More wonderful places to visit in Kuching, Malaysia.
The south bank of Sungai Sarawak has been turned into a promenade, with paved walkways, grass and trees, and food stalls. It's a fine place for a stroll any time a cool breeze blows off the river, especially at sunset. In the evening, the waterfront is ablaze with colourful fairy lights and full of couples and families eating snacks as tambang (small passenger ferries) glide past with their glowing lanterns. The water level is kept constant by a downstream barrage.
Built by Charles Brooke in 1869, the Astana (a local word meaning 'palace’) – conveniently labelled in giant white letters – and its manicured gardens still serve as the home of the governor of Sarawak. The best views are actually from the south (city centre) bank of the river, so it’s not really worth taking a tambang across.
Sarawak State Assembly
Inaugurated in 2009, the iconic home of Sarawak’s State Assembly is an imposing structure whose soaring golden roof is said to resemble either a payung (umbrella) or a terendak(Melanau sunhat). The best views of the building (not open to the public) are from Jln Bishopsgate and the Waterfront Promenade.
Turn off Jln India (between Nos. 37 and 39A) or waterfront Jln Gambier (between Nos. 24 and 25A) onto tiny Indian Mosque Lane (Lg Sempit) and you enter another world. About halfway along, surrounded by houses and spice shops, stands Kuching’s oldest mosque, a modest structure built of belian (ironwood) in 1863 by Muslim traders from Tamil Nadu.
Notable for its simplicity, it is an island of peace and cooling shade in the middle of Kuching’s commercial hullabaloo. There is usually someone sitting outside the mosque keeping an eye on things. If you would like to go inside, ask permission and he will probably offer to show you around. Women will be given a long cloak and headscarf to wear.
Medan Niaga Satok
Kuching’s biggest and liveliest market is 9km west of the city centre. It's open everyday, but the main event is the larger weekend market, which begins around midday on Saturday, when folk, some from rural longhouses, arrive with their fruits, vegetables, fish and spices.
The air is heady with the aromas of fresh coriander, ginger, herbs and jungle ferns, which are displayed among piles of bananas, mangoes, custard apples and obscure jungle fruits. If you smell something overpoweringly sickly sweet and pungent, chances are it’s a durian. Vendors are friendly and many are happy to tell you about their wares, which are often divided into quantities worth RM1 or RM2.
Sarawak Textile Museum
Housed in a ‘colonial Baroque’-style building constructed in 1909, this museum displays some superb examples of traditional Sarawakian textiles, including Malay songket (gold brocade cloth), as well as the hats, mats, belts, basketwork, beadwork, silverwork, barkwork, bangles and ceremonial headdresses created by the Iban, Bidayuh and Penan and other Dayak groups. Dioramas recreate the sartorial exuberance of Orang Ulu, Malay, Chinese and Indian weddings. Explanatory panels shed light on materials and techniques.
Hope you enjoy your time in Malaysia!
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