Continuing my Kuching entries!
And of course, Happy Valentine’s! Remember there are all kinds of love – friendship, for instance! And of course, the regular kind, the boyfriend-girlfriend, husband-wife. Also don’t forget sisterly and brotherly love, parental love, etc. Even love for animals.
I had heard about Cheng Ho or Zheng He Garden or Taman Sahabat for sometime now but never had the chance to visit until this last trip to Kuching. It’s located at Jalan Song.
This is a friendship garden between Malaysia and China. Apparently, Chinese ties have been quite strong diplomatically. Well, at least in Kuching. Did you know that Kuching has its own Chinese Embassy? It shows how many China folks are in Cat City.
The garden is formed by two sections: one is the Chinese section (with the willow trees, lake, pagodas and rock garden) with a Chinese-style entrance and the other is the Malaysia/Sarawak section (with clear Sarawakian flavour in the way the resting area is designed) complete with hornbills and Sarawak-style entrance. It’s good to come here for an evening walk or jog, as many Kuchingites were seen doing. Or to feed the koi and tilapia.
It’s not hard to figure out because lots of Chinese businesses have sprung up around Kuching. A good place to see this is at MJC or Batu Kawa where lots of made in China stuff is sold cheaply. Usually not meant to last, these things vary from household appliances to decorative knick knacks. Fun to browse though. I’ve told myself I won’t buy made in China products until they improve their quality. Seriously. My MP3 player died on me after 1 year.
Anyway, Zheng He Garden pays tribute to Admiral Zheng He, who led the world’s biggest naval expedition. His imposing 20-foot statue stands majestic in this garden. As its Malay name suggests (Taman Sahabat), it is also a tribute to the Malaysia-China relations since the 15th century, starting with Puteri Hang Li Po who married a Malacca sultan. Malaysia is also the first country in ASEAN which heartily extended its hand in friendship to China in 1974.
This garden/park is actually located in a housing estate so the people who live around there can use it for recreation. The park has a lovely man-made lake with koi and tilapia but these are a fresh batch of fish – the last batch I heard had all turned belly up!
Aside from a lake, there’s a building which used to house a dim sum eatery. Now, the building is cordoned off. So are the two ornate Chinese pagoda’s in the garden. Everything is in the process of disintegrating! I suspect the wood beams are rotting and the pagoda structures aren’t safe that’s why the authorities cordonned the area off.
But this garden is only 2 years old! How can buildings be rotting? (It was declared open on 18 May 2006 by our Tourism Minister, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor). The fountain is spraying water but not in the right direction either. The day I was there, poor Zheng He was also leaking… water was seeping out of his statue!
It’s a pity really because it’s a symbol of friendship between Malaysia (Kuching) and China (Kunming) and yet it has fallen to absolute disrepair. I don’t know if tourists come to visit this place but if they do, then it’s truly embarrassing!
Entrance to Taman Sahabat is free. It’s open from 4am to midnight daily. I wonder how they lock up the garden. Or if they have guards to roam and prevent people from coming in after hours.
By the way, if you’re there, look out for the 2 cat statues as you drive in. They’re in such a suggestive pose! Is that friendship or more than friendship? You be the judge!
Continuing my Kuching entries!