Saturday, 7 August 2010

Kuching trip – 7 Aug 10

I woke up early in the morning at 6.30am and the sky here turns bright very early. It seems that usually I have to wake up quite early during my trips as the days are always packed with activities. I do get tired sometimes but why should I spent my money and waste the time sleeping right?

We left the hotel at 7am and walked to Chong Choon cafe at Jalan Abell. We saw a cat statue along the way. There are altogether 3 cat statues in Kuching. Even though Kuching is called a "Cat city", the malay word for cat is in fact Kucing.
Cat statue which is located between Grand Margherita and Crown Plaza Riverside Hotel
Jalan Abell

Chong Choon cafe is famous for Sarawak Laksa. Address: Lot 121 Section 3 Jalan Abell (Opposite City Inn), Opening hours: 6.30am – 12pm, laksa is usually sold out before 11am.
Chong Choon Cafe
Inside Chong Choon Cafe

I ordered a bowl of Sarawak Laksa RM4.50 and Teh C Ping Special. Teh C Ping Special is a speciality in Kuching. There are 3 layers comprising tea, evaporated milk and gula melaka. To my disappointment, the laksa doesnt taste nice at all. It's spicy to my taste. The Teh C Ping Special is a bit sweet due to the gula melaka.
Teh-c peng special
Sarawak laksa
Fried carrot cake

Since it's still early after we finished our breakfast, we took a walk and explored the surrounding the area.
Bird nest shop
Cat statue
Public bus
Confectionery shop
It's so cheap to park here
Police station
Shops along Jalan Padungan

Our driver, Zul reached at 8.30am to fetch us to our first destination - Sarawak Cultural Village. Opening hours: 9am - 4.45pm. I mentioned in my Prologue that I had transferred to Mdm Tan RM200, actually this amount is her commission. I heard from Joe that actually Zul earns RM200 a day for driving us around, so it would be better to contact Zul directly to save on the commission. His contact is 016-8988114. I dont interact much with Zul as it's Joe who mainly communicate with him in Malay, hence I cant comment on whether Zul is fluent in English or not.
Colourful van
Construction of road

After 45min, we reached Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV). Zul offered to purchase admission tickets for us which is cheaper than the normal rate. We paid him RM55 each, normal rate is RM60. Each of us is given a green passport which we can collect stamps when we visit different tribal houses.

For those individual travellers, there are shuttle service from Kuching Hotel Grand Margherita (previous Holiday Inn Kuching) to SCV. One way trip is RM10 per adult and there are 4 timings from Kuching Hotel Grand Margherita: 9.15am, 10.15am, 12.15pm and 2.15pm. The timing for the return journey from SCV is 1.15pm, 3.15pm and 5.15pm. It's better  to check with the bell counter at Kuching Hotel Grand Margherita  for updated timetable.

We told the driver to pick us at 12.30pm as I estimated that we need around 3hrs here, including 45min cultural show.
So many students

There are 2 cultural shows at 11.30am and 4pm daily. Today, there is an additional show at 10am.
Timing of today's cultural show
Sarawak Cultural Village is the venue for the Rainforest World Music Festival which is held in July annually

When I was doing research for the trip, it was recommend an anti-clockwise circuit around the village. The 7 tribal houses to be visited are in this particular order:  Bidayuh Longhouse, Iban Longhouse, Penan Hut, Orang Ulu Longhouse, Melanau Tall Longhouse, Malay House and Chinese Farmhouse.

Ethnic Bidayuh accounts for about 8% of the total Sarawak population. They live mostly along the water catchments of Sungai Sarawak and Sungai Sadong. Bidayuhs are traditionally animist but great majority of Bidayuh are now Christians, majority of them being Roman Catholic.

Crossing the wooden bridge to Bidayuh house
Pounding the rice
Weaving of pouches
Interior of the long house
Interesting looking but I don't remember what this is for
Bidayuh costumes
Baruk which serve as the congregation place for the Bidayuh warriors
Bidayuh lady
Interior of Baruk

The next tribal house which we visited is Iban longhouse. Iban is the largest indigenous tribe comprising of about 1/3 of all Sarawakians and they once known as "Sea Dayaks". They mainly live in lower and upper reach of major rivers. The Ibans were also traditionally animist, although the majority are now Christian and some of them are Muslim.
Prayer offerings
Head trophies
Weaving of cloth
Inside Iban longhouse
Kerosene lamp
Costumes for rent

We decided to watch the 10.30am cultural show hence we walked back to the theatre after visiting 2 tribal houses.
The theatre where the cultural performance is performed
Inside the theatre
Ladies in traditional costumes
Musicians playing the instruments at the background

Ngajat Lesong is performed by an Iban warrior who demonstrates the extraordinary strength of his teeth by lifting a mortar that weigh around 20kg. This dance shows the warrior's agility as well as endurance.
Iban - Ngajat Lesong

This dance is usually performed for guest to the longhouse after the completion of harvest. The dancers imitate the movement of eagles by moving outstretched hands, as though in flight.
Bidayuh - Rajang Be'uh

This dance showcases the community work of the Melanau as they process sago, for making sago pearls.
Melanau - Tarian Menyak

This dance is performed during a death ceromony to comfort the visiting relatives and friends. It was more like an acrobatic dance where a male dancer will climb up to the tip of the pole and laid down on his stomach while making spectacular circular motion.
Melanau - Alu-Alu

This is a warrior dance. It portrays the numble but stealthy gait of the warrior as he conducts a hunting trip in the jungle. He sees his target, takes aim and shoots a dart that seldom misses the mark.
Orang Ulu - Kanjet Ngeleput

One of the warrior puposely missed his aim at the ballon and asked a lady among the audience to come up to the stage to blow the dart.
This lady is so scared

This dance portrays the joyous atmosphere in a village during a celebration. This is when the young males come out to court the young maidens.
Malay - Serampang Baru
Inviting the audience to dance on the stage with the performers
People taking photos with the wooden statues

We walked back along the circuit just now and went back to Iban longhouse. I saw a lady making 蜜蜂窝饼 in the kitchen. A packet has 10 pieces and cost RM3.
My favourite CNY cookie
Function house

The next tribal house which we went to is the Penan Hut. The Penan are nomadic people living in the dense jungle of Central Borneo.
Penan Hut
Anybody wants to give it a try?
I like this Penan's guy hairstyle, so cute....

Next is the Orang Ulu longhouse. Orang Ulu is a vague term to describe the indigenous  living in Central Borneo which comprise the Penan, Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit and Lun Bawang. The Orang Ulu account for 5.5% of the population in Sarawak.
Orang Ulu long house
Cock roaming at the ground
 Climbing up the long house
Getting our passport chop

Tapioca cookies
A young Orang Ulu
Playing this instrument which is make of wood
Nice motif painted on the wall
Tools for making sword

The Melanau people comprise of 5.8% of Sarawak's population who are mostly living in the coastal region. The Melanau were traditionally fishermen as well as padi and sago farmers. The Melanau differ from other tribal in one important respect: they consume sago in preference to rice. The sago is commonly cultivated from the sago palm trees often found in the coastal swamps and marshland in the river delta. In general, sago is not much different from rice or bread in term of carbohydrate composition and versatility in cooking methods. While originally animists, the majority of the Melanaus are now Muslim, although some of them are Christians.
Melanau house
That's how tall a Melanau house is compared to my sis
I doubt the house will exceed this limit
Inside a Melanau house

Behind the Melanau house is a small hut where sago cookies are made.
Sago hut
Baking of Sago biscuits
Sale of souvenirs

The Malays make up about 1/5 of the total population in Sarawak. The ethnic Malay of Sarawak is pretty much similar to its counterpart in the Peninsula of Malaysia with the exception of some local dialects commonly associated in Sarawak.
Malay house
 Entrance to a Malay house

A typical Malay house is built on stilts some metres above ground. There is a reason for that: houses built on the ground are prone to be flooded and to avoid uninvited guests in the form of crawling creatures (snakes, centipedes, etc).
Malay house are built on stilts
 Wedding Dais
Inside the bedroom
Making of love letter/ kuih kapit
Brick furnance
Mount Santubong at the background

The last house which we visited is the Chinese farmhouse.The ethnic Chinese in Sarawak mostly consists of Hakka and Foochow descent. A typical farmhouse is built on ground level unlike tribal house in Sarawak.
Entrance to a Chinese farmhouse
Pepper plant
Grinding rice
Bird nest processing
It's heavy even with nothing inside the basket
Weighing scale
Machine used to process pepper
A padoga with no entry

By the time we finished visiting all the tribal houses, it's already 12.15pm and we waited for a while for our van. We went back to Kuching and had our lunch at The Next Coffee Shop 享记茶室, previously was Min Joo Cafe. It is located at the corner of Jalan Bishopsgate and Jalan Carpenter. Opening hours: 7.30am – 3pm.
Next coffee shop

The coffeeshop was crowded when we reached and we waited almost 15min before we managed to get an empty table. All of us ordered Kampung mee (handmade noodle) with pork innards which cost RM6.70 each. The service here is very slow, be it ordering of drinks or mee. Joe went to the stall and ordered but the auntie told him to return to the table and she will come over to take order from us. We waited for almost 20min before our food is served.

The portion of the noodle can be shared among 2 small eaters as it is really a lot. The noodle is not bad, just a little oily.
Such a huge bowl of Kampua mee

Our driver came back 1hr later and dropped us at Chinese History Museum. The museum is located diagionally across the Tua Pek Kong temple. Opening hours: 9am - 4.30pm daily, closed on first day of major festivals. Admission is free.

We told the driver to come back 1hr later which is indeed a wrong decision as the museum is so small that spending 15min in the museum is considered alot.
Chinese History Museum
Entrance to Chinese History Museum

There is a write up on all the dialect groups of the Sarawak Chinese. Surprisingly, the largest dialect group is Foochow followed by Hakka. The remaining includes Hokkien, Chao Ann, Teochew, Cantonese,  Henghua, Luichew and others. 
Old Chinese worship altar
(Do you know what is the object on the bottom left hand side? It's a urinator)
Chinese musical instruments
The wax figures are a bit eeriee

We crossed the road to Tua Pek Kong temple at Jalan Padungan. This temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Kuching and was built in 1843.
Tua Pek Kong temple
Colourful dragons
Facade of the temple
Red lanterns hanging on the roof

The 8 immortals

As we still have half an hour time, we walked along the main bazaar which is along the waterfront. There are many souvenirs shops here selling similar items.
Lot of cats here
Guitar cabinet
Sarawak Steamship Co which was built in 1930
This whole stretch is gold jewellery shops

As we reached the corner of Main Bazaar, we saw the Sarawak Craft Council which is located at Jalan Tun Haji Openg.

The Sarawak Craft Council serves as a coordinating body between the various government agencies involved in handicraft development in Sarawak. The building is called the Round Tower which was built in 1886 and was used as the town dispensary to complement the medical headquarters housed within The Pavilion next door. It is commonly and mistakenly believed that The Round Tower was a fortress, especially with its strategic location, appearance and the narrow windows. This is however, not the intention of the building, but rather a coincidence of the design.
Sarawak Craft Council

Across the road is the Main Post Office which was built in 1931, it appears to belong to the early 19th century with its neo-classical style and Corinthian columns. I wanted to mail a post card to myself but it was closed on weekends.
Main Post office

Beside the Sarawak Craft Council is the Textile museum which showcases Sarawak’s traditional textiles. Opening hours: 9am - 4.30 pm daily, closed on first day of Major Festivals. Admission is free. Phototaking is not allowed inside the museum.

Although all the museums in Kuching are free admission, I found that the museums here are boring compared to the museums in Singapore. We spent about 15min inside Textile museum to enjoy the aircon while waiting for our driver.
Textile museum
The Cat Museum is located inisde Kuching North City Hall at Petra Jaya, on top of Bukit Siol (Siol Hill) which is about 20min drive from Kuching city. Opening hours: 9am to 5pm (closed on Monday). Admission is free, RM4 charge for bringing digital camera.

On the way up to Cat museum
Cat museum
So many people welcoming us

This is a large collection of cat memorabilia at the Cat Museum. Cat lovers will find all range of exhibits, photos, feline art and cat souvenirs.
Entrance of cat museum
Cat is Kucing not Kuching!
Big & Small cat statue
Cat woman
Paw prints of cats
Cat embroideries
Postcard of cats
Stamps of cat
What a cat is doing under different temperature...
Tomb of cat
Cute cats
Cat foods
Cat lovers
Innocent cats

Are you able to spot the mouse?
Hello Kitty
So many "Cats"
Souvenir stalls inside the museum

Although we spent our 20min touring the cat museum, we stayed here for almost 1hr since it's quite sunny outside.

Model of Kuching city
View of Kuching city from the Cat Museum

I noticed that there are quite a few roundabouts in Kuching. Maybe there are too much land here, so they built roundabouts instead of traffic lights to control the traffic.
Fountain at a roundabout
Another roundabout
Overhead bridge

Our last destination today is Satok market/ Pasar Tamu Satok  which is located between Esso gas station and Wisma Satok. The weekend market begins on Saturday noon till Sunday afternoon (best to go around 4pm on a Sat).

It is renowned for the Bidayuh ladies selling fruit and vegetables, but there are also many good Chinese and Malay stalls. A variety of food are sold here including handicrafts, pets, plants, live fish, and a whole range of local snacks and delicacies. This is similar to KK Gaya Street Market.
Fish keropok
Bidin - a type of fern found in Sarawak
Different variety of bananas
Curly longbeans
Plates of vegetable
Inside the market
Ikan billis
This is a coconut tree
I don't know the name of these brown seeds

We left Satok market within 1/2hr and went back to the hotel and rest. We went for dinner at Top Spot Foodcourt. Top Spot Foodcourt is located on top of a multi-storey green-colored carpark building which is right behind the Standard Chartered bank building at Jalan Padungan. Opening hours: 6pm – 10pm.
Top Spot Foodcourt

There are different stalls at Top Spot Foodcourt and the recommended stall from my research is Stall #25 Bukit Mata Seafood Centre.
Stalls at Top Spot Foodcourt
Stall #25 Bukit Mata Seafood Centre

Variety of food at Stall 25

We ordered 6 dishes which cost a total of RM119 only. We didnt ordered much seafood as my sis and Xinyi are allergic to seafood. The specialty here is Bidin, a type of fern and is only available in Sarawak. The ferns are cooked with Spicy Sambal Belacan and taste like kangkong.
Fried tofu
Bamboo clams
Cheese prawn
Fish with sambal belacan
The prominent sign at Top Spot Foodcourt

We finished our dinner at around 8pm and went to Tun Jugan Shopping Centre which is opposite Holiday Inn Hotel since Xinyi wanted to buy books from Popular.
Night view of cat statue
Cat saying sorry

Most of the shops are vacant and few shops are open. There is a FILA shop here with heavy discount. I didnt bought anything since there is nothing suitable for me. We spent around 1 hour in Popular Bookstore before returning back to the hotel.

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