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David Hogan Jr

Serikin Town Border Market

Serikin Town Border Market

Serikin Town Border MarketHaving been around for almost 20 years, the Serikin town border market is truly one of Kuching’s local hidden gems. My first visit here was back in 2010 and as a local, I was quite surprised that a market of this calibre existed just our of Kuching city.

A recent trip back to the Serikin Border Market in October 2017 was even more exciting as I had looked forward to coming back once again, to see if there had been any changes, and to my surprise, there were. The market grew larger, in terms of more vendors.

If you did not already know, the Serikin Border Market is mainly operated by the locals of Kalimantan, from across the border and also the local Sarawakians. Items sold are mainly catered to the local Sarawakians and the occasional tourist from Malaysia.

Serikin Town Border Market

The Serikin border market can get really hot in the afternoons

This rustic and very localized market caters mainly to the local Sarawakians, where products are brought in from Indonesia and sold at the border market which stretches about a kilometer long. From Kuching, it takes about one and a half hours drive through some of the local villages and towns.

What can you find here? Generally, a good combination of household items ranging from kitchen utensils, comforters, curtains and rattan furniture is spotted all over the market. Apparels for kids, men and women are also in abundance, but do not expect high street fashion.

Serikin Town Border Market

Some of the home decorations available at the border market

A number of Muslim religious prayer items are also sold by some while the local traditional medicine men can also be spotted selling some oils and cream. Costume jewellery for the budget savvy consumer can also be found here. A couple of stalls were seen selling local traditional Dayak handicraft and accessories.

Serikin is a border town that is located very close to the earth’s equator, hence over here, it can be extremely hot and humid. When I was walking here, I felt as if I was in an open air sauna, perspiring every step of the way. I would advise for visitors here to bring an umbrella and drink lots of water to avoid being dehydrated.

Serikin Town Border Market

Dayak and some other ethnic clothing and accessories being sold here

For the international tourist, this place is worth a visit if you love all things markets, probably just to walk around and see how a border market operates. Who knows as you may even pick up a souvenir or two here.

Best is to go early, before the mid day sun or late in the evenings before they close around six. There are some tour companies that offer local tours here, but I would recommend you rent a car and self drive here as it is quite easy.

Serikin Town Border Market

Rattan furniture is one of the great buys at the Serikin border market

Overall, it is an experience worth doing if you have the extra time in Kuching. You will not see the common tourist, but more locals, Singaporeans and Malaysians coming here for the great prices being offered.

Serikin border market only opens on the weekends and does get crowded especially during the school holidays and festive seasons. There are only local Indonesian restaurants found here and very casual type restaurants or coffee shops.

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Photos by David Hogan Jr

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The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

During my many visits to the Bario Highlands in northern Sarawak, I always love trekking and exploring this beautiful place as there is so much nature to absorb. At some of the trekking trails, you will come across massive man made stone structures or even stone carvings.

The man made structures or carvings are called Megaliths, which date back thousands of years and is an incredible sight when you stand next to them. One of the most popular megaliths is known locally as Batu Ritong, a strange rock structure which was clearly created by man.

The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

Batu Ritong (Ritong Stone)

Who put it there? How was it put, no one seems to know. I have visited Batu Ritong two times in the last couple of years, and on both occasions, different experienced guides could not give me an accurate explanation to this phenomenal structure.

Locals claim that this is actually a burial ground for a Kelabit nobleman named Ritong hundreds of years ago. The site was excavated in 1962 by British soldier Tom Harrison, and originally, it was standing straight upright. But over the years, Batu Ritong has slanted to a 45 degree angle.

The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

One one of my trips, I spoke to a team of international university students who were there to study thee megaliths, and one of them has told me that there were in fact over 800 megaliths, large and small found all over the highlands area. Only a handful of them are being studied and till this very day, the answer is still not conclusive.

The size of the Batu Ritong with a trekker next to it

When you visit the Bario Highlands, make sure you ask the local guides about a trek to any of the megaliths as it will surely give you a sense of mystery.  The famous ones are the Batu Narit which is a huge boulder with strange carvings on it and the other is Batu Ritong, a 4-5 hour trek from Bario to Pa Lungan village.  Bario is accessible via Miri using MasWings flight.

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Photos by David Hogan Jr

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The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

During my many visits to the Bario Highlands in northern Sarawak, I always love trekking and exploring this beautiful place as there is so much nature to absorb. At some of the trekking trails, you will come across massive man made stone structures or even stone carvings.

The man made structures or carvings are called Megaliths, which date back thousands of years and is an incredible sight when you stand next to them. One of the most popular megaliths is known locally as Batu Ritong, a strange rock structure which was clearly created by man.

The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

Batu Ritong (Ritong Stone)

Who put it there? How was it put, no one seems to know. I have visited Batu Ritong two times in the last couple of years, and on both occasions, different experienced guides could not give me an accurate explanation to this phenomenal structure.

Locals claim that this is actually a burial ground for a Kelabit nobleman named Ritong hundreds of years ago. The site was excavated in 1962 by British soldier Tom Harrison, and originally, it was standing straight upright. But over the years, Batu Ritong has slanted to a 45 degree angle.

The Megaliths of the Bario Highlands

One one of my trips, I spoke to a team of international university students who were there to study thee megaliths, and one of them has told me that there were in fact over 800 megaliths, large and small found all over the highlands area. Only a handful of them are being studied and till this very day, the answer is still not conclusive.

The size of the Batu Ritong with a trekker next to it

When you visit the Bario Highlands, make sure you ask the local guides about a trek to any of the megaliths as it will surely give you a sense of mystery.  The famous ones are the Batu Narit which is a huge boulder with strange carvings on it and the other is Batu Ritong, a 4-5 hour trek from Bario to Pa Lungan village.  Bario is accessible via Miri using MasWings flight.

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Photos by David Hogan Jr

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Visiting Merarap Hot Spring Lodge in Lawas

Visiting Merarap Hot Spring Lodge in Lawas

Merarap HotspringFor the adventurer, there is a hot spring lodge located deep in the Lawas district in northern Sarawak. Operated by a local Sarawakian, this very rustic and basic lodge can only be accessed via 4WD. From the town of Lawas, it is around 70 kilometers drive through old logging roads and thick secondary rainforest.

Once here, the warm Lun Bawang hospitality is seen as the owner is very passionate about his place. The natural hot spring water is pumped into his man made pools from a source about 100 meters away.

Merarap Hotspring

The owner poses in front of the Merarap Hot Springs

Lodging is as basic as can get, a homestay style accommodation with traditional local food served. Visitors can also request for trekking or hiking around the hilly area here.

A class four or five rapid runs along the Merarap hot spring lodge, but there are no water activities allowed as it is quite dangerous on the Trusan River. However, the natural landscape Is just beautiful, especially in the mornings.

Merarap Hotspring

Entrance to Merarap Hot Springs

Merarap Hotspring

Basic accommodations at the lodge

Merarap Hotspring

Merarap Hot Springs in Lawas

For travelers heading to Bakelalan in the highlands using the original way by road, this hot spring is one of the recommended places to make a stop and spend the night. Your experience here would surely be something out of the ordinary.

This place is also popular among the 4WD and biker clubs from around the region, especially those traveling in convoys. Bruneians also love to visit here for the weekends.

For inquiries or bookings, head over to the Merarap Hot Springs Facebook Page (link: https://www.facebook.com/meraraphotspring/)

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Photos by David Hogan Jr

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Turtle Volunteering in Sarawak

Turtle Volunteering in Sarawak

turtle-volunteering-talang-island

For those who are into volunteer tourism, the Talang Satang National Park in Sarawak offers a unique Sea Turtle Volunteer Program that is managed by Sarawak Forestry. This eco-tourism initiative has been around for a number of years and is only available from May to September.

A four day turtle volunteer program lets you experience beach patrols, marking turtle nests, digging up and collecting the turtle eggs, burying them again in the hatchery, tagging and measuring of turtles, data recording and even releasing of baby turtles.

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The Sea Turtle Volunteer Program Center on Talang-Talang Besar Island

This program is open to locals and foreigners, but you must apply from the Sarawak Forestry department. It is also not suitable for just about anyone, as the conditions on Talang Besar Island are very basic.

It also is not your resort style concept, and volunteers are expected to cook, clean and adapt to the back-to-basic conditions on the island.

turtle-volunteering-talang-island

Volunteers checking the turtle hatchery on the island

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Freshly dug up turtle eggs from the beach

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A sign post shoes the Talang Satang National Park of Sarawak

turtle-volunteering-talang-island

The white sand beaches are untouched and only turtles come up to lay their eggs after dark. There are only three buildings on the island, the main office, the sleeping quarters and the shower room.

More information 4D/3N Sea Turtle Adoption Programme here.

Contact Sarawak Forestry (link: https://www.sarawakforestry.com/htm/snp-np-satang.html) for any inquiries or booking for the turtle volunteering.

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Photos by David Hogan Jr

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