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A dreamy view of Kuching waterfront at dawn.
Tea Leaves

Kuching's rise offers both inspiration and caution

Sarawak capital's tourism boom risks growing rift with hinterland


Nine years ago, when I sat for the first time on a bend of the Sarawak river in Malaysian Borneo to soak in a glittering pink sunset, Kuching's riverfront was a seductive but deserted place.

Behind me, the 19th century Old Court House -- the magnificent administrative building constructed by the Brookes -- the "White Rajahs" who founded the kingdom of Sarawak and ruled it peacefully from 1841 to 1946 -- lay mostly abandoned.

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