About Sarawak & Kuching

Sarawak, where adventure lives

If adventure had a home, it would be the vast wilderness. Grand, green, awesome! Like no other place on earth. If adventure had a home, it would be filled with the friendliest people on earth. People of different races, religions and cultures. If adventure had a home, it would be here when one arrives as a guest and leaves as family. If adventure had a home, its home would be Sarawak. Come and explore our vast wild home of adventure. Sarawak, where adventure lives.


ABOUT KUCHING

So, it's your first time to the city? Here's sharing with you a little bit of history, which we're quite sure even some locals don't know about too.

 

WHAT’S IN THE NAME?

We should all know that there is such a city called Kuching in Sarawak, especially if you’re a Malaysian. It’s been known as the “Cat City” due to the resemblance of the name “kucing” to the Malay word for cat. However, that still doesn’t explain how Kuching got its name. The question has baffled many for many years. Here, we would like to share with you some of the different versions of the origin of Kuching name.

 

VERSION 1: MOST DIRECT VERSION OF ITS ORIGIN - KUCHING MEANS CAT IN MALAY

This came from an oral tradition revealed that when James Brooke went up the Sarawak River with a local Malay guide in 1841. He stumbled upon an animal jumping along the bank of the river. He was curious and asked the guide about the animal. The guide replied in the Malay language, “Itu Kuching! (That’s a cat!).” Then, James Brooke somehow just decided to name the place, Kuching.

 

VERSION 2: KUCHING MEANS PORT IN INDOCHINA

The year was 1839, where James Brooke referred to the Kuching City as “Kuchin”. It bore resemblance to the old word “Cochin” which stands for port, being commonly used in India or Indochina, and thus, a relation between the two. Given the fact that Brooke was a sea-going man, he was just using an old Indian or Indo-China word for “Port”.

 

VERSION 3: KUCHING NAMED AFTER AN OLD WELL

This version of the origin series has its roots in the oriental culture. There was a Chinese story that said Kuching was actually named after some old wells found in the vicinity of Sungai Kuching as Kuching means “Old Well” in Chinese Mandarin. Long time ago, these old wells were the provider of fresh water to the local population. Most of these wells have since been filled up for development.

 

VERSION 4: KUCHING NAMED AFTER DISAPPEARING STREAM NAME

In Sarawak, naming a town after a river is a common practice. The name Kuching might have derived from Sungai (River) Kuching which was a small stream flowed from the direction of Kuching Reservoir, east of Wayang Street and emerged between the now Tua Pek Kong Temple and the old Chinese Chamber of Commerce along Thompson Road (now know as Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman) to join Sungai Sarawak. However, the river had since disappeared from the map of Kuching due to construction of Temple street and the rapid town expansion which led to it being filled up sometime in 1928.

 

VERSION 5: KUCHING NAME IS FROM A LOCAL FRUIT

The name “Kuching” could have come from the local fruit known as “Mata Kucing“. The fruit was found to be growing abundantly atop the hill know as Bukit Mata Kucing behind the Chinese Tua Pek Kong Temple. Locally, the fruit is known as Isau or Green Longan while its botanical name is Dimocarpus Longan, spp.malesianus, var malesianus and it belongs to the family of sap indaccae. It is a true tropical Longan that is only found in Sarawak. It belongs to the group of fruit with the vernacular name of Mata Kucing which also includes Sau, Kakus and Guring fruits. Mata Kucing trees were grown wildly around Sungai Kuching in the olden days. The fruit is spherical in shape, dark green in colour with numerous protuberances on its skin surface. Mata Kucing‘s color changes from dark green to light yellowish green as it ripens. The flesh is translucent, crispy and sweet.

 

KUCHING NAME HAS BEEN USED LONG BEFORE JAMES BROOKE

Looking back in history, the name “Kuching” actually predated the rule of James Brooke. It has been called so during the Brunei rule. This could be proven in James Brooke’s private letter to his mother on 14.9.1841 where he used the word “Kuchin” with a note stating that “Kuchin” was the native name of Sarawak. The name “Kuchin” was however dropped and only Sarawak was used in another letter to his mother dated 26.3.1842. On 12.8.1872, in the Supreme Council meeting, the second White Rajah of Sarawak, Sir Charles Brooke reverted to the name of “Sarawak” in place of “Kuching” even though at that time, Sarawak was the name of the capital and the river which flows through it as well as the territory of Sarawak. This was because he wanted to define the township of Sarawak by a more positive appellation. From then onward, Kuching became the name of the town and the name Sarawak was used to represent the whole territory, according to Sarawak Gazette No.47 dated 16.8.1972)

 

WHAT’S YOUR VERDICT?

There is no definite conclusion to where the name “Kuching” came from. Whichever version you choose to believe and even if there is concrete evidence that tells us where the name originates from, it’ll still be fondly known as the Cat City – a city where the people have lived harmoniously for decades long, with its unique culture and traditions, beautiful colonial buildings and vast natural attractions.

 

 

WHAT’S KUCHING LIKE

Like all towns and cities in Borneo, the focal point of Kuching and the reason for its existence is the river.  Hiring a sampan to meander slowly up and down the Sarawak River is the best way to get your first impression of Kuching. From the river, you will see picturesque Malay villages (kampungs), a golden-domed mosque, a Victorian fort, a whole street of 19th century Chinese shophouses and an imposing wooden-roofed palace, all set against a background of distant mountains.

 

Sarawak is a unique and enjoyable tourism destination, and Kuching is the ideal base from which to go exploring. The nearby national parks include the famous Bako, home of the rare proboscis monkey, Gunung Gading, where giant rafflesia flowers bloom, Kuching Wetlands, which protects a fascinating mangrove ecosystem, Kubah, with its rare palms and orchids, and Semenggoh and Matang Wildlife Centres with their resident orangutans. Literally hundreds of Iban and Bidayuh longhouses are within easy travelling distance. Damai, on the nearby Santubong Peninsula is Sarawak’s main resort area, and many travel agents offer “two-centre” packages allowing you to explore Kuching, go on a longhouse trip, visit Bako and the rainforest and then relax on the beach after the rigours of jungle trekking.

Kuching is also the ideal base for visiting longhouses. Local travel agents have a variety of tours, ranging from half-day trips to nearby Bidayuh longhouses, to week long safaris to Iban longhouses on the Skrang, Lemanak and Batang Ai river systems.