Monday, June 30, 2008

Kuching Waterfront, Sarawak


From Life in Borneo blog:

Located along the streets of Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and the Main Bazaar, the Kuching Waterfront is situated along the river banks of Sarawak River.

Kuching being the state capital of Sarawak, it is also a focal point or gateway for many travelers visiting the Land of the Hornbills. Upon reaching the waterfront, one could already expect the breath-taking scene and anticipating a relaxed and interesting stroll.

The whole stretch of the waterfront are dotted with multifarious choices of stalls to visit. Starting from Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, various food stalls could be found selling local dishes and pastries. Keep walking and you could find other numerous kiosks of food and beverages variegated in their menu as well.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Kuching Waterfront, Sarawak

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Niah Caves - The smell, the experience, the journey

Walking on the pathway to view some of the caves

Pathway inside the cave

1,200-year-old paintings with wooden boat coffins

Inside the cave

From the cave's floor to the ceiling is 75 metres

The limestone caves

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Mohammad Abdullah and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd


By Mohammad Abdullah

Never in my wildest dreams that I would be able to visit a cave full of prehistoric value, where cave paintings are still on the walls after a thousand years.

This centre of commerce in a settlement that existed 40,000 years ago is right under our nose, and explorers and lovers of history will be thrilled to know that the caves are easily accessible.

Cavemen and wall paintings with prehistoric tools were thought to be found only in the west.

However, just approximately 200km from Brunei Darussalam the earliest modern civilisation of man can be found.

Hidden in the forests of Miri are the Niah Caves and the surrounding park, spread over 3,140 hectares of peat swamp, dipterocarp forests and massive limestone outcrops within which the caves are concealed.

When travelling to Kuching, the white limestone outcrop can be seen from afar. The limestone creates a dramatic change in the green forest landscape.

Here lies Niah caves: one Great Cave and some smaller ones. The cave is the earliest evidence of human settlement in Borneo.

In addition to this Palaeolithic occupation in the late Pleistocene period, excavators found evidence of settlement in the early Holocene period by Mesolithic foragers, and then for burials by pottery-using people 4,000 years ago.

The Great Cave of Niah is enormous. The floor area has been calculated at almost 10 hectares and in places the cave's roof rises 75 metres above the rubble-strewn floor.

This is the oldest recorded human settlement in East Malaysia. The Painted Cave has rock paintings dated far as 1,200 years old. Items found at Niah Cave include Pleistocene chopping tools and flakes, Neolithic axes, adzes, pottery, shell jewellery, boats, mats, then iron tools and ceramics and glass beads dating to the Iron Age.

A wall painting depicts the boat journey of the dead into the afterlife. Most importantly the painted wall was explained by the discovery of a number of death-ships on the cave floor - a boat-shaped coffins containing the remains of the deceased.

The death-ship burials have been dated as ranging between one AD to 780 AD.

The cave smells of ammonia due to the immense bat guano and swiftlet droppings. Guides would not recommend the use of mask because of the humidity and the ventilation in the area. For those who still insist on wearing masks, do so, however be prepared to be carried by some very loyal friends through the cave catacombs, because those who wear masks have a high possibility of fainting.

So grit your teeth and breathe through your mouth. It's more pleasant and the smell of the ammonia will not overwhelm you.

The inner caves are pitch black. Earlier on when visiting the museum at the beginning of the trail, the sales person will offer flash lights to visitors. Don't pass up the offer to buy one, because that's the only opportunity you get to buy a torch light. Visitors are known to stray, because of the confines and the darkness of the caves.

"Its actually a strain on the mentality, the caves are dark and the smell of ammonia can make one very dizzy. Dizzy spells are not uncommon and those who know they have medical problems or who cannot make it up the steep stairs and those who are claustrophobic must stay back, or else they would become a burden to the rest of the group," said the tour guide.

Walking up to the caves took us nearly an hour from the administrative hut. Even though the walk is officially only three kms, however there are plenty of steep stairs to climb.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

The meaning behind 'Kadazan' & 'Dusun'

Girls looking proud with their traditions

Tribal warrior

Traditional 'Kadazan' and 'Dusun' clothes

Dressed up in their finery

The longhouses

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Rahmat bin Haji Abdul Rahman and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Rahmat bin Haji Abdul Rahman

The recent Tadau Kaamatan 2008 celebration held at Hongkod Koisaan in Penampang district and the Open House Malaysia held at Padang Merdeka in Kota Kinabalu City showed the celebration was very merry and many things told audiences and tourists about the Kadazandusun Culture.

However, some international and neighbouring communities still do not know the origins and meaning of the terms "Kadazan" and "Dusun".

There are many explanations and theories about the origins and meaning of the word 'Kadazan'. Here are the meanings and origins put forward to explain the word 'Kadazan'.

Some of the more popular explanation and meanings attributed to it where some people believed that the word came from "Kakadazan" which means 'town'. Others believed that it originated from the word 'kedai' which mean 'shop'; thus the word 'kedaian' or 'Gadaian' which supposed to mean 'people of the town'. Others believed that 'kadazan' come from 'Kedayan'. The name of an ethnic group, residing mainly in Brunei in the Temburong district, at Kampong Salambigar, Kampong Tanah Jambu, Kampong Jerudong, Kampong Katimahar, Kampong Pangkalan Batu, Kampong Junjongan, Kampong Lumapas in the Brunei and Muara District, Kampong Sinaut in the Tutong district, Papar, between the districts of Sipitang and Beaufort at Kampong Inuman and Bukit Nenas, Labuan Federal Territory and Merapok, Punang in Lawas, and at Kampong Batu Niah, Sibuti, Bekenu in Miri Sarawak. They are not usually identified as part of the 'Dusunic' people. Some believed that it was coined by certain politicians, and finally others believed that it means 'the people'.

The first explanation that the term 'Kadazan' came from 'kakadazan'. 'Kakadazan' in the Tanga'a dialect means 'town'. Did Penampang and Papar districts Kadazan really name themselves 'town'? If so, why? Presumably, part of these factors is the belief that the word 'Kadazan' was coined in the late 1950s and 1960s. To judge the merits of this explanation, historians and authors have to consider the historical background of urban development in the Penampang District. In the fifties, there were only two towns, namely Donggongon and Kasigui. Donggongon town had about 20 shops arranged in two rows on each side of the road, and Kasigui had about 10 shops build on one side of the road. Except for one shop, all the other shops in both Donggongon and Kasigui were owned by the Chinese. The Penampang Kadazan were scattered in numerous villages in the Penampang District and still are. How come these people, who never stayed in the towns, suddenly decided to call themselves after 'town'? Those who proposed these factors or views have not come up with answers.

The second explanation for the origin of the word 'Kadazan' was that it derived from the word 'Kedaian' from the Malay word 'Kedai' which means 'shop'. To consider the merits of this view, one will have to look at the same points raised above regarding the word 'kakadazans' being the source of the word 'Kadazan'. These peoples have no shops and did not live in them, yet they were supposed to have named themselves 'shops'. Why? Those who proposed this view have not come up with reasons as well.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Central region of Sarawak for eco-tourism


SIBU: The central region of Sarawak has the potential to effectively position the state as a preferred eco-tourism destination.

An executive of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) Sibu Office, Rudy Anoi believed this was possible because the central region, which comprises Sibu, Sarikei, Mukah and Kapit, had a lot to offer in term of eco-tourism products.

However, to realise such potential, he suggested that prospective places of interest in the central region had to be identified as a starting point.

When interviewed at his office yesterday, Anoi said: “The Ministry of Tourism Malaysia is now emphasising on the development of eco-tourism products. With 18 national parks and wildlife sanctuary all over the state, elevated further by its wide geographical area, Sarawak has plenty to offer, especially eco-tourism products.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Central region of Sarawak for eco-tourism

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dolphin watching at Damai River, Kuching

Getting ready for the dolphin watch

It's not a power boat but a dolphin

Beautiful view of Mt Santubong from Damai River

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Achong Tanjong and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Achong Tanjong

One doesn't have to travel afar to see wild dolphins. Just fly to Kuching and the best time to watch the Irrawaddy Dolphin is between the months of April and July, especially in Santubong, Salak and Buntal river estuaries. It takes about 40 minutes by car to reach Damai.

A group of journalists from Brunei arrived at the Boat Club jetty at 9.30am in Damai, where the travel agent (CPH Travel) boat was waiting for them.

On the way down to the boat, they stopped to observe the mudskippers fighting with each other at the shallow water of the riverbank and then came a group of blue-fiddler crabs, which are rarely seen.

The media group cruised slowly along the river in a motorised boat while waiting for dolphins to show up in the water. They were really impressed with the beautiful view of the blue waters and mountain of Mt Santubong.

While cruising further down the river that is about three kilometres from the jetty, had they been lucky, they might have seen other wildlife species in the region such as crocodiles.

Mr Koronikal, the tour guide said all the mouths of major rivers in Sarawak have crocodiles.

"Are there many crocodiles in Brunei?" he asked. The media people answered, "No but we have lot of 'Buaya Darat' (land crocodile)," and they all laughed.

The Irrawaddy or Snub-fin dolphins originally came from Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar. They are usually found at the river mouths of Australia, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia.

For the journaliststs to capture a good picture of the dolphins was not easy because they just came up and within seconds disappeared into the water. But one of them managed to capture a few shots.

They continued to cruise close to the river mouth, where many fishermen were carrying out their daily activities.

Here, they saw a group of dolphins swimming very close to the fishermen. The dolphins could get easy food (fish) thrown by the kind-hearted fishermen into the water.

The dolphins may look gentle but they are wild animals because they are not trained and cannot be touched, said Mr Koronikal.

After spending about three hours cruising, the journalists returned to the jetty, as it was almost time for lunch at the Sarawak Cultural Village.

On the way they also cruised through the mangrove to look for Proboscis monkeys and crocodiles but they never showed up. Maybe a good time to meet them is in the evening.

They also passed by an isolated village called Kg Salak. The village has no water supply and the residents have to depend on rainwater for washing and drinking. There is no electricity but they have power generators.

Most of the residents are fishermen. The government is trying to help the isolated community by building a mosque and school as well as providing water tanks.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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Baram Regatta - From headhunting to regatta


MIRI: The gruesome practice of headhunting among warring tribes in Sarawak will be showcased as part of the state’s 45th anniversary celebrations to mark the formation of Malaysia.

This interesting episode, minus the blood and gore, would also tell of the historic peace pact reached by the natives from the state’s interior more than a hundred years ago.

It will be held at Marudi town, about 200km inland from here, on Aug 16 during the International Baram Regatta.

The ancient practice of headhunting among warring native tribes was officially “severed” in 1899 when the factions from the Orang Ulu groups decided to stop the practice and instead unite in a new era of peace and harmony.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Baram Regatta - From headhunting to regatta

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Two new national parks being considered in Kuching


KUCHING: Two new areas in Kuching division are being considered to be gazetted as national parks, Wilfred Stephen Landong, general manager of Protected Area Biodiversity Conservation of the Sarawak Forestry disclosed.

The two areas that are still being looked at are the Bungo Range in Bau and the Padawan Caves in Padawan area. Bungo Range is one of the latest now in the process of being gazzetted.

“We are now going to conduct basement study on the Padawan cave. Basically, these are the two areas in Kuching that we are looking at,” he said.

He told reporters this after briefing the 2nd Malaysia Park Newsletter Editorial Committee Meeting at Samajaya Nature Reserve here yesterday.

“Interesting features of the Padawan Caves are the cast system especially the Padawan cave. Of course, like the Bungo Range, there are a lot of bio-diversity there, not only just the caves but also other natural resources that need to be conserved,” he added.

Continue reading at: Two new national parks being considered in Kuching

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Air Supply Sabah concert pics


The group, Daughtry will rock Kuala Lumpur next month...

But in sleepy Sabah, most music fans are grateful to catch the evergreen Air Supply, which performed at Magellan Sutera Harbour in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah two nights ago (23 June 2008) as part of their 2008 "From the Heart" world tour.

International artists performing in Sabah is a very rare occassion. The last 'concert' was in the early 1990s (if my memory serves me correctly) by Michael Learns to Rock, the biggest internationally successful soft-pop musical band to come out of Denmark, at the Likas stadium during the height of their popularity. But that was not a very successful concert with many complaints from both fans and artists alike.

For the Air Supply concert, the jam-pack hall of about 5,000 to 6,000 people (even though the press reported only about 2,000 in the audience, I'd counted the number of seats earlier on) at the Magellan Grand Ballroom were well-entertained by the Aussie duo who despite their age (Air Supply was formed 33 years ago), still managed to perform and sing magnificently. The sound system and lighting were excellent to say the very least.

Hopefully, with development and tourism growing strongly each year, Sabah may well become a popular stop-over for many contemporary artists not too long from now.

So, Daughtry, Linkin Park or Coldplay to rock Sabah soon? Hmmm..., Air Supply will do just fine for now.

Here're some pics for your viewing pleassure.





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Brunei targeting 200,000 tourists as arrivals peak


By Azlan Othman

Brunei is targeting over 200,000 tourists by the end of this year. The future for tourism looks bright judging by the increase on an average of 42 per cent in tourist arrivals in the first two months of this year compared to the same period last year, the Director of Brunei Tourism Board, Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed told the Bulletin yesterday.

The figure shows those that travel by air and does not include those travelling by land. The figure for March and April this year should be encouraging, judging by the influx of Koreans by chartered flights. Last year, some 178,540 tourists arrived by air to the Sultanate.

Elaborating on the average, the Director of Marketing and Promotion of Brunei Tourism Board, Jean Christopher Robles Espinosa, said, "In January and February, 58.6 per cent of tourists came from Australia and New Zealand and another 46.6 per cent were from China and Hong Kong. We are doing well, but there is still room for improvement."

Brunei also received a large number of tourists from Korea, considered as a high performance market, as some 1,000 Koreans visited the country as part of their incentive trip.

Asked on upcoming events, Sheikh Jamaluddin said the Asian Tour will make a come back for the fourth year and will take place in August this year. A $3 million Cultural Village will also be established at a fire-ravaged site in Kg Lurong Sikuna in Kampong Ayer. A doa selamat ceremony will take place on July 13, 2008.

"Besides ecotourism, golf is a winner for us and we see more Koreans come to Brunei to play golf. We are pushing hard on eco and sports tourism," he added.

Commenting on the Cultural Village scheduled to be completed at the end of this year, Sheikh Jamaluddin said, "Everyday tourists go to the Water Village and visit people's houses. What we want to do is to bring them to the Cultural Village to reminisce the old Water Village, history of the traditional crafts, showcase video presentations and let them buy souvenirs.

"They will have a better understanding of the culture as the village is unique to Brunei, house to 20,000 residents. It is a landmark building that would give tourists a better insight on Kg Ayer," he said.

"We also just came back from Korea and our staff will head for New Zealand to tap the transit market. We will also work with RBA and other airlines to capture the Singapore and Malaysian markets," he added.

Asked on the effect of spiralling oil prices on the country's tourism drive, Sheikh Jamaluddin said travellers are now opting for short haul destinations. Asian travellers will concentrate at nearby destinations in the Asian region.

"It has an impact on the growth of tourism globally as the cost of travelling is spiralling. The cost of travelling is being passed on to the passengers, which eventually will affect the demand for travelling.

"On this note, we are going all out in promoting the domestic "Kenali Negara Kitani" tourism campaign," said the Director of Brunei Tourism Board.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Experiencing nature at Selirong Forest Recreation Park, Brunei

Selirong Forest Recreation Park is preserved solely
for outdoor recreation, research, and nature education

Arriving at Selirong Island by boat

Exploring the island on foot

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Helwa and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd


By Helwa

The Bandar Seri Begawan Youth Centre Club of the Youth and Sports Department, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports yesterday organised an educational trip to the Selirong Island Park as part of the second school holiday activities.

It was participated by 25 members of the club. They were accompanied by eight staff from the Youth Centre and two officials from the Forestry Department.

Selirong Island, which is 30 minutes from Bandar Seri Begawan by boat, is a place for one to experience Brunei's nature.

The Selirong Forest Recreation Park is preserved solely for outdoor recreation, research, and nature education. The mangrove wonderland is a breeding ground for much of the marine lives that populate Brunei Bay.

The trip was held in collaboration with the Museums Department, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports that provided water transportation for the group.

The activity kicked off at about 8am yesterday.

The participants were given a briefing by the Forestry Department officials and explored the island on foot.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Rich colours of Sarawak


SARAWAK put on a grand display of its rich cultural traditions at the Gawai Dayak Open House at the Indoor Stadium here recently.

Head of State Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng was joined on stage by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud to launch the event by winnowing rice in traditional flat baskets.

Also present were Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal and Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.

A welcoming dance to kick off the celebration was followed by a solo Orang Ulu ngajat” (warrior’s dance) and a “Selamat Gawai” song.

There were special performances by cultural groups from the Bisaya and Penan communities, who put on a show of their traditional dances.

A Lun Bawang bamboo band from Long Semadoh in Lawas then serenaded the crowd with a medley of familiar tunes including “Geylang Si Paku Geylang” and “Auld Lang Syne”.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Rich colours of Sarawak

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Gawai-Kaamatan - Enhancing Dayak-Kadazan cultural ties


MIRI: ‘Together We Progress’. That is the message members of the Dayak and Kadazan communities will project at a gathering of the two communities here on June 28.

The gathering, the second to be organised after a similar one in Penampang, Sabah last year is a joint effort of the Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and the Kadazan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

Organising chairman Telajan Luyoh, when contacted yesterday, said the inaugural Dayak Harvest Festival (Gawai)-Tadau Kaamatan gathering had helped enhance ties between the two communities who shared many similarities, including culturally.

“We hope this year’s gathering here (Miri) will help heighten the relationship.

“It provides an opportunity for us to mingle and enhance unity apart from establishing better business networking with our KCCI counterparts,” he added.

Telajan said the two chambers of commerce were looking at the possi-bility of making the event an annual harvest festival affair and should it materialise, it would be hosted on a rotation basis by the two sides.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Gawai-Kaamatan - Enhancing Dayak-Kadazan cultural ties

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dayaks rejoice in Gawai fest

Elders from the Orang Ulu community with traditional instruments at the festival

Traditional dance performances by Dayak beauties at the festival

Dayak beauties in their traditional colourful attire

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Achong Tanjong and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Achong Tanjong in Kuching, Sarawak

The national-level Malaysia Gawai Dayak Open House 2008 celebration held in Kuching recently was the ideal experience to explore and learn the unique cultural heritage of the many ethnic groups in Sarawak.

It is the iconic celebration of the Dayak communities in the state to showcase their respective cultural performances on stage with their traditional colourful costumes and dance.

The mesia was invited by Tourism Malaysia under the Mega Familiarisation Programme to witness the colourful celebration of the Dayak community.

Our group from Brunei comprised local travel agents led by Tourism Malaysia (Brunei) officer Mrs Efarina Abang Haji Osman. The travel agents were from Mas Sugara Travel Services Sdn Bhd, Century Travel Services Sdn Bhd, Pan Bright Travel Services Sdn Bhd and Freme Travel Services.

Other Mega Fam groups were from Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The festival carried the theme "Unity Through Culture and Tradition" (Segulai Sejalai) and was attended by the Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and wife, Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah.

The event was declared open by Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin on behalf of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Shah by taking the lead in a mock winnowing of rice on stage.

The festival is celebrated annually and is one of the highlights in the Sarawak tourism calendar of events. The festival was first held in 1987.

The Gawai Open house is usually held in June just after the actual Gawai Dayak celebration on June 1.

The festival brought together the culture of the ethnic groups of the Dayak communities in the state. Altogether, there are 30 different ethnic groups in Sarawak.

Visitors who attended the event had the opportunity to take a closer look at mini traditional longhouses to portray the different Gawai celebrations of each Dayak ethnic group.

There was also a mini exhibition on the wide range of handicraft items including Iban traditional textiles Pua Kumbu, decoration and accessories of the ethnic groups.

Gawai Dayak is the most popular festival among the Dayaks in the state. It is the festival to mark the end of the padi harvesting season and the beginning of a new one. The native ethnic groups of Sarawak comprise the Iban, Bidayuh, and the Orang Ulu. The Orang Ulu consists of about 24 sub-groups - Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Lun Bawang, Bisaya, Penan, Tabun, Tagal, Saan and Punan Busang.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

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7-up on Brunei tourism


By Amie PDH Ishak

Tourism in Brunei is being targeted to grow by seven per cent over the next five years.

Dato Paduka Awg Hj Hamdillah bin Hj Abd Wahab, Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, revealed the optimism in an interview during the launching of mega posters at Brunei International Airport yesterday.

"Tourism in Brunei is growing and we have a target of reaching seven per cent of growth in the next five years but hopefully we will be able to increase that number to a double digit," he said.

The Deputy Minister of MIPR also cited that "for example, the number of Korean tourists coming into Brunei over the first five months of this year is equivalent to the number of Korean tourists coming in for the whole year of 2007. Therefore, Brunei Darussalam has the potential of doubling the number of Korean tourists coming into Brunei".

On the first BIA Tourist Information Centre built to enlighten tourists on the many attractions of Brunei, which will open on July 7 at the transit hall of the Brunei International Airport, Dato Paduka Awg Hj Hamdillah applauded the project by the Department of Civil Aviation and the Tourism Development Department.

He said: "The upcoming opening of the new Tourist Information Centre on July 7 will further compliment what we already have right now. This centre is also another good initiative that will give information to tourists and travellers who are transiting in Brunei about the interesting places that can be found here."

He added, "The mega posters being launched (yesterday) are a wonderful idea and a good initiative suggested by the Department of Civil Aviation and the Tourism Development Department in creating a good impression of Brunei Darussalam to visitors and tourists."

The Department of Civil Aviation in collaboration with the Tourism Development Department yesterday launched eight mega posters at the concourse of Gates 6, 7 and 8 of the Brunei International Airport, where the Deputy Minister of MIPR was the guest of honour.

In his welcoming remarks Pg Hj Abd Rahman bin PSI Pg Hj Ismail, Director of Civil Aviation said, "The mega posters displayed at the passenger terminal building are intended to promote interesting places in Brunei Darussalam, with the hope that tourists will visit these places.

"Altogether, eight mega posters in dimensions of 6.8 metres x 2.5 metres are being displayed. Three of the pictures are the top-three winners of the photography competition held earlier this year jointly-organised by the Department of Civil Aviation in cooperation with the Tourism Development Department and Royal Brunei Airlines," he added.

"Besides the collaboration with the Tourism Develop-ment Department on displaying these mega posters, the Department of Civil Aviation with the cooperation of Brunei Shell Petroleum have also displayed along aerobridges and corridors in the passenger terminal building 42 interesting posters of the different fish, animals, birds, insects, flowers and plants that can be found in Brunei Darussalam," he added.

Pg Hj Abd Rahman also revealed the Department of Civil Aviation's plans to provide variety and enhanced services and facilities at the airport, for the convenience of the tourists, travellers as well as the general public.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Royal Brunei Airlines revises fuel surcharges


By Azaraimy HH

Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) informed the public that it will be revising its fuel surcharges for all tickets issued in Brunei Darussalam from July 1, 2008 onwards.

According to a press release from RBA, price revision was in line with standard industry practices.

The surcharges that will apply to tickets issued in Brunei for travel to and from Bandar Seri Begawan are:

* Kota Kinabalu and Kuching - B$35 one-way

* Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Jakarta, Surabaya and Ho Chi Minh City - B$70 one-way

* Hong Kong - B$85 one-way

* Perth and Brisbane - B$120 one-way

* Dubai and Jeddah - B$140 one-way

* Dubai to London - $140 one-way

* London - $195 one-way

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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Help make Sandakan tourist destination


SANDAKAN: People here have been urged to work closely with the local municipal council to help turn Sandakan, which has the beauty and nature, to become a major tourism destination in the state.

Assistant Local Government and Housing Minister Edward Yong Oi Fah made the call at the launching of the Sandakan Founding Day here yesterday.

He said since Sandakan was founded in 1879, it had developed tremendously within a period of 129 years.

“As Sandakan residents, we are proud today for having such an occasion to commemorate William B Pryer, the founder of Sandakan and to remember the history of Sandakan,” he said.

Municipal Council president Yeo Boon Hai in his welcoming speech said the objective of organising the Sandakan Founding Day was to let the young generation knew about the history of Sandakan and its potential of becoming a tourist destination.

Continue reading at: Help make Sandakan tourist destination

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Brunei Tourism steps up "Kenali Negara Kitani" campaign


By Yusrin Junaidi

Brunei Tourism has stepped up its effort to promote its "Kenali Negara Kitani" (KNK) campaign with a road show at the Ministry of Industry & Primary Resources building.

The KNK campaign focuses on getting Bruneians and local residents to take time to explore and discover the wonders of the Sultanate, especially during the weekends and holidays. This noble campaign also encourages residents to sample regional delicacies and buy local products such as handicrafts.

Some 150 senior officials and staff members from the Ministry of Home Affairs attended yesterday's road show, which also featured presentations on successful joint venture activities by KNK partners, as well as the Mukim and Kampong Consultative Council (MPMK).

Aside from promoting the tourism industry as a key driver for economic diversification, the road show also educated members of the public that a career in the tourism industry has good prospects.

During the road show, opening remarks were delivered by the Director of Tourism Development Department, Sheikh Jamaluddin bin Sheikh Mohammad, while Pg Azmanishah bin Pg Hj Abd Rahman conducted a presentation.

Representatives from Mona Florafauna Tours, Shetaron Utama Hotel, Rizqun International Hotel and Centrepoint Hotel also promoted their services at the road show.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shopping in Borneo - Cooling 1 Borneo


KOTA KINABALU: 1Borneo, the first and largest lifestyle hypermall in East Malaysia has more than 1.5 million sq ft of retail space comprising of more than 300 tenants.

Needless to say, both the local public and tourists are spoilt for choice.

International and regional retail brands making a debut appearance are Tune Store, Cortina Watch, Habib Jewels, French Connection, Braun Buffel, Samsonite, Nichii Fashion, Arthur by Yen, M.A.C., Dome Café, New York New York Café, Manhattan Fish Market, Michi Japanese Restaurant, Sushi King and an array of irresistible indulgences.

To live up to its status, 1Borneo has attractions for the whole family which include an Oceanarium & Discovery Centre, Handicraft and Cultural Centre, amusement Centre, 36-lane Bowling Centre, 8-screen multiplex cinema, Gourmet Lane and many more. A new lifestyle unfolds at 1Borneo.

Developed by Sagajuta (Sabah) Sdn Bhd, it is aware of the need to preserve Sabah’s rich environmental heritage.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Shopping in Borneo - Cooling 1 Borneo

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Fox Creek wine dinner at Shangrila’S Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa's Peppino


SHANGRILA’S Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa Kota Kinabalu will be presenting the Fox Creek Wine Dinner at Peppino restaurant today, priced at RM280 plus per person. The event is co-sponsored by Tong Hing’s Wine Shop and Fox Creek Wines Pty Ltd.

During the wine dinner, general manager of Fox Creek Wines, Paul Rogers, will show guests how wines can be paired with food to suit the taste buds of Malaysia’s most discerning wine aficionados.

Fox Creek Wines is a wine company located south of Adelaide, South Australia, where the McLaren Vale wine region lies in a fertile valley between the hills of the Fleurieu Peninsula. It produces wines that have been recognised with both trophies and gold medals from national and regional wine shows.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Fox Creek wine dinner at Shangrila’S Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa's Peppino

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Catch the Sabah Jazz Festival at 1Borneo on Saturday


KOTA KINABALU: The 2nd KK Jazz Festival will be held at the newly-opened 1Borneo Hypermall on Saturday.

From 6pm to midnight that evening, audiences can look forward to a thrilling night with fantastic performances by a range of talented musicians, such as SIA Jazz Syndicate, Gravity, Ian Baxter and Friends, Jazzmatazz, Greg Lyons, the ASEANA Percussion Unit, Xion Gi, and Paul Ponnudurai.

The SIA Jazz Syndicate is made up of students from Sabah Institute of Art, who was the 2nd runner up in the Jimmy Boyle’s Young Jazz Band competition held in Penang back in 2007.

Ian Baxter and Friends are a veteran 5-piece band who delivers melodic sounds. A new generation of young musicians, Gravity, is an 8-piece band from Kota Kinabalu.

Jazzmatazz is the new band formed by Asif, the former Son-2-nos band leader who played at last year’s festival.

Continue reading at: Catch the Sabah Jazz Festival at 1Borneo on Saturday

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Craft bazaar boost for Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival


KUCHING: The internationally-renowned Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) seems to get bigger and better with each passing year.

Now in its 11th year, the festival is not only a musical extravaganza, but also boasts seminars, food showcases and parties that delight visitors.

And this year, the festival will also highlight the handiwork of traditional artisans from around the world.

Running concurrently the inaugural Rainforest World Craft Bazaar will be held at the Sarawak Cultural Village from July 9 to 15.

International participants that have confirmed their participation in the bazaar hail from Japan, Korea, USA, India, Kyrgyzstan, Denmark and Indonesia.

Continue reading at: Craft bazaar boost for Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival

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Smashing International Baram Regatta on the cards


MIRI: This year’s International Baram Regatta will be an explosion of culture, sape extravaganza from Borneo, paddling might and roaring speed boat races in the Baram River in Marudi.

A big crowd of about 500 students will perform to a medley of beautiful Sape music at the grand opening ceremony to be performed by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at Marudi Town Square on Aug 15.

There will also be three nights of cultural performance.

The Borneo Sape International side event would be a massive draw as experts of the indigenous stringed musical instrument can mesmerise audience with their melody accompanied by graceful dancers.

It would be an ‘eye-opening’ event as one musician from London and several from China will be having a go in the Sape music competition, giving the indigenous contestants from Sarawak, Indonesia, Brunei and Sabah a run for their money.

Dubbed ‘mother of Sarawak regattas’, Baram Regatta has a 109-year history as the landmark peacemaking ceremony initiated by the then Baram Resident Charles Hose in Marudi to bring the warring tribes and headhunters to sit down together and engage in war of brawn in paddling races instead of blood-letting.

Continue reading at: Smashing International Baram Regatta on the cards

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

2mil MAS seats in third wave of low fares promo


Kota Kinabalu: Travellers who wish to enjoy zero or low fares to Asean and some regional countries can now secure them in the third wave of Malaysia Airlines' Everyday Low Fare promotions.

Its Corporate Communications Supervisor here, Md Al'Freedo Md Yahya, said a total of two million seats would be on offer for such travel deals available exclusively at www.malaysiaairlines.com from June 9 to 22.

"We are pleased to announce the third wave of the promotion to several destinations from Malaysia to Asean/Regional and Australia and from Asean/Regional and Australia to Malaysia.

"In other words, the promotion is also offered not only to Malaysians but also people residing outside the country, for which they can surf our website. "Actually the attractive deals cover 21 domestic and 22 Asean countries that include five routes between Malaysia and China, two routes between Malaysia and South Asia countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh and another two routes between Malaysia and Australia," he said.

Al'Freedo said this to reporters after witnessing the handing over of boarding passes for the first wave of the promotion that covered domestic destinations in the country to two passengers departing for Kuala Lumpur at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), Monday.

Continue reading at: 2mil MAS seats in third wave of low fares promo

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Dayaks display cultural heritage at open house


KUCHING: The 5,000-capacity Stadium Perpaduan at Petra Jaya here packed in the crowds last Saturday when it became the venue for the national-level Gawai Dayak Open House celebrations.

It was a night of grandeur as the Dayaks showcase their cultural heritage through performances by the many ethnic groups that included the semi-nomadic Penan group.

More than 10 Penan girls dressed in traditional attire came all the way from Suai, Bintulu to join the others in performing before the audience which included guests-of-honour Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and wife Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah.

Participating in the song and dance were Dayak recording artistes in the likes of Jennarino Jeraki, Fiona John, Felicia Gek, Urai and Linda who performed alongside established artistes such as Zainal Abidin, Rem and Deja Moss.

Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin on behalf of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Shah declared open the celebration by taking the lead in a mock winnowing of rice before Gawai.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Dayaks display cultural heritage at open house

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Sabah Dragon Boat Race 2008 - Fishermen wins


KOTA KINABALU: The Pertubuhan Peladang Tuaran team, comprising a bunch of fishermen from Kg. Mengkabong, clinched the main event of the 23rd Sabah Dragon Boat Race 2008 by taking the Sabah Head of State Trophy at Likas Bay here yesterday.

Racing under an intermittent drizzle, the team powered by 18 rowers won the race by a neck in 3min 52sec ahead of Terayung from Tuaran which came in second place clocking a second more.

Last year’s winner Pasukan Kebangsaan Negara Brunei Darusallam took the third place in 3min 54sec.

The winners respectively took home RM4,000, RM2,500 and RM1,000 plus medals.

PPT team manager Abdullah Hj Awang when met after the prize presentation ceremony said they had prepared for the race for two weeks by focusing on improving their strength and stamina through jogging and weightlifting.

“All of us earn a living as fishermen, so we have no problem with the weather, and furthermore we are very familiar with the sea.

“We gathered together for the last two weeks to have regular training to improve our stamina. Our main concern was to beat the Brunei team because last year they out-rowed us into second place,” said Abdullah.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sabah Dragon Boat Race 2008 - Fishermen wins

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Miss World Harvest Festival pageant - Woman of quality and substance


DONNING colourful traditional Bidayuh costumes, the 14 beauties paraded the catwalk with grace and charm.

Flashing broad smiles, they made their first friendly impression with the audience at the Miss Fair & Lovely World Harvest Festival pageant 2008 grand finals at the Sarawak Cultural Village Lagenda Hall near here recently.

The contestants, comprising the Dayaks, Malays and Chinese, briefly introduced themselves before taking tourism-related questions from the panel of judges to gauge their intelligence.

To the pleasant surprise of the guests at the sold-out dinner gathering, most of the finalists were well versed with the subject.

Some gave brilliant answers that impressed the crowd.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Miss World Harvest Festival pageant - Woman of quality and substance

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Manikar Resort - Backpackers' haven in Labuan

Manikar Resort is perfect for travellers on a budget

The resort places emphasis on ensuring its guests can get cozy

WiFi will be available at the lobby, lounge and restaurant area

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to RDN and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd


By RDN

It has been nearly 20 years since I last stayed the night at Manikar Resort, previously owned by Sheraton, which was once a popular destination among tourists, particularly the Europeans.

So, during my recent visit to Labuan, I decided to check in to this old, familiar place which was, at this point, undergoing a facelift.

The place was a lot quieter than I remembered it to be two decades earlier.

Surprised by the changes, I soon struck up a conversation with the hotel Operations Manager Johan, a helpful gentleman who ensured my stay was made comfortable.

I was told that the hotel was being refurbished one stage at a time and that a new management team was in place. Once renovations are completed, the hotel is expected to be a hotspot among travellers, especially with the availability of rooms suited for backpackers.

"We will not be a five-star resort. At present we are a three-star resort, but when we reach a certain level, we will move on to becoming a four-star. But that is the highest we will go," Johan said.

Manikar Resort intends to attract, among others, backpackers, now that it boasts 10 - 15 per cent of rooms designed especially for them. The rooms are big enough, with some even furnished with four beds to allow for quad-sharing and a budget stay.

"We'll definitely have Astro in our rooms. The PABX system is coming and there will be WiFi fitted for usage in the lobby, lounge and restaurant area."

Additionally, the resort will make available sea-sporting activities such as jet skiing, parasailing, canoeing, scuba diving and deep-sea fishing around the area.

And as a resort is more relaxing with a spa nearby, Manikar is working towards providing guests with six spa huts along the beach. There will also be a steam bar, which is still in the designing stage, and a gym for guests to indulge in.

For guests keen on staying indoors, they will be able to karaoke, play darts or watch live bands play on certain days.

Manikar also has the expertise in handling its food and beverage department, with chefs hailing from Kuala Lumpur.

The resort places emphasis on ensuring its guests utmost comfort and a cozy stay.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

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China, Brunei among 57 teams for Sabah Dragon Boat Race


Kota Kinabalu: China and Brunei are among the international competitors out of a total of 57 teams taking part in the 23rd Sabah Dragon Boat Race at Likas Bay today (Sunday), starting at 8am.

Penang's Forwards Sports Club, which is dedicated to running the dragon boat race, is the only other Peninsular Malaysian team represented.

"Dragon boat race is part of traditional Chinese culture and so we decided to come to Sabah mainly for cultural reason besides building friendship and enhancing relations," said Zhang Jin Rong, President of Nan-Aaou Streets Federation of returned LongGang which sent the 30-strong Nan-Aou team from Shenzhen, China.

"We are essentially amateurs, not professionals, and so if you ask me whether we had won important races in the world, the answer is no. But we have competed in places like Shanghai and Hong Kong," Zhang said.

Datuk Chau Tet On, President of Sabah Chinese Cultural Association which founded the Sabah Dragon Boat Race before Sabah Tourism Board took over its running, said he was grateful to China for "kindly" sending one of only two foreign teams to the meet.

"It gives us a lot of encouragement," Chau noted.

"An event like this can do a lot for Sabah, for sports and can promote tourism to foreign countries. The more foreign participation, the more money they spend in Sabah," he said.

Continue reading at: China, Brunei among 57 teams for Sabah Dragon Boat Race

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Benchmark for Sabah tourism quality soon


Kota Kinabalu: An eco-certification programme as advocated in the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) blueprint for the purpose of ensuring sustainable tourism development in the State, has got under way.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the programme is part of the benchmarks to be developed for accreditation to indicate quality and standards of State tourism products.

"For Sabah tourism development in particular, we should be guided by the conundrum that 'less is more' a fundamental precept of sustainable tourism development.

"We should be striving not only to increase tourist arrivals but to attract higher yielding and longer staying tourists," he said at the seminar "Sabah Tourism Industry Towards 2025: Strengthening Sabah Tourism Towards a Vibrant Premier Tourism Destination" at Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa here Thursday.

This means Sabah also needs to tap markets which can generate the critical mass of higher paying visitors that contribute to its economy and also towards sustainable use and management of the State's resources.

The SDC blueprint launched by the Prime Minister in January this year, covering the period 2008 to 2025, emphasises the sustainable management of the State's resources while meeting and achieving various objectives to enhance the quality of life of the people.

Continue reading at: Benchmark for Sabah tourism quality soon

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Fuel price hike ‘may affect Sabah tourism’


KOTA KINABALU: The fuel price hike may affect the tourism industry in Sabah.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said people would be more prudent in their spending and as such, they are likely to reduce traveling or even cancel their holiday plans.

“But I believe we can surmount many of these constraints and challenges on both international and local travel scene if we have a clear understanding of the visitor generating markets, their needs, and visitor behavior and respond accordingly with appropriate marketing and product development strategies,” he said.

Launching a seminar on Sabah Tourism Industry Towards 2025: “Strengthening Sabah Tourism Towards A Vibrant Premier Tourism Destination” here yesterday, he urged tourism industry players to attract higher yielding and longer staying tourists who could contribute to the economy as well as the sustainable use and management of resources.

At the same time, Masidi also touched on the importance of the sustainable management and conservation of resources and the long term future of the industry.

He stressed that many of Sabah’s attractions have been given some form of protection such as gazetting the parks, reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.

The state government, he added, was serious about placing more areas under some form of protection not only for tourism but also for life supporting environmental services.

He said the government intended to gazette one million hectares in the north of Sabah for the proposed Tun Mustapha Park, and recently, the Sabah Foundation has also voluntarily designated the Imbak Canyon as a conservation area for research.

Continue reading at: Fuel price hike ‘may affect Sabah tourism’

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Fuel price hike: AirAsia will not reduce routes


NO-FRILLS airline AirAsia will continue to expand its routes despite the recent fuel hike.

It will also not increase the fuel surcharge.

AirAsia group executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said it would be a wrong move for the company to cut back on routes.

"We want to take a different view. We cannot be reducing routes due to the fuel price hike," he said after the official launch of AirAsia's latest route between Kuala Lumpur and Haikou in Hanan.

Fernandes said since the service began on May 22, the route had exceeded all expectations.

"We have sold more than 35,000 seats," he said, adding that the passenger load had increased from 78 to 85 per cent within two months.

Continue reading at: Fuel price hike: AirAsia will not reduce routes

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sound of soca and jamoo at Sarawak rainforest fest


KUCHING: They are Trinidad and Tobago’s royal family of music, representing the legendary founder of soca and jamoo, two genres of world music.

They are artiste extraordinaire Sheldon Blackman and The Love Circle, and they will be performing at the upcoming Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in Kuching, Sarawak, from July 11 to 13.

Their performances at RWMF will feature two-time national Calypso queen Abbi Blackman and Issac Blackman. Together they are expected to rock the festival with their soca and jamoo beats.

An accomplished arranger, composer, musician and singer, Sheldon began his career in music when he was five. He and his twin brother Eldon were born on October 18, 1978, and his natural love for music was recognised and nurtured by his late father the legendary Ras Shorty I (Garfield Blackman) who founded the Soca and Jamoo music genres.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sound of soca and jamoo at Sarawak rainforest fest

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Citrarasa Malaysia will help boost tourism in Miri


MIRI: The hosting of the three-day Citrarasa Malaysia here will be an additional boost to tourism in the city, Tourism Ministry deputy secretary-general Dr Junaidah Lee Abdullah said yesterday.

The ministry, she said expected around 200,000 visitors including tourists to converge at the parking lot of Boulevard Shopping Complex, the venue for the event, from June 20 to 22.

The event will be held from 10am to 12 midnight daily.

“This is going to be a very interesting and exciting event and we are confident it will attract a lot of foreigners living here apart from tourists coming to the city and people from Brunei,” Junaidah said during a press conference held at a hotel here.

She was confident there would be an increase in arrival of tourists and visitors, especially from neighbouring Brunei, Labuan, Sabah and other towns in the state.

“Citrarasa Malaysia or Flavours of Malaysia is to showcase and promote Malaysia’s traditional fare.

Continue reading at: Citrarasa Malaysia will help boost tourism in Miri

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Fly to Brunei from KL for RM20


By Azlan Othman

Visitors can now fly to Brunei from Kuala Lumpur via AirAsia for as low as RM20.

AirAsia, the leader of low fares and largest low cost carrier in Asia is offering low fares for its domestic, regional and international routes in conjunction with Malaysia's Mega Sale Carnival 2008.

Some 250,000 seats are made available in this promotion from its hubs in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

Fares are priced as low as RM1 one way from Kuala Lumpur hub to popular domestic destinations such as Langkawi, Penang, Johor Baharu, Alor Star, Kota Bahru, Terengganu, including the newly launched Kuantan route.

Other unbeatable international destinations also offered for RM1 include Singapore, Banda Aceh, Medan, Padang and Palembang.

Some other hot destinations at RM20 one way include Kuching, Miri, Kota Kinabalu, Sibu, Sandakan, Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi, Vientiane, Jakarta, Surabaya and Yogyakarta. Fares to Chiang Mai, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Hanoi, Clark (Manila), Macau, Shenzhen. Even the newly launched route Haikou (Hainan) is priced at RM70. Hong Kong is priced at RM150.

To make the deal even sweeter, the long haul sector to Gold Coast, Australia serviced by AirAsia X is also included in this promotion for RM199.

Booking period is from June 10 to 22, 2008. Travel period is from July 1 to Sept 25, 2008. All fares quoted are excluding airport taxes, fuel surcharges and fees, and are applicable for one-way travel only.

AirAsia X provides enhanced flying pleasure with comfortable XL seats, spacious legroom and a fully reclinable leather seats for guests. Soaring high in the A330 aircraft, guests will be spoilt by delicious in-flight meals from Asian to Western and vegetarian. There are also special children's meals.

The low prices are accompanied by the lowest surcharges and airport tax in the country. AirAsia said it guarantees there are no hidden charges included in the fares.

Dato' Sri Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia said, "This moment of the year gives us the opportunity to enable more people to get a taste of what we're all about - low fares.

"We always make it a point to provide affordable and quality air travel for our guests. A promotional period such as the Mega Sale signifies priority given to our guests to further enhance satisfaction, by providing exceptional holiday experience for a very minimal fare. To make it more meaningful, we have even included a new destination, Haikou, as an added treat for our guests. The Mega Sale is the time for guests to stretch their ringgit and make their holiday aspirations a reality.

"We believe this mega sale campaign would encourage more visits from tourists which in turn will give boost to local businesses. Our observation from the past Mega Sale also saw a surge of inbound traffic to Malaysia which helped stimulate the growth of the tourism industry. We are very pleased to play our part, in ensuring the success of the country's Mega Sale Carnival campaign."

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort - Resorting to a little isolation


For serious relaxation and bonding with your loved ones, there is no better place to holiday than at a resort that’s a distance away from cities.

In city hotels, even those that claim to have resort-style activities, there is always the temptation for everyone to do their own thing. It wouldn’t be unusual to find the mother at the spa, the father at the golf course, daughter at the mall and son at the theme park.

So it is such a pleasure to see families doing things together — from fun activities to swimming and nature walks — at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort in Tuaran, Sabah. The resort has a 3km beach, the only such beach on the west coast of Sabah

All That’s Fun

After all, the 45-minute drive from the capital of Kota Kinabalu discourages thoughts of wandering off on one’s own, especially when there is so much going on at the resort. There’s something for all ages and for families to do together. Long lists of daily activities for each day of the week are pasted on notice boards all over.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort - Resorting to a little isolation

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Miri… and all that jazz


MIRI in Sarawak buzzed again last month when the Third Jazz Festival hit town. The small crowd who attended the first Miri Jazz festival three years ago, now felt like “pioneers” who came back every year, followed by more and more enthusiasts who flocked together at the melancholy wail of a saxophone, the strident call of a trumpet and the insistent pulsing of drums.

The Park City Everly Hotel hosted the two-day event on May 9-10. The hotel’s wide grounds, spreading right down to the South China Sea, were the ideal location for what was basically music under the stars.

It was not all played under the stars, of course. The main stage, equipped with a serious amount of sound-and-light hardware, was inside the air-conditioned Pavilion, enlarged for the occasion.

The interactive section of the audience congregated there, clapping, screaming, dancing and generally enjoying themselves — and presumably inspiring the musicians to ever-greater efforts.

The more laid-back listeners lounged around tables under the coconut palms, handy to the food-and-drink-and-souvenir stalls that sprang up. Others settled down on the well-trimmed grass. Huge screens offered a great view of the concert in process from wherever one chose to sit; everyone could pick his or her own level of comfort, and decibels.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Miri… and all that jazz

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Sarawak Regatta to offer bigger cash prizes


KUCHING: The coming annual Sarawak Regatta 2008 will offer bigger cash prizes. It will coincide with the Kuching Festival and 45th anniversary of Sarawak forming Malaysia.

It is expected to attract more participants as the organiser, the state government, has planned to increase cash prizes in all categories.

“We will be promoting the regatta to neighbouring countries like Pontianak, Kalimantan Barat and Brunei,” said Assistant Tourism Minister Hamden Ahmad yesterday.

He said there would be side events like trade fair, exhibitions and stage shows to attract more people to the regatta and make it a renowned river event.

Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is expected to launch the regatta on Aug 2 at 10am while Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin will officiate at the closing ceremony on Aug 3 at 4.30pm.

Hamden said last year more than 6,000 people including foreigners from 388 participating teams took part in the regatta.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Regatta to offer bigger cash prizes

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Largest mall in Borneo opens


KOTA KINABALU: The opening of Borneo’s largest hypermall, 1Borneo, has the potential to place Sabah among the top regional shopping destinations, Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said.

He said 1Borneo was an added attraction here for shoppers seeking bargains and branded goods and was part of the state’s efforts to diversify its tourism products, currently best known for its natural eco-tourism activities and destinations.

Calling for the tapping of shopping tourists who fly to regional centres like Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore and Bangkok, Musa said it was important for the state to draw in these tourists, especially those living within three to six hours flying time of the city.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Largest mall in Borneo opens

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Arrival of tourists to Sabah up 31%


KOTA KINABALU: The arrival of tourists to Sabah has gone up by 31% in 2007 compared to previous year through some 100 international flights.

This was disclosed by the Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun at the soft opening of 1 Borneo hypermall by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman yesterday.

He said more Japanese and Russian as well as Korean tourists will visit Sabah this year . With more and more tourists arriving to Sabah, he believed that the opening of 1 Borneo has solve the last piece of the puzzle in the State tourism industry as it will provide a place for the visitors to shop for premier brands.

Masidi who had just returned from a hectic schedule visiting Japan and Korea to meet and to discuss with the tourism players there last week said the visitors will come here via Asiana Airline.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Arrival of tourists to Sabah up 31%

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1Borneo’s hotels offering 929 more rooms for Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: In answering to the state government’s call for more hotel rooms in Kota Kinabalu, 1Borneo will be providing a total of 929 hotel rooms to meet the market demand, said Warisan Harta Sabah Sdn Bhd Chief Executive Officer Hj Rahman Ghani.

Novotel will have 263 rooms; Mercure, 338 rooms; Tune Hotels, 168 rooms; and Best Western Courtyard Hotel, 160 rooms, said Rahman.

Speaking at the soft launching of 1Borneo by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman yesterday, he said the objectives of 1Borneo is to provide a significant landmark for Sabah, provide job opportunities and boost the tourism industry in Sabah.

“We are also in the process of arranging hovercraft and helicopter services. There will also be an air-conditioned bus terminal to serve tourists and visitors to 1Borneo,” he said.

Continue reading at: 1Borneo’s hotels offering 929 more rooms for Sabah

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Cultural rendezvous at Sabah's Harvest Festival

The Suau Do Bambarayon or Tarian Sambut Tamu by LKS, KKJ and Art Collection groups

Unduk Ngadau 2008 finalists

Musicians playing traditional musical instruments

Boys showing their skills using long poles

Kadazandusun girls from Papar district

Kadazandusun dancers

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Rahmat bin Haji Abdul Rahman and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd


By Rahmat Haji Abdul Rahman

Tadau Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) Open House Malaysia 2008 involved the grassroots and had Kadazandusun cultural performances, traditional house exhibition, the Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Festival Queen) pageant and a colouring contest for children.

The guest of honour TYT Yang Di-Pertuan Negeri Sabah Tun Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Ahmadshah bin Abdullah and Yang Amat Berbahagia Toh Puan Datuk Seri Panglima Hajah Dayang Masyuyah bte Awang Japar accompanied by other state dignitaries visited traditional houses of Runggus, Dusun Tambunan, Dusun Lotud, exhibition, traditional food kiosks and the Murut house.

Two "Bobohizan" led the guest of honour to the grand stand, followed by the national anthem Negaraku and Sabah Tanah Airku, a welcome dance "Suau Do Bambarayon", a welcoming speech from the Minister of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Datuk Mohd Shafie bin Hj Apdal, an interlude Samazau Dance, a speech from Deputy Minister of Sabah, YB Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan, a stage performance with the people's song Tadau Kaamatan, a speech from the Chief Minister of Sabah Yang Amat Berhormat Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman, a Pinakang dance performed by Dusun Kimaragang, Kota Marudu.

Artists and "Pembawa Sandangon (Selendang) and "Rantai Manik" lined up the pathways, while from huge and powerful speakers blared Malaysian music and Tadau Kaamatan before the arrival of YB Minister of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Datuk Mohd Shafie bin Hj Apdal and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sabah Environment Datuk Msidi Manjun and their spouses.

A Kaamatan cultural diversity rendezvous held for the first time showcased the sub-ethnic tribes of Sabah through food, song, dance and music. It started on Thursday at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association cultural village of Hongkod Koisaan at Penampang.

The very important guests and the people of Sabah were entertained with a stage show. Segment number one had "Tangon Do Nunuk Ragang" or community legend with the "poem" song "Peace Through Culture", a parade by Nunuk Ragang community with 60 people carrying oil light torches and 60 female dancers, and "Khazanah Orang Kita" by Abu Bakar Ellah.

In segment number two, "Pisompuruan" - "Keharmonian Masyarkat" or Community Harmony showed the villagers doing their rice fields activities and a song "Salam Do Kaamatan" and "Jambatan Tamparuli".

The third segment, "Tadau Kaamatan" or "Pesta Menuai", showed the "upacara kesyukuran" or "magavau" by Bobohizan, the Dusun Tindal dance, Mongigol dance and Sazau Papar.

The people at Padang Merdeka were entertained with "Tungkus Di Hominodun" - "Memperingati Pengorbanan Huminodun" performed by the seven Unduk Ngadau Finalists 2008 with Unduk Ngadau and Rumandawi. "Sinakagon Di Odu Aki" or "Penerusan Warisan" participated by dance performer from Brunei, Bajau of Kota Belud, and Bajau of Semporna. The songs Umang Ting Ting, Ampuk Ampuk Bulan, Budaya Bangso and Lampa Lampa Pisang were sang by artists Fauziah Suhaili, Afiq Ahmed and Den Bisa.

Noiduanan Minakan, Norikot Nodi Bulan Lima and Tadau Tagayo Do Kaamatan were sang in the closing ceremony by the choir group, the Unduk Ngadau Finalists 2008. The people were entertained by artists involved with the DJ Abon and Abu Bakar Ellah.

Courtesy of
Borneo Bulletin Sunday

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Sabah Shangri-La's Resorts - Nirvana for the body and soul


If you’re looking to get away from it all, the Shangri-La’s two sister resorts in Sabah allow a traveller to unwind in the best possible environs.

IT’S easy to switch to slow mode once you step into Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Beach Resort and Spa in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Only 10 minutes from the KK International Airport and 15 from the city, the resort is tucked away such that you’re cocooned against the hustle and haste associated with both those hubs.

And with sun, sand and the South China Sea beckoning beyond your balcony, it’s natural to just kick off your shoes, lie back and succumb to what the place has to offer.

The cue is to indulge, and the ideal place to start is Chi, The Spa, an enclave of eight private island villas – three of them specially designed for couples – where you can surrender your body to gentle hands that work wonders with fragrant oils, aromatic herbs, spices, mud and algae.

If you subscribe to holidays being best spent relaxing in your own room, then Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort at Pantai Dalit Beach, Tuaran, is the place to be. A roomy bathtub sits invitingly on the balcony of all its Ocean Wing units, and you can soak and watch the sky change from day to night, or vice versa.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sabah Shangri-La's Resorts - Nirvana for the body and soul

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Sukau Rainforest Lodge - Ecolodge in our backyard


In the heart of Sabah sits an ecolodge that exemplifies one of the better responsible tourism practices in Malaysia.

High above us, two Orang Utan are perched on the tree branches, munching happily on figs. A monitor lizard darts off as our boat approaches while an Oriental Darter swooshes across the water.

Through our binoculars, we spot a pair of Black-and-red Broadbills with their crimson and black plumage and turquoise beaks. Hoot, hoot, hoot . . . the Bornean gibbons cry out in the distance. The mist lifts up slowly, unveiling a theatrical wildlife “stage” as our boat glides across the Menanggul tributary of the Kinabatangan River.

Wild Asia’s Dr Reza Azmi and I are guests at Sukau Rainforest Lodge (SRL), an award-winning ecolodge perched on the banks of the Kinabatangan River near Kg Sukau in Sabah.

SRL’s founder and managing director, Albert Teo, also owns Borneo Eco Tours (BET), a nature-based tour operator in Kota Kinabalu.

Founded in 1995, the ecolodge has snagged a string of international awards including the prestigious British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 1997 for Pacific Region for its green practices and contribution to the local community.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sukau Rainforest Lodge - Ecolodge in our backyard

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Friday, June 06, 2008

The Rungus - The Art of Blending Traditional Life-Style into the 20th Century


By HERMAN SCHOLZ
The Flying Dusun Sdn Bhd


THE Rungus in the north of Sabah (Kudat area) are arguably the most traditional ethnic group here. They remain remarkably strong in this time of transition, and keep up with an age-old life-style. Their life, as that of most tribes in Borneo, turns around rice: the preparing of the padi filed, or the clearance of a hill plot, the growing of rice and looking after it, and finally the harvest. Large coconut and banana groves enable the Rungus to get cash, but in all, their traditional life-style suits them very much and seems to keep them out of trouble and stress.

The Rungus seem to have been the last Dusunic immigrants to Sabah to settle here permanently, long before the arrival of the British. They have up to-date conserved much of their cultural heritage. The Rungus are a sub-group of the Kadazan-Dusun, with a distinctive language and a few dialects, architecture, adat (customs), and outfit. Many people still, especially from the elder generation, dress they way they have attired when they were still unaffected by outside influences, and it is presumed that most of the other tribes of the Kadazan-Dusun community had similar dresses and attires: simple black sarongs for the women, wide black trousers for the men and beaded accessories.

A visit to an indigenous longhouse is a tremendous and exciting experience. In Sabah, there are only a few places that do cater for tourists on a regular basis, such as the Bavanggazo Longhouse, or the Tinangol Longhouse. These places come with certain facilities that make the stay for foreign travellers and visitors more comfortable. However, travelling in the area of Kudat, taking some abandoned road, stalking along rivers and through lofty coconut groves, one will still come across the traditional longhouse, minus the thatched roof. Corrugated iron has replaced atap, demanding less maintenance.

The Rungus Longhouse is quite different form the Murut Longhouse, equally to be found in Sabah. The houses are not perched on excessively high stilts, they are usually only about three to five feet above ground. The roof is low, and in olden times, longhouses of 75 doors have existed. Now they rarely exceed 10 doors, along the communal gallery that has an elevated platform of split bamboo. The house is framed by outward sloping walls of wide-spaced poles. This provides ventilation and a comfortable sitting area for work, relaxation and socialising.

Where there is a longhouse, some ‘one-family’ houses might exist, and they often look as if they had been cut out of the original longhouse, like a piece of cake. Dogs, chicken and other domesticated animal abound in the clearing where the houses stand, and kids too young to help with the daily chores play in the sand. They will quickly announce the arrival of a stranger, and whoever passes will be invited into the house for a rest. During the hot afternoons, a palpable laziness prevails in the houses. People doze on the platform in the gallery or work on some handicraft if they are not at work in the fields, or catch fish and crabs. When everybody comes back from work in the late afternoon, the gallery bounces under the many feet.

At a longhouse it is always possible to stay over night. One has to enquire for the chief of the house, who will accommodate the strangers. Against exchanged goods (or money…), he also provides food. With some luck one is invited to taste some local specialities, and drink some tinonggilan, a slightly sparkling, reasonably alcoholic brew made from maize. This is quite a Rungus speciality. Strangers sleep on the elevated platform in the gallery, together with the bachelors.

When the house gets alive in the late afternoon, the ladies will take out their work of basketry, string beads or weave sashes on backstrap looms. It is not infrequent to see old ladies who have their wrists still encircled in brass coils with white and black shell-bracelets at either end, and wear the traditional home-woven sarong. They also wear antique heirloom beads, and the betel container is an old, finely worked Bruneian brass receptacle. Ladies who do wear traditional gear are often very much respected Bobolizans, the shamans of the Rungus.

Besides traditional healing with natural herbs the Bobolizans are here to maintain harmony between humans, nature and astral world according to their age-old belief system. When it gets dark you are lucky if there is no generator to provide electric light: you are taken on a journey back in time! Tiny little oil-lamps appear, perhaps a gas-pressure lamp, and people gather by families and friends to discuss daily matters and exchange gossip. It is only after nightfall that the ladies will start husking the rice for the evening and breakfast meal, in old, wooden mortars with heavy pestles of ironwood. The sound and rhythm of the pounding of rice, the women winnowing in the twilight, the pigs grunting under the floor of the house, all contributes to give the whole an air of peace and long past days.

But despite this peace and aspect of eternal sleepiness, the Rungus are far from being disconnected from our modern times. Cash-crops have allowed them already over the last 30 years to earn money, and in some cases wealth. The young people are being educated, some of them having reached university degrees and have entered the Sabah State Government.

Many Rungus work in town, and they seem generally quite enterprising. Nevertheless, often when there is enough money to pay dowries, the men prefer going back to the quiet and peaceful life of the kampung, where they take a wife. Then they might engage, next to their farming activities, in tourism, and Bavanggazo and Tinangol are good examples of the spirit of enterprise of the Rungus.

Sumangkap is another such an example, a village where almost everybody is making gongs – the most important instrument throughout Borneo. The Rungus have indeed mastered the difficult and tricky combination of a traditional life-style with the advancement of ‘modern’ ideas, and preserved ancient skills, in a world spinning much faster around them.

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites - Sabah Travel and Leisure Guide

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