Cat city … Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

Once part of the Sultanate of Brunei some 200 years ago, Kuching then became the capital of the White Rajahs of Sarawak and now this capital city, Kuching, is often called “Cat City” and has many cat statues as public art.

The 'big cat' is dressed according to the season or festival, these are its Gawai clothes - the Iban harvest festival
The ‘big cat’ is dressed according to the season or festival, these are its Gawai clothes – the Iban harvest festival

The meaning of ‘Kuching’ seems to be lost in history. Some say it’s from the Malay word kucing, meaning cat, (Note in Malay the letter c is pronounced as ch as in church) and many locals call it “Cat City”.

The guide on my city tour bus says it could come from the Chinese word for port (cochin) or, “most likely, from the Malay name mata kucing (cat’s-eye) for the longan fruit. He continues “There was a small tributary of the Sarawak river called Sungei Kuching so some others say it was from this stream that Kuching got its name.” So take your pick.

Cat city seems to be the most common usage and the city has not only many cat souvenirs for sale, and  statues of cats,  but also a cat museum. This  is on top of a 60 metre high hill which gives great views over the city. (The museum is on the ground floor of the  Kuching North City Hall.)

The Cat Museum  has four main galleries  and evidently has more than 4,000 cat artifacts including paintings  and the media group I was with were mixed in their reactions to the collection – from bemused, to thrilled, to amused. Its well worth a visit, and like all the museums in Sarawak, it’s free to visit although a small fee is charged for cameras.

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For more about Kuching, see the many other blogs I’ve written, or the Sarawak Tourism Boards’ official website

 

 

“Look Heather, the cat is naked” says one of the drivers who knows I’ve walked often to this statue for photos!

Kuching … sorry to say goodbye

What do you call a city whose name means cat, but is not named after a cat? A city that has two mayors with the same powers, wages and responsibilities and who can carry out them differently ; who has a pedestrian mall called India Street but very few Indian shops on it …  well I call it wonderful.

This city, the capital of Sarawak, East Malaysia, Borneo, is beguiling and it’s easy to see why people stay longer than they planned – just as I have.

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The waterfront has wind and solar panels to light the many lights along its length and across the river, the Astana is lit up like a Christmas tree – day and night locals and tourists promanarde it’s length, junks, water taxis, and  a large tourist boat give people either passage home across the water or  river level view of the city.

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They also make wonderful layered cakes that are sought after by all Malaysians when they visist from West, or penunsula, Malaysia, taking them home as gifts for friends or family. I will write a blog or article about this Sarawakian  skill, and now tradition, when  I return to New Zealand

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Cat city. Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo

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Just a little taste of blogs to come … this city has the only cat museum in the world.

more info see the Sarawak Tourism Board – http://www.sarawaktourism.com