I love love love Borneo! It is such an amazing island! My trip to Borneo was just short, because I thought a couple of days would be enough. I only had 3 weeks to travel and decided to stay in Borneo for one week and two weeks in Malaysia. If I could do it again, I would have stayed there the total three weeks I had…
Bako National Park
From Kuala Lumpur I flew to Kuching, the capital of Sarawak. From there, we went by car and boat to Bako National Park (the trip was quite short). Arriving there is breathtaking. Very quite (I went in the first week of June) and the first thing we saw when we stept out the boat was a wild pig walking on the beach. At the entrance, there is a buffet restaurant where you can buy some drinks and food. The food didn’t looked very bad, but I haven’t tasted it so I can’t tell you i fit was worth the money. If you go with a guide, he probably will tell you he have to make a reservation for you for about $20,00. Well, I can tell you that’s a bit overpriced if you compare it to the other prices over there.
We hired a guide in Borneo because we wanted to see and experience a lot of things in a short amount of time. For Bako National Park it is not needed to have a guide, because the trails are very clear. Also depending on the trail you take, it is possible to go by boat back to the entrance, so you don’t have to walk back. But a guide can tell you more about the flora and fauna and they have well trained eyes to spot animals.
There are options to stay a night in the park. To experience the jungle, I would recommend that. I only did a one day trip and was luckily to see all types of monkeys living there.
You can swim in the sea, but you have to watch out for jellyfishes and stingrays!
In my opinion, you really must go to this park when you are in Sarawak. I haven´t been in other parts of Borneo, but I am absolutely planning to go there again to see more of it.
Silver Backed monkey
Long-tailed Macaque monkey
In Kuching, we booked a river tour to see crocodiles and fire flies. And there, on the river, we experienced what is called a tropical climate. Thunder, lightning and a lot of rain. The thunder was coming near, so our boatmen decided to ‘hide’ in the middle of the river…. Probably it was a better idea than what you usually will do, hide as close as possible on the side, because of the crocodiles. We’d been waiting for like half an hour, untill the boatmen starts scooping the water out of the boat… A very interesting experience I can tell you ;). We haven’t seen any crocodiles, but we saw dolphines and fire flies! I never ever have seen soooooo many fireflies! Wonderful to see On the tops of the trees, we could see some monkeys as well.
Orangutan – Semenggoh wildlife rehabilitation centre
Only a short drive from Kuching, you can get to the rehabilitation centre of oangutans. The orangutans are not kept in cages, but they are allowed to move around freely within a large area. That makes the trip to this rehabilitation centre absolutely worthwile. If you’ve ever been to the Tiger Temple in Thailand, this is nothing like that. Here you get the idea behind a rehabilitation centre: to reintroduce the animals to their natural environment. Two times a day the rangers will feed them, which gives the biggest chance to see one or more orangutans.
It was very humid in the park, so don’t turn on the airconditioning in the car too high (or do you call this low…) if you want to make some nice pictures!
Although it was a ‘touristic attraction’, it was a very nice experience to stay a night at a longhouse with an Iban family. It was a traditional way of living, but I guess now they earn money because of the tourists visiting them. I was a bit afraid that the place would be too primitive for me to enjoy the time being, but the sheets where clean and also the toilets where clean.
A longhouse is a very long wooden house, but with the number of rooms and people living in there, you can compare it with a small village. In the one I’ve been, where living over the 200 people. Every family lives in one room. Each room is quite small for the number of people sleeping there, so they sleep on matrasses and remove them every morning. There are no tables, beds or chairs. Within the room, they have a kitchen and a very small light dome. They shower in the river or behind the kitchen. There is no airconditioning nor WiFi. All these looked very primitive, so I was very surprised that the young children have the newest iPhone….
When you arrive there, they will welcome you with tuak. Every one drinks out of the same glass, so if you don’t like this, make sure you are the one who walks up on the front ;). Tuak is a rice wine and tastes a bit sour. After this, we where talking with some Iban people and drunk some tea. After the dinner, which was very good, the Iban people will perform a traditional dance. First the little ones and at the end also the head of the family. After this, also the visitors have to dance. It is very common to take something with you for the Iban family, e.g. some salt, tea, crisps or something else to eat. You can buy this at the grocery store before going into the boat to the Iban family. Thus it is not needed to take it with you from home. After the dance, you can hand over the gift to the head of the family and it will be divided through the families.
If you go with a guide to the Iban family, it is not needed to take your own sheets with you or towels. They will provide you clean sheets, towels and soap.
Going by longboat to the Iban family
Batang Ai Longhouse Hilton Hotel
After a night with many people under a roof, hearing people snoring next to you, it is a relief to have your own room, a real shower and airconditioning. This Hilton hotel is nice. Not very luxury, but the location is beautiful. The rooms aren’t that clean as they should be, but overall still a good hotel to stay. The restaurant isn’t very special as well, just a buffet restaurant with barbecue. The staff is very kind and helpfull.
Around the hotel, you can go hiking and there is a canopy in the middle of the rain forest. The hike isn’t very long and only a bit heavy because of the humidity. You don’t have to have a very good condition to do this hike. The total time for the hike is about an hour, so you can walk slowly if you leave abundantly before sunset it isn’t a problem at all. Just don’t forget to take some water with you, even it is a short hike.
The lights in the lobby and restaurant will be turned off at night. Because they are located miles from anywhere, it can be very very dark. I even couldn’t find the light switch in the room. Then I realized I probably have never been in such a remote place ever in my life before.