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Secrets of Kuching Malay Villages Along the Sarawak River Bank – A Personal Account

Farhah, the guide, cycles along the banks of the Sarawak River with guests.

Minutes from the Kuching Waterfront, just beyond the Old State Mosque, lies the historic Malay villages of Kuching. At first, the atmosphere feels different. The change is subtle at first, then it gradually intensifies as you go further down the road.

Thirty seconds in, the city noises start to fade as the soothing calmness of village life takes over. Old wooden houses on stilts line both sides of the road. And modern homes blend in equally as well in the quiet neighborhood.

This part of Kuching has a similar comparison with Kuala Lumpur’s Kampung Baru. This old Malay village lies right smack in the middle of the national capital city–a heritage area preserved for its historical significance.

Malay Villages 1 – 6

Locals know this stretch of centuries-old Malay villages along the Sarawak Riverbank as Kampung Nombor (“Numbered Village”). This is due to the way the villages were named–Kampung No.1 up to Kampung No. 6.

The original names of these villages were colorful and reflect the history or local landmark (Kampung Segoleng, Kampung Bintangor, Kampung Bandarshah, etc.). However, it is said that the British administration had trouble remembering the names and gradually replaced them with numbers circa 1946 to make things easier.

One of these villages is Kampung Patingan (now known as Kampung No.6). This village has seen great leaders rise from its community–people who have made their marks in the history of Sarawak. One of them was Datu Patinggi Ali, a prominent figure in spurring the battle against oppression under the rule of Pengiran Indera Mahkota of Brunei.

Among other prominent figures that hail from Kampung Patingan are Tan Sri Ikhwan Zaini (former state Cabinet Minister and acting Governor), Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr. Sulaiman Haji Daud (former federal minister), Datuk Haji Abdul Kadir Hassan (former State Mufti), and Dato Sri Haji Mortadza Haji Daud (former State Mufti).

This village continues to be the abode of influential Malay leaders and their relatives. In addition it is a peaceful sanctuary right in the beating heart of Kuching. A home rich in history and memory, coming alive every day without fail.

Find out more about Paradesa Borneo’s Local Bike Discovery Day Tours.


By Farhah, a member of Team Paradesa Borneo, lives here Nov 2017.

Published: 14 July 2020

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