Friday, 31 August 2012

Pandan GoldCoast Holiday Villa

Pandan GoldCoast Holiday Villa is a cozy holiday retreat conceived and specifically landscaped to be in harmony with its natural surroundings, overlooking a magnificent view of Pandan beach. You can swim and enjoy the ocean or just watch the magnificent sunset. Giving you a taste of paradise and offering the affordable modern comforts, it guarantees a leisure trip that you won’t forget.

Pandan GoldCoast Holiday Villa is situated on Pandan Beach of Lundu, Sarawak (within Borneo Island of Malaysia) and approximately 80 minute drive from Kuching City. Whether you seek for a family vacation, a romantic escape, or enjoy the solitude, it is the best pick for a place as it offers comfortable accommodation with uncomplicated access to some of the best tourist spots like Gunung Gading, and list of activities and local tours available throughout your stay.

The villa offers 3 types of room accommodations - Deluxe Room, Semi-detached Rooms, Backpacker's Rooms. The Deluxe rooms costs only RM200 per night with 2 x 4” super single beds while the semi-detached room costs only RM250 per night with 1 x 6” king sized beds and a 1 x 4” super single bed. The facilities in the Deluxe & Semi-detached rooms include air conditioning, ceiling fan and a television. The bathroom is equipped with water heater complete with toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothbrush) and bath towels. More over, the place offers complimentary coffee and a chance to observe tea-making facilities.

There are also rooms for backpackers whom do not need the luxury of complete room facilities, which costs only RM100 to accommodate 2 persons. There is an allure in waking up with the gentle swish of the rolling waves if you opt for the backpacker’s room without air conditioning.

For outdoor activities, you can enjoy the scenery with an outdoor Barbecue, sing your heart out with the Karaoke facility, enjoy fun under the sun with beach games and stay fit by cycling.  You can swim in the clear turquoise water and enjoy the ocean or just watch the magnificent sunset. You can have as much fun when you stay indoor – you can opt to play darts, carom, board games, mahjong and table tennis.

For those of you who are fishing enthusiasts, Pandan GoldCoast Holiday Villa offers several packages for fishing trips and river cruise. Furthermore, local trips on various tourist spots can be arranged. Depending on your preference, meals can also be arranged so you won’t have to look for restaurants outside the villa.

We will elaborate more on what Pandan GoldCoast Holiday Villa can offer, stay tune!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Bako National Park

Bako National Park is the oldest national park in Sarawak, Malaysia. It covers a location of 27.27 km² at the peak of the peninsula named Muara Tebas at the opening of Bako and Kuching rivers. We have enjoyed the view where mangroves fringe the shores and the stony headlands are concaved with clear beaches. The park highlights several of the state’s main kinds of flora and fauna in the rainforest, traditional fishing villages, and the unique sandstone environment that creates the geological structure of the plateau.

Our journey started when we were picked up by the tour guide at the agreed location. From Kuching, it is roughly 40 minute-ride of about 25 miles to the jetty, from there another 30 minute boat ride engaged from boat . We passed through astonishing view but it is not for the weak hearted. Tides are to be considered because you may either be placed on a little quay on the northern portion of the beach’s headquarter or on the beach across it. But it was certainly fun just the same. Furthermore, we had the chance to get a glimpse of traditional fishing village, passed through the long tract of sandy beaches with rocky headlands that has exceptional arches and sea stacks colored patterns that were formed by iron deposition over millions of years and an abundant of tropical rainforest all within the vicinity of Bako National Park.
Along the boat trip, we have seen several fishermen at work either in group using local traditional method, as well as individually using the fishing net.

We also enjoyed the view of Mount Santubong (also known as Gunung Santubong) which is situated approximately 25km north of Kuching which is the state capital.
While we were appreciating the scenery, it was interesting to know the legend behind Mount Santubong. It was said to represent the tale of 2 beautiful princesses, Sejinjang and Santubong. They were really good friends until they both fell in love with the same man which turned them into mortal enemies. It was believed that Sejinjang was an expert rice thresher while Santubong was a skilled weaver. And they would use each of their tools to violently fight with each other. One day, the quarrel intensified into a brutal fight. Sejinjang was able to cut Santubong’s face (If you see the mountain, there is a deep fissure close to the peak and they called it “the wound of Santubong”). This provoked Santubong and she used her loom to hit Sejinjang in the head, which caused it to shatter into pieces which dropped tto the sea and believed to have transformed into the Monkey Island or Pulau Kera.

The legend’s ending is said to have two different versions. First, the king of the heavens got outraged with Santubong’s actions and he cursed her and transformed her in to a mountain, now known as Mount Santubong. The second version that Santubong felt remorse and succumbed to depression over what she did to Sejinjang. She committed suicide and her body collapsed beside the headless corpse of Sejinjang and the gods transformed them into mountains – Mount Sejinjang and Mount Santubong. (If you will gaze at Mount Santubong, you’ll notice that it takes a shape of a woman lying down. And if you look further, you will perceive that theirs is another mountain close to it – Mount Sejinjang.  We would like to share the video of popular local song on the stories of the princesses, enjoy J

Back to the national park, there are extensive network of trekking trails with 16 colour-coded jungle trails, which offer a range of walking and hiking options. The fit and adventurous can opt for full-day jungle hikes or overnight camping expeditions, while those who prefer to take it easy can opt for a relaxing forest walk. Teluk Assam near the Park Office and is a great place for spotting wildlife. Long-tailed macaques, silver leaf monkeys, common monitor lizards, plantain squirrel, bearded pigs and mouse deer are all found here. Telok Assam is also an excellent bird watching location. Bird watchers have recorded over 150 bird species in Bako including two types of Hornbills, the state bird of Sarawak. In addition to the residents of the region, Bako is also a fantastic place for observing migrant birds.  

A short but steep climb through cliff vegetation, it takes about 30 minutes to reach Tanjung Sapi. You will be rewarded with excellent views of Telok Assam, the South China Sea and Santubong! From the Park Office, it takes about two and a half hours or 45 minutes from the Tajor junction to reach Tanjung Rhu. This trail branches off the Tajor trail and leads across open country to the rocky peninsula and a small headland where you can see a wave-cut natural platform and natural rock pools. There are many other recommended spots of attractions offered by the national park, however we do not have the stamina to cover all. We recommend tourists to go with a park guide to explore the nature as there is no description hanging on the unique natural features, good park guide helps to gain maximum knowledge and insights from the trip. 
We continued our trip with 20min boat trip to admire the famous bizarre rock formations, for this additional sightseeing trip, there is some additional charges to pay the boatman. The famous formation resembles a cobra, there is one resembles a jumping frog, and some aliens!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Fairy & Wind Caves

Fairy Cave and Wind Cave are situated on the northern part of Bau, which is a small town occupied by the Bidayuh tribe and the Chinese community. Bau is a town, 22 km from Kuching and is a popular mining area and served as the headquarters for Chinese rebels on 1858. But prior to reaching one of the most popular sites for picnics and day tours, you will pass through enthralling villages, farms, plantation of cocoa, pepper gardens, lush rainforest and rubber estates.

The Fairy and Wind caves were shaped over millions of years and includes predominantly of the remnants of primitive coral reefs which developed during that time. These coral reefs flourished on top of each other and upon expiring, it remained in tiers and layers causing it to ascend to extremely bulky floor of lime stones, usually several thousands of meters in depth. These caves are worth exploring as a lot of fairy tales is said to be connected to these magnificent caves. The opening of the cave is approximately 36 meters above the foot of the cliff and you have to prepare for the 100 flight of stairs heading up. Both Fairy and Wind limestone caves are partially enclosed in the middle of a tropical rainforest next to the picturesque limestone mounds. A few rock formations are similar to shapes of animals and important figures and turned into a spot that stirred religious curiosity for the locals. More over, one of the highlights of the cave is the crystal clear cold water stream that pours out of it.

The Fairy Cave is within the Batu Kapor site. Locally known as Gua Kapor, fairy cave is considered majestic and magical because it holds unique stalagmites and stalactites developed over millions of years and symbolized the Buddhist’s divine being which is believed to resemble Kuan Yin, who is the Goddess of Mercy for the Chinese.  Offerings and incense sticks can be observed on the built altars and shrines in the caves. And because it holds massive rock formations that resemble humans and animals, the Chinese people have built altars and shrines to their Taoist/Buddhist gods within the cave.

The Windy Cave is named so, because you will feel the heavy breeze inside the cave.  This cave was discovered by early spelunkers in 1865. Proof of ancient occupancy was also discovered in windy cave depicted by shells and clay jugs or basins. In 1930’s, there was a gold rush and the miners worked to dig a hollow inside the cave. The opening of the cave is reached through a short path. When you finally reach the end of the cave, you will notice a running river and it is called Sungai Sarawak Kanan. Visitors can also enjoy and discover the stalagmites and stalactites in this cave while also viewing thousands of bats and swiftlets which is inhabits the cave.

This is definitely one of the must-see spots when you reach Kuching. The place doesn’t only look enticing but the tales and the history behind these caves are worth exploring in Malaysia.

Travel Tips:
  • Wear low-heeled walking shoes with non-slip soles (I was just too vain and wore sandals, couldn’t go far though)
  • Visit the exhibit center for informative descriptions and photos
  • Pack some picnic lunch & snacks
  • Bring extra clothes for change as you might be tempted to jump into the river for a refreshing bath!

Gunung Gading National Park

Gunung Gading National Park is one of the most popular tourist spot situated near Lundu’s fishing port approximately about 1.5 hours from Kuching.  When the park was proposed in 1983, the primary purpose of creating this park was to serve as a conservation site for the preservation of the rare and the world’s largest of flower – the Rafflesia. In 1994, it was opened to the public and tourist visitors. And if you prefer a less crowded park near Kuching, Gunung Gading is the best place to avoid the chaos and discover some of Malaysia’s natural wonders.

 The park is convenient to reach from Kuching on a day trip. There are a lot of attractions in Gunung Gading that the visitors can enjoy like jungle trails, view of the rainforest and waterfalls. More over, the hiking tracks can lead you to the summit of the mountains where the ruins of the deserted British Military Camp back in 1960s can be observed.  

The cost of entrance to the park is RM10 for adults, RM5 for children and students. And if you decide to stay overnight, there are affordable cabins that can be rented but should be booked in advance. When you plan a day trip to Gunung Gading National park, you have to bring your own food as there are no restaurants or canteens available within the area. The park’s headquarter sell sodas and bottled water but their supply is limited so it’s better to be prepared.

If you are out to try hiking in the park, you can set your own pace because the trails are well marked so getting lost is almost out of the question. For those of who are more adventurous, you can also try the night trail. It is advisable to engage a licensed park guide to explore the treasured natural features in the park of which most of the time not obviously visible but with interesting stories or background to tell!

Furthermore, you can also visit the waterfalls that are indicated on the trail map. And you can go swimming on a couple of waterfalls marked. The cool water would be refreshing after a warm, hour long hike. 

The Rafflesia Flower

Rafflesia is the world’s largest flower. They were first discovered in 1818 by Europeans Dr. Joseph Arnold and Sir Stamford Raffles. The discovery caused quite an uproar in the botanical community because of its size and the fact that it is parasitic. It has such a lengthy period of development, there’s an increased danger of damage compared to other flowers, therefore, there is no certainty that it will mature into a fully blossomed Rafflesia. It takes over nine months for the bud of the flower to develop and according to studies, when the flower reaches 16 cm in diameter, there is a decreased chance of survival because they are extremely sensitive to weather conditions. 

Kuching City Tour

Kuching City in Sarawak, Malaysia is on the brink for greater progress and it continuously receives acknowledgment as a perfect choice for tourist destination with its intense and fascinating sunsets, a number of historical places to visit and the diverse ethnic cultures. Tourists are encouraged to join city tour in order to have a good overview of the interesting city, the tour usually takes about 4 hours. Upon arrival at airport or meet up at preferred pickup point, tourists will be greeted by our friendly tour guide and along the way, the tour guide will provide informative and interesting general introduction of Kuching.

With a population of some 600,000, Kuching was once the capital of White Rajahs of Sarawak. It is hailed as the cleanest city in Malaysia where you feel safe and secure to explore. The name “Kuching” came from a Malay word, “kucing” which means “cat”. Most locals would call it the “Cat City”. Sarawak used to be a part of Brunei, but it was handed over to a British adventurer named James Brooke and ruled it as his own empire as he put up his headquarter in Kuching. The Brooke family governed Sarawak until it was surrendered to the Japanese in December 1941. After approximately 4 years, it was recovered by James Brooke and surrendered it to the British monarchy. In 1963, Sarawak gained full independence from the British together with the other Asian countries like Singapore, Sabah and North Borneo.

Several major attractions covered in the trip were built during the period of White Rajahs, therefore, each of them served as important reminder of their history and the City Tour include:

at Cat Museum with tour guide Billy

The Astana -  A beautiful palace on the north bank of Kuching Sarawak across the Kuching Waterfront. The palace was constructed in 1870 as a wedding gift of the second White Rajah, Charles Brooke to his wife, Margaret Alice Lili de Windt.

The Kuching General Post Office – Built in 1932 and designed by McClaren of Singapore and Swan’s architectural firm’s Denis Santy. This building that is situated along Jalan Tun Haii Openg used to be a police headquarter and stables for the white leaders. Currently, it serves as Kuching’s General Post Office.

The Courthouse – It is a place which held several historical events and one of the most delightful buildings in Kuching. Built on 1874, the courthouse served as the venue for the time of sovereignty of the state legislature< Dewan Undangan Negeri from 1878 to 1973.

Sarawak Museum
Cathedrals and Museums – In Kuching, you can visit a few Cathedrals like St. Joseph Cathedral and St. Thomas Cathedral. There was also a Cat Museum, which represents “Kuching” which is also called the Cat City. It is perfect for tourists from all over the world who are cat lovers. Visit to the Sarawak Museum is a must and will be an insightful experience as it is reputed to be among the best in South East Asia. In the Museum grounds there is an Aquarium, the Botanical Gardens and the Heroes' Memorial.
Tua Pek Kong Temple – It is believed to be the oldest Chinese temple built in 1770, in Kuching Serawak. Tua Pek Kong is the primary deity of the temple. The temple located near the Waterfront where four main festivals are being held every year - The Hungry Ghost Festival, Tua Pek Kong’s birthday, also the birthday of Tua Pek Kong’s Tiger and the Ascension Day of Tua Pek Kong.

State Mosque – Built in 1847 by the clan of the popular Malay leader Datuk Patinggi Ali, the old state mosque was the largest during that period. In 1965, it had to be reconstructed and was affirmed open by the Yang di Pertuan Agong on October 30 1968.

on top of Civic Center
There are several other significant landmarks and attractions to be introduced along the city tour, enable tourists to have thorough overview of Kuching City within just half a day. I myself originated from and grew up in the city but was surprised by the knowledge gained during the trip, and bashful to realize that there are many interesting facts and landmarks I was totally unaware of..

 Depending on the timing and tourists’ preference, the tour guide will also recommend good places to enjoy local food such as 'Kolo Mee', 'Sarawak Laksa', 'Ayam Pansoh', or stop by trustworthy souvenir shops along Kuching Waterfront for shopping of local handicrafts or the famous colourful Sarawak ‘kuih lapis’ (layered cake).