14 May 2015

Paradise in Sarawak

While Miri itself is more of a staging post than a destination within Sarawak it is very close to some lovely, tranquil beaches lapped by the South China Sea.  We are not overly fond of beach holidays in and of themselves (we never really manage to just sit and cook) but think they are wonderful places to take the dogs for a walk.  Our house in Miri was in a beautiful garden suburb but it was plagued by so many street dogs that we could not easily take them for a walk. The beach then, was their opportunity to stretch their legs and even go for a swim. (Always bearing in mind that there are many people here in Malaysia who cannot touch or get close to dogs so we have to keep them under close control near people at all times). Our English dog had seen beaches and the sea before but there was something truly magical about being able to introduce our Kazakh Steppe dog to the water for the first time.  

Long, deserted and unspoiled beaches

Seeing the water for the first time

The end of the beach!

Within or just on the outskirts of Miri you can get to the popular Luak Esplanade and Hawaii Beach where you can rent a cabin for the day, these areas tend to be teeming with people, however, and we prefer a little more quiet.  From as little as 20 km out of town there are short dirt roads that take you down to the beach with enough space to park the car before getting out to enjoy a walk.  We never had any problems finding somewhere to go for a roam.  A few months ago, however, we decided to drive a little bit further on towards Benenu. 

It is easy to get down on to the beach
Pantai Bungai is being developed as a small resort with
places to buy food and engage in adventure activities
Pantai Bungai is not yet busy, the beaches are pristine and
seemingly endless
Shortly before the town, about 60km from Miri we saw a turn off for Pantai (beach) Bungai.  We drove down to find possibly the most beautiful beach we have ever seen.  The local government is capitalising on this and have built a small bazaar where you can buy cold drinks and snacks, a children’s playground and a stage for open air performances.  This is still mostly under construction but I suspect it will not be long before tourists are flocking here in their droves, it is certainly heavily promoted in Miri tourist literature although none of our friends had ever heard of it or made the trip down.  People do, however, already come out here; a little further down the road the Santai Sijiak Café offers snacks and refreshing mocktails.  The friendly owner arranges banana boat rides, caving, abseiling and nature walks both for groups and individuals.  A local homestay also offers rooms for people who want to stay the night and there are more accommodation options in Bekenu. 

Pals cooling down in the water

The beaches are quiet enough to allow the dogs off the lead
The beach stretches in a crescent around a bay and there are a number of small fishing settlements along the beach.  It is possible to walk up to some cliffs and even, if the tide is out, walk along their base to look at the caves inside.  Check the local tide times before doing this though, the beach shelves gently and the tide comes in very quickly.  We spent many (though not enough), Sundays walking up and down the beach giving the dogs a treat and enjoying the sun before grabbing a drink and a snack and heading home to Miri.

Off duty fishing boats kept away from the water

And some that have not lasted so well
Exploring the cliffs (before the tide comes in)

There are a few places in the world that, to me, are evocative of what I believe paradise to be.  One was a small place on a quiet river in Nigeria where two houses were nestled in beautifully kept grounds and we could swim in the river.  Another is Lake Bohinj in Slovenia.  Pantai Bungai joins these two places in my mind and, now that we have left Sarawak, our walks there are one of the dominant memories that spring to mind when I think of our 9 months in Miri.  


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  1. It's lovely when you find somewhere as special as this for your memories. It's hard to know where they will be be - sometimes it's the time that is special as much as the place (if that makes sense!)

    1. Yes I think you have hit the nail on the head there. A perfect combination of ingredients.

  2. Gorgeous. I'm not much of a laying around the beach person. I'm more of the exploring type. This looks perfect.

    1. Thanks! It is certainly a wonderful place.

  3. Ahh it looks beautiful, it's nice that your memories of the place will be that of it unspoiled and untouched!! It looks wild yet inviting!!!
    We also don't do laying on the beach too well but LOVE being on the beach for walks and swimming! We all love an empty beach :)
    Thanks for sharing with #myexpatfamily loved it as always!!! Xx

    1. Thanks! Yes we love going for a walk on beaches - perfect for the dogs.

  4. Miri looks like such a lovely place. The beaches look so sweet and picturesque.

  5. This is just so dreamy. It's brought back many memories of the beaches in Brazil for me, which I've only ever visited in "winter" and are therefore usually also very quiet. There is nothing quite as effective at stilling the mind as a walk on a deserted, beautiful beach! I can very much imagine you miss the beaches in Sarawak.

  6. It looks like a great time!

  7. What a beautiful walk! Such perfect photos, that's my kind of beach! Unspoilt! #MyExpatFamily

  8. This looks absolutely beautiful and what wonderful memories you have. To find somewhere that hadn't yet been made in to a tourist trap and to get to spend time enjoying it is fabulous. You've now got me thinking about what places I have visited that would fall into this category of special x Apologies for the very late comment from #myexpatfamily, it's been one of those months!

  9. Relatively new in town I'm happy to read about those places.. Still struggling with doing every little errand by car here, as the walkways are not really suitable for my infant twin carrier it seems ;) And the Luak beach is indeed quite popular among ppl. So will hopefully enjoy a beautiful beach walk soon :)

    1. The walkways were a nightmare by pram for me so I can't imagine what they must be like with a double! And what is it about cramming all the aisles of the shops with displays so broad that a person can barely squeeze past let alone a pram. I would hate to need to use a wheelchair! If I had to go anywhere like that I would often leave the baby with our wonderful Amah (if you don't have one yet I can get you her details). Enjoy settling into Miri and fingers crossed you get the beach walk soon.

      Have you tried the Tamam Awam yet by the way? It is the park with the rope walk bridge on the way out to the Airport, near the giant seahorses. They have some good playgrounds and a shallow waterpark that is a great way to keep children cool and having fun at the same time.