Backpacking holidays always seem like they should be about saving money. Travelling cheaply, living in hostels, and buying food from street markets where you can. Nevertheless, you can definitely inject a little luxury into your travels if you need it. Feet Do Travel share some of the reasons why you should treat yourself to luxury when backpacking.
The sound of a jungle is something I will never tire of hearing. The dawn chorus of birds, the evening symphony of frogs and cicadas – scrub that, the constant deafening sound of frogs and cicadas that in the jungle of Mulu, can be heard at any time of the day as you walk through its pristine rainforest.
On our previous travels we had visited jungles in Sepilok, Beko National Park and Tanjang Putting, but had read that the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gunung Mulu National Park in the heart of Malaysian Borneo, was the most spectacular.
We had to take a trip here to discover this for ourselves.
I will be honest, we hadn’t planned to visit Penang because we had been told “it’s really busy” and “it’s full our tourists”, but we were flying from Malaysia to Bangkok and thought “why not”.
I am so glad we did!
As soon as we checked into our Heritage Homestay, we were given a Heritage Trail map of the City and it crossed our minds that Penang could be a cool place to hang out.
We weren’t wrong.
Penang quickly became a place we fell in love with which is unusual, as we don’t really like Cities. So what was it about Penang that made it so different?
Penang’s Street Art is famous worldwide and, before we visited, I didn’t truly understand what made it so special.
On the day we arrived in George Town, the capital of the Malaysian island on Penang, our homestay handed us a map of the area. This map featured not just the infamous street art, but the locations of the wrought iron sculptures which are dotted all over town. Whilst wandering around the City, we started to spot some of them and ticked them off on our map … very quickly and unconsciously, we were hooked!
When we realised that we were actively seeking the next sculpture or piece of art on our map, it dawned on us how much we were enjoying this “art treasure hunt”.
But what is it about the street art that appealed to us, and draws in millions of other tourists, each year?
The Canopy Walk in Mulu National Park is one of the top things to do when visiting the area, and why wouldn’t it be? You cross a bridge 25 metres high, 480 metres long, and stroll through the tree canopy for a glimpse of life above the jungle floor, all the while looking out for birds and monkeys; who wouldn’t want to do this amazing activity in such magnificent surroundings?
People with a fear of heights, that’s who!
When we first told friends we were going to Borneo most people asked “where??”. It is surprising how few people know about the third largest island in the world; everyone has heard of the Amazon rainforest but Borneo’s is actually older at 140 million years ... so why is this Country still largely unheard of?
Borneo is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and the tiny nation of Brunei (think “Sultan of Brunei” and the wealth that is there!) so maybe this causes people confusion??
This ancient biodiverse land is full of fascinating statistics and is home to half of all known plant and animal species - some aren’t found anywhere else in the world apart from Borneo. We have visited this beautiful Country on two occasions (so far) ... so how about I tell you about our amazing experiences and hopefully you will consider paying a visit yourself!
Scuba divers are always discussing which is the world’s number one dive site and it is true that there are many, many top contenders. Sipadan rates highly on many people’s list and on 16 September 2016, Scuba Travel voted Barracuda Point on the island of Sipadan as the number one dive site in the world. It was also voted number one by the legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the naval officer, explorer, conservationist, photographer, author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of marine line.
In his film Borneo: The Ghost of the Sea Turtle (1989, Jacques Cousteau said: "I have seen other places like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now no more. Now we have found an untouched piece of art”
Diving in Borneo is amazing, it’s as simple as that. Not only does it have one of the world’s most interesting places to search for macro-life but also one of the world’s top diving sites on its doorstep – Sipadan!
So far, we have visited twice with a plan to return again and and on all occasions we stayed at Scuba Junkie on the island of Mabul. We honestly cannot big this place up enough and will wax lyrical about it given the opportunity!
We chose Scuba Junkie because of the 5* reviews on Trip Advisor; they didn’t just live up to our expectations, they exceeded them, in fact I would say they blew them out into the stratosphere! Seriously, I should have shares in this place for how much I rave about it.
During our trip to the Malaysian side of Borneo, we spent a few nights in Kuching, which is in the Region of Sarawak. Kuching is actually Malaysian for ‘Cat’ – literally the city of the Cat.
On previous adventures, a cycling trip proved to be a wonderful experience and a great way of learning more about the place you are visiting. We love seeing the most out of any destination and we found a cycling City tour that appealed to us.
We never dreamed that this trip would be one of the highlights of our travels.
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