Our last visit to “The City of Cats” was six years ago. This time, several family members made last-minute efforts to join us in Kuching for a week. We had parents flying from Sarikei and Tony from Singapore. Most surprisingly, Jimmy and Shing decided to join us a few days later, even though we had just visited them in Semporna. It almost felt like the Chinese New Year celebration, with the loved ones coming home for a short while for a special occasion. The one difference was that more affordable flight options were available outside of the festive season. The recent relaxation of the COVID-19 travel restriction in the country also encouraged more people to travel instead of being confined at home.
This weather was pretty wet in Kuching at this time of the year. The climate change in recent years has pushed up and lengthened the Northeast Monsoon that typically occurs from November to March. Aunt Hung graciously allowed us to cramp into her new 3-bedroom condo in a reasonably new suburb located southwest of the city center. Mount Serapi in Kubah National Park could be clearly seen from the balcony on the 7th floor. Aunt Kwong’s children lent us a car to move freely there. The development in Kuching has been multiplying rapidly over the last decade. Unlike our previous visit there, we couldn’t recall witnessing so many new changes or frequently getting stuck in countless traffics. Even the Kuching Waterfront has an architecturally unique pedestrian bridge over the Sarawak River.
We had no big plans to visit any attractions this time. Cousin Siang tried planning a last-minute trip with us to explore the Borneo Highlands, but that didn’t pan out. That said, we took the opportunity to meet with many relatives and friends daily. Our meetings usually revolved around food. Knowing everyone was busy, we typically reserved a table or two at a restaurant to maximize our opportunities to meet many of them at once. We tried many famous local dishes. To name a few: the undisputable Kolo Mee, Sarawak Laksa that was deemed as the “Breakfast of the Gods” by Anthony Bourdain, wild jungle fern known as Midin, Kueh Chap, Gong Pia, and spinach-like leaves known as Mani Cai. Then, there is the white Kolo Mee — the original version — and the sweeter red Kolo Mee, and we tried them all. Aunt Kwong’s family invited us to their home for lunch to eat the delicious homemade Mee Suah served with Kampong Chicken. These dishes are so unique to Sarawak that most don’t even exist in west Malaysia. In fact, we wholeheartedly enjoyed having these simple yet inexpensive dishes at the food stalls rather than dining at luxurious restaurants. After spending a wonderful week in Kuching, we departed to Sarikei with family members and continued with our packed travel itinerary.