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KUCHING > THE WATERFRONT
 

Kuching Hotels
Holiday Inn Damai Lagoon
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Kuching Travel Attractions
Kuching Waterfront
Semenggoh Orang Utan Sanctuary
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Chinatown Main Bazaar
City Skyline
Sarawak River Boats
Semenggoh Nature Reserve
Bako National Park
Sarawak Cultural Village
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[MORE PHOTOS]

LOCATION:
Along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman in downtown Kuching Selatan. This landscaped esplanade along the southern bank of Sungai Sarawak starts from the area fronting Crowne Plaza Riverside and The Riverbank Suites, and ends somewhere before the Kuching Wet Market.

DESCRIPTION:
There are a number of unique characteristics that have made the Kuching Waterfront as popular as it is today. Opened in 1993, it is regarded as one of the best examples of urban regeneration and rehabilitation projects in Asia. I do concur with such fact, especially after seeing how the river beautification project has successfully created a lucrative atmosphere for business and leisure, judging from the number of revitalised old shop houses and international-class hotels sprouting within 500 metre radius from the Waterfront (examples: China Street, India Street). If only more cities in Malaysia can emulate this.

The Waterfront is also known as The People Place (there are plenty of sign boards to attest to this coined term) mainly because the project was apt dedicated for the lovely people of Sarawak, especially those in Kuching, who certainly deserve a world-class attraction. If you get the chance to do a morning walk along the esplanade on Saturdays or Sundays, you will see a lot of local volunteers cleaning up the area as part of the community programme to instill the sense of belonging of this river beautification project.

The project is also considered beneficial to the city because it effectively beautify the landscape. With the influx of local and foreign tourists to the Waterfront, you can witness the shop houses in neighbouring streets being repainted into colourful themes, a number of street malls emerged and fancy commercial outlets began to operate. This is certainly a far cry from the previous years in 1980s and early 1990s, during which the city in general, was in a sorry state of disrepair, and I quote from their website:

"..the old riverfront characterized by dilapidated godowns and jetties, dirty mud flaps and eroded riverbanks were transformed into a beautiful landscaped and bustling Waterfront. This Metamorphosis has acted as a catalyst to the development and improvement in the adjacent areas in that the ripple of economic revitalization is felt through improved land values, enhanced environment and general amenity throughout the city."

There are a number of sights to be enjoyed from the Waterfront. At the various jetties along the path, you can witness the unique sampans (wooden boats, also known as tambangs) crossing the width of the river to the other side. Other than that, you can see plenty of eating places, most of them are opened only at night, the Sarawak Steamship shopping bazaar selling mostly handicrafts (those tikar Sarawak are really to die for, to be honest), an old fortified prison called the Square Tower which has been repainted, two multi-level gazebos that give rise to a great view of the city skyline as well as the Waterfront itself, and across the river are the Astana (the official residence of Yang Dipertuan Negeri ie: the head of state of Sarawak) as well as Fort Margherita, a well-preserved colonial citadel.

Note that the 1st phase of Kuching Waterfront runs only about 1 kilometre along the south riverbank. During my visit, the extension (supposedly the 2nd phase) is currently under construction. Eventually, the Waterfront will get longer and even more urban regeneration projects will take place in Kuching.

MY VERDICT:
Simply the place to be when in Kuching.

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