Hidden Gems: Kuching
While there are various explanations as to how Kuching got its name - whether it's named after the fruit tree Buah Mata Kuching or a cat - one thing that's clear about the capital of Sarawak is its unmistakable leisurely backwater feel. And that's what makes the city so appealing - an oasis of calm against the lush backdrop of the Borneo forest.
1. Sarawak Orchid Garden
Unknown to many travellers, there's an orchid garden in Kuching City North. Opened just two years ago, the 15-acre garden located next to the Governor's Astana building may not be huge, but it's a pretty compact sanctuary to take in some fresh air and admire the different exquisite Borneo orchid species, especially Sarawak's state flower, the green and purple Orchid Normah. Even better is the fact that the garden is free to the public.
2. Serikin Market
For shopping with a difference, take a trip out to Serikin Market. The small town is near the border between Malaysia and Indonesia. As such, you'll find many vendors hawking Indonesian goods at this weekend market. Colourful silk batik, rattan furniture, handmade homeware, knick-knacks, curios and antiques ... there's plenty for the picking.
3. Sin Min Joo
Now this dingy hole in the wall coffeeshop (at the corner of Carpenter Street and Jalan Bishopgate) may not seem promising, but wait till you see the crowds. This is where you have to be prepared to wait, swelter and jostle with the locals for kolo mee that's reputed to be the best in Kuching. The noodles come with a lip-smackingly satisfying bowl of mixed pork soup. Some say it's divine, others claim it's not worth the long wait ... you be the judge.
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