|Like most cities on earth, Kuching has designated areas for everything, night spots are no exception –Travillion for clubbing, the Golden Triangle for pubbing. But there are always exceptions that prove every rule. These few reject the obvious choice of street front property for rooftops, back alleys or out of town locations. Known only to the initiated, KINO hereby initiates you…|
Barambar – 3.5 Mile Penrissen Road (behind Banquet)
By day, this area is bustling with hardware stores, but by night, there is not a soul in sight, except for the visitors to this new breed of karaoke bar. Barambar greets you with a wall of wood – a sculpture of offcuts and inside, the wood theme continues with interesting pieces tacked onto walls as shelves and feature pieces of furniture. Beyond that, this place is no frills fun – basic buckets of beer, basically, with the odd spirit thrown in for good measure. But the young, fun crowd love it, blaring out up to the minute karaoke pop with abandon. It seems a favourite place for birthdays or group gatherings. So make your way to Barambar, badabing badaboom!
|Fisherman’s wharf – Lorong Datuk Abang Abdul Rahim
In most other cities, riverfront property is the most sought after. But in Kuching, it is the hunting ground of stray dogs and wharf rats, largely deserted by humankind after dark. Fisherman’s Wharf laughs in the face of such stereotypes, placing itself, as the name suggests, near the wharf behind the Hock Lee Centre. The riverside motif continues with suspended boats over the outside seating area and wharf wood dominating the bar. This bar is owned by Meng, of Hitz FM fame, and he has been known to run the occasional party here, though most days it seems to be karaoke all the way, and largely Chinese – there is even a private room should you feel shy. A good place for sittin’ by the dock of the bay.
|Secret Sanctuary, 133, Lorong Setia Raja 12a, Taman Stutong Indah
Tucked away in a residential area of Stutong, this sanctuary is definitely secret. You know you’ve reached it when you find the giant wooden doors leading to the giant wooden bridge. Inside is a different world of hidden ponds, hanging creepers and craggy, tumbling waterfalls – really, in Stutong! Primarily a lodging house too, the compound has several small cabanas dotted around it and secret sitting places in between those. There is a small, well-stocked bar and also a restaurant with a range of dishes both Western and Asian. Watch out for the house cats – one even has a little outfit – making Secret Sanctuary an ideal rest stop for the cat city!
|Limelight Rooftop Lounge – Limetree Hotel, Jalan Abell
This bar has the best view in town – a bold statement but true. It is a panoramic sweep from MBKS, across the river all the way round to the Civic Centre. Seen from the top floor of the Limetree hotel, the view is one of Kuching’s best-kept secrets and as such, you are likely to have the place largely to yourself. The décor is spartan except for the omnipresent green glow (limelight?) and imposing belian table dominating the space – the view is the centrepiece. Smokers are warned not to throw their butts on the floor as green artificial grass carpets the whole space! The bar is well-stocked with the standard favourites and there is even a function room. But for a quiet drink with friends, the limelight puts the spotlight on the highlights of Kuching from above!
|Sadau at Singgahsana – Temple Street
Another night, another rooftop bar. Singgahsana is better known as a lodging house but should also be feted as a bar. On the top floor is a typical traveller’s haven done in typical Sarawak style of hanging baskets and fishing traps and rattan mats, mats, mats everywhere. In fact, the bar, despite its location, has almost no view, cocooned in mats from floor to ceiling to keep the heat of the day out, most of these festooned with flags from the round the world. However, there are hidden spaces in unexpected places inside the bar too with private viewing spots where you can sit with your honey and peer out at the stars. It also has a pool table and a wide screen TV showing sports for a night out with the boys. Expect to see a lot of tourists here, they live here after all, but non-residents are allowed. Just ring the bell for a rooftop rendez-vous.
|Escobar – Damai Central
Well, you can’t get more out of the way than Damai! Despite a brief heyday in the early 90s, Damai has usually been considered too far out for a night out, except of course for Rainforest weekend when it is crawling with humans! But Escobar may be bucking the trend for obvious reasons. First off, it’s the longest bar around but, more importantly, that bar is by the beach! You can sit on the outside space, knocking back an ice-cold beer, watching the sun go down over the ocean. Enough said really. Actually, the food is also pretty tasty and on top of that, they know how to throw a mean party. It is Escobar that could arguably be credited with bringing rave culture (at long last!) to Sarawak, shipping in DJs both local and international for a series of sold out, outdoor extravaganzas. Beach bar, beach party? Don’t worry, beach happy!