My single most amazing experience during several years in Malaysia was watching Rhinoceros Hornbills fly around on my hike on Mount Santubong on Borneo in Malaysia. I stayed in a treehouse cabin at treehouse cabin, Permai Rainforest Resort (in Damai about 45 minutes from Kuching). From there it was a 15 minute ride to the trailhead.
The hike of Mount Santubong was amazing itself, and I will post more about it later. It was the longest most vertical hike I have been on. At what I think was the first overlook I stopped and ate a snack and drank some water. And during my stop hornbills started flying around.
I didn’t remember that Bornean Hornbills (Rhinoceros Hornbills) were huge and it was quite surprising how large they were. The Rhinoceros Hornbill grows to 90–120 cm long and weighing 2–3 kg. In captivity it can live for up to 90 years. It is the state bird of Sarawak and the National bird of Malaysia.
Yes it has great food, which thankfully there is a a great deal of in many place. What makes Tribal Stove someplace not to miss is it is the rare combination of great and generally inaccessible food.
I often find great restaurants in tourist destinations. And sometimes it is even local in a sense – but nearly always (not all, but almost) I can get very similar good dishes in any large city across the globe.
Tribal Stove had truly distinctive dishes that were also great. They have quite a few dishes, some of my favorite are wild jungle salad and tapioca leaves. The restaurant serves cuisine from Kelabit Highlands in Sarawak.
Maybe my all time favorite meal. The 3 sample items were great.
The set menu (photo above) of tea, a meat dish with 2 vegetable sides, soup and rice that was US$5 (15 MYR). It was amazing. It would be great at $20. I happened to be lucky enough to get my favorite vegetable there with my first order.
The meet dish in the triple was very good, the rice I didn’t care for. But the two vegetable dishes were amazing – truly great. One the right is Lamud Busaq Keluduh (Bario Wild Flower Salad) – wild ginger flower, petai and wild chives flavored with Bario Higland salt. I believe the dish on the left was Udung Ubih (Wild Tapioca Leaf) – cassava or tapioca leaf pounded and shredded and cooked to perfection over a slow heat. The middle dish was, I believe, beef with crisp vegetables.
I have been trying other dishes which are also great but those 2 are not to be missed (you can get “small” dishes of those for $3, see photo below – two pretty easily make a meal in my opinion). If the prices triple this place is still not to be missed.
There is no restaurant I recommend to travels more strongly than I recommend Tribal Stove. If I could have one restaurant transplanted to my location so I could eat their in my home town it would be Tribal Stove. There is nothing remotely close.
I very much enjoyed the treehouse cabin at the Permai Rainforest Resort. The reviews on Agoda for the ground level lodgings there were not great, but I was extremely pleased with the treetop cabin I stayed at. The Permai Rainforest Resort is in Damai, about 30 km outside Kuching.
The treehouses all are along the forest edge where it meets the beach. You hear the wonderful sound of waves crashing and winds rushing through the forest trees.
The rooms have a full bath and electricity.
They were quite cool, with the shade and wind, but also offered AC if you wished to use it. The cafeteria wasn’t anything fancy but offered tasty food and a decent wifi connection (no wifi is available in the rooms).
Bako National Park offers a network of trails through jungles, scrub environments and to beautiful beaches. The post includes spur trails which I took as part of a loop off the Lintang Trail. I slept in Kuching, hiked during the day in Bako National Park and returned to my hotel at night.
On the Pandan Kencil Path
Great views from a plateau. And the plateau also had large numbers of pitcher plants.
Then there is a short spur off the Pandan Kencil path to this wonderful beach overlook (Besar):
Pine Hill Trail is the longest trail in Fraser’s Hill. It is a bit difficult to find the trailhead, it was further along the road than I thought. They suggest letting your hotel or Inn know your plans (how long you plan to hike, when you should be back, etc.).
The trail was blocked in several places giving you the chance to climb over or around fallen trees.
I found it to be a wonderful hike. It is quite a bit of up at down at the beginning.
At one point I say a huge monkey swinging from banches high in the canopy but I couldn’t get a photo of it 🙁
Batu caves is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia. To reach the caves you must climb 272 concrete steps up the limestone formation that make up this site.
The stairway to Batu Caves.
The caves are in Kuala Lumpor (technically a bit north of the city) but reachable by commuter train, Komuter train Batu Caves-Port Klang Route. The cost is 2 MYR (less than $UD 1).
Inside Batu Caves. The cave is partially covered with several large opening on top.
The video shows a view of the caves. The water is from water seeping down from the ceiling (it hadn’t rained that day). There are also several large openings letting in light from above. The main area with the temples has very high ceilings.
I have added a page on the site with links to good hotels and accommodations in Malaysia. At this time it covers 4 areas: Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, Penang and Johor Bahru. Different people have different desires for a hotel room. And at different times even the same person does. In general I prefer to save my money by using discount lodging, but I splurge occasionally – especially if I can get a great deal. I did that, when I stayed at the Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur and it was wonderful.
I also have found nice discount places and some in-between. I really nice place in Johor Bahru is Bliss Boutique Hotel that has very distinctive room designs. They also have great staff. If you don’t mind small rooms it is a great choice for Johor Bahru.
Beach, Sunset Resort in Langkawi, Malaysia by John Hunter
Langkawi is a wonderful place to vacation and relax at the beach. I stayed at the Sunset Beach Resort which had very simple and well maintained bungalows. One of the best “features” was a great Indian restaurant on the beach – right next store to the hotel.
A great hotel in Penang is the G Hotel on Gurney Drive.
Recently I have been looking into Kuching in the eastern Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Boreno. So far I am very impressed. Kuching is the capital of Sarawak with a population of 600,000. Malaysia’s portion of Borneo is about the same size as peninsular Malaysia. As an added bonus Kuching is also know as cat city (Kucing is cat in old western Malay, I read, though from what I have found it may be more likely the city got the name from the Chinese word for port (“cochin”) coupled with the Malay name mata kucing (cat’s-eye) for the longan fruit, a popular trade item.
Kushing is a popular point for tourists to use as a base for visiting the Borneo rain forests full of many wonders one of which is the orangutan. Kuching is the largest city in Borneo and the 4th largest city in Malaysia, after Kuala Lumpor, Penang and Johor Bahru.
Langkawi offers some great beaches and food. The roads are also something I wouldn’t be scared driving on, unlike Penang where I don’t think my driving skills are good enough to avoid accidents. The photo above, is from one of the wonderful beaches on Pulau Langkawi (the largest Langkawi island) looking out to the Ocean.