Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia, is located on the South-Western corner of Malaysian Borneo. It is a land of vast primeval rainforests, majestic mountains, caves, unique flora and fauna and diverse ethnic communities. Sarawak's history is one of heroic adventure and romance, piracy and rebellion. The state came under the rule of the White Rajahs when the Sultan of Brunei made James Brook, an English adventurer, the ruler of Sarawak in 1841 for his help in quelling a rebellion. Sarawak shares its boundaries with Kalimantan in the south and Brunei and Sabah in the north. Two-thirds of its land is rainforest and its population of 1.7 million is made up of 23 ethnic groups. Sarawak is best known for its natural and cultural wonders.
Places of Interest
Located at Jalan Gambier, this is a colorful place for soaking up the sights and sounds of the local culture. There are open-air food stalls and stalls selling fruits and vegetables. Within the area is a hawker center with some clothes and handicraft shops.
Built by Rajah Charles Brooke and named after his wife, this was the Police Headquarters since 1879, until it was converted into a Police Museum. It now houses an opium den, a lock-up and an assortment of weapons and relevant paraphernalia.
Getting there: Take a boat from the Waterfront and Main Bazaar.
|Gunung Mulu National Park
This is Sarawak's largest national park, covering an area of 544 sq km. The park, also a World Heritage Site, contains Sarawak's second-highest peak, Gunung Mulu, a sandstone outcrop standing at 7,795 ft. There is also the 5,741 ft Gunung Api, an impressive limestone outcrop.
The park is noted for its diverse vegetation, which varies from peat swamp to limestone and forest terrain. This national park contains about 1,500 species of flowering plants, including 10 species of the famous pitcher plant.
Caving is a popular pursuit here, since Gunung Mulu National Park has an extensive underground cave system that is one of the largest in the world.
|Niah National Park
Niah National Park is inhabited by flying lizards, long-tailed macaques and hornbills; this park is also known for its caves, primarily:
The Painted Cave
Features thousand-year-old iron-age cave paintings.
In 1873, Palaeolithic and Neolithic tools as well as human remains were found here. The Chinese delicacy, bird's nest is harvested in this cave while the Penan people collect guano here.
Apart from caves, visitors can trek or climb a 1,312.3 feet high limestone ridge. Facilities here include chalets, a hostel, rest house and canteen.
Getting there: Located 62.12 miles south of Miri, near Bintulu. It is best to book a trip with a tour operator.
Sarawak Cultural Village
|There are arts and crafts demonstrations and presentations of the dance and music of the Iban, Kayan, Kenyah and Bidayuh people.|
With an external structure inspired by a house in Normandy, the Sarawak Museum is noted as one of the finest in Asia. It has an excellent collection of Borneon ethnological and archeological artifacts and a permanent exhibition of native arts and crafts. Many of the exhibits are from the collection of Alfred Russell Wallace, a naturalist who, with Charles Darwin, was a co-founder of the theory of evolution.
|An annex to the museum has Chinese porcelain and galleries devoted to the way of life of the various tribes. There is also a reconstruction of the Niah caves where evidence of human remains was uncovered some 40,000 years ago.|
Jalan Satok Sunday Market
The place truly comes alive Sunday afternoons with a rainbow of colors, smells and dialects as the locals converge to buy their weekly produce. Traders sell handicrafts, clothes, fresh produce, food, drinks and much more. This is also an excellent excuse for picture taking opportunities.
Batang Ai Longhouse
Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
The rehabilitation center is a forest reserve where orangutans, among other wild animals, are nurtured to readapt themselves to jungle life. The objective of the center is to teach animals living skills so that they can eventually be released back into the jungle. The center also conducts breeding programs for endangered species and those within the brink of extinction.
|Skrang River Safari|
|When in Sarawak, a visit to a longhouse is highly recommended, which was once the home of notorious pirates and headhunters. There is a longhouse safari available, which begins with a 4-wheel drive to the banks of the Skrang River. From there, the safari continues by motorized longboat down the shallow Skrang River, occasionally "shooting the rapids." A thrilling journey along this scenic river brings you to a series of wooden Iban longhouses.|
|Bako National Park|
|Sarawak's oldest national park was established in 1957, and is famous for its extraordinary natural scenery, habitats, plants, and wild life. Its most significant features are secluded coves and rugged rocky headlands with magnificent steep cliffs that overlook the South China Sea. The sea spray, wave action and the wind have also carved out magnificent sea arches and sea stacks at the base of the cliffs, some rearing above the waves like a mighty serpent's head.|