Selamat Datang! When I say “Backpacking in Borneo”, I mean we carried backpacks, but mainly flew around this amazing country this time last year when Sophia was almost 2. We did 9 flights in 14 days, with two toddlers and 4 adults. Epic! Technically it may not actually have been backpacking and despite our finest efforts we still had a buggy, a travel cot, a billion nappies and kiddies things to carry!
We flew from Wellington to Singapore via Canberra on Singapore Airlines (amazing and still our firm favourite kid-friendly airline) then flew on to Borneo with some friends and their toddler. These friends grew up in Kuching and showed us around Sarawak for the 4 days that we spent here. As usual we went nuts and crammed as much into the 4 days as possible. I would thoroughly recommend going to this part of Borneo. It isn’t filled with kids water-parks and air con, like Singapore; parts of Borneo are pretty rustic, especially out in the jungle, but what an incredible place it is to visit with kids. There is so much to see, do, taste and experience -Sophia loved it. Here’s what we got up to:
We flew directly from Singapore to Kuching and based ourselves there whilst we explored the city and beyond on a few day trips. Quite coincidentally it was Sarawak Day on one of the days that we were there and it was so interesting to find out about the history and see some of the celebrations. We explored the main bazaar, the waterfront, temples and had amazing, quite unique coffee on Carpenter Street. Noodles for breakfast with cold coffee served in a plastic bag was incredible!
Bako National Park
We drove to Bako National Park for a day in search of proboscis monkeys in their natural habitat. The park is only accessible by boat, as it’s on a peninsula, and it was worth waiting for a boat with a roof as the sun was scorching. We went on a short bush walk and saw a whole host of incredible wildlife. The white sandy beaches were absolutely perfect, the ocean was almost hot and the views from the boat trip were insanely beautiful. You could easily spend a few days here. There are board walks throughout the forest with a range of trails to suit your energy levels in the heat! Needless to say, I did the shortest route with my wriggly hot water bottle backpack! Quite near the main cafe we encountered a cheeky troop of monkeys (yes, I googled that collective noun) and they proved to be quite vicious! The adult monkey was super possessive about her young and quite literally jumped at us, baring her teeth and making a racket as we tried to walk past the oncoming invasion of the monkey army! The proboscis monkeys were a lot more chilled out, just strolling along the walk ways and hanging out in the trees.
On our way back to the city we stopped for the most amazing dinner at a seafood restaurant called Muara Tebas Seafood and there was a beautifully ornate Green Hill Chinese Temple next to it to explore too. The perfect day trip.
Siniawan Night Market
On Saturday night we headed to Siniawan Night Market where we tasted the most amazing Malaysian street food. Siniawan is an old town 20km from Kuching and this night market was one of the highlights of our trip. It is full of tradition and culture and was an incredible experience, eating freshly cooked food on the streets, whilst listening to live music.
Semenggoh Nature Reserve
Semenggoh, is a a 653-hectare nature reserve for orphaned or rescued Orang Utans, where they are free to roam and are trained to survive in the wild. The Orang Utan (or ‘Man of the Forest’ in the Malay language) centre is only open for a couple of hours in the morning 8.00-10.00am and a couple in the afternoon 2.00-4.00pm when the orang utans are fed. You can take a guided tour from your hotel to here for about MYR100 or if you drive yourself entry is MYR5 per person. Sadly we didn’t see any orang utans on this occasion… maybe because Sophia was a bit rowdy and the orang utans don’t seem to like screaming children at meal times. I don’t blame them. The short forest walk to the feeding platform was lovely and the information centre was really interesting. We used the baby carrier for the forest walk to the feeding platform as it wasn’t buggy-friendly.
Jong’s Crocodile Farm
After our morning trip to Semenggoh we travelled to Jong’s Crocodile Farm, where we saw peacocks, lizards, and snakes as well as loads of crocodiles and some really huge fish! Sophia loved it. We watched the crocs having their lunch, fed the peacocks and sheltered from the sweltering sun under the trees. Well worth a visit and the boardwalks around the whole complex were suitable for buggies.
Sarawak Cultural Village
One of our favourite places to visit was Sarawak Cultural Village, a living museum which showcases Sarawaks multi-ethnic cultures and traditions and gives visitors a memorable experience of Sarawak’s rich cultural heritage. There are longhouses to explore, dance shows to watch, instruments and games to play, traditional-style bridges to cross and huts filled with amazing artifacts to explore. We spent hours here, climbing up and down the ladders into all the different types of longhouses. It was such an interesting and fun day out.
What a lot to fit into 4 days! An incredible experience all round and a huge thank you to our friends Ai Wei and Zhao and their families for having us to stay! They drove us round, included us in their family get-togethers and we really felt so welcome! Thank you so much.
From here we flew to Mulu for 3 days and then flew on to Kota Kinabalu for a futher 3 days before heading back to Singapore and finally back to Wellington. I’ll save those adventures for the next blog post!
Couldn’t have done without:
- Local knowledge of our friends/honorary tour guides!
- A lot of research in advance
- Accommodation with air con
- Mosquito patches for the kids