On any Saturday and Sunday you'll see as if the whole of Kuching converge on the tiny town of Serikin, an hour drive from Kuching city centre which I made today. Here local visitors and tourists from West Malaysia, Sabah and even Brunei flocked to shop for items that are produced from people across the Indonesian border. Serikin is a border town on Malaysian soil and is enjoying brisk business by allowing traders from the Indonesian border to sell their products and wares to Malaysian citizens and foreign visitors along its narrow and crowded singular street. I would estimate the total length of the street at 300 meters and on both sides are erected hundreds of makeshift stalls and tiny shops that sell anything from antiques, textiles, leather, glass wares, rattan mats, souvenirs from diverse range of materials like bamboo, rattan, wood, beads, silver etc., However the most popular item seemed to be the rattan mats that come in various sizes, colours and patterns. An average rattan mat size of say 6'x9' would fetch a prize of about RM 110- 150 depending on quality of workmanship and type of rattan used. Below are pictures of the rattan mats.
Today's weather was extremely hot and sunny. However the shopping crowd grew as the day progresses and that caused a traffic jam about a kilometer long as cars kept on coming to the only main parking space in town. Coincidentally today is a public holiday ( Malaysia's King official birthday) and double as a weekend holiday -cum-school holiday. It took me about an hour to clear the jam. To be at Serikin is to experience a totally different kind of shopping. It's not the sleek and air-conditioned shopping malls that are prevalent in cities. Here people walk the street in hot weather and bargaining is a must. Well, it's never too late to try and polish your bargaining skills here. Remember your Malaysian Ringgit (RM) is worth lots more than the Indonesian Rupiah. At today's rate RM 1 = 3600 Indonesian Rupiah. In Indonesia One Ringgit Malaysia can buy you a full meal, while One Ringgit Malaysia in Serikin or Kuching for that matter will only get you a bottle of plain water (500 ml)
This scene got me blown away. A street hawker with a push cart selling home-made fast food and snacks. He moved his eatery up and down the street, a brilliant idea I thought.