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Vagabond Kids: Malaysia- Damai Beach

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Malaysia- Damai Beach

PHOTO HEAVY POST.... For more pictures click here
Trip taken March 2008

A short flight to Kuching Malaysia from Singapore (about 45 minutes) a 35 minute drive and you find yourself on Damai beach in Sarawak Malaysia. Damai beach itself is quite sleepy, there is really only the Holiday Inn Resort for accommodations but the beach itself is quite nice. The food options are also rather limited, but for those who are adventurous, the seafood village 10 minutes away offers fresh caught fish cooked to order. The hotel food is pretty good and reasonably priced, the kids were fine with the options, but after a few days we were tired of the same dishes. For the Seafood, go check out the Kampung Buntal (unless you rent a car you will need to arrange for transport from the hotel). We ate at Lim Hock Ann Seafood and it was amazing food.

The hotel itself is fine, not fancy, I would give it 3.5 stars. Better than many motels in the US, but a bit faded. The staff however makes it almost 4 stars. The staff are caring, fun and recognize the kids and do what it takes to make them happy. While we were there we celebrated Easter on the beach with games and even an egg hunt. The biggest advantage is the price, if you book online you can get it for less than US$85 per night. The Sunsets were pretty darn spectacular, worth sitting over the pool and having a drink or two while the kids have a snack or dinner.

If you are a golfer, I guess the resort links are nice, and they have a mini-golf right at the hotel. For the entertainment there is the Headhunter show twice a week at the restaurant. The food is buffet, but not bad and the show itself is fun. The hotel staff itself participates in the show and they do a great job of involving the guests. Even Declan, my then 6 year old, was made part of the show and handled the "scary" headhunter with bravery that I was surprised about! It is fun and the dances aren't even half bad~

Kiera learning to play instruments at the Cultural Center
Other things to do include the Sarawak Cultural Center, which is next door to the resort. The Cultural Center is amazing and holds some of the few remaining examples of traditional Sarawak culture. In fact, as a side note, I know a photographer here who was charged with doing photos for the design style of Sarawak. After much search, they found the only remaining examples of the culture and style were in the cultural village. All of the indigenous culture has either died out or been infiltrated by TV, Radio, Computers and iPods.

My hubby climbed, or attempted to climb part of Mt. Santubong and found it a very challenging climb. He only did a 2 hour hike, by no means enough to climb to the top, but thought it was beautiful. We may go back someday when the kids are older and take them for a hike, but for young kids I wouldn't recommend it as it is pretty hot and the terrain is quite rough.

The highlight of the trip was the Orangutan Reserve at Semenggoh. While we first hiked in to the feeding platform we were a bit sad to find that only one momma Orangutan came down to feed. While the park rangers tell you that it is possible you won't see any, it was still a bit of a let down. But as we were walking back to the van, this is what we saw...It was amazing. This female had a reputation of being a bit aggressive, but with a good telephoto it is amazing what you can capture.

The kids also really liked the Crocodile farm. While 90% of the farm was not that exciting from my perspective, caged animals always seem to bother me, the feeding of the crocs gives one a real appreciation for the power and the size of these ancient beasts.

And, don't forget the weekend market in downtown Kuching. We didn't take the kids as we were sure they had had enough (after the croc farm and Orangutans) but a follow up trip we will be sure to include them. Everything from batik to grubs and everything in between is sold at the weekend market where the tribesmen come down to sell to the city people every weekend. The city of Kuching looked like fun, but we didn't do much exploring. Note there is a shuttle (I think it was RM10 (about 1 dollar) each way from the Holiday Inn Damai to the Holiday Inn downtown Kuching.

For a three day weekend, a get away from Singapore or other SE Asian spots, or as a part of full Borneo trip, Damai Beach is worth the side trip.

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