Published in Citta Bella August issue 2011, the number one Chinese female magazine in Malaysia.This feature is all on the best of Malaysia “Beautiful Malaysia”, interviewing us on our favorite travel spots in the country.
We were amazed at our recent visit to the Sarawak Cultural Village and Semenggoh Orang Utan Sanctuary near Kuching. An eye-opener of what’s truly amazing about Borneo Sarawak, that is irresistible!
Located near the Mount Santubong and facing the South China Sea, the Sarawak Cultural Village is also the place for the Borneo Rainforest Music Festival in July. Like a “living museum”, they portray the various ethnic tribes in the Borneo state of Sarawak and its rich cultural diversity:
The Bidayuh (8.4% of Sarawak’s population) – nicknamed by early Europeans as “Land Dayaks” - live mainly in the catchment of the Sarawak and Sadong rivers. They built their houses in mountain fastnesses, tacked to a steep hillside like a huge staircase. This was partly for protection against enemies, partly for access to fresh water.
The Iban, once known as “sea dayaks” (one-third of Sarawak’s population) built their longhouses to last 20 years or until the farmland was exhausted. Many families live together in a single longhouse. The traditional longhouse is made of timber tied with creeper fibre, roofed with leaf thatch, built beside the river.
The shy nomadic people of the jungle, the Penans, live in the dense virgin jungles of Central Borneo. Penan shelters are quickly constructed to last a few weeks or months. Penans are also known to make the blowpipes with poison darts (from the sap of the upas tree) for hunting in the jungles.
Orang Ulu, “up-river dwellers” is used to describe the people living in Central Borneo along the upper reaches of Sarawak’s rivers, and they account for about 5.5% of Sarawak’s population comprising of the Penan, the Kayan and Kenyah. In the past, Orang Ulu were famous as sword-smiths. Traditionally they built their longhouse to last.
The Melanau people (5.8% of Sarawak’s population) used to traditionally live near the sea within reach of the pirates. The Melanau built massive houses 40 feet above the ground. They also differ from most other Borneo people in that they prefer to eat sago rather than rice.
Then we headed to the famous Semenggoh Orang Utan Sanctuary - located 20 km away from Kuching – a safe haven for the Orang-Utan, an endangered species and Southeast Asia’s lone great ape genus. These gentle and shy creatures spend most of their time foraging for food among the trees in private but they’ve learnt to come out of hiding during the park’s regular feeding schedule. Did you know that the word “orang-utan” is derived from the Malay language meaning Man of the Jungle?
This was an incredible discovery for us and I’m proud we have something so amazing here in Malaysia!
PZ (cousin orang-utan).
One of the most amazing experiences you can enjoy in Borneo, is to explore the Gunung Mulu National Park, one of Nature’s most spectacular achievements and the jewel of Sarawak.
Adjacent to the park, The Royal Mulu Resort is beautifully situated along the river bank in a lush rainforest setting. We stayed for two nights in the Royal Suite, and enjoyed the amazing natural scenery and the noises of the wild life surrounding us, and the friendly staff helped us organize with all the nature wildlife activities.
Covering 52,865 hectares of virgin rainforest, which is criss-crossed by fast flowing rivers and clear jungle streams, they are many activities you can enjoy in Mulu. Having only a short weekend break, PZ and I decided to start with a boat ride excursion on the Melinau river to visit the Penan tribe longhouse settlement.
The next day, we explored the long canopy skywalk which is the world’s longest at 480 metres, and 35 metres high. The view and the sensations are absolutely amazing, as you walk in the towering trees where the rain forest pulses with life, hundreds of colorful butterflies, huge insects, green lezards, wreathed hornbills and lush ferns. PZ usually suffers from vertigo, but braved it!
Then we trekked to what is hidden underneath the forested slopes of the mountains: one of the largest limestone cave systems in the world. After an hour trek in the forest, you discover the Lang Cave, small, intimate, with delicate stone shawls draped from the ceiling, masses of stalagmites, stalactites and pillars millions years old made of fragile rim stone.
We finished the day by one of the most memorable experiences of my life: The Deer Cave! You pass through its large mouth and discover the world’s largest cave passage, surrounded by the sounds of millions of bats roosting 200 meters above and thousands of swiftlets swooping in the darkness. The smell of ammoniac from the bats’ feces is overwhelming but the location unique!
Each evening, between 5 and 6.30pm, the 3 million bats stream out from the cave known as the “bat exodus”. They spiral high above your head in the sky, swirling in long ribbon shapes, looking for food. Unforgettable.
Bat’s Dinner time.
It was our first time to trek into such a dense rainforest jungle, and it’s simply breathtaking! Christopher our guide was brilliant! (Do ask for him next time you go!) There is still much more to see in Mulu (such as the famous Pinnacles) so we’ll leave that until the next time we’re back!
I am honored to be one of the guest speakers at the Youth Congress “Perhimpunan Belia 2010 Saarawak” to be held in Kuching, Sarawak on 24th July at the Borneo Convention Centre. Invited kindly by YB Larry Sng, Assistant Minister of Youth Affairs and Training, who is hosting this spectacular event for the youths of Sarawak to be inspired, moved and motivated, it’s going to be the largest youth gathering ever in Borneo – definitely THE youth event of the year!
Amongst some of the illustrious speakers such as:
You’ll be interested to know that I’ll be speaking to over 1,000 youths so I am definitely needing your presence and support! My talk is about “HOW TO SUCCEED IN THE GLOBAL MARKETPLACE” – where I’ll share with you my personal story, plus tips on how to get the best jobs that suit you; how you can best prepare for job-hunting, questions from you, and some other fun interactive exercises that will leave you excited, motivated and ready to hit the world!
Guest speakers are just one part of the fun, Perhimpunan Belia will also be holding the largest flash mob ever attempted in Malaysia , as well as a GLEE style musical concert, boat race, basketball, futsal, Lion Dance competition, Tektonic dance competition and much more!
Click on the link to access the website and learn what’s in store for you: Perhimpunan Belia Sarawak 2010
So what are you waiting for, come check it out 24th-25th July at the Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching Sarawak – see you there!