Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kuching, Borneo

So on the 30th November we fly to Kuching via Kuala Lumpur  and take a taxi to the Telang Usan hotel that we have pre-booked through Agoda.  The surrounding to the hotel were very dismal – disintegrating buildings, open smelly drains and littered wasteland.  The hotel was dated especially the public rooms which strongly smelt of cigarette smoke, however the en-suite room whilst not having a very pleasant view was large and very comfortable.  Breakfast was very Malaysian – curry or spicy noodles but there was a little water melon and sweet tasting bread to toast.

Sadly neglected buildings around the Telang Usan Hotel

Dining room at the Telang Usan Hotel with Festive decorations
River trips, Museums and the Top Restaurant

On 1st December 2012, our first full day in Kuching is spent exploring the town.  We take an hours boat trip along the Sarawak River which, whilst an insight into river life and the contrast between the old and new Kuching, it was nothing special.  However the river boats here are very colourful and give interest to the river. 

Colourful river ferry

Fishing for fresh water prawns in the River Sarawak

Keep clear of this fisherman!

Old homes on the banks of the River Sarawak

And the New City of Kuching.

The very grand new Government Building
Kuching is an old trading town, with many old colonial buildings, which enhance the charm of the town.   James Brooke, a British adventurer, who after winding his way up the Sarawak River in his ship the Royalist, was asked by the Sultan of Brunei in 1839, if he would help settle the long standing disputes amongst the fighting factions of the country.  He was a very fair man and he not only talked both sides into a harmonious truce, he also insisted that the lives of the rebels be spared and they be allowed to return to their villages.  Consequently Brookes gained great respect and friendship from the Dayaks, the Malays and the Chinese and he was given the title of the Governor and Rajah of the Sarawak region of Borneo.  This was the beginning of the ‘rule of  the White Rajahs’ which was to last three generation and over 100 years.

The Victorian Square Tower built in 1879 as a dungeon
although never used for prisoners. However it was later used as a
 popular dancing hall

The Court House built in 1874 now partly used as a Tourism
Centre, Cafes and A Lebanese restaurant. 

The cafe inside part of the Court House

Alan outside the impressively columned old General Post Office
built in 1931 by Vyner Brook, the last rajah of Sarawak

We visited all the museums for which Kuching is renowned and found them very interesting – the Sarawak Museum, the Chinese History Museum, the Textile Museum and the Art and Craft museums.
Alan at the Art and Craft Museum

Diane outside the one of Sarawak Museum buildings

That evening we went to the recommended Top Spot restaurant for dinner.  A huge place; a food hall entirely devoted to fresh seafood and after you have made your selection they cook it for you.  The food was excellent and we could see why it was so popular.
Busy popular Top Spot restaurant

Choose your fish!

Alan about to tuck into his meal at the Top Spot

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