Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Malaysia to issue visa on arrival at Sg Tujuh

MIRI - Starting Dec 1, travellers will be issued visas on arrival (VOAs) at the Sungai Tujuh border checkpoint on the Sarawak-Brunei border.

Ministry of Home Affairs Secretary-General Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat said the issuance of VOAs at the border checkpoint would attract more tourists including skilled workers in the oil and gas sector in Brunei to come here using the overland route.

"The foreign workers from India and Nepal who need visas to enter Malaysia will be charged RM100 for the VOAs per entry," he said after visiting the border checkpoint yesterday.

Currently, the VOAs are issued at the KL International Airport (KLIA), Sepang, Penang and at the Second Link in Johor Baharu.

The issuing of VOAs at the checkpoint was also to attract tourists from Brunei totalling more than two million annually.

Aseh also said Brunei and Malaysia had agreed to expand the use of the "Frequent Travellers Card" (FTC) at other border checkpoints in Sarawak and Immigration officials from both countries had met to sort out the details.

He said the use of FTCs based on the smartcard system had reduced processing time at the Sungai Tujuh border checkpoint.

It will be implemented at the other border checkpoints of Tedungan, Pandaruan, Mengkalap in Limbang.

Aseh who also visited the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex said development of the second phase of the project would be speeded to cater for the increased tourist arrivals at the Brunei-Sarawak border.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Monday, October 30, 2006

Australian travel agents impressed after Brunei trip

By P. Marilyn

Royal Brunei Airlines, as part of its initiatives to promote the country's flag carrier, invited a group of travel agents from Down Under to obtain first-hand experience of what the country has to offer.

Representatives from eight travel agents from Sydney, Australia accompanied by staff from RBA Sydney made a two-day visit to the Brunei over the weekend.

The group visited the famous Water Village or better known as "Kampung Ayer", went on a tour of the city, crafts market, night market, the Royal Regalia building, shopping malls as well as did an inspection of the hotels available here.

Mr. David Vis, Sales Executive for New South Wales, Royal Brunei Airlines, Sydney, told the Bulletin that the purpose of the visit was to encourage agents to use RBA to travel. The travel agents represented major travel chains in Australia and they were amazed at what Brunei has to offer, believing there is good value for food and accommodation here.

The group stayed at the Empire Hotel and Country Club where they had the opportunity to experience the first-class service provided at the hotel.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Air link to Mulu 'too poor'

By George Francis

MIRI - Sarawak Chief Minister wants airlines bosses to rectify the realisation of the domestic route network that proves problematic to the tourism industry.

Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said air linkage to the world heritage site, Mulu National Park, had not kept up with efforts invested in tourism by the government and private sector.

He said accessibility has not been taken care of satisfactorily, casting Mulu out of the destination list, adding, it was very bad disincentive to the State's tourism.

"I hope those running the airlines will take note and rectify the problem," he said at the opening of the new 390-room Imperial Hotel here.

He said hotels in Mulu, which struggled during the gestation period, are beginning to go in the black after millions had been poured into tourism infrastructure.

Tourism players and air travellers complained of insufficient flights and below par services compared to then previously operated by Malaysia Airline to rural airstrips and lack of international links that bring in tourists.

Under the exercise, since Aug 1, budget air carrier AirAsia took over some of the domestic routes from MAS. AirAsia has engaged Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) to operate all the rural air services.

On the newly refurbished Imperial Hotel with contemporary style, classic elegant rooms, he said it was yet another successful initiative to bring out potential of Miri City as an international hub for tourism. "The breakthrough of creativity encompasses the will of working to build up a critical mass in the hospitality industry in Sarawak."

Taib also revealed that the state government has allocated land fronting the South China Sea, along the coastal road leading to Bekenu town for development of hotel infrastructures.

Sarawak, he said, has a variety of unique tourism products with broad lateral networks offering nature's attractions with more a relaxed sector of industry instead of the general shopping, bright city lights and night club scene.

Meanwhile, Jeff Ling Lu Kuang, executive director of Boulevard group of companies, said the hotel would become the important nexus for the group to play a vital role to promote tourism and Miri, being the geographical gateway to northern Sarawak.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

'Missing link' to Miri Airport

By George Francis

MIRI - A new road will be built to connect Permaijaya newtownship to Eastwood Valley thus complete the missing link from the Asean Bridge to the Miri Airport, said Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

"It will facilitate travel for those from Brunei to Miri but we don't know how much it would cost as this will be determined by the Treasury," he said at the Hari Raya gathering organised by Miri Malay Charitable Welfare Trust Board.

The road will have a bridge crossing over to the fringes of the Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club on the eastern part of the Canada Hill to be part of the plan to extend the city and reduce traffic congestion in the present seaside of the city.

Presently, the road from the Asean Bridge passing Permaijaya, crossing the Pujut 7 bridge, leads to the city.

Taib also said that the Federal government had agreed to build a flyover at the Pujut corner that entails the construction of road to link the Miri By-pass to airport and another flyover at Puchong to solve the traffic woes in the city centre.

The chief minister also urged local community to change their perception on job opportunities in the tourism industry now dominated by people from other states as well as foreigners.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mulu losing tourists due to flight problems

MIRI: The Mulu National Park, a Unesco world heritage site, near here, is losing tourists following problems that have emerged with the air service rationalisation exercise in Sarawak, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said Saturday.

He said many tourism wholesalers around the world have taken Mulu off the list of destinations that they wanted to promote after the exercise resulted in undue cancellation of flights as well as air connectivity problems.

"This is a very great disincentive for the entrepreneurs who have worked hard and invested their money in the hotel business (to accommodate tourists going to Mulu) and yet find the air access problem has not been tackled," he said when opening the Imperial Hotel, here.

Continue reading at: Mulu losing tourists due to flight problems

Saturday, October 28, 2006

New pitcher plant species in Sabah that went unnoticed

Kota Kinabalu: World authority on the ecology of pitcher plants Dr Charles Clarke has discovered a new species in Sabah.

It has been named Nepenthes chaniana (Nepenthaceae) after Sabahan Datuk CL Chan, who has become the first Malaysian to gets a nepenthes species named after him.

The species was found on Gunung Alab - the highest peak on the Crocker Range Park, which also means a protected habitat.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: New pitcher plant species in Sabah that went unnoticed

White Rajah’s flag comes home to Sarawak

KUCHING: The flag that was draped over the casket of the last White Rajah, Sir Charles Vyner Brooke, has returned home.

The Sarawak flag was taken to England by then Deputy Defence Minister Horace Edgar Hamilton Elam, before the Japanese invasion in 1941.

After his death in 1982, his children, Susan, 64, and Bruce, 61, kept their father’s prized possession until they decided to return it.

Continue reading at: White Rajah’s flag comes home to Sarawak

Friday, October 27, 2006

Miri: gateway to Sarawak treasures

A panoramic view of Miri and the coast from Canada Hill
Niah Caves, an important heritage site with 40,000-year-old prehistoric remains
Miri's Crocodile Farm, the first and largest crocodile farm in the northern region of Sarawak
Miri's famous landmark - the 'Grand Old Lady'
Some of the ethnic groups with their colourful costumes and headgears

By NYL

Miri is the third largest town in Sarawak, which is one of the two Malaysian states located on Borneo Island.

Miri shares a common border with Brunei and Indonesia and a greater part of it comprises the basin of Sarawak's second longest river, Sungei Baram and its many tributaries.

The petroleum industry has played a significant role in Miri's initial economic development. This is the town that oil built; subsequent industries such as timber and oil palm have also contributed to its prosperity today.

On May 20, 2005, Miri was declared a city.

Its location at a strategic part of Sarawak with the beautiful South China Sea's gentle breeze and crystal clear water that is ideal for diving is a bonus point for this city which already teems with visitors who come for shopping or just for a holiday.

Miri's wonderful cultural heritage is another great attraction as 19 ethnic groups offer colourful insights into their lives and traditions.

Visitors will not face any problem finding accommodation in Miri as the city has a wide range of hotels and inns catering to all types of tourists.

Dozens of restaurants, pubs and bars add colours to bustling Miri, which has a very compact and busy centre that is criss-crossed with numerous streets, all crammed with many rows of shops. Not to be missed are the street markets as well as some fine handicraft shops near the old harbour road along Jalan Bendahara.

Another hotspot is the daily native market located opposite the information centre and the main bus station. Here is where you can see, try and buy the many exotic jungle produces of Sarawak.

Being a city that owes its rapid growth to vast oil resources, it is quite natural that the most famous landmark is the "Grand Old Lady", the first well to strike oil in Sarawak back in 1910. Located on top of Canada Hill, this well was almost destroyed by a bush fire but now it is fully restored. Production has moved to offshore nowadays and some of the oil platforms can be seen from the top of Canada Hill, which also affords a panoramic view of Miri and the coast.

Along the Miri-Kuala Baram Road, some 20-minute drive from the city, is Miri's Crocodile Farm cum Mini Zoo. It is the first and largest crocodile farm in the northern region of Sarawak.

Enclosed within a 22 acre-landscaped setting are natural breeding and man-made sanctuary ponds specially carved out for the creatures. A stroll around its perimeter allows visitors to safely view an amazing collection of more than 1,000 crocodiles as well as numerous exotic animals from other countries.

Miri Public Park, along the Miri-Bintulu Road, is another popular place for visitors. It provides tourists an opportunity to conquer their fear of heights by walking on a swaying suspension bridge over a deep valley.

Look down from the bridge or lookout tower and you will enjoy a splendid view of the flower gardens and a children playhouse which resembles quaint assembled Lego-blocks.

When it comes to adventure, Miri has a lot of attractions. Gunung Mulu is just 40 minutes away by air and is the location of the world's largest cave system, the Mulu Caves, surrounded by pristine rainforests and the towering Mulu Mountain with its unique Pinnacle peak.

An important heritage site with prehistoric remains dating back 40,000 years is the Niah Caves, which is just a two-hour drive from the city. Another important national park is the Lambir Hills located a mere 25-minute drive from Miri.

It is the site of the world's most biologically diverse rainforest where numerous waterfalls cascade down rugged hill slopes. The park is said to contain 1,050 species of plants and 157 different types of birds.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sarawak Inter-Cultural Mooncake Festival: Time for lanterns, mooncakes

A group of childhood friends carrying a lantern each to celebrate the joyous occasion.T he Chinese and Malay communities of Padungan and Pantai Damai constituencies in Kuching have joined forces to hold the annual Sarawak Inter-Cultural Mooncake Festival for the fifth year.

The week-long festival took place from Sept 30 to Oct 6 along Carpenter Street and its vicinity saw an ornate “Harmony Arch” built for the event, symbolising the unity among Sarawak’s diverse communities.

The festival featured mooncakes and an array of food on the stalls along the length of Carpenter Street.

There were also stalls selling lanterns and handicraft.

Continue reading (incl. Photos) at: Time for lanterns, mooncakes

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Air quality better now, thanks to rains and winds

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians finally got a break from the haze after rains brought relief to a month of smoky conditions.

The easterly winds have also steadily improved the air quality during the past few days.

Yesterday, 45 areas registered a "good" air pollutant index (API) while four were "moderate".

An API reading of between 0 and 50 denotes good while 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 is very unhealthy and above 300 is hazardous.

It rained heavily in many areas, washing away the pollutants caused by Indonesian forest fires.

The Meteorological Services Department weather forecast centre principle assistant director Wong Teck Kiong said the easterly winds kept the smoke from Indonesian fires away from Malaysia.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Air quality better now, thanks to rains and winds

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Equatorial Restaurant - Fancy a bit of croc with spring onion and ginger?

KOTA KINABALU: Crocodile meat is fast gaining popularity among the Chinese who believe it has medicinal properties.

It’s a bestseller at the Equatorial Restaurant in Tanjung Aru Plaza, which obtains the meat from a crocodile farm.

"Our specialty is in the way we cook the meat so that it does not give a weird feeling to those eating it," said one of the restaurant directors Quek Siew Hau.

The restaurant has a permit from the Sabah Wildlife Department to serve crocodile meat and other game meat it buys from licensed suppliers.

The Tuaran crocodile farm has a slaughtering schedule endorsed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

"Demand for the meat here is quite impressive. The restaurant sells about 100kg every fortnight," said another director, Chin Tsen Ting.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Equatorial Restaurant - Fancy a bit of croc with spring onion and ginger?

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Early departure for FAX Sarawak rural flights

MIRI: Fly in early and fly out early – that will be the new flight schedule for aircraft operating rural air service flights to remote destinations in Sarawak and Sabah.

Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) is to implement an early departure schedule for all aircraft flying from the cities and towns into the remote interiors of the two states and flying out from these remote airstrips to avoid the onslaught of bad weather.

FAX manager for distribution and marketing Kaathik Velu said flight timings of all the airline’s 19-seater Twin Otter aircraft would be modified starting Oct 29.

“Our aim is to reduce flight disruptions as much as possible. At present, we have faced difficulties in the rural areas because of the unpredictable weather and low visibility, especially on routes that are very weather-sensitive.

“In places like Bario, Ba’Kelalan and Lawas (in northern Sarawak), the weather plays a major factor in the flight landings and departures.”

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Early departure for FAX Sarawak rural flights

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Sabah Golf tourism spawns illegal guides from Korea

KOTA KINABALU: They arrive quietly at the airport with shoulder bags, seat themselves in corners and wait for guests.

They keep to themselves at the arrival hall and avoid mixing with other tour guides or drivers with name tags and eye-catching attire.

Once the flight arrives, they spring into action, taking out placards with names written in Korean and calling out the names of their clients. They then quickly lead their guests into waiting vans and send them to hotels.

Though this may seem a normal routine for any tour operator, these Koreans run their business illegally, hence the need to be discreet.

Continue reading at: Sabah Golf tourism spawns illegal guides from Korea

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Masterplan for Brunei Airport

By Azlan Othman

A 25-year master plan has been initiated that will see the transformation of the Brunei International Airport and making it the air hub for the BIMP-EAGA region.

Responding to the increasing number of passengers, flights and cargo, the Brunei International Airport landscape will be transformed with the preparation of a master plan for the airport's phased development, which is technically and financially feasible, through year 2031, said the Director of Civil Aviation, Pg. Hj Abdul Rahman bin PSI Pg Hj Ismail.

This is timely when another new airline will come to Brunei later this year while Air Asia is expected to increase its frequency to Brunei by operating from other Malaysian cities to Bandar Seri Begawan (besides the present Kuala Lumpur-BSB route). Currently five airlines operate into Brunei.

Pg. Hj Abdul Rahman said this while addressing over 100 consultants, tenders, computer vendors, architectural firms on airport national development plan projects at the Civil Service Institute in Rimba yesterday.

In addition, 1.3 million passengers were recorded last year and the airport already faces congestion during peak hours. Hence a need to expand the facility. The new airport should be able to cater to 12 aircraft movements in 2020 compared to the present six flights departing and arriving during peak hours.

He said His Majesty's Government has given approval to the Department of Civil Aviation to implement a number of projects under the Airport National Development Plan.

"One of the projects under consultancy services is a master planning study to develop a Brunei International Airport Master Plan. The principal objective of the study is to produce a workable programme of priority improvements needed for the airport, and to prepare a master plan for the airport's phased development, which is technically and financially feasible, through the year 2031."

"The eventual implementation of the master plan would change the airport landscape so as to support the vision to make Brunei International Airport as the air hub for the BIMP-EAGA region," Pg. Hj Abdul Rahman said.

In this regard, he said, they are looking for a consortium of consultants able to prepare a master plan and come up with a conceptual design so as to transform the airport especially the passenger and cargo terminals in line with Brunei's airport development strategies namely Airline Hub, Cargo Village and Airport City.

"Upon implementation of the master plan, we expect the passenger terminal to be an innovative and contemporary state of the art facility with effective functional layout incorporating world-class functional design and technological developments for the comfort of passengers, visitors, public and airport workers and enable safe, secure and efficient handling of passengers, baggage and aircraft, a commercially successful facility that provides the right mix of business activities for the enjoyable travel experience for passengers and visitors alike - and which has its own uniqueness."

Yesterday's presentation is to inform interested parties of airport national development plan projects that will be tendered out in the next three months, to give sufficient time for potential bidders to look for their foreign partners before tender opens, to enable government to get competitive bids and to inform potential bidders on the project implementation.

Pg. Hj Abdul Rahman also said the master plan takes into account customer needs, must have a distinctive faade look, commercially successful facility, air traffic focus, examine deficiencies at the passenger and cargo terminals, business and economic strategies (with a plan to be self-financing a self-functioning airport in the future), five-year investment plan, feasibility analysis with costing of alternatives.

He also asked the consultant concerning cost estimation, whether it is expensive to build a new airport rather than expanding it. He also said that the existing airport is quite limited for expansion and this poses a challenge to the consultants.

With operations beginning in 1974 to accommodate the popularity of air travel in the 1970s, the Brunei International Airport has undergone several major facelifts since its opening. It was upgraded in the mid 1980's and later in 2000 to handle more than 2 million passengers and 50,000 tonnes of cargo every year.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

‘Best toilet operator’ among new tourism awards

KUCHING: The best toilets, homestay programmes, hawker stalls and eateries are among the new categories introduced for this year’s Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Appreciation Awards.

For the first time, an award will be given to the outstanding toilet operator to encourage a high standard of cleanliness.

“This is important because toilets are basic facilities for tourists and visitors,” the awards’ organising chairperson Audry Wan Ullok said.

The best homestay programme as well as lodging houses will also be recognised under the accommodation category, along with international and mid-range hotels, while hawker stalls and eateries are included under the Sarawak culinary delights category.

Continue reading at: ‘Best toilet operator’ among new tourism awards

Saturday, October 14, 2006

There's a lot of money in that Borneo tag

MILLION-RINGGIT holiday homes along the white sandy beaches of the Karabunai Peninsula, outside Kota Kinabalu, are making a splash as far away as London and Dublin, an international news report several weeks ago said.

The marketing cachet is in the exoticism of the name "Borneo" which both Sabah and Sarawak have been quick to latch on to in their international tourism promotion.

For a variety of reasons, Sabah has been seemingly light-years ahead of Sarawak as a tourist destination and is leveraging that into a similar lead in attracting investors under the banner of the "Malaysia, My Second Home" scheme to rope in well-heeled international retirees.

Given Sabah’s God-given natural assets of rugged mountains and pristine beaches, Sarawak may be forgiven for thinking it is running a tourism-marketing race with severe handicaps.

It need not be.

To the exoticism of the "Borneo" tag, Sarawak can add the romance of its unique history and the understated allure of Borneo’s most sophisticated city: Kuching.

Continue reading at: There's a lot of money in that Borneo tag

Monday, October 09, 2006

Haze: Nation breathes easier

PETALING JAYA: The haze has reduced significantly in most places across the country with only nine areas with unhealthy Air Pollutant Index levels (API) and 40 with moderate levels.

For the first time in a week, there were blue skies and bright sunlight in most areas.

The highest API reading in the country was Johor Baru at 150 as of 5pm yesterday. Perak had higher overall API readings.

Sri Aman in Sarawak, which was the hardest hit on Friday with a reading of 221 saw its API falling to 112. Overall, Sarawak and Sabah breathed much easier as compared to the past few days.

Continue reading at: Nation breathes easier

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sarawak tourism hardest hit by haze

MIRI: The haze enveloping parts of the country could have a more damaging economic impact on tourism.

Head of the national-level Visit Malaysia Year 2007 Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur Hashimah Nik Jaafar said this was because the Western media had a tendency of distorting the issue and would likely to continue highlighting it prominently long after the haze had cleared.

He said that in the past, the western media had harped on the haze issue in their print and electronic media for months on end.

“We are worried not so much about the immediate impact of the haze on tourism but the longer term effect.”

”In the past, even when the haze cleared in Malaysia, their media continued highlighting it prominently as if we are shrouded in haze all the time. This can deter tourists from coming. Our Malaysian Tourism Board offices overseas will have a lot to do to counter such negative reporting,” she said in an interview yesterday.

Continue reading at: Sarawak tourism hardest hit

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sabah Zoo expecting first captive born pygmy elephant

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Zoological and Botanical Park in Lok Kawi, 25km from here, is expecting the first birth of a Borneo pygmy elephant by a captive jumbo in 16 months.

State Wildlife Department Deputy Director, Laurentius N. Ambu said the cow elephant was now into her sixth-month of pregnancy.

"We have to monitor the progress of the elephant pregnancy. God willing, if she is healthy we will have the first captive born baby elephant in 16 months," he said at a mock cheque presentation-cum-launching of the Orang Utan Exhibit.

The RM25,000 was from the Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort for the yearly general upkeep of the Orang Utan Exhibit.

It was presented to Laurentius by the Rasa Ria General Manager Alain Borgers.

Continue reading at: Sabah Zoo expecting first captive born pygmy elephant

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pan Borneo Highway bridge to open on Oct 26

MIRI: The “missing link” in the 1,000km Pan Borneo Highway that divides southern and northern Sarawak is to be bridged, literally, in time for the Hari Raya celebrations.

The 1.2km bridge that will connect the two banks of the Rajang River in Sibu town, 450km south of here, is scheduled to be open on Oct 26.

“The construction of the bridge is now in its final stage. Two expansion joints and the guardrail need to be fixed and the bridge is expected to be open on Oct 26,” a Works Ministry statement said.

Continue reading at: Pan Borneo Highway bridge to open on Oct 26

Exploit tourism, Ranau folks told

Ranau: Local residents have been urged to exploit the district's tourism potential so as to earn additional income.

Making the call, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the tourism industry should never be sidelined as it has the capacity to generate lucrative monetary returns.

He said this when launching the Pondok Perpaduan programme at Kampung Lohan Ulu, organised by Lohan Ulu JKKK, here.

"Tourism is an important contributor to the nation's economic source and hence should be developed to general economy to the people in rural areas," he said.

To ensure that the residents here benefit from tourism such as the Poring Hot Springs, Masidi suggested that those living along the road leading to the tourism site develop their villages so as to attract the tourists.

Continue reading at: Exploit tourism, Ranau folks told

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fine tune Sarawak flight routes before VMY 2007

KUCHING: Sarawak wants air connectivity problems to be resolved as quickly as possible to ensure a successful Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) next year.

State Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh urged Malaysia Airlines (MAS), AirAsia and Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) to promote air links between Sarawak and the outside world.

“After Aug 1 when the rationalisation exercise took effect, certain sectors have not been satisfactory and we keep receiving complaints from airline users of inconveniences in connectivity,” he said at the state-level soft launch of VMY 2007 here on Monday.

Continue reading at: Fine tune Sarawak flight routes before VMY 2007

Sabah haze situation moderate

In Sabah, Kota Kinabalu recorded moderate API reading at 75, Keningau 71 and Sandakan 65.

In Tawau, in the East Coast of Sabah, the API reading reached an unhealthy level of 132 at 11am yesterday, more than double that of Monday’s 53.

A random check showed people have started complaining of eye irritation due to the haze.

API readings of 0-51 are listed as good; 51-100 moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy, 301-500 hazardous and above 500 emergency.

Haze worsens in Sarawak

KUCHING: Parents are keeping their children indoors as the air quality in several towns in Sarawak has worsened.

The Department of Environment (DOE) website showed that the air pollutant index (API) in Sarikei rose to 196 at 11am yesterday. It, however, dropped to 177 at 5pm.

Six other towns, one more than on Monday, recorded unhealthy air levels at 5pm.

The state capital had the lowest visibility level at 800m, followed by Bintulu (1km) and Sibu (1.5km) as at 7pm yesterday.

Continue reading at: Haze worsens in Sarawak

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Flying for free in Sabah, Sarawak

KUALA LUMPUR: Those who wish to travel or balik kampung within Sabah and Sarawak during the festive season have 10,000 reasons to cheer.

No-frills airline AirAsia is playing Santa Claus early by allotting 10,000 free seats for travel to or from its two hubs in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

The free seats, excluding airport tax, fees and fuel charges, can be booked from today till Friday for the travel between Oct 10 and Dec 31.

Continue reading at: Flying for free in Sabah, Sarawak

A dark noon in Kuching

KUCHING: The haze in Sarawak has worsened with seven major towns registering unhealthy air quality yesterday. The worst affected was Sarikei, while the air quality in Sri Aman and Sibu has got worse.

Petra Jaya, Kuching, Kapit and Samarahan also recorded unhealthy air quality.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said yesterday that winds from Typhoon Xangsane from the north were blowing the haze from Kalimantan to Sarawak.

"Kalimantan now has a large number of hotspots. The haze from these hotspots was being blown southward into Sarawak by the typhoon," added Dr Chan, who is also the state disaster and relief management committee chairman.

He said that forecasts by the Meteorological Services Department indicated Sarawak would continue to be blanketed by the haze for some time.

"Borneo is going to have dry weather over the next 10 to 14 days and this means more open burning in Kalimantan.

Continue reading at: A dark noon in Kuching

Cloud seeding to clear air in six towns in Sarawak

KUCHING: Cloud seeding will be carried out over six major towns in Sarawak where the haze has worsened.

The state Meteorological Services Department has been instructed to do that after unhealthy air levels were recorded.

The worst affected was the central region Sarikei which recorded an Air Pollutant Index (API) reading of 175 at 11am yesterday.

Other towns with unhealthy readings were Sibu (158), Sri Aman (157), Petra Jaya, in Kuching city north (143), Samarahan (124) and Kapit (110).

Continue reading at: Cloud seeding to clear air in six towns

Monday, October 02, 2006

Flights off in Sarawak due to haze

KUCHING: The worsening haze has disrupted airport operations here, with at least six flights cancelled as the visibility level in the state capital dropped to 500m.

One incoming flight from Kuala Lumpur was diverted to Sibu, and several other flights were retimed, according to the Kuching International Airport. Among the cancelled flights were those departing for Kuala Lumpur.

The Meteorological Services Department said the visibility level here dropped to 500m at 2pm, down from 2km on Saturday.

Continue reading at: Flights off due to haze

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Feeling good on Mataking Island

ANDREW SIA finds out that you can live like a king on Pulau Mataking, a scuba-diving haven at the edge of Malaysia.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to live like one, so it’s been said. Well, at least you can still buy the very best bedsheets and feel like a millionaire for a third of your life!

Similarly, you don’t have to be a king to live like one. OK, so you may not have the show-off collection of luxury cars, watches and thoroughbreds. But the plain old middle class man can still afford some right royal experiences.

So I discovered at Pulau Mataking, a luxurious dive resort right at the edge of Malaysia, 40 minutes by speed boat from the fishing port of Semporna, Sabah.

Continue reading (incl. Photos) at: Feeling good on Mataking