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In Sarawak, the largest of the Malaysian states, we explore a land of contrasts – from the bustling port city of Kuching to the rainforests and indigenous Iban culture of Batang Ai. We’ll get our hands messy preparing a traditional street-food feast, go monkey spotting on a boating/trekking/swimming adventure at Sarawak’s most popular national park, and get up close and personal with endangered orangutans. Go trekking in Batang Ai, visit a traditional longhouse and see how the Iban people use blowpipes to hunt (this is old headhunting territory but don’t worry, we won’t be on the menu).

Day 1

Australia - Singapore

Fly from Australia to Singapore with Singapore Airlines and stay overnight at a Changi Airport hotel.

Day 2

Singapore - Kuching

Fly to Kuching, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, on an evening flight and transfer to your city accommodation.

Day 3

Kuching

Don’t fill up at the hotel buffet because after breakfast we will be joining a cooking class, learning how to prepare mouth-watering Sarawak street food. Whip up a fragrant Laksa, learn how to make kolo mee (springy noodles with dark soy sauce and pork) and see how bamboo is used to cook the local delicacy Ayam Pansuh (chicken in bamboo). Enjoy the fruits of your labours over lunch before heading back to the hotel for free time in the afternoon.

In the evening, we take to the water on a traditional sampan, cruising along the Sarawak River as the lights of Kuching flicker to life. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant in the atmospheric harbourside city.

Day 4

Kuching

After a day of eating indulgence, you’ll need to burn off the calories, and Bako National Park, on the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula, is the place to do it. A scenic drive takes us to Bako fishing village where we transfer to a boat and motor out to Sarawak’s most popular national park. The 27 square kilometre slip of coastline is peppered with hidden coves, beaches and towering limestone cliffs, and, despite its size, boasts a profusion of wildlife. Trek through rainforests to deserted beaches, keeping your eyes peeled for wild orchids, monitor lizards, bearded pigs, silvered leaf monkeys and bulbous-nosed proboscis monkeys. Cool off with a swim and enjoy lunch at the park canteen before returning to Kuching.

Day 5

Batang Ai

Travel 30 minutes by road to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and meet the remarkable orangutans that share 97 per cent of their DNA with humans. The centre is a sanctuary for injured, orphaned and rescued orangutans, who swing in from the forest at feeding time. Next, we travel to the bustling market town of Serian. See if you can spy live sago worms, a  delicacy here, among the fresh fish, fruit and vegetables. Enjoy lunch in a coffee shop before checking in to Aiman Batang Ai Resort & Retreat.

Day 6

Batang Ai

After breakfast, enjoy a guided jungle trek alongside paddy fields and a pepper farm and learn about local medicinal plants. Watch a blowpipe demonstration to see how the indigenous Iban hunted for centuries, and help prepare your own lunch, cooked in a bamboo log. Take a refreshing dip in the river before returning to the resort.

Day 7

Batang Ai - Kuching

Travel by longboat to a Batang Ai longhouse, site of the oldest Iban settlements in Sarawak. Meet the longhouse chief, hear headhunters’ tales and see how Iban communities have lived for generations. Return to Kuching after a lunch stopover at Lacau bazaar and enjoy free time before dinner at the hotel.

Day 8

Kuching - Kota Kinabalu

Fly from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu to join the main conference.

Dr Gary Kilov (1:42)
Dr Asha Nair (1:31)
Dr Ralph Audehm (1:11)
Dr Diana Hart & Dr Roger Scurr (1:39)