Kuching Sarawak Foodtrail – Attack of the Borneon Kopitiam

September 23, 2013 by  
Filed under General

Kuching is one of the popular cities in Malaysia where we are able to find different kinds of delicacies from different ethnic group. On the 13th of September, we had followed a group of tourists from Singapore to embark on the “Attack of the Borneon Kopitiam” food trail.

We started gathering at Hilton Hotel and were separated into groups, to try the different foods in Kuching. Following the blue and green group, we followed our tour guide to the first stop which is Borneo Delight situated opposite of Medan Pelita. When all the groups were ready, we set out for our journey on the food trail.

tour guide getting the group ready

tour guide getting the group ready

Kuching is such a colorful city with the green trees at the sidewalks and different kinds of colourful buildings brightening up the streets. While walking, we passed through one of the oldest Chinese temple in Kuching which is the Siew San Teng Tua Pek Kong. With dragon carvings on the wall of the temple, it certainly isn’t a landmark to be missed. We then crossed the road and walked through a row of shoplots selling souvenirs.

the journey to Borneo Delight

the journey to Borneo Delight

Borneo Delight is not far from the area and it took only a few more minutes to reach. Situated just beside the road, Borneo Delight gives out a very traditional feeling to its customers. With wooden furniture and Dayak styled carvings and ornaments in the shop, the traditional ambience is something that you should enjoy. We had our first food trail stop with some delicious Sarawak Laksa at Borneo Delight. The Sarawak Laksa is a different from any other laksa as it has its own way of preparation and some of the ingredients used are different from the others. A food which is specially made in Sarawak and is a must to try when in Kuching.

When we were done eating our laksa, we next ate ayam pansuh which is, chicken cooked in bamboo, one of the popular Dayak delicacy in Kuching. We also tried the Borneo Umai, which is a seafood made of rawfish and gives a sour taste. We also drank lychee with seaweed, a drink made by blending lychee and seaweed, before we continued our food trail to the second stop which is the Chinese Barbeque Specialist. We followed the tour guide and were brought to the Kuching waterfront to have some sightseeing. The Kuching Waterfront is such a relaxing place to be. With the trees blocking out the sunlight and the sampan or water taxi seen sending people to the other side of the Sarawak River; it gives you that serene feeling. Most of the Singapore tourists who were with us at that time took the opportunity to take some photos of themselves and the waterfront for some sweet memories. We then stopped by one of Kuching’s most popular cat monument, which is a monument of a family of cats, for a group photo.

Enjoying the meal

Enjoying the meal

We then arrived at our second stop which is the Chinese Barbeque Specialist to have some Kolo Mee and Honey Chrysanthemum tea. The honey chrysanthemum tea is really refreshing after the walk from Borneo Delight. The kolo mee was also very filling and delicious. Mixed together with the drinks, the two really complement each other giving a very nice taste.

second stop, the Sarawak Kolo Mee

second stop, the Sarawak Kolo Mee

After enjoying our meal, we head to the last stop, which is the Sarawak Kek Lapis shop and factory in Medan Pelita. We walked through the city again while having some sightseeing of the buildings in Kuching accompanied by the roar of jets roaming the sky from time to time practicing for Malaysia Day celebration on 16 September 2013.

Sightseeing while food trailing

Sightseeing while food trailing

We then reached Medan Pelita and took the stairs up to the second floor to reach Sarawak Kek Lapis factory which comprised of 9 factories. In a small walkway, we were greeted by the sellers of the kek lapis and we were introduced to their different kinds of designs. All the cakes were freshly baked kek lapis for us to enjoy.

seeing the different designs of the Sarawak Kek Lapis

seeing the different designs of the Sarawak Kek Lapis

The “Attack Of the Borneon Kopitiam” food trail was a tiring but fruitful experience for us all. We get to enjoy the different types of food here in Kuching and also see the landmarks and places of interest that Kuching provides us with. In short, the food trail was an unforgettable experience.

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Back to simplicity-Lundu Sarawak

June 21, 2013 by  
Filed under General

Lundu Sarawak is just two hours ride away from the hustle and bustle city of Kuching, but it literally brought me to a whole different place with a different experience. I admire the serene beauty of the town that is placed near the sea.

Lundu Sarawak

Lundu Sarawak

Lundu Sarawak is a sleepy country town located in the Northwest of Kuching that borders West Kalimantan. It is made up of a few rows of shops, a small market, a few blocks of government buildings and some local kampung houses.

The residents here in Lundu Sarawak are involved in various economic sectors such as the agricultural sector, aquaculture sector, fishing Industry, cottage industry and tourism industry. They gave me the impression of being friendly and hospitable. The locals seem to always be wearing a smile on their face, maybe it’s due to the simplicity of their lives that shaped them to be cheerful people.

Lundu Sarawak offers you sun and beach within walking distance from the town center. Siar Beach is the must-go beach the visitors to Lundu Sarawak. Many beach-goers snooze in the shade of palm trees whilst the sea-lovers keep themselves busy chasing the waves and dipping in the sea water that is sure to cool you down under the scorching sun. Siar beach is indeed a majestically mesmerizing beach which has crystal-clear water and pure white sands.

Lundu Retreat Resort is one of the best resorts in Siar Beach, Lundu Sarawak that belongs to the Union Bank group. It only accommodate for about 175 person, as there are only a few rooms, chalets, and penthouses ranging from RM 200 to RM 400 per night inclusive of breakfasts and dinners, depending on which room you select.

We visited Lundu last month and we were lucky that we managed to book a penthouse for a night and I assure you, the penthouse provided us the best view of the sea horizon especially during the sunrise and sunset. My breaths were taken away along with the breeze that caressed my face as I stood facing the sea.

Other than the beach, we also dropped by Gunung Gading National Park in Lundu Sarawak. Gunung Gading is home to the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia that takes nine months to mature and flowering only lasted 4 or 5 days before dying. We were blessed with the chance to see a blooming Rafflesia even though it gave off a nasty smell which attracted flies and other insects.

There are two different trails to trek through Gunung Gading Lundu Sarawak. We opted for ‘The Waterfall’ trail that offers the shortest walk that eventually winded its way up through the forests past a series of waterfalls. It took us about one hour to reach the last one, Waterfall No. 7. Gunung Gading Summit trail is that other more challenging trail, it takes about 3 to 4 hours of tracking through some serious hill walking. One must complete the trail within a day as it is not allowed to stay overnight in the forest.

I found my soul rejuvenated after a trip to Lundu Sarawak where is it so near to the nature. Perhaps we are closest to ourselves when our surroundings are at their simplest. Lundu Sarawak, a gem of Borneo not be to missed out!

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The Magical 8th Borneo Jazz Festival 2013 in Miri Sarawak

May 27, 2013 by  
Filed under General, Miri Sarawak

On the 10th and 11th May 2013, thousands of Jazz music lovers attended the 8th Borneo Jazz Fetival held recently in Parkcity Everly Hotel in Miri. It is one of the international events organized every year to put Miri on world music map.

A local West Jazz Band from Sarawak started off the event with a Hot Latin Rhythms to the Swing Jazz Era and electrifying Funky Rhythms. The award winning Lisa Quartet (‘Bell Awards’ Best Australian Jazz Vocal Album) is well known to jazz music listeners for improvising an ensemble of India and African elements in their music. Lisa, later also joined the Canadian group, The Nylons in a performance.

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West Jazz Band

Lisa with The Nylons

Lisa with The Nylons

The Nylons, is famous for their vibrant live show and getting the crowd all hyped up and entertained. Their music appeal to music lovers of all ages.

Equally entertaining was a performance by Grammy Award winner, The Scott Martin Latin Soul Band, from the west coast of USA. Another popular group comprising of 3 generations of the Martin family. They are well known for Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz. It is a mixture of Jazz compositions. Several craft vendors, food and drinks sellers were also seen at the event.

Local travel agencies also took this opportunity to promote pre and post Jazz Borneo Festival in Miri Sarawak to Mulu Caves, Lambir Waterfalls, Borneo Tropical Rainforests Resort and diving off the coastal waters of Miri. The tourism board hoped that with this annual event, it would put Sarawak on world map for Jazz music.

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Pua Kumbu the woven dreams of Sarawak

April 24, 2013 by  
Filed under General

One of the most popular handicraft is the Pua Kumbu that can be found only here in Sarawak. Pua Kumbu is essentially a traditional woven tribal textile made by the women living in longhouses in Sarawak. It used to be that the weaving goddess Kumang would dream dreams and give the designs and patterns to the weaver through the dreams.

A woman’s status in a society can be seen from the type of motifs weaved. During the olden times, only the wives and daughters of the longhouse can weave humanoid figures, also known as engkaramba. These figures with raised arms and out-turned legs represent the deities of the Iban’s animistic religion and is like a talisman that protect the wearer from all harm. It also ensure bountiful harvest during fruiting or harvesting season. The motifs on the Pua Kumbu can be ceremonial rites, animals, daily activities, plants, or more intricate design or pattern that is brought down from generation to generation. The next generation then add in some creativity in their weaving and make it look prettier than the previous generation’s handiwork.

The current most popular design is the ikat or tie and die method. Here, the warp patterns are created by selectively dyeing the longitudinal threads before weaving. So the weaver will later enhance the motif by adding in brocade weaving, embroidery, tapestry weaving or supplementary weft embroidery. The weavers seem to believe that they must continue with the old method of weaving to avoid bad luck or misfortune upon them.

pua kumbu

pua kumbu

(image credit: jungleartsandflora.com)

The current most famous export from Sarawak for pua kumbu is the design by Edric Ong, a reknowned batik designer who has gone on the international fashion runway scene. He has worked with the women at Rumah Garie longhouse, on the River Kain in interior Sarawak, accessible only by longboat, to adapt silk yarn to their traditional cotton pua techniques with outstanding success. For this they have won a coveted Seal of Excellence from UNESCO, for outstanding craftsmanship and traditional technique.

So when you are next in Sarawak, do check out the unique Pua Kumbu and buy some to bring back as souvenirs. You can get to Kuching where most of the pua kumbu can be found by flying with MASwings airline from any of the other Borneo destinations that MASwings fly to. Check out their low rates here: www.MASwings.com.my

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Kuching Food Festival the annual yearly event that promises fun, food and entertainment for everyone

April 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Best Kuching Eateries, General

Kuching Food Festival, in Kuching Sarawak is one exciting event that locals and tourists alike can look forward to if you are in Kuching from 12 July – 4 August 2013 to be held at the Dewan Masyarakat or Community Hall of Kuching South City Council. If you are planning a trip to Kuching, and you love to eat, this is the best time to come. Fly with the best regional airline, MASwings and come visit Kuching Sarawak to sample all these delicious local and international cuisine all in one place.

Food oh la la

There are estimated to be over 220 stalls participating in this year’s event.

As this event is about food, so there will be a great variety of food available at the event ranging from muslim food, chinese food, Indian and western food. There will be a new international food corner catering for International cuisine covering Korean, Japanese, Philippine and even Vietnamese food. This goes to show that there is an increase in demand for international cuisine by Kuching folks as well as an increase in expatriates coming to work in Kuching.

Kuching Got Talent

The one exciting event that most people will look forward to is the “Kuching got Talent” contest. The contest covers broader areas such as comic dialogue and crosstalk, ventriloquist, magic, stunt, academic and martial arts.

Each team must consist of not more than five members and the performance time is limited to five minutes.

The judging is divided into four components namely talent (25 pct), entertainment (25 pct), creativity and uniqueness (25 pct), and overall performance (25 pct).

Astro has invited three guest judges from Kuala Lumpur and Kuching to identify the true champion of ‘Kuching Got Talent’.

The champion and first runner-up will walk away with RM2,500 and RM1,500 respectively while the second runner up will bring home RM1,000. The ‘potential prize’ winner will receive RM500.

There will also be a brass band competition for secondary school bands. Through such activities, the youth will be occupied with an activity that is productive for their time and talent.

The council is also planning to organize horse riding within the compound area for the public.

There will also be a Garden Show to encourage the publis to beautify their homes through creative design and special plants.

Other activities are the martial arts display, Sports Toto 3-on-3 Basketball Jamboree, rugby tournament, football tournament and hockey tournament.

If you have the talent, why not fly with MASwings to Kuching during those dates and join the Kuching Got Talent Contest? Who knows you may just shine your hidden talent and walk away with some cash prizes or in worst scenario, just have great fun? Book your air tickets now at www.MASwings.com.my

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Surviving Traditional Skills in Modern Day

April 20, 2013 by  
Filed under General

Sarawak is always known for her beautiful handicrafts. Ranging from basket weavers, to mat-making, and ikat-weaving, these items became the main attractions for both domestic and international travelers.

In the past, if someone mentioned to hear about Sarawak handicrafts, they would think a ‘longhouse’. Public will have the picture of Dayaks’ life still living in primitive days. However, a lot has changed in the past 30 to 40 years.

In today’s society, we no longer see these groups of Sarawak Dayak people still living in their primitive days. They are following the world trend. Some eventually decided to find better opportunities by going to town. With the new education policies, these young children now even have the chance to go to school and further their studies.

Even some of the elders these days, will follow their sons and daughters to live in the town area. These urban artisans will work quietly on their own and some will work part time with a company. Then again, the common complaint is of course none other than the resources which are hard to get in town.

In many urban areas, those younger generations in Sarawak who are keen to learn how to weave these unique and beautiful handicrafts will receive an informal lesson from the elders. Such classes are usually setup by a group of community associations. The problem still lies in the question on where and how to get a handful of raw materials.

Since it is hard to get the required raw materials, these traditional Dayaks’ being creative managed to find other alternatives to it. They managed to produce baskets by using recycled newspaper or old magazines and later packed up nicely in a plastic packaging ready for sale.

Although it was made out of recycled newspapers and magazines, the quality of their hand works are still in high quality. They will eventually try to recycle thrown away stuff and see what they can make out of it using their traditional skills respectively.

Experimenting and trying out with new materials in handicrafts are always the fun part for these elders in Sarawak. Living in an urban area using traditional skills to survive, the weavers definitely will have to keep an eye not only on the latest trend but also what will sell well. Traditional costumes are popular but they are not very high in demand. Items such as smaller purses, handbags, and beads, are more likely inviting to most domestic or international travelers.

Sarawak Cultural Village and the Kuching City Waterfront will have various selections of traditional handicrafts to pick from.

Although they have shifted and assimilated themselves with the urban lifestyle, these creative Sarawak Dayaks will work side by side with their close friends or relatives to produce the handicrafts. Some successfully managed to open up their very own home made handicrafts business, will rally with more friends and relatives back in their village for help. Moreover, some of them are not actually working as a full time job in this handicraft business but see it as a good way of welcoming a little bit extra cash and keeping old skills alive.

Sarawak Handicraft

Sarawak Handicraft

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Experience the sights and sounds of the Borneo Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching

Do you want to experience wonderful live performances by world singers and bands in Malaysia’s largest musical event? Then, look no further, for the annual Borneo Rainforest World Music Festival, held every year in Sarawak Cultural Village, is here again to dazzle you with its spectacular sights and sounds starting from the 28th until 30th of June 2013. Kuching is indeed the place to be in at this time of year!

Rainforest World Music Festival

MASWings has regular daily flights from Sarawak’s major cities, Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Seri Begawan. Thus, it is a convenient thing for you to attend the wonderful Borneo Rainforest Music Festival. If you are flying from further afield such as Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, there are many direct flights you can take to Kuching from these destinations.

Rainforest World Music Festival

The Sarawak Cultural Village, the venue of this event, at the foothills of the majestic Mount Santubong is surrounded by beautiful lush green rainforest. During these three days event, there will be numerous workshops held during the daytime and music performances at night. During the last Rainforest World Music Festival, the weekend audience totaled to around 30,000 people. It is no surprise that this festival is now acclaimed as the largest of its kind in Malaysia.

Rainforest World Music Festival
This year’s musical line up will consist of several local and international talents. Lan E Tuyang, a traditional Kenyah band called Lan E Tuyang performing the exotic native Kenyah tunes. Coming from further afield, the Ukrainian Spiritual Seasons band will entertain you with medieval, Irish and Scandinavian folk tunes. The local Sarawakian Gema SLDN-SCV group will undoubtedly enchant the audience with their various different local percussion instruments such as drums, gongs and bamboo. A solo native performer, Maya Green, is no less impressive with his solo native Borneo music, a blend of traditional tunes and sounds, played on the iconic sape. Hailing from Australia, the Nunukul Yuggara dance troupe will entertain you with their traditional Aboriginal song and music. These unique performers are just but a few that will grace this year’s wonderful Rainforest World Music Festival.

Rainforest World Music Festival

During the day, the performers will conduct several workshop sessions relating to their music and songs in the various traditional houses within the Sarawak Cultural Village. If you are interested to know more about how to play musical instruments or sing a tune, this interesting workshop is something you should not miss! There will be workshops on songs from various countries, the origin of the traditional gong, traditional Aboriginal body rites, the music and traditions of the Bidayuh people, different types of drum percussions and many more. It would indeed be an experience of a lifetime, learning about the delightful sounds and music from around the world.

Rainforest World Music Festival

Will all these fun-packed activities during the day and breath taking musical performances at night, The Borneo Rainforest Music Festival 2013 is guaranteed to blow you away! Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s head down to Kuching this late June and enjoy the sights, sounds and music from around the world. You’ll not regret it.

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10 Tips How To Be A Green Traveller

March 7, 2013 by  
Filed under General

What is Green Travel all about? We tend to hear it very often even on some travel tip guide books and even on the internet. Does going green literally mean you carry anything that has got to do with green during your travel? That is not exactly it! The definition to be a Green Traveler means to be friendlier to your environment. It is more to like saying “I need to save the earth”. So how can you be a Green Traveler? Here are some 10 tips on how you can do it!

1. Recycled Papers or Plastic Bags

Not all papers are the same. Some thick papers will have a hard time to be dissolved like those thick ones. Same goes for plastic bags. Paper map, if no longer in use, you might want to give to your friend. It is expensive these days. As for plastic bags, do not throw it away just like that! It is useful when it comes to packing up your dirty clothes. It comes in handy as you may never know when you are going to need it.

2. Power Saving

There are times when we traveled we tend to neglect and take it for granted just because it is a hotel facility. We have the thoughts of “After all, I am paying for it and the hotel is responsible for paying the electricity bill”. Think again! Hotels tend to consume at least an average of 40% electricity output compared to a normal house. To reduce it, you can switch off all lights and the TV when going out.

3. Walk or Cycling Is Good For Health

Walking can be good for health. Try to reduce rental transportation such as van or cars. If there is a bicycle for rent in your nearby place, pick that up. It helps a lot during your travel as well. Even when you walk around for a sight-seeing, you will find yourself to be more adventurous. Moreover, you will get to see the detail parts of your destination. Before you realized it, you are actually staying healthy and reducing that carbon material output.

4. Reusable Bottle or Container

Instead of spending cash to buy new bottle and container, you might as well want to reuse it. It helps to save cost but also saving the environment. Plastic containers and bottles are non-biodegradable items.

5. Buy Local Items

Looking for souvenirs? If you do, look for local items that are made from Mother Nature. For example, beautifully crafted and usable pencil made from used woods or what was left of it. These tiny little things are not only great as souvenirs but they are lovely as giveaway present packs.

6. Travel Responsibly

To travel responsibly is to make sure you obey the most common law everywhere in the world. And that is DO NOT LITTER. Other than that, you must not be IGNORANT too. Some dustbin is divided into three sections you need to read the label carefully. Different rubbish category must be dropped into its respective category.

7. Do A Little Bit of Farming

If you do happen to have the chance to stay in a place that is known as Homestay, this will be a good chance for you to do a little bit of something. Some Homestays do have farming activities. Now get out there and do little bit of farming. It will be fun!

8. Travel Light

Bring only what you must bring. It is not like you are moving your house or anything. Less weight means less pollution. Carrying more luggages with you means your plane or car will have to consume more fuel. More fuel means more carbon dioxide emits from the transportation.

9. Eat Green

Green and fresh vegetables serve on your menu is not only good for health. By eating green or something that is more natural it means you are reducing energy consumption. Such restaurants tend to have more organic menus such as vegetables and fruits.

10. Stay in Green Hotels

Green eco-friendly hotel is what you might be looking for. Green hotels tend to use a lot of recycled products. Each time whenever normal hotels replaced a new bottle of shampoo or soap, they are spending more energy to produce it indirectly. Think of the fuel consumption from factories outlet that produces shampoo which was then delivered to hotels.

There you have it, the 10 Tips on how to be an Eco Green Traveler. Always do bear in mind the earth is a living planet. Energy consumption will indirectly reduce the life span of earth. Not forgetting, once you start out as a Green Traveler, not only you are doing a favour to the whole world but, you are a hero without superpowers that save the world, the environment and humankind. One man, can make a lot of differences than none at all. Happy Travel!

How to Be Green Traveler

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Durian Power !!

December 10, 2012 by  
Filed under General

What is a Durian?

The Durian is a fruit that is very distinctive for its large size, stomach churning-odour, and a very armoury like with formidable thorn covered husk. The fruit alone can grow as large as 30 centimetres (12 inches) long and 15 centimetres (6 inches) in diameter. Its normal weight is usually between one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). To make it easier, think of it as a Morning Star. A type of weapon which was once used back during the age of Knights and Princess age. Except that Durians have more spike than the Morning Star itself.

The Durian shapes are not necessarily an oval or a perfect round shape. It can be either long to oblong, colour of husk is green to brown and its flesh ranging from pale yellow to red, depending on its species.

Due to its shape, the fruit alone is well known among the south-east Asia as the “King of Fruits”.

Its edible flesh is also known for its distinctive odour that is strong and very penetrating even when the husk is still intact. Some people eventually regard the durian as a pleasantly fragrant while others may find it discomforting. Those who dislike its flavour and fragrant will describe it as “the smell of a gym socks”, intense disgust, various almonds, rotten onions, and turpentine. As a result, the smell becomes so popular that the fruit itself was banned from any hotels and trips in certain parts of south-east Asia.

By far, although there are 30 species that grows in the wild in certain parts of Asia, but only 9 species are eatable.

Where was its origin?

The Durian is no longer stranger on the Island of Borneo and certain parts of south-east Asia. The fruit alone was found to be consumed by the local natives during the age of pre-historic times and only known to the Western for 600 years ago. It was first found by a traveller by the name of Niccolo Da Conti during his expedition to south-eastern Asia back in the 15th century. The name of Durian back then was known as Poggio Bracciolini. During his travel record, he described the fruit as a fruit that is the size of a watermelon, with its inner frames containing five things like elongated oranges, and resembling thick butter with different flavours. Back then it was known to be eaten by the Sumatran Island people.

How does Durian got its name?

It is simple. The name Durian, originate from the Malay word as duri which means thorn in English. Duri is a noun in BM and the added –an makes it plural. Its full name is then pronounce as Duri-aa-an. When you say the word fully, it will then sound Durian.

How is it eaten?

Most of the time, south-east Asia prefers Durian to be eaten in a very finger licking good way. Once it is opened and ripe, it can be eaten in such enjoyable manner by most south-eastern Asian people.

Other than that, in culinary, they can turn it into sweet edibles such as traditional Malay Candy, ice kacang, dodol, lempuk, rose biscuits, and with a touch of modern technology, ice-cream, milkshakes, mooncakes, Yule logs, and surprisingly, cappuccino.

In Sarawak however, are known to be eaten in the traditional Kek Lapis and the current trend they call it as fried Durian which can cost up to RM 6 per-piece.