Sarawak, The Land Of The Hornbills
Sarawak is Malaysia's largest state. It lies in East Malaysia and shares the island of Borneo with the eastern state of Sabah, the country of Brunei and the Indonesian provinces of Kalimantan. Even by Malaysian standards, Sarawak has an extraordinary mix of peoples: the largest ethnic group is neither Chinese (26%) nor Malay (21%), but the Iban (29%), who gained worldwide notoriety as the fiercest headhunters on Borneo.
Back in the bad old days, an Iban lad couldn't hope for the hand of a fair maiden without the shrunken head of an enemy to call his own, and bunches of totemic skulls still decorate the eaves of many jungle longhouses. Fortunately for visitors to the region, headhunting hasn't been practiced for decades, due to modernization of the local tribe. Most Ibans have moved to the city, to take on modern lifestyles nowadays. Other tribes of note include the Bidayuh (8%) and the Melanau (5%), as well as a smattering of Kenyah, Kayan and a group of tiny tribes in the deep heartland known collectively as the Orang Ulu (Malay for "upriver people").
Most visitors arrive in Sarawak by plane. The largest gateway is Kuching the state capital, which is about 1.5 hours away from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu. Regular Malaysia Airlines flights connect Kuching with Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Miri and Sibu. Malaysia’s budget airline, AirAsia operates frequent flights to Kuching from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Miri, Bintulu and Sibu. MAS Wings operates the Rural Air Service, flying Twin Otters (baggage allowance 10kg) & Fokker 50s to 40 destinations across East Malaysia. Connections to other destinations are via Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, or Singapore.
Kuching or known fondly as the “Cat City”, thanks the same pronunciation for cat in Malay, is the capital and the most populous city in the state of Sarawak in Malaysia. The city is situated on the Sarawak River at the southwest tip of the state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Kuching is a major food destination for tourists and the main gateway for travelers visiting Sarawak and Borneo.
Due to its mass land size, there are a few areas that should be highlighted and consider a must go. If you’re coming to Kuching, one must visit the Sarawak Cultural Village, some 45 minutes' drive from Kuching. It is a living museum of different tribes and architecture spread over a lovely green area at the foot of Mount Santubong. You will be able to see how Iban, Melanau, Bidayuh, etc. tribes live, work and cook in the longhouses, each with its own identity.
It is also best to visit this place during the annual Rainforest World Music Festival which happens each July. The festival is held on the grounds of the Sarawak Cultural Village. Rainforest World Music Festival has been around since 1997 and its popularity is growing from year to year. Accommodation around the festival grounds are snapped up as soon as bookings open so be quick. The three-day world music festival brings together some of the best world musicians for workshops and nightly live concerts.
As a coastal city located at the northeastern side of Sarawak and the second larest city in Sarawak, Miri is blessed with a long stretch of coastline with some of the most diversify landscapes from ancient rainforest to tropical beaches. As a gateway to Mulu National Park, the world famous UNESCO World Heritage, Mulu offers visitors a truly fantastic “Jurassic Park” like natural environment that it captured the attention of National Geographic, Discovery Channel and scientists alike. It is also one of the World Heritage Site as sanctioned by UNESCO in Malaysia. With the mighty Mount Mulu, the pinnacles and some of the world's largest cave system, it is not surprising that visitors from around the world come here to marvel at the remarkable sights year in and out.
Niah National Park is another one of Sarawak’s better known national parks, important for its archaeological remains such as a 40,000 year old human skull, prehistoric cave paintings, and the birds nest industry. The caves are home to large colonies of bats and swiftlets. In additiona to that, Lambir Hills National Park and also Miri-Sibuti Coral Reef National are all located in this division where researchers continue to flock to the regions and discover species that are unique at this part of the world.
Miri also boast itself to have some world class dive sites where WW II shipwreck diving are famous among divers. As there are hundreds of islands, the diving options are also limitless.
Miri has a tropical rainforest climate. There are two monsoon seasons: the southwest monsoon, which is the dry season from April to September, and the northeast monsoon, which is the wet season from October to March. The annual rainfall is around 250 to 380 cm (100 to 150 inches). The air temperature is between 23°C (73°F) to 32°C (90°F) the whole year round. But in rare occasions, temperature can reach down to 18°C (64°F) to 16°C (61°F) especially in the months of November, December and January. Lowest ever recorded is in December 2010 when the temperature dropped down to 11°C (52°F).