Pincho Loco Kuching

A Touch of Tapas at Pincho Loco

Pincho Loco is an unassuming bar and restaurant tucked away towards the end of Ewe Hai Street that serves Tapas dishes along the Barcelona traditions. I say unassuming because it is quite small but in fairness you would be hard pushed to miss it due to its bright yellow exterior if you were walking along in daylight.

The restaurant was opened by the husband and wife team behind Zinc in Jalan Tabuan and reflects the year that Servane Lo spent working in Barcelona.

The simple idea of Tapas is to have lots of little ‘tasters’ served with your drinks, in our case Tiger Beer, and you simply tuck in and eat what you want. Then in Spanish tradition you just move on to the next bar.

For this visit we opted for a more authentic Tapas style dinner so we got 7 dishes from the menu along with some bread and olives. The food and the decor have a very European feel and coupled with the local staff being very helpful, polite and friendly it really is a nice relaxed environment to enjoy a few beers and some delicious food.

Pincho Loco also offer main dishes like burgers and pizzas but on the occasion we were solely there to sample the Tapas, so it will mean another visit at a later date.

The Tapas dishes that we had were fantastically delicious and were consumed in a matter of minutes by three very hungry mouths.

It is relatively expensive for Kuching standards but you have to remember you are eating in a restaurant with freshly prepared food done in an authentic way.

We could have eaten for 3 or 4 nights from a food hall for the amount it cost but that did include drinks. We had a bucket of 4 beers, a Coca-Cola, and seven tapas dishes and it came to RM140 (about £28/$37).

Kuching Life Rating: 4/5

Liga Super Malaysia - Sarawak v Felda

Sarawak FA versus Felda Utd

I made my first trip to the Stadium Negeri Sarawak in July to watch home side Sarawak FA take on Felda Utd in the Malaysian Super League.

For someone who isn’t local the first thing I will mention is how inexpensive the tickets are, we paid the top price for the Grandstand and they were RM25 each (about £5.00/$6.60). To access top flight football in any Country that is very good value for money.

The Stadium Negeri is on a complex of stadia both indoor and outdoor and holds a respectable 26000 spectators, sadly for this evening kick off there were only around 1500 people in attendance. When you compare this to the UK there are some Southern Premier league clubs getting that level of attendance.

Everything seems so stagnated here. To fund a Super League team the state government have to pump in around 25 million Ringgits per season to maintain it – this was information given to me by a local youth coach.

Now whilst tickets are relatively cheap, they would have to be for the local population, there doesn’t seem to be much outreach. There doesn’t seem to be much made of the fact that Sarawak has a Super League football team, in fact the only Super league team in East Malaysia.

It is quite difficult to find information locally, the clubs website has not been updated since 2014. Facebook pages seem to have some but not regular information. Matches get reported in local newspapers but there does not seem much evidence of trying to attract the next generation of supporters to what could be a great community club.

A city the size of Kuching could easily be filling a 26,000 seater stadium and with the right promotional programme and outreach I personally think this is achievable, or at least improving attendances – kids go free with a paying adult would be where I would start.

I need to put this in context though as I am of course trying to make a comparison to top flight English football, and there simply is no comparison.

Firstly, as was evident in this particular match, the standard of football is lacking, in all honestly I would say from what I saw it is around the level of the National League in the UK.

This in itself may be a reason for low attendances. Another reason could be that Sarawak are perenial strugglers (Update: At the season close in October Sarawak were actually relegated to the Malaysian Premier League). Nobody likes to see a team struggling, at least their local team anyway. A team that is struggling for form season-on-season is a hard one to motivate and a hard team to create an identity around.

In addition, if the state government are funding most of it then the playing budget itself must be lower than that of the big clubs like 2016 champions Johor.

Johor as an example own their own stadium, they have there own youth academy. Sarawak FA by comparison rent their stadium from the state government and there seems to be little to no infrastructure at youth level.

For me this is a huge shame, Kuching is an amazing city, a relaxed, hospitable and tolerant society. There are a lot of kids who could get involved at youth level. Among the Kampungs there could be a few gems waiting to be unearthed and release their talent, and maybe the future of the club needs to go this route.

As you can see this is not your usual football report. In fact I am writing this quite a lot after the event so a match report is no longer relevant or suitable.

Other comments I would make are these:

  • It’s a great stadium, mainly concrete built but a place to call ‘home’
  • there is a nice buzz outside the stadium before kick off with food and drinks sellers, merchandise, my son got a scarf!

I will go and have a look next season as they embark on a Premier League campaign. Maybe the lower level of football will bring with it some success and with success may come some momentum to drive the club forward.

Kuching City Centre Bus Stop

First Thoughts of Kuching

It started on yet another dreary day in England.

It started with a sight seeing trip to Portsmouth Naval Dockyards as a farewell from a good friend.

It started with a 3 hour journey to London, that’s where it really started.

A flight half way around the world, a flight that would reunite me with my wife and my son, a flight that’s destination was going to change my life.

I waited nervously in the terminal building at Heathrow, waiting to board my plane that would touch me down in Oman before catching a connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur and a final short hop into Kuching. A journey from home of some 7111 miles.

First Impressions

Before embarking on this journey I knew very little of the city of Kuching, the capital of Malaysia’s largest state, a state that in terms of size is way bigger than the UK.

Yes, of course you can find information on the Internet but that is never really a true reflection of what you are going to find.

Wrongly I treated the idea of Borneo as this backwards jungle environment that hadn’t really moved into the modern era. Not that that lack of movement into the modern world is actually a bad thing.

As I stepped off the plane the first thing that hit me was the intensity of the heat, it was 11pm when I landed and yet it was still a very warm 27c.

You can’t prepare for that kind of heat in England.

The humidity stifles you and you instantly start to perspire, the kind of perspiration that you would expect if you had just done 60 minutes on a squash court.

As I embraced my family, who had dutifully collected me from the airport,I got my first hint of what this adventure was going to be like.

Kuching is not anything like I had imagined, it is much more built up, much more sprawling in it’s size and in its apparent growth. What is different to other major cities of the world though is the Kuching has seemed to grow outwards rather than upwards.

Yes, there are some high-rise buildings but we are not talking 50 storey behemoths, the highest seems to be around the 22 storey mark currently which gives you the feeling of space rather than suffocation. Nor are these buildings built too much on top of each other again allowing for other things to flourish.

The car journey back to our apartment showed me how westernised this city really is, a very modern road network that is superbly maintained. Couple this with the shopping malls and commercial centres and you would be forgiven for thinking you were in a US city or one of the major commercial hubs of Europe.

On initial inspection Kuching also seemed quite charming, as I made my first daylight trip to nearby Carpenter Street or Padungan Street you see what perhaps you think Asia will be like. Small commercial dwellings, lots of cafes and restaurants serving what smells like amazing food.

The Smell of a City

The smell of a city when I first arrive is something I always notice. In Rome there is a definite sewer smell for example so when I stepped out into the street for the first time I was surprised at how clean and relatively fresh the place smelt.

It soon became apparent why.

It’s rain forest just outside the city, which of course means lots of rain. This rain has a very useful trait within the confines of a city. It keeps the sewers running and keeps the streets relatively clean.

The only thing I would add straight away as a first impression in terms of cleanliness is the amount of plastic, this as we know is very difficult to break down so does seem to linger around the city and be moved rather than cleared.

A New Home

This is only my very first impressions, my first visions and thoughts within the first couple of days of being in Kuching and stepping off that plane for the first time.

It is of course my new home, our families new home, so over time my opinions will change, they will sway and hopefully they may well improve as I get sucked into what is charming about this place on earth.

kampung with mount santubong

How Did this Come About?

Back in April/May 2017 myself and my family moved to Kuching, Malaysia.

Why?

Because my wife is a teacher.

She had become disillusioned with the education system in the UK and had started applying for jobs elsewhere in the world.

I will be honest.

When this process started I didn’t expect us to be in Malaysia. It is over 7000 miles from our home in Portland, Dorset. So, as you can imagine that brings a lot of upheaval.

This blog is my attempt to catalogue this journey, make a record of the things we have done, give some insight to the city of Kuching from an outsiders point of view. (Also, it gives me something to do in the mornings as I own a business in the UK so tend to cover UK hours when I can!)

You can check back regularly and try and catch up with our exploits as we really try to live a life in a completely different part of the world and a very different culture. You will get an inside view into the ups and downs, the tantrums, the highs, the experiences and everything else that comes with being an expat.

If you have visited Kuching or are thinking of coming to Borneo then feel free to ask a question or to leave a comment, it will be great to read your thoughts whether you agree with mine or not!