The Darul Hana Bridge
It casts a snake-like shadow on the river
In the “Lonely Planet” Borneo guide it says that Kuching will “amply reward visitors with a penchant for aimless ambling”. So true! So, on Sunday we spent the day aimlessly ambling along the waterfront, through Chinatown, the old colonial sector and the Islamic market, across the new bridge and around and about the town in general. We set off in the rain, then spent most of the day in the heat (I bought a rainbow umbrella to use for rain and sunshine), then in the evening we had a terrific dramatic thunderstorm. Most evenings it has rained after lovely sunny days, so we are still waiting for the opportunity to take an evening river cruise!
Along the waterfront promenade there is an open-air community building called “The People’s Place” and often of an evening there are musical groups playing there and dancers sometimes too. This Sunday morning as people strolled along, the kids were enjoying a Taekwon-Do lesson.
At the western end of the waterfront promenade, on the southern bank of the Sarawak, sits very squarely, the squat “Square Tower”, built in 1879; along with Fort Margherita on the northern bank, it once guarded the
river against marauders and pirates. It still bears the coat of arms of the Brooke white rajahs. Behind it stands the Brooke Memorial and behind that the beautiful colonial Old Court House. Now that the Legislative Assembly is across the river in the Sarawak State Assembly building, the old court house has become a rather smart tourist complex, bistro café, restaurant, bars and textile centre. Smartest loos in Kuching too!
The star of the river is the new Darul Hana Bridge. This pedestrian bridge is 335 metres long, 3.25 metres wide and it is like a big snake, starting on the south bank with a complete 360-degree loop, then one of the two large viewing platforms (30 x 11 metres) then the long “s” central walkway, which actually sways a bit in the centre, then the second viewing platform, then a final curve down to the northern bank. It is a superb piece of architecture. It is like walking on a huge and exquisite modern sculpture. I have not been so excited about a structure since I saw the new London Bridge Station last year (which is also magnificent). The Darul Hana is representative of the traditional Bidayuh bamboo
bridges (but it wobbles more than they do) and the two huge towers, upon which the whole bridge is suspended, represent giant Hornbills, one facing upriver, the other facing down. The four pylons embedded in the river bed are the legs of the two Hornbills, the viewing platforms are their bodies and the huge towers are their necks and heads. Our plan was to get a “tambang” boat back across the river after seeing the Astana palace, but despite the heat we decided to walk the bridge a second time. The Sarawak river shimmers in the afternoon heat. It is such a beautifully clean river, devoid of the usual rubbish rafts that one so often sees in cities. The whole city is clean in fact, people are frequently sweeping their shop fronts and pavements.
After the bridge walk we had an ice-cream by the old Steamship building (where the kiosk lady is always sweeping the promenade around her tables) and got back to our hotel just before the evening thunderstorm caused rivers to sweep across the road, lightning to fork down and thunder to rumble away. Tropical storms really are something else. Once mother nature had reminded us of
her awesome power, the sun came out briefly before quickly setting and we were able to go out for dinner without having to paddle across the roads. Such a nice Sunday!
Tot: 2.01s; Tpl: 0.075s; cc: 14; qc: 30; dbt: 0.0242s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.3mb