We spent our second week in Malaysia on the island of Borneo. We stayed at Basaga Holiday Residences, in Kuching, for the first 4 nights. Basaga had once been a school, but was transformed so beautifully that you didn’t even know you were in a city. We loved staying at Basaga, because it had a pool we could cool off in when the heat and humidity got to us. The interior courtyard was surrounded with lush vegetation, and was decorated for Christmas.
Much to Anthony’s dismay, we didn’t eat out in the city that much because the food at Basaga was quite good, and the girls wanted to be close to the pool. We still tried quite a few Malaysian dishes, including Bee Hoon (a rice vermicelli dish), mee goreng (noodle dish), and mee mamak (spicy noodle dish).
During our time in Kuching, we each picked something we wanted to do. Amy just wanted to stay at Basaga and go swimming. Anthony wanted to explore the city. Hannah wanted to go to Jong’s Crocodile Farm & Zoo as well as the Sarawak Cultural Village. I wanted to go to Bako National Park.
Some of our picks worked out better than others. In the city, the girls enjoyed the Chinese History Museum, but didn’t like the humidity, so just wanted to get back to the hotel. Same thing with the Crocodile farm.
Bako National Park & Sarawak Cultural Village
While it was also humid at Bako National Park, the girls enjoyed the boat ride there and back. They also liked exploring the beach we had hiked to. It was our lucky day, as within the first 30 minutes we saw lots of silver leaf monkeys, a bearded pig, a green viper snake and proboscis monkeys. Our hike took us through a mangrove at low tide. We saw blue crabs, one-clawed crabs, and hiked through rocks and over lots of tree roots. The girls did really well on it and definitely prefer hiking to walking along a boardwalk or a sidewalk.
At the Sarawak Cultural Village we saw traditional houses of the various Malay tribes, as well as a Chinese farm house and Muslim house. We got a break from the humidity during the 45 minute cultural performance in the air conditioned theatre. The girls liked the performance by the hunter who used his blowpipe to pop balloons.
Gunung Mulu National Park
After Kuching, we spent 4 nights at Gunung Mulu National Park, a World Heritage Site. Even though we didn’t have access to a pool, it was quite the experience to stay right in the rain forest. I’m glad we did it. Who knew the rainforest could be so loud at night! The first night we could hear barking sounds, even though there were no dogs in the park. The next day, we found out that they were barking frogs (at least that’s what the locals call them). During the day, we saw butterflies of different colors and sizes, swiftlets, a flying gecko, walking fluff, three types of millipedes and of course the bats that Mulu is famous for. We didn’t have to worry about mosquitos in Mulu because the bats ate them.
Our first tour was of the Fast Lane Cave. After a 15 minute longboat ride and a 15 minute trek through the park, we arrived at the cave entrance. This cave was not lit up and it took us an hour to walk through it because it was so long. We saw blue racer snakes, blind white crabs, sticky worms (same species as the glow worms, but they don’t need to glow to attract food as there is enough food in the cave) and a few bats in it.
The next day we went on the Canopy Skywalk. I did not enjoy it, as the guide and my family took off and left me by myself! The Skywalk is the longest tree top walk in the world, crosses over a river and is 400m high in some places! It was a bit scary, but I persevered and made it through! That afternoon we took a longboat to Clearwater River to go swimming. The water was definitely clear, but cold, so we didn’t stay as long as I thought we would. There were some fish in the water, but they kept their distance.
The next morning, I decided to hike to Paku Waterfall by myself as the girls didn’t want to go. It was about a 30 minute walk on a boardwalk, followed by 30 minutes through the muddy rainforest trail to the waterfall. The waterfall is not that big, but you can go swimming at the bottom. I decided not to swim though.
In the afternoon, we went to the Deer and Lang caves. We had to walk one hour along the boardwalk to get there, so the girls were grumbling and Anthony had to carry them at various points. The Deer Cave has millions of bats (13 species), which makes for a lot of bat waste and one very stinky cave. The Deer Cave is quite high and wide – cavernous for lack of a better word.
The Lang Cave, on the other hand, is small, has few bats, and is full of stalactites and stalagmites. The guide told us to use our imagination to see different things in the rocks. Hannah took her at her word, telling us what she saw in each and every formation! After the caves, we stayed to watch the bat exodus. It was nightfall by the time we got back and we saw some fireflies along the way back.
Impressions of Kuching and Mulu National Park
Mulu has a limited number of tourists it can accommodate. Luckily, we came in the low season, so it was nice to have the park mostly to ourselves. Kuching and Mulu don’t quite get monsoon rains, just slightly more rain than the rest of the year. We ended up having beautiful weather. Even though it rained some of the time, it generally didn’t interfere with the activities we wanted to do. I hope the same trend continues for our time in the Sabah state of Malaysian Borneo.
Hannah & Amy in front of one of the many cat statutes in Kuching. They breed crocodiles at Jong’s Crocodile Farm & Zoo and have some other animals as well. Chinese tourists would throw coins on the turtle, believing it was good luck. I was appalled at this practice though. Bearded pig scrounging for food at low tide. The boat brought us to this point and the entrance to Bako National Park was not much further.