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Day 2 Bau - Kuching Sarawak Itinerary · 6 Day Self Drive Adventure

✍️16 Feb 2024. Just our second day in Kuching, we set off at sunrise and was on the road till nearly midnight before hitting the sack 😂

First stop for breakfast was Joon Joon Cafe, a rather obscure, dingy old Hakka run coffee shop.

It's here that I got my first taste of Hakka mani cai fried bee hoon. It's a simple, humble staple of mani cai (sayur manis) and eggs stir fried with bee hoon. It's like the Sarawak Hakka answer to pad Thai - in their basic form, so simple but complete with carbs, protein, vitamins and tastes good too!

Another first for me, tomato mee - we got the kway teow version. Another simple staple, okay... this got more ingredients than the mani cai bee hoon.

There's fried kway teow with char siew, fish cake, pork, and greens smothered with a starched up blend of oyster sauce and tomato ketchup. This is the comfort dish of a lot of Sarawakians as it was often given to children because of the ketchup 😂

Around the corner at Fresh Three Layer Food Court we had the OG Sarawak iconic three layer tea by 亚进 Ah Ching. It's a liquid stack of gula apong (nipah palm sugar) at the bottom, then evaporated milk, followed by black tea on top.

It's an interesting blend of textures, and layers of different sweetness with a bit of tannin taste and fragrance from black tea.

This is Kuching Sarawak, the motherlode of kolo mee, so everywhere we turn, there was the crinkly noodle with lard, char siew and fried minced pork.

We went to Huat Huat Cafe which still makes their own egg noodles and purportedly created the crinkly, extra al dente version.

Every self respecting kopitiam in Kuching has three layer tea on their menu 😄 We like the one at Huat Huat as it was not overly sweet.

Our tummies full, we headed for our next destination, the fabled Bau town and Maw San.

Soon after our car pulled out of the car park, we heard the rousing clash of cymbals and pulsating thumping of drums. It's lion dance at Sam San Kuet Bong Temple.

We quickly pulled over, jumped off the car like excited children and started shooting away at the colourful, prancing lions. Nobody stopped us or showed any concerned that uninvited strangers suddenly gatecrashed their party 😄

After we got our fill of photos, we went on our way to Maw San.

Little did we know that we would soon meet up with the Hakka lion master conducting this event here today.

We arrived in historic Bau, and visited the old Maw San. There was a 4000 strong Hakka miner settlement here between 1820s to 1850s. The settlement was abandoned after it was razed following conflict between the miners and Rajah James Brooke.

Maw San means Hat Mountain in Hakka as the hill near the gold deposits looks like a hat. Maw San is known as Gunung Krian in Malay.

At the old Maw San settlement site, only part of an old flag pole holder remains. A shrine is built at the location.

One of the abandoned gold mining pools at Maw San is today's Tasik Biru lake resort city. That's Maw San in the background. There's lots of water sports for visitors as well as a restaurant, cafe and hotel.

We had a simple lunch of yong tau foo, fried chicken and traditional lo po bang (Cantonese wife biscuit) at the coffee shop and Blue Berry bakery here. The food were all delicious and I would love to taste them again 😋

We swung by Pekan Bau town. This was built by Hakka miners brought in the 1870s by Rajah James Brooke to work the gold and antimony mines in the Maw San area.

On our way to Fairy Cave, we paused for a few moments at Pangkalan Tebang which are abandoned shophouses beside Sungai Spora. Sarawak / Kalimantan is dotted with such small riverine trading posts which enjoyed their heyday when rivers were highways connecting communities / villages. The trading posts served the surrounding villages. 

With the advent of highways, the trading posts lost their role, and suffered the fate of abandonment like this one at Pangkalan Tebang.

Next stop, Fairy Cave which is a must visit if you come to Bau. The cavern is huge and there are many interesting limestone stalagmite and stalactite formations.

This is called Fairy Cave because one of the stalagmites looks like a statue of the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. Come and see for yourself.

After Fairy Cave, we proceeded to Siniawan and along the way we stopped by Sien Teck Temple which is a shrine dedicated to Liu Shan Bang. Liu was a leader of 12 Kongsi mining company which rebelled against the tax policies of Rajah James Brooke.

The rebellion led to reprisals from Rajah James Brooke's forces. Liu Shan Bang and most of his followers were killed. This shrine is at the location where Liu was buried.

We are in Siniawan! 

Siniawan was a riverine trading post serving the Maw San / Bau miners. After Maw San was razed in 1857, the Siniawan trading post was abandoned. 

In the 1870s, when Rajah James Brooke brought in a new wave of Hakka miners, Bau town was built and Siniawan was revived. The 48 old shophouses in Siniawan today were built to serve the second wave of miners.

Today, these shophouses are repurposed as accommodation, cafes, restaurants and bars. Every weekend (Fri, Sat & Sun) many people come to Siniawan for the famous night market.

We had an enjoyable dinner of Hakka dishes with local Sarawak touches at The Post Restaurant and Bar.

Finally, a chance to see my bed! 😂

Fortunately, the facilities at Serembu Eco Park were clean and comfortable, the amenities were comprehensive.

Day 2 👈 today
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6.

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Written by Tony Boey on 16 Feb 2024

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