After two years away from home – Malaysia, I finally get to go home for three weeks. I realized I was looking at it so differently. Home was a nostalgic idea, but the place I once called home has changed so much. I guess it is right when they say the only constant is change. Anyway, I hope you enjoy these studies of some corners from Kuching, a small town I call home, a tropical, humble little town on the island of Borneo, with generous and friendly people of all backgrounds, and the best part, food places at every corner.
Vernacular shophouses in Kuching. These shophouses easily date back 60 plus years. A lot of the shops provide services that are getting harder to find, such as repair service for vintage sewing machines, stores that sell traditional kitchen utensils…etc. If you muster up the courage to talk to them, you will realize they have so much life knowledge to offer, especially seeing for themselves how things and people changes after all these years.
These were set pieces in Sukha cafe, a recently opened hipster-ish vibe kind of cafe. The food’s not bad. They brought in western food like chicken and waffles that attract curiosity. I’m not a fan of their coffee, but I hope they get better. It certainly is a nice hangout place.
Masjid India, which means India mosque, has been around since 1834. I have never step foot here before to be honest, what a shame. It is the first mosque of our state, and used to be a resting place for most Muslims who came by boat (this is right along Sarawak River) for prayers. The Muslim community here grew so big that they are now building an extension on the river itself, which I heard is conceptualized as a floating mosque.
Kuching open air market is packed with street food, great ones too. The famous ones being Siow Bee (or Siu Mai in cantonese, basically little square cubes of juicy minced pork), Beef noodles, Rojak Sotong (mixed vegetables/fruits/peanut sauce…squid thingy, google it), to mention a few. My dad has been buying the family Siow Bee and their buns for breakfast since I was in kindergarten.
A few of the many shophouses along Padungan Street, a street we sometimes call Chinatown, but really, we don’t have/ need a Chinatown.
Shang Di Temple. One of the heritage chinese temples in town. Right across that, which was where I was seated to paint, is a opera stage area which also serves as a hawker center.
Hijjas Kasturi designed many government buildings in Malaysia, Kuching especially. I can’t seem to find out why. Here’s a City council building, which is right next to my primary school.
I have never set foot in Kai Joo Lane till this trip. It was only then that I found out a little more about this historical lane people used to buy coffins from (yes they were all coffin makers, but not anymore) It is a great place to mingle with locals, and eavesdrop on the next table talking about politics, or what their neighbours have been up to.
The only remaining old building from my high school. I used to have class at the lower left room, when I was fifteen. Memories.
Many specialty coffee houses sprung up these past few years in Kuching. A particularly (and rare) great one was Earthling. Their coffee is amazing. They even have workshops to train baristas.