This particular post is long overdue. By far, the best ‘stay’ we had in all of Borneo – initially found on Travellers’ Point (love that site), the proprietors Lars and Liza have since become good friends. BTW: Kurakura Homestay has been voted #1 Homestay in Borneo for at least 2 in the last 4 years (if not 4 in the last 4 years). And with good reason.
By now, you have probably picked up that we travel differently to most families. We don’t do resorts. We don’t do kids clubs. And we rarely do “stock-standard tours”. Instead, we like to meet locals – people who live in the area and are willing to share their lives with us. Homestays are fantastic – and Kurakura Homestay is #1.
I have never felt so welcomed from the moment I met them! Lars picked us up from Annie’s Guesthouse and whisked us away in his people mover. We were the only guests during our stay so the journey was partly at our leisure, and partly at the need of Liza’s shopping list. Thus, a stop at the markets is required – which B thought was great, as he loves checking out local food!
Lars is originally from Norway, and stands out amongst the locals as a tall, white man. Which is why it was so beautiful watching him weave in and out the food stalls, talking to all the merchants, showing us the food and activities.
Lars is great with the kids as well, darting in and out. At this point, poor N was starting to feel the heat so Lars suggested an ice-cream – they’ve been best friends ever since. It was a long drive from the markets, but it gave us plenty of time to chat, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Check out the Kurakura webpage – Lars and Liza describe the experience so well, but nothing compares with the living it. You can imagine the picturesque drive to the village, and the stop along the way for food (and ice-cream). You can hope for the witty and insightful conversation with Lars as he drives you through the country-side. And when you know about the cool boat trip up the river, you will even feel that sweet tremor of excitement as you realise you are arriving at your destination in a way different to most “resort dwellers” in Borneo.
And that’s cool.
It’s a long thin boat, with a flat bottom. Most of the time, the water isn’t too deep – which is why we had to hop out and walk through one section. It was basically us or the backpacks getting wet. And it was a nice day. And the kids wanted to play. 🙂
But seriously – Lars steers the boat from behind, while we sit in front. And it is beautiful. Lars has a biology degree with quite a bit of knowledge of the jungle. He sits there pointing out lizards, and birds, and insects, and fish. He shows you the various plants growing along the side. He truly loves this area – a love that flows from his words and movement through the environment.
There’s a short walk from the river up to the house, lined with beautiful tall red-flowering plants. I can’t remember what they are but they do their job perfectly. And at the home – there is Liza, probably already cooking up a storm. At least she was for us.
Liza is from the village down river. She is also a trained chef and is AMAZING in the kitchen. Liza and Lars have 2 daughters, Froya and Fiona – although only Froya and the boys have met. Fiona and Z are later additions. Liza also has no problem opening her home to guests. We always felt like old friends visiting, and we remain in contact to this day.
The rooms available are fantastic. We stayed in two rooms – B and S (then 5) stayed in Single Bunks in one room. N (then 2) and I shared a double bed in another. All beds have nets, but we really didn’t notice a problem (remember – travelling around September). They are decent size rooms that open up to a big space/courtyard and easy walk to bathroom and dining area.
Now – this isn’t the end of the stay at Kurakura – but since we did some adventuring around the area, I will end here. Like a pause – for effect. In the meantime – check out the Kurakura homepage. If you travel to Borneo just for them, it will be worth it. A true example of Sarawak culture, environment, and hospitality.