Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Kuching Division : Transportation


Roads within the town are of a reasonable standard, though traffic congestion often leads to long tailbacks during rush hour, and especially on Saturday mornings. Due to that Kuching is located near the equator, expect potholes to develop on the roads during the monsoon season (usually around the end of the year, coinciding with winter in the northern hemisphere). Roads leading outside of Kuching to the interior are of a slightly more dubious quality but are being upgraded from time to time, although the main resort roads (e.g. leading to Damai) are also reasonable.

Transport by taxi is reasonable but it is usually difficult to flag down one on the street since there are only popular amongst tourists. One can get a taxi from the taxi stand near the corner of the Electra House/end of India Street, in front of hotels or by contacting them through the telephone. Intrepid back-packers can try the public transport by antiquated, smoky, non-airconditioned buses or the 'van sapu' (mini-van converted into mini-buses) which offer cheaper mean of getting to places. Air transport is served by nearby Kuching International Airport, currently the subject of several expansion projects. Those trying to get a birdeye view of the City, has the option to hire a helicopter or small planes from the Hornbill Skyway.

Kuching is served by several major bus companies. Among others, Chin Liang Long Motor Vehicle Co. (traditionally blue) serving Kuching South, Matang Transport Company (yellow and orange) serving Matang-Kubah and Petra Jaya Transport Company (Black, yellow and red strips) serving Kuching North. The Sarawak Transport Company (traditionally green) and Bau Transport Company (Orange) have routes from Kuching to other smaller towns. A large portion of the buses in service are antiquated and not air conditioned. The fares are low. Although, the routes are poorly documented, the stops have no names and the buses not well known for being punctual - it is not difficult to get to places because Kuching is a friendly City and most of the people are able to communicate in simple English for directions. For tourists and tourists only, the State Ministry of Tourism has provided bus shuttles to transport tourists around Kuching.

Road signs adhere to the Road Sign Standards issued by the Ministry of Transportation. Kuching is also famous for its many large traffic circles or roundabouts. The roundabouts are efficient at handling medium scale traffic. However, as traffic continues to rise in Kuching several roundabouts have given way to traffic lights and over and underpasses.

Kuching, like most towns in Sarawak, is connected to each other by water transportation. Between the banks of Sarawak River, near the City Centers, many 'tambang' (small boats) can be seen commuting the people. For those staying along the river banks, it is a faster mean of getting to the other side where the commercial centres are located. The Wharf for express boats to further away places is now located near the Sim Keng Hong Port or known to the elderly local as Tanah Putih Port.