Sarawak - State And Attractions | Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang ("Land of the Hornbills"), Sarawak is situated on the northwest of the island, bordering the Malaysian state of Sabah to the northeast, Indonesia to the south, and surrounding Brunei.
It is the largest Malaysian state. The administrative capital is Kuching, which has a population of 658,562. Major cities and towns include Miri (pop. 269,380), Sibu (pop. 209,616) and Bintulu (pop. 189,695). As of the last census (2010), the state population was 2,420,009.
The eastern seaboard of Borneo was charted, though not settled, by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. The area of Sarawak was known to Portuguese cartographers as Cerava.
During the 17th century, Sarawak was self-governed under Sultan Tengah. By the early 19th century, Sarawak had become a loosely governed territory under the control of the Brunei Sultanate. During the reign of Pangeran Indera Mahkota in 19th century, Sarawak was facing chaos.
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II (1827–1852), the Sultan of Brunei, ordered Pangeran Muda Hashim in 1839 to restore order and it was during this time that James Brooke arrived in Sarawak. Pangeran Muda Hashim initially requested assistance in the matter, but Brooke refused. In 1841, Brooke paid another visit to Sarawak and this time he agreed to provide assistance. Pangeran Muda Hashim signed a treaty in 1841 surrendering Sarawak and Sinian to Brooke.
On 24 September 1841, Pangeran Muda Hashim bestowed the title Governor to James Brooke. He effectively became the Rajah of Sarawak and founded the White Rajah Dynasty of Sarawak, later extending his administration through an agreement with the Sultan of Brunei. Sarawak was thus an independent kingdom from 1841 until 1888, when the state was placed under British protection.
5 Attractions in Sarawak
1. Bako National Park - A National Park since 1957, Bako offers the perfect introduction to Sarawak's forests and wildlife. The park covers the northern tip of the Muara Tebas peninsula, an area of 27 sq km. Despite its seemingly small size, Bako contains a wide range of vegetation - swamp forest, scrub-like padang vegetation, mangrove forest, dipterocarp forest, delicate cliff vegetation and more. In fact, at Bako it is possible to see almost every type of vegetation found in Borneo. Bako also contains a rich variety of wildlife and a coastline covered with small bays, coves and beaches.
Bakelalan (formerly Ba'Kelalan) is the most important of the Lun Bawang settlements in the northern highlands. The village is famous for its apples and organic vegetables, and for the local musicians and their 'bamboo bands'. The village is connected to Lawas and Miri by air, and it is also possible to travel to Lawas via an old logging road.
3. Batu Lawi
Mountaineers can tackle Gunung Murud (2,424m, reasonable going) or the famous Batu Lawi (2,043m, very tough) located within the Kelabit Highlands area. However, these are both serious expeditions and guides and porters will need to be hired (RM 80 per day) in Bario or Bakelalan. For Batu Lawi, mountaineering equipment and experience is also necessary.
4. Borneo Highland
Borneo Highlands is where the Borneo Highlands Resort and the Hornbill Golf & Jungle Club located. The challenging 18-hole golf course winds its way around the natural features of the highland plateau whilst the Jungle Spa offers herbal treatments and traditional massages. About 70km from Kuching, this hill resort is situated at the Sarawak-Kalimantan border, at an altitude of 600 to 1,000 metres. If you fancy something at a lower altitude, go to the Annah Rais Longhouse at the foothill instead.
5. Gunung Gading National Park
Gunung Gading is home to the world's largest flower, the rafflesia, which can grow up to one metre in diameter. When in bloom the flower gives off a nasty smell which attracts flies and other insects. The rafflesia has no specific season but the rainy season provides better blooming frequencies. It takes nine months to mature and flowering lasts only 4 or 5 days before dying.