Kuching


Kuching is also known as the "Cat City". The word "kuching" is said to mean "cat" in the Malay language although the local Malay word for cat is "pusa". Some people believe the capital city's name is really derived from "kuchin" which is said to mean "harbour" in Chinese.

It matters not one of Kuching's landmarks is a giant plaster cat sitting at the end of Jalan Padungan with one front paw raised and its backside turned toward the city. More to the point, Kuching is believed to have the world's only cat museum, in suburban Petra Jaya.

Kuching seems bigger than its 330,000 residents. It is spread out, with big parks and recreation areas and some distinct ethnic enclaves.

The main city, on the western side, has markets, hotels, nightclubs and the waterfront. A newish waterside promenade runs along the river to the clean white lines of the Kuching Hilton at the southern end, with other major hotels clustered nearby.

The broad waterfront promenade is the city's most popular meeting place now, with cafes and live entertainment, benches for watching the passing parade and restored old buildings including the Square Tower, which is now a tourist information centre.

Behind the waterfront are the main bazaar with everything from good tour operators to antique shops, a clock tower and the court house, with its obelisk remembering Charles, the second of three of English Brookes - the White Rajahs - who ruled Sarawak for for more than 100 years.


Attractions:

Sarawak Museum

Reputed to be the best in the region, should not be missed by visitors to the City. The vast collection housed in the Museum reveals Sarawak's efforts in the preservation and conservation of the cultural heritage and natural history of Borneo.

The idea of creating a museum to hold Sarawak's relics was first mooted by Charles Brooke, the second White Rajah of Sarawak. Later the man who influenced him to build a permanent museum was Alfred Russel Wallace, a naturalist who was in Sarawak for two years conducting a research on the evolution of man based on the Orang Utan of Borneo.

The first Museum designed along the lines of a Normandy town hall was opened in 1891 and extended to its present form in 1911.

The Museum opens daily from 09.00 to 18.00 hrs except Friday.

Istana

Set among the rolling lawns on the northern bank of the Sarawak river, the majestic palace was built in 1870 by Rajah Charles Brooke, the second white Rajah, as a bridal gift for his wife, Ranee Margaret Brooke. It is now the official residence of Sarawak's Head of the State and has served as the venue for numerous state functions throughout the years.

The Court House

The Court House is surely one of the most magnificent buildings in Sarawak The imposing facade has intricate local art patterns incorporated in its door and window grilles and roof panels.

Completed in 1874, it was the seat of government during the reign of the white Rajahs. The beautiful clock tower was added to the architecture in 1883, with the obelisk memorial to Rajah Charles Brooke officially commissioned in 1924.

Tua Pek Kong Temple

Located at Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, the century-old Chinese temple is the oldest of its kind in Kuching. It is particularly famous for its Wang Kang celebration to commemorate the spirit of the dead.

The temple was supposed to have been built as early as 1843 but official records only recognised its existence in 1876 when temple devotees in the community made various repairs and renovations to it.

Fort Margherita

Built in 1878, the fort commands a breathtaking and strategic position along the Sarawak river. Named after Ranee Margaret, it was completed the year after, just in the time to defend Kuching against pirate attacks from the river. The fort has since been renovated and now serves as a police museum.

Sarawak State Mosque

Situated at the heart of Kuching town, this magnificent structure complete with a gilt dome is dedicated to the purity of Islam. It was built in 1968, on the very site of an old wooden mosque built in 1852.

The General Post Office, the Pavilion and the Round Tower

The Kuching General Post Office is gazetted as being the only building of its kind in this part of the world employ Corinthian columns in its facade.

Situated opposite the General Post office, the Pavilion was the first building in the town, and probably the state, to be exclusively constructed of reinforced concrete frames. Presently it houses the Government offices.

This structure situated near the pavilion was built in 1886 but its origin is clocked in mystery as to its purpose.

It is believed that the Rajah intended it to be another fort in town, though this has not been firmly established.

The Square Tower

Standing in the heart of town, this tower lives up its title, resembling the late Renaissance towers in England. It was originally built as a detention centre for prisoners.

During the Brooke era however, it also doubled as fortress and, incredibly, a dance-hall.

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