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Malaysia Travel Guide

Why Kuching should be on the radar of every digital nomad

As a digital nomad in Southeast Asia, there’s a good chance you’re used to doing things the unconventional way. If that’s the case, you ought to read on and learn about the place dubbed the next Chiang Mai.

We’re talking about Kuching, Sarawak. 

Source: appc2019.ifm.org.my

Located in the Malaysian part of Borneo, Kuching is the capital city of Sarawak, a founding partner in the nation of Malaysia. Modern yet laid back, Kuching has outstanding infrastructure yet remains very much in touch with nature. 

Modern Kuching can be traced back to 1841, when James Brooke, the son of an English judge in the East India Company who happened to be sailing the Malay Archipelago, helped the King of Brunei crush a rebellion in southern Borneo.

Source: Culture Trip

As a reward, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II of Brunei gave him Sarawak, a swampy and mostly jungle-covered land inhabited by notorious and very dangerous headhunting indigenous tribes.

And that’s how James Brooke became the first White Rajah and the Kingdom of Sarawak was born. With the exception of the second world war period from 1941 – 1945 when it was occupied by the Japanese, Sarawak was a standalone kingdom under the White Rajahs until 1946.

At the end of the occupation of Sarawak, on 11 September 1945, the British military took over Sarawak for 7 months before handing it back to Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke. 

Seeing the damage done by the Japanese, Rajah Brooke realised he no longer had the resources to develop Sarawak. He hoped that with the cession of Sarawak as a British crown colony, the British would be able to rebuild Sarawak’s infrastructure and develop its postwar economy.

So Sarawak became a British colony from 1946-1963 before becoming equal partners along with Peninsular Malaya, Sabah and Singapore to form Malaysia. (Singapore later withdrew itself and became an independent nation in 1965).

Source: blogspot.com

The White Rajahs played an important role in uniting the multiple races in Sarawak. With multiple ethnicities such as Malay, Iban, Bidayuh, Chinese and Indians residing harmoniously, Kuching has become a true melting pot of cultures and is seen by many as a role model for cultural and religious harmony. 

Kuching is called ‘The City of Cats’. You will find cat murals and statues everywhere in the town centre. The city’s obsession really stems from its name. The word ‘Kucing’ means cat in the Malay language. 

How Kuching got its name is a mystery. Some say that when the first Rajah of Sarawak, James Brooke, arrived around 1839, he pointed to the settlement and asked a local what it was called. The local, mistakenly thought he was pointing at a passing cat and said ‘Kucing’ (pronounced Coo-ching). 

A descendant of the passing cat that James Brooke mistakenly pointed at. Or so we like to think. 😉 Source: Aish Mann

Others claim the city was named after trees that once grew throughout the area, bearing small fruit called mata kucing, or ‘cat’s eye fruit’, which is similar to lychee. The last theory is that the name was chosen when residents discovered short-tailed cats living along the banks of the mighty Sarawak River which flows through the city.   

As you walk around the streets of Kuching, you’ll feel the soul of the city in its historic buildings, vibrant street art, and warm, friendly people. 

‘The Early Mercers’ at India Street. Source: Aish Mann

With lush rainforests and the South China Sea in close proximity, a chilled authentic vibe with all the luxuries of a modern city, Kuching is the perfect haven for digital nomads who want an idyllic environment in which to work.

So, why should digital nomads base themselves in Kuching?

We asked a few who have made the move to Kuching and here’s what one said: 

After visiting a lot of tourist places, I found a peaceful and quiet place in Kuching to focus on my work. iCube is very comfortable and convenient. I can find everything I need in the nearby mall Icom Square with lots of food places and a gym. People here are very calm, kind and respectful. Everyone speaks English, so it’s easy to connect with locals. It’s not the case everywhere in Asia and this is a very appreciable point for me.” –Virginie Sarachman, France.

The sky puts on a spectacular show almost every day at Waterfront, Kuching. 

We also spoke to Melvin Liew the ‘go to’ guy for digital nomads in Kuching. Here’s what he had to say about the gradually growing digital nomad community in Kuching. 

We saw the trend (of digital nomad arrivals) increasing when the tourism sector in Sarawak started to grow. It is essential to have a solid community and the constant improvement of infrastructure for Digital Nomads in Sarawak.” – Melvin Liew, Director, iCube Innovation

Another reason for digital nomads to live in Kuching 

If you’re from Europe or North America, you get a 90-day visa on arrival, compared to a 30-day visa for Indonesia and a 2-week visa for Thailand.

Source: tour-borneo-malaysia.com

That means you have plenty of time to get settled in and every time you leave the country, you get a 3-month visa on your return.

Now, it may seem like Kuching is in some faraway, inaccessible land, but the truth is, you could be sipping a cold beer in the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road, Singapore in a mere 3 hours. 

Singapore too sterile for you? Then you can be in downtown Kuala Lumpur in 3 hours too. The beautiful beaches of Kota Kinabalu are just 2 hours away.

Fancy something laidback? Then the city of Bandar Seri Begawan would be up your alley with direct flights from Kuching that will get you there in less than 2 hours. And the cherry on the cake is that flights to all these destinations start from just US$20! 

Now, where should you stay in Kuching?

Kuching has accommodation for all budgets. Airbnb works pretty well here and you have an array of apartments/condominiums to choose from. 

James from locationindependent.co.uk suggests placing yourself as close to the Waterfront area as possible. He says there really isn’t an expat neighborhood but Waterfront is the most central part of Kuching and almost all the main spots are walkable from there. 

Another main area is Padungan Street. It’s a bit further away from the town centre but it is a lively street with some of the best food options. 

If you prefer a short-term rental, we suggest you come and stay in a hotel to personally view places before renting, just to be on the safe side. 

How do you move around town?

Kuching is the most pedestrian-friendly city in Malaysia, especially if you live around the town centre.

Carpenter Street. 

Car or motorbike rentals are available but we recommend Grab (equivalent of Uber) and Maxim. Both apps work flawlessly around Kuching and each ride costs between US$2 – 4 if you’re in the town area.

Where to stuff your face 

Now that you’re mobile, it’s time to get some delicious food into that hungry tummy!

Lucky for you, Kuching is full of gastronomical marvels. 

With numerous influences from indigenous tribes as well as Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures, you’ll never run out of new things to appease your hunger. 

One of the most famous dishes you absolutely have to try is Sarawak Laksa. This typical Sarawakian breakfast dish is made of a special prawn-based broth thickened with coconut milk.

A perfect, mouth-watering bowl of Sarawak laksa. 

Served with a generous portion of omelette strips, crunchy bean sprouts, chicken shreds, and plump prawns as well as a squeeze of calamansi lime for extra zest and thick sambal paste on the side. 

The late Anthony Bourdain called Sarawak Laksa, ‘The breakfast of the Gods’. 

#Laksa #Kuching Breakfast of the Gods

A post shared by anthonybourdain (@anthonybourdain) on May 28, 2015 at 6:57pm PDT

 

One of the best places to find a fiiine bowl of Laksa is at Chong Choon Cafe. Remember, Sarawak laksa is a breakfast dish, so it sells out by around 10 am.

Other must-try dishes in Kuching include Kolo Mee at Annie Kolo Mee or Oriental Park Cafe and authentic Sarawakian tribal food at Tribal Stove the Dyak

A beautiful bowl of Kolo Mee. 

One meal with a drink in a traditional Kuching restaurant or coffee shop should cost you no more than US$2-5. Here’s a more comprehensive food guide with tips on where to find cheap eats in Kuching.

How do you pay for stuff?

You can’t use US dollars to pay like in Cambodia. The currency used in Kuching is Ringgit Malaysia (RM). Although some places only accept cash, most places accept credit cards or E-Wallets. 

Some of the E-Wallets you can use are GrabPay, SarawakPay, FavePay, and Boost E-wallet

What’s the internet like?

Ah yes, internet: the lifeline of a digital nomad. 

Connectivity issues can be quite scary if your livelihood depends on the internet. And the Bornean rainforest doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of place you can do seamless Video calls. Buut…

Don’t worry, Kuching has all-around 4G coverage and you can find wifi at almost every cafe. 

The 3 main service providers in Sarawak with solid coverage are Celcom, Maxis and Digi. 

You can pick up a sim card at the airport for as low as US$8 and this will last you a whole month with constant coverage!

Here’s a price comparison between the service providers. 

Where the magic happens… 

Now that you’re settled in and well connected, it’s time to look for a place to work. 

There are a number of co-working spaces available but the main curator of the digital nomad community is iCube Innovation

Source: coworker.imgix.net

They have the most up-to-date facilities if all you want to do is put your head down and get some work done. 

Their packages start from as low as US$36 per month for a hot desk which is substantially lower than co-working spaces in Bali and Chiang Mai where average monthly packages cost US$100 and US$120. 

Other than iCube, other interesting co-working spaces are MaGIC Sarawak and The 381 Hub

If you’d rather work from a new location every day, we’ve got you covered! There are plenty of cafes around town where you can set up shop. Here’s a list of some of the most aesthetically pleasing and work-friendly cafes in and around the city centre: 

  1. Tease by Jase’s Tea House
  2. Commons at The Old Courthouse
  3. The Coffee Clinic
  4. Kai Joo Cafe 
  5. Coffee Obsession

After-work shenanigans

We’re going to give it to you straight. If you’re a party animal, Kuching isn’t for you. [Pro tip: You can always head to Kuala Lumpur and paint the town red there!] 

Drinks and Art. What better way to relax after a long day of work? Source: Aish Mann

However, if you like to unwind and chill with a cold beer and good ambiance, there are a number of places you can try. Note, a bucket of four beers in Kuching usually costs around US$8. 

  1. Bear Garden
  2. Drunk Monkey Old Street Bar
  3. The Wayang
  4. Monkee Bar Bistro
  5. Borneo Rednecks  

A stay in Sarawak isn’t complete without Tuak. Tuak is a Sarawakian rice wine. You can usually find it at bars around Kuching. Try it, but be careful…

What else is there to do?

After working diligently and finishing a few months’ work in a few days, you’re bound to want to do some touring. 

Other than a promising, laid back, and focused environment, there are plenty of activities to help you get close to nature. 

When you’re looking to get out of the city, you can head to sites around Kuching. Check out our articles on the magnificent caves and peculiar wildlife found in Sarawak. You can be soaking in a natural hot spring or exploring millennia-old caves in a matter of hours!

Miri is an interesting destination, more lively than Kuching, it also has the best dive sites in Malaysia. Subscribe to our newsletter to get content like this sent straight into your inbox! 

All in all, Kuching is a perfect destination for digital nomads because of how gentle it is. If you’re a digital nomad looking for an affordable, tranquil place to get some work done, Kuching should definitely be on your radar. 

 

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Malaysia Travel Guide

Teaspoon | 24-Hour Culinary Tour Around Kuching

Teaspoon | 24-Hour Culinary Tour Around Kuching

“Where to eat in Kuching?” might be the million-dollar question that leaves you stumped.

Here’s the list compiled by Teaspoon on to do list for 24-Hour Culinary Tour Around Kuching, just to help you out.

A HEARTY BREAKFAST @ SIN LIAN SHIN

Famous for their Kolo Mee, this bowl of thin, springy noodles tossed in fragrant lard and garnished with flavorful minced meat is definitely a favorite among us Kuching folks.  Besides the Kolo Mee, you can also order their thick and smooth skinned Kiaw for a more filling breakfast.

BREAKFAST Sin Lian Shin KOLO MEE

BREAKFAST Sin Lian Shin KIAW

BREAKFAST Sin Lian Shin (2)

BREAKFAST Sin Lian Shin

A PLEASING LUNCH/AFTERNOON TEA @ SONG KHENG HAI HAWKER CENTRE

One of the local delights you have to let your friends try is definitely the delicious and hot-out-of-the-wok Gong Pias from Rihga (Stall No.7), which is located at a corner around the back. They have 4 different kinds of fillings, Minced Meat (Original), Cheese, Garlic Ham. Come try out all the flavors!

LUNCH Song Kheng Hai RIHGA STALL GONG PIA

LUNCH Song Kheng Hai RIHGA STALL

Besides Gong Pias, Sio Bees and Rojak are also sold at Rihga. Their Rojak is one of the local favorites too. Crispy “Yu Char Kueh”, veggies, fruits and fresh boiled squids are mixed together with the savory prawn paste and garnished with finely chopped peanuts.

LUNCH Song Kheng Hai RIHGA STALL ROJAK

The next well-known stall would be Mao Zhong Drink Stall (Stall No.1) for their Sugarcane + Coconut drinks.  The sugarcane’s juice are freshly extracted from the plant and mixed together with coconut water and served with a generous amount of freshly scraped coconut meat.

SUGARCANE  COCONUT DRINK

LUNCH Song Kheng Hai MAO ZHONG DRINK STALL (2)

LUNCH Song Kheng Hai MAO ZHONG DRINK STALL

Another one of Kuchinglangs’ favorites would be a plate of savory and delicious Belacan Bee Hoon which you can find at Belacan Bee Hoon, Cuttle Fish Kang Kong Stall (Stall No.4).

LUNCH Song Kheng Hai BELACAN BEEHOON STALL BELACAN BEEHOON MAKING

TAKE A LEISURELY WALK @ KUCHING WATERFRONT

The waterfront is as long as 1km and this is undoubtedly the most happening place you can find in Kuching.

AFTERNOON WALK Waterfront

AFTERNOON WALK Waterfront (6)

HAVE AN AFTERNOON CUPPA @ BLACK BEAN COFFEE TEA CO.

Hidden away at the edge of Carpenter Street, Black Bean Coffee Tea Co. is definitely a must visit if you want a cup of coffee.

TEA TIME Black Bean Coffee  Tea Co. CAPPUCINO

A DELICIOUS DINNER @ HUI SING HAWKER CENTRE

Hui Sing Hawker Centre has remained one of the best in Kuching over the years and if you are after great tasting hawker food you can’t go wrong here.

DINNER SATAY

DINNER Hui Sing Hawker Centre HAP CHEN HIAN SATAY STALL SATAY MAKING (2)

DINNER CHAR KUEH TIEW

DINNER Hui Sing Hawker Centre JO TO METAHON

DINNER Hui Sing Hawker Centre

Have fun touring around the Cat City y’all!

More Delicious Kuching Foodie Info, only at Teaspoon.

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Malaysia Travel Guide

Visiting Sarawak As A Japanese Intern | All Time Favorites Local Food

Visiting Sarawak As A Japanese Intern | All Time Favorites Local Food

Throughout my stay as an intern in Sarawak, I have enjoyed various Local dishes.  Here are some of my all time favorites!

Manok Pansoh – Bamboo chicken

This is one of the famous traditional dish, it is well known to all ethnic groups in Sarawak. “Manok” means chicken in the Iban language, while “Pansoh” means something cooked in bamboo.  What is so special about this dish? Well, besides the delighting aroma the bamboo releases from the heat, the bamboo also gives the chicken is soft and tender texture.  This dish is usually eaten with plain rice.

Ayamはチキン、Pansohは竹の中で調理をすることを意味しています!イバン民族が伝統とするこの調理方法は、サラワク州の方々には大人気!竹の中で焼くことによって、ショウガやニンニクの香りがひきたち、食感も柔らかくなります!ビールとの相性も抜群です!!

japanese-intern-ayam-pansoh

Kolo Mee

Kolo Mee is a well-known dish for its simplicity and relatively cheap pricing. Each dish would cost around 3-5RM depending on the extra topping of prawn and fish. Kolo-Mee consists of BBQ pork, minced pork, fish balls, and a sprinkle of garlic on top. The mixture of chili vinegar sauce and the boiled noodle gives an addictive flavor into the dish. The dish can be considered as an all-time favorite for locals in and can be seen in every corner of Sarawak, especially in Kuching.

チャーシューやそぼろが入っており、この料理は何といっても日本人の口には絶対に合う料理だと思います。 中華の文化的影響を受けた料理でお箸と蓮華を使って食べるのが一般的です。

japanese-intern-kolo-mee

Sarawak Laksa

A must try for visitors to Sarawak. Sarawak Laksa normally uses beehoon noodles and the a shrimp based soup with more than 30 spices being involved. Sounds spicy? Well don’t worry because the soup is thickened with coconut milk mellowing the spiciness of each bite. It is recommended for breakfast.

For additional spices, if it is too spicy, use the lime to ease up the spice. If not spicy enough then add the spice paste for the tingle on your tongue.

サラワクといえばこの料理、サラワク・ラクサです!ラクサ自体は何種類もあり、地域によって味が異なりますが、サラワク・ラクサはサラワク州でしか食べられない絶品グルメです!
スパイシーなココナッツミルクベースのスープが癖になって何杯でも食べられます!
値段はなんと4-5RM (120-150円)!
ローカルフードの中でも大人気の一品です!

japanese-intern-laksa

Midin

Midin is a type of jungle ferns that can be found in tropical jungles like Sarawak.  Midin is a familiar vegetable dish served in restaurants here.  It is usually stir-fried with shrimp paste, garlic or anchovies for an astonishing taste.  A great side-dish that can compliment other dishes, most commonly with seafood.

マレーシアではよく見かけるこの野菜はミディンという名物です!見た目はワラビのようなのですが、柔らかく粘りのある日本ではあまり経験のできないような食感です!

サラワクでしか取れない山菜の一種でオイスターソースやガーリックなど調理方法は様々です!

japanese-intern-midin8

Kek Lapis

Kek Lapis, also known as Kueh Lapis is a light, layered cake available in various flavors.  This traditional cake can be seen in religious or cultural celebrations along with other local food. Outside of celebration days, it is commonly served during coffee breaks and tea times.

マレー語でKekはケーキのこと、Lapisとは層のことです。インドネシア発祥のこのレイヤーケーキはカステラとバームクーヘンを合わせたようなデザートです!

生地が何層にも重なっていることでレイヤーケーキと呼ばれています!サラワク州ではコーヒーと一緒に食べる大人気スイーツ!

値段はひとつ10RMほどです!是非、豊富なフレーバーを是非楽しんでください!

Written by: Kenta Kojima

japanese-intern-kek-lapis

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Article source: http://sarawaktourism.com/blog/feed/

Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

Visiting Sarawak as a Japanese Intern | All time favorites Local Food

Throughout my stay as an intern in Sarawak, I have enjoyed various Local dishes.  Here are some of my all time favorites!

Manok Pansoh – Bamboo chicken

Ayam PansohThis is one of the famous traditional dish, it is well known to all ethnic groups in Sarawak. “Manok” means chicken in the Iban language, while “Pansoh” means something cooked in bamboo.  What is so special about this dish? Well, besides the delighting aroma the bamboo releases from the heat, the bamboo also gives the chicken is soft and tender texture.  This dish is usually eaten with plain rice.

Ayamはチキン、Pansohは竹の中で調理をすることを意味しています!イバン民族が伝統とするこの調理方法は、サラワク州の方々には大人気!竹の中で焼くことによって、ショウガやニンニクの香りがひきたち、食感も柔らかくなります!ビールとの相性も抜群です!!

Kolo Mee

Kolo MeeKolo Mee is a well-known dish for its simplicity and relatively cheap pricing. Each dish would cost around 3-5RM depending on the extra topping of prawn and fish. Kolo-Mee consists of BBQ pork, minced pork, fish balls, and a sprinkle of garlic on top. The mixture of chili vinegar sauce and the boiled noodle gives an addictive flavor into the dish. The dish can be considered as an all-time favorite for locals in and can be seen in every corner of Sarawak, especially in Kuching.

チャーシューやそぼろが入っており、この料理は何といっても日本人の口には絶対に合う料理だと思います。 中華の文化的影響を受けた料理でお箸と蓮華を使って食べるのが一般的です。

Sarawak Laksa

Laksa SarawakA must try for visitors to Sarawak. Sarawak Laksa normally uses beehoon noodles and the a shrimp based soup with more than 30 spices being involved. Sounds spicy? Well don’t worry because the soup is thickened with coconut milk mellowing the spiciness of each bite. It is recommended for breakfast.

For additional spices, if it is too spicy, use the lime to ease up the spice. If not spicy enough then add the spice paste for the tingle on your tongue.

サラワクといえばこの料理、サラワク・ラクサです!ラクサ自体は何種類もあり、地域によって味が異なりますが、サラワク・ラクサはサラワク州でしか食べられない絶品グルメです!
スパイシーなココナッツミルクベースのスープが癖になって何杯でも食べられます!
値段はなんと4-5RM (120-150円)!
ローカルフードの中でも大人気の一品です!

Midin

MidinMidin is a type of jungle ferns that can be found in tropical jungles like Sarawak.  Midin is a familiar vegetable dish served in restaurants here.  It is usually stir-fried with shrimp paste, garlic or anchovies for an astonishing taste.  A great side-dish that can compliment other dishes, most commonly with seafood.

マレーシアではよく見かけるこの野菜はミディンという名物です!見た目はワラビのようなのですが、柔らかく粘りのある日本ではあまり経験のできないような食感です!

サラワクでしか取れない山菜の一種でオイスターソースやガーリックなど調理方法は様々です!

Kek Lapis

Kek LapisKek Lapis, also known as Kueh Lapis is a light, layered cake available in various flavors.  This traditional cake can be seen in religious or cultural celebrations along with other local food. Outside of celebration days, it is commonly served during coffee breaks and tea times.

マレー語でKekはケーキのこと、Lapisとは層のことです。インドネシア発祥のこのレイヤーケーキはカステラとバームクーヘンを合わせたようなデザートです!

生地が何層にも重なっていることでレイヤーケーキと呼ばれています!サラワク州ではコーヒーと一緒に食べる大人気スイーツ!

値段はひとつ10RMほどです!是非、豊富なフレーバーを是非楽しんでください!

Written by: Kenta Kojima

Article source: http://sarawaktourism.com/blog/feed/