Sitting on the riverfront in downtown Kuching at sunset you can very easily imagine yourself in the era of the White Rajah. The colonial buildings and surrounding Bornean nature make it feel like a whole different universe to peninsular Malaysia.
This is the easiest way to cross the river – kids loved it! Some food courts on the other side in case you are hungry.
Travelling with kids, the objectives for the trip were simple: see the mighty orangutans and get a glimpse of the local culture in Sarawak. The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is an easy drive out-of-town. We joined the crowd at feeding time and were rewarded with an encounter with these hairy beasts.
We decided to stay a few days at a farm outside the city – kids loved petting the friendly animals, fishing in the ponds and eating the yummy nasi lemak for breakfast. We loved it, but it meant a bit of sitting in the car with wriggly kids when doing day-trips. Extra-coolness to the country living gave that fact that the bungalow we stayed in was used as a set in the film The Sleeping Dictionary. Which we obviously had to watch as soon as we returned. You can also choose to stay in a longhouse for even more authentic Borneo experience.
We visited the nearby Matang Wildlife Centre, but it was a bit grim: the rescued orangutans lived in bare cages and the whole place seemed more like a zoo. The more energetic members of the group enjoyed a hike in the Kubah National Park, also nearby.
Against all expectations one of the highlights of the trip was the Sarawak cultural village. Usually we are not fans of tacky cultural shows but the one here was great for kids and adults – the former particularly enjoyed the blowpipes and balloons trick.
Different ethnic groups of Sarawak and their houses were tastefully presented and the staff was super friendly and great with kids – as per usual in these parts.
The Sarawak State Museum has some exhibits interesting to kids, like the natural history section (with the slightly worn-out stuffed animals) and the models of the longhouses. The history and culture of the state are just fascinating and the museum has some interesting facts about it.
Top Spot food court seems to be the recommended food experience for tourists in Kuching and I have to say the crab-loving members were in heaven at this slightly odd open-air eatery located on top of a multi-storey car par. The selection is huge and you get to choose your seafood from the tanks lining the walls. When I inquired about the secret behind the tasty food the waiter looked at me like I was from outer space and bluntly uttered “Maggi spice”. If you are interested in more authentic Sarawakian food, read this article.
To this day I am not sure why it made such an impression to me, but that image of the blue sunset over the Sarawak river will stay with me forever as something magical – I hope to be back and explore this fantastic island further!