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.

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Kuching, The Cat City – It is not just about cats

February 7, 2014 by  
Filed under General

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 Great White Cat Statue in Kuching dressed for Chinese New Year

The Great White Cat Statue in Kuching dressed for Chinese New Year

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.

Astana viewed from the Kuching Waterfront

Astana viewed from the Kuching Waterfront

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.

Brooke Memorial, situated in front of Old Kuching Courthouse

Brooke Memorial, situated in front of Old Kuching Courthouse

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.

General Post Office Building that was built in Kuching in 1931

General Post Office Building that was built in Kuching in 1931

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.

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Regatta – The event Sarawakians should not miss

January 24, 2014 by  
Filed under General

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.

A longboat with its paddlers in front of Dewan Undangan Negeri, Kuching
A longboat with its paddlers in front of Dewan Undangan Negeri, Kuching

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.

Boats in Sarawak River in front of Astana
Boats in Sarawak River in front of Astana

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.

Duck catching event in Sarawak Regatta
Duck catching event in Sarawak Regatta

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.

People viewing the race from Kuching Waterfront
People viewing the race from Kuching Waterfront

Well, we sure cannot wait for this exciting event. Hope to see you there this year!

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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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