Kuching purrs with pride

|     Rokiah Mahmud     |

A GROUP of media representatives were on a familiarisation trip to Kuching, from December 6-11, co-organised by Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) and Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), as an introduction to RB’s recommencement of its service flights to the city on December 28.

Popularly known as the City of Cats, Kuching’s colonial-era buildings are remarkably well-preserved against the backdrop of the scenic Sarawak River.

One of our stops was the Kuching Town Mosque, whose distinctive golden dome is among the city’s most recognised landmarks. It can accommodate up to 4,000 congregants and even has a staircase with numbered steps. According to our guide, the numbered steps assist the congregants in remembering where they placed their shoes or sandals.

The Darul Hana Bridge – which officially opened on November 11, 2017 – serves as Kuching’s latest landmark, complementing the Brooke-era Astana and the modern, yet unique, Sarawak State Assembly. Named Darul Hana, which means a place of peace and tranquillity, the bridge is seen as the symbol of unity by many. The S-shape structural design was inspired by the meandering rivers of Sarawak.

The Darul Hana Bridge measures 3.25 metres in width and looms 12 metres above the water. Supporting the Darul Hana Bridge are two cables that are 45 metres high from two 48-degree outward angled steel towers topped out with stylised hornbills, denoting the emblem of Sarawak. The Kuching Darul Hana S-Bridge is not that hard to find, as it is located in the heart of Kuching, at the ever-popular Kuching Waterfront.

Kuching City Mosque
An Iban woman weaves textile
A replica of a Bidayuh house
The Astana, former residence of the White Rajahs. – PHOTOS: ROKIAH MAHMUD

A short distance from the Darul Hana Bridge, a wall mural carved from stone depicts the story of the mouse-deer and the crocodile from the well-known Malay folktale.

Winding through the heart of the city, our delegation was brought for a closer look at the majestic Astana, the former residence of the Brooke Rajahs, but now the official residence of the Governor of Sarawak.

On the second day, the media delegation visited the Sarawak Cultural Village to learn more about the unique award-winning living museum which offers an exciting and informative introduction to local cultures and lifestyles.

This living museum features nine authentic replica houses representing every major ethnic group in Sarawak: Bidayuh, Iban and Orang Ulu longhouses, a Penan jungle settlement, Melanau tall-house, a Malay town house, Chinese farmhouse and pagoda. Each of these houses is staffed with members of the respective ethnic groups, wearing traditional costumes, carrying out traditional activities. Every house has a ‘storyteller’ who is an expert in describing and interpreting traditional cultures and lifestyles.

After touring the village, visitors can enjoy multi-cultural dance performances in the village’s own theatre, along with the opportunity to take dance, handicraft and music lessons.