As one of the most populous city in Malaysia, the City of Kuching seemed provincial and laid back despite the city developments. I like those kind of cities where it doesn’t feel rushed yet has the infrastructure comfort of urban living. Sarawak River threading through the city, adding a steady flow of balance between tranquility and hustle. We had a chance to see more of Kuching when friends from Place Borneo gave us a little tour to compliment our own wanderings.
A five-star and 272-room property, Riverside Majestic Astana Wing sits at the heart of Kuching City overlooking the winding Sarawak river. Conveniently located across the waterfront and walking distance to a lot of attractions in the city. It was a perfect home base for us as we cover the Kuching Jazz Festival in 2019.
Prior to visiting Kuching, the capital of Sarawak is under my radar of places to visit. I had an initial impression it would be similar to other cities in Borneo like Kota Kinabalu. Surprisingly, the city along the meandering Sarawak River has a different vibe. With my usual practice of exploring new cities on foot, Kuching felt more like a counterpart of George Town in this side of Malaysia. The vibrant and artsy streets, affordable and tasty food and the easy going lifestyle of the people.
Coming from Cave of the Winds, we had very short boat ride to our last cave visit – the Clearwater Cave. On the boat ride to the cave, I noticed the plank walk hanging by the rock walls leading to the cave. It looks fragile but walkable. I’m sure it would be fun to take that trail if we had more time. The boat was faster as we arrived soon at the scenic picnic area before clearwater cave. The colorful longboats gather by the riverbanks as the boatmen await each of their guests. We’re excited to explore Asia’s longest cave system but not before having our lunch first.
Our adventure in Sarawak continues. In our first day in Gunung Mulu National Park, we were able to visit two of the four show caves in the park. The massive Deer Cave and the small yet impressive jellyfish-like rock formations at Lang Cave. This time we rode a boat at Melinau river to reach our first cave for the day, Cave of the Winds. But before that, we took a quick side-trip at a Penan Settlement to get a glimpse of the life of an endangered ethnic tribe.
This plankwalk spanning 3.5km seems to have become part of the primary forest eco-system already having been built more than a decade ago. I can’t help but stop ever so often as we were headed to Niah Cave located inside the Niah National Park in Miri, to look closely at the many critters, like the millipedes, the bugs and slugs that have seem to have found this wooden walkway as their home. On what should have been less-than-an-hour hike, took longer as we marvel at the unsullied forest. What more of the cave that lay ahead?
“It’s all about connecting people.There’s a large concentration of Filipino workers in Miri and we want people to easily connect with their families.” Says Ms Joy Caneba, Executive Vice President and COO of AirAsia Zest during the inaugural ceremony in Miri Airport of AirAsia Zest’s flight from Manila to Miri. A first in the country, the Miri route is also a good alternative entry point to nearby Brunei which is only 30 minutes away from the city. Personally, I am interested to the Miri destination as it is the jump-off to one of UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage Site, the Gunung Mulu National Park.