Kuching for me is a place where every guest, friend, or tourist leaves as family. I love how harmonious each aspect of Kuching connects to each other. From the genuine warmth of the Malay lady selling durian flowers at the 7th Mile wet market to my favourite batik store at the Main Bazaar, there is always something nostalgic about walking down the streets of Kuching. You could be in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Chinatown during the Mid-Autmn festival, turn one corner, and you will be greeted by the alluring scent of freshly grinded herbs by India Street – this is what Kuching is all about.
Kuching is many things to different people. To one person, it could be the early morning breakfast ritual at a local “kopi-tiam”, enjoying their favorite cup of Kopi O and Laksa. To the other, Kuching is a vision of a diverse culture, racial harmony, and an authentic local art scene.
I love how you could have the option to have an authentic kopitiam experience at one end of the shop lot and if you preferred something more “hip” you could just walk down the next block to one of the many new rustic hipster cafés. There is always a sense of balance when it comes to the different places in Kuching. Unlike many other places, I love how we embrace the old and the new in Kuching. What is truly amazing is that each neighborhood in Kuching has its own character, sentiments, and customs. The cityscape displays an array of new and old buildings while many historical landmarks have been preserved for the better of our future generations. There is a certain feeling of hominess and calmness about walking down the 5 foot way of old Kuching’s shop houses while enjoying the sights and smells of local handicraft and flavors.
Festivals are celebrated in Kuching with such cheer and joy like no other. Festivals such as Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, and Hari Gawai are not only celebrations for one particular race but it is a celebration for every Kuchingite. No matter where you are in Kuching, you will always feel like a part of the Kuching community. Amidst the racial tensions suggested on the local media over in West Malaysia, I love that you can still find muslims and non-muslims sitting together at a coffee shop enjoying their breakfast date together. People in our city do not build barriers that differentiate their race or religion and this is something I hope will be forever integrated within our Kuching culture and lifestyle.
Kuching has the potential to become a desirable location for locals who have initially migrated abroad in leiu of a “better life” but would later realize what they are missing out on. There are still many opportunities for growth within our city and I hope that developments such as those of Vanadium Land would incorporate the very essence of Kuching-ness in the development plans. Although Kuching is blessed with lush rainforests, I hope that developers would strife to preserve the environment for the sake of future generations to come. Also, the Kuching scene has been filled with more sports oriented individuals who are gearing towards having healthier lifestyles but there has been a lack of safe open spaces where people can go to without worrying about their safety. Including areas such as open green public spaces for recreation, a properly lit bicycle and running track, and sport fields would attract the attention of many. In addition, we should consider rejuvenating our traditional native art scene in the different developments and embrace the tribal diversity on Sarawak to remind us of the colorful cultures within our Kuching community. When it comes to architecture, new places, events, I would love to see more people embracing their heritage instead of trying to look like any other building or city in Malaysia. Buildings should reflect more of Sarawak’s heritage because Kuching is OUR pride, OUR community, and OUR home – And I will not have it any other way.
Without being biased or whatsoever, Kuching is a simple yet very sentimental and meaningful city to many. A hidden gem in the East coast of Sarawak and Malaysia’s best kept secret. Kuching is the kind of place where people are proud to call themselves a Kuchingnite. Although there is much improvement to be done with this city of ours, Kuching is still a place where people will forever call home even when they have been overseas for years. This is our home and we Kuchingnites are loyal to our city’s distinctive culture, community, and heritage.