Bukit Markuching Revisited, Again

Bukit Markuching is in the news again. Quite a lot of things seemed to be happening at the place. In a way, it's typical for Brunei. New things always attract attention. We see the same thing for restaurants and other places as well. Restaurant owners have to keep reinventing themselves every few months, otherwise people will just tuned off. I remember visiting a few that was so crowded during the first few weeks of opening but the number of diners tapered off after that.

Yesterday, though, I managed to get the history of the currently famous Bukit Markuching. It seemed that the Bukit was quite famous in the past among Bruneians especially among settlers in the Subok area. Imagine it, in those days, there were no roads along the Subok or Kota Batu areas. Travelling was done by rivers. You learn to navigate the rivers. In fact most settlements in Brunei if you study your local history deep enough will always be by a river somewhere. That's why tiny little streams in Brunei tend to have names as people will have used it sometime in the past.

What happened is that the early settlers there whenever they wanted to go to the Berakas or Bandar area, the easiest route for them is actually to go over the Bukit Markuching. The treks that were used in the early days remained today as treks for trekkers to go up the hill. Since the trek up and down the hill will take quite a while, the villagers would go up and bring along food with them. At the top of the hill, they would normally rest and this is when they started building little huts for them to rest in.

So during the rests, they would normally tuck in to the foods which they have brought with them. Leftovers which are normally thrown away attracted a number of wild cats that lived in the hill. The word kuching comes from these wild cats which lived there being dependent on the early travellers. The only part which I have not got the explanation to is how come there is a 'Mar' in front of the name but I think we can put that down to usage. The early travellers must have talked about Bukit Kuching in the earlier days but with the Brunei style, must have talked about the number of cats up in the hill and says 'bukit berkucing' or hills with cats and hence the 'Mar' comes from there.

So, there you go, that's how Bukit Markuching managed to get its name. Anytime you go trekking there, you know how the Bukit gets its name and now you know how those huts at the top of the hill appears there as well.


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