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Tourism Malaysia

Battling the Waves in Malaysia

People like us are most likely to stay far, far away from the beaches during the monsoon, which usually occur from October to March if we are talking about the east coast in Peninsular Malaysia. But like a secret world, when the monsoon season comes and the islands close their doors to the public; that is when the surfers come out to play. To the uninitiated, monsoon means persistent rain, angry winds and ferocious waves, but to the surfers, it’s just a good day to surf. Indeed, surfing is not my scene at all and it’s not until words got around that a Malaysian surfer won third place at the 2019 REnextop Asian Surfing Tour that prompted me to check out our surfing scenes. Malaysia is no Hawaii or Bali but our surfing spots have start making waves among surfers around the world, no pun intended. Let’s check out Malaysia’s top surfing spot.

Cherating, Pahang

Photo: Cheratingpoint

Cherating, a small beach town about 45km north of Kuantan has been a surfing spot since the 80’s; but since surfing is not part of our culture, it has never been a sport enjoyed by the mass. Nowadays, we can see that the surfing community in Malaysia has grown bigger and stronger. There are even many surfing schools in Cherating.

Photo: Didaqt Surf FB

I don’t speak the surfer’s language but from what I gather the waves in Cherating are consistent and are suitable for beginners, intermediate, advanced and longboard surfers. It’s a good place for beginners to learn surfing, while the more experienced surfers can enjoy a swell that goes up to five foot. For a “hodad” like us (a term surfer uses for a person who hangs around the beach and does not surf), there are also other activities to try your hands at such as turtle-watching, kayaking, kitesurfing and windsurfing.

How to get there:
By Bus
From Kuala Lumpur international airport (KLIA), take a train (KLIA Transit) to the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) Bus Terminal – Check here : http://www.tbsbts.com.my. From TBS, please take a bus to Kemaman Town.
Kuala Lumpur (TBS) – Kuantan – Cherating – Kemaman Town – Kuala Terengganu – Kota Bahru . This is the normal route to east coast.
*note: Let the bus driver know that to drop you at Kampung Cherating Lama (Old Cherating Village).

By car
From Kuala Lumpur , just follow the east bound highway towards Kuantan and Kemaman. Normally, it takes about 3 hours to reach Cherating.

Pantai Batu Burok, Terengganu

Photo: Terengganu SURF Community

The strong waves of the South China Sea makes the beaches and idyllic islands of Terengganu ideal for surfing. To the local and international surfers, Pantai Batu Burok is well-known for its beach breaks surfing. Over the last 10 years, various international surfing competitions have been held in Pantai Burok regularly, thus helping this beautiful sandy beaches with casuarina trees lining up the shore, to gain international recognition. In Terengganu, there are at least 15 other surf spots to be explored along the coast from Kemaman to Besut. Merang in Setiu, for example, is suited for point breaks, while Pulau Kapas is ideal for reef break surfing.

Photo: Terengganu SURF Community

How to get there:
Batu Buruk and the surrounding beaches are easily reached from Kuala Terengganu by bus (Marang / Dungun), mini bus (No.14 / 13), trishaw and taxi or even on foot if you like walking (about 20 minutes from the city center). (www.backpackingmalaysia.com).

Desaru, Johor

Located in Kota Tinggi, Johor, Desaru has a few surfing spots that are worth mentioning. Among them are Pantai Desaru, Pantai Tanjung Balau, Pantai Sedili and Pantai Wild Boar.

Pantai Desaru is a great spot for beginners to learn to surf. The best time to surf here is in the early morning when the waves are in best condition with a less crowded beach.

Pantai Tanjung Balau is only 13-minute drive from Pantai Desaru and is home to a strong local surf community and even hosts its own international surfing competitions. Sandy breaks and three-foot-high waves make it an excellent spot to learn to surf.

Every surfing season, Pantai Sedili, a hidden beach located along the road of Sedili is always crowded with surfers especially during “good waves” day as the surfers called it. As the beach is quite isolated, you must bring your own food and drinks because there is no public facilities there.

Photo: Big Foot Industries

Wild Boar Beach is the most secluded surfing spot compared to the other three beaches in Desaru. Aptly named after the local animal that resides in the area, the beach is so secluded that you need a local guide to show you the spot. Surfers have to bring their own food and water supply because the beach has zero facility but these inconvenience means nothing to them as long as they get to have a long uninterrupted ride on sandy breaks.

How to get there:
A one hour drive from Johor town, along with the way to Desaru, palm oil plantation can be seen and a bridge will be connecting the route to Desaru through the Senai Desaru expressway. Driving is recommended to get to Desaru because it is faster and convenient.

For public transportation to Desaru, there are direct Mara Liner coach services four times a day from Johor Bahru’s Larkin Bus Terminal to Bandar Penawar via Kota Tinggi. Besides that, there’s an option of taking a non-express bus from Larkin Bus Terminal (Maju 227 or Causeway Link 66) or from downtown Johor Bahru’s Jalan Wong Ah Fook (Transit Link 41, Maju 227, Causeway Link 6B; the bus stop is opposite City Square) to Kota Tinggi’s bus terminal (duration about 1h; Maju 227 one-way fare from City Square RM4.80; average frequency of Maju 227 is 15 min), and then take another bus from Kota Tinggi to Bandar Penawar (duration max. 1h, one-way fare RM4.50, frequency every 90 min). (Travelistaclub)

Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, Kudat, Sabah

Photo: www.borneo360.com

Kudat in Sabah has long been a favourite surfing spots among Malaysian and Bruneian surfers. Located at the Tip of Borneo in Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, the Kalampunian Beach has waves that can reach up to 6 feet high with 50 to 100 meters ride. The type of break here is beach breaks and pointbreaks. It is an ideal spot for those with advanced surf skill set. But for the non-surfers, Kudat’ sandy beaches and crystal clear water is reason enough to hang around the beach; or maybe, just maybe you will be entertained by the tricks and twists of the surfers while chilling by the beach.

Photo: Bahzi Damit

How to get there:
The Tip of Borneo is about 215 KM north of Kota Kinabalu. You need to drive about 2.5 to 3 hours on a paved road (with a few small sections of gravel road) to reach there (via Kota Kinabalu → Tuaran → Kota Belud main road). Or you can charter a taxi (can take 3 or 4 passengers) for a return trip for about RM240. (mysabah.com)

Tidal Bore of Sarawak

Photo: abadiphotography

I wonder whether those experienced surfers dare to fight a tidal bore in Sri Aman’s Batang Lupar River, which is famed for its crocodile-infested waters. The tidal bore in Sri Aman, which is located 170km from Kuching is rated among the best bores in the world. A tidal bore may take on various forms, ranging from a single breaking wave front with a roller, somewhat like a hydraulic jump to undular bores, comprising a smooth wave front followed by a train of secondary wave (whelps). The tidal bore is a high wave caused by the meeting of two tides or by a tide rushing up the narrow river estuary. Its height depends on the time of the year, weather and phase of the moon. Sri Aman hosts the annual Tidal Bore festival known as ‘Pesta Benak’, normally held in the month of May.

How to get there:
To get to the town, board a bus at Kuching Sentral Transportation hub. The hub is a 5-minute drive from the Kuching International Airport and 20 minutes from Kuching City Centre. On average, it takes about four hours to travel by road from Kuching. Usually, bus will stop at the bazaar town of Lachau for toilet break.

Sunway Lagoon’s Surf Beach, Selangor

Photo: Sunway Lagoon

Sunway Lagoon’s Surf Beach is a man made wonder right here in the city where holiday makers all around the world come for a fun filled day in the sun. You can either laze in the beach or for the thrill seekers you can enjoy surfing or body boarding and beach volleyball. You can also show off your surfing skills on Malaysia’s only Surf Simulator or ‘FlowRider’*.

Stretching over 13,000 square meters, the Surf Beach is capable of churning out perfectly shaped waves up to the maximum height of eight-feet. The ability to condition the waves according to the needs of the surfers in terms of height, time and wave patterns make Surf Beach @ Sunway Lagoon a surfer’s paradise for both professional and aspiring surfers.

How to get there:
By Car
Sunway Lagoon is located in the bustling township of Sunway City, within the district of Petaling Jaya in the state of Selangor. It is a mere 15-minutes drive from Kuala Lumpur in smooth traffic conditions and is accessible via a network of expressways including the Federal Highway, Damansara-Puchong Expressway, New Pantai Expressway and KESAS Highway.

Surf Wall, Adventure Waterpark, Desaru Coast, Johor

Photo: Adventure Waterparks Desaru Coast

A safe and high-energy surf simulator where surfing beginners or enthusiasts can catch and ride a radical artificial wave. The Surf Wall can accommodate up to five boogie boarders or two stand-up surfers at one time.

How to get there:

By Car
4 hours from Kuala Lumpur via the North-South Expressway.

By Air
1 hour from Kuala Lumpur to Senai International Airport with additional 1 hour for shuttle to Desaru Coast.

Suddenly I feel the urge to join the monsoon mayhem and pick up the surfboard myself. Paddle,paddle, paddle, and stand up… bruddah!

Featured image is courtesy of andiaceh/ombok

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Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

10 Things To Do in Kuching

1. Meet The People

Visit the well-preserved Bidayuh Longhouses at Kampung Annah Rais, Kampung Benuk, Kampung Mongkos or Kampung Pueh; perfect for photo ops and an insight into Bidayuh (Land Dayak) culture.

Trek above the clouds to kampung Semban, a very traditional Bidayuh community where older women still wear brass arm, leg and neck rings.

Visit Iban Longhouses on the Lemanak River or around Batan Ai Hyro Lake.  Sample home brewed rice wine (tuak), enjoy fresh jungle produce ans try your hand at blowpipe shooting.  Ornately tattooed elders will entertain you with tales of their headhunter ancestors and show off their traditional dancing skills.

annah rais

Two-elderly-Ibans-at-their-longhouse-batang-ai

Batang Ai National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia

2. Go For A Walk

Discover Kuching’s Historic City Centre, by yourself or through a guided walk or bicycle tour.  Climb Mount Santubong, for a birds-eye view of the city and the coastline, or take to the trails of Kubah National Park to discover rare and fascinating plant species and idyllic jungle waterfalls.  Visit Gunung Gading National Park for a close-up view of the Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower, amindst stunning rainforest scenery.

Visit Tanjung Datu National Park, at the remote southern tip of Sarawak, to trek through rugged, jungle terrain to deserted white sand beaches.  Or explore the beautiful upriver scenery of Batang Ai, staying overnight in Iban Longhouses and jungle camps.

Sarawak-Kuching-Kubah-National-Park

Quiet Beach in Malaysia Tanjung National Park Sarawak

3. Wildlife Encounters

Visit Matang Wildlife Centre to encounter young orphaned orangutans and sun bears and learn about the wildlife rehabilitation process.  Then check out Semenggoh Nature Reserve and its thriving population of semi-wild orangutans, or go for frog-spotting in Kubah National Park, home of Asia’s smallest frog species.  Take a boat to Bako National Park to view the rare proboscis monkey, as well as long-tailed macaque monkeys, Bornean bearded pigs, colugos and many colourful bird and reptile species.

Head upriver to Batang Ai National Park to follow the Red Ape Trail.  This area has possibly the world’s highest population density of wild orangutans and encounters are quite frequent.

BAKO NATIONAL PARK, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Frog Kubah

orangutan batang ai

4. Take To The Water

Take a Sarawak River cruise to discover Kuching from the water, and watch the sunset reflected in the water as the sun sinks over Mount Serapi.  Or hire one of the local tambang ferries to explore the riverside at your own pace.

Go Irrawaddy dolphin spotting and crocodile watching in Kuching Wetlands National Park, or visit Satang Island to see the marine turtle hatchery and enjoy snorkelling with the green turtles.  If you prefer to paddle you own canoe, try rainforest kayaking or rafting along the Upper Sarawak River, sea kayaking aroung the Santubong Rover and the Bako-Buntal Bay.

talang satang

wildlife cruise kuching wetlands santubong fisherman and dolphin

5. Underground Sarawak

Take part in a caving adventure int the limestone hills around Bau or Serian.  Beginner, intermediate and advanced level activities are offered and equipment is supplied.  Less adventurous visitors will enjoy the easily accessible caves area Bau, a short drive from Kuching.  The Wind Cave, is long and narrow with beautiful rock formations and a cooling breeze, while the Fairy Cave is more imposing, with extensive cave vegetation and a Chinese shrine at the cave mouth.

Bau Cave

sarawak borneo kuching bau wind cave

5-sarawak borneo playground Bau Wind Cave opening

6. Underwater Sarawak

The best wreck dives (including a WWII Japanese Destroyer) require at least an Advanced Open Water, but there are great muck dive and snorkeling sites around the turtle sanctuary islands offshore from Kuching.  You can dive in search of marine turtles in the morning and learn about their conservation in the afternoon.

sarawak borneo playground kuching wreck diving

sarawak borneo playground kuching wreck diving (6)

7. Food Drink

Kuching is famous for its celebrated noodle dishes, spicy Sarawak Laksa and savoury Kolo Mee, as well as a wide selection of Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisine, exotic rainforest fruits, crispy jungle ferns and wonderful fresh seafood.  Dining options range from humble hawker stalls, through waterside seafood restaurants at Kampung Buntal and traditional Chinese delicacies at Siniawan Night Market to opulent fine dining outlets in 5-star hotels, and you can even learn to cook Sarawak-style.  Kuching’s most famous drink is teh-c-peng, a multi layered tea and palm sugar concoction worth of a brochure b y itself.  In the villages and longhouses you can try native cuisine such as manok pansuh (chicken steamed in bamboo tubes) and fresh jungle produce, accompanied by a glass of tuak.

Laksa Sarawak

Laksa Sarawak

kolokmee

Sarawak-Kuching-Adventure-Ikan-Pansuh

8. Culture Heritage

Follow in the footsteps of the White Rajahs around Kuching’s old city centre and the waterfront, taking in the Sarawak Museum, Islamic Museum, Old Courthouse, India Street Mosque, Textile Museum and many other unique heritage sites.  The cross the Sarawak River (by bridge or boat) to visit Fort Margherita, the Brooke Gallery and the exquisite Orchid Garden.  The surrounding Malay Kampungs have some fine examples of traditional and modern Malay architecture.

Learn about Sarawak’s traditional cultures at the award-winning Sarawak Cultural Village, stopping by en route to visit the world’s first Cat Museum, a prehistoric human figure and the tomb of Sarawak’s first and only Sultan.

Kuching Heritage Fort Margherita, Sarawak, Malaysia

sarawak-borneo-entertainment-rwmf-2012-day-2-afternoon

9. Shopping

Main Bazaar and Carpenter Street, the two oldest streets in Kuching, are packed with handicraft shops, art dealers and families practicing their traditional crafts, ranging from tinsmithing to coffin-making!  Nearby India Street is a pedestrian precinct with a fine selection of traditional clothing and textile outlets, and the adjacent Gambier Street is the place to buy spices ad utensils if you want to cook Sarawak-style.

In the Malay Kampungs across river, small family bakeries sell kek lapis (Sarawak layer cake), probably the state’s most popular souvenir.  Also across river, the colourful Satok Weekend Market iis renowned for the Bidayuh ladies selling handicrafts, forest produce, orchids and a whole range of local snacks and delicacies.

The potteries on Jalan Penrissen produce fine ceramics in a unique Teochew-Sarawak fusion style, and the potters are happy to be photographed at work.

The busy weekend market at the border village of Serikin, where Indonesian traders come to sell their wares, is a great place to buy cheap textiles, clothing, fresh fruits, jungle produce and handicrafts.  Heading north, the bustling and colourful Serian Market is a must-visit for fruit, vegetables, forest produce and amazing photo opportunities.

Seeing Kuching City on Foot

Visiting Sarawak As A Japanese Intern | All Time Favorites Local Food

Serikin Town Border Market

 

10. Festivals Celebrations

Rainforest World Music Festival: Every July, Sarawak Cultural Village.  The most exciting musical event in the region, and ranked among the top-25 world music festivals globally.

Kuching Festival: July and early August.  A month-long festival of musci, drama, arts, exhibitions and food, glorious food.

Sarawak Regatta:  Every November, Kuching Waterfront.  Dating from 1872, this is the biggest and best river regatta in Southeast Asia.  There’s even a category for visitors to join in.

Multi-Cultural Mooncake Festival: Mid-September Carpenter St.  Kuching’s Chinese community share the mid-autumn festival with everyone at a 4-day street party.

Pesta Benak (Tidal Bore Festival): November, Sri Aman.  Celebrates the Lupar River’s famous tidal bore.  Surfing and wave-riding competitions, water sports and nightly entertainment.

RWMF

sarawak-malaysia-borneo-sri-aman-colas-rathbone-surfing-tidal-bore-benak

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Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

In Search of the Red Banded Langur in Maludam National Park

In Search of the Red Banded Langur in Maludam National Park

A 3Day/2Night experience in the Maludam National Park.

The itinerary for the ‘Search for the Red Banded Langur’ in Maludam was pioneered by adventure tour company, Paradesa Borneo (One Wayang Tours Sdn. Bhd.)

The Maludam National Park is protected area, critical for the protection of the only viable population of the Red Banded Langur remaining in the world today. A visit to the national park offers glimpses at the rare monkey and some 61 other species of mammals recorded in the area.

To get to Maludam, visitors have to drive about 170 kilometers from Sri Aman, bypassing the small town of Pusa before crossing the Batang Saribas by ferry. Proceed then to Kampung Maludam till the end of the coastal road at Triso, a small village by the sea.

This three day and two night itinerary takes advantage of the stretch of the Borneo Coastal Road, stopping by the local kampungs to experience the culture and interact with the people.

For more information on the National Park, visit the Sarawak Forestry’s website here.

Day One, Getting to Maludam

The group departed from Kucking at 8.00am, heading for Maludan through the Semarahan Batang Sadong Bridge. They arrived at Kampung Hilir Maludam by 2.00pm, where they got to enjoy the kampong (village) activities.

They explored the grounds of the village, watched a traditional performance by some young villagers and even learned how to prepare kuih sepit.

Learning to make kuih sepit

Day Two, The Search is ON!

The group had a quick safety and itinerary briefing before heading for the Maludam National Park at 8.00am.




The only entrance to the national park is by boat to ‘Station 2’ jetty. The early morning boat ride gives the group a chance to admire the tranquility of the protected peat swamp area. On arrival, the travel guide prepares the group for the trails and animals they may see throughout the walks.

The Red Banded Langur ©sarawakforestry.com

The group learns a little about the behavior of the beautiful primate, and return to Kampung Hilir Maludam at 3.00pm.

At the Kampung, they experienced ocean fishing on a traditional fisherman boat and get to see how salted fish, jelly fish and prawns are dried and processed at the factory. For more information on the jellyfish processing factory, you can visit this blog.

Fishing at Kampung Hilir Maludam


 

Jellyfish and prawns being processed at the factory

After enjoying a day on the water catching fish and seeing how the local catch is processed, the group took a beautiful sunset cruise over the coast of Maludam.

On returning to the village, they enjoyed a traditional performance called “Bergendang” or ‘drumming’ by the Persatuan Nelayan Kampung Maludam at 7.00pm. They then retired to the Kampung Hilir Maludam Homestay for the night.

Persatuan Nelayan Kampung Maludam

Day 3, the Pasar Tani

It’s bright and early the next day, with the group departing from Maludam at 7.30am to head to the Pasar Tani Maludam. By noon, they head back through Triso, Pusa and Sri Aman, seeing the sights in the towns like Fort Alice.

By 8.00pm, the trip comes to an end in Kuching.

The Tour Package

  • The Tour Package of 3 days and 2 nights totalled at a RM1,150 per pax and came inclusive of:
  • An English speaking tour guide
  • Tour van and driver
  • All activities in Maludam village
  • Homestay accomodations for the two nights
  • boat trip to and from Maludam National Park
  • Sun Set Cruise

The group found the trip to be a great experience, with friendly hosts and good facilities awaiting them at the homestay. As for the attractions surrounding the village and the National Park, they were excited to be a part of the fishing and cultural activities and found there were also proboscis monkey and crocodile watching tours available to the public, though there wasn’t enough time for them to enjoy it for themselves.

All in all, the Maludam National Park and its surrounding communities area  great place to visit, to perhaps catch a glimpse of the rare Red Banded Langur, or at the very least see the rest of the wildlife that flourishes in the protected area and enjoy the good company of the people of Kampung Hilir Maludam.

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