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Sarawak orangutanHis enthusiasm was catching. Having witnessed many presentations, you get a feel for the true believers. Kevin Nila Nangai from the Sarawak Tourism Board was an active campaigner for his region. His passion triggered a trip to Malaysia’s largest region to witness the beautiful sights and experiences Kevin captured so well in his presentation.

Robert Basiuk with Sarawak Tourism Board Media staff

Robert Basiuk with Sarawak Tourism Board Media staff

Sarawak joined Malaysia Airlines in recent roadshows in Sydney and Melbourne to showcase the region’s many features.

Kuching is the state’s commercial centre located on the island of Borneo. Other major cities include Sibu, Miri, and Bintulu. Sarawak is famous for its food, friendly population, beautiful rain forests, and the culture of 31 ethnic groups speaking 45 different dialects.

Following the roadshow and having arrived in Sarawak, I was struck by the sheer beauty of the lush forests, vibrant wildlife and the fascinating culture of the diverse population. Sarawak has 47 National Parks, 15 Nature Reserves and five wildlife sanctuaries. These reserves contain the world’s richest and most diverse ecosystems; only 23 are open to the public. The orangutan, proboscis monkey, hornbill, butterfly and silver leaf monkey call Sarawak home. Oh, and there’s the Sarawak laksa to die for. Other dishes include kolo mee – dry noodles with pork and shallots, midin – a jungle fern that is stir-fried with seafood or used as a salad, umai – sliced raw fish with onions, chilli and vinegar plus chicken dishes cooked in bamboo known as ayam pansuh.

Sarawak Laksa

Sarawak Laksa

Our guide, Jazzy, from the Sarawak Tourism Board, introduced us to Green Hill Corner, right in the Kuching CBD, where the separate vendors offered Sarawak laksa, porridge, kolo mee, a pork and noodle dish and curry and rice.  They are not the usual items on the menu for a Westerner’s breakfast, but they are very tasty and of great value. Breakfast was followed by a short drive to the inspiring Kuching Waterfront and a visit to the extraordinary five-story Borneo Cultures Museum (the largest museum in Malaysia and the second largest in Southeast Asia), which details the story of the birth and profound history of Sarawak.

The city abounds with iconic buildings with both Eastern and Western influences, most within walking distance. The Brooke dynasty, known as the White Rajahs, influenced many buildings. Patriarch James Brooke arrived in Sarawak in 1839 and immediately commenced to make his mark on the region’s history.

Borneo Adventure executive director, Robert Basiuk from Kuching, has been in the travel industry in Sarawak for more than 30 years. During that time, tourism in the region exploded. “Like everyone in the tourism industry around the world we had a setback when Covid hit, but we are back on track now with the support of some of our suppliers and Sarawak Tourism. We struggled to keep all our staff on board during the pandemic but are happy we did, and now we are heading back to the visitation figures we had before the pandemic,” he said.

“Borneo Adventure specializes in tours, excursions and activities focused on the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah on the island of Borneo. We also offer tours to the Sultanate of Brunei. We are one of Malaysia’s most established inbound tour operators and offer a range of over 100 small group or individual tours of Borneo to choose from,” he said.

Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier, has flight MH 0122 leaving Sydney at 13.10 and arriving in KL at 18.45. After a 90-minute stopover, the flight lands in Kuching at 22.10.

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Written by: John Savage in Kuching