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“Memories for life - an absolutely wonderful holiday place for all travellers, from do-it-yourself to have-it-done”
Review of The Kebun

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The Kebun
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1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Memories for life - an absolutely wonderful holiday place for all travellers, from do-it-yourself to have-it-done”
Reviewed 7 October 2012

WOW! This was the best holiday we have ever had, and I can't speak more highly of the experience. We stayed at the Kebun in September 2012 for 6 nights as a stop-over on on our way from living in England to living in Australia. We were 5 - my father of 74, my husband and I and our two daughters aged 2 and 4. We all fitted comfortably into Olivia's bungalow and appreciated the air-conditioning in the bedrooms, and the space to mingle but also to take naps or sleep in if needed. The setting is lovely, with a river out back and a big veranda all around – the house is very gracious and feels like your own home, decorated with all sorts of lovely personal things. The mixture of support on the one hand, and space to do or choose your own thing was really fantastic. The bungalow has a long list of day trips that you can take, all of which Adrian will organise entirely for you, from transport to guides to entrance fees to drivers, everything. But you can also ‘mix and match’ the activities according to what suits you (eg in our case a 2 year old who needed an afternoon nap from time to time). And best of all, in what is apparently a new development, you can even drive yourself in a car provided by Adrian (GPS included but the area is not very difficult to navigate alone with a simple map) and go where and when you please. This makes The Kebun a rare place that suits anyone from those who like everything organised to those who prefer maximum autonomy and everywhere in between.
I could write pages about all the amazing things we saw and did, but in addition to the graciousness and hospitality of Adrian as well as the charming Raffi we found the food incredible – the homecooked dinners and lunches served on the peaceful verandah of Olivia’s bungalow were a highlight of each day – just incredibly delicious food. And Adrian took us as well to several fantastic local restaurants including the best seafood I have ever eaten right by the sea. He was extremely helpful and patient with a number of practical challenges that we had to solve, and gave us a great accommodation recommendation for our last two nights in Malaysian Borneo which were in Kuching. Our whole experience of Sarawak was that it is a wonderful place: a relaxed pace of life, very little sense of hectic tourism, a pride in place and an openness and kindness that was really engaging. Our two young children were happy and responsive and as I was writing this review my 4 year old was excitedly pointing to the revolving pictures on The Kebun website, talking about all the happy memories she associated them with. Thank you so much for an unforgettable time!

Room Tip: Olivia's bungalow is more accessible and has air-conditioning. Adrian's bungalow is tucked a...
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  • Stayed September 2012, travelled with family
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1 Thank b m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Warsaw, Poland
Level 3 Contributor
23 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 September 2012

My 10 year-old daughter and I spent six nights with Adrian at The Kebun in August 2012. It was a wonderful stay, and we enjoyed every minute.

The important points to note (which should be clear to visitors taking the time to research the place), are that a) The Kebun is a farm in the jungle, not a hotel in a city, and therefore b) Adrian is a host as opposed to a hotelier. If guests arrive with this in mind, I think they will be extremely pleased with what they experience. We found him to be a friendly, welcoming character who was dedicated both to growing his farm and also to letting us see as much as possible of the surroundings. Usually, this meant Adrian taking the time to drive us around, on one day he arranged a very friendly driver (Abu), and on the last day his daughter drove us back to the airport. There was always flexibility in the timing of the trips, but of course (coming back to my earlier point), this has to be tempered with guests' respect for Adrian's time.

Yes, Sabah is supposedly far better organised for tourists. However, that means (surprise, surprise) that Sarawak has far fewer tourists and therefore a much more authentic feel to it. We never for a minute felt any issues with missing or poor infrastructure. If ultra-cleanliness and luxury is what you are after, I suggest you stay in Singapore. There are loads of attractions nearby - more than enough for a week's stay. I won't list them all here, but we do particularly recommend seeing the nearby Indian temple.

Adrian encourages his guests to borrow a car or motorbike, and - while we didn't make use of the option because Adrian was always kindly offering to drive us - we are sure that guests would have no problem at all making their own way around, especially as Adrian plans to provide satellite navigation. I borrowed the motorbike one evening for a short ride into Kubah NP and had a great time.

Is being in the jungle a problem? Well - I really don't like insects (we chose Borneo because my daughter loves nature), but I had no problems at all at The Kebun. Yes, there are mosquitoes, but not so many as to make life difficult. We stayed in the amazing Adrian's Bungalow, lovingly reconstructed and very much in the colonial style. Having delicious food brought to your own villa by charming staff every lunch and dinner was a wonderful experience. I only regret not having tried Adrian's rice wine!

My only difficulty was coping with the heat and humidity, but this has nothing to do with The Kebun. If you've never been to this climate before, however, be warned - you will sweat buckets!

Unfortunately my photo uploads don't seem to be working, but The Kebun's Facebook page has an extensive library of photos, many of them taken by guests.

Good luck, Adrian, and we look forward to seeing you again!

Adam & Laura

Room Tip: Adrian's Bungalow was great!
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  • Stayed September 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank McChazza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
42 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 September 2012

We stayed here in the longhouse for three nights in August 2012 as part of the Living Social deal offered earlier this year. We had high expectations based on all the Trip Advisor reviews, and I am happy to say those expectations were well and truly exceeded.
The Kebun is more than just a place to stay. It is more than just a guided tour. It is more than just a longhouse experience. During our stay here we almost felt a part of the family. It was without doubt our Borneo highlight.
The longhouse accommodation is very unique. It is a replica of traditional Iban housing, to which Adrian had added his own touches. It may not be for everyone but we really enjoyed it. If this does not appeal to you two bungalows are also available which offer more modern style accommodation.
Breakfasts and dinners were generally eaten at the Kebun and the food was spectacular. We also had some amazing lunches at Hawker centres or other great restaurants around Kuching.
Kuching was a great place to visit, easy to get around and offered so many fantastic attractions. Adrian will endeavour to personalise your stay ensuring you are given the opportunity to do all the things you would like to do while you are there. Activities we did included visits to Semmengoh Orangutan Sanctuary, Sarawak Cultural Village, Wind and Fairy caves, Kuching markets and Serikin Border markets, Jong’s Crocodile Farm, Bako National Park and took an afternoon/evening Santubong river cruise spotting Proboscis monkeys, river dolphins and various birds then fireflies once the sun went down.
Also we were there duing Hari Raya and we were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to attended three open houses. We felt so welcomed at all of these houses. Everyone we met was so friendly and the food we ate was incredible.
Adrian, Olivia and Nafezah do an amazing job with the Kebun. We had Nafezah as our guide for most of our stay, with Adrian taking over on the last day. They were knowledgeable, accommodating and most of all were such amazing people that we were made to feel like old friends of the family.
I cannot recommend the Kebun high enough. You will not be disappointed.

  • Stayed August 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank BB1985
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Villiers-sur-Morin
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 September 2012

I feel a bit guilty to be the first to "downgrade" the kebun. Yet it seems to me Adrian's success is being his undoing. Thanks to Tripadisor's excellent rating, the Kebun is beating it's record of visitors. Even if Adrian and his family are very helpful and welcoming, we felt that Adrian was fed up of driving people around.
To me, the Kebun's main interest is being close to Kubah and Gunung Gading NP. Adrian drives you or have you driven or even gives you a car where ever you need.
The farm is nice but it is just a farm... with ducks, turkeys, goats and (tasty) chickens. The far most numerous animal still being mosquitoes. You also have to like rooster crowing at 3:00 AM..
We stayed at the longhouse, a nice reconstruction of an old Iban house. Quite basic (thin mattress on the floor). Hard to talk about the price since most meals where included and drives (even if we paid the gas in the bill).
We asked for a trip at Pulau Satang (little interest, mainly if no turtles' egg hatching) which is right facing the river where the Kebun has it's jetty, but we where proposed to go from Santubung peninsula (50 km away) where we stayed at the Permai rainforest camp (pleasant place). Actually, we haven't seen any use of the jetty in our stay.
To resume a good farm to stay in, but not the unmissable place in Sarawak.

  • Stayed August 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Laurent F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
thekebun, Owner at The Kebun, responded to this review, 6 September 2012
Dear Laurent F,

Thank you for your honest review and please do not feel in anyway guilty. I still look back fondly to the late evenings chats after dinner with you and the other guest with our home brewed rice wine during the 3 nights you were with us. But I have to clarify some interesting but misleading points you had brought up.

Our success is not due to tripadvisors rating but rather due to our hardwork and recommendations by our guests. If you pay notice to the main page of tripadvisors's main page featuring Kuching, we as 'specialty lodging' are nowhere to be seen despite 'Top-rated B&B's' and 'Top-rated Hotels' being listed. Hence it is not exactly like our reputation is staring visitors in their face prompting them to make an instant booking just based on the rating.

Your mention of 'The Kebun is nice but it is just a farm' may sound 'degrading' but we welcome and are happy that you noticed it is as we planned and like it, 'just a farm'. You however did not make mention or perhaps not notice that we also have Guinea Fowls, Fish Ponds and an extensive garden filled with fruits, vegetables and herbs which your family enjoyed at each meal.

But you should have make mention to me during the evening chats of that young rooster that was interrupting your sleep because I always need a good excuse to whip up a nice hot pot of chicken curry!

As for making the journey to the Satang Island from Santubong Village (at no extra cost) instead of from our own jetty, we have to reinforce as mentioned on our website again that travel on the river which meets the sea is tide dependant. As for the jetty not being put to any use during your stay with us again as mentioned, the jetty is private for our own use and the activities on the river are limited to boats trips and kayaking by our guests.

We apologise if your 3 children felt uncomfortable on the 'thin matteress'. Again you should have made mention of this during your stay as we would have been more than happy to add enough mattresses for your children's comfort. But you must admit that the Room 9 where the children were in was the only room which beds were on the floor as all other rooms have raised beds.

As for the 'mosquitoes which were far more numerous than the other animals on the farm' I fear there must be a scientific explaination for the 3 nights that you were with us as again there was no mention about them during your stay in particular during dinner and the chats afterwards.

As demonstrated during your 3 nights with us, we were already giving guest's the opportunity to discover the surrounding areas on their own with a complimentary car, less fuel of course. As was mentioned during again in those evening chats this was a plan to explore and experiment in giving guests the options of self driving or hiring a driver explore with complimentary cars.

This would be an excellent opportunity to free up some time which was wasted upon very unpunctual and ungrateful guests who once in awhile take too much advantage of our hospitality. And yes, I would be fed up as with anyone when such guest make an appearance..

Once again, Thank You for making time to write your review.

Cheers, Adrian
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Singapore
Level 4 Contributor
21 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 August 2012

My stay with The Kebun was so memorable that I have to make a review (my first) on TripAdvisor. I am so glad I made the choice to stay here at The Kebun instead of the standard hotels in town. From the very first email to the last day of our stay, I was blown away by Adrian's hospitality and generosity.

I asked him if I needed to put down a deposit for the stay and he mailed me back to say that "Your word is good enough, there is no need for a deposit." Those were his exact words!

My extended family of 7 were met at the airport by Adrian and his daughter. Even though he could have outsourced the pickup to his driver, Abu, he still turned up to welcome us at the airport.

We stayed at Olivia's Bungalow and my 3 city-bred children were so thrilled to be staying in a quaint house in the jungle with so much space to run around in. We explored different parts of the farm, said visited he new born ducklings incubating beneath our bungalow daily. It was so refreshing to kick back in the verendah and just let the time slip by. Adrian was extremely helpful in suggesting places to go and even helped us call ahead to check if the Rafflesia flowers were in bloom (sadly no).

Breakfast was a do-it-yourself affair, but Adrian provided fresh eggs daily with homemade bread. There were hot dogs, milk, butter, honey in the fridge which were all complimentary. Instant noodles were also complimentary for those who have cravings in the middle of the night. As we were out hiking daily, Olivia packed lunches for us all to bring along. Lunch consisted of either fried rice or fried noodles with sides of scrambled eggs/fishballs and fruits. Although it was a little tough hiking with 7 large lunchboxes, somehow we managed to get them across streams & steep terrian. Lunch tasted extra good when eaten beside a waterfall (Gunung Gading) and a deserted beach with an awesome view (Bako National Park).

Dinners (excellent homecooked local fare) were included in the room rates. On the last night, we had wanted to go out into town (a good 30/45 mins away) to sample the seafood. In the end, as the kids were too tired from all the hking, Adrian volunteered to drive some of us to buy dinner back from a famous seafood place in Kuching town. We were really touched by his efforts to take time out (2+ hours in total) to bring us out on a Saturday evening when he could be relaxing at home with his family.

Adrian only collected payment for the stay on the last day. After paying Abu for the rental of his van and the tours, we realised to our despair that we were short of 10 bucks for the accomodation! Adrian was so kind to waive off this amount and even made a joke out of it. So Adrian, if you are reading this, remember to contact me if you are ever in Singapore for that $10 I owe you! Will throw in a free beer as well.

Without Adrian's & his family's personal touch at The Kebun, it would have been just another accomodation, easily forgotten through the years. However, The Kebun will definitely remain in our memories for a long long time.

Room Tip: Olivia's Bungalow is the bigger of the two and is much nearer to the entrance of The Kebun.
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  • Stayed June 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank DarkPsyche
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Singapore, Singapore
Level 4 Contributor
42 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 August 2012

We had a fantastic long weekend at The Kebun under Adrian's great care. The perfect place to stay some days on Borneo. Very nice private trips following the special recommendation and dedicated service from Adrian.

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank MorkelSan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Canberra, Australia
1 review
Reviewed 4 August 2012

We have just recently returned from 5 days at the Kebun and i cannot speak highly enough of the service that we received from Adrien, Olivia and Nafeezah. We stayed in Olivia's bungalow and had a fantastic experience. Borneo was a great family holiday that our two kids who are 6 and 7 thoroughly enjoyed.
We crammed as much in as we could in our five days and Adrien was exceptional in organising any transfers and guides that were required. We also ate some fantastic food both at the Kebun and in local restaurants . Every one we met was very helpful. Sarawak (southern Borneo) is pretty undiscovered as far as tourism goes. So if you are looking for an asian holiday without the usual tourist traps and hassles Sarawak is a fantastic option.
We were supplied with a guide and vehicle for the whole time we were there. the local knowledge was great to have and meant that we got the most out of our short stay.
I did have the opportunity a few times to drive around Kuching and have to say that i found it no more difficult than any large city. We are from Australia and for us it would be the equivalent to driving in Canberra or Melbourne. Drivers in Kuching are very courteous and merging seems to work it's self out. There are however a lot more motorbikes on the road which requires you to pay attention. When i go back i would have no worries about driving myself around the area and Kuching.
Thanks again to Adrien and his family for making our holiday so enjoyable.

  • Stayed July 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank shellandkurt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Kebun

Property: The Kebun
Address: 20 - 25 Jalan Kampungtabuan Melayu | Jalan Hidupan Liar, Kuching 93050, Malaysia
Region: Malaysia > Sarawak > Kuching
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 77 Speciality Lodging in Kuching
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Kebun was started 12 years ago as our plan for a retirement home in Sarawak, East Malaysia. Adrian’s Bungalow was put up after being disassembled from the movie set of The Sleeping Dictionery. Olivia’s was only put up only two years later when it was taken out of storage which was also disassembled from the same movie set. The farmstay side of the business only started in April 2010 after much encouragement from friends.The Kebun is not just accommodation, it is an experience. If you would like to get a taste for the basics of a simple lifestyle in a beautiful tropical setting, which is of fresh gardens of organic herbs & vegetables, picking your own tropical fruits, dining on fresh farm raised livestock, fishing for your own freshwater fish & simple accommodation with little impact to the environment, or even to help out with feeding all of the animals at the end of the day’s activities and again in the morning, then your are up for a unique Sarawakian adventure at The Kebun. ... more   less 

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