Thursday, January 30, 2020

Road Tripping With Zack Part 1

My boy Zack. This is a guy who is incredibly excited to show of Sarawak to his guests. He wants to give them experiences that many people will not have and go to places that others will not access readily. He is genuine and kind and I was lucky to have found his homestay. If I did not say it before, I booked in for 4 nights and I ended up staying for 10. Not only did we have a few good road trips but we also ended up just hanging out. We had dinner and breakfast with his friends. We discussed ideas on how to improve his accommodation and went shopping for supplies when the decisions were made. Naturally, I said he needed a map and pins so people can put where they are from. As of now, I am told it is a hit. I also suggested a big comment book, where guests can write down their thoughts when they leave. Online reviews are good but handwritten reviews are more personal and other guests like to read them. He loved it and I get updates constantly about both. His greatest vision is to turn his village into a destination for tourists. It is home to one of the most received restaurants and has quick access to the fort. He has a great vision and I know it will come true. Shit, I might even go back to help paint when the time comes.

Zack had a day tripped planned and I just went along with it. We jumped into his little beast of a car and headed out. We were going to the tip of Sarawak when few people go, and off we went. We drove down well maintain roads and what was becoming the Great Pan Borneo Highway which would one day go from the top of Sarawak, through Brunei and across Sabah. It was a huge effort and once completed would connect the entire country.

We talked quite a bit but I liked listening to Zack talk excitedly about his future ideas for his home-stay and how he will help promote Sarawak. We stopped at random places on the side of the highway to take in the views of the surrounding hills and countryside. After a couple of hours, we came upon the very small fishing village of Sematan. The residue of the Chinese New Year was everywhere. There was a pier that we walked out on, but it was low tide. Smiling locals were hanging out in or doing work on their small fishing vessels that were wedged in the mud of the South China Sea. We had a small lunch and some tea and were off.

I had no idea where we were headed so I just took it all in. Zack was a wealth of positive information with every hill, view, jungle scape and banana field holding something special. The downside of all this driving is I got to see first hand how the jungle was being devastated and being replaced by Palm Oil Plantations. Natural habitats for so many animals, especially Orangutans, are being obliterated all throughout Malaysian and Indonesian Borneo. I could not bring myself to take a picture of what are picture-perfect rows of palm trees that have no business being where they are. If you want Click Here to see what Google can show you.

Telok Melano was a quick turn off the main road. As we pulled into what is an incredibly remote part of Sarawak I was a bit surprised to see an active little community. There were a few really nice beachfront homestays and to nobody's surprise a large contingent of Chinese tourists. There is no easy way to get here so good for them for taking advantage of such a great place. They all seemed happily confused when we pulled up and wandered the beach and rock outcrops with them.

Telok Melano is Mile 0 for the Great Pan Borneo Highway and a great photo op. Zack was on a mission. He was gathering information on each homestay about pricing, contact information, and facilities. He does have a method to his madness. We drank some tea at a shop and he started talking about organizing small groups that he could bring here.  This journey had so much for him. He was gathering information for possible business opportunities as a guide. He wanted to have all this information available to his guests if they wanted to do it alone and he was happily sharing it all with me.

"Oh the places you'll go and the people you'll meet"

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