Malay Kampung revelation - 24th April 2015

City Mosque and Cemetery

City Mosque and Cemetery

Set off this morning to see the Malay Kampung behind the City Mosque where our Housekeeper Mas lives. It is called Kampung Masjid. Kampung (or Kampong as it is often spelt) means Country place in Malay and so are always just outside the towns.

What a revelation! These old Malay style dwellings line the Sarawak River bank back to the main road. It was like walking back in time as most of them were 80 or so years old. We wandered down little lanes full of Malay houses and full of friendly Malays! These dwelling are mainly on timber stilts and under the houses is either swampland or water. The lanes between are elevated and bitumen so many have cars. It must have been washing day as colourful clothing hung out to dry festooned their gardens, fences and exteriors. Malays greeted us as we took pics with friendly greetings.

Kampung dwellings on stilts

Kampung dwellings on stilts

Kampung lane

Kampung lane

We were passing a house when a man called out “Hello” and gestured for us to come into his house. We obliged and he offered us a seat at his table and we had a long chat with him. It turns out he was 81 years old and lives alone in this 100 year old house where he was born. He worked for the Government and has been retired on a pension of 2000RM or about $715 Australian a month.

New friend in Kampung

New friend in Kampung

His name was Alwie Wahie and he was a wise old man.  He said “The Secret to Long Life is to Be Happy” and we concurred. He drinks lots of water and has smoked a packet of cigarettes each day for 60 years. His Doctor told him “If it hasn’t killed you by now you may as well keep smoking”. We left him with the distinct impression that he was indeed a “Happy Man”.

In this Malay Kampung there are 158 houses with a population of 1558 according to Alwie. Only Malays can live here and Chinese are not allowed. It was the first racial undertone we had experienced in Malaysia.

Grateful man

Grateful man

Just as we were about to leave the Kampung we came upon a poor fellow, obviously down and out carrying his worldly goods in a black garbage bag slung over his shoulder. He beseeched us to give him 40 cent (less than half a ringgit) for some food. We gave him enough to feed him for about 3 days and he thanked us and walked away. He turned once more and thanked us again and at that moment I snapped a pic that says it all. His face was etched with gratitude and we will never forget that moment. My wise Mother always said “It is better to give than to take” and never a truer word was said.

Left the Kampong and walked past the gilded City Mosque that is surrounded by a typical Muslim Cemetery. On to India street which we had visited before where many shopkeepers were busy selling their wares in the time honoured way. Ironically just 50 metres from the end of India Street you enter Merdeka Plaza the second largest modern shopping centre in Kuching. We went inside to cool down as the temperature was rising!

Having cooled down we decided to stay cool during the heat of the day and journeyed by taxi to The Borneo Convention Centre Kuching where a Home Show was taking place. The taxi was the “tightest fit” we had been in yet and Erica took a pic of my knees pressed into the back of the seat as proof.

The home show was not up to Australian Standards but many modern appliances, water heaters cooking machines and beds were on display. As we entered we were given a gift of a Moo Cow Kitchen Timer and are entered into a draw for a trip to Italy for two!

We met Ted there from RJ Realty who are building condominiums near the Kuching Airport. They are selling for 880,000Rm or about $314,000 Australian for 230sq metre Duplex Bungalows to from 577,000RM or about $206,000 Australian for 170sq metre Condominiums. The project is called Riviera and would suit expats as it is close to shopping airport etc. They also have other projects and more information is at   www.rjralty.com.my  and Ted Goh C. Y is the Marketing Manager to contact.

A mixed day and we have settled into the more layback style that characterises Kuching and Sarawak in general. Our Taxi driver back to the hotel was ethnic Chinese and he told us he had been working and living a great lifestyle in Singapore but has come back to live with and care for his aging parents. He told us “It is what I have to do” and all his friends do the same. No outsourcing of aged care as we do in the western world! The family unit is still strong and a thing of value in Malaysia.

Going to The Top Spot Seafood Food market on the top floor of a Government car park for dinner tonight. Seems an unlikely place but locals say street hawkers there sell the freshest and best Kuching seafood. Will report on the morrow.