For those who seek cultural experiences, Sarawak is a must-visit. Follow me as I explore the beauty found in Bau and Santubong, with Kuching as the gateway to both places.
When in Kuching
King Laksa Sarawak at Icom Square
Slightly different from the other laksa dishes found in Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak Laksa has its own uniqueness. When I arrived in Sarawak, the first destination I went to was King Laksa, located in Kuching, which I am sure will entice your taste buds: its highly recommended thick laksa gravy with fresh prawns would make you go for seconds or even thirds. Wash it down with comforting Teh Tarik Dangdut as it soothes the throat and makes you feel satiated.
Borneo Cultures Museum
Among the newest attractions in Sarawak is the Borneo Cultures Museum, claimed to be the second-largest museum in Southeast Asia and the largest in Malaysia; one day is not enough to explore this museum! Upon arriving at its entrance, I was very impressed by its large and spacious structure. The museum has five levels, and each of them has different themes. The theme for the exhibition on Level 3 is ‘In Harmony With Nature’, while the exhibition on Levels 4 and 5 carry the theme ‘Time Changes’ and ‘Objects of Desire’. As for Level 2, the theme of the exhibition is ‘Love Our Rivers’, which is specifically designed to spark imagination, creativity, and care for the environment, especially among children. The admission fee starts from MYR5 and above.
When in Bau & Santubung
Gua Pari-Pari (Fairy Cave)
Even though it looks just like any other cave from the outside, as you step inside Gua Pari-Pari, you will find that it contains a remarkably green and stunning garden! The drops of water that fall and form stalagmites add to the beauty of this cave. Located in the town of Bau, Gua Pari-Pari is around 170 million years old and recognised as part of Sarawak Delta Geopark. There are various stories surrounding the cave, especially regarding how it is named; there is a stalagmite shaped like the celestial Chinese Goddess of Mercy called Guan Yin exists in the cave, hence referred to as ‘fairy’. There are three trails that travellers can choose to explore this cave: Dark Trail, Twilight Trail, and Summit Trail. The entrance fee is MYR1 per person.
Tasik Biru (Blue Lake)
Located in the town of Bau, Tasik Biru is not a natural lake, but a man-made one, created from the gold mining activities in the past. The site was formerly a gold ore mine owned by Borneo Company Limited from 1898 until 1921. Now it is opened as a tourist spot. Among the activities that can be done here are kayaking, paddle boating, and cruising around the lake. It is strictly forbidden to fish and swim in this lake due to the arsenic content in the water from the gold mining. Interestingly, there is an accommodation floating on the water offering the view of the surrounding blue lake, which I didn’t get to stay but intend to do so in the future!
Paku Rock Maze Garden
Paku Rock Maze Garden is a relatively new tourist attraction and a hidden gem because it is right behind the Shiwang Chinese Temple. Being part of the Sarawak Delta Geopark as well, this phenomenal site contains amazing rock formations likened to a stray garden that is overgrown with lush greenery, allowing travellers to truly admire the beauty of nature. I found myself pleasantly ‘lost’ in this peaceful garden. There is even a rock formation that looks like a dinosaur’s head, which is one of the place’s icons.
Sarawak Culture Village
Sarawak Cultural Village is, without doubt, the place where travellers should go to learn about the native ethnic groups found in Sarawak, including each of the group’s rumah (abode), for example Rumah Bidayuh, Rumah Iban, Rumah Melanau, and Rumah Melayu. There are also workshops held for travellers to understand about these ethnic groups’ traditions such as making traditional cakes, tweezers, hunting equipment and more. Travellers are also feted to cultural performances, whereby each performance represents the traditions of each tribe. For me, Sarawak Cultures Village is one of the must-visit destinations when you are in Sarawak.
Where to Stay
The Culvert Hotel & Resort
Have you ever thought about sleeping in a culvert? The Culvert Hotel & Resort offers accommodations that are different from others. This is the place where you get to sleep in a well-appointed culvert that comes with its own toilet. The culverts overlook the forest and the sea with Mount Santubong in the background. Among the facilities at this property are surau, mini library, mini gym, and a pool facing the sea view! I also enjoyed the floating basket full of snacks while swimming in the pool. One of the culverts is also converted into a unique sauna with interiors made from wood and a view facing the sea!