Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sipadan Island – Diving heaven

SIPADAN Island (Pulau Sipadan) is the only oceanic island located on the east coast of Malaysian Borneo. When you see this island from a distance, itself the top of a dead volcanic cone, you catch a glance of a small tropical rainforest and white sandy beaches. Due to its amazing diversity and rich marine habitats, Sipadan was listed as one of the top 10 diving spots in the world and in Rodale’s Scuba Diving Magazine Gold List as the “Top Dive Destination in the World”.

Approximately 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been found on this majestic island such as scorpion fish, devil rays, lion fish, mandarin fish, manta rays, batfish, eagle rays, yellow-back fusiliers, red-tooth triggerfish, parrotfish and other miraculous fish species. Fish lovers will be fascinated by the distinctive varieties of sea creatures and get lost in the paradise of Sipadan.

A diving adventure on Sipadan is full of endless surprise and excitement. You can easily behold green turtles and hawksbill turtles – as many as 20 turtles on each dive. If you are lucky enough, you might see the turtles appear on the seashore to lay eggs.

Another must see is ‘Turtle Tomb’, an underwater cave that consists of several wide tunnels and a small passageway near Barracuda Point. Its floor is around 8m wide and littered with turtle skeletons, hence the name, making it a mysterious and adventurous place. It is believed the turtles died when they got lost in the maze of cave tunnels.

As Sipadan is a protected site only 120 divers are allowed to dive every day, so you need to register as early as you can. There are a total of 13 dive spots around the island. Barracuda Point is the most popular and listed amongst the top five dive spots in the world. If you have a specific marine creature such as a turtle or shark that you would like to see, you should let your agent know and he/she will give your suggestions of ideal spots to find them.

Other popular diving sites are Coral Garden, White Tip Reef, South Point, Drop Off, Hanging Gardens, West Ridge, North Point, and Lobster Lair. All the dive sites are unique in their own way and the price can vary. Also, remember to give yourself some leisure time to stroll along the fine sandy beaches on Sipadan before you leave.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sipadan Island – Diving heaven
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Annah Rais hotsprings urged to improve product and services


KUCHING: Operators of hotsprings in Annah Rais are urged to improve their product and services to attract more visitors including foreigners.

Chairman of Padawan Municipal Council (PMC) Lo Khere Chiang said last year the operator of Annah Rais hot springs collected more than RM60,000 from ticket sales, which could be doubled if the premises were improved.

“I’d say that much improvement still needs to be done in Annah Rais which holds huge potential as the state’s premier tourism destination,” Lo said after the full council meeting yesterday.

He also said that some of the improvements that could be done in Annah Rais was to channel hot water from the springs to different designated ponds.

“Currently, the hot water ponds are partitioned with rocks which influence the fluctuating water temperature.”

He also said operators must have the heart to improve their services. He also suggested that a portion of proceeds from the sale of entry tickets go to the village security and development committee to benefit the villagers.

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Setting up a fund for hornbill conservation in Sarawak


BINTULU: The state government is to set up a hornbill conservation fund or foundation for the conservation and study of the bird which is our state emblem.

Environment Assistant Minister Datu Len Talip Salleh told reporters the fund would enable the authority and community to work together on the bird which was presently given less attention than orang utans, dolphins and turtles.

“If we want to adopt the bird as the state icon, we must have expertise and knowledge of it,” he said at a press conference after officiating at the Sarawak Hornbill Workshop 2012 at a leading hotel in Bintulu yesterday.

“The funds will enable us to study the bird and how best to conserve the species for its future survival,” he added.

The Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department revealed that the government had allocated 1 million hectares of land under Totally Protected Area (TPA) for hornbills.

But future threat could arise from the cultural aspect of some communities that use their feathers as accessories on their costumes.

He believed the fund would enable authorities like Sarawak Forestry or the Forest Department to impart knowledge to wildlife rangers and educate communities living in proximity to the bird for the purpose of conservation.

He said the bird was still in existence but it called for trained eyes to spot their habitat.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gaya Island Resort - An Eco-paradise in Borneo


As the subject of environmental preservation continues to dominate global conversation, the notable influx of eco-resorts in the last few years hardly seems surprising. That, however, doesn’t necessarily render the newly built Gaya Island Resort any less appealing.

Situated at Pulau Gaya, just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, the establishment makes its home within the lush confines of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, a secluded natural sanctuary accessible only by boat.

Overlooking the crystal-clear waters of Malohom Bay, the beachfront resort traverses a terrain replete with the best of what its unique locale has the offer – that is, the unrefined beauty of a sprawling rainforest coupled with glorious views of both the South China Sea and Mount Kinabalu.

While materials such as timber, bamboo and natural stone have been prominently incorporated as a nod to Sabahan vernacular architecture in the creation of the resort’s 120 villas as well as its luxurious 188 sqm two-bedroom suite, the design’s pared-down modern elements elegantly play off the uncultivated natural surroundings, consistently bringing the focus back to the arresting landscape.

“Designing the resort within nature was the key highlight of the project,” says Baldip Singh, an architect from the YTL Design Group who contributed to the endeavor. According to Singh, the main objective was in establishing a sense of harmony between the environment and the architectural infrastructure.

“The final resort layout was determined on site to suit [the area’s] conditions, ensuring for the preservation of the existing flora and fauna as well as natural geographic formations such as rock outcrops and inland water bodies to minimize vegetation clearing.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Gaya Island Resort - An Eco-paradise in Borneo
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The Orang Utan, Man of the Forest


Say Orang Utan and everyone knows what it is. Some is written as orangutan. Orang Utan means "Man of the Forest" derived from the Malay language. These red apes are found only in Indonesia and Malaysia, on the island of Borneo and Sumatra.

Orang Utans belongs to the great ape family. Other members of the great apes are gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans. Infact, we share about 96% of our genetic build up with Orang Utans. The most obvious difference between an ape and a monkey is that ape do not have a tail.

There are 2 species of Orang Utans , ie. Pongo pygmaeus (the Borneon species) and Pongo abelii (the Sumatran species). The Borneon species is divided into 3 subspecies, Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus, pongo pygmaeus morio, pongo pygmaeus wurmbii.

Sumatran Orang Utans are critically endangered. Borneon Orang Utans are classified as endangered. Physically, the Borneo Orang Utan is much stouter and has a darker red fur. The Sumatran Orang Utan has a lighter brown fur. An adult male Borneon Orang Utan has a large pendulous throat sac, rounder face with flages while the Sumatran have flat cheek flanges covered with more fur.

Orang Utans and their habitat, the tropical rainforest are under threat. Their habitat are being destroyed for agriculture, for forest products and for other developments. They are being hunted down occasionally by those who considered them as pest.

They are solitary animals and the largest arboreal (tree living) animals in this planet.  With their very strong hands and feet and flexible limbs, it helps them to travel through the forest.

Orang Utans are frugivorous (fruit eating). Although 90% of their main diet consists of fruits (figs, durians), they would eat honey, bark, leaves and insects too.

In the wild, Orang Utans may live up to 45 years or more. In the zoo, their lifespan may be longer. Male Orang Utans can weight about 120 kg and can reach a height 1.5 metres. Female Orang Utans are about 1 metres tall and 45 kg in weight.

A mature male Orang Utan may develop cheek pads and throat pouch. They will inflate their throat pouch to make loud sound called long call to alert other Orang Utans or to attract female Orang Utans.

Female Orang Utans will have their first baby between the age of 14 to 15. The pregnancy will last for 8.5 months. The young will stay with the mother until the age of 7 or 8. Usually, female Orang Utans will have babies every 8 years. They will have 3 or 4 youngs in their lifetime.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The Orang Utan, Man of the Forest
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Orangutans in Borneo: Discovering Tanjung Puting National Park


Looking deep into their eyes, knowing you as a homo sapien share 97% of the same genetic code as them, it’s hard not to feel a kinship with orangutans.

The endangered orangutans in Borneo first entered my consciousness when I met Gela, my Dutch trekking partner in Nepal.

I remember seeing a photo of her sitting next to one of the large, orange-haired primates, and knowing then that I wanted to see them too.

Borneo, the commonly known name of the Asian island shared by both Indonesia and Malaysia, has always sounded extraordinarily exotic to me.

My mind conjures up difficult travel conditions, thick jungle, machetes, and remote wilderness. In short, I’d built up a trip to Borneo to be a chore, and surely an expensive one to boot.

But so many of my preconceived notions about travel to Borneo, specifically to see the wild orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park, were smashed during my 3-day visit last month.

Commercial tourism has arrived in Borneo, and while it requires an adventurous spirit, it’s a surprisingly accessible experience for travelers of all ages, and budgets.

Flying From Jakarta to Central Kalimantan, Borneo

My journey began in Jakarta, where myself and seven other international travel bloggers met with representatives from Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia. Visiting the orangutans in Borneo was to be our first stop on a two-week tour of the country.

We departed Jakarta’s International airport for Pangkalan Bun on Kal Star Aviation, an Indonesian airline in operation since 2007. The flight time was just one hour, and they even provided us with a snack.

The proliferation of flights offered by regional and discount airlines in Indonesia is helping to improve accessibility to the country’s more remote islands.

We landed at Pangkalan Bun’s little airport, and exited the plane directly onto the tarmac (a process I always associate with landing in remote areas).

Inside the terminal, I saw the world’s smallest baggage carousel. It wasn’t even a full circle, but a straight, 15-meter conveyor belt extending from a hole in the wall.

Despite the regular flights, it was good to see the growth in tourism had yet to necessitate a bigger baggage delivery system.

Adapting to Life on a Klotok

Upon exiting the airport, we jumped into air-conditioned SUV’s for the 20 to 30-minute drive to the river dock where we’d be boarding our klotok.

Klotoks are the traditional wooden boats used to navigate the local rivers. Due to narrow sections and areas of shallow water, the maximum width of a klotok is 4 meters (12 feet).

The standard klotok is two levels. The lower level features the bathroom (with Western-style toilet), crew quarters, and “kitchen” where the food is prepped and cooked.

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7 most exotic species to dive with in Sabah, Malaysia


One of Asia’s best diving destinations, Malaysia is home to some of the most exotic marine life on the planet. Because Malaysia lies near the equator, the water temperatures remain about 26 to 30 C (80 to 85 F) year-round. And those warm waters teem with biodiversity, including whale sharks, the largest fish in the world.

Although not as common as in other dive destinations like Australia or the Philippines, whale sharks can still be found roaming the waters off Malaysia. With a little luck and good timing, you too could find yourself swimming with these gentle giants.

Whale sharks can weigh more than nine tons and reach more than 12 metres (39.37 feet) in length. Their mouths alone can stretch 1.5 metres (4.92 feet) wide, and hold up to 350 rows of tiny teeth.

While you might feel intimidated by their size, whale sharks wouldn’t hurt a fly. They’re peaceful and usually trusting of humans.

Having said that, however, whale sharks are more likely to stick around and pose for photos if you don’t touch or swim after them.

One of your best bets for some whale shark action in Malaysia is Lankayan Island, a small coral island in the Sulu Sea off Malaysian Borneo. You’re most likely to see whale sharks there from March to May.

There are, of course, plenty of other fish in the seas around Malaysia. Here are six other exotic species of marine life you might encounter while diving in Malaysia:

Manta Rays

These graceful gliders can grow to seven metres (23 feet) wide, and weigh nearly two tons. Like whale sharks, mantas are gentle and pose little threat to divers.

In fact, mantas are curious creatures and will sometimes approach divers. If you want a manta to approach you, try diving near Sipadan Island off the east coast of Malaysian Borneo.

Hammerhead Sharks

Fearsome-looking hammerhead sharks often ply the waters near Layang Layang Island, a deep-sea atoll about 300 kilometres (186 miles) northwest of Kota Kinabalu.

Layang Layang’s reefs host a rainbow of sea life, but the scalloped hammerheads steal the show, especially in March and May during mating season.

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Sarawak Bollywood’s destination of choice


KUCHING: Sarawak created a history of sorts when it was recognised by Bollywood as the ‘Cinemascope Destination of Choice’ during the 14th  Mumbai Film Festival recently.

According to a press statement yesterday, the award represented another proof that the state is a ‘natural studio’ which could be the location of choice for Indian filmmakers.

During a meeting between Minister of Sarawak Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg and Ramoji Rao, owner of one of the biggest film locations in the world, Abang Johari said his ministry was prepared to invite Ramoji and his group to see for themselves the infrastructure and beauty of the state for filming.

“Sarawak has a few interesting allocations with natural beauty which can be put forward in Bollywood, Tollywood and Kollywood films.”

Ramoji, in response, said he hoped the Ministry of Tourism could produce a documentary on suitable locations which could be featured in Bollywood films.

Continue (Incl. Pic) reading at: Sarawak Bollywood’s destination of choice
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Miri Airport needs to be extended to cater to growing needs


MIRI: There is a need to extend Miri Airport’s terminal to cater to the growing volume of passengers and aircraft traffic since the airport is one of the busiest domestic airports in the country.

Saying this, Assistant Minister of Communication Datuk Lee Kim Shin added that a proposal to extend the airport terminal had been submitted to the Ministry of Transport in 2010.

“Miri Airport is one of the top three airports in terms of aircraft movement and the fifth busiest in terms of passengers handled from throughout the country.

“We are now still waiting for approval from the ministry and hopefully, the ministry will be able to give a positive reply as soon as possible,” Lee stated in a press conference after having a closed-door meeting with the management of Malaysia Airport Berhad (MAB) Miri at Miri Airport yesterday.

Lee, who is also Senadin assemblyman, said from January until September this year, the airport had served almost 1.5 million passengers.

He pointed out that the airport was expected to achieve the target of handling 2 million passengers by year end.

In this context, Lee strongly supports the proposal to upgrade the facilities of the airport according to international standards.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Orangutan conservation gets a boost in Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: Orangutan conservation and research is given a boost with the setting up of the Sabah Orangutan Conservation Alliance (SOCA).

Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the SOCA would coordinate orangutan conservation and research efforts in Sabah, implement and monitor the Orangutan Action Plan, advise the government on orangutan conservation issues, share information on orangutans and promote orangutan conservation in Sabah by raising awareness nationally and globally.

“We will prepare a cabinet paper on the setting up of SOCA and we will bring it to the utmost attention of the State Cabinet. We hope that SOCA can be rapidly established,” he said at an orangutan conservation dialogue at Shangri-la's Rasa Ria Resort in Tuaran.    More than 80 participants were invited to discuss the implementation of the strategies and objectives highlighted in the Orangutan Action Plan 2012-2016 launched last January and set up the SOCA.

The Sabah Wildlife Department organised the dialogue.

“We recognised that the time for conversation was over, that it was time for conservation,” said Ambu.

“It is time for the oil palm industry to acknowledge that there are problems and take the necessary measures to address the issues of forest fragmentation and clearings of riparian forests in Sabah, as well as orangutan killings currently happening in palm oil estates in Kalimantan,” stressed Ambu.

He pointed out the problems in the Kinabatangan were also addressed.

“We have identified approaches to maintain viable wildlife populations in the Kinabatangan. Orangutans are also found outside protected forests in the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain. Our recent analysis of satellite images have shown that 25,000 ha of such forests still remain.

“If we want to secure the orangutan population in Kinabatangan we cannot afford to lose another hectare of forest. We asked the government to call for a moratorium on forest conversion in the Kinabatangan and to recreate forest connection in areas where riparian forests have been converted,” added Ambu.

Continue reading at: Orangutan conservation gets a boost in Sabah
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Kota Kinabalu International Airport runway closure tarnished Sabah’s image


KOTA KINABALU: The closure of the runway at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) inconvenienced thousands of people and affected Sabah’s image as a tourist destination, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

“This should not have happened. The problem should not have taken so long to fix.” He said the state cabinet expected a full report from Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd.

Musa said the authorities should make sure the problem did not happen again. It was the second time in six months that the runway had to be closed because of faulty landing lights.

The latest incident affected more than 50 flights and nearly 6,000 passengers on Thursday and Friday.

In April, the lights failed for about two hours before it was restored, affecting nine flights that had to be diverted or re-timed. Musa’s concern is understandable because tourism is one of Sabah’s main income earners, having recorded increases in arrivals annually for over a decade.

Last year, 2.84 million visitors arrived in Sabah; in 2010, the figure stood at 2.5 million, and in 2009, 2.24 million.

In the first eight months of this year, there were 1.87 million arrivals with tourism revenue valued at RM3.39 billion.

During the same period last year, the number of arrivals stood at 1.85 million. KKIA is the second busiest airport in the country. Last year, it registered nearly 60,000 flights with close to six million passengers.

Since 2005, KKIA, which has two terminals that share one runway, has undergone  a  renovation and extension worth  RM1.4 billion.

Once completed, it can handle up to 12 million passengers (nine million at Terminal 1 and three million at Terminal 2) annually.

The project includes increasing the main airport terminal building from 34,000 sq m to 87,000 sq m and extending the runway from 2.988km to 3.780km. The runway  has yet to be completed.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu International Airport runway closure tarnished Sabah’s image
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Rebranding will make Jong regatta major tourism event in Bau


BAU:  Rebranding of the Jong Regatta into a full-fledged festival, possibly beginning next year, will make the event the biggest tourism attraction in this gold mining town.

When giving this observation, Tasik Biru assemblyman Datuk Peter Nansian Ngusie yesterday said the organiser had strived to make its future editions bigger and better to attract more local visitors and foreign tourists.

The plans that have been proposed, he said, included the introduction of more sporting events such as futsal competition, wakeboard competition and other water sports events, and even jet-ski demonstration to pull in the crowd and provide entertainment.

“We will make this event bigger. We will include more events, we will strive to improve this event to make it better for both the locals and foreign tourists. Jong Regatta will become one of the biggest events in Bau,” said Nansian, who is also Assistant Minister of Community Services, when officiating at the closing ceremony of the regatta at Tasik Biru here.

The Jong Regatta, re-introduced in 2009 after a hiatus of a few years, has quickly gained momentum in terms of participation and support from the local community. This year, the regatta saw a record participation of 464 entries, including 21 men and six women’s teams in its Open Rafting competition.

On Saturday, Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos called on the organiser – Bau District Office – to repackage the regatta into a festival to attract more participants, visitors and tourists.

The Mambong MP also suggested for the date of the event to be shifted to incorporate the school holidays so that it could attract more local tourists from throughout the country. He suggested June as an ideal date, considering the two-week school break and the start of the summer holidays in European countries and the Middle East.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

500 set off on grueling Borneo Safari


KOTA KINABALU: The 22nd edition of Sabah’s very own extreme off road motoring event, Borneo Safari 2012, has kicked off to an exciting start.

Heavy rain poured over Kota Kinabalu yesterday, but it did not stop the crowd from thronging the specially built mud tracks next to the Borneo 4WD Outdoor Show at Alamesra here.

They came to witness drivers and machines being pushed to their limits trying to conquer the short but very slippery and challenging courses of stages one, two and three, set up by the organizer.

The initial plan was to have Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Datuk Seri Tengku Adlin lead a team of paragliders to land at the show ground before launching the special stage challenge.

Uncooperative weather forced the organizer to cancel the plan for safety reason, but the downpour that pummeled hours before the special stage runs started was nothing less than a blessing.

Mud holes of at least 1.5 meters deep were filled with sludge that would engulf the smaller 4×4 vehicles almost to the roof, the kind of challenges extreme off-road drivers would dive in head first.

Winches were put into overdrive and the crowd cheered, perhaps more in relief than excitement, as steel cables endured under the weight of a roaring beast slowly climbing out of its watery graves.

The special stage challenge marked the unofficial start of the highly anticipated event and gave the newcomers a taste of what lies ahead as the Safari progresses in the next grueling eight days.

The event this year attracted over 500 participants which included experienced and new drivers, co-drivers, support crew and thrill seekers who are simply tagging along for the adventure.

Some 220 off-road ready 4×4 of all sizes will embark on their journey this morning, with a mission to conquer varied off-road terrains in a return trip of about 1,000 km.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 500 set off on grueling Borneo Safari
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Borneo Trip "Dayak Tribes" Pampang Village


Borneo - which is derived from the name of the sultanate of Brunei - is the name used by the colonial British and Dutch to refer to the island as a whole, while Borneo is the name used by the island's eastern region that now includes parts of Indonesia.

The north island (Sabah, Brunei, Sarawak) for Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. As for Indonesia territory of North Borneo, is the province of North Borneo. In a broad sense "Borneo" covers the entire island is also known as Borneo, while in the narrow sense refers only Kalimantan region of Indonesia.

I have  the opportunity to visit Borneo I was go to Balikpapan and Samarinda. This city surrounded by forests although the weather was so hot but pretty cool. One thing that I’m interested about Borneo is the original residents. Most of these islands are migrants from outside the city rarely seen native Borneo “Dayak tribe”.

Dayak tribe in Kalimantan, are still maintaining their culture da tone also had to adapt to cultural development. In my mind  the Dayak tribe  have hallmark tattoo and piercing also long known as "long ears".

I was visit a village of the indigenous Dayak tribes who still retain their traditional customary village. Located 1 hour from the  Samarinda city. The trip to the traditional village was very exciting especially for me who rarely see the forest, because I live in Jakarta .

Dayak tribes who live in the village of Pampang majority are sub-ethnic Dayak Kenyah. According to some locals, the area was originally a forest. But after a number of residents who live in the area Apokayan Bulungan (once they become part of the district. Malinau) moved gradually in the 1960s, with a view to get closer to urban areas. Finally, they also find a settlement and named Pampang. Regions and even then then developed as it is today.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Borneo Trip "Dayak Tribes" Pampang Village
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Jong Regatta likely to be repackaged as Jong Festival


BAU: The Jong Regatta (junk regatta) is expected to be repackaged as Jong Festival beginning next year as the event undergoes a re-branding exercise to attract more major participants and domestic tourists alike.

Deputy Minister of Sarawak Tourism Datuk James Dawos Mamit yesterday highlighted the need for local organisers to be more creative in introducing programmes surrounding the regatta to break out from its conventional activities and events.

The Mambong MP suggested that the date of the event be shifted to incorporate the school holidays so that it could attract more domestic tourists. He suggested June as an ideal date considering the two weeks school break coupled with the starting of the summer holidays in European countries and the Middle East.

“Don’t always think conventionally, be more creative. The organisers must come up with new strategies to attract more participants and visitors. Conventional ways don’t work anymore especially when it comes to attracting domestic tourists.

“The Jong Regatta is an iconic event. There is no such event elsewhere in country. Therefore, it is very important for organisers to pick a date most convenient for the visitors from the country and foreign tourists,” said Dawos when officiating at the 2012 Jong Regatta held at Tasik Biru here.

Among those present were state Tourism Ministry permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, Kuching Resident Abdul Rahman Sebli Senusi and Bau district officer Simon Japut.

Highlighting the importance of attracting domestic tourists, Dawos revealed that statistic of Malaysians who visited all the tourism spots throughout the country last year had reached a staggering 150 million. He said that on average, one person had visited any part of the country at least seven times last year.

He also mentioned that spending by domestic tourists nationwide for last year had reached a whopping RM43.2 billion. As for foreign tourists, the total spending of the foreign tourists was estimated at RM58.3 billion. Emphasising the need to attract domestic tourists, he said that such tourist entry into the state had declined from 22 per cent in 2010 to 18 per cent last year.

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Borneo Tribal Village homestay in Bau ready by next year


BAU: The Borneo Tribal Village homestay, located at Kampung Apar in Singai, Bau, will be fully operational and ready to welcome visitors by next year.

Community Services Assistant Minister Datuk Peter Nansian Ngusie said the privately owned project will complement the nearby Redeems Bamboo Park.

“Once we popularise the Sarawak homestay, more people will visit the Bamboo Park that is a community project.

“There is a longhouse with 14 rooms and a motel with four rooms. There is also a ‘baruk’ with a stage for performances, a dining and kitchen area as well as public toilets.

“The village homestay is about 80 per cent completed. The only things left are the landscape pond with bridge, campsite facility and general landscaping of the village.

“Basic amenities should be in by year end and it will be completed by next year,” he told reporters at the site yesterday.

Nansian, who is also Tasik Biru assemblyman, said the Borneo Tribal Village homestay project serves to preserve the Bidayuh culture and way of life.

“We are trying to preserve the traditional aspect of buildings, food and even plants.

“It is not so much about business but a way of cultural preservation, but, of course, visitors will be charged a nominal fee to cover operating costs,” he said.

The overall project sits on an 18-acre site, which was previously a ritual place for headhunters in the olden days.

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Measures to ensure KKIA runway blackout won’t recur vital – MATTA Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Sabah Chapter has urged Malaysia Airport Berhad (MAB)  to take proactive measures to ensure KKIA runway lights failure will not recur again.

Making the call in a statement here yesterday, MATTA Sabah chairman KL Tan said the destination image is badly affected for tourist stranded for hours whether coming into Sabah or connecting for flights back to their countries.

“The delay for the past two days has disrupted tour programmes, cancellation of hotel accommodation, increase in transportation costs, staff and drivers’ overtime allowances and related costs.

“It is high time for MAB to begin working on a compensation plan for all affected to pacify agitated and disappointed tourists and restore public confidence. For instance, there is a group of foreign tourists diverted to Brunei and thereafter to Kuala Lumpur and decided to abort the trip to Sabah.

“Who is absorbing the cancellation charges and the lost of revenue?” Tan asked.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bario - Malaysia’s old Borneo


Although in the past 50 years Malaysian Borneo has undergone dramatic development, there are still pockets where you can experience “old Borneo” — that is, places where people still live in longhouses and go out into the forest to gather food. Here are a few suggestions on finding them.

One such place is Bario, home to the Kelabit people and an hour’s plane journey from Miri (as with all rural flights, MasWings is the only operator). It’s also possible to get here by 4×4, although it will take you 12 hours, mostly on unpaved logging roads. Be nice to yourself, and go in a plane.

In Bario, old cultural traditions of hunting and foraging sit side by side with modern amenities such as the internet and mobile phone reception. This may not quite be the “old Borneo” that you are thinking of, but it’s an example of an increasingly modernised indigenous community who have taken modernity and molded it to their own cultural needs.

It’s a good place to go if you want to have an “authentic” Borneo experience but don’t want to be cut off from the world completely.

A good time to go is in mid-July for the Bario Food Festival, where you can sample indigenous foods from around the Bario region. Even if you visit outside of this time, be sure to eat some pineapple or rice, both of which Bario is famous for. Accommodation is easily found here, with a plethora of homestays, lodges and guesthouses to choose from.

And while some lovely forest surrounds Bario, don’t be tempted to wander around on your own; always hire a guide.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Bario - Malaysia’s old Borneo
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Kota Kinabalu International Airport runway resumes operation


KOTA KINABALU: The runway at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) was opened for operation late last night after a backup portable lighting system was installed.

A spokeswoman for Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB) said the runway opened to flights around 9.30pm.

KKIA was closed on Thursday night after the runway lights malfunctioned for the second time in six months, forcing 40 incoming and outgoing flights to be cancelled or rescheduled and leaving at least 4,000 passengers, including many returning home for Aidiladha celebrations, stranded.

Daytime flights were able to take off by first daylight on Friday as Malaysia Airlines (MAS), MASwings and AirAsia passengers on international and domestic routes were being put on alternative scheduled flights.

A statement from MAS and MASwings said a number of inbound and outbound flights at KKIA scheduled last evening had been retimed.

Based on an initial update received from the airport operator on Thursday night, it was estimated that the runway lights would be operational by 1am on Friday but as at 6pm yesterday, the situation remained unsolved, the two airlines said.

In the meantime, MAS and MASwings were making necessary service recovery arrangements, where possible, for affected passengers whilst the situation was being addressed by the authorities concerned.

All efforts were also being made to reallocate affected passengers into the earliest flights into and out of Kota Kinabalu during the day time operations.

MASWings vice president (marketing) Shauqi Ahmad said the airline had reallocated its passengers who were affected by the runway blackout on Thursday to new flights.

Assuring that the situation was under control, he disclosed that almost 300 MASwings passengers from 11 flights, comprising seven outgoing and four incoming, were affected by the blackout but had already been reallocated to new flights for their destinations.

“I think we managed the situation quite efficiently after the blackout on Thursday night because we are talking about 11 flights … not just one or two.

“All passengers were provided accommodation and transportation to compensate for their cancelled flights and as of 2.30pm on Friday, 99 per cent of all passengers had already boarded their new flights,” he said.

Apologising on behalf of MASwings to all passengers who were affected by the situation, he assured that Malaysia Airports would resolve the matter as soon as possible.

MAB had yet to confirm how many flights and passengers in total were affected.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Photography Safari – Sukau Kinabatangan


Photographers always have their own dream no matter they working as a wedding photographer or else they always want to have an experience on shooting nature action shot with a tele lenses. 

In Borneo, the Kinabatangan river is a good place to see wildlife and at the same time they can do “wildlife shooting” with their cameras.

Monkey leaping from tree to tree, kingfishers dive to catch fish, Oriental Darter swimming and elephant crossing river these are the action shot that most of nature or wildlife photographer been dreaming on to get the shot. The nature landscapes are incredible.

Kinabatangan Fact

The Kinabatangan River (Sungai Kinabatangan) is located in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia, with a length of 560 kilometers from its headwaters in the mountains of southwest Sabah, to its outlet at the Sulu Sea, east of Sandakan.

Kinabatangan is known for its remarkable wildlife and fascinating habitats such as limestone caves at Gomantong hill, dryland dipterocarp forests, riverine forest, freshwater swamp forest, oxbow lakes and salty mangrove swamps near the coast.

Kinabatangan History

Borneo’s rainforest has been pulling traders for centuries who are searching for the rare treasures of the rainforest which nowadays it is protected such as the edible bird’s nest, elephant ivory, hornbill casques and rhino horn for the Emperor of China.

At the same time they also trade hardwood resin, damar, rattan vines, beeswax and some other jungle produce with the local Borneo people.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Photography Safari – Sukau Kinabatangan
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Exploring the wilds of Borneo: Bako National Park


YOU don’t have to go far in Sarawak to find the jungle. In fact you see it from the plane as you descend into the capital Kuching – a tangled green mass stretches out below you, actually covering three quarters of the state in Malaysian Borneo or 8.7 million hectares. Even if you’re not too sure of your maths, rest assured that’s a lot of jungle.

One of the best places to get a taste of this immense jungle and its inhabitants is in the state’s oldest national park, Bako, just a short bus and boat ride from the capital. In fact, there are few places in the world you can be in such a bustling city and within an hour in such intense forest.

Bako has 2727 hectares of pristine forests, beaches, mangroves, rocks and waterfalls, and an array of hiking paths linking these. They are well laid out on a map you are given on arrival, and very well marked so there’s no chance of getting lost, but you can hire a guide if you wish.

Bako National Park contains much of Borneo’s rare and unusual flora and fauna, including the Probiscus monkey with its distinctive upturned nose, found only here in Borneo. You will also find the cheeky macaque monkey, the cute silver leaf monkey, various pigs, vipers, pythons and even flying lemurs. While you’ll easily see the monkeys and pigs during the day, and probably not far from the park office, you’ll need to join the guided night walks from the park office to spot the nocturnal animals and things that slither and hide away.

These tours leave every night on dark and with the aid of a torch and much know how, the guide takes you along paths near the overnight bush cabins. Undertake a night walk and you just might be surprised by how much wildlife there is among the jungle.

There are seven ecosystems in Bako National Park and you won’t need much help investigating these, but to do so you will need to cover some distance. Bako is really all about its walking tracks that traverse the thick jungle and those that come here also come prepared to walk.

There are actually 30km of walks and none are particularly difficult. There are also plenty of places to sit and enjoy the ocean views and unspoiled jungle along the way, but given the high humidity in the park you’re best to undertake a walk that enables you to swim either at a waterfall like the Tajor trek (2 hours) or one of the beautiful and remote beaches like Cove Beach (take the Telok Paku or Telok Pandan Kecil trail) so you can cool off before you begin the trek back. Water is truly your friend in this part of the world, so make sure you are always well hydrated. There are some stretches on the tracks that provide no shade so a hat is also advisable.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Exploring the wilds of Borneo: Bako National Park
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22nd International Off Road Challenge “Borneo Safari”


4Wd enthusiast are set and ready for another challenge for this up coming 22nd  four wheel drive challenge.

It is another interesting route for this as they will go around the highest mountain in South East Asia.

The 1st Borneo 4WD & Outdoor Show will be held from 26th to 28th October at the Alamesra showground with an action-packed list of activities culminating with the official flag-off of the Borneo Safari Xtreme Challenge on the last day of the show.

An auto enthusiasts will get their first look at some of the latest 4WD gear, gadgets and accessories with special product presentation highlights.

And for outdoor enthusiasts, check out the water sport, fishing and boating, camping accessories, tourism and destination, and lifestyle product booths to equip you for your next outdoor adventure.

Its a big change for this year’s Borneo Safari programme where the staging of 3 SS (Special Stage) challenges at the auto show.

Visitors will get the chance to witness live the awesome 4WD vehicles as they navigate the specially designed course with one of the SS happening at night for the extra thrill.

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Sabah planning more agrotourism events next year


A MALAYSIAN International Native Orchid Show and a Garden Landscape Festival have been planned to be held here and at the Sabah Agriculture Park in Tenom, respectively, in October next year, as part of the effort to promote agrotourism.

Assistant Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, Datuk Bobbey Suan, said the two events, which are currently in the planning stages, will further enhance the State's agrotourism development and its trickle effect will benefit the tourism sector in general.

Replying to Gum-Gum Assemblyman Datuk Zakaria Edris during the question-and- answer session, Bobbey said the Ministry is well aware of the agrotourism potential and has made it one of its development priorities to promote and encourage this as part of product diversification.

He said among the various agrotourism products that have been developed by the Ministry through its departments and agencies include Sabah Agriculture Park which was developed by the Agriculture Department, Tagal System developed throughout Sabah under the Fisheries Department, Wetland Agro-Tourism Development at Weston Wetland Park in Weston by Ko-Nelayan, Keningau Livestock Farm by the Department of Veterinary Services and Animal Industries (Dovsai), as well as various other agricultural activities like mushroom industry in Mesilau, goat rearing in Papar and bee farming in Matunggong which have already been developed as part of agro-tourism packages.

Each of these agrotourism products developed by the Ministry offers a variety of activities that can attract tourists, he said, adding Sabah Agriculture Park in Lagud Sebrang, Tenom held three annual events which have already been included in the Sabah Tourism Board calendar, namely the Anniversary Carnival held every March, Flowers Festival every August and Baa...ke Taman kita every December.

For promotional purposes, he said, the park is also actively participating in exhibitions held at the State, national and international levels, like the Harvest Festival, Kalimaran Festival, Farmers, Breeders and Fishermen's Day, Malaysian Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism Exhibition (Maha) in Serdang, Selangor, Sabah International Expo 2012 and Singapore International Orchid Conference 2011.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sabah expects 3.105 million tourists expected next year


MORE tourists are expected to visit Sabah next year, with the establishment of additional new flights and routes.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun in expressing his confidence, said that they had targeted at least 3.105 million tourists would pick Sabah as their holiday destination. Of the figure, 2,175,000 are domestic visitors, while 930,000 are from abroad.

“We believe this will generate revenue amounting to some RM5.510 billion to the state,” he said in his winding up speech during the State Legislative Assembly sitting, yesterday, adding that the additional routes and flights were timely, especially with the launch of the Visit Malaysia Year for 2013 and 2014.

He said the new routes were Davao-Kota Kinabalu, which would be operated by AirAsia effective November 1, and also Cebu-Kota Kinabalu the following month.

Masidi said Silk Air had also voiced its intention to increase its Singapore-Kota Kinabalu flight frequency from seven to 10 flights weekly beginning October 31, while MASwings would be launching its thrice weekly Puerto Princessa-Kota Kinabalu flight soon.

“Malaysia Airlines System (MAS) will be launching its once weekly Perth-Kota Kinabalu flight on December 9, twice weekly Osaka-Kota Kinabalu on December 20, and two additional flights for its Hong Kong-Kota Kinabalu route, making it nine flights weekly beginning December 1,” said Masidi.

According to Masidi, the state had recorded positive growth in the number of tourist arrivals this year, where in the first eight months, they recorded 1,873,507 visitors, contributing a revenue of RM3.39 billion.

“The number showed a 1.1 per cent increase compared to similar period last year with a total of 1,852,899 arrivals,” he said.

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Is orangutan tourism ethical?


Seeing the orangutans at Tanjung Puting

In the middle of the jungle of Borneo, the paradox hit me. Surrounded by the rustling of the animals, hours from civilisation, it all became clear. The very thing that is threatening the wildlife population here is the same thing that could save it – human intervention.

“You need to find a balance in life”, says Fred Galdikas from the Orangutan Foundation International.

“The good thing is people are more aware… the bad thing is we’re bringing more people here.”

So the issue stuck with me… Should I, as a tourist, be intruding on the animals’ land? Or will my presence here ultimately help them?

Yesterday I wrote about joining Fred to visit the orangutan conservation camps in Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo). He grew up here amongst the animals and, along with his mother and other workers, has dedicated his life to helping orangutans.

The foundation saves orphaned babies who would die on their own, feeds adults when natural food is scarce, and works on projects for long-term sustainability. But from a tourism perspective, he has seen things change over the past 30 years. When he was a child, that was never the aim and only a couple of boats would arrive each week. But by 2011, there were about 5,000 visitors to Tanjung Puting. This year there have already been about 8,000.

It’s not easy to get here so you need a bit of dedication. First there’s a flight to Pangkalan Bun, then a transfer to Port Kumai, then a four hour boat ride to Camp Leakey – the main base for the orangutan conservation efforts. Those visitors who come here usually have the right intentions. But intentions don’t save a species.

“They were not put here for tourists”, Fred stresses. “This is where they live… but their habitat is being destroyed.”

But tourism could, in some ways, be the very thing that protects the orangutans and their habitat. The biggest threat to the animals is the destruction of the jungles here in Kalimantan. Local Indonesians are cutting it down to build palm oil plantations. But they’re only doing it because it’s the easiest way to make a living.

“We’re in a third world country where every day is almost a struggle to survive, to eat, to make money”, Fred explains.

“And when people see the rich guys like the palm oil guys, the local people look at that and wonder how they can do that. Well, one of the things they do is open up a palm oil plantation because that’s where the money is.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Is orangutan tourism ethical?
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Responsible Travel Company Opens Community Learning Centre in Borneo


Camps International have this week handed over one of their most amobitious projects to the local community in Borneo. The Community Learning Centre has been built by teams of volunteers since 2012.

CAMPS INTERNATIONAL, an award-winning school expedition and gap year specialist based in Hampshire have been leading the way in terms of long term sustainable projects. This week saw the official opening of the Community Learning Centre on Mantanani Island off the coast of Borneo. Previous winners of the Responsible Travel awards for “Best Volunteering Organisation” Camps international have always looked at the long-term benefits of projects to a community.

Camps International Asia Director Rory Hall said “ During my 8 or so years in Borneo I have been privileged to see some great things and also to be part of constructing many buildings in rural villages.  But I have to say the CLC on Mantanani is perhaps one of the most impressive and beautiful buildings I have worked on.” The building will have multiple uses including as a village hall, kindergarten, library and meeting place for the community.

Planning for the CLC was started in the summer of 2010 with just a plot of land and a handshake with the local headman. The building is constructed using sustainable locally sourced material including the huge drift wood columns around the outside and bamboo panels that adorn the walls.

“From the outside the bamboo panelling forms a protective shell which is intriguing to the eye.” Said Rory  “from the inside the different designs of panel allow varying levels of light through, creating a mosaic or light and shadow, making the interior fascinating to just sit and be inside of.” Rory was also highly impressed with the work ethic of all involved who included: ”Interns and the permanent team from Arkitrek, the skilled local labour and every single volunteer from the schools and gap year students who have worked during their expeditions”.

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Traditional food to be tourism pull factor for Sibu


SIBU: Good traditional local delicacies will inject the much needed ‘wow’ factor into the tourism industry here, said Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Sarawak Chapter liaison officer for Sibu, Roy Ting.

Ting, who is also Sarawak Central Region Hotels Association assistant secretary, however, said good food alone was inconsequential to provide good mileage for the sector.

“The way I see it, good food alone might not be influential enough to attract tourists as no one will just travel to a destination for food only.

“But good traditional local food is certainly one of the good tourism products,” he said.

Meanwhile, the 1Malaysia Food Fair, now into its third year, is slated to be held from Dec 15 till Jan 6, 2013 at Sibu Town Square Phase 2. Its organising committee is headed by ‘Persatuan Penjaja Bersatu Bahagian Sibu dan Daerah Meradong Sarawak’ and supported by Sibu Municipal Council (SMC), Seven Clans Association and Sibu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The carnival is a tourism product initiated by the Ministry of Tourism.

Famed delicacies such as ‘Mee Rebus’, Indian Rojak and ‘Yong Tao Foo’ would be the main attraction besides traditional cuisine.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) Sibu executive Rudy Anoi, when contacted, agreed that food could help put Sibu on the world map, especially among food lovers.

“We can see in the television that there are more and more programmes on food,” noted Rudy.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bunga Raya, Gaya Island, Borneo


This two week trip packs in quite an itinerary.

The first few days however are all about no news, no shoes and kicking back with a great read.

I have a brilliant read. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It's a stunner and one my momma in law HAS to read. No correction everyone has to read it. Get it.

After 2 flights and a speed boat transfer we reach the island paradise of Bunga Raya. Nestled in the secluded bay of Gaya Island it is exactly the tropical idyll we hoped for.

Bunga Raya means Hibiscus flower and they are in blooming proliferation here, red, white, yellow, pink, apricot...................

We are quickly shown to our beach bungalow with it's lovely sheltered sun deck and plunge pool which looks out onto talcum powder sand and a crystal clear blue expanse of the South China Sea.

Impatient to plunge, we jump in just wearing our undies. Our bags are en route from the boat and we don't wait a second longer.

There is a flowing brook just below us, so pretty but we both know that come dusk, it will be a seething pool of mossies!

A crane stalks with purpose and the frog has a just in time escape, tench dart frantically, a monitor lizard rustles steadily through the leaves for juicy grubs and a vibrant, crimson butterfly settles on a nearby twig. Just lovely.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Bunga Raya, Gaya Island, Borneo
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Australian students trek through Death March jungles of Borneo


NO ONE can ever really know how allied prisoners of war suffered when they died in the jungles of Borneo through Second World War.

But a group of 16 students, teachers and parents from Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School had a taste of it when they spent 12 days in Borneo on a Walking in the Footsteps of our Heroes trek.

Many hundreds of prisoners died on the jungle tracks between Sandakan and Ranau now known as the infamous Death Marches.

Renowned historian and leading authority on Second World War history of Sandakan and the death marches, Lynette Silver accompanied the group for the duration in Borneo.

She and her husband Neil shared their knowledge and experience, facilitating all logistical arrangements for the group.

The journey started in Sandakan with a visit to the stone, heritage-listed St Michael's Church with its magnificent stained glass Windows of Remembrance.

It was here that many of the prisoners of war spent the night before they walked to the Sandakan camp.

The campsite is now a peaceful memorial park, which commemorates the sacrifice and suffering endured by both Australian and British soldiers who were held by the Japanese as prisoners of war between 1942 and 1945.

Each member of the Lindisfarne group walked in honour a prisoner of war.

Throughout the trek, each POW's story was shared with the group in an emotional and poignant ceremony at the location where they died.

Memorial services were held at beautiful Kundasang War Memorial, at the Last Camp at Ranau and at Labuan Island off the coast of Brunei where the POWs are buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

"The service at Kundasang War Memorial was particularly moving as it is located beneath the imposing Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia, which rises to a height of 4095.2m," a spokeswoman for the group said.

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Orangutans in Kalimantan, Borneo


For the first seven or eight years of his life, Fred Galdikas had a best friend called Apollo Bob. Like most friends at that age, they would play together outside. And like most children at that age, their differences seemed immaterial. Kids have an ability to look beyond race, religion, or language and just see a friend for who they are.

That was probably lucky for Fred. You see, Apollo Bob was an orangutan.

Thirty years ago, when Fred was born, his mother was living deep inside the jungles of Borneo, in the Indonesian part of the island called Kalimantan. Dr Birute Galdikas had set up a refuge for orangutans – somewhere to protect them and to research them. And while she was there, her family grew. What she didn’t realise at first was that the family would end up including the animals around her.

These days, more than forty years after she first arrived in Borneo, Dr Birute Galdikas still spends most of her time living and working with the orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park. Fred also spends much of his life at the base camp there, when he’s not working on the administrative side of the Orangutan Foundation International organisation in the United States. His “deep innate connection” with the animals – something he’s felt since birth – means he can never be away for too long.

I first meet Fred as we sit on the wooden deck of a ‘klotok’, the traditional Indonesian boat that is taking us up the river to Camp Leakey, the heart of the orangutan conservation efforts. In the trees on the water’s edge, monkeys sit in branches and watch us go past. The river winds its way through the dense jungle and the boat lethargically makes its way upstream. Around us the dense jungle is never silent – a reminder that we’re not alone out here.

“Just remember, we are going into their world”, Fred explains.

“We’re going into an orangutan’s world, we’re not going to our world. This is where they stay, where they live. So when we interrupt that flow, it’s interrupting nature a little bit.”

It’s an interruption that is needed, though. The orangutans are under threat from a number of fronts, but mostly from a shrinking habitat. Many local Indonesians are destroying the natural forests in Borneo to create palm oil plantations – one of the easiest ways to make money on the island.

After staring out at the endless jungle of trees along the river for the past few hours, it’s hard to imagine the devastation that’s happening just kilometres away. But Fred knows the reality all too well. “There just simply isn’t enough forest for the orangutans to roam and live”, he tells me.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Orangutans in Kalimantan, Borneo
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An account of an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Mount Kinabalu


Even though our climb of Mt. Kinabalu was a few days into our trip, I have decided to post about it first of all.

A lot of preparation, research and a good dose of angst (mainly from me) went into our efforts on this climb.

I read every blog entry I could find about those who had already done the climb.

I knew the initial few kilometres comprised of very steep steps into the rock.

I knew it would be very hot and humid so plenty of sunblock was required and shorts would be fine initially.

I knew warmer clothes would be needed higher up as it turns extremely cold.

I knew we had to start off very slowly as we would need that energy reserve later.

I knew to respect the altitude and heed the symptoms of altitude sickness.

I felt I had a fairly good idea of what to expect and most people's experiences seemed to be consistent.

I trained hard at the gym and my fitness was never an issue. (Thanks Vibrobody). Hubster was absolutely fine too, the mountain goat that he is!

The altitude was not a problem, for either of us. (Blessing)

However nowhere did I read the experience we were to encounter. (Nowhere!)

145 other people embarked on the climb with us that day. (Not all at the same time)

When we set off the whole of the mountain was shrouded in thick cloud. No chance of seeing our nemesis before we started.

It was dank and drizzling.

After just 1km up, 30 minutes in, it was raining heavily and we were soaked through. Shorts, knickers, bra - the lot. (even Gareth's bra! lol)

After 4km up, 3.5 hours in, we were battling a downward torrent of muddy rain water and we could clearly hear the wind howling and whistling as we started to emerge out of the tree canopy.

A little weary and in need of sustenance we stopped at the makeshift hut. We nibbled on a few boiled eggs, drank some water and noted Sepison, our guide, was looking concerned. I found the howling wind disconcerting and I was already very cold.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, Borneo


Borneo and Sumatra are the only places in the world that still have Orang-utans, a name which means Man of the Forest in Malaysian, so getting to see them in the wild was an unforgettable experience.

We visited the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo. The centre is a great example of active conservation as they re-introduce domesticated, injured and orphaned orang-utans back into the wild.

In this rehab centre they take the orang-utans from where they are in danger, such as in farmer’s crops or where people have captured them to keep them as pets.

If they are healthy they are released back into a safe area of the forest but if they’re unhealthy or can’t fend for themselves, they are kept at the centre until they are ready to be released.

The centre has developed special ‘half way’ areas which are platforms in the forest where they are fed. One of the orang-utan’s old keepers will go to a platform every day at a certain time with bananas and milk.

The keepers also offer the emotional support the orange-utans crave which is something they come to rely on while they are in captivity.

The halfway platforms are available for the orang-utans when they are initially released while they are still learning to search for their own food.

The keepers only offer bananas to make sure the orang-utans don’t starve but at the same time they start to get bored with the same menu option and start exploring the forest for different things to eat.

Eventually they won’t need to return to the feeding platforms and will be entirely self-sufficient.

The centre also educates local people and school children about the orang-utans to help ensure their safety in the future.

When we arrived we watched an educational video and then went to a viewing area near the first platform to watch the orang-utans arrive in time for their meal.

There was a boardwalk leading to the viewing area where one orang-utan and her baby were sat.

They were just chilling in the forest before lunch time and they looked relaxed and happy and led the way to the feeding platform as we followed in silent disbelief.

There were two female orang-utans with babies clinging to their chests at the feeding platform. Some people were disappointed we didn’t see more but we were told that the fewer orang-utans we saw the better.

It means they’re providing for themselves and the rehabilitation programme is working.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, Borneo
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