Where to stay

Expatriate Lifestyle - - Travel Malaysia -

Wedged be­tween the Old Court House and the Tex­tile Mu­seum, the rooms at the Kuch­ing Wa­ter­front Ho­tel have views across Padang Merdeka to the Sarawak State Mu­seum or across the river to the iconic State Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly Build­ing. Its prime lo­ca­tion has the added con­ve­nience of be­ing at­tached to the Plaza Merdeka mall, and is op­po­site Car­pen­ter Street where cheap and cheer­ful Sarawakian dishes like Kolo Mee and Sarawak Laksa - an An­thony Bour­dain favourite – is served.

Kuch­ing Wa­ter­front Ho­tel 68 Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, Kuch­ing, Sarawak Tel: 082 227 227 www.the­wa­ter­fron­tkuch­ing.com

Where to eat Dulit Cof­fee House lo­cated on the ground floor of Te­lang Usang Ho­tel may look trapped in the past but its lo­cal fare is tran­scen­dent. Run by Mina Trang Witte and Geoffrey Telip, here is where you try typ­i­cal lo­cal fare fea­tur­ing jun­gle ed­i­bles like Midin Ker­abu (fid­dle-head jun­gle ferns mar­i­nated in lime and ginger) and Jan­tung Pisang Ker­abu (ba­nana flower salad). Nip across the road to The Lamin for the only home-made boozy ice cream in town - Tuak and Raisin any­one?

Dulit Cof­fee House & The Lamin 340-345 Jalan Ban Hock, Kuch­ing, Sarawak Tel: 082 415 588 www.telan­gu­sang.com

Zinc & Pin­cho Loco Chef Jordi from Barcelona runs this stylish wine and restau­rant serv­ing up Euro­pean cui­sine and craft cock­tails with flair and great Sarawakian hos­pi­tal­ity. If you can’t wait, pop into sis­ter es­tab­lish­ment Pin­cho Loco, serv­ing Span­ish tapas for lunch and din­ner in a ca­sual colo­nial shop­house.

Zinc Restau­rant and Bar 38 Jalan Tabuan, Kuch­ing, Sarawak Tel: 016 576 6647 www.face­book.com/zinck­uch­ing

Pin­cho Loco 94 Ewe Hai Street, Kuch­ing, Sarawak Tel: 011 3690 6675 www.face­book.com/pin­cholo­cobyz­inc

SABAH

We’d be hard pressed to pick Malaysia’s most beau­ti­ful state, but Sabah is a strong con­tender. A land of con­trast lo­cated at the north­ern tip of Bor­neo; its con­flu­ence of moun­tain, sea, and for­est has turned it into a top eco-tourism des­ti­na­tion.

En­ter the rain­for­est

Cham­pi­oned by Sir David At­ten­bor­ough, who has re­peat­edly filmed here for his wildlife doc­u­men­taries, Sabah is home to the Kin­abatan­gan Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary, a nar­row cor­ri­dor of for­est that snakes along­side the mighty Kin­abatan­gan River. Home to unique and en­dan­gered species like the pro­boscis mon­key, pygmy ele­phant and orang utan, a river sa­fari is ideal for spot­ting these an­i­mals in the wild.

The Bor­neo Sun­bear Con­ser­va­tion Cen­tre (BSBCC) lo­cated op­po­site the Orang Utan Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre in Sepi­lok, near the sea­side town of San­dakan, is ded­i­cated to res­cu­ing and re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing the elu­sive Malayan Sun Bear, many of whom are or­phaned or kept as il­le­gal pets. Vis­i­tors can catch a glimpse of these nim­ble crea­tures climb­ing trees and hunt­ing for in­sects in their for­est en­clo­sures. Al­ter­nately, vol­un­teer at the cen­tre where you’ll get feed, look after and de­sign en­rich­ment for them over a two week pe­riod. bsbcc.org.my

Go div­ing

Sur­rounded by calm warm wa­ters, Sabah of­fers the coun­try’s best div­ing de­spite stiff com­pe­ti­tion from Ke­lan­tan and Tereng­ganu. Fre­quently listed in the world’s top 10 div­ing sites, Si­padan is a mag­net for wall divers and un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phers who come for bar­racuda tor­na­does and schools of ham­mer­head sharks. Sem­porna pro­vides ac­cess to the fab­u­lous is­lands of Mabul, Matak­ing and Ka­palai. Vol­un­teer and dive with TRACC who are based on Pom Pom, and is the brain­child of Pro­fes­sor Steve Oak­ley, a ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist and con­ser­va­tion­ist who sadly died in 2016. His work con­tin­ues and you can con­trib­ute by help­ing to re­pair coral reefs where tur­tles nest and are sighted daily.

Climb a moun­tain (or two)

At 4095 me­ters, climb­ing Aki Na­balu, as Malaysia’s tallest moun­tain, Mount Kin­a­balu, is known col­lo­qui­ally as, is quite a chal­lenge. There are two routes to the top via Tim­po­hon and Ranau with a third (Kota Be­lud) be­ing de­vel­oped. Book­ing ahead is es­sen­tial, and you can also ex­pe­ri­ence the world’s high­est Via Fer­rata. Not for the faint-hearted, you’ll climb down ver­ti­cal rock faces, dan­gle over verges and nav­i­gate nar­row bridges clipped to a steel ca­ble at 3776 me­ters above sea level. And yes, kids (above ten) can do it too. The less pop­u­lar Gu­nung Trus Madi is Sabah and Malaysia’s sec­ond tallest peak and is re­puted to be even harder as you make your way over tough ter­rain through dense jun­gle and must camp overnight. moun­tain­torq.com

Walk the land­scape

A stone’s throw from Kota Kin­a­balu Park, Kun­dasang War Me­mo­rial’s Con­tem­pla­tion Gar­den is a sim­ple but pow­er­ful trib­ute to the 2345 al­lied POWS and lo­cals that died dur­ing the Bor­neo Death March and Ja­panese Oc­cu­pa­tion. You can recre­ate the fi­nal steps of these brave men by trekking the San­dakan Death March trail. Aus­tralian-based com­pany Wild Spirit Ad­ven­tures runs a ten day trek on aver­age twice a month, while lo­cal out­fit TYK Treks of­fers a nine and 12-day trek op­tion and in­cludes a visit to Labuan’s Com­mon­wealth War Cemetery. wild­spir­i­tad­ven­tures.com EL san­dakan­death­march.com/tours/chal­lenge-high­lights-chal­lenge-tour

Catch a glimpse of these nim­ble crea­tures climb­ing trees and hunt­ing for in­sects in their for­est en­clo­sures”

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