Posted in Travel to Malaysia

Visiting Kuching: A Vibrant City with Amazing Wildlife Nearby

  1. Intro
  2. Things We Did in Kuching
    1. Download Kuching Tours Brochure
    2. Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
    3. Wetland Wildlife Cruise & Dolphin Mangrove Cruise
    4. Bako National Park
    5. Walk the Waterfront and over the Darul Hana Bridge
    6. Carpenter Street – Chinatown
    7. Masjid India Kuching / Floating Mosque
    8. Tua Pek Kong Temple
    9. Borneo Cultures Museum
  3. Kuching Food
    1. Ceylonese Restaurant
    2. Carpenter Street – Chinatown
    3. Restoran Mahashafi 
    4. Topspot Food Court
  4. Where to Stay
Dural Hana Musical Fountain
Watch my short video here

Intro

This year, in July, we came to Malaysia as our first destination after the Covid travel restrictions were lifted. Basker was born in Ipoh and we wanted to visit his parents, spend some time with them and at the same time add on a trip or two to some other locations within the country for a long awaited adventure holiday.

After visiting home for a few weeks we decided to head to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu which are still in Malaysia but are located on the island of Borneo. It was where we wanted to spend our 40th wedding anniversary… but I didn’t know what a huge surprise location Basker had in mind; that’s for another post.

Sarawak River

Firstly, we landed in Kuching, the cat city and stayed here for a week. Unfortunately it rained a lot but we grabbed umbrellas and rain ponchos and set about touring the city and surrounds.

Kuching – cat city

Things We Did in Kuching

We hadn’t pre-booked any tours, we just arrived and researched tours from our hotel room. The wildlife tours were starting to get back on their feet after a long period of inactivity during the covid so we connected with a local company called Ooo Haa Adventure Tours who employ locals to be their tour guides. The guides have a thorough knowledge of the area and we found them to be excellent; they were so kind and considerate.

Download Kuching Tours Brochure

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Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

We wondered what type of tour to join for this adventure then we chatted to some tourists who had visited the previous day and they said you don’t need a tour, just catch a Grab. So we did.

It was just a short taxi ride, a bit of a wait in line to get tickets then the gate opened and we walked 1-2 kms to the feeding centre. I was stunned by how lucky we were to see a mother and baby along with 3 other adult orangutans. They majestically swung in through the trees and arrived at the feeding platform sooo close to us, it was amazing!

Watch my short video here

At one stage Basker was tinkering with his camera and did not keep an eye on the movement of the orangutans… I had to rush over and drag him away and… sure enough, the orangutan walked on all fours over to the exact same spot where he was previously sitting, whew.

It was truly a wonderful experience to see these beautiful primates in their natural habitat. Something to remember and treasure forever. Certainly a “must do”.

Then it poured with rain, gosh it seemed to bucket down for ages so we ordered a Grab to collect us. This time the Grab was able to come inside the gates to pick us up from the feeding area. We asked the driver to call one of the rangers who contacted the gate house and then he was able to come all the way into the park to collect us which saved us from getting soaked, whew.

Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

Wetland Wildlife Cruise & Dolphin Mangrove Cruise

We had two goes at this tour because the first attempt was rained out. That didn’t bother us too much, we knew the weather was dicey and were prepared for a rain check. After we had to turn around way out in the water, the tour guide was extremely apologetic and offered us another trip in a couple of days when the weather was better. Great, we were on our way this time.

The boat ride was good, a smaller boat than expected but hey the numbers of tourists are just not up there yet. It was a pleasant ride and the skipper managed a good speed. He was knowledgeable about the area and made a b-line for the fishing boats where he knew the dolphins would be gathered to feed from the fishermen’s discarded bits and pieces of fish. These are Irrawaddy river dolphins with round noses and they keep pretty much close to the water when moving through it… you don’t get to see the big jumps and splashes that we are used to with sea dolphins as found in NZ. However we did get a clear view as they circled and gently nosed in and out of the water. I have tried to capture this on video as below.

We also saw crocodiles along the waters edge, little blue mud crabs, mud skippers, the occasional monkey and proboscis monkey but it was from a distance, not too close up.

Watch my short video here

Bako National Park

Set aside a whole day for this wonderful adventure.

Visiting the Bako National Park, Sarawak was definitely a stunning experience. Not to be missed.

We arrived by boat through the most beautiful scenery to a gorgeous beach where we paddled ashore and once we were suitable sprayed with mosquito repellant we set off .

We spent the day hiking over a variety of tracks, trails and plank walkways among tropical forests and mangroves. In some spots we scrambled over tree roots and along narrow tracks over rocks and through bushy undergrowth. It wasn’t too difficult (if I can do it anyone can) and the experience was fun. Once we got to the end of the hike a boat was waiting for us to bring us back to the base.

We were so lucky that we were able to spot several proboscis monkeys, silvered langurs (monkeys), long-tailed macaques, wild boar and many birds. Also saw an army of ants and a freshwater pool full of catfish.

Amazing wildlife right there in the natural habitat with you, wow!

And it was great to get so close to the Sea Stack rock formation where the colours of the sandstone in the early morning sun appeared to be pink and red and yellow.

Watch my short video here

Walk the Waterfront and over the Darul Hana Bridge

Our hotel was so close to the waterfront that it was literally 5 minutes walk to get to the riverside.

Kuching Waterfront lines the south bank of the Sarawak River. The best time to visit the waterfront is after sunset. You can take a ride on a local Penambang boat or go for a walk across the Darul Hana Bridge that connects both riverbanks. There are also numerous food stalls and restaurants lined along the waterfront.

But the area really comes alive when the Dural Hana Musical Fountain plays each night. The shows are more frequent Fri- Sat and are hugely popular with crowds of people lining the river bank enjoying the views.

We had a spectacular view from our hotel room and we also asked to view the fountain from the roof of the hotel where the view was magnificent.

We also walked along the Jalan Main Bazaar which is the road that runs all the way along the main part of the waterfront. We found some great souvenir shops. Of course, I bought the usual table cloths and also a tiny shoulder bag with a long strap to go around my neck to hold my sunglasses, great for travel when I have to pop them off and on all the time.

Watch my short video here

Carpenter Street – Chinatown

The entrance to Carpenter street is via a beautiful big ornate gate. Walking through you will find that is a very quaint street with colourful street art, heritage style shop houses, a Chinese temple and lots of restaurants.

Carpenter Street was located directly across from our hotel and it was our preferred place for a cold beer after a day out sightseeing or on a wildlife adventure followed by a meal of delicious Chinese food.

Kuching-Chinatown
Hiang Thian Siang Ti Temple (Teochew)
Dinner opposite the beautiful Hiang Thian Siang Ti Temple (Teochew)
Watch my short video here

Masjid India Kuching / Floating Mosque

Such a pretty mosque located on the water looking very beautiful in the late afternoon sun. We found the people here very welcoming and friendly. We were given cover-ups, a light burka type garment for me and sarong for Basker to cover his legs. Then we wandered through the building to view the decorated interior and out to the back to see the Sarawak River bathed in the softly streaked sunlight.

Masjid India Kuching – Floating Mosque – evening sunset

Tua Pek Kong Temple

This is a Chinese temple located along the waterfront and is the oldest temple in the city. It’s tiny but pretty and in a wonderful location also it is historically significant. A nice place to wander and contemplate…

Tua Pek Kong Temple

Borneo Cultures Museum

So me and museums are okay-ish, I can take them or leave them. Quite frankly, I would rather be walking outdoors anytime… BUT the New Kuching Museum is a wonder!

It’s new and the architecture is impressive with it’s distinct golden arched roof. Oh dear, totally lost/misplaced my pic of the building, dammit! Click on the hyperlink a few lines above and you will see what I mean.

The exhibits are interesting and engaging and we found ourselves reading everything all over the show. Well worth a visit.

Kuching Food

Ceylonese Restaurant

Slightly gimmicky but a lot of fun! We came here to sample some traditional Sri Lankan food and were surprised with innovative and fun dishes. I tried the beetroot thosai which was soo pretty, tasted okay too. Then I had a look at what was being served at the next table… it was banana cheese so, of course I had to have it!

Turned out to be deep fried banana fritters covered in cheese, what’s not to like? Oddly yum!

Carpenter Street – Chinatown

Directly opposite our hotel was Carpenter Street and it was a delightfully quaint street with lots of good eating places. Basker tried the local Laksa which he said was delish, the best. Also the Kolo Mee was pretty good.

Restoran Mahashafi 

We love to eat a variety of meat and vegetables when we are on holiday and Mahashafi served lots of green veg, curries, chapatis and Indian teh tarik, very satisfying and pleasant service.

Topspot Food Court

Gosh, we loved this place… the huge variety of food available was mind blowing!

The entrance is kind-of weird- through a carpark and up narrow flights of stairs, but once you get up to the 6th floor it is all GO! It is hugely popular and I wish I had taken some photos of the crowds and the food but far too hungry and too busy trying to decide how many dishes we should order. It was great food.

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Waterfront Hotel which was directly connected to the Plaza Merdeka Shopping Centre. It was conveniently located and we found that we could easily walk along the waterfront and to all the shops. It also gave us a spectacular view of the night water fountain show.

The Ranee looked beautiful and I’ve made a note of this hotel for our stay next time.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Ka kite anō.

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2 thoughts on “Visiting Kuching: A Vibrant City with Amazing Wildlife Nearby

  1. Wonderful post and beautiful pics. I’m Malaysian and I haven’t even been to Kuching my entire 40 years of being alive, lol. So thank you for letting me visit the place vicariously through you. Keep on keeping on, Janet!

    Like

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