Monday, June 27, 2016

Announcing the Launch of our Newly Designed Website - E-Borneo.Com

We are very excited to announce the launch of our newly designed website.

After several months of hard work and dedication, we are delighted to officially announce the launch today on 27 June 2016.

Visit us at our new web address

The site’s homepage features bright colors, beautiful pictures and an uncluttered design.

We wanted to make the new website faster, easier to navigate, and more user-friendly in addition to being mobile-friendly.

Our goal with this new website is to provide you, our visitors an easier way to learn about’s travel services and also to allow you to browse information based on their own choice.

We sincerely hope you will find the new website with a fresh look, easy to access information and we also wish to establish this website as a source of information for those who visits our site.

Thank you.



Thursday, June 02, 2016

Luxury Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

I just came from a day tour in Dinawan Island when I checked in at Hyatt Regency Kinabalu on my birthday, May 4. It was my third night in Kota Kinabalu, and after an entire day of snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking, staying in a world-class hotel with a view of the sea is the best way to relax and recharge.

As I entered the hotel, I was warmly welcomed by its Assistant Manager for Public Relations, Ervina Masduki, who I have been corresponding with since January. She assisted me during check in, gave me my keycards, and told me to meet her in Nagisa Japanese Restaurant after I drop my bags in my room.

As the first international chain hotel in the state of Sabah, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu has been around since 1979. It is strategically located in KK’s entertainment and business district, making it accessible to shopping centers, government offices, tourist spots, and the airport. It has undergone a few major renovations through the years, but its topnotch level of service and hospitality has remained the same. Hyatt Regency Kinabalu is also a consistent recipient of excellence awards from booking sites and Malaysia and Sabah Tourism Boards.


Hyatt Regency Kinabalu’s strategic location on the waterfront area provides guests with sea view rooms a breathtaking view of the South China Sea and neighboring islands. The hotel is also the perfect place for taking those amazing sunset photos.

Aside from the view, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu is also an ideal spot for tourists who wish to see the rest of the city. With its proximity to Suria Sabah, Local Handicraft Market, Gaya Street Sunday Market, Jesselton Port, and other tourist attractions, it makes driving around efficient and seamless. Currency exchange is also not a problem as numerous money changers are found in Wisma Merdeka, which is right next to the hotel.

As mentioned, the hotel just had some renovations. One of their newest offerings is The Residence, described as “Kota Kinabalu’s only residential-style, multi-functional premium event facility.” During my stay, I was lucky to be invited to a meeting and events showcase party where Hyatt Regency Kinabalu re-introduced their meeting and event spaces and also launched The Residence.


Back when I sent my proposal to Ervina about writing a review on Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, I knew that I am in good hands when I arrive in their hotel. She immediately accepted my request, and was kind enough to adjust my preferred dates so I will be there on my birthday.

I felt like family during my entire stay, especially when Ervina invited me to the showcase party and even gave me a 10:00 p.m. checkout so I could still use the room until the end of the event. During the party, I was able to meet Arifin Darmawan, the General Manager, and Bennett Peter, the Director of Sales and Marketing. They were very welcoming, asking me about my stay and what I think of their hotel.

As for the rest of the staff, I was very impressed with how attentive they are of their guests’ needs. There was a problem with my bathtub on the first night, and they immediately sent housekeeping to solve it when I called. Everyone was very friendly, greeting me with smiles on their faces whenever they would see me in the hotel.


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The essence of Kaamatan and Gawai Harvest Festival captured through special webfilm

KOTA KINABALU: In conjunction with Kaamatan and Gawai celebration, Petronas commences its Kaamatan and Gawai festive campaign with the launch of a specially produced webfilm titles “Renai”.

Renai is the name of the main character, the little girl featured in the webfilm. The scene is set in the jungle of Sarawak, and against the scenic view of Mount Kinabalu in neighboring Sabah.

This inspiring story is about Renai growing up with her mother staying in Sarawak, while she could not be with her dad is most of the time as her dad working hard in Sabah to earn a living. The second part of the film is about Renai coming back from studies abroad during harvest festival to celebrate harvest festival with her parents.

The moral of this webfilm strongly shows how Renai appreciates and values the struggles and sacrifices made by her parents to ensure a brighter future for her.

This story of gratitude and hope encapsulates the true spirit of the Kaamatan and Gawai festivals, which celebrate the fruits of hard labour and determination invested each year into delivering a bountiful harvest.

According to Petronas Senior General Manager of Group Strategic Communications Zahariah Abd Rahman, Petronas has been bringing Malaysians together through our festive communications for the past two decades.

“With the latest Kaamatan and Gawai webfilm, we hope to not only capture the rich and unique essence of the harvest festivals in Sabah and Sarawak, but what this tradition and the festivals mean to all Malaysians.

“On top of that, Petronas draws inspiration from every Malaysian as each has an interesting story to be told.

“The story of Renai reflects our nation’s diversity as a true melting pot of cultures, and the social cohesion among Malaysians,” Zahariah said.


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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

2016 Kaamatan draws larger crowd

PENAMPANG: This year’s Kaamatan celebration was met with huge excitement and the Hongkod Koisaan was especially congested by people keen to take part in the festivities, especially to witness the highly popular Unduk Ngadau pageant.

This writer and one other from the New Sabah Times, had great difficulty inching their way inside the hall while the Unduk Ngadau was taking place.

Crowds cheered and wolf-whistled for their favourite contestants and many people who travelled from afar to support the contestants, came with significant number of their family and friends too.

Even outside the hall, the crowd appeared a lot bigger than last year’s state-level Kaamatan festival, despite the heavy downpour over the past two days and considerable lack of parking space.

There were also many tourists who could be seen stopping at the various stalls and booths enjoying local delicacies and lihing, a local rice wine, while joining the locals in merry-making.

Edward, from Beluran said the reason he came to the festival in spite of the bad weather was to catch up with friends from the city.

“It has been some time since I last met them so the Kaamatan festival was the best chance to do so,” he said. Another visitor, Vicky, said she travelled all the way from Kudat to show her support to the district’s Unduk Ngadau contestant.

“It’s far but I never miss a chance to visit the Hongkod Koisaan every Kaamatan,” said the 22-year-old from Marang Parang.

She is an avid follower of the Unduk Ngadau contest and always looks forward to it. Earlier in the day, Kadazandusun priestesses or Bobohizan performed the age-old ritual of magavau or thanksgiving ceremony to kick off the harvest festival celebrations.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 2016 Kaamatan draws larger crowd

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Unduk Ngadau - Not just a beauty contest

The Unduk Ngadau pageant is a heritage that honours the harvest and Huminodun

WHEN April rolls around, Kadazan Dusun and Murut girls in Sabah wait with bated breath for the announcement that may change their lives: The annual Unduk Ngadau beauty pageant.

Mothers, sisters, cousins and aunts are rounded up and in an instant, an Unduk Ngadau is in the making.

Unduk Ngadau is the annual Harvest Beauty Queen pageant, held in conjunction with Ka’amatan (Harvest Festival) held throughout May. From April, the competition begins at village-level in Sabah. Winners then compete at district-level before competing for the crown at the highly-coveted State level on May 31. The pageant has grown so significantly over the years that even Klang Valley has a representative.

But the Unduk Ngadau pageant isn’t another “fairest of them all” contest. Beyond the detailed costumes, flawless make-up, pristine hairdos and fussing mum-nagers, the pageant is deeply rooted in culture and tradition.


The pageant origins are rooted in a local legend about a girl’s sacrifice to feed her famine-stricken people. Kinoingan and his wife, Sumundu, had an only daughter named Ponompuan (better known as Huminodun which means ‘transferred sacrifice’). She was kind hearted, thoughtful and wise beyond her years. Her beauty was so transcendent that it took a mere glance to fall in love with Huminodun.

Then came a time that the land became so infertile, it could not produce a single grain to feed the people. Kinoingan learnt that the only way to overcome this famine was to sacrifice his daughter to the land. She willingly accepted.

With a heavy heart, he cleared the land in preparation for her sacrifice. Sumundu wept and her suitors begged her to change her mind. But Huminodun was determined to save her people and said that her life was a small price to pay. She told her father: “My body will give rise to all sorts of edible plants to feed the people. My flesh will give rise to rice, my head, the coconut, my bones, tapioca, my toes, ginger, my teeth, maize and my knees, yams. Our people will never go hungry again.”

Legend also states that Huminodun ordered that the first year’s rice harvest must not be distributed as the grains will go bad. This belief stays rooted in the Kadazan Dusun community until today and the first year’s harvest of a paddy field is never given away.

True to her word, the people enjoyed the most bountiful harvest they had seen in their lives that year. On the seventh day, a beautiful maiden emerged from a large jar called the kakanan. It was believed to be the spirit of Huminodun.

While the legend of Huminodun has seen many variations over the years, the essence remains. Her humility, beauty and servitude are represented in the title, Unduk Ngadau, itself (unduk means the shoot of a plant signifying youth and progressiveness while ngadau refers to the sun, which powers all life forms).


The pageant can be traced back to the 1940s although it was only officially recorded in the 1960s. Molly Rose Luping, 80, from Penampang recalls the excitement back in the day.

“Before the war, we already had such pageants. All young girls would participate; it didn’t matter if you were pretty or not! It was just something to do when you reached a certain age,” she recalls. “But then the war happened and all such cultural and social activities came to a sudden halt. After the war, you could see some things had changed - our girls traded their traditional sarongs for gowns introduced by the British, for example.”

According to Molly, it wasn’t until the 1950s or 1960s - through political persuasion at times - that cultural and traditional events began to surface again.

“In the earlier days, there wasn’t much emphasis on the cultural aspect to be honest but today, more than ever, there is a need to inculcate a sense of appreciation and understanding of one’s cultural roots,” says Joanna Datuk Kitingan, organising chairperson of the pageant. “That’s why in the recent years, the competition has evolved to ensure these cultures and traditions are the main showcase.”

Until recently, contestants were allowed to speak and introduce themselves in English or Malay. But it has now become a criteria for contestants to speak their native tongue.

Traditional costumes in particular have become a hot topic of debate among pageant enthusiasts, some lambasting that it has lost its authenticity with too many modern elements and influence. “The first thing I looked into as chairperson, was going back to basics. Over the years, the pageant became too glamorous and commercialised. We listened to the feedback and it was clear that we needed to go back to our roots, dig into our mothers’ and grandmothers’ closets and understand the history and stories behind our traditional costumes,” says Joanna.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Unduk Ngadau - Not just a beauty contest

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