From Courthouse to ChinaHouse Kuching, with style

Kuching Old Courthouse was one of the colonial-era buildings built during the White Rajahs’ era. Before it was converted to ChinaHouse, the building used to be home to Sarawak Tourism Board and National Park Booking Office in Kuching (now temporarily moved to Sama Jaya Nature Reserve until a permanent location at the Urban Transformation Centre Sarawak is completed), Sabati’s Women’s Museum and Little Lebanon Restaurant (now closed permanently).

The idea of the historical colonial building turned to restaurant, cafe and cultural complex was originally brought to Georgetown when one talented Australian named Narelle McMurtrie had recognised the city’s tourism potential. McMurtrie, along with Christopher Ong; an expatriate Australian, had helped transformed Georgetown’s ramshackle shophouses into boutique accommodation, cafes, restaurants, shops and cultural centres.

One of the corridors at the Old Court House at Kuching

One of the corridors at the Old Court House at Kuching

Image credit to The Borneo Post

With her eyes set on Kuching, Narelle McMurtrie had once again worked her magic and transformed Kuching Old Courthouse into one of the coolest place to hang out in Kuching.

ChinaHouse was opened around March 2016. It houses crafts & art space, library, café & wine bar, gift shop, reading room, performance space, restaurant and auditorium.

The most popular spot at ChinaHouse would be Kopi C Café. With over 30 cakes displayed on a long table and in a glass-fronted fridge, tourists and locals had been visiting the café to check out their cake assortments such as Salted Caramel Cheesecake, Passionfruit Coconut Buttermilk Cake, Lemon Meringue Tart, Vietnamese Coffee Tart, Chocolate Coconut Meringue Pie, Banana Mocha Frost Cake, Ginger Cake and many more! For Halloween night, they even have specially decorated cakes in Halloween theme such as Chocolate Decadence, Chocolate Devil, Chocolate Tissimo, Mocha Tart, and Fleur de Se.

Cakes are not the only attraction of this café. Guests can also try their daily bento special, Chopped Crunchy Salad, Ginger Bud Pesto Spaghetti and others. There are mahjong papers covering the tables so that the guests can doodle on it using the crayons on the table. Recently, they even give Cash Voucher worth RM50 to the best doodle of the week. Guests can also play board games while waiting for their food.

Another famous section of ChinaHouse Kuching is the performance space called The Canteen. Visitors get to enjoy live music performance from local and international bands for free and sometimes for a fee. Among the bands that have performed at the Canteen were Cermin, Tornado Eye, Drasska, Bencana, The Warm, Inspired The Bee, Eleven 51, The Farrah and others. Sometimes, there will were events held there such as Tamiya Mini 4WD competition, Art Galleria’ exhibition and the occasional Quiz Night and Open Mic Night.

Recent quiz night at the Old Courthouse

Recent quiz night at the Old Courthouse

Image credit to Borneo Post

Jazzin it up with Jolynn Under the Stars’ at the courtyard of ChinaHouse

Jazzin it up with Jolynn Under the Stars’ at the courtyard of ChinaHouse

Image credit to Borneo Post

For those who wish for a romantic dinner, they can go to BTB Restaurant. The restaurant is opened daily from 6:00pm to 11:00pm. They serve modern western style dishes influenced by a mix of Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines.

The relaxing atmosphere of ChinaHouse, along with the cool and artistic decorations and friendly staffs make the place a cosy hang out spot for tourists and locals.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

The biggest Sarawak Laksa, the backfire and the positive publicity via negative publicity

November 4, 2016 by  
Filed under Sarawak

Unlike any other laksa from West Malaysia where the noodle are thick, rice vercemili or beehoon is used for Sarawak Laksa. The paste for Sarawak Laksa can be bought at most shops. It usually contains shallots, garlic, chillies, galangal, peanuts, candlenuts, lemon grass and a mix of spices. This paste will be cooked with coconut milk to make the gravy. This laksa will be served in a bowl topped with omelette strips, chicken strips, peeled boiled prawns, freshly chopped coriander leaves and optionally lime and sambal belacan.

Sarawak Laksa had been given so many positive reviews; that even world-renowned chef Anthony Bourdain had listed this dish in his Top 10 wish list of his food market in New York.

Just recently, an attempt for a record in Malaysia Book of Records for the biggest bowl of Sarawak Laksa was held at Plaza Merdeka shopping mall. A total of 15 cooks, a giant bowl with chopsticks, over 500 kg of ingredients and 18 hours of hard work had produced a giant bowl of Laksa Sarawak.

Giant Sarawak Laksa at Plaza Merdeka

Giant Sarawak Laksa at Plaza Merdeka

Image credit to The Borneo Post

 

The main purpose of this event was actually to promote Kuching as a tourism destination not only for international tourists but also for locals and other Malaysians. It was also an effort to promote the local delicacy.

Nobody had expected this event to not go as planned when about 100kg of Sarawak Laksa paste, 225kg of beehoon, 90kg of prawns, 1,008 eggs, 90kg of bean sprouts, and 80kg of chicken were wasted.

The dish was cooked on Friday morning. It was actually inevitable to throw away this huge amount of laksa because of the use of coconut milk in the gravy. It needs constant heating for it to maintain its quality but to heat up a giant bowl of laksa of 3.1 metre wide would require several stoves. Furthermore, the bowl was not made in a way for it to absorb heat.

In their Facebook account, the shopping mall management had apologised for the oversight and misjudgement. The original plan was to serve this giant bowl to the public. However, after collective reconsideration, they decided against it as the bowl was not covered in the middle of the atrium where it was prone to catch some undesirable elements during the event that made it unhygienic. Instead, they served a fresh batch of an equivalent 1500 bowls of laksa the following day.

Even though this event had some negative feedbacks, the shopping mall management agreed that food wastage is a huge concern in Malaysia. As part of their effort to minimise wastage, they will provide containers at their food court ‘Food Plaza’ until the end of the year so that the customers can bring home the food that they purchased from the food court that they could not finish. The containers can be collected at the redemption counter at Level 3.

A negative publicity is always a good publicity as well.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Sarai Minang, the hidden Indonesian restaurant in Kuching

July 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Best Kuching Eateries, Sarawak

Most would not know there is an Indonesian restaurant behind Wisma Prudential, Jalan Abell, Kuching.  We also did not know there is a restaurant there until Meen, the owner of Riung Kuring, told us about her other restaurant there.

So, we decided to check out the restaurant. We used Waze to guide our way, and it brought us right to the restaurant’s door step. We took the long way, entering the junction near HSBC Bank, then turn to the first junction on the left. Then, drive along the one-way road. You will have to pass Great Eastern building, then make a U-turn at the left junction.  There will be a junction on the right. If you enter from the junction at Prudential, you only need turn left once, and then drive about a hundred metres ahead to reach the restaurant.

Sarai Minang

Sarai Minang

Our first impression when we were first seated was the place was a bit warm despite having an open space. There were several ceiling fans but since there were not many people when we arrived, most fans were switched off.

We ordered a glass of iced tea and a glass of Jagung Susu. Since we are not that familiar with Padang dishes, we asked the employee to recommend us some dish. With the help of the owner and the waiter, we ordered Dendeng Balado (deep fried beef with sambal on top), Ikan Bawal Bakar (grilled pomfret fish), Gado-Gado (vegetable with peanut sauce), Tauhu Goreng (deep fried tofu), and plain white rice.

Iced tea and Jagung Susu

Iced tea and Jagung Susu

When the Dendeng Balado was served, we thought it would be quite spicy, judging the amount of crushed red chillies on top of it. The meat actually looked like beef jerky with chillies. Surprisingly, it does not taste spicy at all to the point we could not taste the spiciness.

Dendeng Balado

Dendeng Balado

The grilled fish was also quite mediocre, but it tasted like a normal grilled fish from other restaurant; nothing special about it. Same goes with the ayam penyet.

Ikan Bawal Bakar

Ikan Bawal Bakar

Ayam Penyet

Ayam Penyet

We liked the gado-gado, as they were quite generous with the peanut sauce. The gado-gado is a mix of long beans, cabbage, fried tofu and crackers. The crackers tasted a bit different than what we have at our local store, and I remember tasting a similar keropok at my friend’s house which she bought from nearby town, Serikin; near Indonesia border.

Gado-Gado

Gado-Gado

The fried tofu was served with some green sambal. The sambal looked spicy but when we bite into it, the sambal was not spicy.

Fried tofu

Fried tofu

Our verdict:

Taste: 6/10

Price: 6/10

Ambience: 5/10

So, if you wish to try out their dishes, head over to their restaurant at Jalan Abell, Kuching. They are closed on Sundays.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Rare Fruits that can be found in Sarawak

November 2, 2014 by  
Filed under General, Sarawak

Sarawak has many types of rare and exotic fruits that you may never heard of. Below are the types of fruits for you.

1. Dabai

Dabai is a type of fruit that can be eaten after being soaked in warm water with a pinch of salt. Locals usually eat this fruit by itself or it can be eaten as a side dish for rice. Furthermore, you can easily find Dabai Fried Rice at local restaurants when this fruit is in season.  Dabai’s skin is black while the flesh is yellowish.

Dabai

Dabai

Dabai Seed

Dabai Seed

Image credit to MalaysianVegetarianFood.com


2. Tampoi

Although you can find tampoi in Peninsula Malaysia, the fruit are mostly found in Borneo. The locals have many different names for this fruit. Some called it Larah, Terai, Rambai Hutan or Setei. The Ibans called it Kejira. The outer appearance of this fruit is round with brown colour, and the flesh is usually white or yellow.

Tampoi

Tampoi

Image credit to MalaysianVegetarianFood.com


3. Uchung

This fruit is also called belimbing hutan (wild starfruit) by the locals. It was shaped like a teardrop, with ridged surface. Peel the fruit to taste the white pearly pulp. In rural areas, you can find jeruk uchung (uchung pickle) sold at the village grocery store.

Uchung

Uchung

Image credit to MalaysianVegetarianFood.com


4. Asam payak

Asam payak is a fruit that can be found in the jungle of Sarawak. It has a sour taste, and can be bitter when eaten unripe. The skin is red and scaly, and you need to remove the skin to get the juicy and sour fruit inside. This fruit is usually used to make umai and sambal belacan. Because of its sour taste, the locals make pickles out of this fruit.

Asam payak

Asam payak

Image credit to MalaysianVegetarianFood.com


5. Terap

Terap is closely related to jackfruit and breadfruit.  It has scent that smelt similar to durian, and the fruit pulps taste creamy. You can even eat the seeds when it was fried.

Terap

Terap

Image credit to MalaysianVegetarianFood.com


6. Engkalak

The ripen fruit has pink colour. Soak the fruit in warm water for a few minutes before eating. The creamy taste of the fruit is perfect to be eaten with rice.

Engkalak

Engkalak

Image credit to MalaysianVegetarianFood.com


7. Salak

The most famous fruit when you visit Serikin. You can easily find this fruit there, since this fruit is not seasonal. Some even called this ‘snake fruit’, as the skin bears a resemblance with snake’s skin.

Salak

Salak

Image credit to MalaysianVegetarianFood.com


8. Terung dayak

This is actually a type of vegetable, and you cannot eat it raw. Usually, it is cooked in simple broth or stir-fried with sambal.

Terung dayak

Terung dayak


9. Mawang

This fruit is actually a type of mango. There are also other names for this fruit such as Embang and Embawang. The fruit can be either round or oval.

Mawang

Mawang

Image credit to MalaysianVegetarianFood.com


10. Kechala

Most people use the flower buds (known as bunga kantan) in their cooking, especially laksa. It tastes a bit sour.

11. Senggang

Mainly found in Sarawak rainforest, this fruit is a type of ginger which actually tastes a bit sweet and sour.

12. Kasai

This fruit is a bit like longan, but bigger in size. It tastes sweet, and the flesh is clear white. The skin of this fruit is hard, so to crack it open, you need to crash it to something hard. A tip from the local vendor, you can squeeze two of this fruit together in your fist to crack it open.

13. Serait

Some called it mujau, buah redan or buah putit. It was actually more like a hairless rambutan. The taste is almost the same with rambutan and some even taste sourer than the other.

Serait

Serait

Image credit to MalaysianVegetarianFood.com


You may find these rare fruit at Pasar Tamu at Kubah Ria on weekends. Some of them are hard to find, and some can only be found at rural areas, but you had to try them when you find them.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

The Summer Shopping Mall, the first ever shopping mall in Kota Samarahan, Sarawak

September 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Sarawak, Shopping

Kota Samarahan has been recognized by many as “Town of Knowledge”. The town has several institutions of higher learning in the area. They includes Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Universiti Teknologi MARA Kota Samarahan Campus and Tun Abdul Razak Institute of Teacher. Now, students at the institutions can easily spend their free time at this new mall without having to go to Kuching as the city is quite far from town.

Sunset view

Sunset view

One of the must visit place at the mall is the food court. In my opinion, the food court is decorated to look like picnic spots, fit for its name since it is called Verano Picnic. Several of plush looking benches adorned the tables along with colourful chairs, and the sizes are as big as a 3-seater sofa. You can even lie down on these benches while enjoying your meals. There are also tables with colourful chairs around them. Lots of local and international delicacies can be found here. For those who like Italian food, there is a section for pizza and pasta, where the price is cheaper than the usual price. There are also sections for local cuisine, hot plate, Middle East food, BBQ and many others.

Verano Picnic

Verano Picnic

Moreover, various exciting events had been held at The Summer Shopping Mall. Since its opening, several events such as The Summer Ground Control, Summer Photo Contest, Summer Halloween 2013, Festival Kesenian Islam 2013, Chinese New Year Carnival 2014, the recently held Miss World Harvest Festival 2014, and many more had been held here.

One of the events held at Summer Mall

One of the events held at Summer Mall

Apparel outlets such as Vunfa, Kitschen, Esprit, Shibuya, Hari-Hari and Factory Outlet Store had taken spots at this mall. There are also many food and beverages lots such as My Pretzel, Baskin Robbins, Big Apple Donuts & Coffee, Sushi King, Tutti Frutti, Starbucks, Lof Bakery, TwinklePan and many more.

Furthermore, the recently opened Lotus Five Star Cinema had visitors coming in every day, since the day that they offered free movie screening to early birds. Famous movies, which had been shown on theatres before, were being screened again for this free movie screening. Rise of an Empire, Frozen, Police Story 2013, Tom Yum Goong 2, Robocop and three others were screened for free all week. This cinema has 12 comfortable halls consisting of 9 elegant Cinema halls, two 3D Movie Hall and one classy theatre room. This Lotus Five Star cinema is said to be the largest cineplex in East Malaysia.

Animal rides

Animal rides

The mall also has skating rink, big enough to accommodate 50 to 80 skaters. The SkatePark will be the first ever skating rink within a shopping mall in Sarawak, and has been operating since December last year. Everyone from age five onwards is welcomed to try the ice-rink, but children must be accompanied by an adult. Different kind of promotions had been offered to encourage people to come during weekdays. Gentlemen’s Day is on Monday, 2 for 1 Promotion on Tuesday, Group Offer on Thursday, Happy Hour and Ladies Hour on Friday. Admission rates are RM12 per adult and RM8 per child for the first hour on weekdays; and RM15 per adult and RM10 per child during weekends and public holidays.

Moreover, with Summer Lagoon Water Theme Park scheduled to open later this year, the mall is going to be swarmed by the locals, as it is going to be the first water-park in the area. Make sure you visit the latest shopping attraction in Kota Samarahan when you are in town!

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Rainforest World Music Festival 2014

June 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Sarawak

Rainforest World Music Festival 2014 promises to be another exciting event this year. With local and international performers giving their best on this stage, this is the one event that you cannot miss.

One of Sarawak’s representatives is Nading Rhapsody, the famous Iban band, which performance mainly shows the Iban ethnic’s mythical story of Nading, the legendary god of a place called “Panggau Libau”. Nading Rhapsody is an Avant-Garde Borneo Ethnic Music band with young musicians. The members of this band are Boy Keevin (Composer / Bass Guitar), RaWa (Ruding / Acoustic Guitar/ Sape’), Yen (Tribal Percussion), Roy (Lyrics / Vocal / Chants), Christ (Lyrics / Vocal / Dance) and Opah (Vocal / Chants).

Nading Rhapsody from Sarawak

Nading Rhapsody, an awesome local group from Sarawak

Image credit to Rainforest World Music Festival Official Website

Another Sarawak’s groups are Sape & Warrior, a sape and warrior dance performance; Bisayah Gong Orchestra, which group members come from a village called Kampung Pengkala Madang in Limbang, Sarawak, performing their infamous unique and soulful music; Lan E Tuyang, leads by Mathew Ngau Jau, who has been playing the sape (boat shaped lute of Sarawak) since he was little; and Bedok Ensemble, which performance consist of playing bedok drums.

Geng Wak Long, the Kelantanese expertise in traditional art genres such as Wayang Kulit (Shadow Play), Dikir Barat, Kelantanese Silat, Makyung, Tari Inai and other north-east Malaysia arts is one of two representatives from Peninsula Malaysia. Geng Wak Long is made up mostly of family members, trained by the late Pak Awang Hamzah. Another group is Yayasan Warisan Johor Zapin Group that will perform the zapin dance, a traditional dance from Johor.

Geng Wak Long, the Kelantan representative

Geng Wak Long, the Kelantan representative

Image credit to Rainforest World Music Festival Official Website

Representative from our neighbouring country of Singapore is Ding Yi Music Company, which was formerly known as Arts Sphere Chamber Ensemble. Their captivating performance will charm the audiences with their vast repertoire that ranges from traditional Chinese music to contemporary avant-garde interpretations and cross-genre works.

Ding Yi

Representing Singapore is Ding Yi Music Company

Image credit to Rainforest World Music Festival Official Website

Talago Buni from Indonesia is a group that portrays the Minangkabau traditional music. There are three types of Minangkabau music which is the melancholic and mystical music from the highlands, music from the west-coast and music connected to the religious culture of Islam. These three types of music make Talago Buni special.

Then, enjoy the Japanese folk music performance from three splendid musicians from Japan who called themselves Ryuz. The members are Shigeri Kitsu, who performs folk singing while playing the folk drum; Nobuto Yamanaka, a superb tsugaru-shamisen (traditional string instrument) player; and Kazuki Kunihiro who compose the unique music for the group besides playing the drum.

Ryuz, the three talented musicians from Japan

Ryuz, the three talented musicians from Japan

Image credit to Rainforest World Music Festival Official Website

Look forward to an exciting performance from Canada by Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys. Their performance will surely give you an unforgettable experience. Watch Gordie MacKeeman’s thrilling dance style mixed with his great bluegrass vocals, Peter Cann’s powerful guitar solos, and the energetic multi-instrumental talents of Thomas Webb and Mark Geddes.

Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys

Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys

Image credit to Rainforest World Music Festival Official Website

Furthermore, dance along with Blackbeard’s Tea Party from England as they dazzled you with their unforgettable folk-rock extravaganza. The sound created from the combination of fiddles and squeezeboxes, guitar noise and synth bass, and a feast of international percussion will mesmerize you.

Blackbeards Tea Party from England

Blackbeards Tea Party from England

Image credit to Rainforest World Music Festival Official Website

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino is an Italy’s representative, consists of a group of young performers re-inventing Southern Italy’s Pizzica musical and dance traditions for today’s global audience. Dakha Brakha is world-music quartet from Kyiv, Ukraine create a world of unexpected new music with their sound and soul element.

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, a group of young performers from Italy

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, a group of young performers from Italy

Image credit to Rainforest World Music Festival Official Website

Debademba is a duo formed by Abdoulaye Traore´ and Mohamed Diaby. The former is an exceptional acoustic and electric guitar performer that has mastered a wide range of African musical genres, while the latter has an extraordinary vocal capacity. Horomona Horo is a solo act from New Zealand. He has fused the traditional instruments of the Maori, taongapuoro (singing treasures) to create musical forms depicting their culture.

A group of street musicians from Tanzania who called themselves Jagwa Music surely captivate you with their music from the traditional and makeshift percussion and a battered vintage Casio. The two breathtakingly remarkable dancers and a lead vocalist are the front persons in the group. Their songs are mainly about survival in the urban maze, unfaithful lovers and voodoo.

Jagwa Music, a group of remarkable street musicians from Tanzania

Jagwa Music, a group of remarkable street musicians from Tanzania

Image credit to Rainforest World Music Festival Official Website

Other performers that you should look forward to are Jamie Smith’s Mabon from Wales, Kalakan from Spain, Karinthalakoottam from South India, Lo Còr de la plana from France, Stephan Micus from Germany and Son Yambu from Cuba.

Below is the showtimes taken from Rainforest World Music Festival website.

FRIDAY   20th June

TIME

THEATRE STAGE

JUNGLE STAGE

TREE STAGE

2.00 – 2.45 pm

TALAGO BUNI
(Indonesia)

3.30 – 4.15 pm

HOROMONA HORO
(New Zealand)

7.30 – 7.40 pm

SAPE & WARRIOR
(Sarawak)

7.40 – 8.15 pm

BISAYAH GONG ORCHESTRA
(Sarawak)

8.15 – 9.15 pm

KALAKAN
(Basque Country)

9.15 – 10.15 pm

SON YAMBU
(Cuba / UK)

10.15 – 11.15 pm

KARINTHALAKOOTTAM
(India)

11.15 pm  – 00.20 am

BLACKBEARD’S TEA PARTY
(England)

SATURDAY 21st June

TIME

THEATRE STAGE

JUNGLE STAGE

TREE STAGE

2.00 – 2.45 pm

DING YI MUSIC COMPANY
(Singapore)

3.30 – 4.15 pm

STEPHAN MICUS
(Germany)

7.30 – 8.30 pm

DAKHA BRAKHA
(Ukraine)

8.30 – 9.00  pm

YAYASAN WARISAN JOHOR ZAPIN GROUP
(Malaysia)

9.00 – 10.00 pm

JAMIE SMITH’S MABON
(Wales)

10.00 – 11. 00 pm

CANZONIERE GRECANICO SALENTINO
(Italy)

11.00 – 11.30 pm

NADING RHAPSODY (Sarawak)

11. 30 pm – 00.30 am

DEBADEMBA
(Burkina Faso/Ivory Coast/ France)

SUNDAY 22nd June

TIME

THEATRE STAGE

JUNGLE STAGE

TREE STAGE

2.00 – 2.45 pm

LAN E TUYANG
(Sarawak)

3.30 – 4.15 pm

RYUZ
(Japan)

7.30 – 8.15 pm

GENG WAK LONG
(Malaysia)

8.15 – 9.15 pm

LO COR DE LA PLANA
(France)

9.15 – 9.45 pm

BEDOK ENSEMBLE
(Sarawak)

9.45 – 10.45 pm

GORDIE MACKEEMAN & HIS RHYTHM BOYS
(Canada)

10.45 – 11.45 pm

JAGWA MUSIC
(Tanzania)

11.45 – 00.15 pm

FINALE
(The World)

Rainforest World Music Festival will be held at Sarawak Cultural Village on 20th to 22nd June 2014. Reserve a seat and we will see you there!

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

The Fascinating Niah Caves in Miri, Sarawak

May 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Miri Sarawak, Sarawak

Niah Caves in Miri Sarawak

Most people had known about Niah as one of the birthplace of civilization. Modern human remains had been discovered in Niah, and it had become one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. There are plenty of human settlements found in the area such as cooking utensils and ornament made from bones, stone or clay. In 1958, it was gazetted as a National Historic Monument. A team led by Tom Harrisson, a curator of the Sarawak Museum at the time had unearthed a skull which was estimated to be 40,000 years old, and it was the evidence of human settlements there. Another discovery is the large burial site further into the cave that had been used from Palaeolithic times up to the year 1400 AD.

Main entrance of Niah Caves

Main entrance of Niah Caves

Image credit to Wikipedia.org


These archaeological findings were found in The Great Cave. While most of the early settlements were found here, The Painted Cave also holds great treasure. It houses detailed wall-paintings portraying the boat journey of the dead into the afterlife. These paintings were interpreted by the “death-ships” (boat-shaped coffins) on the cave floor.

The Great Cave can be reached by walking for about 3.5 km via the plank walk, and you get to view the dense rainforests from the ground. You may see some of the park’s wildlife, such as birds, squirrels, lizards, butterflies and uncommon insects. The first section of the cave that you will encounter is the Trader’s Cave, which is in fact an extended protruding rock, and not the actual cave. The cave got its name when the birds nest and guano traders conducted their business there in the past. Walking a few minutes later, you will be awed by the view of the West Mouth of The Great Cave, at over 60 metres high and 250 metres wide. The archaeological excavations can be seen clearly on the left side of the cave entrance.

The interior view of Niah Caves

The interior view of Niah Caves

Image credit to Sarawak Tourism Board

Voices of the guano collectors can be heard when you proceed into the cave. Moreover, you get to see local people collecting birds nest, or just the evidence of birds nest collecting which can be seen by the strategically placed bamboo poles and ironwood ladders. Although colleting the nest is a dangerous job, the risk is very rewarding, as the price for the best quality raw bird’s nests are worth over USD1,000 per kilogramme.

Walking through the passage at the back of The Great Cave, you will reach a large chamber known as Padang. Illuminated by the sunlight streaming down the large holes in the cave roof, you can see the bizarre rock formations in the Burnt Cave (Lubang Hangus). Another few minutes’ walk will take you to the dark passage of Gan Kira (Moon Cave), where you need to use the flashlight to see the extraordinary rock shapes and weathering effects.

After that, the plank walk leads to a short pathway under the sun which leads to the Painted Cave. You can see the painting of spread-eagle human figures, some of the animals and the longboats carrying the souls of the deceased with the help of dim light.

The archaeological site at The Painted Cave

The archaeological site at The Painted Cave

Image credit to Wikipedia.org

Niah Caves is just 1 hour 40 minutes’ drive from Miri or 2 hours’ drive from Bintulu. From Batu Niah, you can go to the Park Headquarters by car, motorised longboat or a stroll for about 45 minutes along the riverbank as it was just 3 km from Batu Niah.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Traditional food in Sarawak

April 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Sarawak

Ayam Pansoh

Pansoh” is any side dish that is cooked in bamboo created by the natives in Sarawak. If it was fish, it will be called Ikan Pansoh, but usually chicken is the main ingredient. To make Ayam Pansoh, the chicken pieces need to be marinated. The ingredients for the pounded marinade are tepus or wild ginger, garlic, onions, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric and salt. The mixture need to be stuffed into the bamboo logs and chopped tapioca leaves are stuffed at the opening of the logs. Then, all you need to do is assemble the stuffed bamboo logs over the fire at about 75-degree angle.

At our home, we do not have bamboos in a constant supply, so my mother will cook the pansoh in a pot. The taste is okay, but in a bamboo log, it will taste better.

Ayam Pansoh, a typical dish among Sarawakian
Ayam Pansoh, a typical dish among Sarawakian

Terung Dayak Sarawak

Usually, people called this terung asam (sour brinjal). It is one of the rare vegetable that can be found mostly in Sarawak. The terung can be cooked with simple ingredients. You can cook the sliced terung in boiling water mixed with pounded shallots, chilli, dried anchovies, belacan and seasoning. Note that you can cook the terung without peeling the skin because it can be peeled easily after cooking.

Sarawak Unique Sour Brinjal
Sarawak Unique Sour Brinjal

Acar Timun

Although acar can be found in other Malaysian states, you can find acar in Sarawak too. To make this, you need to slice cucumbers, carrots and red chillies then drain and dry them thoroughly in the sun. Then, fry the pounded mixture of ginger, garlic, shallots and dried shrimps with chilli paste. Add in sugar and vinegar, and stir for a while before adding water and bring it to boil until the mixture thickens. After the mixture is cool, mix it with the sun-dried mixture and stir well.

It is recommended to leave it for a month before consuming. The acar is usually served with keropok (prawn or fish crackers), as the combination of the crispy keropok blends with the sweet, sour and spicy taste of the acar leaves you to beg for more.

Bubur Pedas Sarawak

This is the most difficult dish to make. For most people, they need to prepare the powder mixture before cooking the real porridge. You can also buy the powder mixture. To make this dish, you need fry the finely sliced shallots, garlic, chillies and dried shrimps in a wok. Then, in a pot, mix the porridge powder with some water to make a paste and add the fried ingredients into the pot. You can add sliced beef, lily bulb, dried bean curd, long beans, black fungus, vermicelli, and potatoes into the porridge. Lastly, pour in coconut milk and seasoning and stir until the mixture thickens.

Bubur pedas can be found at the Bazaar during Ramadhan. Even though the process to make it is a bit complicated, the result is very satisfying. The healthy yet delicious porridge is spicy and rich in aroma. Once you tried the bubur pedas, you will be salivating just from the thoughts of it.

Bubur Pedas Sarawak
Bubur Pedas Sarawak

Tuak

Tuak is an Iban rice wine and an essential beverage during Gawai Festival. The rice wine tastes sweet and smooth, and over-indulging will result in a splitting headache when you wake up the next morning. Tuak is made of steamed glutinous rice mixed with tapai yeast and sugar, and then leave the mixture in a sealed container for at least 2 months for it to ferment.

Tuak, an alcoholic beverage usually served during Gawai Festival
Tuak, an alcoholic beverage usually served during Gawai Festival

Linut

The Melanau called it ambuyat. Some called it jalit. Linut is the sago flour and when the completed product is presented to you, you will see that the appearance is a bit like glue. To make it, mix the flour with plain water until it dissolved. Then, add boiling water and stir until the mixture turns transparent. For the gravy, you can add sambal belacan with lime. For some people, they add side dishes such as soup, tempoyak or any other side dishes that you can eat with rice.

Linut or ambuyat, a staple food for Melanau people
Linut or ambuyat, a staple food for Melanau people


There is still other traditional food in Sarawak. For example, tumpik; which is made from sago flour, selorot; a traditional kuih (cake) wrapped in nipah leaves made from coconut milk, and many others. Try them and you would want to eat them every day.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Grand Margherita Hotel Kuching

March 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Hotel Reviews, Sarawak

Grand Margherita Hotel, formerly known as Holiday Inn is the only riverfront hotel in Kuching with a view of the Sarawak River and the colourful villages across the river. It is situated at Golden Triangle of Kuching, with Tun Jugah Shopping Center, Sarawak Plaza, Hills Shopping Mall and Parkson Riverside Complex that are within walking distance. Walking down the external hotel steps, you can see the Cat Family Statue, the symbol of Kuching, across the road and the first McDonald restaurant in Kuching is also a plus.

Grand Margherita Hotel Map

Grand Margherita Hotel Map

Along the Waterfront, 2-minutes walk from the hotel, you get to see sampans in the river for people to get across the river to the other side. However, you can see the Astana and Fort Margherita from Waterfront without the need to hop on the boats. You can also walk to the Main Bazaar, where you can find most souvenirs sold with cheap prices. A five minutes’ walk south from the hotel, you can find Topspot Food Court located on the top level of a multi-level car park, a famous local seafood eatery and many restaurants can be found there.

Poolside at Grand Margherita Hotel overlooking the Sarawak River (photo courtesy of Grand Margherita Hotel)

Poolside at Grand Margherita Hotel overlooking the Sarawak River (photo courtesy of Grand Margherita Hotel)

The hotel has an outdoor pool, a health club and a children’s pool. The hotel also provides 24 hour room service, meeting rooms and playground. The hotel has a tour desk and if you want to visit the local beach and Sarawak Cultural Village, shuttle services to Damai and Santubong are available. Airport transfer service is also available, and for your information, the distance from the airport to the hotel takes about 20 to 30 minutes car ride.

Health room, one of the facilies available at Grand Margherita Hotel Kuching (photo courtesy of Grand Margherita Hotel)

Health room, one of the facilies available at Grand Margherita Hotel Kuching (photo courtesy of Grand Margherita Hotel)

The hotel also features valet laundry, wedding service, banquet room, first aid assistance, safe deposit box, wakeup call service, currency exchange, dry cleaning service, security and walking area.

The Grand Margherita Hotel has several restaurants. Mei San Restaurant serves chinese cuisine for lunch and dinner, while Orchid Garden Coffee House, the hotel’s main restaurant for all-day dining, serves continental and local delicacies. All the food served at both restaurants are halal.


Delicious food served at one of Grand Margherita Hotel restaurant (photo courtesy of Grand Margherita facebook page)

Delicious food served at one of Grand Margherita Hotel restaurant (photo courtesy of Grand Margherita facebook page)

There are 288 guestrooms at Grand Margherita Hotel to offer you a comfortable stay. The features include complimentary high speed internet access, television with satellite channels, coffee/tea maker, complimentary bottle drinking water, mini bar, IDD telephone, private bathroom, in-room safe, iron and ironing board and many others. This hotel also offers special facilities for disabled person too.

Scenery of Sarawak River from the Riverview rooms (photo courtesy of Grand Margherita Hotel)

Scenery of Sarawak River from the Riverview rooms (photo courtesy of Grand Margherita Hotel)

For The Executive Club guestrooms, which is ideal for business traveller, the hotel provides complimentary high speed internet access, dedicated Club Services Assistant, executive lounge, conference room, computer with high speed internet access, complimentary buffet breakfast at Executive Club Lounge, complimentary coffee/tea and complimentary evening hors d’oeuvres and cocktails from 5pm to 7pm.

One of the Superior Deluxe rooms (photo courtesy of Grand Margherita Hotel)

One of the Superior Deluxe rooms (photo courtesy of Grand Margherita Hotel)

With a choice of twin double beds or a King sized bed, guests can choose to have Deluxe, Superior, Executive or Junior Suite, of course with different prices.

If you are looking for a hotel to stay in Kuching, do not hesitate to book a room from this 4 star hotel and you will not be disappointed.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Santubong Homestay Hari Raya Gathering, an upcoming signature product for Sarawak

September 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Sarawak

Perfomers

Perfomers

The State and Federal Ministry of Tourism together with Santubong Homestay, had organized a Hari Raya Gathering to bring together homestay operators and tourism agencies on the 24 August 2013.  The gathering was also organized to allow homestay operators to promote their products and also to forge a network together with tourism companies and agencies that were present together in that time.
The organization of Sarawak Homestay Operators was officially launched on 25 August 2012 and the objective of the founding was to guide the homestay operators to increase their quality, quantity and also their exposure. Up to now, there are more than 30 villages and longhouses in Sarawak that are registered with the Ministry of Tourism.
time schedule

event time schedule

During the Hari Raya Gathering, other than the handicrafts which were displayed at the entrance, there are also various performances such as a comedy skit, a skit on the Malay wedding ceremony, a ceremony on the cutting of Hari Raya pulut, and other performance art such as dances, singing and Sarawakian Malay Gendang. The main objective of the gathering was to promote the organization and the event will be broadcast on the internet ie YouTube, Facebook and various other social media platform, and also in different languages. The product will be made a signature product for the homestay organization.
Malay wedding gown red

Malay wedding gown red

wedding gown Malay

white Malay wedding gown

Malay wedding gown black

Malay wedding gown black

Malay wedding gown red top

Malay wedding gown red

This year, the operators of Homestay in Sarawak are expected to have an increase in income. This is following the federal government allocation of RM5.6 million into the upgrading of homestay facilities in the state.
One of the emphases made during the event was the security and hygiene of each homestay to prevent unwanted incidents. Besides that, homestay operators are also encouraged to keep records of their guest to make things easier for the homestay operator and the guest. This is to allow tourists who plan to stay at the homestay to feel safe and secure thus allowing the homestay to be rated and gain more customers in the future. Tourists of various nationalities attended the event. They are from Africa, Korean, Australian, UK, Canada, Philippines, Bangladesh etc.
Homestay operators in Sarawak are expected to do better this year. With an income amounting to 1 million by 28 homestays last year, the income generated this year would hopefully be bigger with the help of the federal government in funding the upgrading of their facilities.
Malay wedding ceremony

Malay wedding ceremony

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Tanjung Datu National Park Sarawak

August 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Sarawak

Ever felt what is it like to have a beach all to yourself? Or maybe a journey to an island rich in flora and fauna. Achieve it all with a trip to Tanjung Datu National Park in Sarawak. Tanjung Datu National Park is located on an island at the tip of Sarawak. It takes approximately 2 hours to reach there from Kuching to Sematan by car. The 2 hour journey might bore some of you but fear not, the end results would be breath taking.

Journey on with MASWings to Kuching and experience a trip that you have never felt before.

view at Tanjung Datu National Park, Sarawak

view at Tanjung Datu National Park, Sarawak

image courtesy of www.sarawakforestry.com

Tanjung Datu National Park which is located in Sematan, is one of Sarawak’s smallest national park but it is also one of the most beautiful of them all. To get to the park from Sematan, you are required to use a boat which takes around 45 minutes from the seaside village. The first part of the journey which is the boat ride will probably get you asking for more. During the boat ride, you could see the crystal clear water and patches of coral reef in the sea and if you are lucky, you could even see dolphins and turtles passing by.

Upon reaching to the island, you will be greeted with the long stretch of white sand on the beach. The undisturbed environment would mean that you could see lots of different plants and animals on your trip there. Walk along the beach or trek in the forest. Either one of this activity won’t be disappointing. Trekking in the forests at Tanjung Datu will give you the opportunity to see wildlife such as hornbills, peacocks, primates and other various animals and different species. There are also a few species of reptiles such as the tree lizards, pit vipers and tree snakes.

Tanjung Datu National Park have always preserved their wildlife and one of the contribution that they made is by establishing a turtle hatchery for the marine turtles that regularly lay their eggs on the island. This is to protect the newly laid eggs from predators such as pigs, monitor lizards and snakes. Aside from wildlife, the national park is also filled with interesting plants such as the night-blooming Putat tree, Umbrella Palms and Strangling Figs. The Putat tree is a really unusual and must see tree because it produces large pink and white flowers during the night. Enjoying the view of the beach in the morning would also allow you to see the Sea Morning Glory decorating the beach area.

The Tanjung Datu National Park is a must go place if you are interested in having a peaceful getaway with yourself or your family and friends. The serene environment will release all your stress and problems away. A perfect relaxation after all the hard work that you had done over the years.

Enjoy the wildlife, enjoy the beach, enjoy the serenity, and enjoy life. Book your tickets with MASWings to Kuching at www.maswings.com.my now and let the journey begin.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Lambir Hills National Park Miri Sarawak

August 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Miri Sarawak, Sarawak

Tired of the same thing over and over again? Same cars, same buildings, same shops? Or perhaps you have forgotten the smell of freshness, the quiet surrounding, the sounds of only you and nature? Then it is time for an adventure with MASWings and fly to Miri, Sarawak.

Lambir Hills National Park in Miri is a small park compromising of 17,180 acres of mixed dipterocarp forest with some small areas of heath forest. It is a well decorated park with a number of animal and plant lives. With a nice surrounding, such as waterfalls and tall trees, this is a place to go if you are seeking for a nice relaxing day or even for a short trekking.

Lambir Hills waterfall

Lambir Hills waterfall

Lambir Hills National Parks’ mixed dipterocarp rainforest contains the greatest biodiversity in tree species compared to othe national parks in Malaysia. It is also possibly the richest forest in the world. The trees in the park will make those who walk the trail feel small as the trees are huge in that area. The most number of trees that could be seen in the park is the Dipterocarpaceae species. Lambir Hills National Park is the last patch of dipterocarp forest left in Sarawak as the trees are often logged elsewhere. The Tapang tree is the tallest tress in the national park as it could grow to more than 80 meters in height. Another interesting plant to see in the national park is the Macaranga. Macaranga is a plant that forms a relationship with ants where the ants live inside the plants’ stem to protect it from other herbivorous insects.

Lambir Hills has a number of trails to choose from and all those trails are interconnected therefore it is posibble to walk a few number of trails in a day. The shortest trail in the park is the Latak Waterfall trail. It is also the easiest and most popular trail for families as the waterfall is a nice place to have a family picnic. The pool from the waterfall is safe for swimming however, it is quite deep so those who can’t swim and small children should take precaution.

Stream at Lambir Hills in Miri Sarawak

Stream at Lambir Hills in Miri Sarawak

The Pantu, Bukit Pantu and Pantu Waterfall Trails are all branches of the same trail. The Pantu Trail is located to the left shortly before the Latak Waterfall. It offers a walk up steep steps and then downward through a dense forest to the Nibong waterfall. The Bukit Pantu Trail is further along the trail located on the right and the Pantu Waterfall Trail is located on the left. A number of other trails such as the Summit trail are further along the Pantu Waterfall Trail. Each of these different trails will give you a different experience and views. Lambir Hills National Park also offers a number of harder trails for serious trekkers.

The trails in Lambir Hills National Park will not only let you enjoy trekking thru the forest, but it also gives you the opportunity to view different species of plants and animals. Birdwatchers should be on the lookout for 237 species of birds in the park. There are also different kinds of mammals such as flying squirrels, different types of monkeys and various species of deer to look for.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your gears, free yourself. Book your tickets to Miri with www.maswings.com and get ready to be free.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark

Next Page »