Capital city of Sarawak, an East Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. Located on the North East of Borneo, Kuching is the gateway to Sarawak and Borneo. Generally populated by very nice people, Kuching has some surprises in store for the first time visitor. Taxis do not have metres AND one can seriously get grogged-up on the local booze (see Gawai); which is a good thing for the local cabbie.

Approximately 750 000 people live in this city which is uniquely split into two City Halls ("creatively" named Kuching North & Kuching South). The Sarawak River is an important landmark in the founding of the City and remains ,till this day, as the epicentre of arts, tourism and all things exciting in Kuching (which incidentally means cat in the Malay language).

In the past 2 decades, Kuching and its inhabitants have been slowly crafted into becoming a tourist friendly city where visitors are "sincerely welcome and should not encounter problems travelling" (Sarawak Tourism Board (2001). "Welcome to Sarawak", STB, Kuching ).

Kuching is also the springboard to other fantastic Sarawak destinations such as Mulu Caves, Niah Caves, Batang Ai Lake, Bako national parks and the other 20 plus National Parks around the state.

Kuching is an eclectic city where many different native and non-native languages can be heard but English is spoken widely here. One of (if not THE) cleanest city in Malaysia.

Kuching is cosmopolitan in nature. Lounge along the Kuching Waterfront and within a short period of time, you would have met Chinese, Iban, Bidayuh, Malay and a host of other Sarawakian Malaysians of different ethnic backgrounds.

Kuching is the capital of Sarawak. The town centre is on the south side of the Kuching River. The atmosphere reminds me a little of Sorrento in Italy: a small city which seems to have been built with tourists in mind. If not for the substantial amount of pollution from the road, which is very busy and makes the central bit rather dusty and grimy, the town centre would have the ambience of manufactured plastic.

Among the main buildings are the Holiday Inn, Hilton, Crowne Plaza, and an expensive apartment block called the Riverbank Suites. There are shophouses further westwards selling blowpipes, bamboo spears, krises, and other souvenirs.

All this is roughly along the Esplanade, a pedestrian walkway running down the river. It kind of reminds me of the one in Santa Monica, except this one of course has a river on one side.

Nearly directly across the river from the Holiday Inn is Fort Magherita, a charming toy fort built before the war by Charles Brooke, who named it after his wife. Incidentally, he reportedly is also responsible for naming the city, which was previously called Sarawak.

Charles Brooke was second in the line of the White Rajas (princes). James Brooke, his uncle, ascended into royalty by putting down a rebellion with his armed yacht, The Royalist. The Royalist is now a name of a pub situated in the complex behind the Crowne Plaza.

Charles was succeeded by his son, Charles Vyner, with whom the reign stopped when the Japanese landed.

Kuching means 'cat' in Malay, and thusly has rather pagan-looking cat statues scattered around the town. Several kilometers north of the river lies a building called the Astana, which looks like an overturned shuttlecock. Situated in it is the world’s only cat museum.

Kuching is strange because while it has the semblance of a reasonably large city of about a million inhabitants, and therefore well within the bounds of civilization, it is in actuality an oddity on the shores of a remote and (in relation to its size) scarcely-populated jungle island. Just when all the little luxuries of the city seem abound, a turn of the head reveals the total absence of emery boards, art prints, and Ikea furniture....

I was born here, and write from my head. Any inaccuracies have been in my mind for so long that they no longer seem to be so; I will be grateful if they are pointed out.

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