Kuching Diary: Cheng Ho Garden

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.
willow garden
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!

10 thoughts on “Kuching Diary: Cheng Ho Garden”

  1. I am sadden by how it look
    I was there 2 years ago
    I was very nice
    I met my sister from Australia so I took her there
    I saw what you saw
    Broke my heart

  2. Hi SAD
    Yeah, how sad isn’t it? I hope things will improve because it is such an eyesore. I would be too embarrassed to bring anyone (locals even) to this place. Sigh!

  3. it will be improved soon. various authorities i know of are doing their best. do remember that all materials came from china itself and the climate in china and in kuching is very different,hence the consequences. however,i believe kuching citizens should start to be a little more considerate. i went there countless times and have seen rubbish in the waters and everywhere. for me, that is more embarassing then any of the things you have stated above. it shows how irresponsible kuching people are.

  4. Hi ghe: If you are in Kuching and have a car, you can easily go there. And here lies my other grouse. If you rely on public transport, it’s tough getting around in Cat City. Car rentals are expensive, taxis and buses seem to be non-existent. I once waited for an hour at a bus stop at Green Road but none came! How to see Kuching then?
    Hi Wong: I think it’s mentality really. I think we Malaysians think that just because we pay the local council to clean up our rubbish, we can throw rubbish everywhere! I do hope the park will be improved because it seems that Malaysians are great at building stuff but that’s about it. We don’t seem to care about maintenance at all. Or perhaps there’s maintenance but shoddy maintenance.

    • Hi Debbie: It is a lovely, rambling place that’s like Penang in many ways. It’s awfully laidback which is a positive thing. Every step is unhurried. Like a quaint small town, it has its pluses. But surely it needs a structured growth which I haven’t quite seen yet.

  5. You have a great blog here. This is a very late comment. Anyway, one can see the workers/employees at the new Kuching airport starting to damage the building by doing ad hoc and amaturish improvement here and there. Very soon the new airport will be trashed. Most contractors and builders are not well trained. Most younger architects and engineers do not really know how to detail their designs too. And all these lead to lousy structures.Oh yes, most building owners do not have any budget for proper building maintenance.

    • Hi cne: Gracias! If my blog has been a source of pleasure and information, then I’ll be a happy blogger. 😉 Tell me about contractors. Most of them are ‘journeymen’ which means they learnt the skills through trial and error (aka experience). Theory? Bah. What’s that? So they do as they please, believing that what they know is good enough to get them through their day’s work. In my old apartment, the shower head was missing and this was the first time we moved into a brand new apartment! It was NOT stolen. It was just NOT fixed by the Bangla construction workers! And this apartment got its OC or whatever certification the authorities give! How to shower lah. So Bolehland is always Bolehland. We are great at making stuff but we never maintain them. We inspire sniggers from oversea visitors who can’t help but compare us to our smaller but more efficient neighbour.


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