Leo’s travel journal

Leo’s travel journal and other juicy bits…

Posts Tagged ‘Sarawak

Away again!

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I’m away once again, and it looks like another long-haul trip is coming up end May.

More updates soon! Cheerios!

Written by Leo

8 April 2009 at 20:07

Posted in Asia, Travel

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Borneo Adventure Part 2 – Kuching

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Sunset from my room, overlooking the Sarawak River
Kuching is the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak and is the most populous city in the state of Sarawak and the fourth largest city in Malaysia.

My feeling about Kuching is, despite it being called a city, I find the people generally rather umm, provincial. No offense to Kuchingnites who read my blog, of course as with everything there are exceptions.

Nevertheless, my experience in Kuching was a pleasant one, thanks to June who took time off from crashing for her finals to show me the sights.

But work was work, and upon leaving Batang Ai in the morning on the 8.30am ferry, I backtracked again through Lachau (for an early lunch) and Serian. Arrived in Kuching at 1.45pm (no, Ambrose wasn’t speeding).

Visited the supplier’s office to do some PR, followed by a late lunch in Khatulistiwa (which wasn’t WOW I must say, had the Sarawak Laksa). I then went to Holiday Inn Kuching, Crowne Plaza, and Merdeka Palace for a brief inspection of their properties.

Mango Tree – Thai food, nothing impressive
Met up with a friend from Hilton Kuching in the evening for drinks at Senso, followed by dinner at Mango Tree with June who joined us there.

Night view of Kuching from my room, 30 seconds exposure
We went around and June showed me the place in Tabuan (I forgot the name, I think it was Jalan Song) where Kuchingnites hang out to makan (think of it as an Asia Café, only half the size) and Friendship Park. We went restaurant scouting thereafter and landed in Magenta, a chic fusion hip hop restaurant located around 10 minutes drive from the Hilton Kuching where I was staying.

The interior of Magenta
Façade of Magenta – charming isn’t it?
June sent me back to the hotel, I hung out at Senso watching Nadal and Federer fight it out. Crappy Filipino band played.

Treehouse at Permai Rainforest Resort
Wildlife at Permai Rainforest Resort
The next morning, I headed towards Damai to inspect the Permai Rainforest Resort, Damai Puri Resort and Damai Beach Resort. Met up with old colleagues who used to work with Nexus, they have since moved out to form the pre-opening team of Damai Puri.

Damai Puri Resort – brings back old memories
Nice flowers at Damai Puri Resort
Took the afternoon flight out of Kuching to Kota Kinabalu.

Written by Leo

16 June 2008 at 18:37

Posted in Travel

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Batang Ai – The Last Frontier

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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

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