China Town of Kuching
Carpenter Street



Monday, February 15, 2010

While I was passing by, I spotted an antique Milo football liked container. I walked into the shop and ask the boss :

" Halo, boss! This little football looks cute, can I take a picture with it?"

The boss is so friendly and allowed me to do so.

After taking picture, he started to show me some of the antiques in his antique shop which has been operating for more than 30 years! I think it's 50 years though......

Sarawakians are really FRIENDLY!
No cheat!  Trust me!


Carpenter Street's main entrance (Western end) is at the right side of Old Courthouse (Kuching's Visitor Information Centre) .

It is just  opposite the Kuching Waterfront and Leboh Cina (Upper China Street).

Parallel to Carpenter street is the new Jalan Wawasan 2020


 Harmony Arch in Carpenter Street

 Harmony Arch



Chinatown of Kuching is marked with a grandiose Chinese-inspired red archway that indicates the entry point of this popular tourist place.

Harmony Arch at Carpenter Street was officially launched on 7th March 2007 by the Chief Minister.

The arch signified the multi-ethnic groups in Sarawak co-existed peacefully.

The launching is organized by 25 Community Associations of Kuching Division.

Dragon dance was performed during the launch dinner followed by fireworks display which cost about RM20,000.

The refurbished old shophouses became  nice to look at, with brightly painted walls and windows. The Carpenter street a garbage-free streets  with no moving vehicles crowding the alley ways frequently by  tourists.

Shops along Carpenter Street sell mostly non-touristy stuff.

Here  you find bicycle shops, book stores, hardware stores, antique furniture stores and quaint coffee shops (kopitiam) where you can witness this old town dwellers go about their daily life.

Catered for tourist here is the Carpenter Guesthouse which seems like a decent backpacking place.

Century Café which provides a great cocktail bar is an exquisite looking Chinese restaurant.

Old Bazaar Area

According to history, Chinese immigrants traveled along Sarawak River through Santubong and landed at the Old Bazaar area in the early part of 18th Century. In those days, sailing by wooden junks seemed to be the only mode of transportation. These Chinese immigrants were mainly laborers carpenters, cooks, blacksmiths, farmers and merchants from the coastal areas of China such as Fujian and Guangdong provinces. With their settlement, Kuching entered a new phase in history.

According to the elders of the Teochew clan, one origin of the name "Kuching" referred to an "old well" situated at the Upper China Street in Old Bazaar area. "Old Well" is pronounced as "Kuching" in Teowchew dialect. The Old Bazaar, including the Main Bazaar, on the bank of the .Sarawak River was the earliest trading post or market. Barter trade flourished between the Chinese at the old Bazaar and the Malays who lived on the opposite bank as well as the coastal areas. The Malays brought their products such as "gula apong", "atap" leaves for roofing, sago flour, bamboo Mats, rattan furniture and "bako" timber from the mangrove swamp to the Old Bazaar for trade. Through these mutually beneficial trading . and cultural exchanges, a long history of multi- cultural cordial relationship was established and nurtured among the 1v'alays and Chinese.

The Moon Cake Festival is traditionally celebrated by the Chinese on the 15th day of the 8th month of Lunar Calendar. In 2002, two members of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly, viz. YB Lily Yong from Padungan constituency where Old Bazaar is located and YB Dr. Abdul Rahman Junaidi of Pantai Damai constituency on the opposite bank of Sarawak River, with the blessings of the Chief Minister of Sarawak, YAB Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, initiated the "Sarawak Inter-Cultural Moon Cake Festival" to be jointly organized by the Malay and Chinese communities. The two communities responded positively and enthusiastically in organizing the celebration to foster closer rapport and mutual understanding towards creating a harmonious and peaceful multi-cultural society. The following year, the Dayak and Indian communities also joined in and the "Sarawak .1 Inter-Cultural Moon Cake Festival has now become an annual celebration event along Carpenter Street. Many streets in the Old Bazaar have their historical origins. Carpenter Street (Atap Street) was so named because in those years all the buildings were constructed of wood and "atap" and carpenters were very important to the community. Elsewhere, in China Street and Upper China Street the inhabitants were mostly single male Chinese laborers i.e. "Coolie" or "coolie-geng" in Hokkian dialect. At night, these streets were very busy. There were hawkers, bars, gambling rooms, prostitutes, opium smoking dens etc, legally going about their trades.

Ewe Hai Street was named after an early Chinese leader known as Kapitan Ong Ewe Hai. Bishopgate Street was the road the British Bishop used to get in & out of the Church. It has now become a historical relic.

In short, the Old Bazaar marks the beginning of Kuching City. Many Chinese temples and the premises of various Chinese Associations were built over 150 years ago' and today these buildings are still standing proudly signifying the adventurous and enterprising spirits of those pioneers who helped make what Kuching is today.  

Source : Sarawak Tourism Department

According to history Old Bazaar

Carpenter Street is an old street that runs from Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, where the General Post Office is located, to Jalan Ewe Hai to the east, immediately behind the Main Bazaar. Due to its location, it is considered the backstreet to the Main Bazaar, which acted as the main thoroughfare fronting the river. In the old days, Carpenter Street was called "attap street" because of the thatch houses on both sides. This was where carpenters set up their workshops, earning the street its name.

A facelift took place in 1884, by courtesy of a big fire that razed all the wooden houses along the street. Charles Brooke, the then White Rajah of Sarawak, issued a decree that henceforth the houses to be rebuilt with non inflammable material. This necessitated the construction of the more permanent brick shophouses along Carpenter Street, a few of them surviving till today. During those days, Carpenter Street was a lower working class neighbourhood filled with opium dens, gambling joints, brothels and other clandestine activities. These were eventually cleaned up by the British.

Today Carpenter Street marks the entrance to the Kuching Chinatown. There is a big Chinese archway here, and the shops stock the daily necessities of the local Chinese in Kuching.




There are also two Chinese temples along Carpenter Street with delicate stone carvings, pagoda and prayer places.


There are 2 temples along Carpenter Street

1) The Hockkien Temple on the Eastern end  the Hong San Si temple, at the junction of Jalan Carpenter and Jalan Wayang

2) Teochew Temple near the west end of the road. This temple called Shang Ti Temple (The Hiang Thian Siang Ti Temple)

1 Kwong Wai Siew Association  
2 Teo Chew Association  
3 Hing Ann Association  
4 Hai Nan Association  
5 Tai Poo Association  
6 Kaying Association  
7 Liu Chiu Association  
1 Hiang Thian Siang Ti Temple  
2 Tokong Hin Ho Bio  
3 Bishop Gate  
4 Hong San Si  
5 Tua Pek Kong Temple 大伯公廟
  Main Bazaar 海唇街
   Ewe Hai Street 友海街
  Carpenter Street 亞答街 (木匠街)
  Jalan Bishop Gate 下横街
  Sarawak River 沙撈越河
  Chinese red archway 亞答街牌坊
The main entrance is at the eastern end of Carpenter Street opposite the Old Courthouse (Kuching's Visitor Information Centre) compound. Otherwise, you can find the Chinatown in the Main Bazaar area along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman opposite the Kuching Waterfront and Leboh Cina (Upper China Street).

The Kuching Chinatown is marked with a grandiose Chinese-inspired red archway that certainly indicates the entry point of this popular shopping and eating place. The refurbished old shophouses are surprisingly nice to look at, with brightly painted walls and windows, garbage-free streets (yes, most parts of Kuching are surprisingly clean!) with no moving vehicles crowding the alley ways.

Most of the shops along Carpenter Street are selling mostly non-touristy stuff. Note that this is a real Chinatown which is frequently by locals, not necessarily just for tourists. Hence you will find bicycle shops, book stores, hardware stores, antique furniture stores and quaint coffee shops (locally known as kopitiam) where you can witness the city dwellers go about their daily life. There are a number of establishments catered for tourist here, namely the Carpenter Guesthouse which seems like a decent backpacking place, Century Café which provides a great cocktail bar, and an exquisite looking Chinese restaurant.

There are also many Chinese temples in the precinct. Along Carpenter Street alone, there are two of them, with delicate stone carvings, pagoda and prayer places. Nonetheless, the most popular temple has to be the Tua Pek Kong temple along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman which is the oldest tokong cina in the city. The temple is believed to be built back in 1843 although the city's official records show its came into existence only in 1876. Opposite the old temple is the Chinese History Museum (Muzium Sejarah Cina) which is also located along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. The museum displays some history of the Chinese community in Kuching and Sarawak in general, tracing their heritage from various migration origins in mainland China. The museum is opened daily from 0900hrs to 1800hrs except on Friday.

The last but not least, the Main Bazaar along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman is considered a must-visit in many travel itineraries. In general, the Main Bazaar showcases almost similar characteristics of the old shophouses on Carpenter Street and Leboh Cina, with fancy souvenir outlets are a norm rather than an exception.

A great stroll along the Chinatown neighbourhood. It offers everything, from bare necessities to the much-expected tourist trappings. (And, I hope other cities in Malaysia can learn how Kuching keeps its streets extremely clean and spotless!)


Kuching City  March 10, 2022 11:14:54 PM

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