A kaleidoscope of culture, adventure and nature. That is the best description for Sarawak. This enchanting state of Sarawak is Malaysia’s largest state endowed with the world’s richest and most diverse ecosystem.
Located on the exotic island of Borneo, Sarawak’s ancient rainforest canopies the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, squirrels and snakes that can glide through air, mouse deer the size of kitten, pitcher plants that eat insects and even small mammals.
In fact, there are countless species of flora and fauna, yet to be discovered inhabiting the rainforest.
From pristine underwater marine life and untouched coral reefs to rich heritage and wilderness to modern city landscape, Sarawak is a potpourri of experiences appreciated by travellers from all over the world. Such a setting is idyllic for any honeymooners.
Kuching is the capital city and it is the main gateway to Sarawak with Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia, Malindo Air, SilkAir, and MASWings making regular flights from the federal capital of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Brunei and Pontianak in Indonesia.
A former colony of Britain, Sarawak gained independence in 1963 and since then it has prospered into a vibrant city with interesting skyline that is made up of a mixture of colonial influence and modern architecture. In fact the intricate blend of modern design and colonial architecture has become an attraction for visitors to this state that has a population of 2.4 million.
Head into Sarawak’s interiors and your heartbeat will flutter at the fascinating and entrancing dances of the multi-ethnic tribes living harmoniously with each other.
Sarawak is a land of colourful cultures boasting 27 ethnic groups, 45 languages and dialects. The main groups of the people in Sarawak are the Iban, Malay, Bidayuh, Chinese, Melanau, Orang Ulu and Penan. The Orang Ulu tribe is made up of the Kayan, Kenyah and Kelabit.
Sarawak’s natural beauty is legendary and so are its arts and crafts. Inspired by the effortless flight of the hornbill, the supple curvatures of the fern or ancient glimpses in a dream, skilled craftspeople work their hands in shaping beautiful crafts that can be taken home as souvenirs by visitors.
The wide selection of crafts are identified with each community living in the state. The Orang Ulus are known for their skill in beadworks while the Chinese are renowned for the pottery making. Their porcelain wares are sought after by both locals and visitors alike. Take home any of these crafts to remember the good times you had while holidaying in Sarawak.
The Iban, particularly the women, are known to be the best weavers, producing the finest textiles using tie and dye method. The colourful textiles with ethnic motifs are locally known as pua kumbu which has now made its way to the international market.
Both the Melanau and Bidayuh are associated with basket making and weaving of hats and artefacts using natural resources like bamboo, palm, rattan and tree bark.
Steeped in tradition, the multi-racial community in Sarawak also celebrates a kaleidoscope of events and festivals all year round. Despite the differences in religious beliefs and cultural background, the people in Sarawak have a common feature in celebrating their respective festivals. All will practice the “open house” tradition where they welcome relatives, friends, acquaintances and even strangers to their home and join in the merry-making.
The main festival that is celebrated only in Sarawak is the Gawai Dayak, which is celebrated by the Dayak community to mark the end of the harvest period. The Dayak community is made up of the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu.
Other festivals include the Hari Raya and Chinese New Year celebrated by the Malays and Chinese respectively.
Apart from traditional festivals, Sarawak also has other events that aim to attract visitors to the state. Among them are the Pesta Kaul, Kuching Festival, Rainforest World Music Festival, Sarawak Regatta, Borneo Cultural Festival and Borneo Jazz. All these festivals have successfully attracted scores of visitors to Sarawak shore.
For those who enjoy nature at its best, Sarawak’s rainforest is one of the most diverse and protected ecosystems in the world. It is also home of exotic flora and fauna found only in this treasure trove of nature’s splendour.
Among the many creatures that are found roaming the jungle of Sarawak include the Orang Utan, proboscis monkey, hornbill, Rajah Brooke butterfly and silverleaf monkey.
The world’s largest flower – the Rafflesia – also grow in abundance in Sarawak particularly at the Gunung Gading National Park.
But, Sarawak’s treasures of natural wonders is best appreciated in the many protected national parks and ancient rainforest where alluring caves, cascading waterfalls, pristine beaches are waiting to be enjoyed.
There are 25 gazetted national parks, 4 wildlife sanctuaries and 5 nature reserves in Sarawak and one that needs no introduction is the Mulu National Park, which has been listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located in Miri and very near to Brunei, Gunung Mulu has the world’s largest cave chamber and the world’s most extensive cave system with razor sharp limestone pinnacles.
The adventure on land continues to the sea where water challenge awaits anyone game for vigorous activities like diving, fishing, skiing and yachting.
Many dive sites off the coast of Sarawak are waiting to be explored.
Indeed, Sarawak has many to offer its visitors, befitting its marketing tagline “Sarawak…Where Adventure Lives.”