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KUCHING > CHINATOWN AND MAIN BAZAAR
 

Kuching Hotels
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LOCATION:
The main entrance is at the eastern end of Carpenter Street opposite the Old Courthouse (Kuching's Visitor Information Centre) compound. Otherwise, you can find the Chinatown in the Main Bazaar area along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman opposite the Kuching Waterfront and Leboh Cina (Upper China Street).

DESCRIPTION:
The Kuching Chinatown is marked with a grandiose Chinese-inspired red archway that certainly indicates the entry point of this popular shopping and eating place. The refurbished old shophouses are surprisingly nice to look at, with brightly painted walls and windows, garbage-free streets (yes, most parts of Kuching are surprisingly clean!) with no moving vehicles crowding the alley ways. It is so neat that it reminds me of the Chinatown district of Kreta Ayer in Singapore.

Most of the shops along Carpenter Street are selling mostly non-touristy stuff. Note that this is a real Chinatown which is frequently by locals, not necessarily just for tourists. Hence you will find bicycle shops, book stores, hardware stores, antique furniture stores and quaint coffee shops (locally known as kopitiam) where you can witness the city dwellers go about their daily life. There are a number of establishments catered for tourist here, namely the Carpenter Guesthouse which seems like a decent backpacking place, Century Café which provides a great cocktail bar, and an exquisite looking Chinese restaurant.

There are also many Chinese temples in the precinct. Along Carpenter Street alone, there are two of them, with delicate stone carvings, pagoda and prayer places. Nonetheless, the most popular temple has to be the Tua Pek Kong temple along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman which is the oldest tokong cina in the city. The temple is believed to be built back in 1843 although the city's official records show its came into existence only in 1876. Opposite the old temple is the Chinese History Museum (Muzium Sejarah Cina) which is also located along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. The museum displays some history of the Chinese community in Kuching and Sarawak in general, tracing their heritage from various migration origins in mainland China. The museum is opened  daily from 0900hrs to 1800hrs except on Friday.

The last but not least, the Main Bazaar along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman is considered a must-visit in many travel itineraries. In general, the Main Bazaar showcases almost similar characteristics of the old shophouses on Carpenter Street and Leboh Cina, with fancy souvenir outlets are a norm rather than an exception.

MY VERDICT:
A great stroll along the Chinatown neighbourhood. It offers everything, from bare necessities to the much-expected tourist trappings. (And, I hope other cities in Malaysia can learn how Kuching keeps its streets extremely clean and spotless!)

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