Our local friend Ronnie tells us about gay Kuching, Malaysia

Our local friend Ronnie tells us about gay Kuching, Malaysia

“It’s just more relaxed here compared to mainland Malaysia” explained one of our many gay friends we met travelling around Malaysia Borneo.

Here is Sarawak Malaysia on Borneo island where we stayed for half a month in August 2015 after travelling in Peninsular Malaysia.

We based ourselves in the main city of Kuching, a very cool city, relaxed and smiles aplenty from everyone. Sebastien felt more at home here to waltz around in his latest sun hat purchase.

Sebastien with new sun hat in gay Kuching

Sebastien sporting his latest sun hat purchased from the streets of gay Kuching

We wanted to do a gay story for the Malaysian section of our blog, but unfortunately being a Muslim country, gay is illegal and being ‘out’ can have severe implications on your life, particularly your career.

One of our local metrosexual friends Ronnie was nonetheless open enough to guide us through the ins and outs of this part of Borneo island in our guide to gay Kuching.

Robbie, Stefan and Sebastien in Kuching, Sarawak

Ronnie, Stefan and Sebastien discussing Malaysian food and other subjects in Kuching

1. Bonjour and kalimera Ronnie! Welcome to our little online rainbow world…

Selamat detang to Kuching my Nomadic Baes! I am Ronnie, journalist and fellow blogger of Man in the Face Mask.

2. So what’s the perception of gays in Malaysia and do you think it’s more relaxed in Kuching compared to peninsular Malaysia?

I personally think people in Kuching are more accepting towards gays because we’re more accepting generally. It’s part of our culture to be welcoming and open as you boys found out.

Seb Stef with Aliey in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Aliey: one of our many awesome Sarawakian friends at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching, Sarawak

Malaysia is such a hodgepodge of races and religions and that’s exacerbated here in Sarawak with indigenous races like the Dayak, which can further be broken down to more than 200 ethnic subgroups!

So, there are many criteria that differentiates all of us anyway. Somewhere along the way, sexual orientation becomes one of those “check-boxes”. People around here have gotten to know about gays and lesbians, but that does not necessarily translate into acceptance.

A discussion with our friend Hani in Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia

Our friend Hani points out that 2 men making out don’t really matter that much to her at all!

Nevertheless, people rarely resort to hatred or violence on the topic. I guess it comes as no surprise why Kuching was pegged as the City of Unity a couple of months ago.

And I think tourists who come here feel it too. Smiles and greetings of welcome come easily for us.

Stef and Seb with our friends in Kuching

Feeling welcomed by these very friendly Kuching locals

3. Do you have any gay friends who’ve experienced any open homophobia by their friends, family or in the workplace?

Luckily boys I don’t. Many people here practice the ideology of an “open secret”: it’s not really talked about in public discussions. Along this line, not many are really open about their sexuality.

Stef and Seb posing with loved up cats at Cat Museum in Kuching

Feeling loved up with at the Kuching’s Cat Museum

Nevertheless, sexuality isn’t the only factor that makes up a person, and that’s why homophobia is not prevalent here. We’re so much more than just a straight/gay/bi label.

Sarawakians are people with plenty of talent, like Ms Pandalela Rinong, 22, becoming the first female Malaysian athlete to win a medal at the Olympics, or fellow Sarawakian Miss Malaysia World 2014, Dewi Liana Seriestha, being crowned Miss World Talent last year.
So now, we’re just about ready to take over the world 🙂
Our Sarwakian RWMF group selfie in Sarawak Malaysia

Our Sarawakian group selfie getting ready to take over the world starting with the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching

4. Do you know any gay friendly hang outs in Kuching?

Generally pubs and bars welcome anyone so long as you don’t cause trouble for them. These are some popular hangouts, which aren’t officially gay but attract a gay/mixed crowd:

Night out at Zinc gay friendly bar in Kuching

Night out with our Kuching friends at gay friendly Zinc Bar in Kuching

If you love your food, then you will do very well in Kuching. Everyone here is excited to show off our local specialties and we particularly love travelling foodies for this very reason.

Seb and Ronnie with Sarawak Laksa in Kuching

Ronnie trying to save his Sarawak Laksa from greedy boy Sebastien in Kuching

5. Any good gay friendly places to stay in Kuching?

There are several for all budgets, which wouldn’t bat an eyelid if you boys ordered a double bed, like:

MARCO POLO GUESTHOUSE   Book online

  • Good budget option with extremely friendly owners devoted to their guests.
  • 60 Ringgits (£10/$14) a night includes a basic breakfast.

PADUNGAN HOTEL   Book online

  • Recently opened and located near excellent eateries where you can try Kuching staples like Sarawak Laksa or Mee Kolok.
  • Rooms from 115 Ringgits (£20/$28) a night.

HILTON HOTEL   Book online 

  • Located on the river, perfect for walks and evening market.
  • Excellent breakfast (you must try their Laksa Sarawak).
  • Rooms from 230 Ringgits (£36/$54) a night.

BATIK BOUTIQUE HOTEL   Book online

  • Cute little boutique hotel with clean and comfortable rooms.
  • Very friendly staff and excellent breakfast. 
  • Rooms start from 300 Ringgits (£46/$70) a night.
Stef and Seb with Mee Kolok in Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia

Stef and Seb about to go face down in a plate of Mee Kolok on the streets of Kuching near Padungan Hotel

6. What are fun activities you recommend to LGBT tourists in Kuching?

Great question boys. Kuching has a lot to offer and keep you busy both in the city and around.

FESTIVALS

We have a plethora of festivals, such as the Rainforest World Music Festival every summer, attracting a mixed crowd from all over the world.

Rainforest World Music Festival gay Kuching

Stefan and Sebastien at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak, Malaysia, near Kuching

In August, we have the Kuching Food Festival for the entire month and I know you greedy boys had a great time here!

Eating with friends at the Kuching Food Festival

Food fun with friends at the Kuching Food Festival in August 2015

CATS

Kuching means “cat” in Malay and is a theme taken to heart. A large cat statue welcomes you into the city, but you also found them dotted all around Kuching.

Seb and cat statue in Kuching Sarawak Malaysia

Sebastien hi-fiving the cat statue in Kuching

There’s also a fun Cat Museum where you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about cats! You can reach it via a 10 minutes taxi ride from the centre and it’s open every day from 9am to 5pm.

Cat Museum in Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia

Visiting the Cat Museum with friends in Kuching

THE FABULOUS ORCHID GARDEN

The Orchid Garden is worth visiting simply to take in the relaxing serene atmosphere and dream about unicorns.

It’s open everyday except Mondays from 9:30am to 6pm and located near the Cat Museum, so the two tie in nicely for a day trip.

Seb at the Orchid Garden in Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia

Sebastien at the Orchid Garden in Kuching dreaming about unicorns and his next laksa

KEEPING THE PECS FIRM

A good gym I recommend for fitness bunnies is Level Up Fitness located at Wisma Everrise (behind HSBC). As well as an excellent gym with brand new equipment, they have a variety of classes like body pump, yoga, core and spinning:

Spin class at Level Up Fitness gym in Kuching, Sarawak

Spin class with Mary at the Level Up Fitness gym in Kuching

7. We want to meet the proboscis monkeys, orang-utans and play in the rainforest. Any tips?

There’s several National Parks near Kuching, each makes for an excellent day trip:

BAKO NATIONAL PARK TO MEET THE PROBOSCIS MONKEY

Bako National Park is located on an island, which you reach via a car ride and boat transfer. I recommend using a well reputed and gay friendly tour company like Borneo Adventures.

The National Park is a jungle environment with wild boars, snakes and of course the place to come and see the distinctive proboscis monkeys.

Proboscis monkey photobomb at Bako National Park near Kuching

A cheeky proboscis monkey photobombing Sebastien’s photo

Bako National Park is also famous for the limestone rock formations, particularly the one shaped like the head of a cobra:

Cobra head at Bako National Park in Sarawak Malaysia

Sebastien posing by the famous cobra head of the Bako National Park in Sarawak Malaysia

SEMENGGOH WILDLIFE CENTRE TO MEET ORANG-UTANS

Semenggoh is the largest orang-utan rehabilitation centre established in 1975 as a sanctuary for injured and orphaned orang-utans. It is easily accessible from the city via a taxi or bus ride.

The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre has a family of orang-utans like 44 years old Sakara and her 5 years old son.

Orang-utans at Semenggoh, Sarawak Malaysia

Sakara the 44 years old orang-utan with her little boy at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre in Sarawak, Malaysia

You can visit as a day trip by yourself or arrange a tour with a gay friendly company like Rainforest Kayaking, which will also include some awesome kayaking in the Borneo jungle.

Stef and Seb kayaking near Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia

Kayaking in the Borneo jungle near Kuching in Sarawak, Malaysia

MULU NATIONAL PARK FOR CAVE ENTHUSIASTS

Mulu National Park is a flight away from Kuching and is the place to go to experience the true Borneo rainforest experience and lots of caving. It is also where you can watch the incredible mass bat exodus at the famous Deer Cave. I believe you boys wrote about it in more detail on Expedia’s travel blog.

Sebastien at the Mulu National Park

Sebastien in the heart of the rainforest at Mulu National Park

8. Finally, Sebastien would like to invest in a new outfit for next year’s Rainforest World Music Festival, any suggestions?

Oh Sebastien would look just awesome in one of our batik outfits: colourful and a great way to bring out his very dramatic French personality:

Sebastien with batik outfit

Sebastien’s batik outfit: his latest fresh from Kuching

For more about our adventures through Malaysia, please check out our Malaysia travel video:

PLEASE PIN ME:

Nomadic Boys Gay Guide to Kuching - Sarawak, Malaysia

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30 Comments

    • Stefan Arestis

      Awww thanks Hani xxxx

      Reply
  1. Katja - globetotting

    I really want to see orang-utans! And visit the cat museum. That looks like a bizarrely fascinating place to visit. Great guide to kuching!

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Thanks Katja xxx

      Reply
  2. Dana

    The Bako National Park and Orchid Garden look like a great place to visit! Everyone looks like they had an amazing trip.

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Thanks Dana – it was awesome 🙂

      Reply
  3. Brianna

    You two are total cuties and look like you have a blast anywhere you go.

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Awwww thanks Brianna – we certainly try hard to 🙂

      Reply
  4. Prianka | Map Halves

    Looks like you guys had a blast in Kuching – and glad to hear you found some cool people to hang out with. I’m just over the causeway in Sing, but I still haven’t made it over there. Soon! PS – the food looks delicious!

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Thanks – oh the Sarawak Laksas..yum yum yum 🙂

      Reply
  5. Sophie

    Now kuching looks like a fun place. Glad you guys got to explore and meet some super cool people!

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Thanks Sophie xx

      Reply
  6. Natalie

    The outdoor adventures look amazing, and so does the food! It looks like you had a fantastic time in Kuching, and that you were able to meet a lot of friendly and open people. I’m happy for you!

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Awww thanks Natalie xxxx

      Reply
  7. Inma

    Another spot I had no idea about! Feel like I need to book tickets to KUL again now! And I just came back from there! lol

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Ha ha ha glad to know thanks 🙂

      Reply
  8. Laura

    Such a lovely pink hat! Kuching sounds like a great place to base yourself 8n the area. I like a more relaxed and friendly vibe.

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Thanks Laura. Yes Kuching is great fun 🙂

      Reply
  9. Alli

    Looks like a blast! Glad to here Malaysia is so accepting! 🙂

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Thanks Alli

      Reply
  10. Kristi Trimmer

    It’s good to see that other cultures are opening their minds to different lifestyles. I bet you guide was surprised at some of your questions!

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Thanks. But Ronnie wasn’t our guide ha ha ha – that made us giggle 🙂

      Reply
  11. Ibrahim alli

    Hey boys, next time you are in Kuching, do visit my NGO. We are an HIV/AIDS NGO and deal with PLHIV. But we are also dealing directly with LGBTQ community here in Kuching.

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Thanks buddy – sure will 🙂

      Reply
      • STANLEY SENTU MATTHEW SAYERS

        I really want to meet both of you so badly.My name is Stanley Sentu.I am 23 years old.I am taking a Bachelor programme in Kuching,Sarawak in Malaysia.I really want to meet both of you and have a chit chat together.

        Reply
        • Stefan Arestis

          Thanks buddy

          Reply
        • Stefan Arestis

          Definitely one day. We loved Kuching a lot 🙂

          Reply

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