Traveling in Sarawak
Sarawak - land of the hornbills
Sarawak wears the title of Bumi Kenyalang - The Land of the Hornbills. As one arrives in Kuching - the capital city of Sarawak they begin to observe sights of arts, culture, history and nature all at a glance.
Sarawak was once under the Brooke British dynasty known as the “white rajahs”. This bit of history is prominently evident in the colonial architectures of Fort Margherita and Brooke Gallery right in Kuching city. In the same vicinity one will also come across Indian street markets, mosques & Chinese shophouses architecture and temples. This goes to show that Sarawak is a great melting pot of 27 Ethnic groups that is able to live together in harmony.
Kuching – the city of convenience is also home to modern day arts that is depicted from the murals and bold graffities that add vibes to the Kuching city. Vibrant colors are creatively spread across walls of the new and old “concrete jungle”. The art work does not stray from historical, cultural and iconic features as some of the graphics visible on the walls are inspired by the tattoo motifs of the Iban tribe, orangutan, hornbills and traditional musical instruments.
As for those who likes a bit of shopping therapy and on the lookout for unique souvenirs to take home. Then look no further as a visit to the shops along the main Bazaar Road offers handicraft, antics, batiks, Sarawak’s unique Pua Kumbu materials among others can be found here.
After a few days of soaking in the beauty of Kuching city, one can explore the nearby Semenggoh Nature Reserve. This is a nature reserve that provides home to rescued animals mainly orangutan and crocodiles. A day trip to this nature reserve is a must to understand the history, the success and challenges that the reserve face at protecting these wildlife.
Your Sarawak discovery of the city and nature is yet to be further explored as you make a stop of the Serian Market on the way from Kuching to Batang Ai National Park. This market in Serian town is a must visit for those who appreciates local produce. Amazing types of local tropical herbs, vegetables, meat, fish and many more can be found here. For those who loves cooking, you would definitely wish you have the kitchen facilities with you to dish up these fresh local produce.
A visit to Batang Ai National Park is your window to discover the land of the historical headhunters! A cultural exploration that is not to be missed. Cruise down the dam of Batang Ai by taking the tailboat to the traditional Iban longhouses.
Learn the Iban’s lifestyle, the practicalities and their simple approach to happy life. One longhouse can house about 15 families at a time and a Chief is appointed to look after the wellbeing of his family and designate duties to each one of them. Observe their daily activities for leisure and economic means. On guided tours you get to interact with the Iban tribe and feast on the local cuisine which is most of the time cooked using the bamboo tubes.
Moving from culture to experiencing nature, spend a few nights in Permai. A perfect spot to relax and unwind in the comfort of green nature. Nice jungle walk to look for the wildlife and also a base to go for Dolphine observation tour and visit the Satang Island to learn about the turtle conservation project.
Not to be missed if you are in Sarawak is the Bako National Park. What a privilege to be surrounded by nature and trek your way to observe the wildlife. The Bako National Park is home to proboscis monkeys, bearded wild boar, snakes, naughty macaques, silvered leaf monkeys and many more. Whether you are in for a challenging trail or a fairly easy trail (for families with younger children) this is definitely a way to spend quality time with your loved ones in the heart of nature.
Speaking of nature, another highlight of Sarawak that should be on the travellers bucket list is the World Heritage Site of Mulu National Park. It is also a place where majority of the Penan tribe originates from, in Sarawak. The Penans are known in the past to lead a nomadic lifestyle. They would explore the jungle for shelter and food source. In the face of economic pursue, the cutting down of jungle trees have created a pause for the Penan to continue living in the jungles. Today, most of the Penans have been relocated to concrete longhouses the government build for them in Batu Bungan.
Besides the Penan tribe, Mulu is known for having an amazing wealth of biodiversity. Mulu National Park is a protected rainforest that would appeal to outdoor lovers and adrenaline seekers. River cruises on the tailboat to reach from one destination to the other is in its own way an experience to amazing sights of nature and also lifestyle of the locals.
Mulu’s most visited highlights are the Deer Cave which is home to millions of bats. Sharp eyes could lead to spotting the horned frogs, spiders and many more in this cave. During dusk, you will see the clear pink hued skies painted with crazy black dots that swamps in a coordinated move as the bats leaves its nest. Inside the cave is another world. Cool and mostly wet, the different shapes of stalactites and stalagmites adds soul to the interior of the caves.
After all the trekking and cave visits, a stop at the clearwater offers a beautiful oasis to cool down for a swim and a dip.
All those memorable adventures in the heart of nature and cultural exposure can be experienced at this lovely land of the hornbills Sarawak.