Kuching is a city located in the Malaysian province of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. A lot of people go there as a base for trekking the jungles near there, or to volunteer at the Orangutan Sanctuaries near there, but that was not our plan for this time.
So why Kuching this time? Well, turns out that there is a very cheap Four Points Sheraton at the airport there, and in order to become a platinum member with SPG, we just had to stay there for like… 14 nights. A really big fairly new hotel pretty close to the airport, and a 15 minute cab/shuttle ride to the city.
We had to get a new stamp on arrival, because Malaysian Borneo has it’s own immigration processes (does that means it counts as a new country?!), there was the same taxi coupon deal at the airport, everything was super easy, and we got upgraded once we got to the hotel to a junior suite which was a really really nice room.
Our plan for this time was to catch up on a lot of work that had perhaps fallen by the wayside in the last week or so, to quietly soak up some culture, and to see a few local attractions. And I think we did pretty well!
There was a marketplace right across the road from us with massage parlours, little convenience stores, and a bustling open air food market called Siang Siang food court which served delicious cheap meals ( around $2) that were very traditional, and a selection of other restaurants and small poky bars.
We loved it. It was the type of place where we would get stared at when we walked around, but everyone was more than friendly ( wait for the karaoke stories!) and most people we talked to spoke English pretty well.
We were surprised when we went into Kuching for the first time at the amount of western tourists we saw, as we hadn’t seen any for the four or five days we had just been staying at the hotel and visiting our market.
The area began to get a very homey feel to it. We knew the people who ran each convenience store, we had our favourite stalls in the food court, we had friends at our local karaoke bar, and we had the hotel staff that knew us. It was a really nice feeling.
We had breakfast included in the deal, which was a buffet that included eggs and chicken sausage ( but not bacon or pork sausage because they only served Halal food) hash browns and toast, and a large selection of more traditional Malaysian and Sarawak foods including Sarawak laksa ( I found it delicious, if a bit spicy, Ryan not so much), Kolo Mee which is yellow noodles with broth and prawns, vermicelli noodles with chicken broth and prawns, Roti Canai, Fish/chicken porridge ( which is made with rice and is very comforting) and Beef Rendang.
To be honest, after the first two mornings, we learnt to get over our ‘it’s free!’ ‘It’s traditional food that we have to try!’ excitement and tried to only eat a proportionally normal sized breakfast!
There was an infinity pool just outside the restaurant that we would go to do laps and we would try to read the local newspaper every morning, although we did notice that the type of newspaper given to us was selected on the basis of which one had less concerning news regarding the violence in Sabah province particularly.
We had an absolutely amazing time in Kuching, and over the next couple of days I’ll try to outline some of the hilarious, painful, memorable and beautiful highlights of our time there.
Next up- Massages! No pain no gain??