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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A trip to cat city -- Day 1 (I)

On the day Singapore celebrated her 41st birthday, 贝 and i took the earliest flight from JB to Kuching for our 4D3N trip. This was our first visit to Sarawak, but the second visit to East Malaysia. The first time we set foot on the other side of Malaysia was about five years ago when we had a vacation at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. We enjoyed the trip very much and we expected our trip to the Cat City this time would be equally enjoyable, even though some people (including a Kuchingite) had told us that there was actually nothing much to do and see in Kuching. Well, i would have to experience it myself to know if it was true.

The flight departure time from JB was 7am and we left home later than planned (because 贝 couldn't drag himself out of bed). We weren't in time to have our breakfast at the airport as originally planned, and so we sat through the flight with empty stomach.

The plane touched down in Kuching earlier than scheduled. Even though it was a domestic flight and we are Malaysians, we also had to queue up for immigration clearance like the foreigners. The difference was that our ICs instead of passports were used for immigration clearance. We were asked to sign on a form and to retain the carbon copy until departure, at which point we had to hand back the form. I read on the form that we were not allowed to stay there for more than 6 months, which i found to be rather surprising. I didn't know that as a Malaysian, my movement between West and East Malaysia was actually regulated. Hmm, so if i were to work in East Malaysia, do i need to apply for a permit? I wonder if the same restriction was imposed on the East Malaysians travelling to West Malaysia.

By the time we reached the Harbour View Hotel in Kuching, it was about 10am. We were famished. As we could only check in after 12pm, we left our luggage with the hotel, got a map from the front desk staff, and then headed right out to the streets in search for food.

Before the trip, i had done some research and planning. The first day of the trip was termed "city tour", so we were to explore Kuching City Center by foot. I had also checked out the famous Kuching blogger's post on his recommendation on the good food in Kuching and hoped to try out all he had listed in his post.

We walked a lot that day. In fact, we pretty much covered the Kuching South City Center, or at least the main area shown on the map. Here's the route we walked in the morning after leaving the hotel:

We had initially wanted to have Kolo Mee for breakfast, but then we didn't know where the good ones were. Practically all kopitiam had a stall selling Kolo Mee. We didn't wanna simply settle for one just because we were hungry, as we didn't wanna be left with a bad impression of the food that all Kuchingites had always bragged about.

So we continued walking along the road. As we walked pass this cafe, we found the name to be really familiar.

The kopitiams (or coffee shops) in Kuching were named as cafe, unlike in JB where cafe actually means air-conditioned eatery.

We then recalled that someone had mentioned this cafe in a forum, recommending its Sarawak Laksa. We looked inside the shop and saw it was almost fully occupied, with some patrons in business attire and some looking like tourists. Well, normally this is an indication that the food here is good, so we went in and ordered two bowls of Sarawak Laksa and two cups of coffee.

The drinks were served to us wrongly. Instead of getting two cups of coffee, we were served with a cup of teh-o and a glass of funny looking teh peng. Then we realized that it was the legendary "teh-c peng special", a three-layered drink of brown sugar, milk and tea. I couldn't really tell what was so special about it, as it tasted just like normal tea.

We heard that Sarawak Laksa was the specialty of Sarawak, very much like what Penang Laksa is to Penang. There weren't much ingredients in the laksa except a few big prawns and shreds of chicken. The gravy was in a brownish red color, with some coriander leaves as garnish.

At the first taste, we weren't impressed as we had expected something more explosive. It wasn't the kind of laksa that would give you the burning sensation at your tongue. But as we had more, we started to appreciate the unique taste. There was this very distinctive flavour of a kind of spice that i couldn't make out what it was.

The laksa cost RM4 per bowl and the portion wasn't big enough for our empty stomach. We weren't full after finishing the whole bowl, and decided to head towards another cafe that the famous blogger had recommended for its laksa. So we continued walking.

Madam Tang's Cafe was located outside of the map shown above. It was quite a walk from the hotel, but after tasting the Sarawak Laksa there, we thought it worth all the walking and sweating (uh huh, it was a hot day). The laksa did indeed taste better and no wonder Madam Tang claimed it to be one of her specialties.

There wasn't much difference in the ingredients except the prawns were smaller, but the gravy was thicker, with a stronger aroma of the unknown spice. We understood then why the famous blogger recommended it as the best laksa in Kuching.

When i was paying for the bills, i asked the lady boss (presumedly Madam Tang herself) for direction on the map. We had a short chat and i told her that i got to know about her cafe through the Web. She immediately mentioned the name of the famous blogger. I guess he had brought her many businesses through his blog.

After eating two bowls of laksa each, both 贝 and i were totally recharged and ready for our sight-seeing by foot.


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Monday, August 21, 2006 @ 3:14 am: The third day
Friday, August 18, 2006 @ 3:21 am: Another wisdom teeth removal surgery
Thursday, August 17, 2006 @ 1:53 am: I need all the luck
Wednesday, August 16, 2006 @ 2:34 am: Dad, please stay
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 @ 11:29 pm: No medical leave for me
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 @ 3:31 pm: Non-working week again
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 @ 2:49 am: Update on the job offer
Monday, August 14, 2006 @ 3:31 am: Broken jade pendent
Sunday, August 13, 2006 @ 10:49 pm: I'm back, but upset
Wednesday, August 09, 2006 @ 2:12 am: Update on the fly