Saturday, November 13, 2010

short trip (1) - kuching
kuching, the capital city of sarawak, has always been an hour flight from singapore. however, with the advent of budget airlines, it now seems nearer, more affordable and convenient to visit this place in east malaysia, which is just a hop away. to make sure that you will have a pleasant and an enjoyable visit, it is best to do some homework to find out more about the place before embarking on the trip.

we should not assume that things and systems will be the same. in kuching, for example, you can hardly flag down a taxi on the street. it is not that there are no taxis in kuching; there are, but they are usually stationed outside the main hotels and the airport. the bus service is also not as frequent and the network is not as well connected as ours.

if you are planning a weekend trip, i would suggest you do the kuching heritage walk around the waterfront, take a 50-sen sampan ride across the sarawak river to kampong boyan and enjoy some of the local delicacies.

in a previous posting, i have mentioned some of the food unique to kuching. i realise that you also need to tell readers where to find the food. so, in this post, i am going to introduce some of these makan places. after my last visit, someone asked if i had eaten seafood at topspot. i told him i had been to the spot but i went there only to see the food.

topspot is located on the sixth level of a car-park complex next to the standard chartered bank and two blocks away from the 5-star hilton hotel. this place is popular with both locals and tourists. when you are there, you should try the midin with belachan or garlic, bamboo clams, black pepper crabs and the giant prawns.

another place listed in the official travel brochure as a top place to go for local cuisine is the lao ya keng hawker centre. it is located on carpenter street, just opposite the huang thian siang temple, a teochew temple dating back to the 19th century. the food centre can get quite crowded from lunch time onwards.

if you want to try the sarawak laksa, kway chap and pork porridge, you have to be there in the morning. other recommended dishes are kolo mee, yong tau foo and the satay. the sarawak variety of laksa is different from ours.

when you are in kuching, you have to try the local teh-c peng special. it is quite distinctive. there are three distinct layers - the layer of tea floating on top, in the middle is the layer of evaporated milk and at the base, a layer of gula melaka. the drink is available from the drinks stall at the same (lau ya keng) hawker centre.

in kuching, every coffee shop seems to offer kolo mee, laksa and tomato mee/kueh tiaw. if you stay near the waterfront, you should have no problem accessing the two makan places i have mentioned. if your stay is at harbour view hotel (rm$175/night), which i did on my last visit, there is a popular makan shop called the green hill corner on the row as the hotel. the beef noodle/kway teow is usually sold out by noon.

another popular makan place is the song kheng hai food court located in the padungan area, a mere 15 minutes walk from the main bazaar area. most people go there for the local snacks and drinks including the teh c peng special.

if, like some sarawakians and even singaporeans, you want to 'tar pau' the kolo mee, try getting it from this stall along jalan palm. the stall is located in 'sister coffee shop'. they have had so many requests for 'take-away' that they know exactly how to pack the food for you.

bringing other food back? how about sarawak pepper and the kek lapis? you can get sarawak pepper and kek (kueh) lapis from the many souvenir shops along the main bazaar. there are also some shops on the other side of the river which sell this local delight.

one local told me that the only 'souvenir' worth buying at the touristy stretch of main bazaar is the pepper.

another thing you can do, if you are there on a weekend, is to visit the very popular sunday market at jalan sartok. although it is called 'the sunday market', a better time to visit the market is on saturday evening. this market is about 25 minutes' walk from the harbour view hotel.


Lam Chun See said...

What a coincidence. I am going to Kuching tomorrow to present a paper at the Sarawak Regional 5S Convention on Monday. Very short trip so won't have much time to explore.

yg said...

chun see, if you are staying near the waterfront, you should try the beef noodle at the green hill corner coffee-shop.

stanley said...

YG-You are indeed a food connoisseur.

yg said...

stanley, actually i am not a fussy eater but like everybody i enjoy good food.