Craving for a weekend of fun but bummed out that Singapore isn’t exactly a city of adventures? Don’t despair; your thirst for thrills and spills can be satiated right next door in Kuching, the largest city of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak – it’s just slightly over an hour plane ride away! Here, we put together a weekend itinerary for you.
8.30am – 3pm: Jungle trekking
There are several adventures to choose from in Kuching, also known as Cat City. Jungle trekking is a popular option – and one that you must experience when you’re there. For a short weekend trip, I’d recommend a trek at Bako National Park. The oldest national park in Sarawak, it’s home to wildlife such as the highly endangered proboscis monkey, bearded boar, monitor lizards and snakes. Coupled with the park’s beautiful landscape – think unspoiled beaches, coastal cliffs and rolling hills – we guarantee this trek would make for one incredibly rewarding experience.
Take in the natural beauty of Bako National Park – it’s truly a sight to behold.
For a half-day trek, you can choose either Paku Trail (0.8km) or Pandan Kecil Trail (2.6km). Don’t be fooled by the short distances – both trails take about two to three hours to complete! If you can afford more time at the park, try Tajor Trail (3.5km) or Lintang Trail (5.8km). Regardless of which trail you choose, word of warning: trekking at Bako National Park is unlike any of the trails at MacRitchie Reservoir Park. The treacherous jungle path is made up of laborious uphill climbs and heart-stopping descents; you’ll have to hang on to sturdy branches to make sure you don’t miss a slippery step! Speaking of which, it might be a good idea to watch your surroundings before you grasp anything – you wouldn’t want to mistake a snake for a branch, for instance.
Expect to be on all fours at some parts of the trek!
If you booked your trek through a tour agency, lunch is usually provided at the local cafeteria. Otherwise, you can also purchase food and drinks there.
3.30pm – 5pm: Shower and rest
5pm – 6.30pm: Go for a massage
After the gruelling morning trek, you’ll need a good rubdown to soothe those aches. If you’re after a truly authentic tui na massage, make a trip to Mr Kaki (it’s right above McDonald’s, near Crowne Plaza Riverside Kuching). I am pretty selective when it comes to recommending a masseuse; Ah You at Mr Kaki is quite possibly the best I’ve experienced so far. From the get-go, before I could even emit a grunt of protest, he told me to suck it up because the pain would only be temporary. He sure wasn’t lying about the pain. For one hour, he mercilessly kneaded, pinched and chopped from my feet to my neck. When the hour was up, it took me five minutes to peel myself off the bed – no joke. The best part? It only costs RM45/hour.
7pm – 9pm: Dinner at Top Spot Food Court
Seafood lovers, you wouldn’t want to miss this. It’s located right smack in the middle of Kuching town, on top of a carpark. Competition among the stalls is high; majority of them sell the same kind of seafood dishes, though I heard the nicest of the lot is one called ABC Seafood (it’s halal-certified).
Top Spot Food Court: A must-visit when you’re in Kuching.
A must-try is the grilled sambal stingray – it’s grilled to perfection; the flesh remains tantalisingly juicy and soft. Another dish you have to try is midin belacan – midin is a uniquely shaped green jungle fern that grows in Sarawak, and has the taste and crunch of kang kong. My friends and I ordered those, plus seafood fried rice and sotong with dried chilli, and the total bill came up to just RM60!
8am: Breakfast at Chong Choon Cafe
Famous for its Sarawak Laksa and Teh-C Peng, this eatery is open for breakfast only, and is often packed from as early as 7am. Unlike the laksa sold in Singapore, Sarawak Laksa contains little coconut cream and uses bee hoon. The base is made with sambal belacan, sour tamarind, galangal, garlic, a bit of coconut milk and lemon grass – a welcomed change from the local curry version. The laksa is usually sold out before 10am, so be sure to go early to avoid disappointment.
Sarawak Laksa and Teh-C Peng for breakfast, anyone?
If you love your Teh Peng, you must try Teh-C Peng – a three-layer tea made up of gula melaka, evaporated milk and red tea. Compared to regular Teh Peng, this one tastes lighter and more refreshing. At Chong Choon Cafe, you can choose from three sizes: normal, medium and large. Just go for medium – you’d end up ordering another glass if you chose normal, anyway!
9am: Shop at Kuching Main Bazaar
Selling mainly local handicrafts and antiques, you can definitely find some souvenirs at these shophouses. One local delight you can buy home is the Sarawak Layer Cake – it comes in an assortment of flavours (blueberry and cheese, anyone?) and colours, though it’s not as authentically made. After shopping, take a stroll along the Kuching Waterfront for scenic views of the Astana, Malay kampungs and Fort Margherita across the river. Cat lovers, don’t miss the family of friendly felines at James Brooke Bistro, a restaurant located just along the Waterfront. You don’t have to patronise the restaurant to play with the kitties and, with the expanse of green grass and adorable cat sculptures at the entrance, it’s excellent for photo-taking.
The scenic Kuching Waterfront
12 noon: Check out and go home
About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.