Kuching Diary, Part 1

I will be posting up some of my posts which I wrote in Kuching before I continue with my CNY posts. I called these my Kuching Diary entries. 😉
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We arrived in Kuching a few days ago but the weather’s been good to us. The sun isn’t as hot as Penang (thankfully though to Mom in law, any sun means it’s hot). It rains in the night too so good for sleeping. Now I know why there’s so much green and vegetation here in Sarawak – the climate makes plants grow and grow!
sarawak kolo mee
The first thing Nic and I do (when we get the chance) is to eat Sarawak’s famous kolo mee. I kind of enjoy this Q-Q noodles (Q-Q in Hokkien means springy lah) here even though it’s such a simple dish. Just plain noodles with a few slices of char siew and some char siew oil. No wantan, no vege. The noodles are addictive though. I wonder why Penangites have not caught on to this type of noodles instead of the limp wantan noodles we have over there.
sarawak kolo mee
Second on our list is of course Sarawak Laksa. If you have not tasted this dish, you will not know the pleasure you are missing. It’s not the look that entices (it might put one off too) but the taste is rather unique. I had it only once twice since arriving a few days ago so I will be on the look out for it soon (a visit to Barrett’s is in order – Stefania and Barrett are our clients who manage their own kopitiam and sells sarawak laksa and also laksa paste and sarawak sambal belacan). See this previous post of mine if you want to learn how to cook sarawak laksa.
As you can see, for me, a visit to Kuching is all about food. The Sarawak version of siew pau is also quite different from what we have in Penang or Peninsular Malaysia. It’s fluffier with a distinct taste of char siew. The famous siew pau maker is located at Carpenter Street in Kuching’s Chinatown. I remembered I was quite taken by the taste of the siew pau when I tasted it about 2 years ago. Nic had brought it all the way home to Penang (then the flight route was Kuching-KL, transit, KL-Penang). The siew pau travelled well.
I focus on food because I am a foodie but also because Kuching has always struck me as lacking in malls. I always knew Kuching needed more than just Ngiu Kee or Everise! Besides, it was time for some high-end shopping mall to come to East Malaysia where these folks really have money. I have lamented about this enough and this time around, I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into The Spring (at Simpang Tiga) and The Boulevard.
Now The Spring and The Boulevard have made upped the ante in retail therapy. Not because they contain mostly brands and such. No, rather I finally have some place to really go and shop (not that I am a shopaholic lah) when I want to shop.
Of course, it’s also fabulous that The Spring has a gorgeously stocked supermarket chain called Ta Kiong (from chain of supermarkets from Sibu) where I found olive oil in tins, grape seed oil, snacks I never heard of, Australian brands, American brands, and more (something like our Cold Storage in Gurney Plaza but lots better in choice and variety). They even have 4 different brands of sarawak laksa paste (I always buy laksa paste for friends and family but never had so many choices!). The Spring also has Parkson, Starbucks, Kluang Station (like Oldtown Kopitiam), MNG, Guess, and even Switch!
I can see that Kuching has definitely changed in the past 10 years that I’ve been visiting. I used to think, why can’t Tesco or Carrefour open an outlet in Kuching? Not enough buying power?
Bull.
Have you SEEN the size of mansions in Kuching? They’re made for giants! They’re so huge that it’s a spectacle. It’s even bigger than our Penang Governor’s home.
And did you know that Sarawakians shop overseas? In HK or Singapore or Australia? You know why? In the pre-AirAsia days, the air fare from East Malaysia to Peninsular Malaysia was so high that it was cheaper to fly to HK/Australia/Singapore to shop and holiday! That’s why there should be a Thank-God-for-Tony-Fernandez-Day. Otherwise, I’d still be griping each time I have to take our national airline to go over to the other side of Malaysia!
More Kuching Diary entries coming up!

6 thoughts on “Kuching Diary, Part 1”

  1. Hmmm… Kuching. Was there last in December and will not be going there for a long long time to come. I likened Kuching to be like Ipoh or Taiping… not too busy, quite laid-back and serene. Of course the shopping scene would not be as vibrant as compared to its counterpart, Sabah. I have made it a point never to shop at departmental stores in Kuching for the stuff is even costlier than in KL due to shipping costs. Instead, my fav shopping haven in at the Bazaar which is beside the Kuching river for handicrafts and the likes. Got a few pieces to grace my new home this trip.

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  2. Hi Kate: Ya, I like the Main Bazaar too. But very little chance of shopping there as we mostly go the the non-town areas to eat and shop. I think I visited the Kuching Waterfront only twice in all of my 10 years of going there. I guess it’s like being a Penangite. We don’t go up to Pg Hill unless we have out of state guests!

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  3. Do you know any good porridge places to eat in Penang? We just came back from the only decent one we know – it’s opposite Bukit Jambul shopping centre – across the road, on the corner.

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  4. What sort of porridge do you like? The grainy type or the smooth as silk type? I like the one at Taman Permai opposite Tesco Extra/Sg Dua. They sell only at night. Pork porridge or fish porridge but grainy type like rice. The chee cheong chuk at SuperTanker (Lip Sin) opposite the wet market is good too. Sells all day.

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  5. I’m a Kuchingite currently living in Sydney, did my time at USM from 2000-2005, and oddly enough I’m home in Kuching at least once a year just to sample the food! The taste, texture, and presentation of food are a lot different to the ones elsewhere in Malaysia (and I likened it to Penang) but what I find most satisfying is the fact that in the one food court/roadside stall, I can catch up with friends of different faiths sitting on the same table… eating meals in accordance to religious restrictions, of course.
    It’s a truly unique Sarawakian social experience.

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    • Hi Gabriel: We’re all diehard Malaysians. No matter where we go, we still go home for food. What you said is true. Only in Kuching kopi tiam can you find people of all faiths sharing meals and conversations. That’s really muhibbah to me (I so refuse to use the stupid 1Malaysia slogan because it’s just lip service and everyone copies it for their own selfish use). The Sarawak and Sabah culture should not be tainted by our Peninsular peculiarities where we get so uptight about everything around us.

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