Kuching Heritage Walk
For our pilot post, we have decided on a feature on Kuching Heritage Area, an important post the team can easily relate to.
This post was originally submitted to us in Chinese, which we have translated into English . We hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.
B: Borneo Art Collective C: Chai Kit Siang
B: Could you describe the selected project in brief?
C: “古晋老街导览”项目目前由砂拉越华人学术研究会（Association of Sarawak Chinese Academic Research）属下的文化导览团负责推动，定期引导市民、学生等在古晋的百年老街区穿街走巷，认识老街的历史和不同文化间的差异，有时也品尝当地的老味道，说说食物背后的故事。
“Kuching Heritage Walk” program is currently being run by the Association of Sarawak Chinese Academic Research. They conduct walking guides with the Kuching locals and students throughout the historic streets of Kuching, sharing the history and unique cultures that are deeply embedded in these streets, and sometimes stopping to have a go at the local delicacies, whilst telling the story behind these local flavours.
B: Why and how did you start this project?
Having done local research in my spare time, mainly focusing on the Kuching Heritage area, I started this project after being approached by schools and organizations. After some time, it was necessary to expand this program, and hence the recruitment of new guide members started.
Kuching Heritage Area is a historic site, and a living one at that. Through our walking guides, one can learn the different cultures in Kuching, and how they have managed to co-exist peacefully over these hundred years. We see these walks as an outdoor curricular activity, and we hope, through this program, locals gain a deeper understanding and love towards our home, and that locals will be willing to contribute back to their hometown. In other words, where there is more knowledge, it leads to higher appreciation and eventually conservation of this valuable cultural inheritance, whether tangible or intangible.
B: How do you plan to further expand the reach of your project?
We are gradually spreading news of the heritage walk, making people realise history and culture are deeply intertwined - they are part of our daily lives, and directly affecting us. We have also made people understand that the heritage area is not just an old commercial area, it is also an important cultural witness. We will only be able to create greater history and culture by having more people respect, appreciate, protect and promote our heritage.
B: What was on your radar when you were creating this project ?
I realized Kuching people generally have an intimate relationship with their home, and everybody was touched throughout the program. I think this intimacy is extremely important, as everybody has shared memories of this city, hence developing closeness with each other, this is perhaps known as “human touch”. Most importantly, there are more and more old folks coming out to show support for this program, which is positive feedback for us.
B: Where do you see yourself or your project evolving in near future?
We will expand the walking guide teams and walking area. In terms of content, we are contemplating to provide more personal touches outside of the walks. Perhaps form a collaboration with the street neighbourhood, allowing participants to enjoy first hand the art of brewing coffee, enjoying the traditions etc. I've also organized a half day school outing to experience working in the Heritage Area.
B: What plans do you have for Borneo art at the moment?
I plan to consolidate different categories but with the same concept of Borneo art on a common platform, enabling us to observe and learn from one another – this would be a great thing to do. For this society to prosper, we need more people with strong vision and the willingness to execute their ideas.
B: Please recommend three stories/projects/individuals/groups for us to reach out to in order to expand the Borneo Art Collective network.
There are many old stories in the heritage area, these folklore never make it to government records. It is worth interviewing them, using different methods of production. The kampong opposite the Sarawak river also has old history, which I believe is treasure worth digging. Also, the traditions and celebration activities of the indigenous people, have extremely high cultural value and is worth introducing to the world.