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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 Hello Ronnie! Introduce yourself:

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

#2 What’s the perception of the LGBTQ community in Malaysia and Kuching?

Malaysia is a very conservative society, but we have a large gay community in the big cities, especially Kuala Lumpur. It’s not as active as Thailand, but at least there are places you can go.

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.

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 from 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.

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 Are there any gay bars in Kuching?

Generally pubs and bars welcome anyone, as long as you don’t cause them any trouble. 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

#5 Are there any gay friendly hotels in Kuching?

There are several for all budgets, which wouldn’t bat an eyelid if you boys ordered a double bed. Some favourites recommended by gay friends include:

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 fun activities do 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. Here’s a summary of my favourites:

  • RWMF: every summer we have the awesome Rainforest World Music Festival, which attracts a mixed crowd from all over the world.
  • Cats: we have a thing with cats and the name Kuching even means “cats” in Malay. We have a cat statue which welcomes you into the city and also a museum just about cats!
  • Orchid garden: I love the relaxing serene atmosphere here. It’s located near the Cat Museum, so the two tie in nicely for a day trip.
  • Food: if you love your food, then you will do very well in Kuching. Everyone here is excited to show off our local specialties and every August we have the Kuching Food Festival for the entire month.

    Seb and Ronnie with Sarawak Laksa in Kuching

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

#7 Any gyms you recommend to LGBT travellers?

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

#8 Any tips for getting up close to the proboscis monkeys and orang-utans?

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

  • Bako National Park: the place to come to see proboscis monkeys. It 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.
  • Semenggoh Wildlife Centre: the place to see orang utans close up. This is the largest orang-utan rehabilitation centre. It was established in 1975 as a sanctuary for injured and orphaned orang-utans. You can visit as a day trip by yourself or arrange a tour with a company like Rainforest Kayaking, which will also include some awesome kayaking in the Borneo jungle.
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

#9 Where’s the best place to experience the rainforest near Kuching?

 

Mulu National Park is the place to go to experience the Borneo rainforest. It’s a short flight away from Kuching. It is also where you can watch the incredible mass exodus of bats at the Deer Cave

Sebastien at the Mulu National Park

Sebastien in the heart of the rainforest at Mulu National Park

#10 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:

IF YOU ENJOYED READING, PLEASE PIN ME:

Nomadic Boys Gay Guide to Kuching - Sarawak, Malaysia

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30 Comments

    • Awww thanks Hani xxxx

      Reply
  1. 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
    • Thanks Katja xxx

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

    Reply
    • Thanks Dana – it was awesome 🙂

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

    Reply
    • Awwww thanks Brianna – we certainly try hard to 🙂

      Reply
  4. 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
    • Thanks – oh the Sarawak Laksas..yum yum yum 🙂

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

    Reply
    • Thanks Sophie xx

      Reply
  6. 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
    • Awww thanks Natalie xxxx

      Reply
  7. 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
    • Ha ha ha glad to know thanks 🙂

      Reply
  8. 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
    • Thanks Laura. Yes Kuching is great fun 🙂

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

    Reply
    • Thanks Alli

      Reply
  10. 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
    • Thanks. But Ronnie wasn’t our guide ha ha ha – that made us giggle 🙂

      Reply
  11. 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
    • Thanks buddy – sure will 🙂

      Reply
      • 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
        • Thanks buddy

          Reply
        • Definitely one day. We loved Kuching a lot 🙂

          Reply

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