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Tuesday 29 May 2012

BORNEO-BOUND : Lush natural wonders. Rich culture. Warm locals. The allure of Borneo is endless.


Beautiful sunset at the
Kuching Waterfront
The cleanest city in Malaysia, Kuching impresses with wonderful sights, sounds, sips and savouries from museums to forts, eateries to cultural centres. It’s a pleasant city to walk about and soak in all the sights. Pay special attention to the colonial buildings, some of which are the legacy of the Brooke family, for instance the Fort Margherita and The Astana which is currently the residence of the head of state. The city’s newest five-star brand, Pullman Kuching which stands proud atop a hill at Jalan Mathies, makes for a wonderful stay in the city. Last but not least, don’t forget to watch the spectacular sunset from the Kuching Waterfront.

With evidence that the cave was used for burial between 1,500 and 3,000 years ago, the razor-edged Mulu mountain embraces one of the largest limestone caves in the world.  The Gunung Mulu National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is a great place to explore the caves, jungles, rivers and waterfalls. The Sarawak Chamber is the world’s largest cave at 700 metres long, 400 metres wide and 70 metres high, while the Clearwater Cave is over 100 kilometres long with one of the world’s largest underground river systems. Another must-see is the great bat exodus when millions of the winged creatures leave the caves en masse at dusk.

Sarawak Longhouse
The grounds of the Sarawak Cultural Village transforms into a festival site every July when the Rainforest World Music Festival happens.  Since 1997, the three-day music fest of performances and workshops brings together international and indigenous musicians as well as music lovers from every corner of the world. Tickets are often booked way in advance because this is a truly unique festival that has received rave reviews from the international media. Here at the cultural village, you too will be able to experience and see the lifestyle of local ethnic tribes such as the Iban, Penan, Bidayuh, Melanau and Orang Ulu.

The famous Laksa Sarawak
Sarawak, being a multi-ethnic state, has plenty of good grub to offer. While the popularity of Laksa Sarawak cannot be denied, there are other foodstuffs from the land of the hornbills that will impress with their unique flavours.  Umai, the raw fish salad with chilli loved by most Sarawakians can usually be found at mixed rice eateries. Other much-loved dishes are the Nasi Aruk, Kolo Mee and Kek Lapis
Sarawak. The dizzying tuak, a type of homebrewed local wine made from rice or sago, also deserves a mention as a must-try alongside the Iban whisky or langkau.

Lamin Dana, the Melanau
traditional tall house in Mukah

Experience authentic Melanau living at Lamin Dana in Mukah, a unique cultural homestay resort and living museum managed by Diana Rose who is very passionate about her Melanau roots. Dedicated to the preservation of Melanau culture, music, handicraft, dance and food, Lamin Dana offers a lovely experience of staying in an authentic Melanau tall house, meeting the locals, understanding the importance of sago to the Melanau and witnessing how this palm product is obtained.  And by the way, if you’ve ever wanted to go on a mangrove safari, this would be the spot.

As published in The Well | TRAVEL May 2012

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