Leo’s travel journal

Leo’s travel journal and other juicy bits…

Batang Ai – The Last Frontier

with 3 comments

After boarding flight MH 2504 from Kuala Lumpur, I arrived at Kuching International Airport at 1000hrs. I was greeted by my driver / guide, Ambrose working with our ground handler in Sarawak – we headed immediately towards Batang Ai, located approximately 250km South East of Kuching. The plan was to arrive at Batang Ai jetty by 1500hrs and catch a further 40 minute boat ride to a native longhouse to inspect the area where our clients do their day excursions from their hotel.

Let the journey begin!
The journey was indeed an arduous one as I had not slept well the night before. Road conditions on the Pan Borneo highway did not help with numerous bump and surprises along the way. Nevertheless, I was thankful for the excellent condition of the vehicle that day and Ambrose’s superb driving skills.

We arrived at the town of Serian, located 65 kilometres from Kuching. There, we made a quick toilet stop and a brief tour of the market. Ambrose briefed me that they would stop for an hour for tourists to stretch their legs and stuff.

No offence – I’ve not seen so many people looking like Indonesians (later found out they were mostly Ibans or tribals Malaysians), I felt rather intimidated.
Serian is also a border town with Kalimantan, Indonesia. Ambrose is a native Iban and explained to me, the history and origins of the Iban tribe in Sarawak. Apparently, they only started to move towards Sarawak around 300 years ago due to the ongoing feud with other tribes in Kalimantan. He further said that there are many natives still in Kalimantan which make the cross-border trip to Serian daily to trade jungle produce, etc.

Serian felt like a cowboy town, this snake in the food court reminded me of the rattle snakes in old cowboy movies
The journey was resumed, and we headed towards Lachau for our lunch stop. I had my first taste of Kolo Mee, a Sarawak specialty and although not impressed, I was delighted by the simplicity of the dish.

We pressed on and it started raining. Treacherous road conditions and heavy traffic slowed our pace to a crawl. We finally arrived at the turn off towards Batang Ai, I was definitely relieved only to be told that the jetty was actually 40km from the Pan Borneo highway junction.

Ambrose mentioned that it would not be advisable to take the boat to the longhouse as the lake can get pretty choppy when it rains. I agreed with him whole-heartedly upon arriving at the jetty and witnessing it myself. We arrived at 1445hrs, 15 minutes too late for the 1430hrs ferry and well a tad too early for the 1600hrs one. While waiting, Ambrose told me about his family and his various jobs in the past.

I thought I had the boat all to myself
I thought wrong
The wet boat ride
We (Ambrose, a group of 30 Dutch, and I) went for the ferry ride across the lake and arrived in the rain at Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort. Unfortunately, the resort did not have any covered walk way from the jetty to the reception area and thus, we were all forced to hike up the 7 flights of stairs under the torrential rain of the Borneo rainforest. Talk about originality right?

To be honest, I was taken aback by the lack of maintenance of the resort and especially so since it was a Hilton. The rooms were gloomy and were not clean.

Anyway, I was quite relaxed as there was no mobile coverage at the resort, thus no updating of blog. Proceeded to take some photos (which didn’t turn out great anyway due to the difficult lighting conditions).

There was a stunning sunset and I took a picture of this Dutch couple…
Went to the Spa thereafter for a massage and was not impressed either.

The mediocre spa
I spent a night at Batang Ai and headed on to the super clean city of Kuching the next day.


Written by Leo

12 June 2008 at 8:32

Posted in Travel

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. aiyoyo..not tempting eh? a pity..

    "Joe" who is constantly craving

    12 June 2008 at 14:29

  2. eh why u make kuching seem so super boring! 😦


    12 June 2008 at 18:07

  3. joe: Not at all, in fact it was downright disappointing, making the long journey there and back.. Not worth it if you ask me..june: am talking about Batang Ai lah, Kuching is the next post 😉


    12 June 2008 at 18:55

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