Sunday, March 06, 2016

Batang Ai tugs at the heartstrings

FOR someone like me living in the comfort of Kuching city with its modern technology and infrastructure, a trip to the interior has never sounded all that inviting or exciting — at least not before my expedition to Batang Ai recently.

The familiarisation trip, organised by Aiman Planet Borneo Group of Companies, really filled me with a deep sense of anticipation. I would be venturing into an area that was not exactly my cup of tea but the thought of experiencing all that Batang Ai had to offer was too hard to resist.

On Jan 30, I met up with Aiman group general manager Mona Abdul Manap, director Gracie Geikie, database and online management executive Alcila Abby Afflin at their headquarters at Riveredge Commercial Development before commencing our trip at 8.30am.

After a smooth drive along Kuching-Serian Road with its beautiful countryside scenery, we made a stop at Lachau Bazaar between Serian and Sri Aman for brunch at 10.30am. Half an hour later, we continued our drive, arriving at Batang Ai Dam at 1.10pm where we took a boat across the lake to Aiman Batang Ai Resort and Retreat.

From the jetty to the resort, guests would have to wait their turn to board the boat at scheduled times — between 9.30am and 5.30pm — taking a minimum of 20 minutes each way.

Situated at the edge of the verdant Batang Ai National Park, the Aiman Batang Ai Resort and Retreat is well hidden from view. We got there at 2.15pm and I was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome from the resort staff.

We were treated to lunch at Nanga Mepi Restaurant, famous for Sarawak local cuisine, including chicken cooked in bamboo or better known as ayam pansuh. Tilapia and chips were on the tiffin menu. After the midday meal, and spending some tranquil moments at the Wong Irup Lounge, I adjourned to my room for a much-needed rest before the next activity on the programme.

In the evening, we went for the nature walk, led by the guest relations and activities manager Ramona Ngalih. We walked among treetops on the canopy of the rainforest along a 130-metre walkway, suspended 50 metres above the jungle floor.

Our very knowledgeable guide Ramona showed us pretty much everything she could — the flora and fauna, including the Kapok Tree bark with large thorns and spines which can be used to create music. She also gave us tips on surviving in the rainforest.

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