The name “Sarawak” is believed to be derived from the Malay word “serawak”, which refers to an antimony ore commonly found in the region. However, the exact origin remains uncertain. Another theory suggests it might come from the Sarawak River, which has been a significant geographical feature for the locals.
Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia and occupies the northwestern part of the island of Borneo. To the west lies the South China Sea, offering picturesque coastlines. It shares borders with the Malaysian state of Sabah to the northeast, and with Indonesia’s Kalimantan region to the south and east. The state has a myriad of ecosystems, from coastal areas to dense rainforests and rugged highlands.
Sarawak’s history is rich and varied, having been influenced by Bruneian sultans, Chinese traders, indigenous tribes, and European colonizers. The “White Rajahs” of the Brooke family ruled Sarawak as a personal kingdom for a century from the mid-1800s to World War II, after which the territory was ceded to the British Crown. Along with Sabah, Singapore, and Malaya, Sarawak became part of the newly formed Federation of Malaysia in 1963. The state’s ethnic and cultural diversity can be attributed to its unique historical tapestry.
Highlights of Things to Do
- Bako National Park: The oldest national park in Sarawak, it features diverse ecosystems, from mangrove swamps to dipterocarp forests and stunning coastal cliffs. Proboscis monkeys, monitor lizards, and myriad bird species call this park home.
- Gunung Mulu National Park: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s known for its limestone karst formations, expansive cave systems, and the iconic Pinnacle rock formations.
- Kuching: The state capital, known as the “City of Cats”, is a blend of modernity and tradition, with colonial buildings, bustling markets, and a rich culinary scene.
- Sarawak Cultural Village: A living museum that offers a deep dive into the diverse ethnic backgrounds of Sarawak, with traditional houses, cultural performances, and craft demonstrations.
- Niah National Park: Famous for the Niah Caves, which have revealed artifacts dating back 40,000 years, making it a significant archaeological site.
How to Get In and Out
- By Air: Kuching International Airport (KIA) is the main gateway, offering flights from various parts of Asia and a multitude of domestic routes within Malaysia.
- By Sea: The state has several ports with Kuching Port being a major entry and exit point, serving both cargo and passenger vessels.
- By Road: Though road travel is possible from neighboring regions, the vast and dense terrains can make overland travel challenging. However, the Pan Borneo Highway is improving connectivity.
Sarawak, often dubbed the “Land of the Hornbills”, invites travelers to immerse themselves in its rich culture, history, and natural wonders. From caves that whisper tales of ancient civilizations to rainforests teeming with life, Sarawak is a captivating blend of the old and the new.