by Aurelien Reys, France (June 04) & Fabrice Naps (March 04)




Description : a simple town, capital of the sarawak state, crossed by a nice river, with chinese influences

What to do : walking near the river, eat in the local markets, buy souvenirs and crafts, good base for the nearly attractions, visit the interesting museums, especially the free "sarawak museum", get a real Iban tatoo at "borneo headhunter", see orang-outan at the semenggoh wildlife rehabilitation center (free, bus n6, 1.5RM, 45 min)

What you may not like : nothing really special to do after a day, prices higher than usullay for malaysia, mosquitos...

Where to stay  : "kuching hotel", running by a chinese woman quite noisy but nice, 27 RM for a double room, maybe the cheapest in kuching

Where to eat : chinese food and other, especially in the local market

Transportation ?
To Airport / about 1 RM / 25 min / Out of the airport, walk on the right, when you pass the building, the bus stop is on the left
The bus station is 5km out of the town, go to the tourist office for all the shedules



Description : a beautiful national park to see probosic monkey and other wildlife in a beautiful jungle with cliffs and deserted beaches!

What to do : 2-3 days trek, watch the wild life, enjoy the tranquility and the fact that is not full of tourist

What you may not like : be wake-up early in the morning by monkeys, stolen by the same one, mosquitos and hot-wet climate, prices to get there

Where to stay  : chalet and dormitory in the park, from 10.50 RM per person / You need to book your accomodation in
the tourist office in kuching before

Where to eat : just the attached restaurant of the chalets

Transportation ?
To Kuching / 2.5 RM / 45 min / in the morning / a few only
You need to take a boat to get inside the park because any road go to there. It's about 30 RM for a full boat. Organize the trip with other travellers before to go in order to share the price of the boat, or be ready for a long wait over there to find someone who would like stay as long as you in the park (you need to fix the return date and time as well)



Description : a deserted national park near the indonesian border whre you could see the rafflesia, the biggest flower in
the world

What to do : lookink for the rafflesia, walking, take a rest near one of the small waterfall, climbing the little mount Gading, be one of the rare tourist to have been there!

What you may not like : If you had been already in a jungle this one has nothing special, if there isn't any rafflesia to watch(they blossom only for 2 or 3 days, and only few times during the year), pay a guide to find them

Where to stay  : in the park, dorm from 10RM

Where to eat : at Lundu the village 2 km away, the only place to get food in reality!

Transportation ?
To Kuching / 8.5 RM / 2 hours / in the morning / not a lot
You to go to the bus station first, then in jundu you have to walk for 30-45 minutes to get to the entrance of the park, the trek start before!!



Description : muslim and christian villages everywhere around, dense forest, fish babecue, Iban longhouse, a very good
place for a genuine atmosphere and meet really nice people

What to do : be invited in a longhouse, be invited for a babecue in a village, be invited to share a malay wedding party, learning malay... were my experiences over there.

What you may not like : the commercial aspect of the longhouses, the difficulty of communication with many malay talking persons, the inconfortable situation sometimes of being the star of the town

Where to stay  : none, you have to find a family host

Where to eat : everywhere in Serian

Transportation ?
To Kuching / 5 RM / Share-taxi / 45 min / Every 10 minutes

Additional information : You can pay a lot to visit a longhouse if you arrange that by an agency (between 100-150 RM per person), could be free sometimes but for my part, 30 rm had been asked for a "donation". Indeed, many of them had already seen some tourists so they are happy to invit you but accept money! I could stay for the night but they ask me that I could give them other donation for the sleep, and another one for the food if I wanted, "you are not oblige but if you want, we are agree with that!"... so like I knew that I won't find the genuine atmosphere that I was looking for, I didn't make it, prefere stay another night in a village nearby!


SIDAPAN ISLAND by Fabrice Naps (March 04)

Many people mcomplain that it s expensive and that they can not afford to go!!
Actually it s possible to go there without spending a fortune,just read my modest comments below!!!!
First,you must go to Sempoerna which is easy,just take a bus or a minibus from either Sandakan,Lahad datu or Tawau.
Once there,sleep near the yellow mosque at damai travellers inn(30 rm for a clean double with fan and bathroom,they have dorms as well).
Forget the dragon inn that is a busy tourist factory unless you like this kind of atmosphere...
Next door the drag inn is uncle chang who organises trips to sipadan(around 250 to 300 a nite without diving)and expensive boats charters,but we are not here to speak about that!!!
If you are a mere snorkeler and in a hurry it s possible to simply charter a small speed boat for the day trip,it s about 250 rm,still expensive if you are alone,not too bad if you are 4 or 5 people.
But before to go there,you must go to the police and speak with them about the permit.
People like uncle chang say that you must have a 40 rm per person permit,but when i went to the police they said that it s not compulsory as you don t spend the night there.
Their office is almost in front of dragon inn(polis marinir something).
Go there with your boat man and his official book and license and tell them to contact the police in Sipadan to tell them that you are coming.
Then enjoy!!!!
But there s another way to enjoy Sipadan and even to dive cheaply,it s to sleep in Mabul island.
A charter to Mabul cost 120 to 150 rm,but you can get a lift from local fishermen for a small fee(actually they took me for free,but offer to pay anyway!).
In this case you must go to the previously mentioned police office and ask for a permission to ride in a wooden boat where they will state that you go at your own risks and that nobody shall be responsible in case of accident,in order the fishermen to be covered(actually some people scare them,telling them that westerners should ride in fiber glass boats only,i guess you know for which reasons!!).
And tell them to write both Mabul and Sipadan as destinations.I didn t do it and had to go to Mabul's police ofice for the same reasons as i went to sipadan by wooden boat!!!!
Then go to the place called "kastom"(customs)where are the boats and ask around.
To find it,go a bit further the police office,it s on the same side on your right.
Of course be there in the morning!!!
Once in Mabul you have of course expensive hotels(around 250 a nite)but if you head for Armstrong's place(the yellow unsignposted guesthouse)you will have clean small rooms for 50 rm where can stay 3 and even 4 people if you don t mind surpopulation!!;-)))))
Add 15 rm per person for 3 meals,tea,coffee and water.(handphone:0128156537)
Then,Armstrong's big dive boat costs 400 ringgit plus an extra 60 per head for dive equipement and 3 tanks,which is fine if you are a group.
Personnally i am a modest snorkeller so with the people who were with me we decided to charter a wooden boat for 200 rm(i know it s not that cheap compared with the 250 from Sempoerna,but it s the price they want and anyway it lets you more time for your snorkeling day).
As i told you we had to go with our boat man to the friendly police office in Mabul because in the permit from sempoerna we didn t mention Sipadan.
It s anyway good to go there just to have them to contact the police in Sipadan and write a statement in your boat man's book.
If you do like this you won t pay any permit and if as us you are 4 people you will end up paying 50 rm for snorkeling Sipadan which is like nothin'!!
And what about the snorkelling there?
Well i am quite spoilt as i have been to many nice places around south east asia but i have to say that it has been one of those snorkelling days that you will never forget in a life time...
It was for sure worth all the hassle to get there(coz what i wrote here is the result but you can imagine that it hasn t been so easy when i didn t know how to do the trick and that it gave me quite a headache to organise the thing because the maffia there is well established and it s not so easy to bypass it!!).
Of course don t go there alone,or if you do so try to join people in Sempoerna for evident budget reasons...



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