A Stroll through Sarawak’s Very Unique History: The Brooke Rajahs

 If you didn't know already, this event was held as part of What About Kuching 2018 which is drawing to a close. I had the chance to attend the event yesterday at Fort Margherita.

For the uninitiated, there is actually a new gallery inside the restored fort which has been in operation since last year. Aptly named Brooke Gallery, it was a herculean effort that drew little attention (at least among my circle of friends) which led to the creation of what is, in my opinion, a truly wonderful showcase in Sarawak's unique history.

9 Cardinal Principals - did you know about this?

The stroll is actually sort of a guided tour through the gallery. Led by Paul Gerarts, a volunteer heritage tour guide, we were given a brief but informative insight into the formation of Sarawak.

The participants had the chance to hear about James Brooke's role in the creation of Sarawak as well the Brooke's family's efforts to forge Sarawak into what it is today. To me, it was a very refreshing take the land's history, which unfortunately has been neglected in the official narrative for far too long.


Many people had assumed that Sarawak went through a period of oppressive colonialisation by western powers. It could not be further from the truth in Sarawak. This explains why until today, you'll find many native Sarawakians who speaks fondly of the White Rajahs. This is truly a unique aspect in Sarawak's history.

Why, you may ask? Well, visit the Brooke Gallery yourself and you will find out all about what they have done for what was back then the independent country of Sarawak.

All I could say is, Sarawak has a truly unique story compared to other states in the federation. This WAK event, in my opinion, has successfully showcased an important piece of that story via the gallery and many people will come to know the true history of Sarawak as word spreads among the Kuching populace about this still relatively unknown cultural gem.

Participants of the event listening intently to Paul's explanations.

The event lasted for an hour and a half and Paul did a great job of providing a lot of information within a short time. It would've been more interesting if he introduced more about himself at the start though. We left the place wondering who he was and why did he volunteer for the event. Maybe everyone else there knew who he was (which meant that me and my friends were very ignorant, lol).

Would I recommend a visit to the Gallery? A resounding yes. I will pay a visit again sometime in the future just to digest the tremendous amount of carefully researched information and artefacts pertaining to the state's foundation. 

For more information, do visit The Brooke Gallery's website.

Happy Bunch Review: Honest Experience from a Guy

happy bunch review

If you're looking for a way to send flowers to your loved ones just by sending your orders online, look no further - I believe this may just be the best option out there.

Read my review of Happy Bunch to find out more!

Affordable Flowers with Same Day Delivery in Klang Valley

Happy Bunch started off from humble beginnings and grew to be a formidable flower delivery business. I really respected the founders' tenacity and drive that made it to be such a success it is today.

Happy Bunch succeeded where many others failed. Prior to this, there were a few other companies that do what Happy Bunch does but the prices were just too steep and unbelievable.

Now, the company promises same-day delivery to selected areas in Klang Valley from RM47 only! They've made it so much easier to spread love and joy around.

Happy Bunch review: my personal experience 

I used Happy Bunch's service last year to send flowers to my then girlfriend. 

My problem was that I was residing in Kuching whereas she was all the way over there in KL. What made it difficult was, she was working as a house officer in the paediatric intensive care unit in a major hospital in Klang Valley - not exactly the kind of place one can simply find and stroll into!

My problem was solved when I stumbled across Happy Bunch by chance. Being an firm believer of startups and homegrown e-commerce companies, I decided to try their service.

I made an order at around 8 in the morning. Believe it or not, the flowers were sent by 3pm in the afternoon! My girlfriend received the flowers perfectly at her workplace. Needless to say, Happy Bunch helped me make someone's day very special. 

Verdict: Best Online Flower Delivery if you're in Klang Valley

The one downside with Happy Bunch is that they only offer delivery to certain areas in Klang Valley. For most areas it's free.

The whole process from order to payment to delivery was seamless. They even send you an email to let you know the flowers have been delivered.

Conclusion: highly recommended if you need to send flowers to your loved ones in Klang Valley.

Happy Bunch promo code

Get RM5 off your first order!

Click here to enjoy your first order with RM5 discount. ​Offer stands till 31st December 2018. 

​Click the banner below to get your promo!

GetFood App Review

getfood app

Recently Kuching welcomed another addition to its food delivery app scene with the arrival of GetFood app.

Now we Kuchingites have plenty of options to choose from!

According to this report from Borneo Post, GetFood app is owned and operated by Wahh Innovations Sdn Bhd with support from iCube Innovation. They promise to deliver under 35 minutes upon ordering through the app so I decided to try it out myself.

User interface

Loading time of the app needs improving - it took more than 5 seconds for my phone to fully load the app after opening.

Otherwise, ordering food is easy, just search for the type of cuisine, proceed to order and et voila~ your food is on the way! Payment was a breeze via credit card.

The app features easy tracking of your order status as well as rider location.

I proceeded to order from Chinese Barbeque Specialist which is located at Padungan Road - a good 20 minutes and 8.4 km away from my house.

Time taken from the start of the order until the delivery was about half an hour, which is within what the company promised. Kudos!

Verdict

Another food delivery app to the scene - what's not to like? This will be a great addition to people who are simply too lazy to drive out on a balmy Sunday afternoon.

I think loading time for the app can be improved though. The app feels significantly slower than its nearest competitor - EzFood. 

Try it today - available on Google Play Store as well as Apple's App Store.

World Press Photo Exhibition @ WAK2018

I covered another event during WAK 2018 and this time I found myself trudging along the wet field of Padang Merdeka on a cool Saturday morning.

world press photo 2018 kuching

World Press Photo 2018 happening on Padang Merdeka

World Press Photo is an international photography contest that was started in 1955 by a group of Dutch photographers. Since then it has grown into a prestigious competition. The photos selected are essentially visual stories that highlight almost everything you can think of - humanity, environment, contemporary issues and so on. 

This year Kuching is hosting the prestigious event for the first time. It is actually an open air exhibition and open to the general public without any fees. 

world press photo

Poignant displays of various issues that will surely make you think

This year's Photo of the Year was won by Ronaldo Schemidt who took this moving imagery of a protester on fire. José Víctor Salazar Balza  was set alight when the gas tank of a motorbike exploded. He survived the incident with first- and second-degree burns. Click here for more info.

venezuela crisis

Venezuela Crisis - Image credit to Ronaldo Schemidt

It's definitely an interesting event not to be missed especially if you are an aspiring photographer. The photos really do make you pause and think about the stories and the message the photographer was trying to get across. 

Some of the photos are quite explicit though, but I am sure Kuchingites are more than mature enough to contemplate the issues and messages instead of taking offence.

Do check out the event until 28th October 2018 at Padang Merdeka. You can also read news article about it on Borneo Post.

What About Kuching 2018 Food Safari

What About Kuching 2018 included a new event called Food Safari which is currently being held along Jalan Padungan. The organisers are Meritin Hotel and Batik Boutique Hotel.

padungan road

Lots of hidden artwork for you to explore along the street. Jalan Padungan takes its name from what was back then the largest Malay village in Kuching. The villagers moved way for the construction of the road and shophouses. Earliest settlers were wealthy Hainanese and Teochew towkays who got rich from the rubber boom.

I represented Sarawak Bloggers to cover the event yesterday during the opening day and went along the street to sample some of the foods. Got our passport from Meritin Hotel (but apparently you can get it from any one of the 60 vendors listed).

food safari

This booklet is super informative! Contains very detailed information about the event and a full list of the vendors with descriptions.

First port of call? Ming Hong Kee. This family shop has been around for more than 60 years and is one of the oldest businesses on the street. We tried the kolo mee which was delectable.

kolo mee

Tried the traditional kolo mee and kolo mee kosong with a bowl of meatballs in seaweed soup. Yummy!

Sampled some char siew buns from Abee Traditional Buns. Delicious! Too bad didn't take any photos. Went on to Hong Kong Noodle House for the missus to tapau some roasted duck noodles.

roasted duck noodles

Roasted duck noodles

Visited Hock Hai / Fook Hai Cafe and sampled the kolo mee there. I found it quite different - the meat was really tender and juicy, quite unlike other char siew meats you usually find on other kolo mee places. Needless to say, their steamed char siew buns were really delicious too - they've been in business for more than half a century!

Kolo mee at Hock Hai / Fook Hai Cafe. Heavenly!

I daresay, one of the best steamed char siew buns I've ever tried.

Went back to visit Taiwan Siao Jou too. This chain of eatery needs no introduction - very good place to go if you're looking for something home-style cooking.

Tons of dishes to choose from to go with your rice or porridge.

Will definitely check out the rest of the shops. There are over 60 vendors listed in the event!

You can get your passport stamped with every purchase at the participating outlets, but do note that some of the vendors may have their own terms and conditions (e.g. Hong Kong Noodle House will only stamp if you purchase more than RM50).

Gather 20 stamps to redeem a WAK 2018 fun pack, and get 40 stamps for a surprise goodie bag. Food Safari ends at 11.59pm on 28th October so you still have about a month to go sample all the foods.

What About Kuching is back!

Kuching is truly a wonderful place to be, and I’m extremely grateful to live here. There’s always something new to explore.

What About Kuching is a festival that aims to showcase Kuching’s arts, culture and lifestyle and will be a month-long event starting from 29th September 2018 until 28th October 2018. It’s actually the second edition this year. I foresee it to be a huge thing that will be an important annual event for Sarawak, on par with Rainforest World Music Festival.

This year I will be officially covering a few of the WAK events

  • Food Safari – 29th September, 8am – 6pm @ Padungan Street
  • World Press Photo 2018 Exhibition – 29th September, whole day @ Padang Merdeka 
  • A Stroll Through Sarawak’s Very Unique History – The Brooke Rajahs.  6th October, 10 – 11.30am starting from Fort Margherita.

Stay tuned for more updates!

For more info do check out:

Bako National Park

Yesterday was Labour Day and I decided to make full use of it by visiting one of the more famous attractions around Kuching – the Bako National Park. After 28 years of staying here, professing to be a local Kuchingite, frankly it’s a little embarrassing to have yet visited an easily accessible national park.

The park itself is situated approximately 37 km from the city.

How to go to Bako National Park

We started our journey from Kuching at 7.30am by car and reached the Bako National Park car park and boat jetty within 40 minutes. There is scarcity of parking spots around the area so we were lucky to have arrived early. By 8.30am the jetty was already packed with throngs of tourists and day trippers (especially so since yesterday was a public holiday).

Park entrance fee is RM10 per person for Malaysians, and it costs RM30 each person for the return trip by boat to the national park itself. The journey by boat takes 20 minutes.

The boat stopped at the beach and we had to disembark from it straight into the water. That was a bit surprising, yet we took off our shoes and waded through the water anyway. That was, as I later found out, the Teluk Assam beach. It was quite a walk to the park HQ – photo opportunities abound along the way on the vast expanse of sand.

Disembark from the boat onto the beach straight
Vast expanse of sand

Bako Hiking Trails

There were numerous hiking trails to choose from, some of them are closed so we went for the most popular routes – Teluk Pandan Kecil and Teluk Pandan Besar. One has to register at the park HQ before starting the journey.

After a quick breakfast of fried noodles, off we went merrily into the jungle. The flora and fauna is amazing – we saw long-tailed macaques and wild boars up close. No sight of proboscis monkeys though – they’re at a different part of the national park. The initial flat parts of the trail in some parts consisted of wooden walkways over mangrove swamps, but it quickly gave way to steep rudimentary steps perched on tree roots which turned out to be a testing exercise in physical strength. We reached the fork at the trail to Teluk Pandan Besar after almost 2 hours of huffing and puffing. By this time the mid day sun blasted its heat without mercy at us, testing not only our strength but endurance.

teluk pandan besar
Teluk Pandan Besar viewpoint

Teluk Pandan Besar Trail ends at a cliff which affords a spectacular view of the South China Sea and a secluded but inaccessible beach below. After taking photos we quickly left as the heat was too much to bear. We hiked back to the fork and made our way to Teluk Pandan Kecil and after another 30 minutes of torture, made it to what is supposedly the end point (judging from the number of people taking photos and even having a picnic there).

Finally made it

We were about to turn back and start on our journey back towards the HQ when a fortunate stroke of serendipity happened. An elderly gentleman told us it was actually possible to take a boat straight back to the HQ. So off we went, making our way down the steep descent to the beach below the cliff.

We arrived at a secluded beach which was really tranquil. Save for a few hikers, jolly swimmers and the boatmen, we were the only ones around.

teluk pandan kecil
Pure tranquility

We took a boat together with another foreigner couple and the boatman took us close to what is arguably THE place to be in the whole park – the magnificent Bako Sea Stack.

bako sea stack
Ain’t she a beauty?

It is one thing to be seeing this thing everywhere in tourist brochures and even textbooks, and an entirely new experience to be seeing it up close, with the choppy seas around us.

We reached the HQ at about 2pm, exhausted yet fulfilled. I kept thinking about the chance encounter with the stranger. What a stroke of luck! If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have known that it was possible to take a boat straight to the HQ, with the added opportunity to see the sea stack up close.

If you’ve never been to Bako National Park, I highly recommend you to pay a visit.