Saturday, September 17, 2011

Guest Post: Tom McLaughlin, author of Borneo Tom

Today I welcome Tom McLaughlin, author of the delightful Borneo Tom which I reviewed earlier this week.
Read review. Thanks for visiting, Tom and I love the appropriateness of this post - Cat City for Cat's Blog.

Cat City

Kuching, Malaysian  Borneo, where many of the stories in my book “Borneo Tom” take place, means cat in the Malay language. Many tourists come here to have their pictures taken in front of one of the many huge statutes  playing in the centre of round abouts.  How and why the town got the name is a matter of debate.

Kuching was nonexistent in 1839 when an English adventurer, James Brooke, threw out his anchor in the middle of a civil war between the natives. One group asked him to take charge and rout the invaders. He promptly pointed his cannon and fired driving off the forces of the Sultan of Brunei far to the north.

Brooke returned a few months later and anointed himself Rajah of Sarawak to the amusement of the locals who let him and his descendants live there for over a hundred years. The “Rajah” brought all the pomp and ceremony of Victorian England with him, further entertaining the locals.

Looking for a place to establish a home, he sailed up the Sarawak River and selected a place with moderately high ground. He somehow named the place Kuching. There are a few theories.

The area was said to be the home of native cats or very small leopards that once populated the jungles.  The pet cats of the Chinese farmers who sparsely populated the river banks could also have become feral and become concentrated on the jungle fringes.

The mata Kuching tree (eye of the cat) was said to grow in small clusters where Brooke established his administrative capitol. The fruit is clear with a black seed in the centre. One peels off the light brown skin and the result is like holding a whole eye. I guess you have to use your imagination, like a cat’s eye stone.

Whatever the origin, this tropical town has a cat museum and many huge statutes of the feline surrounded by fountains scattered throughout the city, a fun place to visit and live on Borneo Island.

 Tom McLaughlin lives in Kuching, Malaysia Borneo with his wife and son. He works at the prestigious Lodge International School teaching biology, English as a Foreign Language and Literature in English.

 His book “Borneo Tom” is available on his web site at

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