Good times for the family
The Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sarawak state, is a major highlight. Visitors are required to hire a professional guide before exploring the several show caves here, all easily accessible via plank walks.
The Deer Cave, which boasts the world’s largest cave passage and the Sarawak Chamber – a massive cavern that can hold eight 747 Jumbo jets – will make you go “ooh” and “aah”.
Venture further inside and you’ll come across swiftlets, earwigs, centipedes, spiders, crickets, scorpions, white crabs, and thousands of bats whose guano droppings produce such a strong odour, it engulfs your senses.
A limestone formation resembling Abraham Lincoln’s silhouette at the cave’s entrance will get you reaching for your camera, before exploring the deep recesses and reaching ‘The Garden of Eden’ – a lush forest patch that was once part of the cave system until the roof collapsed.
The nearby Clearwater Cave, meanwhile, has a gushing river along a 170km subterranean route, emerging from the cliff face at the outside of the cave. The crystal-clear waters here are ideal for a refreshing dip.
After exploring the caves, proceed to the Bat Observatory Deck located near the Deer Cave and witness thousands of bats flying out of the caves in the early evening, in large ring-shaped formations before dispersing in the forests to seek food.
For a more precarious activity, take the rough trails that lead to Mulu’s Pinnacles – a cluster of large, protruding, razor-sharp rock formations situated at Mount Api’s limestone hills. The rock formations are created by heavy rain which has eroded the limestone rocks over millions of years.
In Kuala Lumpur, the Desa WaterPark’s 11 water rides and slides will delight both children and adults who’re young-at-heart. The park’s main attraction – the Thunderbolt, Asia’s longest gravity-defying water coaster ride-and-slide – is not for the faint of heart. For a milder attraction, head to the Surf Shark and Shock Wave Pool, which mainly attract 12-year-olds and below.
To truly let it rip, the Selangor River in Kuala Kubu Bharu, located an hour’s drive from KL, is where you can enjoy extreme water-based activities such as kayaking, canoeing and white water rafting (fee: RM50-RM100 per person). Tubing on the river’s calmer parts is popular among families too, apart from a refreshing dip at the nearby picturesque Chilling Waterfalls.
Over 40 different rides, shows and other attractions at Johor’s Legoland will get young children and adults alike in a frenzy of exploration. Push, pedal and programme or steer, squirt and splash, your way through a truly interactive experience at the seven different areas with unique themes such as The Beginning, Lego Technic, Lego Kingdoms, Imagination, Lego City, Land of Adventure and Miniland.
You’ll have a blast riding the roller coasters and traversing the ‘Miniland’ – a space where Asian landmarks have been recreated using more than 30 million Lego bricks and where toy replicas of people, trains and aeroplanes come to life at the touch of a button.
Alternatively, the whole family can indulge in a major shopping spree at the Johor Premium Outlets (JPO) in Kulaijaya, Johor. Attractive discounts for off-season items by luxury, high-street and sportswear brands are galore at the 330,000-sq-ft JPO, Southeast Asia’s first Premium Outlet Centre with more than 80 standalone stores.
Think A|X Armani Exchange, Burberry, Canali, Salvatore Ferragamo, Coach, DKNY, Giorgio Armani, Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, Gap Outlet, Lacoste, Tumi, Michael Kors, Levi’s, Nike, Puma and Oroton. These brands offer 25 to 65 percent discounts throughout the year, and there’s something for everyone here.
We’re fortunate to get a preview of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), which will be open to the public later this year at Sabah’s Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre.
Promoting sun bear conservation via tasks concerning animal welfare, rehabilitation, education and research, you can look forward to getting up-close with highly endangered and cute-looking sun bears.
Even prolific American actress Sigourney Weaver and British thespian Emma Thompson, her husband Greg Wise and their daughter Gaia have visited the BSBCC in 2011, after hearing about the sun bears when holidaying in Sabah.
Sarawak’s Talang-Satang National Park, a half-hour boat ride from the Sematan township (110km west of Kuching), is where the whole family can partake in turtle conservation activities without sacrificing a quality downtime.
Only six persons are allowed each week to visit the national park. It consists of islands such as Talang-Talang Besar and neighbouring Talang-Talang Kecil, where the thick forests and white beaches with clear, emerald-blue waters are usually off limits to the public.
The Turtle Conservation Station at a stunning beach in Talang-Talang Besar Island has comfortable accommodation, complete with a kitchen, dining area and two well-maintained portable toilets located near the station.
A special permit from the Sarawak Forestry Department is required for visitors to the islands, where turtle landings are a common sight in the evenings. Look out for the Green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley turtles; unfortunately, the Leatherback has not been seen here since 2000. The turtles’ nesting peak season is from May to September.
To raise awareness about and protect the turtles, the SFD has introduced conservation efforts such as the Sea Turtle Adoption programme. You’re required to stay for 4D/3N to enjoy a hands-on approach for tasks involving the turtles’ egg production, hatchling management, nesting, tagging and data recording – all led by the national park’s warden and his team members.
You must also attend a briefing to gain insight into issues such as fishing trawlers that affect the turtles’ wellbeing; and marine conservation efforts such as some 2,500 reef balls which have been seeded around the national park.
With the aforementioned attractions, families are guaranteed an exciting holiday in Malaysia