based travel enthusiast with a short-term travel goal of visiting all 13 Malaysian states. Her long long-term goal to go on a round-the-world trip next year if the world has not ended.
She writes about her journeys and the food she meets YQ, travelling ISFP. Connect to her on Twitter @yqtravelling or on Facebook.