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Rank the best places to visit in Malaysia

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carteki
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Postby carteki » Sun, 06 May 2012 6:41 pm

I haven't been to Kuching, so can't comment. KK has a charm of its own, but is not the reason you go there. It is a stepping off point to Sandakan and the rest of the state of Sabah which needs way more than a long weekend to explore. With a 1 yo I'd probably spend a day in KK, and then go to Mount Kinabalu National Park for a night and walk around the base of the mountain there. If you want to see the Raffelasia flower then you'll need to go to Poring (about 2 hours from Mt Kinabalu) and you can try the hot springs (but I've found them dirty and there is nothing to do after dark).

Another option is to fly to Sandakan from KK and then get a transfer to Sepilok where you can go to the Orangutan reserve. I don't know where you're from, but Sandakan is the site of a massive WWII POW camp where all but 6 of around 3k Allied POW's died (morning visit)

You say that you have a 1 yo. For a slightly less stressful trip how about Desaru on the east coast of MY? Its close to Singapore (45 mins by car/taxi) and has nice hotels on the beach. For activities there is lots near Kota Tingigi - firefly boat rides at night, mangroves, Kota Tinggi Waterfalls Resort (RM10pp) or you can walk through the Gunung Panti forest.

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Postby JR8 » Sun, 06 May 2012 8:02 pm

Of the two if you could only do one I'd go for Kuching. It is small, very historic and a city that you can explore on foot without trouble. half-day or day-trips can be booked to many activities outside of town (cultural village and orang-utangs are probably the tops two),

We stayed at the Hilton and flew Air Asia and purhased the trip as a package from the AA website at a most reasonable cost.

p.s. tend to agree that KK has the feeling of a stepping-stone or entry-point. I spent a day there in transit and I found it larger scale than Kuching, much less historic, but interesting in it's own way.

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Postby poodlek » Sun, 06 May 2012 8:31 pm

Love this thread, BTW. And the one about the cheap websites where you book your travel. You guys have proved very useful and I am much obliged!
:kiss:

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Postby zzm9980 » Sun, 06 May 2012 9:06 pm

Thats everyone.

Carteki, Desaru is already on the list in the coming months. I want to take the Firefly boat tour for myself :P (Bonus if the kid enjoys it)
I've been dying to try and take some photos like these: http://digitalphoto.cocolog-nifty.com/d ... index.html
My wife's town in Vietnam is next to a big national park and has a place with fireflies like this. Unfortunately the past few times we've gone something has come up that's prevented me from going...

I guess I should also have mentioned the tribal/cutural villages and such outside Kuching have zero appeal to me. But otherwise, it does sound like both places have enough to see that I'd enjoy both. Maybe I'll make a week our of it and go to Brunei also.

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Postby JR8 » Sun, 06 May 2012 9:20 pm

Do a Google search for pictures of both cities and you'll get a feel for the difference straight away. Kuching is much lower-rise for a start, a large amount of it is charming period shop-houses. It's on a slight hillside that meets a huge river. You really feel the extra-ordinary history of the place (The White Rajahs etc). There is great handicrafts to be had, no not the usual tat, really genuinely quality stuff.

Those two trips I mentioned, the organ-utans was interesting and at times quite dramatic, certainly worthwhile. Cultural Village, no we didn't go there, going to see 'real' but orchestrated culture is not our kinda thing either, but as indicated it is probably the first or 2nd most popular trip out of town.

KK is flatter and much more modern, but I never had a chance to get escape the very centre. I was in transit to Sipidan.

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Postby the lynx » Sun, 06 May 2012 10:05 pm

JR8 wrote:Cultural Village, no we didn't go there, going to see 'real' but orchestrated culture is not our kinda thing either, but as indicated it is probably the first or 2nd most popular trip out of town.


To be fair, I'm not fond of going to 'centralised', 'orchestrated' cultural village either but considering the convenience it will have to zzm's family, I think they should be able to enjoy it. Plus think of it as a way for the locals to earn a living there.

Been to the real, actual ones deep inside Sri Aman (4 hours from Kuching), courtesy of a local friend. The locals there, as friendly as they are, actually prefer to have less intrusion from curious tourists. And they have a lot of superstitions pertaining foreign/foreigners which I believe it won't be memorable to pull a faux pas on.

zzm, do consider my suggestion on RWMF in Kuching. It is happening this July, which I won't be able to make it :(

http://rwmf.net/

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Postby zzm9980 » Sun, 06 May 2012 10:30 pm

Yep, no 'cultural replica villages', no matter how authentic or kid friendly ;) I hate those things. I honestly don't even like most museums; just the 'real' ones sporting real T-Rex skeletons or King Tut. (Got to hand it to the Brits, they do have nice museums since they took pretty much anything anywhere that wasn't bolted down.)

As for kid-friendly, I just meant I didn't want to to a rugged 10km hike through the jungle or climb Mt Kinabalu the whole way. My daughter will enjoy any place we take her once I give her my iphone to play with.

I'll definitely look into it RWMF though; My wife and I do enjoy live music.

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Postby BillyB » Mon, 07 May 2012 11:15 am

Where are you all getting the idea that Kuching has 'fake' villages from? Nothing could be further from the truth.

The different tribes / descendants do still live in the jungle / out of the city areas - iban, bidayuh etc. - they don't leave and go back to their 5 bed houses once the sun goes down!

Kuching has genuine charm and character, with lovely, friendly people.

Visit a longhouse and see how many stops you can make to all the different families living there without going into a drinking coma!

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Postby JR8 » Mon, 07 May 2012 11:18 am

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_R ... rawak.html

Read the top few reviews.... says it all for me...

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Postby sweetgazebo » Mon, 07 May 2012 11:17 pm

zzm if you happen to be in kl you might want to pay kuala selangor a visit. there's a (water) park there the government has transformed for taking in the beauty of the fireflies in the night. it's pure peace as you take in the amazing beauty of the fireflies in a slow moving boat.


zzm9980 wrote:Thats everyone.

Carteki, Desaru is already on the list in the coming months. I want to take the Firefly boat tour for myself :P (Bonus if the kid enjoys it)
I've been dying to try and take some photos like these: http://digitalphoto.cocolog-nifty.com/d ... index.html
My wife's town in Vietnam is next to a big national park and has a place with fireflies like this. Unfortunately the past few times we've gone something has come up that's prevented me from going...

I guess I should also have mentioned the tribal/cutural villages and such outside Kuching have zero appeal to me. But otherwise, it does sound like both places have enough to see that I'd enjoy both. Maybe I'll make a week our of it and go to Brunei also.

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zzm9980
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Postby zzm9980 » Tue, 08 May 2012 10:01 am

BillyB wrote:Where are you all getting the idea that Kuching has 'fake' villages from? Nothing could be further from the truth.

The different tribes / descendants do still live in the jungle / out of the city areas - iban, bidayuh etc. - they don't leave and go back to their 5 bed houses once the sun goes down!


I dunno, I don't consider the villages "authentic" when they open them up as tourist attractions, with all of the usual gimmicks like selling crafts, scheduled exhibits, etc. Sure they may live there, so I guess fake isn't the right word, just commercial.

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Postby the lynx » Tue, 08 May 2012 10:12 am

OK just to clarify, Sarawak Cultural Village (Kuching) and Mari Mari Cultural Village (Kota Kinabalu) are commercialised cultural villages meant for tourists. So they have longhouses (or tall houses for certain tribes) characteristic to each tribe with display of own pottery, handicraft, tools, toys and musical instruments. These cultural villages also hosts tribal festivals and many international events with tribal theme to it (such as World Harvest Festival and RWMF).

There are still many genuine longhouses spread all over Borneo where the occupants still practise nomadic living or some actually make it a permanent settlement, concentrating on simple farming/hunting. I've been to some of that and the experience was really good (except for a few faux pas I made) :oops:

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Postby BillyB » Tue, 08 May 2012 10:21 am

the lynx wrote:OK just to clarify, Sarawak Cultural Village (Kuching) and Mari Mari Cultural Village (Kota Kinabalu) are commercialised cultural villages meant for tourists. So they have longhouses (or tall houses for certain tribes) characteristic to each tribe with display of own pottery, handicraft, tools, toys and musical instruments. These cultural villages also hosts tribal festivals and many international events with tribal theme to it (such as World Harvest Festival and RWMF).

There are still many genuine longhouses spread all over Borneo where the occupants still practise nomadic living or some actually make it a permanent settlement, concentrating on simple farming/hunting. I've been to some of that and the experience was really good (except for a few faux pas I made) :oops:


That's what I meant, too. Kuching isn't solely comprised of tourist traps - there is plenty of authenticity (real longhouses & villages) mixed in as well.

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Postby zzm9980 » Tue, 08 May 2012 10:47 am

the lynx wrote:
There are still many genuine longhouses spread all over Borneo where the occupants still practise nomadic living or some actually make it a permanent settlement, concentrating on simple farming/hunting. I've been to some of that and the experience was really good (except for a few faux pas I made) :oops:


See, that would be more to my liking. But how easy is it for an ang moh to get to those without being directed into some tourist trap? :P And how appreciative are the non-commercialized villages of tourists showing up?

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the lynx
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Postby the lynx » Tue, 08 May 2012 11:16 am

IMHO, the 'real' longhouse villages are not really receptive to visitors (especially of foreign descent - even myself). These are the ones which have disconnected itself from outside world, practising animism.

The ones that are familiar to tourists/foreigners are unfortunately already a form of tourist trap by itself, self-arranged by tour guides for tourists 'who insists against going to cultural villages' so it is some kind of circular logic in the end.

You need to know a local for such access to 'real' longhouses. He will help you getting around and also act as mediator and translator (be sure to bring souvenirs - I was asked to bring colourful beads and fake Swarovski crystals - the women and children go gaga over them and use them for their bead work). And he will help to remind you the do's and don't s there.


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