Monday, January 16, 2012

Travels in Borneo, the land of the orang-utan

IT was somewhere between a refreshing beer and just before the drum beats of Canadian band Iskwew that I looked around and realised how at home I was in a remote cultural village in the middle of Borneo.

It was the three-day Rainforest World Music Festival - a tribal Big Day Out - that hooked me on Malaysia.

It only took an hour to drive from the bustling city of Kuching to the Sarawak Cultural Village where the festival was in full swing with music workshops, sizzling food stalls and performers tuning up.

We stayed at the Kuching Hilton, an imposing hotel of 315 guest rooms perched on the Sarawak River.

The city was laid at our feet and we could explore the waterfront, pose with the city’s bizarre giant cat statues and brush up on local history in the Sarawak Museum.

A leisurely 275km journey, with stops at rubber, cocoa and pepper farms and a short boat ride, took us to the Batang Ai Longhouse Resort, managed by Hilton, its only jungle property.

Its 11 accommodation blocks are based on traditional Borneo longhouses.

Tours upstream the Ulu Air river in motorised longboats led us to the start of a humid but memorable trek under the rainforest canopy of the Batang Ai National Park, home to protected wildlife like orang-utans, hornbills and gibbons.

We were on the lookout for the notoriously shy ‘rangas’, but the only sign of them was their droppings in the middle of our track. Still, it was nice to know they were there, high up in the trees, watching us.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Travels in Borneo, the land of the orang-utan

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