Monday, February 12, 2018

Travelettes: A first timer’s guide to Sarawak, Borneo @travelettes

Sarawak is a playground for adventure seekers, wildlife watchers, cultural enthusiasts and foodies.

If this sounds like you, then this corner of Asia won’t disappoint. Here’s my beginner’s guide to this beautiful Malay state, located on the island of Borneo.


The capital city of Sarawak, Kuching, is a refreshing change from the fast-paced mega cities of Asia.

Instead of swathes of high rise buildings and concrete, you’ll find crumbling colonial architecture, pungent spice markets, grand mosques and a shady riverside promenade ideally suited for watching the sun set with a cold drink.

Kuching is the starting point for most international travelers in Sarawak. Only a short flight from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, the city has a sleepy stride which is easy to navigate.

Most travelers stay on the riverside in old Malay shop houses that have been converted into quirky, comfortable guesthouses.

A good way to get your bearings is to join a walking or cycling tour. We join the bubbly Farha from Wayang Tours on a culinary and heritage tour of Kuching.

We start by wandering the old streets of Chinatown, popping our heads into the lavishly decorated temples that seem to adorn every corner.

The Indian market is next with its kaleidoscope of brightly colored buildings brimming with vivid fabric shops, spice displays, colorful fruit shops and a vegetable market.

We find a dark alley leading to a tiny mosque where worshippers sit quietly in the shadows. It is an oasis of calm and cool in the midst of the bustling market place.

We can’t help but notice the burgeoning population of cats. Kuching is also known as ‘cat city’ because of the cats bought in by the original Malay traders.

Now there are giant cat statues, piles of kitschy cat souvenirs and even a cat museum; a must for cat lovers of the world.