Much More Than Borneo’s Leading Cycling Holiday Specialists
We started small, in 2013, with just one half-day cycling tour and a 2-person operation. From the heart of Kuching, Paradesa Borneo has since grown steadily to become the leading cycling holiday specialist in Borneo. Along this fantastic journey, we have won several achievements and awards, but none more important to us than customers’ feedback. The reviews are mostly good and excellent, but the bad ones have also helped us develop and grow.
Our dedicated core team, in partnership with many of our local communities and partners, are the backbone to delivering these services.
We are a team of proud Sarawakians, passionate about sharing our stories with visitors. Young, dynamic, and fun-loving, our multi-ethnic team takes great pride in delivering the best and most authentic experiences in Borneo.
We have grown steadily by recruiting like-minded and committed individuals, people who share our passion and value; a good mix of fantastic service attitude, and in-depth local knowledge that is enhanced by continuous professional training. We hate typical tours that have been run the same way for years, so we put a lot of thought and planning into creating every tour, from what route to take, to what content to include, and how it should be delivered to make it as interesting and memorable as possible, and offer the best local experience.
This core team is competently assisted by our selection of local partners that have a track record of delivering great customer service, including community homestays, boatmen, local hotels and restaurants, professional guides, national park guides, community guides, and local suppliers, etc. Great emphasis is put on establishing long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships so each side knows the other’s expectations.
JC Chua – Founder & Director
For me, everything started far away from home, 10,164 km away from home in fact! I had just returned home after more than 30 years studying overseas in the UK, backpacking and exploring in Europe, the US, and Asia, soaking up different, mostly good, experiences, and meeting travelers from all walks of life. Before coming back home, I spent 15 years working in the tourist hotbed, Yangshuo, China. In Yangshuo, most sightseeing and adventurous activities such as mountain biking, hiking, climbing, caving, and kayaking were on the doorstep of the resort I was managing (Paradesa Yangshuo Resort)! Participating in these outdoor activities and drinking obscene amounts of rice wine was how I managed to remain sane in China for so many years! After the Chinese resort was “harmonized” (ie. we were kicked out) by the local government officials, I returned to Borneo. I often found myself amazed by the exciting and diverse range of outdoor activities in Borneo, and how many of us locals take it for granted! These outdoor activities became my passion and regular weekend excursion (or sometimes even weekday). As a way of getting my wife off my back, I decided to mix pleasure with work. That’s why I decided to mortgage my children’s education fund to start this humble tour business and I hope to share the discovery of Borneo with all!
These days, my passion for discovering Borneo continues unabated. I have since cycled the full length of Malaysian Borneo and Brunei, as well as trekking into different parts of the interior of Sarawak whenever opportunities arise. We continue to pioneer more unique tour experiences inspired by these personal adventures. My ultimate dream is a Borneo island cycling tour of Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.
“Home is where the heart is.” – Pliny the Elder
SK Law - Operation
Often, the only adult in the room, He makes sure that operations and tours run smoothly. As a non-cyclist and someone who hates the sun, he can be a pain at times when announcing new operation rules. An experienced tour operator and professional guide for over 15 years, he also gets the boring but necessary things done while we’re out having fun!
Farhah - Cycling and Sales
Our local, cycling day tours ride past her house almost every day, so she was persuaded to write a blog post about her “Malay Village”(opens in a new tab). With valuable experience from her hospitality background, she joined us because of her passion for telling a good story and sharing her knowledge of Sarawak. Recently, she has been given a more back-office role of sales and marketing, but she still insists on having time to assist tours and to interact with guests.
Bansik - Multi-Tasker
Cycling queen from the Iban heartland of Sri Aman. A longhouse folk who walks barefooted around the office. She has cycled everywhere with her husband, even as far as Cambodia. With a solid foundation of tourism knowledge, she takes good care of customers from the start of their trip preparations to the last day of their adventure with us. Good with kampong’s dogs and cats, she is a hit with our guests who take to her genuine personality and strange Iban accent.
Estee - Multi-Tasker
The project leader for long tours, she is experienced in coordinating guides, community homestays, and always looks after her guests with a positive attitude. In the office, she helps update the website and the booking system, and she also manages to get out to assist tours now and again. From a nearby Bidayuh village not far from Kuching, she came back after her tourism college in Sabah because, obviously, Sarawak is better. A trouble maker who regularly instigates office parties and karaoke.
Del - Multi-Tasker
An interesting mix of both Iban and Bidayuh culture in her blood, but luckily, she retained the best of both cultural traits. Attending the tour desk duty and assisting on cycling day tours, she has a great rapport with customers who are often won over by her open and fun personality. Del joined us as a tourism student intern, and stayed after graduation because we sometimes offer free beer!
Kelvin - Multi-Tasker
Another intern who joined us after graduation. Our go-to guy for videos and an all-rounder who gets things done. Kelvin assists tour desk duty and day tours. He gets great customer reviews for his positive energy and charm.
Lester - Bike Mech
How many people does it take to change a bike tire? Ask Lester, he has tried hard to train us all. A trained cycling mechanic who keeps our fleet of bikes in good working condition. A valuable team player on our support vehicle on our long tours who helps solve all kinds of guest requests. Our jungle tour starts from his village and he also assists on some of the off-road adventure cycling tours. Another team member who joined us as a tourism student intern and stayed!
Paradesa Borneo is a fully licensed & insured responsible travel tour operator and a member of the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) and the Association of Sarawak Inbound Agencies (ASIA). As a winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 5 years in a row, we are dedicated to providing authentic, high-quality tours. Awards like the “Special Recognition: Outstanding Emerging Destination Management Company” at the Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Award s2015/2016 and being in the top 5 for “Best Local Tour Operator” in Malaysia at the Malaysia Tourism Awards in February 2016, have further reinforced our dedication to the tourism industry.
In 2013, Paradesa Borneo started Kuching city’s first half-day cycle trips that explored heritage landmarks close to the river. They were designed for non-cyclists to offer an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional mini-bus city tours. Based in old Kuching town, close to the riverside boulevard, we have since tapped more local knowledge to create a wide range of cycling tours that explore heritage and nature destinations beyond the state capital and across Borneo.
As the only cycle-specific travel venture operating out of Kuching, in addition to our core products for cycle tourists, our Borneo eco and adventure tours offer an exciting range of activities such as hiking, kayaking, and caving tours, as well as wildlife discovery and cultural experiences across Borneo.
The major selling point of our adventures is that the tours travel through mainly rural areas and the wilderness of Borneo. Therefore, with a few exceptions, all our suppliers are either local people or companies that employ locals. For accommodation, this includes local homestays or hotels/chalets that employ native people. For food, our policy is to stop by well-run, local restaurants and food stalls that offer authentic local flavors and experiences, including participating in the preparation and cooking of meals with the local hosts. During our rides/hikes, we also make the point of purchasing from local shops or fruit farms rather buy from the supermarket in the city. This is especially popular with our guests during the fruit seasons when roadside fruit stalls are in abundance. In specific locations in the villages, we hire local kampong (village) guides who take us to visit local, small-scale industries or local attractions. One of the highlights of traveling in Sarawak is the river, lake, and island crossings. We always try to use the local wooden longboats rather than the faster fiber speedboats, except in cases where there are safety concerns. Although the local longboats are more expensive to hire, they offer more authentic experiences as well as contributing to the local economy. The owners of the boats are mostly local fishermen or ferry providers, and they are more than happy to generate extra income during their downtime.
We have initiatives for paper recycling in our office. It is our policy to limit the use of printed brochures to the minimum and encourage sending e-brochures to our clients via email or a cloud sharing platform. We also have a policy of printer cartridge recycling. Inside our office, instead of installing air-conditioning, we have opted for an environmentally friendly way of air-cooling with natural ventilation utilizing the building air-well as well as pool garden.
We actively organize visits to wildlife sanctuaries and national parks set up by recognized NGOs and government agencies that help rehabilitate and preserve the orangutan, sun bears, and turtles. Volunteering programs are incorporated into our tour to encourage participation and create awareness. A major part of our tour is to provide travelers with relevant information to minimize damage to the environment, wildlife, and marine ecosystems and how they may be able to help. Our travelers are encouraged to sponsor some of these official programs such as the orangutan adoption program that allows them to continue their involvement in the cause in the years to come after they return home, rather than a one-off contribution.
We provide travelers with suggestions for a code of conduct for environmental responsibility:
Our pre-tour “What to Expect” information provides accurate pre-trip information concerning your particular trip including details about the social, environmental, and political situation.
We recommend the guest bringing their own refillable water bottles and avoid using one-off plastic bottled water.
We also discourage the use of plastic bags, suggesting customers to bring their own dry bag or small waterproof backpack. During tours, we recycle wherever possible, and try to keep our waste as low as possible. We never allow travelers to take pieces of coral or other endangered plant life home as a souvenir.
We build up our partnerships with as many locals as possible, from the local boatmen, homestays, street stalls, and small cafes. As much as possible, we stick to the same people who are familiar with our expectations and will expand their operations as they grow with our business. One example is the wooden sample crossing that we use in the city of Kuching, a dying, traditional way of commuting in the rapidly modernizing Kuching. We have used this specific ‘sampan’ crossing provider for more than 3 years for all of our local city bike tours. He has proven to be a very reliable supplier and for bigger groups, he will personally organize ferry providers from the other kampongs. We have even used his personal house by the ferry jetty during the festive season of Hari Raya (Muslim festival) as an “Open House” celebration as part of our festive bike ride.
We have collaborated with our Ministry of Tourism’s Sarawak initiative in a project known as “Fort to Fort Trail” to develop responsible tourism in an interior region of Sarawak who had very little exposure to tourism. We developed an education package together with the Ministry to train the local longhouse folks to manage their expectations and on how to receive tourists. The training involves safety training as well as the basic requirements of homestay, tour structures, and hygiene standards, etc. We also educate the longhouse folks on the method and importance of preserving their authentic longhouses and cultural heritage.
We provide travelers with suggestions for a code of conduct for social responsibility and ways to minimize negative impacts on local cultures:
We recommend when buying souvenirs, the travelers head to the shops of traditional artisans, or local cottage industry for locally made products. Thus helping to keep traditional crafts alive, while also supporting our small, independent business owners and artists. We always favor local products over imported items, but avoid buying things made from the tusks or horns of endangered animals (such as hornbill and coral), or from at-risk plants (such as orchid and pitcher plant). We educate travelers on how and why purchasing locally produced goods and services – souvenirs, crafts, meals, and guides from locally-owned establishments has a beneficial effect – communicate a sense of the significance of this to local communities.
We also suggest ways to minimize negative impacts on local cultures such as giving the best possible advice about bargaining, as well as advice on giving gifts or money to beggars, children, and people they have just met.
We recommend that travelers always ask first before photographing or videoing people. Asking before clicking also offers the chance to have a conversation and to connect.
We advise travelers to dress respectfully with an awareness of our local standards that varies with each culture and religion, including dressing modestly at certain religious sites and check what swimwear is suitable for pools and the beach.