Wednesday, August 15, 2007

About Kuching - Pussycat City

From Wikipedia & Malaysiana1.

Kuching is the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak.

It is the largest town in Malaysian Borneo and was made a city on August 1, 1988. It is the fourth town to be made a city in Malaysia after George Town (1957), Kuala Lumpur (1972) and Ipoh (1988).

Kuching is also the capital of the Kuching Division of Sarawak which comprises the towns of Lundu, Bau, Padawan and the city itself.

Kuching is administered by two city councils namely the Kuching North and Kuching South City Councils. Kuching North is mostly inhabited by indigenous Sarawakians while Kuching South is mostly inhabited by Chinese.

Kuching North and Kuching South are roughly divided by the Sarawak River, but the key tourist attractions and shopping centres north of the southern city are under Kuching North’s administration.

Kuching gets its name from the abundance of wild cats found in its green areas.

It is also named for the longan or Mata Kucing (Cat’s Eye) fruit. The hill where the Kuching Hilton Hotel stands, Mata Kucing Hill, gave the town its name.

Kuching’s original inhabitants are the Bidayuh, Iban and Bruneian (Kedayan) people.

It has served as Sarawak’s capital since the days of the Brunei Empire.

Back then Sarawak was an appendage of the Kedayan Brunei Sultan, administered by a branch of the Sultan’s family with the title of Datuk Patinggi (Prime Minister).

In the late 1830s, the Datuk Patinggi, Abang Ali, revolted against the Sultan’s overlordship.

The Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin, requested help from British businessman Sir James Brooke to negotiate the Datuk Patinggi’s surrender.

Sir James did just that, and was rewarded by Sultan Omar with the title of Raja of Sarawak. The Datuk Patinggi became his Prime Minister.

Sir James governed Sarawak from 1842 until his death in 1868. The private colonialist was succeeded by his sister’s son Sir Charles Brooke (1868-1917) and Sir Charles’ son Sir Charles Vyner (1917-1946).

In 1946, Sir Charles Vyner decided to make Sarawak an official British colony and transfer his powers to King George 6 in London.

In 1963, Sarawak became independent as a state of Malaysia.

A descendant of Abang Ali, Tun Abang Openg Abang Sapiee, became Sarawak's first Malaysian State Governor (he is a relative of fashion designer Datuk Tom Abang Saufi and pop singer Dayang Nor Camelia Abang Khalid).

Kuching, in the south-west of Sarawak, is Malaysia’s wettest city.

Kuching’s inhabitants are mostly Chinese (Hokkiens and Hakkas), Bruneians (Kedayans), Melanaus, Bidayuhs and Ibans.

Kuching has for years been honoured as Malaysia’s cleanest city and one of the world’s healthiest cities (by the World Health Organisation).

Kuching residents are mostly Christians, Buddhists and Muslims.

The main languages spoken in Kuching are English and Bahasa Malaysia.

Bahasa Malaysia in Sarawak is the Bruneian (Kedayan) variant which sounds different from that of Peninsular Malaysia.

Other languages spoken in Kuching are Hokkien Chinese, Mandarin Chinese (Beijing Chinese), Iban, Melanau and Bidayuh.

Kuching is well-known as a film location. Major and minor films have been shot in Kuching. They include The Sleeping Dictionary starring Jessica Alba (2000) and Farewell To The King starring Nick Nolte (1987).

Kuching is an important centre of education in Malaysia. It houses the international campus of Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne.

The city also has branch campuses of Malaysian universities Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

The Old Sarawak Museum is one of Malaysia’s oldest museums. Built in 1891, it is modelled after a town hall in Normandy, France.

Other museums in the city include the New Sarawak Museum, the Cat Museum, the Forestry Museum, the Islamic Arts Museum and the Chinese History Museum.

Interesting landmarks in the city include the Astana (Governor’s palace), Fort Margherita (Police Museum), Tua Pek Kong Buddhist Temple, Old Courthouse (Art Museum) and Main Bazaar (Handicrafts Centre).

The Kuching Waterfront, a riverside esplanade, is situated next to the main hotels and commercial heartland of the city, and offers a pleasant walk in the evening.

The city’s Chinatowns are in Carpenter Street and Padungan Street while its Little India is in India Street.

Kuching’s popular cuisine includes Kolo Mee (fine egg noodles, either dry or soupy) and Sarawak Laksa (spicy rice noodles with prawn paste, chicken, tofu, clams, eggs, prawns and a coconut milk soup).

Kuching is also famous as the hometown of many prominent Malaysians in the arts and entertainment. They include:

Fashion designer Datuk Tom Abang Saufi;

Singers Anita Sarawak, Dayang Nor Camelia Abang Khalid, Dayang Nurfaizah Awang Dowty, Sharifah Zarina, Deja Moss and Jason Lo;

Film-makers Ellyana Effendi, Tsai Ming-Liang and James Wan (of Saw fame);

Artist and batik guru Ramsay Ong, related to former Federal Minister Tan Sri Ong Kee Hui and Kuching’s famous Chinese community leader during British rule Ong Tian Swee;

Architect and designer Edric Ong (relative of Ramsay), a world authority in Iban fabric design;

Producer Edgar Ong (relative of Ramsay), the driving force behind the annual Rainforest Music Festival in Kuching;

Actors Tony Eusoff, Anding Indrawani Zaini and Sherry Merlis.