SARAWAK - Land of the Hornbills

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Brief Background

 

Sarawak with a land area of 124,450 sq km is of great economic importance with its oil and gas production, timber, pepper, rubber, sago, copra and bird’s nest. Being a riverine state, transportation is mainly via the waterways and because of this, nearly every household outside the main towns has at least one small boat. For the visitor, though, the main interest is the diversity of ethnic groups and the vast areas of still untouched rain forest. Many of the ethnic groups up the great g\rivers live in longhouses, where the entire population of the village lives under one roof. They are very hospitable to travelers, many of whom stay overnight in a longhouse during their visit.

 

Places of Interest

 

Kuching, the capital of Sarawak is a riverine town located on the banks of the SarawakRiver approximately 32 km from the sea. The town has beautiful landscaped parks and gardens, historic buildings, colorful markets and an interesting waterfront, mosques as well as Christian churches and Chinese temples.

 

Astana is a majestic palace built in 1870 by Rajah Charles Brooke, the second white Rajah as a bridal gift for his wife, Margaret Brooke. It is not the official residence of Sarawak’s Head of State and has served as the venue for numerous State functions throughout the years.

 

Fort Margherita, built in 1878 commands a breathtaking and strategic position along the Sarawak River. Named after Margaret Brooke, it was completed just in time to defend Kuching against pirate attacks from the river. The fort has since been renovated and now serves as a Police Museum.

 

Sarawak Museum is acknowledged as one of the finest in Asia. It has an excellent collection of Borneo ethnological and archaeological artifacts. Completed in 1891, the museum’s façade has its origins in France (Normandy) but the interior is dedicated to the heritage and cultures of Borneo.

 

Bako National Park is a primary forest and about 37 km from Kuching. Here visitors can see various types of flora and wildlife unique to this part of the world. Long-tailed macaques, monitor lizards, wild boars and proboscis monkeys are just a few of the animals which can be found in their natural habitat here. A well-marked trail system enables visitors to see the various types of vegetation in the park.

 

Iban Longhouses are community dwellings made of ironwood and roofed with palm leaf and ironwood shingles. All rooms in the longhouses are built side by side facing a long communal hall. Occasionally guests are invited to attend nightly ceremonies and drink rice wine, which the Ibans make.

 

Niah National Park is made up of 3,102 heactares of forest and limestone. The park can only be reached through a succession of flight, road journey and boat ride. From Kuching, the visitors have to fly to Miri, the oil town of Sarawak. A road journey to BatuNiah is followed by a boat ride to the Park. At the park, the Niah caves are a major attraction in this part of the world. The GreatCave alone covers an area of 11 hectares, an area as large as 13 football fields.

 

Lambir Hills National Park boasts a number of waterfalls and bathing pools that attract weekend picnickers. A climb up BukitLambir makes an invigorating challenge. The park contains some of the richest tropical rain forests in Sarawak.

 

Gunung Mulu National Park covers an area of 200 sq miles of primary alluvial, peat swamp, mixed dipterocarp, limestone and montane forests. It contains some of the most fascinating caves in the world, among them the DeerCave, WonderCave and Sarawak Chamber. The picturesque limestone pinnacles make beautiful photographs.

 

 Sourced: Tourism Malaysia