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Day 3 Itinerary Sarawak 6 Day Self Drive Holiday · Serembu Eco Park, Siniawan, Serikin, Buso, Kuching

Day 3 of our 6 day driving holiday in Bau - Kuching Sarawak - we are halfway through!

Our drive took us from Serembu Eco Park to nostalgic Siniawan, then to Serikin Market at the border with Indonesia, then back to Kuching. Along the way, we dropped by historic Kampung Buso, and Lung Hua Kong temple. Total distance covered was around 90 km.

We spent a restful night at Serembu Eco Park nestled in misty lush green rolling hills and placid ponds.

If this scene looks familiar to you, it is because you may have seen it in the movie Edge of the World, a Hollywood production based on the life of Rajah James Brooke. Some of the movie scenes were shot here.

But, more important for me, the room was very clean, bed was comfortable, all the basic amenities were provided, and locale was peaceful and quiet. I didn't face any mosquito problem 😄

From Serembu Eco Park, it's a short drive to the historic town of Siniawan.

In the 1830s when rivers were the highways connecting communities, Siniawan was the main riverine trading post serving the gold mines in the Bau / Maw San area.

There are two editions of Siniawan. The first edition from 1840 to 1857. As the gold mines in Maw San / Bau thrived, Siniawan prospered in tandem.

Unfortunately, following the gold miners' rebellion against Rajah James Brooke in 1857, the mining settlement of Maw San was razed to the ground, it's population eliminated.

Without Maw San, Siniawan's fortune also faded and the town was soon abandoned.

In 1870s, Rajah James Brooke recruited a new wave of Hakka miners to exploit the gold and antimony deposits at Maw San / Bau. A new settlement was established in Pekan Bau and Siniawan rose from the ashes. The two rows of 48 wooden shophouses we see today are the second edition of Siniawan, built to serve the reopened mines at Maw San and Bau.

We had breakfast at Yong Tai Cafe. It's a large two shoplot coffee shop.

The popular coffee shop serves kolo mee, fried noodles, various Hakka dishes as well as local Nanyang coffee and tea.

After breakfast at Siniawan, we drove south to Serikin Market which is at the border with Indonesia.

It's street side stalls on both sides of Jalan Serikin, selling all kinds of goods from Indonesia. Serikin Market is popular with bargain hunters from Sarawak on Saturday and Sunday.

There are fruits, food ingredients, sundries, cooked food, clothing, handicrafts, furniture and many more like a large street side, open air department store.

Prices are competitive compared to Kuching City, so Sarawakians are attracted here for shopping.

We had a short break of rujak (rojak). It was simply some cut pineapple and cucumber, smothered in a thick freshly made sauce with lots of crushed roasted peanuts.

Oh.... I love that sauce which was robustly umami savoury spicy sweet and nutty. I couldn't stop myself from scooping up, diligently cleaning up the plate of delicious sauce.

Leaving Serikin and on our way back to Kuching, we passed Kampung Buso on a quiet afternoon. No, Buso is quiet all the time 🤭

Today's tranquillity belies Buso's role in one the traumatic chapters of Sarawak's history. On 18 Feb 1857, a group of 600 miners from Maw San led by Liu Shan Bang raided Rajah James Brooke's palace. The rebels killed a few of Rajah James Brooke's officials but fled when the Rajah's forces counterattacked. The rebels were pursued to Buso and many were killed around here, including Liu Shan Bang.

Buso sounds like the Malay word "busuk" for smelly. So, there is an urban legend that Buso got its name from the smell of unburied corpses during the unfortunate event in 1857.

Continuing our drive to Kuching, crossing the Musi Buso bridge across Sungai Kuching Kanan river.

We swung by Lung Hua Kong temple, famous for their giant 118 feet long dragon statue.

When we were here, the dragon statue was still undergoing final touches to get ready for Chinese New Year 2024, the auspicious Year of the Dragon 🐲

Arriving back in Kuching, the first stop was the obligatory check in at the white Great Cat statue and arch at Jalan Padungan.

Chinese New Year was around the corner, so the white Great Cat was dressed up for the occasion and had God of Fortune and a dragon for company. The nine feet tall white cat seemed slightly dwarfed by her new companions 🤭

Dinner time. 

We went to Petanak Central Market. It is very similar in layout and setup with the wet market and hawker centres of Singapore. At Petanak Central, there's a wet market at the ground floor and about a hundred cooked food stalls at level two. Reminded me of Chinatown Complex, Hong Lim, etc.

There are many hawker stalls here serving a wide variety of dishes from noodles to rice, fried to soup dishes, like chicken rice, kway chap, etc.

We settled for Fu Yong Stir Fried stall which is the equivalent of Singapore zhi char stalls.

We had Kuching style zhi cha dishes such as sour eggplant, sayur midin fern, etc. The full details are here 👈 click

After dinner, we adjourned to Sky Lounge @ Riverside Majestic Hotel for drinks and its night time Kuching city view.

I like it here. The lounge was not too busy (not rowdy), spacious, cosy, and the views of Sarawak River were just majestic. The drinks were reasonably priced and service staff were attentive and warm too 👍

I will be back. Excellent place to chill.

Finally, got to see my bed after a long travelling day 😄 We checked in at Marian Boutique Lodging House. It is converted from a grand bungalow belonging the family of Ong Ewe Hai. 

Accommodation is clean, comfortable, and amenities are comprehensive. Breakfast included but was very basic. (But, it didn't matter as I only need a coffee before going out for street food hunting.) The atmosphere was charmingly rustic, nostalgic. Lots of nooks and crannies to explore in this historic place. No lift, not an issue for me, but do take note if you need help.

Shot of the state legislature building from my balcony before I retired to bed.

Good night, and see you tomorrow - follow me for Day 4 of our 6 day self drive holiday in Kuching Sarawak.

Day 3 👈 today
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6.

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Written by Tony Boey on 18 Feb 2024

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