Friday, June 27, 2014

Walk Above A Rainforest - Travel To Borneo Island

Travel to Borneo Island

Borneo always seems to conjure mystical images of an unknown world. Its very name suggests jungle wilderness and a world teeming with wild animals. Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and the largest island of Asia. It’s the home of the sea turtle and the orangutan, ancient indigenous tribes and one of the world’s oldest rain-forests.

So what’s it like to travel to Borneo island?

Redolent landscapes set the scene. Lush tropical jungle extends as far as the eye can see, the undulating mountains covered in competing shades of green. Immense rivers meander through the trees, creeping towards the mangroves and filtering into thick swamps. Rich blue waters surround the world’s third largest island, but there is much more here than just beautiful beaches and resorts.

Why travel to Borneo Island?

People come to Borneo for the bounty of its unique landscapes. Endemic wildlife lurks in the trees and it’s much sought after by both tourists and poachers. The Bornean orangutan can fetch big money on the black market, and the Sepilok Orangutan Centre was set up to rehabilitate orphaned babies and then reintegrate them into the wild. You don’t need a pair of binoculars to spot them. Swinging through the trees, often just meters away from tourists, is a whole gang of playful orangutans.

The centre has a hands off approach to their care, yet the primates crave personal attention. Confident and inquisitive, they jump towards people, puckering up for sloppy kisses and sending mischievous hands into open backpacks.Be careful, because once an orangutan has stolen your sunglasses they’re unlikely to give them back.

They’re genetically 97.4% identical to humans, and they march along the walkways holding hands with visitors. None of this is allowed of course, but trying to stop an orangutan from having fun is pretty difficult.

More Incredible Wildlife When you Travel to Borneo Island

Borneo is split into two. The southern Indonesian part is almost impenetrable, offering little but challenging expeditions into the rainforest. The Malaysian part is more visitor friendly, particularly the north eastern province of Sabah. It’s where you’ll find the orangutans, comically jumping around and using their furry hands to liberate biscuits and caps.

Also living in the trees here is the Sumatran rhino, a critically endangered species that also captivates both poachers and visitors. On a three day canoe trip tourists try and get a glimpse of them in the wild, a furtive glance at the majestic mammal plodding through the trees. Imperial horns symbolize their power and fierce protection of territory. But evocative eyes and graceful movements suggest that these are gentle giants.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

10 Reasons you have to visit Borneo

For me, Borneo has always conjured up all kinds of wild and mysterious imaginings-Fascinating wildlife living in the deep rainforests, native tribes with intriguing old habits and truly spectacular natural beauty.

Turns out my imagination and David Attenborough Borneo specials painted a pretty accurate picture, but there is a lot more to Borneo than most people know about it. Our 8 days of river cruising and jungle meandering was a truly eye-opening journey and here’s why I think everyone should visit Borneo at least once in a lifetime.

1. The Wildlife endemic to Borneo.

There is a reason Wildlife experts, film makers and conservationists travel all the way to investigate the unexplored rainforests of Borneo. Both states of Sarawak and Sabah boast some of the world’s most fascinating wildlife, found here only.

Seeing Pygmy elephants beside the river, Proboscis monkeys with their long noses and big bellies high up in the trees and Orang Utans (jungle people) in their natural habitat was mind-blowing. As the days drew to a close we saw crocodiles, Rhinoceros Hornbills and Longtail Macaques going about their day in the humid jungle.

The best place to spot wildlife in the rainforest, is to stay along the Kinabatangan River in Sabah (longest river in Borneo) as each lodge and backpackers offer river cruises in the morning, afternoon and night time with a guide.

To see animals that have been rescued from hunters or families holding them illegally as pets visit the Matang Wildlife Centre in Sarawak or the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah. Due to some animals, especially Orang Utans, being captured and kept illegally as pets for so long, many are not able to be released and will sadly spend their lives in enclosures.

2. Witnessing young, rescued orangutans learn survival skills.

At the Matang Wildlife Centre in Kubah National Park, we were able to watch two young Orang Utans, Buyee (1 years old) and Dr. Kok ( 5 years old) undergoing their primary school training in the forest. I have seen lion cubs, young rhino babies, tiny zebras and giraffe but there is nothing more adorable than a baby Orang Utan. Sharing 96.4 percent of our DNA, it’s no surprise these little guys appeared so human and very much like mischievous toddlers.

Visitors are not allowed to touch them as the park believes that in order to be released into the wild one day, they need minimum human interaction. Usually Orang Utans have to stay with their moms for their first 6-8 years but when separated from their moms and rescued, one human handler begins to play the role of their mother and teaches them how to build nests and climb up trees.

3. River Cruising.

Even though the birds and animals are the purpose and appeal of the river cruises, I found myself delighting in the pure enchantment of the rainforest on either side of the Kinabatangan banks. Our guide, Jamil, took us down narrow estuaries each displaying their own unique flora. Ancient trees with giant trunks stood tall beside the river, whilst other mangroves extended their branches down into the water flow.

Lime green willows swayed just above the surface and sometimes our boat glided right into a lake of lilies and ferns. Purple and yellow blooms sprouted on certain trees and tiny green and purple apples on others. It is a wonderland for photographers and botanists and with the chirping of insects, birds and call of the wild; it was the most beautiful backdrop for a boat ride.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: 10 Reasons you have to visit Borneo

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gawai celebration can contribute to tourism industry

KUCHING: The Gawai celebration is a significant festival in Sarawak which can contribute to the country’s tourism industry, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

He said the celebration, which falls in June every year, could become a major tourist attraction due to its uniqueness.

Speaking at the 9th Gawai Dayak Carnival at Redeems Centre here, Muhyiddin said Sarawak was already well-known for its strong unity and harmonious multiracial society.

"I am confident with what Sarawak has to offer, it can continue to attract more tourists and help pull tourists to Malaysia,” he said, adding the unity of people in Sarawak was something everyone should be proud of and must be preserved.

He said a united people were the backbone of the county, pointing out that without unity the country would not be able to move forward and become a high income and developed nation by 2020.


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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Borneo Arts Festival to hold recognition awards

LABUAN: The second Borneo Arts Festival (BAF) 2014 kicked off on Friday with several performing arts taking part at Dataran Labuan.

Director of Labuan Corporation Tourism, Culture and Art Department, Mahathir Abdul Hamid yesterday said that several other additional performances were also held to spice up the burgeoning festival.

“One of the new peformances held on the first night of the festival is the fashion show by Cosmopoint College in Kota Kinabalu where its students show their fashion design based on the ethnic groups in Sabah,” he said, adding that a few other new performance categories were featured while retaining the other categories during the first edition of BAF.

He explained that the participation in this year’s BAF was slightly affected due to the clash of events of the Rainforest World Music Festival and school dance competition in Kuching and other events in Sabah and Putrajaya.

“After getting the feedback, we probably will organise the third edition of BAF in September next year,” he said.

Mahathir added that they were still consistent with their objective of BAF, as a platform to gather all the performing artists around Borneo, while giving chances to the local especailly the non-elite schools to show their talents.

“Next year, we are planning to hold Award Giving Programme in BAF to appreciate the performing artists in Borneo,” he said.

Mahathir said that the difference between BAF and Labuan Arts Festival (Lafest) is that BAF focuses on performing arts, while Lafest focuses on contemporary art organised by Labuan Tourism Ministry Office.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo Arts Festival to hold recognition awards

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Borneo beckons

It’s inescapable.

In the nucleus of Pantai Dalit Beach in Tuaran, hidden amidst the nature reserve, half an hour north of Sabah’s capital, Kota Kinabalu; lies a slice of paradise that sets the scene for one of the world’s greatest tourist destinations.

“Be careful!” warned the Kadazan gardener, firmly gripping a long wooden stick that he thought could save us all. His hands beckoning as he tried to keep us at bay from where he was standing. Resembling a spear, he pierced and plunged his mighty rod into the hedge in a sequential rhythm, as we all watched in confusion.

Before I realized what was happening, a cobra emerged from the beaten bush, swiftly heading in our direction. Like all men belonging to the Kadazan ethnic tribe of Borneo – bold and brave; this 32 year old gardener is on par with his ancestors. With bursting adrenaline and speed, he quickly caught the fleeing creature. Sealed it in a container and just as I made my first sigh of relief, there was peace.

It was not hard to imagine that like the Garden of Eden (minus the talking serpent but rather one of its predecessors) - Pantai Dalit Beach is home to the Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort and serves as the bucolic backdrop of that pristine place in Genesis.

Its landscape cradles the verdant mountains humpbacked by the imposing physique of Mount Kinabalu, Southeast Asia’s tallest peak. Jungles that drop down to long windswept powdery beaches and the sea that spreads out for all to behold - in a moody canvas of turquoise and pale shades of blue.

To many locals they describe it as rasa ria meaning “the taste of happiness”. To us, my travel partner and I, we call it our Malaysian Eden. He was Adam and I was Eve.

In this 400 acre - tropical forest, we were joined by tourists who wanted to get away from the urban chaos. Most of them were families celebrating reunions, business travelers needing a break, couples catching up with romance and newlyweds retreating after the bedlam of their weddings.

Under the spell of the sea and the mountain, everybody succumbs. It’s easy to become a little aimless here when walking along the three kilometer stretch of sand with no particular destination and even hop on a horse if one is too tired to walk.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Borneo beckons

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