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View from our Superior Poolside Room at the Damai Beach Resort
The Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers, especially the area surrounding the city of Kuching. A short drive outside the city sits the Sarawak Cultural Village and Mount Santubong, where you can learn about Iban longhouses and explore the exotic wildlife of the rainforest.
There are a number of hotels in Kuching that are very affordable and within a 45-minute drive, but if you want to stay on the coast, the area's flagship resort is the Damai Beach Resort in Sarawak. It recently underwent a series of refurbishments that included upgrades to the main pool, children's pool, and dining areas, and further renovations are taking place as we speak.
Damai is in the midst of adding a new ballroom and parking facilities, which it hopes will attract more events to the property. One other addition that's not being advertised but we saw while on site is the addition of a swim-up bar in the main pool.
The conundrum for North American travelers when it comes to Southeast Asia is the upfront cost and the time it takes to get there. Sure, it's a sexy destination, but it's halfway around the world, and most people struggle with finding the time to make the trip a reality.
For what it's worth, travelers who brave the journey will be happy to know it gets much easier on the wallet once you hit the ground. Take Kuching in Malaysia, for example, where not only the food and cost of living is cheap compared to the American dollar, but the hotel rates look really good, too.
A trip to the Malaysian side of Borneo is not complete without experiencing life in a traditional Iban longhouse. Our bro Jaunted is going to dish on that immersive experience next week for those of you who find the idea of sleeping on the floor or in the jungle appealing, but what about those of us who prefer a soft mattress? Well, a remote Hilton property near Batang Ai may be just the compromise.
Officially called the Batang Ai Longhouse Resort Managed by Hilton, this property is a 4-hour drive and a 15-minute boat ride from the nearest airport in Kuching. It's located amongst and adjacent to what makes Borneo famous: the rainforest. This means the main attractions are nature walks, hikes, boating, fishing, and chasing down wild orangutans.
Know what's weird? We just returned from spending 4 days in the country of Brunei.
Know what's even weirder? That, in Brunei, the hotels where we stayed had specifically banned certain fruit, and it wasn't just one fruit. Three fruits are banned in these particular hotels, and the Directory of Guest Services even spells it out in all caps.
Having durian banned from a room isn't anything new to us; the stinky fruitthe smell is often likened to rotting, gross feetis even prohibited from riding in the subway systems of Asian metropoli. It's the other banned fruits which intrigue. They are: Kuini and Cempedak.
What's so bad about these fruits? Well, Kuini is described as having a "characteristic fragrant resinous smell," while Cempedak rates worse, like "fermented urine combined with sweet syrup."