The Malay forms the third largest group of people in Sarawak, after the Iban and Chinese.
In Kuching, the Malay Kampungs (villages) along the riverside next to Fort Margherita have some beautiful examples of traditional and modern Malay architecture. There are some more superb Malay houses around Jalan Datuk Ajibah Abol, behind the Kuching Mosque. Both these areas are particularly noteworthy as they are self-contained, intact communities existing within a modern city.
There are a few interesting coastal Malay villages in the Santubong Peninsula. The most accessible from Damai is Kampung Santubong, a well-kept Malay village at the foot of Mount Santubong. Pasir Panjang and Pasir Pandak are two beach-side kampungs which are surrounded by small rolling hills, coconut groves and durian orchards. Although Santubong is within walking distance (4 km) from Damai beach, the other villages require transport.
Buntal, a colourful Malay fishing village located off the Kuching-Santubong road approx. 25 km from Kuching, is famous for the seafood restaurants perched on wooden stilts which line the shore. Less well known is that the surrounding sand flats, mangroves, rivers and nearshore waters provide a rich habitat for a range of wildlife. Buntal is an important wintering ground for migratory bird species and the best site in the Santubong Peninsula for bird watching. The whole Bako-Buntal Bay is listed as an 'Important Bird Area' under Birdlife International's Asia programme.
The best time for bird watching is from October to March, when large numbers of migratory birds can be seen in the Buntal river estuary. These include a variety of plovers, terns, egrets, sandpipers and godwits plus some rare migrants. Resident birds often sighted include the white-bellied sea eagle, brahminy kite and collared kingfisher. The mangroves near Buntal support a range of wildlife including silver-leaf monkeys, long-tailed macaques, monitor lizards, otters, crocodiles and a diversity of birdlife. Irrawaddy dolphins are also found in waters close to the village and occasionally enter the Buntal River at high tide. Buntal Boat Cruise offers a range of mangrove and wildlife cruises around the Buntal area.
Sarawak Malay language is different from Bahasa Malaysia, here are a few examples of the more commonly used words in Bahasa Melayu Sarawak:
English -> Bahasa Malaysia -> Bahasa Melayu Sarawak
Me -> Saya
Kamek -> You
Kamu -> Kitak
No -> Tidak -> Sik
Yes -> Ya -> Aok
Cat -> Kucing-> Pusak
Clever -> Pandai -> Pande
Chicken -> Ayam -> Manok
By: Erivina Jihel
Sarawak Tourism Board