The journey to Batang Ai is a long and bumpy bus ride into the heart of Sarawk, even allowing for lunch breaks and visits to markets and a pepper farm, followed by a short ride across the lake to the hotel. I was expecting a slightly dated establishment and was delighted to find extensive stylish public areas and what appeared to be recently updated bedrooms which were very comfortable. The food and service were excellent, well up to Hilton standards.
The next day we left the hotel dock in 4 passenger motorised canoes, quite tricky for the less nimble of us to get in but comfortable eough for the 45 minute journey to the longhouse. The longhouse was constructed in traditional style with only a "wriggly" tin roof as a concession to modern materials. After a greeting by the chief including the mandatory rice wine toast (not as rough as some drinks I've had!) the presents for the community which our tour guide had purchased on the previous days journey were distributed by dividing all the items equally between the families, fascinatig. There were then dances by the chief and his lady and were shown into the chief's family quarters, were they all lived and slept cheek by jowl. The comon area stretching the length of the building seved as an excellent playground for the pre-school children, where my wife, a retired teacher, was soon entertaining them making paper boats and planes. Lunch prepared in the chiefs kitchen by our local guide and driver was very good and served as a buffet in the communal area. On a practical note, the ladieswere most pleased that the toilets included a "European" loo!
A demonsration of blow pipe skills preceded our return boat journey, unfortunately the heavens opened and even our cheap plastic ponchos could not keep the rain out, but at least the rain was warm. Sadly,on our return the delightful looking hotel pool was closed because of the storm, but perhaps we were wet enough already!
We arrived at a weekend and the hotel was full of locals escaping the heat of the coast and the location, although on a man made lake is stunning and very tranquil. We also had the opportunity to briefly experience a lifestyle so completely different from our western ways which was one of the highlights of our visit to Borneo. Worth the long journey there and back from Kuching!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set on the edge of the world's most ancient rainforest on the island of Borneo, the Batang Ai Longhouse Resort, Managed by Hilton is a self-contained haven on the 20 hectares shore of the Batang Ai Lake peninsula.275 km from Kuching city, the resort is surrounded by tropical rainforest just waiting to be explored.It takes a 4-hour drive and a 20-minute boat ride to get to the resort. A daily shuttle service is available from Hilton Kuching. A fee is applicable. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Batang Ai Longhouse Resort, Managed By Hilton Hotel Kuching
- Hilton International Kuching
- Hilton Kuching
- Kuching Hilton