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Time Out Malaysia Kids - - Family-Friendly Trips -

Hit the road, Jack!

Sarawak prob­a­bly isn’t the first place that comes to mind when talk­ing about a fam­ily road trip, but for a taste of ad­ven­ture, there’s noth­ing like head­ing off the beaten path and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing au­then­tic long­house liv­ing with the Iban com­mu­nity – Sarawak’s largest eth­nic group. En­com­pass­ing an area of 24 square km, Batang Ai Na­tional Park is a pro­tected jun­gle and home to a rich flora and fauna, and orang utans!

HOW TO GET THERE Get in touch with Sarawak Tourism Board ( sarawak­tourism.com) for more in­for­ma­tion on long­house stays. Visit Bor­neo Ad­ven­ture ( bor­neoad­ven­ture.com) and Bor­neo Ex­pe­ri­ences ( bor­neo­ex­pe­ri­ences.com) for tours and pack­ages.

WHAT TO DO Jour­ney in­land from Kuch­ing for ap­prox­i­mately four to five hours by van – or ar­range for a 4WD with your guide for an off-road ex­pe­ri­ence – and pass through scenic paddy fields, pep­per plan­ta­tions, farms and vil­lages. The roads here are fine, al­beit a bit bumpy at times as con­struc­tion of a new high­way is on­go­ing so it’s best to be pre­pared with snacks and en­ter­tain­ment (for the kids).

Make pit stops in small towns, such as Se­rian and Lachau, and visit their mar­kets to find a se­lec­tion of jun­gle pro­duce and lo­cal hand­i­crafts. Once you’ve reached Batang Ai, travel up­river for an­other hour by long­boat be­fore tak­ing a short walk to the long­house. As it in­volves a boat ride, this trip is suit­able for older kids. Upon ar­rival at the long­house, you’ll be greeted with a tra­di­tional Iban dance. There’s also the cus­tom­ary serv­ing of tuak or rice wine to adults – don’t worry, they don’t serve kids! Join the hosts for a sim­ple din­ner and so­cialise with the other res­i­dents at the ruai (com­mu­nal area) be­fore call­ing it a night. In the morn­ing, let the kids have a go with blow­pipes (un­der su­per­vi­sion), then follow the guided walk into the amaz­ing jun­gle where you’ll learn about medic­i­nal plants, spot gib­bons and horn­bills, and have a one- of-a-kind jun­gle pic­nic by the river. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the great red ape in its nat­u­ral habi­tat. By late noon, bid farewell to the vil­lagers and check the fam­ily into Ai­man Batang Ai Re­sort & Re­treat ( aiman­batan­gai.com) for a jun­gle re­treat set within lush green­ery be­fore head­ing back to the city.

Au­gust - Oc­to­ber 2017

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