Kuching’s traditional river taxi – insight into the daily life of a ‘Pak sampan’

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day tour

Tour Level: Relaxed / Easy

Tour Comfort: Standard

Tour Period: Morning

tour highlights

  • Feel amongst one like a local, try a hands-on to raw the boat by yourself.

tour details

The most unique feature about Kuching’s Waterfront are the traditional sampans. Get on board of the sampan to witness the daily job of a Pak sampan, ferrying people across the Sarawak river. Watch how Abang Megat navigates the sampan from a small foredeck with two wooden oars, while a small engine at the back of the boat propels the sampan cross the river. Amongst the passengers you will meet people from all walks of life. During the shuttle back and forth across river, you will also get to see Kuching’s city centre from different angles. You will be awed by the striking contrast of the two sides of this Sarawak river. You will also enjoy a home-cooked local lunch together with your newly found friend at a Malay village house

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tour description

Your guide will meet you at your hotel and together you will walk to the quaint Kuching Waterfront with a long stretch of tropical gardens, along the Sarawak river. The most unique feature about Kuching's Waterfront are the traditional sampans - small gable-roofed wooden boats which serve as water taxi, carrying passengers from one riverbank to the other. Listen to your guide's explanation about the history of Kuching's river taxis, which date back to the era of the White Rajahs, while strolling along the Waterfront towards the sampan jetty.
Upon arrival at the jetty, your guide will introduce you to the 'Pak sampan' Abang Megat, the conductor of the river taxi. Get on board of the sampan to witness the daily job of a Pak sampan, ferrying people across river. Watch how Abang Megat navigates the sampan from a small foredeck with two wooden oars, while a small engine at the back of the boat propels the sampan cross the river. Amongst the passengers you will meet people from all walks of life: city dwellers of all ages on their way to work, school children, as well as housewives on the way to the bazaar. During the shuttle back and forth across river, you will also get to see Kuching's city centre from different angles. You will be awed by the striking contrast of the bustling modern city centre on one side of the river, and the serenity of typical Malay villages on the other side.
In between the trips across river, while waiting for passengers, you can have a chat with Abang Megat with the help of your guide as translator. Get an insight into the lifestyle of a 'Pak sampan' and the struggle to make a living with the traditional sampan business in times of development and modernization. If you wish you may try to steer and row a sampan hands-on. It may look easy, but mind you, it is actually more difficult than it appears!
After this unique experience, you will have a home-cooked local lunch together with your newly found friend Abang Megat at a Malay village house, before returning to the hotel.

includes

Transfer from/to hotel included: Yes
  • Pick-up / Drop-off at hotels out of town at surcharge
    Meals included: Yes
  • Local lunch

Tour code: KCHDSTRT

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