There was only one real reason for me to go to Sarawak and it was to see if I could by some miracle still find my childhood home which was a house at the edge of a pristine forest.
I had the choice of either a bus or a flight in from Kota Kinabalu. I chose to fly and instead of a hotel in the town centre, I opted for a week’s stay in a forest ‘resort’, yes, it was a resort that sits literally in the forest. A taxi picked me up at the airport and then after a long ride with lots of oil palm plantations on either side and that’s when I realised what I had read about the palm oil plantations was true. They are ugly and they have taken over the forest almost completely.
After about an hour and more, here I was standing at the entrance to one of the most amazing resorts I have ever had the privilege to stay in. This by the way, is a rare splurge for me but totally worth it. All I could see was forest all around. I glanced over the walkway as I made my way to the lobby and I can see huge glass doors of the balconies of rooms on the lowest floor. These were built right down to where the edge of the forest is.
The rates are pretty steep but like I said, you really get value for money and for the experience. My room was huge and the way the place was built, every room had a glassed-in balcony with a great view of trees and shrubs. So you can imagine what’s it like at night when I switched off all the lights in the room in order to look outside. Eerie but surreal at the same time. Lots of night sounds, lots of giant mosquitoes were waiting whenever I ventured out to the lobby but other than that what silence… not a single sound of traffic, or karaoke, or television.
Food was great
Food is great, local Asian fare, buffet style, all in-house and food is an extra add-on to the room rate. Okay, it’s kind of like a captive thing, right? When there isn’t a restaurant anywhere within the next mile! And it’s not like you can just hire a taxi to take you out to town when town is well, far, far away. At least 3 hours from the resort.
I chose to stay here because I was compiling a series of botanical art. I also wanted an extraordinary experience and since I have never quite stayed at such a place. So I decided I would give it a go and I made an online booking. I have no regrets. I made lots of drawings here which was very satisfying indeed.
From the resort, I could book day trips so I chose to engage a certified guide to take me to the Niah caves nearby. Well, not quite nearby because I had to take a boat across a river just to get on the boardwalk to the caves.
The cave visit was a real eye-opener because my guide brought me to where you can see how they harvested birds’ nests using very flimsy bamboo ladders or poles. I don’t eat birds’ nests but I can imagine people risking their life and limbs just to be able to earn a living selling this over-rated delicacy.
Well, by the end of my stay in the resort, I realised this was the closest I would ever get to what had been my experience during my early years in Miri which was living in a house at the edge of a pristine forest with walks out to the forest just a step away. Just like it was here at the resort. By the time I got to Kuching which was my next stop, I had no illusions that my childhood home was probably flattened and built over with oil palm trees.
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