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culture by locations
The Cat City
The biggest city on East Malaysia, Kuching is the fourth largest city (after Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru) in Malaysia. Sarawak was originally part of the Sultanate of Brunei, but was given to James Brooke, a British adventurer for helping the Brunei Sultan. As such, Kuching became the administrative centre of the White Rajahs of Sarawak throughout the 19th century.
Now, the city of Kuching now bustles with the activity of about 600,000 inhabitants and serves as the capital of the state of Sarawak.
Founded by Pengiran Indera Makhota, a representative of the Sultan of Brunei in 1827, Kuching became the third capital of Sarawak after Santubong and Lidah Tanah. At that time, Kuching was essentially known as Sarawak, and it was only later during the rule of the second Rajah Charles Brooke that the city was given its current name.
Originally ruled by the Sultan of Brunei, the ownership of Sarawak was passed to the British James Brooke as a reward for bringing a peaceful settlement to a Bidayuh uprising against the government. Three generations of the Brooke family ruled over Kuching under their leadership, Kuching grew from a small village to a well-kept town.
The rule of the Brooke family ended during the time of the Japanese occupation in 1941, with Kuching falling under the power of the Japan Empire for almost 4 years. After the official surrender of the Japanese forces, the last Rajah, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke ceded power to the British government. In 1963, Sarawak, along with Sabah and Singapore merged with Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia.
Places of Interest
Kuching is known as one of the main tourist destinations of Sarawak, and is touted to be a heaven for tourists. There’s much to see, do, and like the rest of Malaysia, much to eat too!
Being almost 2 centuries old, as well as undergoing rapid growth during the mid-19th century, it’s no wonder that Kuching is dotted with structures of significant historical origin. One of the most notable buildings is the Astana (the Palace). Built in 1870 by the Governor of Sarawak, it still stands majestically and is now the official residence of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Sarawak’s Head of State).
Despite that, Kuching has undergone extensive development in recent times and many modern facilities such as malls, cafes and shops are found all over the place. For those who are looking for a more urban experience, Kuching is a great place too!
Kuching is also well-known for its number of museums. The museums display various historical, cultural or other significant items from a variety of areas, such as the Sarawak Museum (ethnic items), Chinese History Museum, Fort Magherita (Police Museum), The Cat Museum and many more.
Kuching also serves as a great base to explore the rest of Sarawak, the state well-known for being culturally-rich and filled with unspoiled natural wonders. From Kuching, visitors can easily experience and explore unique Sarawak culture (especially of the Iban peoples in the state) as well as participate in various ecotourism activities such as kayaking, jungle trekking and other adventures.
The Food of Sarawak
The variety of food served in Sarawak and the state’s local cuisine is noticeably different from the rest of Malaysia, making Kuching a worthy foodie’s destination. Although a number of Sarawakian dishes are gradually finding their way to the rest of the country, items such as Sarawak Laksa, Kolok Mee, Mi Sapi, Bubur Pedas and others remain quite distinctively Sarawakian.
Of course, for those who are more conservative in their choice of food, there’s no need to worry. Other than local cuisine, it’s now easy in Sarawak to find common Malaysian food such as Nasi Lemak and Roti Canai, as well as fast food such as KFC and McDonalds in Sarawak.