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PCM 2015 in Korea
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Southwest Sarawak (Kuching and Around)
In 1822, a Dutch officer from Pontianak visited Sarawak (the present capital, Kuching) and described it as a tiny settlement two hours’ rowing from the river estuary. Kuching has a colourful history that involves a reign of White Rajahs from the 1800s onwards, after which it was occupied by the Japanese during World War II until 1946, when it became a British Crown colony up till 1963. In that same year, it joined the federation of Malay states , and together with Singapore, formed Malaysia. Even further back beyond historical annals, it was a side stop along the ancient spice routes, frequented by traders in search of gambier, birds nests and rainforest treasures. Chinese trading junks have been frequenting this sleepy backwater as far back as the 6th Century AD. History, romance, mystery, rainforest, Kuching is where history first came to life for Sarawak. Today, Kuching is a modern, beautiful waterfront city that has everything the discerning traveler could wish for.
Here you’ll find the Southwest Sarawakian experience, unique in a Borneo setting:
National Parks. Proboscis monkeys in Bako, giant fly-eating pungent flowers in Gunung Gading, or rehabilitated orang-utans in Semenggoh, there’s something for every type of nature-lover in any Kuching’s national parks. Easy to get to, wonder to behold once you’re there, each park is unique in its own right, with its own variety of natural habitats and natural formations.
Borneo Highlands. Golf in tropical rainforest paradise at the Borneo Highlands Resort. Cool climates, organic food from local gardens served at the table and surrounded by indigenous villages at the foothills, Borneo Highlands Resort is a perfect mix of rainforest chic and corporate slick. At the foothill of Borneo Highland, one can explore Annah Rais Longhouse, a Bidayuh settlement near the mountains marking the border to Kalimantan. Other than the authentic longhouse experience, it is also famous for the hot springs nearby.
Batang Ai and The Iban Longhouses. A first-hand experience into the last stronghold of wild orang-utans in the heartland of the Iban people. Ride the waters through Batang Ai Dam before you hit Nanga Delok, the first of the Iban longhouses. Dance the traditional ngajat with your hosts and have a taste of tuak, the traditional rice wine. Then take a walk on the wild side and spot an orang-utan nest. If you are lucky, you might spot an orang-utan!
The Santubong Peninsula. Where else but in Santubong can one get to choose between relaxing in the lap of luxury on a beach resort (Damai Beach Resort, Damai Puri Resort and Spa and Permai Rainforest Resort), climb a princess made of rock (Mount Santubong) and submerge themselves in Sarawak’s main cultures (Sarawak Cultural Village)? Only 35 minutes drive from Kuching, Santubong has some superb natural attractions centred on the rainforested slopes of Mount Santubong, its mangrove forests, rivers, near shore waters and mudflats. These different habitats are home to variety of wildlife making Santubong one of the best sites in Sarawak to see a range of wildlife in a dolphin, which inhabits rivers, estuaries and shallow coastal areas.
Main Bazaar. 100-year old shophouses filled with handicrafts, souvenirs, local spices and indigenous art. Main Bazaar used to be main trading centre for ships that came to short over 100 years ago. Today, it is part of Kuching’s Heritage Walk, a place of remembrance, history, and also where visitors get to shop for souvenirs. The shops are among the oldest buildings in Kuching, and are still owned by the original families who established their business in Kuching many generations back.
Eating Out. Food, food everywhere and all the chances to try it! No trip to Kuching is complete without trying fabulous local favourites like Sarawak Laksa, Kolo Mee, Rojak, Pansuh Manok and excellent seafood. From the rooftop eateries at Top Spot in town to seafood restaurants out at Santubong or Muara Tebas, there is something for every traveller looking for a gastronomical adventure.
Night Life. Karaoke, pubs and bars? Indie music? Or quaint coffee and cake places? Kuching’s got it all, whether you wish to express your inner start qualities or fulfill your love for good coffee. International chains, Italian coffees, local digs and independent coffee shops, take your pick.
For those more adventurous, Northeast Sarawak is not to be missed. What does the world’s biggest cave chamber look like? See for yourself at Gunung Mulu National Park, Sarawak’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, a title befitting its massive limestone system, giant columns of bats and crystal clear water caves. Niah National Park, known for the site where a 40,000 year old human remains were discovered, offers interesting jungle walk, Iban longhouse and cave experiences.
Beach lovers and divers can head for Miri, a popular dive destination due to an abundance of pristine patch reefs. The Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National Park, at depths ranging from 7 to 30 metres has an average visibility of 10 to 30 metres. There are also some interesting wreck dives. The nearest dive site is a mere ten minutes from the marina bay jetty. One can land in Miri and be in water two hours later. Local dive operators offer certification programme as well. The diversity and accessibility of corals and other marine life on the reefs is amongst the best in the region.