Many many months ago before we left on our 5 mth holiday to Phuket, we managed to score free flights from Phuket to Singapore, then onto Kuching the next day, we only had to pay taxes so it was a fantastic bargain.
We had wanted to stay at the Grand Margherita Hotel but did not want to spend a fortune as we had already paid for our apartment in Phuket. We were just about to book a cheaper hotel when I decided to check Air Asia’s Hotels, lucky us, the Grand Magherita had over 50% off special. So our 7 nights with breakfast plus an upgrade to a Deluxe room overlooking the Sarawak River only cost $350.
We absolutely loved our week at the Grand Margherita Hotel, there are 5 restaurants in the hotel and the location is perfect, minutes from shopping centers, restaurants etc. The rooms are quite big & nicely furnished with plenty of space for suitcases etc and the bathroom was lovely with all toiletries provided. The staff at the Grand Margherita were very friendly & helpful & the Tour Desk had very reasonable prices. We would definitely stay here again.
Kuching really surprised us, we did not expect it to be so clean and there was never a day when people in the street did not say hello to us, very friendly place! The walk along the Riverfront is lovely & we did this every day.
We called into the James Brooke Bistro quite a few times for drinks (James Brooke was born in 1803 & was the first white Rajah of Sarawak). Nice place to sit & relax but the staff could be a bit quicker on their feet, sometimes it was very hard to even pay the bill as they were too busy talking amongst themselves.
The Fusion Café was excellent, food was delicious & everything was reasonably priced e.g. - 3 x cans Tiger Beer with bucket of ice ha-ha MR14 ($4.29 for the 3), Fried Mee MR5 & 3 layer pork MR10.
Our favorite place and we went there a couple of times was Top Spot Seafood - Bukit Mata Seafood Centre (Number 25) on top of a 6 story car park, this place was only a 3 minute walk from our hotel. We ordered 1 x kilo prawns cooked in garlic & butter, Chili Mud Crab, Squid, large fried rice & a vegetable dish, everything we ordered here came to MR97 ($29.77) and was delicious! Drinks are paid separately and a large bottle of Tiger beer & a fresh pineapple juice was MR18 ($5.50).
We also had dinner a couple of times at The Carvery - this place has been around for 11 years & recently moved to the Abell Hotel. It is themed on the Brazilian style of carvery, it is a buffet for all your hot & cold, salad, vegetables, soups & desserts but all the meat is brought to you & carved onto your plate. It was amazing!!
The meats on skewers were, loin lamb chops, lamb leg, lamb shanks, sirloin steak, blackened beef ribs, chicken, beef & chicken sausages, fish and so much more. There were 14 meats but I can’t remember them all lol. The price is RM59 each ($18) for as much as you could eat, the lamb shanks & lamb chops were the best I have had and boy did I eat heaps hahaha
After eating Thai food for nearly 2 months it was so nice to have lamb, broccoli, cauliflower & brussel sprouts again & they were cooked perfectly!
Khatulistiwa Restaurant on the riverfront - we went here a couple of times, the food was average but the setting was nice.
Kuching shopping - this place is a shopper’s paradise, we have so many shops surrounding the hotel, the main bazaar is 5 minutes away - CheapTShirts were 2 for MR12 ($3.68) & good quality hand painted T Shirts etc were MR30 ($9) - Pashminas MR14 ($4). Finally I have bought a good size beach bag with a zipper - MR19.80 ($6.00).
Next to our hotel was a fantastic little shopping centre called Sarawak Plaza, it was in here at a huge shoe/handbag shop called the Lea Centre that I bought another Guess bag, it is beautiful and and it was 40%off!! MR227 ($69). Also a lovely pair of shoes (they had them in size 10 lol) for RM99 ($30.77).
I also bought a medium size every day handbag which was also half price - MR59 ($18). Men’s dress Sarawak shirts in the same shopping centre were MR30 ($9.00) Also some good bargains on clothes & handbags in Parkland Department Store. We bought the absolute best ever cakes, they are called Layer Cakes, just delicious & they look so pretty, they weigh heaps - RM10 each ($3.10)
We went to all the shopping centers like the Hills Shopping Mall, a brand new shopping mall, not many shops open in there yet. Spring Shopping Mall, a huge mall with lots of fantastic shops & bargains ha-ha. I caved in & bought another handbag, this time an Elle bag from Parksons Department Store & it was 70% off the marked price so only cost me RM74 ($22).
On Saturday we went to the Sunday Markets (but it is Saturday lol) The sellers come in on Saturday afternoon, set up, sleep at their stalls and open again 5am on Sunday morning. The markets are at Satok; need a taxi to get there. They are good markets & quite big, definitely worth a visit, the fruit & vegetable section is fantastic. Some prices here were 3 T shirts for $5, huge furry cat key rings 2 for MR10.
Some of the Museums we visited are Sabati Women’s Museum, the Sarawak Museum (our favorite) which was built in 1891, and the Natural History Museum - there was an exhibition of Amazing Wood Fossils of Borneo in here - very interesting! There were even pieces from the Jurassic era!!! The Art Museum, Chinese History Museum.
Then there was the Kuching Cat Museum; well this place was not what we were expecting. It is huge & there are thousands of statues of cats, loads of information and entry is free, now we can say been there done that! Fort Margherita which is now home to the Police Museum was unfortunately closed while we were there.
Kuching is a very easy place to walk around, Carpenter Street was good, so many furniture makers here, also India Street Pedestrian Mall, not forgetting the Bazaar area.
We decided to go on the Sarawak River Cruise - The cruise goes for 1.5 hours and cost RM60 each ($18.50) there is free unlimited drinks of orange juice & plates of yummy layer cake, you can also buy alcohol from the bar and the boat is big & comfortable.
The cruise was a few minutes late leaving, we thought it might be tourists who were late, but then there was a welcome aboard announcement to the Chief Minister of Sarawak, his wife, children & grandchildren. I took a lovely family photo of them ha-ha. We really enjoyed the cruise and the views along the way like the National Assembly Building, just beautiful and was designed using same principles as the Sydney Opera House & Eiffel Tower, amazing building!
Finally the main reason we came to Kuching, we are off to see the Orangutans at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre. We booked this through our hotel and from memory it was about MR60 ($20) this was a private tour in a nice van. Well what can I say about this place, it was fantastic, I have never seen orangutans like this before and the lead guide was just full of information. This was the highlight of our time in Kuching.
Kuching, is thought to be derived from the Malay word kucing which means Cat, so Kuching is nicknamed the City of Cats, I love cats so made sure I dragged Gary to every cat statue in the city for a photo!
We really enjoyed our week in Kuching but it was not enough time, there is still so much more to see and do, so we will be back next year for another week.
Oh I nearly forgot to mention we were in Kuching at the end of July, the weather was perfect!
Here are the links to my photos from Kuching.
CathyEdited: 1:01 am, November 12, 2011