We have just got back from a great couple of weeks in Sarawak, Malaysia. I would highly recommend Kuching and it's surrounds for anyone looking for a low cost holiday with plenty of interesting things to do.
We flew AirAsia from Johor Bahru as the flights are half the price of flying from Singapore. We made it easy for ourselves by organising a taxi to pick us up from home and deliver us direct to the airport at JB. This cost S$80, but well worth it for the lack of hassle at the causeway as there is no need to get out of the car. There are only a certain number of taxis allowed to do this trip between Malaysia and Singapore, so jot this number down if you may be thinking of flying from JB: Sumari Limousine Service, Tel: 019 7503034
Arriving at Kuching, we got a taxi to Damai Beach Resort formally Holiday Inn, Damai Beach. We wanted some time near the beach to relax as well as visit the Nationl Parks and Orang Utan Centres. We had a chalet near the beach, and we enjoyed the resort. The staff were very friendly, the food was good (seafood, local and western) and although the pool is not the best and could do with an update, the kids enjoyed it. The dramatic backdrop of mountains is stunning and we had a couple of storms when we could watch the low cloud envelop the mountain and get tangled up in the trees.
We hired a car for a couple of days and visited the sites on our own. We found this more cost effective as the travel agents were charging MR90 per person for a half day tour, and we hired the car for MR100 per day. Of course we got lost a couple of times, and it took us a lot longer to get from Damai Beach to Semenggoh Nature Reserve and Matang Wildlife Centre than we had anticipated, but we still managed to do both in one day.
We visited Bako National Park with the car on the second day, catching a small boat from the kampong of Bako. We had read that this is one of the places that visitors are guaranteed to see wildlife, and we weren't disappointed. We hadn't even got out of the boat when we spotted our first monkeys walking through the mangroves. There were Macaque monkeys everywhere. At the canteen they are a menace, grabbing people's lunch from under their noses, and squabbling over scraps. One grabbed Maya's can of drink from the table before she had even opened it. We also saw snakes, including a viper, flying lemur, monitor lizard, all near to the canteen.
We took the shortest jungle trek (Paku trail), being with the kids, but it certainly wasn't easy, with many amazing tree roots to climb over; some making natural railings for us to hold onto. The walk ended at a gorgeous little beach which we had all to ourselves, so a refreshing dip rewarded us.
You can stay overnight at Bako, and at the time I wished we could have stayed. There are basic chalets which I'm sure would be adequate for a night or two. An Australian woman we met who stayed there said they went out on a night walk through the dark jungle, and spotted a mouse-deer amongst other wildlife.
We saw many probiscus monkeys on our walk. These monkeys have the strange long noses and are an endangered species. They are amazing to watch jumping from one tree to the next, crashing through the foliage.
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