COOKING WITH CULTURE
2018 tours: May 27
2019: Register your interest
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For the record, I am a 52 year old mum from Perth, Western Australia and for two amazing years I worked and lived under the rainforest canopy at Gunung Mulu World Heritage Area in Borneo. I visited Kuching regularly for both business and pleasure, attended some awesome music, food and cultural festivals and absolutely fell in love with all that Borneo has to offer.
On my return to Australia, I established Borneo Ethical Adventures and in a leap of faith, I follow my dream.
My dream is to share the treasures of the region with others, to improve the lives of the people I love, to get my hands dirty and help out, to bring others to help and to protect and preserve the forest and its wildlife for future generations.
This tour brings together my love for the people, the food and the stunning parks and rivers that earned Sarawak the title of one of the Top 10 Asian destinations to visit in 2017.
If Anthony Bourdain can't stop at only one visit to taste Kuching's incredible Sarawak Laksa, what chance does a mere mortal have!
But this tour is not all about cooking. Our small group doesn't follow the usual tourist trails. We'll take it all in at a pretty cruisy pace. We'll explore the 'must-see' tourist destinations in Kuching and Mulu National Park with expert local guides but I'll also introduce you to some hidden treasures that only the locals really know about. Oh, and you'll meet quite a few of them too!
Whether it's a tribal massage, Chinese herbalist, local markets or seriously stylish fusion food you are after - This tour packs a punch! Hell, even a simple hair wash and blow dry in Sarawak is an experience not to be missed.
In Kuching we'll stay in a beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of the old quarter and a stones throw from The Sarawak River and it's beautiful promenade. In Mulu we'll spend our nights spacious bungalows under the world heritage rainforest canopy of Mulu National Park.
Flights and accommodation within Borneo are often sold out at this time of year, but fortunately I have reserved seats and accommodation for 10 adventures women with a passion to explore, contribute and cook up a storm in the kitchens and restaurants as we travel.
So what do we have so far?.... Awesome walks, incredible scenery, some fresh jungle air, walking in the shadow of Anthony Bourdain, learning a few Sarawakian dishes to impress the friends back home, throw in a massage, a river cruise or two and a bit of giving back to the communities we visit. Now bundle it all together with a bunch of good women in search of fun and adventure. Only one thing to do now...grab a friend and reserve your place!
Kuching experiences: Accommodation, breakfasts, transfers, entry fees and escorted tours of Semonggoh Wildlife Centre, volunteering with Project Orangutan, Matang Rehabilitation Sanctuary, Market Tour and Cooking Class.
Mulu National Park: Accommodation, breakfasts, all transfers, boat rides and entry fees, escorted tours of Deer and Lang Cave, bat exodus, Clearwater Cave, Cave of Winds, Batu Bungan longhouse craft market and cooking class. (Night Walks, Canopy Skywalk tour and Adventure Caving available on request)
Transport & Flights: All transfers and flights while on tour (Does not included international flights)
Meals: all breakfasts, picnic lunches (when on day trips) and some evening meals...but not all.
Please note that the itinerary is subject to change depending on weather and other variables.
Welcome to Kuching
Kuching is a beautiful old city, interlaced with quaint back streets and boasting a riverside promenade that rivals the lively riverfronts of Europe.
Kuching’s streets are alive with the aroma of street foods, colourful wares and the smiles of the super-friendly locals.
Our hotel is situated amongst the bustling traders on Kuching’s Main Bazar. It also directly oppostite the riverside promenade of Sarawak River, a great place to take a stroll anytime of day or night.
If you arrive early, check out the tin merchants in Carpenter Street, visit one of the many local museums or simply take a seat near the river and chat with the locals as you watch the world go by.
We’ll meet up in the hotel bar before sunset for a welcome drink and enjoy dinner together at an open-air rooftop seafood restaurant
Wildlife Sanctuary & Cooking with Culture
Depart 8am for a full day of Borneo at its best. Kick start the day with a visit to Semenggoh Wildlife Sanctuary to witness orangutans in a relatively natural setting.
Semenggoh was established more than 40 years ago as a rehabilitation center for endangered animals and now has expanded to become a research facility into orangutan biology and behavior, providing vital information to safeguard the orangutans’ precarious future. Semenggoh also provides a successful breeding environment for orangutans unable to be rehabilitated into the wild. We’ll have the chance to see the sanctuary’s semi-wild orangutans, ranging from heart-meltingly cute infants and boisterous adolescents to the powerful male adults, as they enjoy life in a secure natural habitat.
Cooking with Culture Cooking Class in Kuching
Learn how to cook real Sarawak food in a traditional setting with skilled and friendly instructors who can share the secrets of Sarawak cooking to you in a fun atmosphere.
We’ll visit the bustling food markets of Kuching for a guided tour and to purchase fresh produce to cook up when get back to the resturant.
This ladies will entertain and educate you in style you are sure to remember as we cook up a storm in back streets of Kuching. They guarantee that by the time you complete our course you will not only have learned a thing or two about Malaysian cooking but will also have had a most memorable experience.
The dedicated staff and volunteers at Matang are committed to the care and rehabilitation of endangered Bornean wildlife. You'll have the opportunity to get behind the scenes and learn what is required to keep this valuable volunteer project at Matang afloat. Warning – you may find yourself smitten by the endearing nature of the resident orangutans.
Project Orangutan is a conservation company helping to save and protect the endangered wildlife on Borneo. They specialise in ethical volunteering and tourism experiences working with the magnificent orangutan and other protected species such as the clouded leopard, binturong, sun bear and false gharial, among others.
As we join the Project Orangutan team for the day we have an exceptional opportunity to gain a behind-the-scenes insight into orangutan conservation and rehabilitation.
We will have the chance to spend time with experts in the field, who will be happy to share their experiences and knowledge as they orientate us with the centre’s residents and facilities.
After lunch it’s our turn to help out, whether it’s making ‘toys’ for orangutans, building infrastructure or ‘mucking-out’ living quarters – yep, we roll our sleeves up and get down and dirty in our effort to provide real support to the centre, rather than a tokenistic volunteering gesture.
Behind the scenes with Project Orangutan, Matang Rehabilitation Sanctuary
Mulu World Heritage Area
Pack your bags and get ready for the next leg of your journey as we fly into the heart of Borneo and Malaysia’s iconic World Heritage Area, Mulu National Park. With no road into this area you can expect a pristine wilderness full of all the weird and wonderful things that awarded it UNESCO’s world heritage status in all four criteria.
Find yourself captivated by enchanting underworlds – enormous caves home to great flocks of bats that cloak the sky in darkness as they swirl through the heavens. Wander through misty rainforest viewing claws of jagged rock and jungle-cloaked mountain peaks through breaks in the jungle canopy. Admire the riot of wildlife – from the tiny pigmy squirrel, to some of the largest insects on Earth. See exquisite orchids emerge from the dense leaf litter cloaking the jungle floor. Fall under the spell of this pulsing, breathing, living utopia.
Your accommodation here is perched under forest canopy and embraced by a series of self-guided walks trails through the rainforest.
Afternoon tour to Deer and Lang Caves and experience the sunset bat exodus
Take an easy 2.7 km trail to Lang and Deer Caves. As you saunter through the rainforest and by jungle steams your guide will regal you with captivating stories of the plants and wildlife you encounter, and the traditional roles and customs for people who live in the jungle.
Lang Cave is possibly the most stunning cave in Mulu with a low ceiling that makes spotting the swiftlet and bats nesting in the bell-holes easy. It is adorned with lavishly decorated walls of shawls, layers of rim stone pools and spectacular stalagmites and stalactites.
Not far away is the jaw-dropping Deer Cave. With a cathedral-like cavern snaking two kilometres under the earth and a ceiling never lower than 90m high, Deer Cave is the biggest show-cave in the world.
Its cavernous reaches are also home to around three million wrinkle-lipped bats that emerge from the cave most evenings around sunset. We time our walk to witness the phenomenon of these bats streaming from the cave entrance – a stand-out scene in David Attenborough’s Planet Earth series. Watching the bats swirl through the sky in meandering rivers of black is a truly heart-stopping experience.
From within the cave you can also visit the ‘Garden Of Eden’, one of the most pristine collapsed cave systems in the world. Witness its dazzling beauty by peering through a 30-metre column of water streaming from above, like a giant shower for the jungle gods.
It will be late when we return and, although the pathway is lit, the scout and brownie guide rules of ‘be prepared’ are advisable in the jungle, so bring your torch.
You may choose to walk, rest or swim. Here’s your chance to breathe out, ah, you’re here, among one of the world’s most treasured natural environments.
Visit Batu Bungan Longhouse & Handicraft Market on the way to Clearwater Cave
& Cook with Culture at the local school
We leave the park by longboat at 9.30am and travel up river stopping at Batu Bungan Craft Market. Here you can test your skills with a blowpipe, pick up some local crafts direct from the women who collect and weave the products or try your hand (or should we say nose!), with a Penan nose flute.
As we journey further up the river and out from under the forest canopy you’ll start to see the breathtaking beauty from a different perspective. Any boat ride on these rivers is like a meditation in nature and this one is no exception. You can’t help but feel alive, relaxed and complete as Mother Nature soothes your very soul with her beauty.
Next we travel through an intriguing underworld of cave passages, formed over two million years to create a winding network of tunnels snaking 220 kilometres under the earth.
First, we visit the Cave of Wind to enter the lavishly decorated halls of King Chamber, adorned with stalactites, stalagmites, flowrocks, helitites and rock corals.
From here we set out on a meandering boardwalk perched precariously along the cliffs to Clearwater Cave Picnic Area were we recharge with a light snack and refreshment. before venturing through the ancient underground river passage of Clearwater Cave.
You’ll embark on a 200-step climb to Clearwater Cave entrance but the adventure really begins as venture into the ancient underground river passage of Clearwater Cave where to cool clear waters have been carving out the expansive 220km of Clearwater Cave system across the millennia.
Cooking with Culture at Batu Bungan School
SK Batu Bungan is home to more than 100 primary school children from remote rivers and tributaries of the region. On this tour, our contribution to the school is through the Parents and Friends Committee that raise much-needed funds for the school.
Mulu has an enviable parent participant rate and the mums and school cooks have kindly agreed to share their favourite recipes as we cook up a storm in the schools kitchen. Bring your notebook and cameras, and an empty belly –this is going to be seriously good fun!
Your morning is free to explore the self-guided trails of Mulu, relax at a waterfall or sign up for the Canopy Skywalk Walk and explore the 480 metre suspense platform from the canopy skyline
Late morning we'll fly back to Kuching for our final night together.
Take in some shopping, a well earned massage or simply meander the river promenade and celebrate our journey with superb Sarawak cuisine in a renown fusion restaurant.
Transfer to Kuching
For those that really can't leave without one more tasty morsel, join me for breakfast with the locals at a famous Chinese open-air breakfast cafe. Enjoy the local Sarawak laksa, popiah or roti where celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain returns to in frequent episodes of his show 'No Reservations'.
Check-out of hotel and transfer to airport..
Optional extension: Extend your holiday with a few days in Kuching or let us plan a journey Sarawak's national parks or distance shores.