Kuching for me is more of a home than just a city. I grew up in this town which transformed from a relatively small town with small shopping arcade in Kenyalang Park to what she has today big malls such as The Spring and The Boulevard.
Nevertheless, Kuching has created herself a unique and niche status in my heart. I believe that most Kuching folks will raise their hands and feet in agreement with me. Having worked in metropolitan cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore over the years, I still opt the Cat City in the end as my final destination. Currently in my mid thirty and travelled almost round the globe horizontally, there is no place which can replace Kuching in my heart because it is part of me and having to grow up in the city, forms the characters in me. I am glad I have made the decision to move back. From the moment I touched down, the sense of familiarity and homeliness started to fill my once lonely heart. Yeah! That is what I am talking about.
First, Kuching is all about the people. Kuchingites as some people call us, are extremely warm and welcoming. The moment you step out from your house, you are bound to bump into someone you know. It is great, isnt’ it? Kuching folks have deep understanding of the diverse ethnic cultures and religions that form the part and parcel of their lives. You will witness people from all walks of lives and from various religion backgrounds sitting together in coffee shops enjoying their food without any suspicion or racial uneasiness. Such bond of racial harmony has earned Kuching the award of City of Unity.
The Cat City, with her long history dated back to 19th-Century and certain degree of ‘laid-back’ lifestyle, creates herself special quaintness and unique atmosphere where I want to live in rather than hectic and forever stuck-in-the-traffic jam situation in Kuala Lumpur. Even though the city has not been recognized as UNESCO Heritage site, there are areas such as the Kuching Old Town (covering areas of Main Bazaar, Carpenter Street, Padungan, and India Street) and the Fort Margherita which will bring out my childhood memories every time I visit the areas even today. When I was a young, my father used to bring me and my brother for delicious bowls of ‘kolo’ noodle in the Old Town! After that, he would bring us across the Sarawak River via the ‘tambang’ boat to visit Fort Margherita which was once a fort used by the Brooke Dynasty. Today, you are still able to see the buildings’ architecture which is influenced by the Chinese and British architecture. Along the Bishopgate Street and Carpenter Street, century-old trades such as smith works can still be found, thus making the areas tourist attraction of its kind.
Being the typical Kuchingite, food is inevitable. I am proud to announce that Kuching is famous for her ‘Kolo’ noodle, ‘Laksa’, ‘Kueh Chap’, ‘Belachan Bee Hoon’ and last but not least the ‘midin’ vegetable. Well, the list can go on but there is no place in the world outside the state that can imitate the authenticity and taste of the local food. As fast food is ‘fast’ conquering cities around the world, Kuching folks still very much prefer to enjoy their very own local food rather than burgers or pizzas even though modern and contemporary cafes have been mushrooming throughout the cities in recent years. Students that study outside Kuching will often miss their hometown food and the ‘exporting’ of ‘Kolo’ noodles is a common phenomena. Being a harmonious society, food in Kuching is of wide variety due to the rich ethnic diversity. Apart from the Chinese food, the City is too famous for her ‘pansur manok’ (bamboo chicken), fried ‘midin’ vegetable, fried ‘sago’ worms and nevertheless the ‘kuih lapis’ (layer cake).
In order not to be drifted away in food paradise, Kuching City is a city of recreation and adventure for me. I remembered my parents used to bring us to the Reservoir Park for a walk and watched people playing remote controlled boat on the man-made lake. Far from merely a concrete jungle, Cat City has several other parks for her folks to immerse in such the Friendship Park, Le Park at Civic Centre and Stutong Forest Reserve Park. You will be greeted with pure nature just a mere 30-minute drive from Kuching City. Bako National Park, Fairy Cave, Hot Springs in Annah Rais and Panchor as well as Mount Santubong welcome those who love nature and are adventurous. The beaches are lovely. During my school time, I loved to visit Sarawak Cultural Village and joined the school trips to Mayang Tea Estate.
As much as possible, I hope that Kuching will maintain the quaintness while progressing in tandem with modernization. Being a unique city, I love to see more tourists arrival so that Kuching will have her place charted in the international travel map.
Perhaps, our government with collaboration with private sector are able to put in efforts to lure tourists to Kuching by creating a tourist hub or centre with connectivity to the airport where visitors to Kuching or in-transit are able to experience the miniature of the entire city in it with mini museum portraying the history of Kuching and art gallery for local artists to display as well as sell their artworks. An integrated food court can also be planned to offer people all the best Kuching local food under one roof and those that dine in there may as well be entertained by cultural show performed by the local natives.
Being a parent now, I hope to see more parks where my children will be able to enjoy themselves in the playground while I will do my jogging. Venue for extreme sports such as skateboarding, extreme biking, wall climbing is good as Kuching is lacking such facility.