kuching

DSC_0670

The easy to like city of Kuching grew up on the banks of the Sarawak River not far from the western end of the island of Borneo and was first called Sarawak. In 1872 Charles Brooke, the second White Rajah, officially renamed it after  a nearby hill, Bukit Mata Kuching ( a local longan fruit with seeds like gleaming cat’s eyes )  from where a stream once flowed near the riverfront. He probably did this to avoid confusing his capital city with the name of the vast swath of coasts, rivers, jungles and mountains the size of England which thirty years earlier had been given by the Sultan of Brunei to his maternal uncle, the first White Rajah, “and his heirs forever” for helping the Sultan suppress rebel tribesmen and pirates. These days the city is arguably Malaysia’s most livable and without doubt,  its cleanest. The roads, corridors and pavements of the town are lovingly swept by gangs of dedicated cleaners in bright t-shirts most hours of the day.  The eating shops are spotless, cheerful and run by people who own them – a world away from the rat friendly food courts of KL with their fetid open drains and insouciant foreign waiters.

Kuching’s multiculturalism is authentic, visible and, I suspect, more than just skin deep. The places of worship of each ethnic community : church, mosque, temple are built on a human scale and stand equally with no monster structure dominating over another.  Muslim women in colorful headscarves sell curried rice next to Chinese stall vendors sprinkling minced pork over bowls of kolok mee that are eagerly awaited by  tables of Christian Bidayuhs, Ibans and other indigenes from Sarawak’s deep green interior. Street signs are in Malay and (the only place in Malaysia) Chinese, reflecting the city’s history and demography.

Kuching is what Malaysia had once promised to be.

DSC_0222DSC_0543

DSC_0115

DSC_0389

DSC_0764

DSC_0739

DSC_0529

DSC_0206

DSC_0239

DSC_0120

DSC_0737

securedownload

DSC_0373

securedownload

DSC_0512

 

DSC_0719

DSC_0159

DSC_0324

DSC_0450

DSC_0642

securedownload

securedownload

DSC_0310

DSC_0598

securedownload

DSC_0791
All images copyright Kerk Boon Leng April 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s