Thinking outside the box

By Margaret Apau

For two visiting martial art exponents, conventional tourism attractions like leisurely boat rides and the Iban warrior dancing are not the best selling points. They propose making Sarawak a destination synonymous with classical martial art and adventure racing.

IT’S become commercial legend that all you need to explore Sarawak with is an Iban warrior, a wooden prahu and Sungai Rajang.

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From as early as the 80’s, we’ve been selling tourists the idea of a place where you can find peace in the wilderness, get the chance to go native and experience authenticity that can’t be found anywhere else.

That was then.

Today, the tourism market has diversified — modern day travellers are no longer well-off pensioners looking for an exotic cruise with the local headhunters or looking for local trinkets, they want to volunteer at a local charity, live with the locals and get down in the dirt and smell the sweat.

In short, they’re straying off the path we’ve carved for them over the years and they want what we’re not selling — not if Eric Ling, a Singaporean working here and Chas Fisher, a visitor from Seattle, USA, have anything to do with it.

Bonded through the martial art, both master and pupil see a different side to Sarawak.

“As two foreigners, we look at Sarawak and see so much more — the conventional tourism attractions like the leisurely boat rides and the Iban warrior dancing are not the best selling points,” said Ling, calling them out-dated.

What Ling and Fisher propose is making Sarawak a destination synonymous with classical martial art and adventure racing.

Fisher has been an outdoorsman pretty much all his life. With the great Alpine outdoors in his backyard, he’s climbed its rocky faces, raced its rapids and tumbled through its underbrush but it still hasn’t prepared him for Sarawak’s wild outdoors.

And he reckons it’s going to be challenging enough for other elites who come to join their adventure racing programme here in 2011.

“For those exposed to the North American terrain, Sarawak provides a unique and natural beauty that people in the west have not seen before,” noted Fisher who had returned home after a short trip.

On his second visit to Sarawak, he was working towards making the adventure racing programme a reality.

Read more at Borneo Post Online

Chas and Eric were interviewed by Borneo Post recently for their ‘inside’ stories of what makes Chas come back to Sarawak once a year (beside the love-hate-relationship between him and the durians😉 ) and what makes Eric choose to work here. Well, these two foreigners see the potential that we Sarawakians often take for granted.

Our ‘conventional tourism attractions are out-dated’? My word, indeed! We shouldn’t only be selling Sarawak as a destination of longhouses, Iban warriors and sape music! Sarawak has so much more to offer to the world. We have the pristine jungle, the mountains, the rivers, the rapids, the caves, etc, etc – these are our advantage points along side our rich culture.

So be it kung fu or adventure racing, the influx of visitors will definitely boost our domestic economy – if not all the industries, at least the durian industry will prosper😉