Kuching, see, means (or sounds a bit like a word which means) “cat”. This is by far the most popular of the three theories which abound about the origin of the city’s name, and one which the whole place has taken and run with. There’s “cat city <x>” shops, loads of “Cat City Kuching” t-shirts, a cat museum, and several cat statues of which this is the biggest.
We’re not the only people taking selfies and stuff there. As we leave to find some relief from the sweltering heat – the weather around here is constantly 30-31ºc, with a “feels like” rating 4 or 5 degrees hotter again – one half of another couple seemingly tries to surreptitiously take a photo of me. Much like the ladies at one of the food stalls earlier in the day, who’d gestured and giggled, I think my beard is of particular interest in this part of the world.
Downstairs in a shopping mall, the air-conditioning is beautifully cold. I get some cash out, and we hang around for a few minutes standing behind the 50 or so people who are watching some fellas play some traditional Iban music on a variety of similar instruments. Iban people are a tribe who live inland from here, you can go visit their longhouses or even stay. If I remember rightly, they used to be actual headhunters. Not recruitment, but they’d chop your bloody head off.
Anyway, back to cats. Meet this little fella.
He startled me by being on the chair I was about to sit down on, as we chose a table with a nice view at the James Brooke bistro. Actually, that might have been a different cat, perhaps this one.
Point being, there were two cats sat on the two chairs we weren’t occupying. In fact there were 5 cats in the bistro in total, and we very much enjoyed interacting with them while we drank sprite and Tiger and ate laksa. This Sarawak Laksa I had was utterly delicious, and only cost about £2 or something silly like that.
When a cat with two different coloured eyes (is he blind in one?) jumped on the table wanting to eat a bit of a leftover prawn, we were happy to let it happen – but the waitress came and scooped the scrawny scamp up. Soon she’d taken all the cats away, despite our protestations that we loved them. She wasn’t shooing them, it was all very affectionate, we just weren’t allowed to have them near us. Boo :-(
Having still not found anywhere to buy takeaway beer for the hotel room, we opted for a night cap back at the Walk-Star bistro of grunge’n’wrestling success the previous night. On this Saturday evening it was much less busy than it had been on Friday, with only one other customer, a loud western woman who I didn’t earwig but Helen did. Once we left, she told me she was glad we hadn’t had to interact, because the woman was full of opinions.
Returning to the hotel, we were greeted by another of Cat City’s cats – the sleepy ginger one which had been lying on various baggage trolleys or other perches many times since we first arrived.