Sunday, December 31, 2006

'Visit Sabah year' every year

Kota Kinabalu: The State Government aims to make every year a "visit Sabah year" from next year onwards, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat.

"Next year is Visit Malaysia Year but I told Tengku Datuk Adlin (Sabah Tourism Board Chairman) we are not going to bank just on 2007 (because) we want it to be every year for Sabah.

"We want to make sure this is the place for visitors from the peninsula, Sarawak and rest of the world.

"We welcome the world to Sabah," he said at the soft launching of Warisan Square, here, Saturday.

Chong, who is also Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said towards this end, the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) is expected to be busy beginning next year.

Continue reading at: 'Visit Sabah year' every year

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Danum Valley Conservation Area - Walk on the wild side

SPOTTING wildlife in Taman Negara is like striking a 4D lottery – you’ve got to be really lucky. But in the 438 sq km Danum Valley, Sabah – where I spent three days at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge there – you don’t even have to budge from your chalet to spot the occasional rhinoceros hornbill or sambar deer.

Teeming with unique flora and fauna, Danum and its Field Centre, built in 1986, has been a tropical rainforest research and environmental education hub for scientists and students from all corners of the globe.

Over the years, rare, endangered and endemic wildlife have been spotted in Danum; the long list includes the elusive Sumatran rhino, Borneo pygmy elephant, rare clouded leopard, sun bear and banteng or wild ox, which has been extinct in Peninsular Malaysia since the 1940s.

More than 300 species of birds have been sighted at this bird-watchers’ utopia including the rare bulwer’s pheasant, buffy fish owl, Borneo bristlehead and all eight of Borneo’s hornbill species.

Standing on Danum’s 107m canopy walkway, suspended 27m from the ground, you get to be eye to eye with these birds. Danum boasts over 200 species of trees like the towering kapur, keruing and seraya trees with their gigantic buttresses, and a myriad of orchids, lianas, ferns, fungi and shrubs.

Thanks to Sabah Foundation’s foresight, the Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL) was built in 1994, about 35km from the field centre, so the public has access to this wildlife haven.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

KKIA Terminal 2 can take 2.5m travellers a year

KOTA KINABALU: Terminal Two of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) here is capable of handling up to 2.5 million air passengers a year. And, the new terminal which will start operations on January 1 can meet the demand of travelers for another five years.

The need to upgrade the terminal again will depend on the growth of AirAsia, Fly Asian Express (FAX) and Transmile which are using the terminal. It is estimated that between 1.6 million and 1.8 people would visit Sabah via Terminal Two next year.

“And, we expect that some 800,000 passengers would have used the terminal by the end of this year,” Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB) senior general manager for operations, Datuk Azmi Murad told reporters during a briefing here yesterday. To a question, he said MAB had already requested the relevant parties to provide shuttle service for passengers who needed to go to Terminal One to continue their journeys.

Continue reading at: KKIA Terminal 2 can take 2.5m travellers a year

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Passports in a jiffy in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: The approval of applications for Malaysian international passports in Sabah will be reduced from three hours currently to only two hours next year.

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Datuk Tan Chai Ho said this will be made possible with the installation of a digital printing machine that can print passports with high security features at a fast speed next year.

“I hope there will be no more complaints on delays in the applications of passports or renewals.

“This makes the Malaysian Immigration among the fastest to approve Malaysian international passports in the world,” he said after visiting the Visa On Arrival (VOA) counter at the Kota Kinabalu Intrnational Airport (KKIA) here on Friday

Continue reading at: Passports in a jiffy

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sarawak to develop remote highlands

KUCHING: Sarawak will develop Bario and Ba’kelalan Highlands, the heartland of the Orang Ulu in the northern region, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

He said these highlands were the state’s last frontiers.

“As the cost of developing the highlands is very high, the Government will need the participation of the private sector,” he said in a Christmas message.

Bario, known for its rice and tourism, is only accessible by air. There have been proposals to build a road to the highlands to reduce transportation costs.

Continue reading at: Sarawak to develop remote highlands

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas greetings from e-borneo.com

A Blessed Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2007 from all staff at e-borneo.com and our travel company, Colourful Frontiers Travel Sdn Bhd (KPL/LN 4605).

Christmas is a time of peace, love and giving, and the Christmas spirit overshadowed all negativity including jealousy, hatred and enmity, and blessed one's heart with feelings of goodwill for others regardless of race, religion or creed.

So, as we enjoy the festivity, the abundance of good food and entertainment, let us forget not those who are less fortunate and those who are suffering this Christmas

May your festive holidays be a memorable and safe one this year.

Merry Christmas and a fruitful New Year ahead.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Noel joy in the Sarawak mountains

LIKE many Malaysian Christians, Martha Tagal decided to go home for Christmas this year. Unlike most, however, hers was a journey of more than 24 hours of travelling to reach her remote hometown in the Ba Kelalan highlands in Sarawak.

Martha, a secretary-turned-housewife who lives in Kuala Lumpur, flew to Kota Kinabalu, then drove with her sister, Rangai, a Sarawak Education Department officer, to Lawas before catching another flight to Ba Kelalan.

Even then, Martha and Rangai, two of seven siblings to come home to celebrate Christmas with their retired missionary father, took the “easy” route.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Noel joy in the Sarawak mountains

Sabah's Traditional Spa Treatment - Natives’ winning touch

A NEW and rather raw shopping mall is not the obvious setting for an award-winning spa, but Plaza Tanjung Aru in Kota Kinabalu is the home of Jari Jari, recent winner of the Best Traditional Treatment Award at the Asia Spa and Wellness Festival in Kuala Lumpur.

Co-owner Jenny Lee says the accolade was completely unexpected: “We had no thoughts of winning anything!”

But discerning clients of Jari Jari would have been less surprised.

Jari Jari is a little haven in an increasingly busy city and it is evident from the moment that you walk through the door and leave the shopping mall behind that the spa has been designed to operate at a very high standard.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sabah's Traditional Spa Treatment - Natives’ winning touch

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Saving Gunung Trus Madi - Positive move

Despite the abuse it has undergone, Gunung Trus Madi may yet be saved. The Sabah Forestry Department has finally introduced its Conservation Area Management Plan (CAMP) for Trus Madi.

CAMP has identified the major threats to the area and selected conservation targets, like the rare Nepenthes x trusmadiensis (hybrid pitcher plants) and the Rafflesia keithii, says the Forestry’s deputy director of planning, Rahim Sulaiman.

“Since October, we’ve established a 24-hour checking station at the entry and exit point to the mountain,” explains Rahim.

In September, the forestry staff collected about four bags of rubbish from the trailhead right up to the summit. Hikers’ backpacks will be checked at the entry point and all gear will be listed.

Continue reading at: Saving Gunung Trus Madi - Positive move

Visit Malaysia Year 2007 - No problem, says Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is confident of attracting 2.7 million tourists to the state next year in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007 despite various infrastructure obstacles including expansion works at its international airport here.

State Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Karim Bujang said the state should be able to achieve the target as there is a steady growth of visitor arrivals to the state annually.

“Sabah received 1.8 million visitors last year and with the promotion efforts, we should be able to see at least 2.7 million tourists,” he said when launching a VMY 2007 campaign among taxi drivers here recently.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Visit Malaysia Year 2007 - No problem, says Sabah

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Driving to Kinabalu National Park - Mountain gem

The summit of Mount Kinabalu can be seen from the market
Tourists are attracted to multilingual vendors at the market
Dozens of stalls can be seen along the road
Handmade baskets sold at a stall
A vendor selling an assortment of items
Poultry is among the goods sold at the market

Photos: Mohammad Abdullah ;
Copyright © 2006 Brunei Press Sdn Bhd. All right reserved.

By Mohammad Abdullah

I have been to Mount Kinabalu a few times. But I had always driven past Nibalu Market. Like me, travellers often give the little marketplace a miss in order to reach the mountain resorts earlier.

The last time I was heading to Mount Kinabalu, my friends and I decided to stop over at the market for a quick break. I was amazed by the people and the atmosphere as well as the breathtaking view of Mount Kinabalu.

We were lucky to have been there when the sky parted, allowing a perfect view of the summit. On a normal day, the mountain is shrouded by clouds.

At Nibalu Market, locals sell an array of products including poultry, fish, vegetables, handicrafts and odd ointments and remedies.

The market itself isn't very big but it's very compact. Due to the influx of tourists in the area, vendors are able to converse in foreign languages such as Japanese to German, much to the delight of visitors.

There are times when we don't realise some of the wonders surrounding us while we're travelling, especially when all we think about are "destination, destination, destination". So, for future excursions, I'll try and remember this: "Stop and smell the roses and you'll be surprised by how sweet it smells."

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

Visit e-borneo.com for more Kinabalu National Park tours

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Driving to Kinabalu Pine Resorts

Entrance to Kinabalu Pine Resorts
Natural environment at the resort
Interesting plants at the resort
Panoramic view of Kundasang
The driveway leading up to the resort

Photos: Nurizan Murshid ;
Copyright © 2006
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd. All right reserved.

By Norizan Murshid

There is a saying in Malay, "jauh berjalan luas pandangan", which means the longer the journey the more that will be viewed or discovered. In view of that I decided to take up the challenge of driving to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah for the first time.

My destination was Kinabalu Pine Resorts. From Temburong, I drove my car cross Immigration and Customs checkpoints at Kuala Lurah and on to Limbang after the Tedungan checkpoint.

There is a long queue normally during weekends and the school holidays and it may take an hour to three hours to cross each side. There is no road sign at KM 152, so turn right at the junction towards Brunei.

I stopped at the Immigration and Customs checkpoint in Limbang Town located near the taxi stand before continuing to the Ferry Point to Temburong. The ferry cost RM8 or BND 4. The river's name is Sungai Pandaruan.

From Puni to Bangar in Temburong is about a 4km drive. I stopped at the Puni Immigration Post located 600 metres from the ferry. Then go straight and do not turn and you will reach the Brunei/Malaysia border.

The ferry to Terusan cost RM10 and some 900 metres from Terusan River, where you will get your passport stamped. From that point, Lawas town is 19km. You will pass by Lawas Town on your way to Merapok and Sindumin in Sabah.

The distance from Sindumin to Sipitang is 18km, while Beaufort is 65km and Kota Kinabalu is 162km. Take turn to Kota Kinabalu via Papar as the Papar route is wider and shorter to Kota Kinabalu city.

From Kota Kinabalu you can drive to Kundasang following the Ranau road.

Kinabalu Pine Resorts located in Kundasang, is situated at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu, approximately 90km from Kota Kinabalu city and 100km from Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

The resort has 64 rooms and a restaurant, "The Pine", which serves local and Chinese cuisines. Arrangements for western and BBQ cuisine can also be made. They also serve steamboat.

The resort also arranges visits to nearby places of interest such as Kinabalu Park, Poring Hot Springs, Kundasang War Memorial and the Sabah Tea plantation.

According to Resident Manager Mr Damian Majakul, Kinabalu Pine Resorts was awarded Clean and Green Premises Award (Environment) in 2004.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

Visit e-borneo.com for more Kinabalu National Park & Poring tours

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hidden treasures of Sarawak

The northern highlands of Sarawak are not only rich in biodiversity but also have vast cultural sites, remnants of the early culture that once thrived in the Land of the Hornbill.

The Pulong Tau National Park encompassing the highlands constitutes the 17th national park in the country and is where the headwaters of the major rivers in the northeast of Sarawak can be found.

This national park, gazetted on March 24 last year, covering 59,817ha, also includes Sarawak’s highest peak Mount Murud, at 2,424m above sea level, in the north and the Tama Abu Range in the south.

Pulong Tau, which literally means “our forest” in the Kelabit and Lun Bawang dialects, is located within the Miri and Limbang divisions in the Kelabit highlands.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Hidden treasures of Sarawak

Bryde’s whale at Gaya Island - Exhibit pledge for whale

KOTA KINABALU: The state government has stepped in over the tragedy of the huge Bryde’s whale that died in the shallow waters off Gaya Island last Sunday.

It wants the skeletal remains of the Bryde’s whale to be preserved and eventually exhibited to the public.

And, it has also agreed to pay for the costs of preserving the remains of the 20.6 metres marine creature that has since been towed out to sea and anchored to a rock some five nautical miles from Gaya Island.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman has directed the Fisheries Department to work with the Sabah Museum Department, Sabah Parks and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) researchers on the conservation of the whale’s bones.

Continue reading at: Bryde’s whale at Gaya Island - Exhibit pledge for whale

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Enough room in Sabah for tourists

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has dismissed any notion that the state is ill-prepared to accommodate an anticipated increase in tourism arrivals with the onset of Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said the question of a hotel-room shortage in the city should not arise as there were numerous attractions around Sabah and tourists were encouraged to visit them.

“The east coast Sandakan and Lahad Datu districts are gateways to some of the best wildlife attractions Sabah has to offer,” he said in an interview.

Continue reading at: Enough room in Sabah for tourists

WWF: 52 new species found on Borneo island past one year

Scientists have discovered at least 52 new animal and plant species on Borneo island over the past year.

The discoveries, described in a report compiled by WWF, included 30 fish species, two tree frog species, 16 ginger, three tree species and one large-leafed plant.

In a statement, WWF said the findings highlight the need to conserve the habitat and species at the world's third largest island.

Borneo comprises the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, Kalimantan (Indonesia) and Brunei Darussalam.

Continue reading at: WWF: 52 new species found on Borneo island past one year

Tourism Board to launch 2007 calendar of events for Sarawak

By Magdalene Rogers

KUCHING - Sarawak Tourism Board's (STB) calendar year of events would be launched by the end of this month, said its chief executive officer Gracie Geikie here.

She said at the STB's Media Appreciation Night on Sunday that the Board has coordinated and printed the calendar which has lined up a total of 60 touristm-related events aimed to attract tourists to the state.

She added that out of the number, 12 are main events that include the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWWF), the Sarawak Regatta and the Pesta Gawai.

Gracie, who represented Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh at the function, also said that Sarawak is targetting at least 20 million visitors in 2007.

"With all these preparations, STB and the Ministry are walking the extra mile to ensure the success of the Visit Malaysia Year next year," she said. Similarly, Gracie also thanked the media for their continuous support to the Board's functions and events and without such support and cooperation, the Board would not be able to publicise its promotions and products.

The media was feted to a host of food and games as well as lucky draws to exotic destinations such as Bali and Phuket courtesy of Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

Monday, December 18, 2006

Bryde’s whale at Gaya Island - End of the struggle

KOTA KINABALU: The Bryde’s whale, which was rescued on Friday, off the city’s shores, returned early Sunday, dead.

But even in death, the mammal continued to be the centre of attraction of locals and foreigners, just like on Friday, when it was first discovered, stranded off the shallow waters of Pulau Gaya.

And its skeletal remains could eventually be retrieved from its watery grave if the Sabah Museum or the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Borneo marine Research Institute was keen on them.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Bryde’s whale at Gaya Island - End of the struggle

Fishing Challenge angling for Brunei tourism

By Jon Tampoi

The annual Fishing Challenge organised by the Sungai Matan Village Council took place yesterday.

The event was launched by Brunei-Muara District Officer, Dato Paduka Awg Hj Md Yusop Bin Bakar, to promote the Sungai Matan area as a tourism venue and collect funds for the Sungai Matan Welfare and Sports Organisation Fund and the Sungai Matan Orphans Fund.

Another goal was to foster closer ties between fishing enthusiasts via such an activity. The event also showcased products from the Sungai Matan area.

The fishing Challenge took place along a board-walk at the village of Sungai Matan that was decorated by the residents, along the Brunei River.

This year's event was divided into five categories: Category A for Open Individual fishing during a 30-minute period; Category B for groups of four participants, Category C for Individual Open for catching the heaviest and largest fish; Category D for the first person to catch a fish in a 30-minute period; and Category E for residents of Kampong Sungai Matan for catching the largest fish. An additional event was added, which was catching the most crabs.

Also held were a game of guess the fish's weight, kelupis wrapping, a colouring contest and a karaoke competition. Prizes were presented by the guest of honour at the closing ceremony at 3pm yesterday.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bryde’s whale at Gaya Island - FareWhale!

Sabah’s sea monster slips back to its ocean kingdom after its beaching ordeal.

Rescuers who helped save the huge mammal bid it a fond farewell on Friday night.

This is the last picture of the huge mammal taken just before nightfall.

The fate of the Bryde’s whale is however not known following its “great escape” at about 8pm.

It should be back to where it belongs as a team of divers scanning the waters off Tunku Abdul Rahman Park yesterday did not report any sighting of the mammal.

“We have not seen the whale since it swam back out to sea and we hope it is safe,” said Daniel Doughty, sales manager of Beach Bums Borneo, a sea adventure sport company based in Tanjung Aru, Kota Kinabalu.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Bryde’s whale at Gaya Island - FareWhale!

Kota Kinabalu Airport's Terminal 2 take-off 29 months early

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman is happy with the expansion work progress at Terminal Two of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).

He said work was expected to be completed by end of this month, 29 months ahead of schedule.

Under the contract, the project will take 36 months to be completed and is supposed to be ready in May 2009.

“The work progress is very good. It takes only seven months to complete the project and this shows the efficiency of the contractor,” Musa told reporters after visiting the project site yesterday.

According to him, Terminal Two is now expected to resume operations on January 1 next year which is the Visit Malaysia Year.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Kota Kinabalu Airport's Terminal 2 take-off 29 months early

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bryde’s whale at Gaya Island - Stranded whale saved from certain death

KOTA KINABALU: A whale, about 20m in length, became a hubbub of attention when it was found stranded in shallow waters off Pulau Gaya near here yesterday morning.

The mammal, believed to be a Bryde’s whale, was kept alive by villagers and divers who poured water on its exposed back as they waited for high tide to set in.

As the water rose in the late afternoon, rescuers gave up a first attempt to tow the stricken whale beyond the shallows.

But about 7.30pm, 12 hours into its ordeal, a rope was tied round its midsection in an operation involving government agencies and scores of volunteers.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Bryde’s whale at Gaya Island - Stranded whale saved from certain death

Kota Kinabalu has enough hotel rooms for tourists

Kota Kinabalu: The perception that the city does not have enough hotel rooms for foreign and local visitors is wrong, said Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Environment Datuk Karim Bujang here Friday.

There are a lot more hotels at areas around the city that offer more rooms and amenities and it is up to industry players to woo the tourists to patronise their outlets, he said.

Speaking while launching the free WiFi services at Beverly Hotel here, Karim said it is not true that the city is lacking rooms.

"We have enough during the regular season. We only don't have enough during the peak period, which is not too often," he said.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu has enough hotel rooms for tourists

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sabah's longest longhouse

NABAWAN: The longest longhouse in Sabah is currently being constructed.

Measuring 658 feet long and 30 feet wide, the RM300,000 “rumah panjang” as it is locally known, is being built in Kampung Salarom Taka, 80 km from Nabawan town and completion is scheduled for early next year.

And, when completed, it will provide a “roof over the head” for some 360 villagers from over 30 households.

The contractor has been carrying out construction work with assistance from enthusiastic villagers over the last six months.

The longhouse is located not far from Batu Punggul which is a popular tourist spot.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sabah's longest longhouse

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tugau the legendary Melanau of Sarawak

SIBU: Legend has it that when he coughed in his kingdom in the interior of Sungai Retus, it could be heard and felt 60km away in the coastal village of Igan.

Such was the might of Tugau, the demigod king of the Melanaus, according to Sahari Ubu, the penghulu or village headman of the 1,200 strong Melanau community in Kampung Nangka, the only Melanau settlement in Sibu.

This affable senior citizen is on a personal crusade to revive Tugau’s legend.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Tugau the legendary Melanau of Sarawak

Americans to do their part for Heart of Borneo project

MIRI: US Ambassador to Malaysia Christopher LaFleur will make recommendations to his Government on the right assistance for the “Heart of Borneo” project, a joint initiative of the Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei governments to conserve about 220,000 square km of biodiversity-rich equatorial rainforest in Borneo island.

LaFleur said the US Government regarded the project as a “very important effort” not only for the three neighbouring countries but also for the world as a whole.

“Borneo island is still very rich in biodiversity and once the (Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei) governments officially launch the project, we will do our part for the project,” he said on his arrival here as part of a five-day fact-finding mission to Sarawak recently.

Continue reading at: Americans to do their part for Heart of Borneo project

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sabah new Terminal 2 airport ready on Jan 1

Kota Kinabalu: The new Terminal Two in Tanjung Aru will be commissioned by Jan. 1 next year, as promised by the contractor Global Upline Sdn Bhd at the start of the re-development project in May this year.

Global Upline Adviser Tan Sri Ting Pek Khing said they planned to complete the new building by Dec. 31 for it to be ready for operation by Jan. 1, to coincide with the commencement of the Visit Malaysia Year.

Continue reading at: Sabah new Terminal 2 airport ready on Jan 1

AirAsia's flight delays leave passengers fuming

SEPANG: Flight delays of up to five hours left passengers fuming at the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) of the KL International Airport yesterday.

The delays allegedly occurred when 28 flights of budget carrier AirAsia were rescheduled.

Affected flights included those to Bandar Sri Begawan in Brunei and the Indonesian destinations of Solo, Surabaya, Jakarta and Denpasar.

Also hit were Siem Reap in Cambodia and airports in Bangkok and Phuket.

Among the local routes affected were flights to Sabah (Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tawau) and Sarawak (Kuching, Bintulu, Miri and Sibu).

Continue reading at: AirAsia's flight delays leave passengers fuming

Monday, December 11, 2006

Keningau - Cinnamon town beckons visitors

A local Kadazandusun girl.
The industrious Kadazandusun are creative handicraft makers.
A scene at the busy Keningau open market or tamu.

Copyright © 2006 Brunei Press Sdn Bhd. All right reserved.

By Catherine Goh

Located about 131 km from the capital city of Kota Kinabalu in the "Land Below The Wind" is the district of Keningau, home to the once colourful Keningau Festival.

Famous for its handwoven goods, the name Keningau derives from the word "Koningau," which means cinnamon as it was once the main producer of the crop in Sabah.

Nowadays there are two "tamu" or markets in Keningau, with the first tamu being held in Bingkor on Thursdays and the other tamu in Keningau town's centre on Sundays.

It is a great place to see traders displaying and selling their goods, from fresh produce to a variety of handicrafts.

The discerning travellers who are looking for a great find and bargains can look for their great range of handwoven baskets and trays, a product of the industrious Kadazandusun people.

This is the largest ethnic group in Sabah and is predominantly wet rice and hill rice cultivators, who celebrates the unique annual festival of "Pesta Kaamatan" or Harvest Festival at the end of the harvesting season in May.

Come December, many local and foreign tourists alike would join the people of Keningau as they revive the age-old tradition of the Keningau Fest.

An exciting line-up of activities including a cinnamon product exhibition, photography competition, handicraft exhibition and a night of cultural performances as well as the crowning of the local beauty queen will take place at the Keningau Community Hall and Keningau Cinnamon Hill.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

Visit e-borneo.com for more Keningau & related tours

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15-year plan to develop Sabah tourism

KENINGAU: The Sabah state government has drawn up a 15-year plan since 1995 to develop the tourism industry.

“It is a comprehensive tourism development plan (1995-2010) which will also involve the rural residents in tourism activities,” Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan said when launching the Pesta Koningau here yesterday.

Pairin who is also Rural Development Minister said the government was constantly promoting tourism products statewide and was confident that the efforts would result in Keningau having more visitors.

He said the Koningau Festival for instance, could be a boost to tourism-related sectors like hotels transportation, restaurants, handicraft and other services.

Continue reading at: 15-year plan to develop Sabah tourism

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Germans keen to attend Miri jazz fest

MIRI: Sarawak is already getting a headstart for Visit Malaysia Year 2007 with German tourists expressing interest to charter an aircraft to attend the International Jazz Festival here in May.

Last month, some 180 golfers of a prestigious club in South Korea had confirmed plans to charter an aircraft to fly directly here just for the festival from May 11-12.

The Sarawak Tourism Board is arranging a special package for the Germans from Frankfurt that will also include visits to the Mulu caves.

Continue reading at: Germans keen to attend Miri jazz fest

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Tickets for Rainforest World Music Fest, Miri Jazz Fest now available online

By Magdalene Rogers

KUCHING - Tickets for the Rainforest World Music Festival and Miri International Jazz Festival, two of Sarawak's most prestigious events, are now available online (from Dec 8).

According to Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) official Letitia Samuel here, Ticketcharge Sdn Bhd has been entrusted sell the tickets online for the two festivals.

This collaboration was established after Ticketcharge signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) on November 30 in Kuala Lumpur.

STB chief executive officer Mdm Gracie Geikie signed on behalf of the board while Ticketcharge was represented by its executive director Mr Hng Tien Yao. The MoU was signed at Ticketcharge office at Kuala Lumpur.

Under the MoU, STB had given the task to Ticketcharge to provide the online sales for tickets to next year's Rainforest World Music Festival and Miri International Jazz Festival.

"With the Ticketcharge service, guests especially those from outside Sarawak, will be able to purchase tickets online from anywhere around the world. For purchase via Ticketcharge, please log on to www.ticketcharge.com.my," she said.

Ticketcharge would also install ticketing machine at STB office in Kuching soon to facilitate sales of the tickets in the city.

Both the internationally-acclaimed festivals are organised annually by STB.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Royal Brunei Catering (RBC) Airport Restaurant's new look

Newly refurbished Coffee Shop
Sweet Glutinous Rice with Ice Cream
Thai Beef and Mango Salad
Lamb Shank Khouzi

Copyright © 2006 Brunei Press Sdn Bhd. All right reserved.


By Huraizah Ahmad

The Royal Brunei Catering (RBC) Airport Restaurant, which was established at the Brunei International Airport in Berakas over a decade ago, has recently embarked on a mission and unveiled a whole new image of the well-known food outlet.

The planning that contained a lot of serious strategies by the RBC Management team needed at least a year to accomplish before initial stages of the restaurant's interior refurbishment took place.

According to them, this renovation for RBC Restaurant since its last one in the 90's is expected to be fully completed by next month.

Other ideas that will be implemented include an unveiling of new uniforms for its waiters and waitresses alongside a variety of new items on the menu.

"We believe that it is time to create a whole new image for the restaurant, as it is very important for us to create a great ambience with the latest dcor features for our guests, including tourists that come into the country," said Danny Singh, the Food and Beverage Manager.

The new colour schemes use a mahogany finish for its wall features and lamented wooden flooring that provides an earthy yet modern feel to the restaurant. The restaurant's trademark "chef showcase" concept is still going to be maintained with several new added features such as a clear glass case that will minimise the noise and vapour while still allowing diners to view the chefs in action.

The RBC Restaurant's refurbishment covers two phases - its Coffee Shop and the Airport Restaurant.

A newly refurbished function room, which could fit approximately 60 people for table dining, are also available through bookings for private occasions.

The coffee shop meanwhile could fill up to 220 guests and features a whole new set of tables and comfortable cushioned teak chairs.

Among new items on the menu to be unveiled after the renovation's full completion, include the Lamb Shank Khouzi, Thai Beef and Mango Salad as well as Sweet Glutinous Rice Pudding with Ice cream for dessert.

"The restaurant, which is slowly but surely progressing, will hopefully provide more comfort and earn the trust of our faithful customers while impressing new ones," added Danny Singh.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

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Sarawak's Spooky burial rites to lure tourists

MUKAH: Sarawak’s largest coastal town and the Melanau heartland are preparing to lure visitors who want to be spooked for a change.

The Melanaus, who are seafarers with their civilisation dating back 1,000 years, at one time practiced pagan burial rituals where slaves were sacrificed to accompany their masters to the next world.

The petrifying ritual, though now part of history, will add a new dimension to the attractions offered by Mukah and its 130,000 dwellers.

Mukah administrative Division deputy resident Dr Anthony Valentine Laiseh hopes to lure visitors with “suspended coffins” and the totem poles, the remnants of the ancient burial custom.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak's Spooky burial rites to lure tourists

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sabah stands apart - Most unique place in the world

Kota Kinabalu: Bornean Biodiversity and Ecosystem Conservation technical co-operation programme (BBEC) Chief Advisor Ryuji Matsunaga said Sabah still has the potential to become "the most unique place in the world".

He said this was despite the loss of 95 per cent of its virgin jungles and decreasing areas of shallow seas that house diverse ecosystems such as mangrove forests, coral reefs, seaweed beds and tidal flats.

Matsunaga's confidence was based on easy sightings of wild animals and wild plants on roads to "any place in Sabah."

"You can find fireflies at any place, even in Kota Kinabalu. Many birds and butterflies fly to the sky even in town. This is real in Sabah," he told a gathering of 200 international and local participants whom he reckoned might have taken all these for granted.

"To me, Sabah has the most potential for a future in eco-tourism, given the beautiful seas, islands, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia and a very long continuous range of mangrove forests, rivers connecting to Orang Sungei villages, highways linking all cities," Mastunaga noted at BBEC's 5th and last international conference.

Continue reading at: Sabah stands apart - Most unique place in the world

MoU a boost for Malaysia air travel

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Asean partners Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines which will see an unlimited number of flights to cities like Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Davao City and Bandar Seri Begawan.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said Malaysia would be inking the agreement, which would further liberalise the aviation sector in the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines-East Asean Growth Area, in Cebu.

“This MoU is an important milestone for this region because it will realise the Asean aviation roadmap that was agreed upon sometime ago,” he told reporters after the Cabinet meeting here yesterday.

“Under the MoU, no limit will be put on the number of flights, type of aircraft as well as schedules of the airlines involved.

Continue reading at: MoU a boost for Malaysia air travel

Malaysia Airlines new fare scheme next year

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines will implement an enhanced version of its flexible pricing structure next year based on the Global Distribution System (GDS.

It is part of efforts to boost profitability and will be more dynamic to match market requirements.

The airline has allocated RM200 million for changes to be made including its computerisation system and the full implementation of the e-ticketing system.

Disclosing this here yesterday at a media briefing, managing director Idris Jala (pictured) said the new fare structure early next year was part of efforts to ensure the success of their Business Turnaround Plan.

“The days of a fixed pricing system are over. When this new system is in place, fares will change, both domestic and international, on a weekly and eventually daily basis,” he said.

Continue reading at: Malaysia Airlines new fare scheme next year

Bamboo music can be added tourism product for Sabah

Tuaran: Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Karim Bujang said the bamboo music carnival could be promoted as an added tourism product in Sabah, particularly during Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

He hoped the Sabah Bamboo Music Orchestra could apply to the Ministry to include the art in next year's tourism calendar.

Launching the Bamboo Music Carnival at Dewan Tun Hamdan in Tamparuli near here Wednesday, he said this was a positive development being initiated by Universiti Sabah Malaysia towards promoting the traditional music of the various ethnic groups in the State utilising the natural resources made from bamboo.

Continue reading at: Bamboo music can be added tourism product for Sabah

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Preservation of stone carvings in Santubong

Stone carvings in Santubong near here will be preserved as a historical site.

The Sarawak Museum Department has plans to preserve and conserve the carvings as one of the projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

Also planned was the Fort Alice Heritage Museum at Sri Aman in southern Sarawak, said state Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh.

He said that 15 buildings and two structures in the state had been gazetted as historical monuments under the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance, 1993.

Continue reading at: Preservation of stone carvings in Santubong

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Kota Belud - Wild, Wild East experience with Borneo twist

Kota Belud town
A buffalo
Bajau cowboys
Bajau couple in traditional attire
Sunday is the best day to visit the market

Copyright © 2006 Brunei Press Sdn Bhd. All right reserved.


By Catharine Goh

Kota Belud is a quaint rural town full of life and renowned for its people, the Bajau "cowboys" who are Sabah's only horsemen and famous for their rearing and handling of horses.

And if you are after a Wild, Wild East experience with a Borneo twist, Kota Belud, slightly over an hour's drive from Kota Kinabalu - Sabah's state capital, is definitely the place.

It is also home to one of Sabah's most famous and colourful weekly "tamu", which actually means "meeting place", and even today it is as much a market as a local gathering where traders from the surrounding areas come together to discuss the latest events.

On this day, the Bajau horsemen known as "Cowboys of the East" dress in their traditional best and ride their extravagantly decorated horses, complete with a jingling collar bell.

Visitors will find many of Sabah's handicrafts here, muddled up with betel nut stalls, exotic fruits, vegetables, dried and fresh fish, sarongs, pots and pans and even electrical items from Taiwan.

Sunday is the best day to visit the market, aptly dubbed Borneo's traditional open market.

The discerning visitors can also take a detour by dropping by at Kg Siasai, a Bajau village in Kota Belud, which is well known as a parang-making centre.

The parang, both a weapon and a working tool, has long been handmade by the Bajau of Kota Belud for generations.

These exquisitely designed parangs can be purchased here.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

Visit e-borneo.com for more Kota Belud tours

Come visit an Iban longhouse

ANYONE keen on visiting an Iban longhouse? The 69-year-old Rumah Benjamin Angki in Rantau Kemiding, about 5km from Kanowit, is certainly worth a visit.

For a start, it’s one of the longest and oldest traditional Iban longhouses out of the 3,577 registered in Sarawak.

Among the Ibans, the size of a longhouse or rumah panjai is measured by the number of its pintu (doors or individual family units) and this one has 60, with its whole length easily exceeding 300m.

Presently, the 60-door longhouse is rare because a typical longhouse normally has between 20 and 30 only. Another unusal feature is that longhouses are often named after the chief or the tuai rumah.

So, you will definitely be able to guess the chief of this longhouse. He’s none other than Benjamin Angki anak Kaboy, an Iban with many feathers in his cap.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Come visit an Iban longhouse

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sabah Tourism Minister slams sky high airfares

KOTA KINABALU: Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat has slammed the sky high Malaysia Airlines airfares between Sabah and the peninsula.

He said the fares were ridiculously high and were discouraging travels between the two destinations.

Calling for a downward review yesterday, the Deputy Chief Minister said the existing airfares were adversely affecting Sabah’s tourism industry.

“Everyone is affected,” he said in response to MAS Chief Executive Officer Idris Jala who on Friday said that MAS was currently relooking its existing airfares.

Continue reading at: Sabah Tourism Minister slams sky high airfares

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Study on MAS fares

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia Airlines is currently re-looking its existing fares. This massive programme which goes right across the organisation globally commenced more than three months ago and will be completed by next year.

It will provide MAS a macro and micro view of its fares and where it stands with its competitors.

“We want to build MAS as a global brand and it is important for us to match our pricing to our customer value proposition which is a strong one,” MAS Chief Executive Officer Idris Jala said in a statement emailed to the New Sabah Times yesterday.

Continue reading at: Study on MAS fares

Sabah Tourism players want to be heard

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s tourism players want to give their input before the state government proceeds with a plan to impose sales tax on the industry.

Sabah Tourist Association president Clement Lee said while most tourists were well versed with sales and service taxes, the industry was very competitive globally.

The local industry wanted to ensure against pricing itself out of the market, he said in response to Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman’s announcement on Thursday that Sabah was considering expanding its sales tax base, now limited to 4D lottery, slot machines and palm oil.

Continue reading at: Sabah Tourism players want to be heard

Friday, December 01, 2006

Air accessibility vital for Sabah tourism

KOTA KINABALU: Air accessibility is important for the growth of Sabah’s tourism industry as 94 per cent of tourists arrived by air.

Deputy Chief Minister-cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said therefore the rationalisation plan undertaken by MAS and AirAsia/FAX had affected the sector.

Other factors that could have a negative impact on the industry are natural disaster, threat of violence, infectious diseases, haze, among others.

Winding up the debate on his ministry yesterday, he said the upgrading works at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) that started middle of this year has also prevented the arrivals of scheduled and chartered flights because the airport has to be closed from 1am-6am.

The upgrading works are expected to be completed in 36 months while works at Terminal 2 were expected to be ready early 2007.

Continue reading at: Air accessibility vital for Sabah tourism

1,000 seats to Mulu sold out in 24 hours

Malaysian carriers AirAsia and Fly Asian Xpress' (FAX) code-sharing to Mulu proves to be a big hit when 1,000 seats were grabbed within 24 hours. The sale of this route was made available online at 12.01am on November 20 with an introductory one-way fare of RM29.99.

The initiative to begin this route was part of a joint effort by AirAsia and FAX to support the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 campaign. Both carriers will officially fly this code share route today, according to a press release.

AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes said, "We are delighted that our effort to jointly promote this route has paid off. We reiterate that the East Malaysia market is very important to us as it poses great potential, and with both of our hubs in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, we believe we can deliver more passengers into the states."

"In addition to the positive response for this route, we are also introducing another code sharing route with FAX to Lahad Datu via Kota Kinabalu, Sabah commencing December 1 with fares starting from RM49.99," the press release added.

Sharing the joy, FAX chief executive officer Raja Mohd Azmi Raja Razali said, "We are ecstatic that guests took advantage of this code sharing arrangement with AirAsia to Mulu on such a positive light. The tremendous response from guests clearly demonstrates there is strong demand for this route."

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin