By CK Lam
It is exciting to hit the road again, this time on the Media FAM Trip to Kuching, Sarawak. The trip to the city of cats is organized by Sarawak Tourism Board in collaboration with Air Asia. Besides the orang utan and the different ethnic groups of Sarawak, there are other attractions, such as the many cat statues.
We made an early flight from Penang and landed in Kuching in the late morning. We headed out for lunch at Madam Tang Restaurant. A must-have is the Laksa Sarawak, a signature dish in Kuching. The bowl of Laksa topped with prawns, chicken slices, omelette strips and bean sprouts is served in a fragrant spicy coconut milk soup with a side of sambal belacan and lime. Prices range from RM5.80 (classic) to RM11.80 for the special version. There are also other choices to choose from, including beef noodle, a traditional dish with braised beef.
Dry beef noodle
After lunch, we began with a half day tour to Sarawak Cultural Village. Located at the foothills of Mount Santubong, this one-stop cultural center is 45 minutes from the city.
In the grounds of the Sarawak Cultural Village is the venue for the Rainforest World Music Festival and the World Harvest Festival. International performances from all over the world will again be gathering here for the Rainforest World Music Festival 2012, scheduled to be held in mid July.
The stage for the festival is set against the rainforest
The Sarawak Cultural Village is a great place to discover the longhouses of the different ethnic groups and a glimpse of their past. We took the time exploring the model longhouses of the Iban, Bidayuh, Melanau including the Penan tribes, Malay, Chinese and Orang Ulu (the upriver people).
Beautiful verandah of the Orang Ulu Longhouse
The Rumah Melanau is built very high above the ground – a way of protecting themselves from being attacked by pirates in the olden days. The staple food for the Melanaus is the sago. Many products made from sago are for sale, including the sago pearls and tebaloi. The latter also known as sago biscuit is a popular traditional snack made of sago flour.
At the Penan Huts, we were shown the art of blowing the blowpipe. The nomadic Penans is known for their specialty in making the blowpipes.
Besides the weaving of cloth, beadwork, baskets and wood carvings, there is also a demonstration of top spinning.
Handicrafts produced by the different tribes
Sarawak Culture Village also houses the Halal certified Restaurant Budaya. We were introduced to some interesting dishes – the Manok Pansoh (chicken cooked in bamboo) and the Umai. The latter is a raw fish salad with red chili, onions, lime juice and sides of cucumber and coriander. It was a memorable new taste experience.
Not to be missed at the Sarawak Cultural Village is the cultural performances of songs and traditional dances. There are two performances each day, at 11:30am and another at 4pm, showcasing the traditional dances of the different ethnic groups. The entrance fee to Sarawak Cultural Village cost RM60 for adult and RM40 for children aged from 6 to 12 years old.
Beautiful costumes of different aboriginal tribesmen
For dinner, we dine at Top Spot Foodcourt located on Jalan Bukit Mata in the central business district. Situated on the roof of a multi-level car park, this food court serves Halal seafood. From ABC Seafood stall, we had an array of seafood, fried oyster omelette and an interesting dish of stir-fried midin with brown beans (jungle fern).
Stir-fried midin with brown beans (jungle fern)