Monday, December 28, 2009

Bali 4

A walk down Legian Road followed by a round at Kuta Square and Matahari Square made a "home run" shopping for us. Kuta and Legian are the best places for shoppers to unleash their "talent" with hundreds of small shops-souvenirs, clothes, shoes, surfing equipments, glasses, bars, bistros, pubs... all of them lined up, awaiting to be explored.

Upper row: Shop lots along Legian Road. For those who has strong legs, they are hundreds of shops lined along 4 km of Legian Road for you to explore. Lower row: Shop lots around Kuta Square and Matahari Square.

Stuffs available in Bali: Wind chimes, batiks, casual clothes, CD and DVD, decorative items, shoes, bags.

Balinese Batik and picture drawn by local painters are something unique that we can bring back home as souvenir. We went to visit local batik manufacturer (Tohpati) and local picture painters (Batuan) on our way up to Mount Kintamani. The prices offered there were much more cheaper than what we could get in Denpasar. Clockwise from upper left: photo taken beside local weaver, local painters, pictures available for sales, and local Balinese lady painting batik.

Our group photo at Dewa Putu Toris Art Gallery, Batuan. The gallery was big with hundreds (maybe thousands) of pictures, drawn by local artists and painters. We bought some Balinese painting for quite reasonable price (compared to those sold in our own country)
Beautifully decorated Matahari Square.

Some interesting facts and findings in Bali, firstly, the flower offerings given by Hindus to their Gods twice to trice daily, can be seen everywhere. Secondly, many motorbikes on the road. Motorbikes for rental are available in every street. The boothes offering tour packages are available every hundred meters, offering tour packages with good bargained price. However, beware of the company that comes out with unreasonably low price, as they might offer you a trip that might ruin your nice day. Then, taxis with standard meter are mostly blue.

In Bali, there is no 7-11. What you can see are the substitutes, Mini Marts, one in every 500 metersBig statues always available at the middle of roundabouts showing the stories taken from either Ramayana or Mahabrata. Last but not least, beware of the money changers with super attractive rates, they are good in tricks (we experienced it once). They will make you loss more than those with reasonable rates. Always go for the money changers that produce receipts. They will offer less fuss and problems.

Clockwise from upper left: Flower offerings; Motors for rent available just beside the road; Blue taxi; Sign of Mini Mart; Memorial for the victims of 2002 bombing tragedy in Legian Road; Statue showing a story from Hindu's epic (Ramayana and Mahabrata); One of the hundreds of booths that offer tour packages.

As long as we had noticed, Bali's streets were safe, at least around Kuta and Legian area. Most of the shops along the main streets stayed operational until 9 or 10 pm, and some of them, remained open after 11 pm. Most of the people there can speak simple English. Malay Language or Indonesian Language is widely understood (we can speak fluence Malay Language and had no problem to communicate with the locals).

Night at Legian Road, Bali. Photos were taken around 10 pm. The street was still bright with many visitors.

Lastly, the food. We could find a lot of food around Legian and Kuta- Brazilian, German, Malay and Padang (Halal), Indian, Australian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and many many more. For us, we prefered Malay or Indonesian food here (they just tasted like Malaysian food) for their reasonable price and wide availability.

Clockwise from upper left: Western food; Local fried rice; Betty dining in a local restaurant; Indonesian food (satay, fried rice, and fried potatoes); Balinese curry tomyam.

For more information about Bali, please refer to some of the website like Bali star island, Bali 123, and Bali-online.

High resolution of photos of Bali is available on our Travel Photo Gallery. Back to All Our Destinations.

 [Bali Page 1] [Bali Page 2] [Bali Page 3] [Bali Page 4]

Bali 3

Terraced paddy fields, abundantly available in highland area, can be best viewed at Tegalalang and Pacung. We passed by Tegalalang on the way from Denpasar to Batur Mount. We made a brief stop (about 15 minutes) to take a look on the terraced paddy field. The terraced field can be seen just beside the road. However, tall coconut trees planted beside the field flawed the good view. The information we had stating Tegalalang is 500 m above sea level. However, the weather was hot and humid. The farmers just finished harvesting, leaving behind brown and muddy field by the time we visited the field. The view would be better one month earlier when the field just turned into golden sea and about to be harvested.

Coconut trees blocked the good view of terraced paddy field at Tegalalang (left). Nice looking restaurant (Japanese style?) opposited the rice terrace.

Pacung is the best place for terraced paddy field, not only the cozy and windy environment, but the less obstacles between the viewing platform and the field. The place is 800 m above sea level, laid on our way to Bedugul. We stopped for a rest at Pacung and took our buffet lunch at Labhagga Restaurant and Sky Lounge (the price, around RM22 per person).

Great view of terraced paddy field from Labhagga Restaurant and Sky Lounge, Pacung, a must see scenery in Bali.

Labhagga is a name that we will remember. The reason, Betty accidentally left her purse in that restaurant. The purse then, was sent 30 km from Pacung to Legian (one hour by car), right to the lobby of our hotel early the next morning, free of charge by the staff from the restaurant. So, if you ask about our comment on that restaurant, excellent is just enough for the food and the view, and then some more for the service and honesty.

Clockwise from top left: Our photo taken from Labhagga, backgrounded the terraced paddy field; A view of Labhagga Restaurant and Sky Lounge; My brother Ling Yong and his wife-to-be, Livien taking lunch in the restaurant; and LS's parents amazed by the size of the roses just outside the restaurant and insist a photo with it.

Natural spices is another attraction of Bali. On our way to Kintamani, we took a rest at Sai Land Natural Agrotourism Park, Bangli where we tasted numerous of natural spices, tea, and coffee, including Luwak Coffee. The coffee is special due to the process by fox. Interested? More information available at Wikipedia about Luwak Coffee. You can come to my house to take a cup of it before we finished it (we bought 200 g of the coffee, with around RM50++). A cup of Luwak Coffee can easily come to USD50 outside Indonesia.

Local workers serving tea, coffee, and spices to us (Left). Our tour guide, Mayo explaining how Luwak Coffee being produced (right).

Group photo taken at the entrance of Natural Agrotourism Center of Bali, at Bangli.

There are two active volcanos in Bali, namely Mount Batur (1717 m) and Mount Agung (3142 m). Mount Batur can be seen from Kintamani while Mount Agung can be seen from Besakih. Kintamani is 2 hours away from our hotel by car. We took our buffet lunch at Batur Sari Restaurant, it serves halal Indonesian food. Mount Batur,around 24 eruptions were recorded since 1804, can be seen clearly from the restaurant. Taking buffet was more worthy than ala carte in that restaurant, as the price for a plate of fried rice is around RM20. So, why don't we just go for the buffet with more that 15 types of food with a top-up of RM 7? The shape of the volcano that we can see in the photo below was formed during the great eruption in 1917.

Buffet lunch at Batur Sari Restaurant, Kintamani facing Mount Batur. What's the feeling of dining in front of an active volcano? Well, the answer- it's cool!
Photo showed Lake Batur and Mount Batur harmonized like Ying and Yang. The blackened area is caused by the lava from its last eruption. This is a must see scenery in Bali.

Bali 2

We took two local tour packages in Bali, both with MBA. The first was on our second day in Bali, where we took Ubud (Bali batik in Tohpati and drawings in Batuan - Tegalalang (terraced paddy fields) - Natural spices village (tried luwak coffee) - Kintamani (Batur Mount) - Besakih (Pura Agung) - Sanur Beach route.

The second tour package was on the fourth day, Mengwi (Pura Taman Ayun) - Pacung (terraced paddy fields) - Bedugul (Pura Ulun Danu Beratan) - Alas Kedaton (Pura Dalem) - Tanah Lot (Pura Tanah Lot).

Group photo taken at the entrance of the mother temple of all temples in Bali- Pura Agung (Agung Temple). Agung Mount can be seen far behind the clouds.

The first "official" temple in our schedule was Pura Agung at Mount Agung, Besakih. "Agung" in local means greatness. It is a temple complex with "a collection of temples". According to history, the first temple there is believed to be built by the founder of Bali, Sri Markandeya around 8th century, and extended by priests and rules of Bali from time to time, until it reached the current magnificient size. The temple was really wide spreaded and divided into different sections, representing the different status in Balinese community. The temple was severely damaged by earthquake in 1917 and by the erruption of Mount Agung in 1963, but successfully being restored.We spent about one hour there, taking photos and walking around the temple. The view from the highest temple along the hillside is really good. For us, this is a must-visit temple in Bali.

If you wish to visit that temple, please take note about two important things. Firstly, in order to visit that sacred temple, we have to wear "sarung". Tour company (like MBA) might has prepared them for us but that is not an obligation. Please make sure that you won't end up with rent or buy a sarung with a very unreasonable price at the foot of Mount Agung. Secondly, the internal tourguide controlled by the local associations might be "rude" at the entrance to "force" you to take a local Pura Agung's guide, even you might have one your side (provided by tour company). You can always reject them by strictly say "NO" (they demanded RP60,000 per person). They might be scaring you by saying that you might get lost in the complex. But believe us, that's impossible.Pura Agung is not a maze in themepark.

Left: Our photo at a walkway surrounded by ancient structures with about 200 m in length, upscaling Pura Agung. Right: Structures in Pura Agung.

Our quest continued with Pura Taman Ayun. Taman Ayun Royal Temple at Mengwi, 30 minutes away from our hotel. Built by the founder of Mengwi empire in 1634 AD, the temple served as the praying site for the Royals of the empire. The word "ayun" means beautiful garden. Compared to Pura Agung, this royal temple is much more "younger". We like the unique bright coloured bricks on that temple. There is a cock fighting site just beside the entrance of that temple. According to our tourguide, the cock fighting activities in Bali are no for gambling, but just for fun and leisure.

The postcard like scenery inside Pura Taman Ayun, Mengwi. The entrance of the inner compound of the temple (left), and the praying place of the temple, which is closed to visitors (right).
Photo taken inside Pura Taman Ayun.

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan, located 1200 m above sea level, 50 km away from Denpasar, took us 2 hours to reach there. That's another must visit site in Bali. The uniqueness of the temple not only lies with its altitude, but the fact that the temple is built in the Beratan Lake. "Ulun" here means by the power of the goddess, while "Danu Beratan" means Lake Beratan. The temple is believed to be built around 1634 AD.

Family photo taken at the outskirt of Pura Ulun Danu Beratan. Far right showed the entrance to the temple.
Does this photo look familiar to you? Yes, this photo was taken exactly the same angle with the picture showed in many postcards.

On our way from Bedugul to Tanah Lot, we stopped at Pura Dalem, Alas Kedaton. Alas Kedaton is a forest area (about 10 hectar) in the middle of paddy field. The temple is famous with the present of the sacred monkeys and big bats around the temple. The photo above showed the entrance of the temple (upper left), tree with bats and the enlargement (upper and lower right), and the monkeys roaming around the temple (lower left).

Upper left to right: Great view of Pura Tanah Lot and Pura Batu Bolong. Lower left: Kecap Dance available at RM25 per person. Lower right: Our photo taken at Pura Batu Bolong.

Tanah Lot (means land and sea in local) was our last destination on the fourth day in Bali. That is the place which Pura Tanah Lot and Pura Batu Bolong located. Both of the temples are quite famous for the beautiful scenery, especially during sunset (just try to google "sunset at tanah lot" and see the pictures displayed). Pura Tanah Lot is believed to be built by a priest, Niratha in order to worship the god of sea. We hoped to witness the heavenly beauty of the sunset but the we were running out of luck in that. Anyway, we did enjoyed the Kecap Dance at Tanah Lot during the night time. Must visit Tanah Lot? Sure, you have to. Just make sure that you brave yourself to face massive crowd of pilgrims at the wat!

[Bali Page 1] [Bali Page 2] [Bali Page 3] [Bali Page 4]

Bali 1

Bali, an island in the middle of the Country of Thousand Islands, Indonesia, has its own identity with its thousand temples, magnifesting its prominent dominacy of Hinduism within the largest Islamic country in the world. Family temples, village temples, agricultural temples, sea temples, and so on, separately paying tribute to Brahma (god of creation), Vishnu (god of preservation), and Siva (god of annihilation). How many temples are there in Bali? That might be a question that only a few have the answer.

From left is Ling Shing's sister Ling Ai (Kelly) @ Legian Beach, Ling Shing and Betty @ Pura Agung, LS's brother Ling Yong (Bryant) and his girl friend Livien @ Matahari Square, and LS's parents Yuk Yieng and Mee Ping @ hotel's cafe.

December 2009, we visited Bali with our family and stayed for five days and four nights. A nearly three hours flight from KLLCCT to Ngurah Rai Airport ended up with a suprise a- small, crowdy, "budget" air condition, and it didn't look like the third busiest airport in Indonesia. Anyway, the smell of tourism industry was strong with colourful brochures, maps, leftlets, and tourist's guide, full-coloured, black and white etc. in different languages distributed free of charge around the arrival hall, before we reached the immigration counters. That's good. At least, we could read while stucked in the long queue for custom checking. Btw, you really need not buy any map of Bali as you can get a very good map there, in the airport.

Left (upper and lower): Balinese architecture in Ngurah Rai Airport, Denpasar. The airport was named after the national hero who fought and died in the Battle of Margarana, Bali. Photo taken with Ling Shing's parents in the departure hall (upper right). A lot of information was reachable in colourful brochures and leaflets (lower middle), and the place where we bought the tickets for taxi to our hotel.

We reached Vilarisi Hotel (at Legian) at around 3 pm. First impression, not so good, due to the dim lighting and "extreme" Balinese design (or should said we hadn't get used to it). We didn't even dare to take the welcoming drink (strange syrup with "salty" taste). However, after a few hours, we get used it and start thinking that it's a great place to stay. The hotel is strategicly located beside Melasti Road, Legian Road, and by foot, it is just 15 minutes away from Legian beach and 30 minutes away from Kuta Square. The hotel has a nice pool, roof top garden, and English speaking staff (although some of them were not fluent). The buffet breakfast, a little bit too simple, but still able to meet our "minimum threshold".

Upper row (left to right): Vilarisi Hotel on the outside; roof top garden; swimming pool. Lower row (left to right): Resting area at the lobby; Balinese style room; Free supply of filtered drinking water (we like it very much).

We took our late lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Melasti (which later we found out the food there were overpriced). The good thing was, we found a tour company, MBA, with attractive price service just in front of that restaurant, after the lunch. Then, we took a walk to the Legian beach. Legian Beach shares a same coastline with Kuta Beach. The beach, wow, simply breathtaking- endless stretch of fine sand, blue crystalline water, white strong waves, lushy coconut trees, and light blue sky. That was a really romantic place for beautiful sunset. Both Kuta and Legian Beach always filled with a lot of people- surfers, sun lovers, photographers, and visitors, like us.

Top: Our photo at Legian Beach, with a lot of people enjoying sunshine and sea breeze with us, the strong wind set LS's hair "free". Small photos (lower left to right): Scene at Kuta Beach ; Swaying palms in front of Legian Beach Resort; One of the many surfers showed his skills at Legian Beach.

One will never feel alone at Kuta beach.

Small boats (too big for canoes) laying peacefully at a side of Kuta beach.

Photos taken at Sanur beach. Unlike Kuta and Legian, most visitors at Sanur are locals.

We made a stop at Sanur Beach on our second day in Bali. Bali was first known worldwide through Sanur. The sea was calm and not suitable for surfing. However, the calm sea makes Sanur a perfect place for swimming and canoeing. The beach was not as "hot" as Kuta or Legian, and most of the visitors were the locals. Sanur is a good place to get a good view on sunrise.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Labuan is a part of Malaysia Federal territory and quite well known as an offshore financial centre. Offshore? Because it's an island. We took a two hours and 30 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu to Menumbok. From Menumbok, we took another 30 minutes of speed boat to Labuan. The speed boat service is available almost once an hour, while ferry service (which will take one hour 30 minutes), twice a day. Of course, you can go to Labuan by air as well.

Photo shows the ferry (upper left), speed boat (lower left), our photo on the top deck of the ferry (upper right), and our photo inside the speed boat, with Betty's dad (lower right).

The journey on water with speed boat was really rocky. The boat, always drove by the wave off the surface and slammed back, splashed a certain amount of salt water few feet into the air with a hard knocking sound. The process continued for half an hour, with the speed around 60 km/hour. Can you imagine the feeling of staying in a moving DNA mixer in theme park for 30 minutes? We came out alive, with a little bit of advice: don't use the speed boat after 12 noon, when the sea gradually turns rocky, unless you're really adventurous. By the way, if you really wish to try once, please do it with your stomach empty (our photo inside the speed boat was taken a few seconds before the crazy journey begun). So, we decided to take ferry to return to Menumbok. The ferry was more steady, but move slower. Don't worry, the ferry was completed with air-conditioner, LCD flatscreens, foodstalls with nice drinks, and decks that offerred nice views. So, we had a really good time on the ferry (comparatively).

Labuan's streets.

Labuan is a small town, with around 80,000 population, which around 20% of them are not locals (students, immigrants, contract workers, etc.). It's the grown up place of Betty's parents. So, we have many (almost uncountable :-p) relatives here, and of course, we would never lack of good tour guides on this small island. We visited some of the places of interest on this small island- The Chimney, long stretch of beautiful beaches (Pancur Hitam, Layang-layang and Pohon Batu), International Campus of University Malaysia Sabah, State Mosque, the Surrender Point, Patau-patau and Bebuloh water villages, and International Sea Sport Complex.

 The Chimney, which its usage is still a mistery until today, stand 106 feet high at Tanjung Kubong (besides Labuan Bird Park). Believed to be built during the coal mining era (1847-1912), the structure contains 23,000 England imported bricks with 12 layers of foundations beneath the surface. The bird park was closed for maintainance during our visit.
Photo taken at Layang-layang Beach, backgrounded with a shrubed rock.

There is a must-visit historical place in our list- The exact surrender point of the Japanese army to the Australian army, marked the end of the 2nd World War in Borneo. The Peace Park is just a few steps away from the surrender point. Funded and maintained mainly by the Japanese Shipbuilding Industry Foundation, the park were really well maintained and served as a memorial of the war.

We took photo with Betty's father and youngest sister, Katty. The memorial stone states "Here, on the 9 Nov, 1945, the commander of the 9th division, Australian Imperial Forces, received the unconditional surrender of the 32nd Japanese Sourthern Army in North Borneo and Sarawak".
Sunset at the beach side just at another side of Surrender Point.

We went for seafood dinner with our relatives. Then, shopping for tax-free chocolate and alcoholic drinks. Can you imagine Hershey's Kisses (311g) is just around RM 15 per pack, imported Cadbury chocolate (with and without alcohol) at the price of RM 9.50 and Jolly Shandy at around RM 1.30-RM1.50? We managed to grab some imported chocs and shandy. The only shopping complex that we got in Labuan was situated in Financial Park. If you wish to get more choices, then you have to go the town area to dig from the spreaded shoplots. The prices for the tax free items were quite unified there, compared to Langkawi (we couldn't notice much different throughout the island).

Photo of Commercial Park from the ferry.

 Methanol Refinery at the outskirt of Labuan. We had the chance to take a look outside the big refinery on our way to ferry point, thanks to our cousin.

To make yourself convenient to move around, you can stay somewhere around Labuan town area (as the whole town area is accessible by foot). To move around outside the town area, such as the beaches and the Chimney,  the easiest way is by taking taxi (you can get many of them in front of the jetty) or rent a car. We seldom came across buses in this island. So, travel around with bus might not be a good idea.

For more information, you can visit Labuan Tourism Page and Government Labuan Tourism Board.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Kuching 2

Second day, from Waterfront, we accessed the old Court House, Textile Museum, Kuching State Museum, Post Office, Little India, China Town, and a lot of shoplots selling indigenous souvenirs by foot. We took around 20 minutes walk from our hotel to the state museum, passing by the post office and Textile Museum,then taking the rest of the tourist's spot on our way back to the hotel.

Left: Main Bazzar, located just opposite to the Waterfront. Right: Shoplots at Little India.

Served as the museum premiering most exhibit items in South East Asia, Kuching State Museum is really a place that we should not miss. The museum was established since 1891, divided into several sections, held thousands of artifacts and specimens collected across Sarawak, and the factor of surprise, the admission is free! We visited the old museum building and the T.A.R. hall, which located just beside old building (linked by overhead bridge). Started as the first building for the museum, the old building holds vast amount of specimens (including two whales' skeletons), petroleum exhibition, and ethnographics. T.A.R. hall was convereted to gallery for museum in 1973 (previously served as State Legislative Assembly), the hold temporary exhibited items, such as pre-historical potteries, Chinese furnitures, archaeological materials excavated and so on. We spent around three hours, just walking around without close observation to all the exhibited items.

Left: "Batu Gambar", which means rock with picture on it is a replica of the artifacts found dated more than 600 years ago. Right: Sand crocodiles was built by locals as icons of protection for crops, before the modern agriculture means were introduced.

Across the road in front of Waterfront (don't cross the river), Main bazaar, with rows of really historical shoplots (built more than hundred years ago) offers all types of local handicrafts: sculptures, potteries, musical instruments, purses, etc. We really enjoyed the hunting over the souvenirs. There are a wide variety of choices, and there are high probability of multiple shops offering the same products. So, our advice, don't make up your mind too early before comparing the prices (of course, time is a factor here). The prices offered might be reasonable, but still, don't you ever give up without a tight bargain.

We took a chance to visit Chinese Museum at Waterfront.  The museum however, in our opinion, was not like a museum, but more to the Chinese Ethnics information center. There was a lot of information there, but not properly organized. There were some displayed items such as dragon and lion for the tranditional Chinese dances, unique ivory sculptures, tea drinking table, and so on. There are still a lot of room for improvement for that museum.

Performance in Sarawak Cultural Village (left). Want to play a song with traditional music instrument? I did have the chance to do so (right).

Sarawak Cultural Village was a stop for us on our third day in Kuching, which might be a must for all of you. Sarawak Cultural Village can be accessed by taxi or chartered bus. Join a group tour might be a better idea as we might get a tour guide with extra local knowledges (ours package was offered by Matahari Tours located inside Hotel Margherita). 40 minutes of car trip brought us right to the front gate of the village. The village is a really well maintained "living museum". We could see real live performance from the workers with traditional customs- cooking, dancing, singing, playing music, and working in the houses that represent the main ethnics in Sarawak, namely Chinese, Malay, Bidayuh, Iban, Penan, Orang Ulu, and Melanau. Most of the workers in respective houses came from that respective ethnics (except for Chinese). The traditional industries for living also being displayed, such as pepper production, 'parang' (big knife)  making, sago processing, and the making of pottery.We could even join the dance and sing, and play (top and blowpipe) with them too! We spent almost half a day in the village.

One of the houses displayed- house of Orang Ulu (Inland people). We tried old fashioned way of processing paddy.

Then, we visited Pasar Tamu Satok (Weekend Market) on our way back from the cultural village. The market offered a lot of local food and fruits, such as mountain durian, midin and dabai. The prices for the souvenirs were a little bit cheaper, but with less variety compared to the Main Bazaar area (opposite the Waterfront). It took us 25 minutes to walk from the market back to our hotel.

Dabai (left) is a kind of fruit and midin (right) is a kind of fern. Both of them are widely available throughout Sarawak and serve as food for locals. However, we never see these two kinds of food outside Sarawak. Dabai is seasonal. Midin is available whole year long (although it might be lesser during raining season).

About the food, Kuching hosted many local delicacies, which the name, well-known nationwide. Kolok mee (smooth noodle in local dialect),  Laksa Sarawak, Red-wined chicken rice, and layered cakes (sorry about the translation) are just a few of them. A great way to get information about the good food here- ask the tour guides, especially the Chinese tour guides. They are really good in finding good food. Most of the great food in Kuching can be reached within walking distance from Waterfront. However, long queues and early close down (some of the shops closed around 2 pm) are common for these stalls. Talking about must try, well, midin and laksa Sarawak might be the two for us. We tried the seafood near Batu Lintang food stall (beside Saberkas). The seafood there was good, but the place can only be reached by car. The seafood stalls on the top floor of the multi storey carpark (behind Riverside Majestic and beside Pullman Hotel) might be a better choice if you stay somewhere around the Waterfront.

Local food recommended by tourist's guide, clockwise from upper left: Different types of chicken rices; noodle with tomato sauces; layered cakes; kolok noodle (sorry, we finished up the laksa and the seafood before we pressed the shutter on our camera :-0).

The historical buildings and monument in Kuching: Kuching State Museum (upper left); Astana, the palace for Charles Brooke (lower left); Residence Office of Kuching beside town square (Upper right); Textile Museum (middle right); and Charles Brooke Monument, backgrounded with the Square Tower and new State Legislative Assembly Building (lower right). Build in 1879, the Square Tower (white in colour) firstly served as City Jail, later converted into defensive fortress, then a dance hall, and it had being used as information center for tourists recently. All of these historical buildings are located within walking distance from Waterfront (20 minutes from Hotel Margherita to the state museum; we can only see Astana from the other side of the river, in front of the old Court House).

The new contemporary buildings in Kuching: State Legislative Assembly (left); Civic Centre in futuristic design (upper right); and Town Hall (lower right).

Kuching is really a good place for a peaceful vacation. Most of the people here can speak or understand simple English, the taxi fares for most of the places are fixed (especially if you take taxi from airport or hotel), and, the complete tourist's map can be obtained free of charge at the airport. Can you imagine how peaceful our mind will be if we visit such a place like that? If you need more information about the city, you can visit Sarawak Tourism Board and Tripadvisor more information.

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Take a look on our sharing about other places in Sarawak

Kuching 1

Kuching, capital of Sarawak, is a clean and well-blended between the old and the modern, development and environment, multicultural diversity and unity, busy on the daytime and, the what we like it the most, calm and peaceful after the sunset. We took 110 minutes of flight from KL International to Kuching International Airport, and 15 minutes from the airport to the heart of the city. Our advice, avoid the arrival at rush hours to keep the peace in our mind. The congestion from the airport to the city is growing.

Many attractions in Kuching, as her name "cat" in local Malay language, hidden and awaiting to be discovered. We visited the city together during November 2009, with regular monsoon down pour in the evening. The rain cold down the whole city until the air condition in our hotel only been turned on for one night in our 3 days' stay.

Photo taken in front of one of the Cat Statues, located between Grand Margherita and Riverside Majestic Hotel.

Our first stop was Jong's Crocodile Farm. The farm was big, well maintained, and the number of crocodiles was as big as the creature sounded. The farm has a very large area assigned as and designed as the habitat  for these prehistorical lizards, and we could watch the crocs roaming around their man made habitat from a 400 m long forest walkway. A replica of the legendary croc from Lupar River in Sarawak- "Bujang Senang", with the real skull framed was kept in the farm. We missed the feeding time on 11 am, and again didn't waiting until the next in the afternoon. That's the interesting part that we left behind. The crocodile farm is far away from the city area and can be accessed only by car. Joining a tour with local tourism company might be a good way to visit the farm (around RM60 per person).

Clockwise: Skull of a croc (Bujang Senang's skull was at the back); a scene at a pondside in the farm; small and adult freshwater crocs; and a photo taken with at least 8 feet long crocs, laying beside the forest walkway.

The city really very busy during daytime, where we experienced it on our way back from the crocs farm to the hotel. We stayed in Grand Margherita. Located just beside Sarawak River,  the hotel offered a good river view. The staffs were well trained and very effective (compared to her sister hotel just across the road), and we really enjoy our time very much there.

Upper row: Poolside and river view from our room. Lower left to right: Walk way between the room; the bathroom; and the amenities.

Waterfront during the daytime. You can see a lot of trees there to keep us away from burning sun (left). Well designed landscape at Waterfront, just in front of the Chinese Museum (right).

During the night time, we took a walk along Waterfront. Located parellel with part of Tunku Abdul Rahman Road and Main Bazaar, the esplanade  stretches more than 1 km along Sarawak River, starting from the the hotel to the old Court House, was shrubbed with trees and nicely maintained. There were security guards patrolling around the area as well. The night scene there was good and we could take night view on Building for State Legislative Assembly, Astana, and Fort Margherita from there. The lighting and cold weather made the park really a good place for a night walk. There are several food stalls and a bistro along the esplanade. We tried some of the food from the bistro, and well, the food was average, but the price, a little bit higher.

Astana, palace built by Charles Brooke, second White Rajah of Sarawak in 1870, located at the other side of Sarawak River, lit the Waterfront with romance of the White Rajah towards his wife Margaret. Now, the palace serves as the official residence for Sarawak's Head of State.
A view at Sarawak River during daytime. "Water Taxi" helps in transporting passengers across the river. By crossing the river (with 40 cents per trip), we took a 10 minutes walk to take a close up view on State Legislative Assembly and Fort Margherita.

Photo taken at the other side of the river: In front of the State Legislative Building (left) and Fort Margherita (right). The fort was empty during our visit. There was nothing much we can see there except the walls and the roof. However, the fort still gave us a little bit knowledge about the architecture and the old day's military defence of the city.