Friday, November 20, 2015

Malaysia With Kids: Niah National Park

Borneo is Malaysia’s oft forgotten island, generally favoured by intrepid backpackers and scuba divers for its spectacular untouched natural beauty.

It’s a shame that more families don’t venture here because if you take the time to explore the heart of the rainforest and you will discover some brilliant cave walks and ancient civilisations at Niah National Park.

For family adventure holidays you won't forget, book a trip to Borneo with the kids.

The Destination

For children interested in exploring nature’s playground, the Niah National Park in Sarawak is part rainforest boardwalk expedition, part archeological adventure, part cave discovery.

Not only is it an exciting way to introduce older children (and active parents) to the great outdoors, it is safe enough for any reasonably fit person to achieve and easy enough to only occupy a short one or two days.

The reasons to enter the Park are the famous caves, but the boardwalk around the park is also a fun way to spot wildlife such as hornbills and macaques and experience a bona fide tropical forest.

The caves themselves are a thriving, living ecosystem of dripping walls, creepy crawlies and stinking guano (bat droppings – yes there are live bats too) that is a thrilling sensory assault.

It is a brilliant experience to duck under passageways, creep down dark crevasses and peer at sleeping animals camouflaging themselves in the darkness.

And witnessing the spectacle as the thousands of bats leave the caves at dusk is not to be missed.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Malaysia With Kids: Niah National Park

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Sabah Handicraft Centre takes ‘Sabah Batik’ to the next level

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Handicraft Centre or Pusat Kraftangan Sabah (PKS) through Kristal Handal Sdn. Bhd has made Sabah proud by being the only Batik producer from Sabah to receive the Batik Malaysia MS 692:2007 certification.

Held recently at the Malaysia Handicrafts Development Corporation (MHDC) Kelantan branch at Kota Bahru, Kelantan, the ceremony was the premier event of its kind in Malaysia.

Fifty one out of 604 Batik producers in the country have passed the MHDC standard laboratory tests which allow them to obtain the certification, the most important benchmark of product quality and authenticity, which indirectly enhances consumer confidence.

According to the Director of Yayasan Sabah Datuk Sapawi Ahmad, Batik Malaysia MS 692:2007 certification, the standard developed in cooperation with SIRIM Bhd and the Department of Standards Malaysia, is subject to strict criteria.

“The Batik producers are required to go through 11 lab tests for each fabric within six months. The quality standards specify the material requirements, technique specifications, processes, methods and textile labelling which are defined as ‘Malaysia Batik’,” he explained.

“The tests involve colour fading test, liquid extract pH test, waste disposal test, water solubility, dimensional stability and textile strength of finished product,” he added.

Being the only Batik producer in Sabah to receive the certification, PKS has definitely brought ‘Sabah Batik’, which is known for its uniqueness and authenticity of local motif patterns to another level.



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Miss Scuba International beauties at Mabul Island

TAWAU: Aspirants for the coveted Miss Scuba International crown have begun arriving from all over the world with 18 contestants arriving here on November 16 enroute to the Mabul Water Bungalows, located on Mabul Island for their daily preparation, training and activities.

The contestants come from several countries, namely, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malta, the Philippines, Latvia, Kenya, Japan, Indonesia, China, France, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia.

They will be competing to be crowned the next Miss Scuba International which will take place at Magellan Sutera Resort, Kota Kinabalu on November 27.

The contestants will spend eight days at the Mabul Water Bungalow undertaking diving trips, attending conservation workshops, participating in catwalk training and so on.

Upon arrival at the Mabul Water Bungalow, the contestants joined the orientation programme and a welcoming dinner at night to start off their first day of competition.

On the second day, they did their swimsuit photo shoot at the Sipadan–Mabul Resort and from the response of the contestants, they are apparently enjoying the pristine beach, clear water and tropical weather at the resort.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Miss Scuba International beauties at Mabul Island


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cape Rhino Camp, Tuaran: Historical, adventurous, breathtaking river camp

KOTA KINABALU: Not many people know of the existence of a camp in Tanjung Badak, Tuaran. However, if one is a nature lover, Cape Rhino Camp at Tanjung Badak is a place that should make one’s bucket list.

It is located next to the Mengkabong River estuary and it has 20 separate toilets, showers, a camping ground that can fit more than 150 people, a roofed area, dining area, rooms with fans, a jetty, traditional sea gypsy homes and a bon fire pit. It also has a private beach and island.

The camp is managed by Sea Gypsy Mangrove Village (SGMV), an outdoor activities company specialising in watersports, horse riding, nature cruises, mangrove related activities and teambuilding programs.

Speaking to the owner cum operating manager of SGMC, Ahmad Nahri Mohd Noh, or more fondly known as Matt, he said that the company strives to provide the best outdoor experience.

“At the same time, we want to educate our guests about nature and its importance. The camp is surrounded by the lush Mengkabong mangroves. The place is also alive with sea gypsy (Bajau Laut) culture so what we do is literally naturally exciting,” said Matt.

He said that the main type of accommodation is camping. Matt also said that safety wise; there had been no major issues before.

“Even in the water, it is safe. Even if it is jellyfish season, there is not much jellyfish and we will usually be warned about jellyfish by local fishermen,” he said, adding that the water in the camp is about 5 metres deep without waves.

Matt said that the company began its operations about a year ago and focusing on the local market and believes in only employing local people.

Many activities can be conducted there such as fishing, barbeques, and team building activities, sunset cruises, firefly cruises or even river cruises.

“One can opt for the river cruise where we would bring people upstream the Mengkabong river and introduce them to the local sea gypsy culture.”

“They (Bajau Laut) are different than the Bajaus in the East Coast. These Bajaus are localised towards land and they live in stilted houses.”

“Even the dead are buried on land. During the river cruises, guests will have the opportunity to visit the Bajau community in their houses and talk to the people there,” he added.

Matt also said that his company has a program called the Nature School Program which caters student groups of ages below 17.

“This program aims at educating youngsters on rubbish disposal’s responsibility, which is a serious issue,” he said, adding that he and his staff has been cleaning the beach everyday ever since they began operations.

He said that despite cleaning the beach every day, a lot of trashes are still seen on the shores due to its close proximity to the camp and nearby villages.


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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sarawak tourism must find more ways to attract visitors

KUCHING: Sarawak must take the initiative to promote itself as a tourism destination and stop being too reliant on Kuala Lumpur for promotions, said Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

“If we (Sarawakians) don’t do it for ourselves, nobody else will. We need to find as many ways as possible to attract visitors to Sarawak annually,” he said at the 6th Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Awards 2013/2014 at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) on Sunday.

The Chief Minister said the state had the potential to be the country’s number one tourist destination as it had many things to offer, ranging from its ancient caves and jungles to national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and cultures.

On places of interest in the state, he said the state was practising an open-door policy, meaning everyone should be permitted to visit these places with minimal restrictions.

He pointed out that places such as caves, national parks, reserves and sanctuaries should not proscribe visitors as they were meant to be visited.

“I heard that certain places of interest in the state have restrictions (to visitors). I do not want that in the state as such places of interest are meant to attract visitors to the state.”

On airlines, Adenan said he hoped to see more airlines fly direct into the state rather than going through Kuala Lumpur.

“It can be a hassle for tourists who wanted to come to Sarawak when they first need to go through immigration check points in Kuala Lumpur and another one in the state.”