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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kuching is the capital of Sarawak. While it is a famous tourists destination, it also has a unique name. When Malaysians hear the name, the first thing that pops to their mind is cat. “Kucing” means cat and “Kuching” is the old spelling for it. Cat statues can be seen in the city mostly in the Golden Triangle of Kuching. Contrary to the belief that the city got its name from felines straying around the city, it is not how it got its name.
The city was called Kuching since James Brooke arrived and nobody knew when it started to be called that name. Some said that it was supposed to be “CoChin”, which means “harbor” in India. Merchants from India used to stay in Kuching on the way to China or on their way back home.
Other theory states that it was named after a tree, “pokok mata kucing” or “dragon’s eye fruit” (Euphoria longan) that could be seen on the riverside of Sungai Kuching. Another source said that the name Kuching was taken from the name of the river, Sungai Kuching, that used to exist between Chinese Museum and Tua Pek Kong. However, the river is no longer there as they have built the roads.
Sarawak was ruled by the Brookes or widely known as the Rajahs from 1841 to 1941. Throughout the years, lots of colonial building had been established.
Kuching has many interesting heritage for people to see. Historical buildings, built mostly along Sarawak River, have been revived by the Sarawak Heritage and Tourism Ministry. As most of them are popular tourists’ destinations, the buildings are well maintained. The Astana, once home for the White Rajahs of Sarawak is situated across from Kuching Waterfront. It can be viewed from Waterfront or you can hop on the sampan to take a close up view of Astana. Fort Margherita is also across the river and to go there from The Astana, you can walk there by passing the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building.
At the Waterfront, you can see the Square Tower, near the grand stand. Water fountains are situated in front of the tower and colourful lights illuminate the fountains at night emphasizing the features of the tower. From the tower, Brooke Memorial that is in front of the Old Kuching Courthouse can be seen across the road. It displays the silhouette of Charles Brooke, the second White Rajah of Sarawak. The Old Courthouse is now known as Sarawak Tourism Complex. It also houses Magenta Restaurant, the winner of The Most Innovative Fusion Restaurant by Tourism Malaysia in 2010. You can reach The Round Tower after a short walk north of the courthouse. Near the tower is the General Post Office building and The Pavilion which houses the Textile Museum.
Nowadays, Kuching is a popular tourists destination in Malaysia. People from Peninsula Malaysia often visit this city for holiday. Apart from shopping, places like Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Sarawak Cultural Village and Jong’s Crocodile Farm may be another few favourite stop for these tourists.
Having said that, after the city tour of Kuching, if you are into nature and adventure, your main stop would be Bako National Park. If you are into culture, your favourite stop would be Sarawak Cultural Village.
Regatta is a type of sport gaining popularity in Sarawak especially in Kuching and Baram, Northern Sarawak. Regatta is held annually in both places. This sport usually has 15 to 20 peddlers and 1 person is the leader of the team guiding them. According to Sarawak Tourism, it is held on 12 – 14 September 2014 this year for the event in Kuching and on August 2014 for the one in Baram.
Multicultural and peaceful as it is nowadays, there was a racial war in Sarawak among local tribes a long time ago. To solve this, Sir Charles Brooke proposed the boat race to change the way of their dispute against each other. Instead of headhunting, they battle each other in boat race to prove their strength and power.
Enough with history. Let’s focus on the main event.
In 2013, the race category was divided into 4 categories. They are Balok Boat, Bidar Boat, Kenyalang Boat and Tambang Boat. Mostly the races were in Bidar Boat category.
Dragon boat race was introduced last year and foreign teams from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Asian countries participated in this race as well. The boats were shaped like a dragon, featuring the head and tail of a dragon.
Different races have their own unique attributes of their boats. Boats that are used for the race are usually the longboats. For example, the Malays have their Perahu Balok (Balok Boat) that is originally created from a whole timber tree trunk using simple instruments such as the “parang” and “beliong” to cut down the tree. The Melanau Community has a few types of boats, known as Bahong, Badong, Bakong, Buangan and Bidar. Orang Ulu’s boats are called “Haruk Adang usung Tingang” which means “flying boat with hornbill bow”. There are many other boats that belong to the other races. Since each of the boats have their own unique features, it would take an entire different article to be written about it.
The boats were given interesting names such as Burong Raja Wali Senang Hati (Happy Kingfisher), Tidak Disangka (Unexpected) – that sounded cooler in English, Seri Bulan Pelandok Dara (Moon Virgin Mousedeer) and Bendera Baru Note Sarawak (Flag New Note Sarawak). Most of the names sounded intriguing, and kudos to them for coming out with such names.
The roads leading to the area are usually closed to give way to the event. Hundreds of local vendors could be seen at the roadside along Waterfront. Furthermore, many other activities held during the event such as duck catching event, kayaking and Brooke Swim. For those who wonder what the duck catching event was, well, you should not be. The name says it all. Ducks were released into the river for people to catch. It must be fun to watch people chasing ducks in the river while the ducks only think about running for their lives. Brooke Swim is an event where 20 people swim from Sapi Jetty to Waterfront grand stand.
Traditions, old and ancient as it is, are priceless. People learn from their past. In this case, instead of battling in a war, they battle in a race. Now, we can live in harmony and understand each other albeit having different race and culture. Win or lose is an experience people had at least once in their lives, and by working together, it makes the victory sweeter or the losing less painful.
Well, we sure cannot wait for this exciting event. Hope to see you there this year!
Well, it was not exactly the famous feline character of the French literary fairytale, Puss in Boots, but very close to it. I was referring to the mini parade of cats dressed in colourful costumes at the Cat Fun Show held at The Spring Shopping Mall in Kuching, Sarawak. One of the activities of the show was a Cat Fancy Dress Contest, hence the fanciful attires, ranging from a Victorian-era dress to a Japanese-like Kimono, a Pooh bear outfit, a superman costume and so on. My favourite was the purple Victorian dress worn by a lovely white-coloured Persian cat, who incidentally won the first prize.
The Spring Shopping Mall was one of the largest shopping complexes in Kuching, Sarawak, and the spaciousness of the mall had made it a popular venue for companies and businesses to promote their products or services. The Management of The Spring Shopping Mall, Kuching, frequently collaborated with sponsors and interested parties to organize events or activities as a crowd-puller to the mall. The recent Cat Fun Show, called The Spring for the Love of Cats Show, was the third show organized.
I was roped in to assist during the 2-day show, which were held on a Saturday and Sunday… there went my weekend! But being a cat enthusiast, I put my best paw forward. Arriving at The Spring Shopping Mall, Kuching, at 8.30am on the first day, I helped the organizing team to arrange 71 cages on two rows of tables, like a long, narrow island, which was then cordoned off with partition stands, leaving two entry points at both ends for cat owners and officials to enter or exit. This area would be referred to as the show ring. Flat boards were placed in between the cages to minimize any tension or anxieties of the cats placed inside as most were strangers to each other… thus the saying, “out of sight, out of mind”, and it worked as no cat fights ensued.
The stage area was decorated with a huge colourful backdrop. There were plenty of cat food products displayed on a raised platform on the stage. These were actually the prizes for the Cat Fun Show Competition, sponsored by First Choice, a nutrition cat food company from Canada. Other sponsors for various prizes and gifts were from Rhone Ma, which provided cat health and hygiene products, MPH Bookstore, Home & Living, Isuzu and of course The Spring Shopping Mall, Kuching.
After we set up the registration counter, the first batch of cat owners participating in the show began to arrive. Each participating cat received door gifts of cat shampoo and cat food from the sponsors. By noon, The Spring Shopping Mall, Kuching, had become packed with people, all avidly checking out the display of beautiful felines inside the show ring, from longhair to shorthair, local or household and pedigree cats, in a variety of fur colouring and marking.
The pedigree cats at the show included the American Shorthair, American Curl, British Shorthair, Burmese, Exotic, Maine Coon, Persian, Siamese, Scottish Fold and Turkish Angora. I was fascinated by the American Curl breed, which had curled up ears, while the Scottish Fold breed had folded down ears! They were naturally born with these unusual-shaped ears.
In the world, there were 40 popular cat breeds, which encompassed the hairless breed called the Sphynx and the tailless breed called the Manx. In between breaks, I had an enjoyable and interesting time watching the cats. A good number were used to being in shows so were at ease, either resting or even sleeping. Some would stare curiously back at the crowd of people, and a few were a little uneasy and restless.
Horatio from Kuala Lumpur was the guest judge for the Saturday Cat Fun Show Competition at The Spring Shopping Mall, Kuching. Spectators and shoppers began to gather outside the show ring area as the judging process commenced at 2pm. In a fun show, the judge would generally look for the following criteria in the cat: cleanliness, health, alertness, temperament and overall appearance.
However, for the pedigree cats, the judge also had to evaluate how closely the cat conformed to its respective breed characteristics. For example, a British Shorthair should have a round head and round ears, and not a longish head or pointed ears. Wow, being in a cat show was certainly not as simple as I would think.
Other activities at the show included a couple of presentations on cat breeds, cat care, and how to be a responsible cat owner. The lesson learnt was that we have to treat our cats or our pets as part of our family, with love, respect, and provide them with clean water and food on a daily basis. I would agree with that philosophy.
There was also a “Guess the weight of the cat” contest, whereby a participating cat, a local Turkish Angora mix, was chosen to be “it”; and you could try to guess its weight from afar, head to the registration counter, pay a RM1 per guess fee, get a tiny form, fill in the blanks, then drop into the “Guess” box. The winner would be the one who guessed the weight nearest to the cat’s weight.
The first day ended with the anticipated announcements of the winners for the Cat Fun Show Competition. There were 8 different categories with 5 prizes up for grabs in each category: 3 consolation prizes and the 3rd, 2nd and 1st prizes. The winner for the “Guess the weight of the cat” contest was also revealed. It was past 10pm when I reached home, and my feet and back were complaining, not that I blamed them, and I had to be at The Spring Shopping Mall, Kuching, again the next day.
The programme for the second day of the show was quite similar to the previous day; with the exception that the judge on Sunday was Dr. Nicholas, a vet from Kuching, to preside over the Cat Fun Show Competition. There was no Cat Fancy Dress Contest; but the Guess the Weight of the Cat Contest was held again, with a different cat, a pedigree Scottish Fold, being chosen as “it”. Apparently, the contest had gained popularity overnight as a lot more people participated.
The new activity on Sunday was a Kids Cat Colouring Contest for children aged from 7-9 years old organized by The Spring Shopping Mall, Kuching. There were a total of 18 children who participated, with 6 prizes to be won, worth from RM50 to RM200 in cash vouchers and gift hampers. The second day ended once more with the awaited announcements of the winners for the Cat Fun Show Competition for 8 categories as well as the winner for the Guess the Weight of the Cat Contest.
I stayed on after the show to assist with the clearing of the cages and partitions. It had been a tiring 2 days, not only for the organizing team, judges, presenters, cat owners, but also the cats themselves. However, I would gladly lend a helping paw in the next cat show in Kuching, Sarawak, because such events provided a win-win situation for all parties involved, and also created better awareness of our feline friends.
Ah! It is that time of the year again, the festive season of giving and forgiving.
The loner Kuching that beckons to tourists and locals alike every day of the year was seen wearing a new costume, akin to Santa Claus, a red hat, and a red vest with a bag full of gifts with one paw waving to passerby. This Kuching wears different costumes at every season, he would be seen wearing a chinese costume on chinese new year, a green costume for Hari Raya and on Hari Gawai, he would be wearing something to suit the occasion.
I can sum that he looks his best in RED for this Christmas Season.