I LOVE this photo taken of Ben Fogle at the Matang Wildlife Sanctuary in Sarawak where he was learning how they repatriate orang-utans back into the wild. Did you know there is only a 3% difference between our DNA and theirs?:- Photographer: Sharon L. Sagan Website: http://www.slsagan.com Below is the […]
Posted by Family Affairs on 21-02-2013 in BLOG / REVIEWS / TRAVEL tagged with adventure / Ben Fogle / Orangutans / Sarawak / video Posted by Family Affairs on 06-01-2013 in BLOG / REVIEWS / TRAVEL tagged with experiences / Have Teenager Will Travel / psychology / Sarah Tucker / Sarawak / travelling Posted by Family Affairs on 05-01-2013 in BLOG / TRAVEL tagged with connections / Friends / jungle / KIDS / leech / links / Sarawak
You know those strange moments when you discover that the person you are talking to, who you don’t know well, happens to be a very good friend/relative/neighbour of somebody you know from an entirely separate walk of life? I am always astonished when a random conversation leads you indirectly, often […]
Posted by Family Affairs on 29-12-2012 in BLOG / REVIEWS / TRAVEL tagged with adventure / Borneo / rainforest / Sarawak / teenagers
Woohoo – my daughter and her friend have had their article published in First News – the children’s newspaper all about their trip to Sarawak.
To be honest, their article surprised us a little – mostly because of their final summary of the event “it has been a life changing experience which we will never forget because Sarawak is where the adventure lives”. They wrote it together, by themselves and it was deeply moving to realise that of all the things we should remember to do in life – it’s to have experiences together with your children.
We all had a brilliant time together in Sarawak and it is a brilliant place to take children on an adventure holiday – especially teenagers who love the thought of trekking through the jungle – my daughter turned into the intrepid traveller – marching ahead through the rainforest jungle on the look out for all manner of exciting stuff.
Here is what they wrote, if anyone out there is looking for a different sort of adventure with their children then you should think about it:-
Sarawak, where adventure lives.
We have just come back from the most amazing adventure in Sarawak, which is in Malaysia, a part of the island of Borneo. Borneo is famous for it’s rainforest, which covers 427,500 square kilometers of the incredible island. This rainforest is 130 million years old, making it one of the oldest rainforests in the world. It is a home to many different species, such as Asian Elephants, Bornean Clouded Leopards and many, many more. When we were in Sarawak, we were lucky enough to go trekking through the jungle, where we came across monkeys, lizards, frogs, snakes and even a giant squirrel. We have never experienced anything so amazing as being in the rainforest, allowing us to view animals in their natural habitat was simply mind-blowing.
Our favourite animal that we saw was the Orang-Utan, we watched them feed and swing above us from tree to tree, these ‘people of the forest’ were wonderfully graceful and gentle, making us feel even closer to nature. The guide told us many stories of fantastic spitting cobras, though reassured us that they were more scared of us than we were of them, although we found that hard to believe! Another interesting feature of Sarawak is it’s many tribes, which continue to survive in the rainforests to this day. When we visited one of these tribes they told us of their long history, such as the Iban tribe’s history of headhunting where the tribe would hunt their enemies, and hang up their heads as decoration. These tribes really interested us, with their many stories and traditions. Not only that we experienced their food, such as Pansoh, which was chicken cooked in bamboo with tapioca leaves.
Sarawak also contains rivers which have many different species in them too, such as dolphins, crocodiles and many different birds. Sadly we didn’t have time to visit the Turtle Island, which is a great scuba diving spot, where you can swim with the turtles as well as being able to release baby turtles yourself. We would really recommend this holiday of fun, it has been a life changing experience which we will never forget because Sarawak is where the adventure lives.
Posted by Family Affairs on 09-11-2012 in BLOG / REVIEWS / TRAVEL tagged with photos / Sarawak Posted by Family Affairs on 03-11-2012 in BLOG / TRAVEL tagged with birds / crocodiles / cruise / dolphins / mangroves / proboscis monkey / river / Sarawak Posted by Family Affairs on 31-10-2012 in BLOG / REVIEWS / TRAVEL tagged with Borneo / Junk / karaoke / Kuching / massage / Orang Utans / rainforest / Rock Road / Sarawak / trekking
The state of Sarawak in Malaysia is part of the island of Borneo and is highly recommended for the perfect adventure destination. Borneo itself is the world’s third largest island (after Greenland and New Guinea) and interestingly is divided into three countries, consisting of the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, the Indonesian province of Kalimantan and oil rich Brunei. The island is home to some of the most pristine tropical rainforests, stunning beaches, best diving spots, Orang Utans and fascinating tribal cultures. Sarawak gained independence in 1963 having been leased from Brunei and joined the Malaysian Federation the same year. It currently has a population of about 2.5 million. It is mostly hot or very hot. The rainy season tends to run from early December to February it seems, but don’t forget when you’re in the rain forest, you are covered by a spectacularly dense jungle canopy to protect you from the rain.
As we had a limited amount of time our wonderful guide Rose filled our heads with all manner of fascinating information and factual advice whilst on our various excursions. “Here in the jungle” she said, “you can forget about shopping (although it’s very cheap here) – instead you can immerse yourself in rainforest activities doing all the things I have already mentioned – but you might not yet know about turtle watching on an island where you can stay for three nights and four days learning about how they lay their eggs, watching the babies make it down to the water (I will definitely go back some time to do that – one of the things on my bucket list), dolphin spotting, birding, cave exploring, deep sea fishing, playing golf. It isn’t of course as easy to see animals as it is in Africa because we have far more trees so they are way more difficult to see, you just need a little more patience”.
We are all aware these days that world travel must achieve a respectful equilibrium in order to find a balanced, sustainable way of preserving the environment and local cultures whilst allowing for development. Rose is passionate about Sarawak and is an environmentalist as well as an outstanding English speaking guide (although she appears to speak about seven different languages) and taught us lots about the rich biodiversity of the land. Borneo, she assured us is a location where conscientious tourism is positively encouraged as it provides an alternative income to destructive industries and an incentive to protect and preserve the stunning landscapes. She was very optimistic about ecotourism playing a very important role and talked at length about how they are aiming to protect their priceless rainforest for future generations.
On day two Rose took us straight to Kubah National Park (also known as Sarawak National Park approx 35 mins away from Kuching) for a two hour jungle trek through the dense rainforest canopy. You can stay there and do some serious trekking over several days – ours was not the most intrepid of adventures based on our limited amount of time, but enough to give us a bit of a taste for the lush green rainforest and to hear stories of spitting cobras and orang utan sightings.
To be honest, we were quite happy with our short venture into the park owing to having slightly shot ourselves in both feet the night before, by finding a great restaurant called “Junk” quite near The Hilton Hotel which had a very lively atmosphere and a bar at the back. We ended up singing karaoke with lots of the locals and our teenage children at 3am. Interestingly, it was in Malaysia that I first came across Karaoke over 20 years ago (and even more embarrassingly on that occasion, I had to sing a duet with Simon Le Bon – and here is the photo to prove it if you don’t believe me….):-
We had a spectacularly good evening at “Junk”, but it did mean we were a little worse for wear in the morning. STILL, a brisk walk through pure jungle certainly helped. We had to wear long trousers with long socks tucked in and long sleeves – no exposed skin – to avoid the leeches – they are clever little buggers and several other people heading in the opposite direction to us warned us that they had found several on their arms en route – OR another top tip is smother yourself in Baby Oil – they slip off apparently:-
After our trek we were taken to lunch at the fascinating Dayak restaurant for a delicious indigenous lunch made exactly in the way the Orang Ulu tribe would have cooked many generations ago. Orang Ulu is a tribe in Sarawak. In fact it is an umbrella term that groups about 27 disparate minor tribes of Sarawak. The name Orang Ulu means “remote people”. Here is the owner of the restaurant proudly displaying his tribal tattoos:-
After lunch we had the privilege of watching Orang Utans in the wild. Spectacular. See separate blog post for details http://www.familyaffairsandothermatters.com/orang-utans-in-sarawak-malaysia/
Then we all went for an amazing massage at a place called The Mirage near the Hilton. A no frills environment that cost about £20 for a full body hour and a half massage. It was my daughter’s first massage so they put us in the same room. I was a little worried that we’d both be covered in leeches which would have been a little embarrassing but she didn’t comment. Heaven. Although I think I snored.
After that, we went off to a seafood restaurant about 15 minutes away via taxi called Rock Road – specialising in local prawns, lobsters and crabs. It was an extensive menu and we struggled slightly on our own to find what we wanted – especially when there were things like “Fish lips soup (thick)” and “Fish bladder soup” listed – which frankly wasn’t the sort of meal we were looking for after our long and busy day:-
However, the prawns and lobster were delicious as were their freshly made juices.
Bed after that and a much needed sleep.
Posted by Family Affairs on 30-10-2012 in BLOG / TRAVEL tagged with Kuching / Permai Rainforest resort / Sarawak / Sarawak Cultural Village / Tanoti
HOME!! A little bit exhausted but very happy. We had a brilliant time – so I have decided that my new life mission is to never let anyone ever tell you that it’s not worth going far far away for only a few nights – it is always worth it – jet lag and all in order to grab at life’s opportunities whenever you can. We packed SO much into our 6 day trip it was ridiculous, such an experience.
We flew from London to Singapore (13 hours) and then changed for a short flight on Air Asia (who I have to say are pretty impressive for a low cost carrier and I’m loving their very cool jeans and a black shirt uniform – it is definitely time for the rest of the aviation world to catch up on captain and crew attire.
Here is my daughter’s immigration card as we left Singapore that I had to get her to re-write owing to the interesting spelling of the city:-
We arrived in Kuching, the surprisingly charming capital of Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state, located on the island of Borneo. Literally translated, Kuching means “cat” in Malaysian and there are numerous monuments to cats spread throughout the city. This one looked as if it wanted to get in our car:-
The city is divided into two by the Sarawak River and is relatively small and easy to navigate. It has a wonderfully colourful history and some beautiful old buildings – many colonial in nature thanks to the Brooke family “white Rajahs” who influenced and ruled the area for many years. The Sarawak Museum gives a very good insight into the history and is a good way to get an idea of the many different animals Borneo has to offer.
So, on day one we took a 45 minute drive north of the city to the Sarawak Cultural Village to see a show, eat lunch and look at the ethnic houses of the major native groups of Sarawak. I have already posted some photos of our morning. I’m not ordinarily a fan of being taken to the local cultural village – it never feels very authentic – but on this occasion, because we had teenagers with us, it was very useful in giving us some information about the differing characteristics of all the local tribes and I not only learnt all about how to shrink heads but to sift rice:-
If you are there with your family it would be quite fun to dress up in the local costumes and have a photograph taken – how gorgeous does this family look?
Then we sat and listened to a man playing a sitar – he was wearing clothes, honest….apparently women never play the sitar within the tribes because the songs go on for so long that they have been told to avoid it at all costs because “it makes your breasts grow long”. I was loving the music and totally getting into the spirit of the moment – far far away when he suddenly started playing his second song – and I felt like I was back in the womb, totally at home, until I realised that it was the song my mother used to sing me as a child -“My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”:-
From there we went to the Permai Rainforest Resort and checked out the tree top accommodation where you can sleep under the stars overlooking the South China Sea and enjoy being amongst all the animals. I would have loved to have spent a few nights sleeping here and then trekking into the rainforest where there were monkeys, cobras and pythons to be spotted:-
From there we went on a tour of Kuching including a visit to the Sarawak Musieum and a cottage industry Malay songkit weaving centre called “Tanoti”. All very interesting, but I wasn’t really able to take any decent pictures of either of them because they didn’t want me to.
We went back to the Hilton for supper and had a relatively early evening in preparation for our busy Day Two.
If you want further information on any of the attractions I’ve mentioned – you should be able to find what you are looking for on the Sarawak Tourism website:- www.sarawaktourism.com
Posted by Family Affairs on 27-10-2012 in BLOG / REVIEWS / TRAVEL tagged with Borneo / Malaysia / Orang Utans / Orangutans / Sarawak / wildlide centre Semenggoh
OK I suspect that none of you are speaking to me because you’re just WAY too jealous of our trip. I don’t blame you. I’d be the same. So, I’m not going to put all the photos up at the same time because you won’t cope…I’ll do a photo gallery when I’m back in London that you can take sneaky peeks at for brief moments of time.
But. I have to tell you about our Orang Utan experience. For a start I didn’t know that officially, because their name means “People of the forest” that it is two words and not one. In addition, did you know that the DNA of an Orang Utan is 97.4% like ours?
Orang Utans are only found in Borneo in the wild in the whole entire world. We were lucky enough to see them at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre about 24km from Kuching, the capital of Sarawak. It was a completely amazing experience to watch them appear through the trees, branches crashing and bending under their weight to feed on the bananas left for them on a feeding platform. We observed three of them for about an hour. I’ll tell you all about it when I’m back, but for now, here are some of my photos – I had a horrendous moment just after they arrived when some complete arsehole’s mobile phone went off and everyone was looking around angrily, myself included until everyone was suddenly glaring at me…..it couldn’t have been a worse moment to have had a call from the UK – can you imagine if I had scared them off?-
….and then down came the baby – all fluffy:-
Posted by Family Affairs on 25-10-2012 in BLOG / TRAVEL tagged with Borneo / Malaysia / Sarawak / Sarawak Cultural Village / Top 10 things to do
DAY ONE OF OUR SAWAWAK ADVENTURE
I can’t give you the Top Ten list of things to do in Sarawak yet because this was day one and so we haven’t got through everything.
We’ve had a pretty busy, eventful day and we are about to go out to eat, so in haste, I just thought I’d show you some of the photos I’ve taken today of where we’ve been:-
Sarawak Cultural Village
45 minute drive from Kuching to watch a cultural show:-
Please don’t think I have a foot fetish, but having been studying and working on feet at length in my Pilates and stretching classes back in London I had no idea how much more flexible feet can be when you actually use them properly – these dancers had such mobile feet I was fascinated:-
We were then given a tour of the various different ethnic houses of the major native groups of Sarawak. Our guide, Rose was extremely knowledgable and gave us lots of insight into how Borneo’s indigenous tribes live:-
Back after dinner to upload the other photos
Posted by Family Affairs on 25-10-2012 in BLOG / TRAVEL tagged with Borneo / Kuching / Sarawak
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