On the contrary, the natural world is so diverse and vibrant that even a move from one state such as Sabah to another state such as Sarawak, will allow you a completely different experience.
My advice therefore to people traveling to Malaysia is that while focusing on Peninsular Malaysia, do take time out to head east, on the road less traveled and discover a spiritually uplifting natural world that will truly make your visit complete.
One thought that strikes you wherever you go in Malaysia is the extreme social responsibility that in engrained in the society – in individuals and in organizations.
Even commercial organizations like the Damai Beach Resort will exhibit a high level of CSR in the way they work to preserve the environment, reduce their use of non-renewable natural resources and create the highest standards of service possible.
After a two-hour flight from KL on board Asia’s largest no-frills airline, Air Asia, one of Malaysia’s greatest success stories, I was in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak.
Kuching, which literally translates to ‘cat city’, ironically has nothing to do with the feline, as the city has been named after the Kuching River which in turn derives its name from a fruit – Mata Kuching or Cat’s Eyes – that is common at the river’s banks.
When the average tourist or business traveler hears the name ‘Malaysia’, his or her mind rifles through images of Kuala Lumpur’s impressive skyline, or Penang’s white sandy beaches, or better yet, the crazy parties at Langkawi!
For the more sedate, Malaysia may even spell the cultural richness of Melaka, and for the more audacious, perhaps the casinos at Genting.
My point though is fairly simple; East Malaysia is at a far higher level of natural beauty altogether.Just off the coast of the city is the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park which comprises five islands offering numerous scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities.If marine life is not your cup of tea, then head off to the Taman Negara Kinabalu (or Kinabalu National Park).Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO, this park covers an area of 754 square kilometers around Mt. While climbing the mountain is quite a popular attraction with tourists, be warned that you need to be very physically fit to accomplish the seven-odd hour trek to the top.If you do muster the guts to take on the mountain and reach the top where you spend the night, your reward will be a tranquil sunrise when you wake up the next morning, as well as a certificate on your return to the bottom.Kuching is also home to the Semingoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Center which aims to rehabilitate confiscated orangutans that have been incapacitated or handicapped by prolonged captivity, with the eventual hope of releasing the apes into the wild.Ideally one should make it to the Center at feeding time as this allows ample opportunity to see these beautiful animals leisurely meandering through the trees.But this is only a small part of the Malaysia I have grown to love, having lived in the country for three years.While cosmopolitan Malaysia does have its attractions from its amazing shopping to its awe inspiring development, it somehow falls short in fulfilling the soul’s inner desire to be one with nature.As I left Borneo and made my way back to KL, I couldn’t help but mull over the fact that a lot of upper – and even the middle – class tourists have learnt to distinguish between an Armani and a Versace, and might sip the fanciest cappuccino in a downtown bistro, but their aesthetics have not evolved to include the appreciation of nature.I, for one, feel that a shopping mall is a shopping mall regardless of where you go.