Monday, November 09, 2009

KUCHING: Where to Stay? Where To Eat?

Kuching, "Cat City", is a medium-sized town on Eastern Island of Borneo, in the State Sarawak.
When we got off the plane, the first thing that struck me about their airport was how modern it was. It was relatively big and had all the duty free alcohol, cosmetics and perfume shops one would expect from a good International airport. Plus a Starbucks AND Coffeebean.Once out of the airport... it's easy to get a taxi from their budget taxi counter. A standard flat rate of (Malaysian Ringgit)$26 takes you to your hotel in the city. I love that it's all hassel free... you don't get touts and people trying to rip tourists off with an inflated taxi fare into town.As recommended by some blog readers, we chose the Hilton. We made reservations for 2 nights at a total of (Singapore dollars)$520.And when we got there, the Hilton upgraded us up to their Penthouse Suite! (Good thing we didn't spend the extra 300SGD to book THAT in the first place! I was very happppy.) The bedroom had a great view of the river and the city.And the bathroom and lounge area was nice too. No complaints about the suite.But what I hated about Kuching's Hilton was that their pool was shitty looking, their tennis court was old, and their Gym was under construction (upgrading!)... so not much to do there in terms of exercise! But other than that, the food, rooms, and staff are top notch.

Of course, there are many cheaper alternatives available at Kuching. In fact, Tune hotels ( like ten bucks a night!) is just across the street from Hilton. So if you don't mind not having a river view, and just want a room to sleep in, this is a great budget hotel. I stayed in it when I was in KL... and I remember paying $10 for the room... and then you add on $ for additional things like 10 hour blocks of air-con, toiletries, etc.

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ok now... FOOD FOOD FOOD!


Ok... to be honest, when I first looked around the town... I thought... OMG there's no where decent to eat at. But with a little perserverance and asking around... we found a few great places which you must check out when in Kuching. And the prices!!! Great food at great places ... but such low prices!

James Brooke Bistro & Cafe

We had lunch here. It's by the river, just infront of the Hilton. James Brooke was the first Governor of Serawak. They called him the first White Rajah.It's open air but not hot. Good for a lazy lunch. They serve both western and Asian cuisine. Mark had a chicken salad, mango juice (x2) while I had chicken wings and wedges and a coke. The bill only came up to $40 Ringgit (less than 20 Sing$) The Junk Restaurant

The first night there, we were looking for somewhere quirky and trendy to eat at... and we made reservations at a restaurant called The Junk. I wore my new dress and shoes.. ( for those asking for pics of my $10 shoes... here it is!!)The ambiance of the place was fantastic, relaxing mood lighting. It's a two story shophouse, filled with bits of the old and bits of the new. It kinda looked like a collection of junk really. But well put together. It even had a nice little bar in the backyard. And the food was excellent! I had lamb rack and Mark had a lamb shank. We shared a brocolli soup and bruchetta to start with. And I found a new favourite drink.... kinda like a Lychee Martini... it's a Longan Vodka! Very niceeee...Total damage for the night (inclusive of a few more glasses of wine and beers as well): $150 ringgit. No way you can get all that food AND drinks for 2 people in a restaurant setting for $70 Sing dollars in Singapore!

Magenta...

The second night there... we were spoilt for choice. We had a few restaurants we wanted to check out... first, we went to Magenta, which serves an Western Asian fusion cuisine.. and they had Foie Gras on the menu!!

It was a ten minute taxi ride from our hotel. When we got there... the restaurant itself looked inviting. Set in a house, it had a strong eastern-oriental flavour to it. But at 8 O'clock... it was still empty! I'm sure the food would have been good.... but we wanted something more buzzy for our last night in Kuching.
So we popped back into a taxi and went down to Bla Bla Bla....which is actually only a few doors down from The Junk.
Bla bla bla... Restaurant
I think they called it bla bla bla... because quite frankly, you wouldn't know what else to call it! It's hard to place Bla Bla Bla. The decor... is... interesting. You can dine upstairs... but the ground floor has much more buzz and activity! To get to your table... you have to step over a pond of fish...The tables and chairs are.. rough. No.. I don't mean uncomfortable.. but it's just not a refined look. Even the walls are like unfinished and rough cement. Feels like dining in a cave or an old village... yet it's beautifully balanced with elements of the modern.. like a huge chandelier casting a warm glow over the dining area, colourful cushions and huge white crockery. We ordered peking duck... yum.... that one peking duck made 15 huge pancake rolls of duck skin and a stir-fry duck meat dish. The pancake rolls were delicious!
Mark swears that he only ate 4 or 5 rolls, so I must have eaten all the rest! I love duck! But I think I overdid it that night. After dinner, I felt very uncomfortable. I ate so much that I felt like if you tickled me or made a sudden jab, I would vomit. No kidding. I even had my head on the table towards the end of the night and a lady at the next table noticed and smiled (ok.. laughed).

What can I say...? I'm not going to make any excuses.. it was just shameful glutonny. :( Total bill was also around $150 ringgit, but we had much less alcohol than at the Junk. How could I drink anyway?! I was too full of duck.
Other popular restaurants we didn't manage to dine at in our 2 days there were- Top Spot which serves cheap but good seafood, Tom's which suppposedly has nice desserts, and Mango Tree which serve Thai food. For drinks, there's Senso at the Hilton which is more swanky, and a pub called The Living Room which is more rustic and laid back... all worth checking out if you're in Kuching.
Next post- What to see and do in Kuching :)
By the way, you can check out the latest offers on flights to Malaysia here: So far, I've been to KL(last year), Penang( few months ago) and Kota Kinabalu (as a child), so I think I'd probably check out Langkawi next... but I do want to climb Mount Kinabalu... and I want to visit Malacca too because of my Peranakan roots. Too many places, too little time!!

14 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:19 am

    Let me do the honor and be the first one to point out that you got rip off on your hotel stay in hilton...

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  2. yeah.. when we booked it, we thoought it was rather expensive for Malaysia.

    but we did book room that's just one type below the suite (hence their willingness to upgrade us on up to their penthouse suite).

    Their standard rooms there are just below $200 sing.

    Don't worry, I did look through Agoda and other internet sites before booking. IN the end we booked direct because the sites didn't have the room we wanted.

    :)

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  3. Anonymous8:10 am

    ya making me hungry! Anyways i do think ur lifestyle is more glamourous with mark around.

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  4. HI anon 8.10am.
    I beg to differ. I think HJ's lifestyle is more glamorous when she was without Mark.

    I envied her life...She was newly single but was out there at the F1 Grand Prix, F1 Rocks concert, and photoshoots, and personal training. I found her an inspiration as I would love to have her drive and strength to get out there and do things even when single.

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  5. Anonymous10:55 am

    How depressing - two girls debating whether a girl's lifestyle is more or less glamorous with a boyfriend around.

    Female equality, anyone?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous12:54 pm

    Tune Hotel charges for the use of Air Con???!!! By the hours??!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous1:32 pm

    Tioman island and its serene beach, Stay away from the stressful city, enjoy the great hospitality at Kukup island, visit Cameron highlands strawberry farms.. Taste the best strawberry smoothie ever.
    Malaysia has so many interssting places..

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  8. Anonymous2:26 pm

    sorry i wldnt give a hoot to debate. Its just an observation of lifestyle and i fail to c connection w gender equality (geez need everything b so complicated nowdays??), with glamourous along the tunes of swanky restaurants in sg and hotel... Of cos its noted hj still had fun during her solo period.

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  9. I'm confused; just a month ago you split with this guy Mark (Internet destroys relationship, you said, which I agree wholeheartedly); but here in Kuching, he's with you (eating lamb).

    Since his face is not shown in your Kuching trip, I thought he was an imaginary character (because you write as well as a novelist); but then you mentioned about meeting him to get back some old clothes and you expressed such genuine mixed feelings about splitting and rejoining that I believed Mark must be a real man (more real than those Muay Thai boxing instructors with six packs?).

    I'm sure I've missed some of your postings in between the split and your Kuching trip!

    I really love your writing -- informative, insightful, and always with some sly humour!

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  10. Anonymous4:36 pm

    http://holly--jean.blogspot.com/2009/10/scrambled-eggs.html she got back again with mark. they were split abt 2 months.

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  11. Hsiaohuang, didn't come back for a while, did u ?

    HJ - Glad that you actually enjoyed M'sia :) and u r so damm luckly to get upgraded to their Penthouse Suite!

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  12. HI HsiaoShuang..

    lol... life as depicted on my blog is indeed real. It's not fiction :)

    Mark is real. He's been in a lot of pics on my blog (before we split up), but since we got back together a week ago, I've been taking it slow with him and also respecting his privacy by not splashing his pics all over my Blog. Tht's why u only see me in the pics... haha.. I understand why u thought he may be fictional!

    And the Muay Thai instructor with the awesome 6 pack is real too. His name is Mitch and he's at Evolve... u can go get a lesson under him. :0)

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  13. Anonymous11:30 pm

    hi hj, yea just when i was abt to ask for pics of u n mark..... Its very wise of u to take it slow.

    Whenever ya ready... We are waiting to see pics of the lovely couple again!!!!!!

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  14. how can you two finish so many food ... omg ...

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