Monday, April 6, 2015

Thriving 'Little Indonesia' in Serikin

Streets of Serikin

Rattan and bamboo -based products
The streets of Serikin have gradually been attracting hordes of local and foreign tourists for the last 10 years.  It is a good example of rural entrepreneurship with a difference.  Serikin is about less than an hour drive from Kuching city.  On this trip to Kuching I decided to give it a call in order to update on any new things that's happening to the place.  The streets are obviously more bustling than it was a decade ago.  The range of goods that are sold here have greatly expanded from the staple rattan-based furniture and handicrafts to textiles,  personal accessories, toys, herbal medicine, fruits and kitchen hardware.  What interests me on this visit is the growing number of eating stalls and eateries.  This new development may augur well for more return visits by tourist to savour some uniquely Indonesian dishes.  There is an abundance of cultivated vegetables and fruits that are on sale.  The effort to bring them is commendable in view of the fact that these traders have to travel about 3-4 hours to reach Serikin from the Indonesian villages where the traders originate.  Serikin is a win-win situation for both Indonesia and Malaysia where Indonesian traders are allowed to trade during the weekends into Malaysian soil.  The currency is Malaysian ringgit and many Malaysian tourists and consumers find the goods there reasonably prized.  However, one very pleasing element in the bargaining process is that the Indonesian traders do not hustle their customers.  The lingua franca is Malay and this encourages smooth transactions between the traders and tourists.

Make-shift stalls along the streets of Serikin

Knitted skirts bearing Sarawak native designs

Tapioca, gingers, etc.

Motorcycles fitted with rattan baskets to bring in the goods from the Indonesian villages across the border from Serikin

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