Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Orangutan conservation envoy to protect turtles


KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s International Ambassador for Orangutan Conservation, Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, will be embarking on another conservation project in Sabah and it is for the protection of turtles.

“I am happy to announce today that we are discussing with Michelle for her next project in Sabah, the conservation of turtles which are also a target of poachers. Hopefully it will be realized in the not so distant future,” Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun said.

He made the announcement at a press conference after the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Regional Security Forum Workshop on Combating Wildlife Trafficking by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman at a resort in Tuaran yesterday.

Masidi believed that Michelle’s ‘voice’ will make people sit up and listen to why it is important to conserve our wildlife.

“It is all about education, no amount of assets or money will solve the problem unless the people are educated in the need to conserve. Look at drugs trafficking, the penalty is death by hanging and yet it is still a menace today and the simple reason is that I think educational effort needs to be enhanced.

“That is why we need Michelle. I am sure when she speaks people will listen. When Datuk Anifah and I speak, people will say ‘ah… politicians’. That is the difference,” he stressed.

In his welcoming remarks earlier, Masidi said that having the Workshop on Combating Wildlife Trafficking in Sabah is indeed timely.

“Though Sabah has always been in the forefront of wildlife conservation in Malaysia, we are now besieged by severe challenges with regards to wildlife poaching and smuggling. We know that most of our totally protected forest reserves and marine parks have been breached by wildlife poachers who are linked to very organized wildlife traffickers that seem to have seemless transboundary penetration.

“Some of the species that are of grave concern to us are the Sunda pangolin and the marine turtles. Credible reports from very reliable sources show huge numbers of these two species being hunted and smuggled out of Sabah to neighbouring countries due to the ever increasing and insatiable demand for the consumption of exotic meats, traditional medicine and many other reasons,” he said.

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Sarawak Tourism Forum to build ties among industry players


KUCHING: The Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) will be organising a forum on tourism at a leading hotel here on April 16 and 17.

According to its president Philip Yong, the inaugural Sarawak Tourism Forum themed ‘Charting our Direction in Tourism’ is aimed at fostering ties among key players in the tourism industry as well as to identify the potential and direction of the industry in the state in the future.

“We are expecting around 200 to 300 delegates to participate in the forum where an experienced panel of speakers will be sharing their knowledge and expertise on the tourism industry.

“Furthermore, the forum will be attended by two top facilitators, namely Elizabeth Rich who has more than 30 years of experience as Meetings Industry Association of Australia chief executive officer as well as Yeow Siew Hoon, the leading media voice for Asia Pacific’s travel industry for more than 25 years,” he told a press conference at Sarawak Tourism Board’s (STB) office here yesterday.

Present were Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) managing director Mike Canon and a member of the panel of speakers, Audry Wan Ullok.

Yong, who is also the forum’s organising chairman, said STF will be featuring a special competition on ‘How I Would Chart the Direction of Tourism in Sarawak’ in conjunction with the two-day forum.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

‘Bond Girl’ Michelle Yeoh to be Sabah wildlife conservation advocate


KOTA KINABALU — Hollywood celebrity Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, touched by wildlife conservation efforts in Sabah, will help promote the preservation of the state’s endangered species to the world.

The Ipoh-born actress said she said she will work with the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry on a documentary to highlight Sabah’s marine treasures including its turtles and coral reefs.

“I’ve been championing the orangutans but will work on other endangered wildlife. We are so blessed to have so much diversity and it is our duty to protect them. It is my duty to give them a voice,” she said.

Yeoh, who is the Malaysian Ambassador for Orangutan Conservation, said she witnessed first-hand the diversity and uniqueness of Sabah’s wildlife at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation centre and Kinabatangan river, and was impressed by the conservation work underway.

“There is always more to be done. The work here is Sabah is commendable. There are some concerted efforts being made to address the issue but the sad part is the problem is still there.

“But I’m happy to see some efforts, and there is political will – both at the federal and local government level supportive of such issues,”  she said when speaking to reporters during a Press conference ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Workshop on Combating Wildlife Trafficking.

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Fishing Safari will return together with Kaul Festival


MUKAH: The Fishing Safari will be back this time around together with the Mukah Festival this year.

The event will be held on April 19 at Press Metal Sarawak Sdn Bhd pond, some 38km from this town.

The company has run similar events several times and the biggest number of participants was 500 anglers.

According to company’s spokesperson Requel Anthony, various prizes are up for grabs in several categories.

“This is the first time we are holding it in conjunction with Kaul Mukah Festival.”

The annual festival, organised by Sarawak Melanau Association Federation and supported by several partners, will kick off this April 18 at the seashore some 500m from the Kaul site.

Kaul Tugek is one of the traditional ceremonies that includes a simple session to seek blessing, followed by light refreshment by the seaside.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kaul Fest a heritage to treasure


MUKAH: The annual Kampung Sungai Ud Kaul Festival can become the initial platform to expose and educate today’s youngsters on the culture and traditions of the Melanau community.

Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, who officiated at the event at the village’s community hall here yesterday, said Kaul Festival could become that first step towards that mission.

“As we can see for ourselves, the ‘kaul’ has been held every year since generations ago and obviously, it has undegone changes over time.

“However, those from the younger generation need to know about the meaning of ‘kaul’ in all its significant virtues.

The festival is actually a platform for us to be thankful for our blessings, as well as to treat sickness and to keep it at bay,” she said.

According to Fatimah, who is also Dalat assemblywoman , one could liken the festival to a ‘family day’ where all members of a community – irrespective of age and background – would gather and make the atmosphere festive.

“Children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens can get together and have a great time through many activities being run throughout the festival.

It’s about spending quality time and this, by itself, is a treasured heritage.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Kaul Fest a heritage to treasure
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Bako still a tourist haven


KUCHING: The coastal area of Bako, which is known for its rich flora and fauna, will continue to be the focal point for tourists especially if seafood restaurants are plentiful there.

According to Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip proper planning needed to be carried out to ensure the area, which includes Bako National Park, would continue to be the focus of tourists and the local community.

The area’s potential should be harnessed by the local residents to create tourism-based products.

He made the call when officiating at the opening of Bako Fest 2015 at the Kampung Bako Terminal on Friday night.

“Bako Fest is also a good venue to further popularise Bako as an exciting tourism destination in Sarawak,” he added.

Demak Laut assemblyman Dr Hazland Abang Hipni, who also spoke, said the three-day festival would bring forth a few tourism-based products with high potential that should be harnessed as soon as possible by the local residents.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Bako still a tourist haven
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Boosting Sarawak’s cultural heritage tourism


A country’s cultural heritage including historic buildings, sites, cultures and other invaluable assets can play a major role in boosting the nation’s tourism sector as these unique features can be promoted as tourism products to generate income.

As the tide of modernity and development continue to constantly sweep across the nation, it becomes even more imperative to conserve what remains of the old world to retain the spirit or ‘soul’ of the country.

“Finding the right balance between the development of a modern way of life, buildings, and infrastructures, and conservation of traditions, architecture, and culture is critical to ensure the country’s attractiveness for tourists,” Asean digital resource platform, Asean UP, said in a post.

In Malaysia, cultural heritage tourism has always played a key role in the growth of the nation.

By 2020, the tourism industry in Malaysia is expected to reach record total receipts of RM168 billion, with 36 million tourist arrivals targeted under the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan (MTTP), Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had said.

As for Sarawak, Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg had said that Sarawak has been consistently offering unique selling points in the form of culture, adventure and nature.

He highlighted that Sarawak’s pull factor has always revolved around culture, adventure, and nature aspects and as such, can be pillars of attraction to all market segments.

Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had once said that preserving cultural heritage is also a social responsibility as it reflects our identity.

He pointed out that while Kuching is rapidly developing, it is still closely tied to its rich history.

Culture heritage tourism offers the opportunity for the local community to portray and narrate its own story.

If articulated in a proper way, through proper channels, culture heritage tourism could make an impact on the economic growth for communities and regions.

In Kuching, over the years, the older part of Kuching city has gone relatively quiet as its clienteles are pulled away by the attractive modernisation going on throughout the rest of the city.

Hence, various projects are currently underway to revive the old segment of Kuching in order to meet the younger market’s demand and to lure back the market as well as boost the tourism aspect of the area.

Most of these projects leverage on priceless historical assets readily available in old Kuching.

While developments are undertaken to rejuvenate old Kuching, its heritage should remain intact, so the future generations can appreciate the state’s historical remnants which could be traced to the White Rajah Brooke era.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Boosting Sarawak’s cultural heritage tourism
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Sabah attracting South Korean visitors


Sabah has become one of the favourite tourism destinations for South Koreans.

In the first nine months of 2014, a total of 90,225 tourists from South Korea traveled to Sabah. This is in contrast with the 106,203 who visited the state throughout 2013.

The number of holidaymakers from South Korea is expected to increase in 2015 through various efforts taken by Tourism Malaysia, which includes a collaboration with South Korean low-cost carrier Jin Air.


COLLABORATION WITH JIN AIR

Jin Air is promoting Malaysia for a period of three months, and is expected to fly 15,738 passengers on 86 chartered flights to Malaysia until March 29.

“We are expecting some 380,000 South Koreans to visit Malaysia annually, particularly to Sabah,” said Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general Datuk Azizan Noordin.

Jin Air’s maiden flight from Incheon, South Korea to Kota Kinabalu last December carried 183 passengers and crew on a Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

The airline offers seven flights a week during peak season and four flights a week during periods of low demand.

Azizan said the collaboration presented a win-win situation for both parties and if responses were good, the airline would continue offering direct flights to Malaysia.


THE ALLURE OF SABAH

Sabah’s magnificent and unique islands like Pulau Manukan and Pulau Sipadan are popular destinations among South Koreans who are looking to escape their country’s winter.

They are also drawn to the culture, local tradition and tourist facilities offered by the state.

“Kota Kinabalu is a renowned tourist destination and we want South Koreans to come here and enjoy the hotels, resorts and other facilities available,” said Jin Air vice-president Kwang Lee.

Kwang said they welcomed the collaboration to introduce the Koreans to Sabah and its plethora of attractions, such as Mount Kinabalu.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

More Beautiful Borneo


After breakfast on our second day of our trip into the Borneo jungle, we had a little time to ourselves to relax and also make sure our bags were packed. We were staying one night in each of two jungle lodges.

At 10:30am, we met back with the group to head out for our tree planting activity. The Abai village which is located across the river from the Abai Jungle Lodge grows little seedlings. 

These trees are then sold to people to replant elsewhere. We went across the river by boat to pick up six trees and then headed a ways downstream to plant them.

There was a large grassy area where the tree planting took place, the former site of a village – they are trying to recreate growth in the area. However, in the open grasses it is hard for reforestation to happen without help.

As we got off the boat and on to land, we were all delighted to find many large piles of elephant dung. We then decided we should all grab some of the (dried) elephant dung to help fertilize our trees!

One of the local boys helped to dig holes, and we were left with sticking a sapling in a hole and filling the hole with dirt (more like clay in Sabah) and elephant dung. We then watered our saplings and made sure to note their numbers.

All the trees are tagged and numbered, and records are kept of them and who planted them. In case we ever want to visit our trees in the future. The species name was told to us in the local language – but the translation is umbrella tree.

We hopped backed into the boat and headed back to Abai village. We were given a little tour of the village and learned more about their history and way of life.

They have a population of about 170 people, a school with about 40 students (I believe just through elementary school) and a mosque. There is also a very small store, and a machine which they use to process rice.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: More Beautiful Borneo
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Asean International Film Festival and Awards 2015 - Jackie Chan to appear in Kuching


KUCHING: International superstar Datuk Jackie Chan will be making a guest appearance at the Asean International Film Festival and Awards (Aiffa) 2015 here from April 9 to 11.

He will join a star-studded line-up that includes some of the region’s best names in the film and entertainment industry, as well as industry players from China and South Korea.

Further details about Chan’s appearance will be released by Aiffa organisers at a later date.

Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, in making the announcement at a luncheon talk with the media yesterday, said a glamorous and prestigious event like Aiffa was bound to benefit not only the state but the region as a whole.

“Entertainment can break down political tensions and differences. It transcends borders to help in developing closer social ties and forging greater unity among nations.

“If such ties are established and trust is built, the economic benefits such as better connectivity and communications will follow,” he said.

Abang Johari said Aiffa was a good platform to make Sarawak known to the world.

“Film is an effective tool to promote cultures and influence lifestyles. Our new approach is to promote our local cultures through film.

“Films that depict local cultures can make Sarawak known to the world. It is our long-term vision and as Sarawak has the potential, we have to start somewhere. Aiffa is a good place to start as Kuching is the permanent venue for the event,” he said.

Abang Johari was also optimistic of the participation from the region, particularly from film-makers.

“For the first time, all 10 Asean nations have sent in their films for consideration. So we are looking at a very big event that brings the industry’s best to Kuching,” he said.

Meanwhile, Information Department director-general Dato Ibrahim Abdul Rahman believed that Aiffa would promote more than just Sarawak’s tourism to the world.

“Aiffa will be able to create a more known image of Sarawak that is not only a beautiful tourist destination, but also a natural studio, ideal as a filming location for international films.

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Sabah to benefit from Maritime Silk Road with direct KK-Wuhan flights


KOTA KINABALU: Direct flight connections between Kota Kinabalu and Wuhan, China would see the possibility of Sabah benefiting from part of the Maritime Silk Road funding of USD40 billion offered by the China government.

Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir was informed of this by Dr Tan Beng Huat, the Sabah Maritime Silk Route Society president, during a courtesy call at the City Hall together with visiting professors from Wuhan, China yesterday.

According to Tan, Chinese President Xi JinPing had initiated a project called “Maritime Silk Road Project” for all the countries along the silk route, involving 10 countries from China all the way to South East Asia and passing through the Straits of Malacca, the Indian Ocean to Eastern Africa.

Tan said China Government had pledged USD40 billion to fund all cooperative activities, such as infrastructure, cultural promotion, maritime research and tourism activities.

Since its formation in 2013, Tan said the Sabah Maritime Silk Route Society had been doing their research on the said project and he opined that the establishment of the ‘sister city’ between Wuhan and Kota Kinabalu would be a great advantage.

Apart from opening a new ‘tourism’ market, he said the proposed direct flight connections between the two cities would boost cultural, economic and education exchanges.

On the two visiting professors, namely Yao Wijun and Lim Weng Kon from the Central China Normal University, Wuhan, Tan said the university is rated as one of the top three in China.

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India boost next for Sabah tourism


KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Hj Aman expressed confidence that the visit of popular dance troupe from India would go a long way to strengthen the cultural ties between the two countries.

He said festivals such as this showcased the diversity that we have in Malaysia, particularly in the state of Sabah.

“We live in harmony despite our diversity and it is my hope that we will all continue to appreciate the different traditions that each community brings, adding vibrancy and strength to the Malaysia fabric,” he said.

Sabah too can introduce its unique cultures to India as the state is a melting pot of over 30 ethnic groups, the Chief Minister said in a speech delivered by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun during the Festival of India in Malaysia – Folk Dance and Music from Punjab (Bhangra and Gidda) at the Culture and Arts Complex (JKKN) here on Tuesday night.

Organised by the Ministry of Culture, India and supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the dance troupe from India showcased here for the first time in Malaysia the Bhangra and Gidda Folk Dance from Punjab.

Speaking to reporters later, Masidi said the dance festival has opened the eyes to look further to India as it has lots of potential to further develop Sabah tourism sector.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sabah tourism expected to rebound this year


KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah tourism industry is expected to rebound in 2015 as issues surrounding the industry has been addressed, said Bank Negara Malaysia Assistant Governor Marzunisham Omar.

“We hope that having resolved the situation, we can actually promote and strengthen back the tourism industry for Sabah. The tourism industry is a big sector in the Malaysian economy and a big sector in Sabah too.

“We hope the Tourism Ministry would attract tourists to come and spend (here),” he told reporters after the economic outlook 2015 forum here yesterday.

It was organised by the Sabah Malaysian International Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MICCI).

However, Marzunisham said lower crude palm oil prices would affect Sabah’s economy this year.

“Following my engagement with some of the Sabah companies, I remain optimistic on certain projects that have been going on,” he added.

On the potentials of the economic sector, Marzunisham said aquaculture would be a good prospect in Sabah and it was “something that we need to continue to focus on and assist (to boost the industry),” he added.

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Ex-Aussie soldier donates historical items to Keningau Museum


KENINGAU: A former lieutenant colonel of the Royal Australian Engineers, Tomasz Ciseniewski, or better known as Tom, and his Sabahan wife, Connie Lupang, visited the Keningau Heritage Museum on Monday afternoon.

What used to be a rest house 50 years ago has been turned into a local museum that houses numerous historical collections dating back to the colonial days ranging from artefacts and old photographs.

The couple’s visit to the museum was to donate old photographs and an Australia Army Slouch hat that would become part of the exhibition here.

Flash back to late 1965, Tomasz was a young second lieutenant of the transport troops, and a member of the 21st Construction Squadron of the Royal Australia Engineers that was building a road network between Keningau and Sapulut during the Indonesian Confrontation.

He was put in charge at the Keningau Base Camp to make sure supplies and equipment were running smoothly between the railhead from Tenom to Pandewan, a forward base camp set up just a few miles off Sapulut.

After Malaysia was formed on September 16, 1963 through the union of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah (then North Borneo), Indonesia then under the leadership of Sukarno, launched an armed insurgency to destabilise the newly formed federation.

In response to the threat, the Australian government sent the Royal Australian Engineers to Sabah as part of its military aid to protect the sovereignty of the State against the aggressors.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sarawak keen to work with Yunnan Province in tourism


KUCHING: Sarawak is keen to work together with the Yunnan Province of China in the fields of tourism and agro-technology, said Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Speaking at a welcoming dinner held by Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) for Yunnan Province Vice-Governor Gao Shuxun and his delegation, Abang Johari expressed admiration for the Kunming Stone Forest, as well as the province’s advances in plant and botany technology.

He pointed out that these were the areas where they could explore cooperation.

“You have a good branding in the stone forest design. We want to learn from you so we can transform our Wind Cave and limestone forest of Sarawak.

I will send my officers to study with you on your design,” he said, after outlining the many similarities between Sarawak and Yunnan Province.

Abang Johari, who is also Housing Minister and Sarawak National Youth Organisation (Saberkas) president, said a lot of knowledge was exchanged during the delegation’s visit to Sarawak Biodiversity Centre on how to develop the state’s plant technology and agriculture.

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Sarawakiana talk on WWII Operation ‘Semut’ – The Unsung Heroes


KUCHING: Pustaka Negeri Sarawak (Pustaka) in collaboration with Friends of Sarawak Museum (FoSM) and Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) invite the public to a Sarawakiana talk entitled “WWII Operation ‘Semut’ – The Unsung Heroes”.

It will be held at Pustaka’s special collection room on Saturday, March 28 from 9am to 11am.

The talk is held in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the historical heritage on March 25, in commemoration of the first parachute landing of the commandos at Bario in 1945 during the Japanese occupation.

The “Z” special unit, also known as Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD), Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Special Operations Australia (SOA) based at Allied Land headquarters in Melbourne implemented the Borneo project in a series of long-term operations codenamed ‘Agas’ and ‘Semut’ in North Borneo and Sarawak respectively.

The SRD operations laid the groundwork, to a large extent, thereby paving the way for the eventual invasion in mid-1945 at the Brunei Bay-Labuan island area.

The main objectives of the SRD operations were two-fold: the gathering of intelligence, and organising (including training and arming) of local inhabitants into resistance group to wage guerilla warfare.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Borneo Adventure 2


Continuation of the first day

After our lunch at the lodge and checking into our rooms, we had about an hour or two to ourselves.

John and I went and explored the lodge and the walkways through the forest surrounding the lodge.

Around 4pm, we left again on a smaller motorized boat to go upstream and look for more wildlife.

There was talk of elephants being further upstream in the days prior.

So our guide, Albert, said we would go a ways up river and then come back slowly looking for wildlife.

I really wanted to see an elephant, but apparently it is quite rare.

We traveled upstream for about an hour without seeing much of anything.

I was tired of sitting in boats and felt like it would be a waste of a trip as it seemed there was nothing to be seen in the thick forests lining the riverbanks.

We then came across a film crew who apparently had been sitting in the same spot since before noon and had seen some elephants crossing the river at noon – it was now 5pm and they said they were waiting for more.

We stopped for a moment and continued up a bit further, saw some more monkeys and turned around.

This time when we stopped and our guide spoke to the driver of the film crew’s boat, they relayed to us that in fact about 50 pygmy elephants had emerged from the woods and swam across the large river.

They also said one female had turned around and gone back in to the woods without crossing and there were two males that had not crossed.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Borneo Adventure 2
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Tanjung Puting National Park: Borneo, Indonesia


One of the last times we went to Indonesia, we took the opportunity to travel over to Kalimantan (north of Java) to visit Tanjung Puting National Park. First, here’s the flight path we took from Jakarta to Pangkalanbuun Iskandar.

I’ll reserve another post to talk about flying over to Kalimantan. It was an experience in itself that involved walking down a highway outside of Jakarta, getting a free taxi ride, and a tiny airplane. :)

Tanjung Puting National Park.

The park was originally designated as a game reserve in 1935. It wasn’t until 1982 when the national park was established and even since then it has had questionable protection mostly due to Palm Oil plantation in the surrounding lands (deforested areas).

Nonetheless, it does remain wild and natural. The park consists of over 1100 square miles of area including the rivers that weave their way through the park before flowing into the Java Sea.

Tanjung Puting is filled to the brim with wildlife, including multiple species of monkeys, gators, and a multitude of birds. It is most well known, however, for its Orangutans, made famous by a rehabilitation center at Camp Leakey.

The orangutans, displaced mostly by the palm oil expansion (through deforestation), are nursed back to health and taught how to function as wild Orangs, before they are gradually re-released into the wild.

When you go to visit Tanjung Puting, you need to have a hired guide. This guide typically includes a boat (the only real way to explore the park). There are a multitude of services online that offer tours of the park for varying lengths of time.

I must have spent weeks/months scouring through different tour services that sort of seemed sketchy or seemed really sketchy. After a multitude of emails back and forth with different options, I finally gave in and just booked with a company that would allow us to do a 2n/3d trip into the park. We were set to meet them at the airport and go from there.

Our boat was a traditional Indonesian boat similar to the boat we took in Flores to Komodo National Park, just a bit bigger. Our “area” was the top floor of the boat where there was a bed and mosquito net, a table with chairs, and some lounge chairs out on the deck.

The bathroom was a flush toilet on the first floor– where the contents are flushed to is another story and a another mystery for another day. We met our crew and spoke with the tour operator- a woman and her husband run the business. Our tour guide for the trip was a young guy, maybe 18. He showed us around helped us get comfortable.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Tanjung Puting National Park: Borneo, Indonesia
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The Tip of Borneo


After returning from Singapore, I stayed in KK for a night and picked up Jason from the airport the next day. Jason and James (Sandy’s fiance) were here to visit for the holiday. On the first night, we got dinner together alongside Marinette and her husband, since they happened to be in the city.

We ate at a bustling Chinese restaurant famous for its chicken herbal soup. I couldn’t eat much but the vegetables, but the broth was really tasty. Sandy, James, Jason, and I then roadtripped up to the northern Tip of Borneo together (or Simpang Mengayau, as the locals call it).

It took us about 3-4 hours to arrive at Tampat Do Aman, a Rungus longhouse/nature reserve/resort in Kudat. We had to call the owner several times, but we finally found the place after navigating a series of confusing turns in the dark.

The reserve/resort was founded by Howard, a British guy who had started the orangutan sanctuary at Rasa Ria, then decided to open his own nature reserve/resort and work with the local community after marrying a Rungus woman.

Upon arrival, Howard greeted us and gave us a quick tour of the compound. He was very friendly, though a little irritated because we had arrived so late. Typically guests arrive in the morning/afternoon, since it’s a small, intimate resort, not a large place you just check into. Whoops. :X

The reserve/resort was snug in the jungle and comprised a traditional Rungus longhouse (the native communal hut of the Rungus people, who are part of the indigenous Kadazandusun tribe), several private huts, compost toilets, outdoor showers which were enclosed but open to the stars and trees, a restaurant/dining area, a Rungus museum, a common space hut, rice paddies, and more.

We dropped our stuff off in the little huts we were staying in (which were super tiny with only enough room for a large mosquito-netted mattress and powerful wall fan. There wasn’t even enough room to stand up straight! But I thought it was such a cool experience).

With the chirping night air literally steps from the bed, it really felt like we were in the jungle. After a quick shower, we drove over to the northern tip about 5 minutes away. The view at night was breathtaking. The sky was bright with hundreds of twinkling stars, and there was a wonderful, cool sea breeze.

Borneo literally ends in a rocky, cliff-like tip, with the rocks smoothed over into interesting wavy, layered formations and lots of holes where shallow pools of fish and crabs had collected. We navigated our way around the holes and climbed down as far as we could in the dark.

Continue reading at: The Tip of Borneo
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Borneo Diaries – Wildlife


I REALLY don’t want to become a ‘once-a-month blogger’ and I am really sorry for the lack of posts. This is down to two things… The first? Because I have actually travelled around so, so, SO much that I haven’t had ANY time for bloggin’.

Second, that work has well and truly kicked in now, and I have had a semester’s worth of work to plan and organise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a real workaholic –  I’m not complaining about my work or workload, I’m merely explaining the reasons behind my absence. Apologies again!

But back to Borneo. What a place. You might have read my previous post on the islands that I visited while I was there. But where this post finds its habitat is in light of the truly amazing wildlife that I encountered when I was there and I didn’t even see the proboscis monkeys! What I did see was a whole menagerie of different creatures. Let’s see what I saw…

Sea Turtles

Unfortunately they aren’t teenage (they are significantly older) nor mutants or even ninjas, but are, in fact –  turtles. You might have read about Henry and Harry in my previous Borneo post. Of course there were others, but these two were my favourites.

Sun Bears

What on earth are these adorable little things? Well, dear reader, you will be pleased to learn that these beauties are called Sun Bears (I know, AMAZING, right?) and are in-fact, the smallest specie of bear in the entire world.

Named because of the colour of their sun-kissed nose, these bears have been in a bit of trouble. So much so, that I just read this article about the travesties that these creatures face when they are kept as pets. So heartbreaking.

But it’s good to see some work being done to help these awesome little things. The visit to the sun bears was totally unexpected, but since it is just opposite the orang-utan rehabilitation centre, it certainly is worth just popping in.

Entry fee is just RM30 (again, around five/six quid) even though I paid the local fee (thanks Malaysian visa!) It is a brand new centre, only being open for around a year or so, I believe.

But has a large enclosure where the sun bears begin to experience what it’s like to live in the forest (as they are supposed to!) There’s a small viewing platform for visitors which looks down on the bears. There are telescopes provided for when the bears are down at the bottom, near to their sleeping quarters, but there were 2-3 bears hanging around the top that I didn’t need it.

The staff were very lovely and gave lots of information and were on hand to answer any questions that we might’ve had. Definitely something cool to do whilst you’re in Sepilok/Sandakan for sure. When else will you see them again, right?

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The Borneo Diaries – Wildlife
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Restored Fort Alice now a heritage museum


KUCHING: Fort Alice has been transformed into a heritage museum after its restoration.

The 150-year-old fort built in 1864 in Sri Aman – then called Simanggang – is a legacy of the white rajahs who ruled Sarawak.

Simanggang was the favourite abode of Sir Charles Brooke, the nephew of James Brooke, Sarawak’s first white Rajah.

STF Heritage Development Committee chairman Lim Kian Hock said Charles Brooke joined the Sarawak civil service in 1852. As the Tuan Muda, Charles was installed Resident Officer in Lundu.

The Sultan of Brunei had ceded the territory of the Batang Layer, Skrang and Saribas rivers to James Brooke in 1853.

Charles moved to Lingga to take over from the Resident who was killed by Iban Warrior Rentap.

A year later (1854), he moved to Skrang and in 1864 established his headquarters at Simanggang, where he started building the fort and the Astana with the help of the local communities.

It was here that Charles held court every morning, administering justice to a string of Iban and Malay litigants and received courtesy calls from Dayaks from the ulu and beyond. Both criminal and civil cases were considered and recorded.

Tuan Muda Charles Brooke’s day finished at eight every night when the fortmen would pull up the drawbridge, hollering up and down the river: “Oh ha, oh ha, oh ha; pukal dilapan tau udah behuni (eight o’ clock has sounded); tangga udah tarek (the bridge is pulled up); pintu udah kunchi (the doors are locked); orang enda tau niki agi-i-i (people are not allowed to come up anymore)”.

When Rajah James Brooke left Sarawak for the last time on Sept 24, 1863, Charles was made his deputy to run Sarawak on his behalf.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Restored Fort Alice now a heritage museum
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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Borneo Adventure


The Sandakan airport – in the province of Sabah located in East Malaysia on the island of Borneo – is very small.

By small, I mean – the entire boarding area/both gates are contained in one room.

There is one x-ray machine and one line for security, but it only took about 3 minutes to get through. You land and take off on the only runway.

The runway was started by prisoners of war captured in Borneo by the Japanese in World War II for the Japanese to use as a military airstrip.

Of 2,434 POW’s held in the Sandakan prison compound, only six – who had escaped – survived.

The government later finished the runway and opened the airport, as a memorial to those whose lives were taken.

After arriving at this airport in Sandakan on Monday, we enjoyed the afternoon and evening at and around the very nice Sheraton Fourpoints Hotel.

Tuesday morning, we started on our Borneo Adventure.

We had booked a 2.5 day/2 night trip with Borneo Adventures to see some of the jungles of Sabah.

Eddy picked up an older British couple and us from the hotel in a van at 8am and we drove about 40 minutes to the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary.

Since the 1960’s this rehabilitation center has worked with over 730 orangutans to prepare them to be released into the wild.

Some were pets, or animals that had been in captivity, others lost their habitat do to land being developed or natural disasters.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Borneo Adventure
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Kuching to host Asean International Film Festival and Awards 2015 on April 9–11


KUCHING: The city will come alive with cinematic magic at the second Asean International Film Festival and Awards (Aiffa), set to take place from April 9 to 11.

Themed Aiffa Movies and Networking Inspire Asean (Aiffa Mania), this second edition will see a star-studded list of celebrities which includes Nora Aunor and the Giuterrezz family from the Philippines, Zay Yar Aung (Myanmar), Pongsatorn Jongwilas (Thailand), Chy Thmor (Cambodia), Mello-Pham Thi Nhung, Siu Pham (Vietnam), Hanung Bramantyo (Indonesia), Tony Kern (Singapore), Datuk Yusoff Haslam (Malaysian Film Producers Association president) and chief juror U-Wei Saari (Malaysia).

“This Asean festival will definitely promote arts and performance in the state and country,” said its host Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Korean film celebrities have also decided to ‘invade’ Kuching with a delegation of 11 directors making their way to Aiffa 2015.

The internationally popular ‘Running Man’ series will also be making an appearance in Sarawak, with its team checking out the Bakun Dam as a possible location.

Aiffa 2015 will also feature K-pop stars Nolza at Sarawak Cultural Village and at the gala dinner.

Ten member nations will use Aiffa 2015 as a platform to showcase, compete and collaborate with their best offering of films.

Aiffa is a growing film festival, which made its debut in 2013. The biannual event celebrates the best of films from around Asean region.

“We are very pleased with the participation of our Asean neighbours. Kuching is set to sparkle in the world map of the film industry,” Aiffa festival director Livan Tajang remarked.

Meanwhile, the ‘Awesome Sarawak’ short film competition, run in collaboration with Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam), will also be held in conjunction with Aiffa 2015.

Open to Sarawakians, this competition is rewarding winners with prizes of RM5,000, RM3,000 and RM2,000 sponsored by Sarawak Energy Bhd and Faradale Management.

Pre-event activities have already begun in Kuching with the free screening of films at the waterfront since early February.

The three-day event will see three programmes specially designed for film enthusiasts, academics, students and nature lovers.

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The Hornbill Walk at Piasau Nature Reserve


MIRI: Today is the 21st time that the Hornbill Walk is being held at Piasau Nature Reserve to encourage people to appreciate nature and the environment.

It also enables Mirians and visitors alike to have leisure walk at the reserve and get to watch the iconic hornbills – Jimmy and Juliet – as well as other wildlife. The walk has attracted some 100 people, young and old, since it first started.

Members of the public are encouraged to take part in the walk which is free-of-charge and will start at 4.30pm from the car park of the former Tenby International School.

Datuk Sebastian Ting, chairman of Piasau Camp Miri Nature Park Society and his committee members will be among those expected to take part in the walk.

The society, the prime mover of the hornbill walk, is also among non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that actively supports the government’s effort to establish the nature reserve, which was launched in May 10, 2014.

The demolition of old houses at the reserve is on-going and is scheduled to be completed by 2016, while works to convert the former Tenby International School into a visitors’ centre will commence shortly.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: The Hornbill Walk at Piasau Nature Reserve
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Tickets to Borneo Jazz Festival on sale now


Entrance tickets to the 2015 Borneo Jazz Festival are now on sale.

Early birds can get them at RM60 per adult for the two-day pass and RM40 for one-day pass while family package of two adults and two children (aged 7-12) is sold for RM80.

The early-bird price ends on April 15 and is on first come first served basis.

Tickets for the two nights event purchased at the festival gate are priced at RM130 per adult and RM50 for child.

As for the day pass purchased on the festival day, adult is charged RM70; child is RM30; and family package is RM150.

Tickets can be bought online at www.ticketcharge.com.my. They are also available at all authorised TicketCharge storefront of Speedy Video outlets at Boulevard and Bintang malls in Miri and also at Speedy Video outlets at Plaza Merdeka in Kuching.

Tickets are also available at all visitors’ information centres in Miri, Sibu and Kuching and all TicketCharge outlets in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

The annual Jazz festival will be celebrated on May 8 and 9 at ParkCity Everly Hotel in Miri.

This 10th anniversary of the Jazz festival will be back with the top line-up of past favourite from the collection of the best performers who have rendered a wide range of jazz genre worldwide.

From Sarawak, a five-piece ensemble “All The Best” featuring Miri-born Syafiee Obe Hairunie will lead the local challenge.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Tickets to Borneo Jazz Festival on sale now
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Tourists suggest tour agencies further promote Kapit


KAPIT: Australian tourists Ian Ward and Suzy Richter have suggested tour agencies further promote Kapit Division to tourists overseas.

The couple, both freelance journalists from the Gold Coast in Queensland, were here recently as part of their three-week tour of East Malaysia.

Richter said they would not have learnt about Kapit if their friends in Kuching had not pointed out that there are many longhouses here.

“Perhaps if you have a proper set-up of tour agencies, more tourists from overseas will visit Kapit because you can promote your beauty,” she suggested.

Upon arriving here, the couple walked extensively around the town and visited a Malay village.

“Kapit is beautiful. It’s amazing to see a town surrounded by jungle. We were told that the only way to come to Kapit was by boat because there’s no road,” said Ward.

“Someone told us Kapit is at the heart of Borneo, so we came for a look. Very nice small town, friendly people, fresh air and peaceful. We went to the market place and there were many different types of vegetables.”

Both Ward and Richter were also intrigued by traditional tattoo patterns.

“In Borneo, tattoo comes in many different patterns. In Australia we also have tattoo. Also great varieties of handicrafts from wood carvings and beadwork to traditional wooden souvenirs. These are art,” said Richter.

Prior to Kapit, the couple were in Kuching.

“Kuching is one of the beautiful cities in Malaysia. Very clean, friendly atmosphere all around. We spent time strolling along the river front and there’s plenty of Asian food that we tried,” said Ward.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Marking 70th anniversary of end of WWII in Sarawak


KUCHING: A host of programmes has been lined up in the state beginning next week to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The calendar of events will begin on Wednesday in Bario with the commemoration of the 1945 landing of Commonwealth forces to mark the beginning of the Borneo liberation from Japanese occupation. Seventy years ago on March 25 at 8.30am, British and Australian commandos led by Major Tom Harrison parachute-landed in the paddy fields of Bario.

Jack Tredrea, the last remaining commando of that mission, will attend the event and soft launch his book entitled ‘Borneo Reflection’.

Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) Heritage Development Committee chairman Lim Kian Hock said the event will be hosted by Rurum Kelabit Sarawak.

Veterans from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) will make a four-day visit to Borneo this year to participate in the ‘Anzac Pan Borneo Commemoration Tour’ by Australian Borneo Exhibition covering Sarawak, Labuan and Sabah (Sandakan). The programme will start on April 12 with a twilight dedication service to be held at the Heroes’ Grave at Jalan Taman Budaya here.

“In 1943, as the Pacific war campaign led by the Americans advanced against the Japanese, the Allied forces planned a counter-insurgency to establish a Borneo Interior Force in Sarawak, Brunei, North Borneo (Sabah) and the Northern Dutch Borneo (Kalimantan) to support the advances of the Australian 9 Division.

“Operation Semut was launched with Borneo Highlands as strategic launching sites. The Borneo operation, spearheaded by Australian Forces, took the surrender of the Japanese across Borneo with Labuan on Sept 10, 1945, followed by Sarawak (Sept 11) and Sandakan (Sept 13).

“STF, in support of the Tourism Ministry, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and Tourism Malaysia, organised these events in furtherance of this historical heritage and moments to promote awareness and better understanding of the atrocity and suffering towards attaining the essence of peace,” Lim said during the soft launch of the 70th Anniversary WWII Commemoration events at Batu Lintang Teachers’ Training Institute (IPG) campus here yesterday.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Marking 70th anniversary of end of WWII in Sarawak
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Borneo Jazz volunteers sought to help at festival


KUCHING: Borneo Jazz is calling for energetic and dedicated volunteers who will be able to dedicate their time to help support the festival.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) said in a statement yesterday that volunteers will carry out a variety of tasks that require physical, technical and interpersonal skills.

They will be provided with a volunteer pass, two festival T-shirts, meal allowance and a volunteer’s certificate.

“Being a volunteer is one of the best ways to support the festival. lt gives an opportunity for volunteers to work together as a team providing excellent service to the audience, performers, media and festival guests,” said a spokesman.

He added that volunteers can also make new friends and enjoy the music.

The spokesman said most volunteers from past festivals have commented that they obtained invaluable experiences from the volunteering programme.

Application forms are available from www.jazzborneo.com or by calling the secretariat on 082-423600.

The closing date for applications is April 12 and successful applicants would be notified through email or by telephone.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bako, a land of opportunity


KUCHING: Villagers in Bako are urged to take advantage of their natural surroundings to improve their socio economic standing and contribute to the state’s eco-tourism industry.

Using Bako National Park as the main attraction for domestic and international tourists, the spillover effect from the park has yet to be fully tapped by villagers, said Demak Laut assemblyman Dr Hazland Abang Hipni.

He revealed that the park recorded revenue of RM1.2 million and a total of 47,000 visitors in
2014, which is expected to increase by at least five per cent this year.

“There are ample tourism opportunities and products in this area which is part of the untapped Bako-Buntal bay area,” said Dr Hazland at a press conference after the closing of a tourism awareness course in Kampung Bako Hulu yesterday.

Among the main areas that can be taken advantage of by locals are minute islands such as Pulau Lakei, which is famous for its legends.

Bako, he added, is the only place in Malaysia to have five secluded mini beaches that provide extra privacy to tourists and boasts around 18 nature trials for jungle trekkers.

Renowned as the home of the proboscis monkey, Bako is also home to the rare oriental hornbill and acts as a pit-stop for migratory birds from Europe and Alaska during the month of November each year.

“Tourists will find themselves among 500,000 birds and crocodiles in Bako. We can count at least six crocodiles for every kilometre along the 20km stretch,” he added.

Among the initiatives to encourage local participation in the tourism industry is the Ministry of Tourism’s inaugural Bako Fest 2015 on March 26.

“This festival will be an ongoing event throughout the year and include several programmes related to tourism activities. Most of these programmes will require the active participation of locals,” he added.

The calendar of events under Bako Fest 2015 include Kampung Bako (transit point to Bako National Park) and other known villages in the area such as Pasir Putih and Muara Tebas.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Bako, a land of opportunity
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Legend of Batu Kudik longhouse could be tourist draw


KUCHING: The mythical Batu Kudik longhouse, located about 30 minutes’ drive from Kampung Semalatong or Kampung Spaoh at Jalan Punda, Simunjan, could become a potential tourist destination.

Assistant Minister of Resource Planning Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais visited the area on Sunday accompanied by Simunjan District Officer Abdul Mohd Khalik Manap and nearly 60 local village chiefs and party leaders.

Naroden said legend has it that the longhouse was turned to stone several centuries ago by a mysterious old woman and her grandson, who were apparently belittled by the villagers.

“There are interesting tales surrounding this area thus making it a potential destination that could attract visitors and tourists from near and far,” he said in a press release yesterday.

“It can be an interesting camping spot for locals and students as well in the future.”

According to the legend, the mysterious duo had asked food from the villagers during a celebration where much merrymaking and laughter took place.

“However, instead of providing for their needs, the villagers laughed and belittled them. Thereafter, they chased them away.

“Feeling sad and angry, the grandson tied a cloth to a dog’s tail, lit it with a match and let the dog run in pain towards the crowd of drunken people,” related Naroden.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Legend of Batu Kudik longhouse could be tourist draw
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sabah, Part II: Beaches


We got off the high altitude in ear popping fashion, hurtling down slopes on our ever reliable van. Most of us dozed off and within a couple of hours we were transported from the foot of Mount Kinabalu to the wide expanse of the ocean.

We checked into Magellan Sutera Resort on a clear, hot afternoon. Most of the rooms faced the ocean, and ours was no different. It was a luxurious place that had everything you’d expect from a seaside resort, from well decorated interiors to Grohe shower heads.

We slacked for a while in the room before going out to witness the spectacular sunset. And boy, it was spectacular, with the sun sinking into the ocean like a coin falling streamlined into the still waters of a well.

To me, the fading of the light usually brought along with it some fears and despondence, but on such a fine day, I felt comfortable witnessing such a beautiful transaction.

We travelled to the city nearby for a nice dinner at Welcome Seafood Restaurant, a popular haunt for delectable seafood for both locals and tourists alike. It was filled to the brim with hungry guests and those waiting for seats were aggressive in attaining the first vacated spot.

We had to choose our seafood which were kept alive in small fish tanks. Tiger prawns the size of chihuahuas, lobsters the size of mini schnauzers, and squid the length of your arm greeted us. It was a tough choice, but we made a few orders.

We hadn’t had seafood for the entire trip, so it was great to dig into something new. The food was fresh and the service was lightning quick. It was almost like they knew your next move and prepared beforehand.

You turn to make the order and when you turn back to eat again, your order would be right in front of you. It was that sort of stunningly swift service standard. The fried squid and flower clams were sheer class, though the crabs were a little tiny.

Sure, in our final analysis, the portions were a little underwhelming, but we ordered enough dishes to feel fully satiated. Being close to the ocean and having the best of its offerings, it was a the perfect way to end our day.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sabah, Part II: Beaches
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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sabah, Part I: Mountains


After my two months of teaching it was finally time for a family holiday! This time we were off to Sabah, Malaysia. If that doesn’t sound familiar to you, it’s basically just the other portion of Malaysia that is on the island of Borneo, which on it exists Sarawak and Brunei.

Oh, Brunei. What memories I’ve had forged there in what seemed like a lifetime ago. This trip to the tropical island of Borneo will prove to be a much merrier memory.

Our first meal there upon striking the tarmac was a hearty pork broth in a Chinese coffee-shop. It was quite the special broth, like someone cooked Bak Chor Mee halfway then got lazy and just served the meal in the soup. It was great amidst the stifling heat of the place.

We took a three hour ride on a van to a mountainside resort near Mount Kinabalu. It had slightly cooler weather than at the airport, and the smell of the air was purer. Pure smell? What am I even saying? But if you had to take a breath, the word pure would pop up immediately.

It was certainly a world apart from the polluted roadsides in Singapore.

We realised immediately, that the whole area did not have WiFi. At first we were bummed because, let’s be honest, WiFi was like nectar to us, the bees. We buzzed about looking for it and focused a lot of energy into turning nectar into honey, Internet connection into social interaction.

The unease we felt makes for good social commentary, but we eventually got over it and just talked to each other.

We rested then walked down to the hot springs a few minutes walk away. The entire area is surrounded by flowing hills and they found a source of heat deep in the ground and so we have hot springs in the middle of tropical jungle. It’s not like the Japanese Hot Springs, the entire area is unpretentious and not totally clean.

People wear swimming trunks into individual “bathtubs” and instead of being set in stone, the entire area is tiled. Some pools had trash in them, and the smell of sulfur (similar to rotten eggs) greeted us as we neared the area.

I myself didn’t want to go in, because I never liked strange changes in water temperature. I just watched from the side and read a book as my parents and brother frolicked around and pretended to not feel any pain from the searing hot water. A mediocre dinner at the quaint resort cafe led us back to our rooms.

I taught my parents the game of Bridge during our last trip to Vietnam, and so we spent our WiFi-less night refreshing on our Bridge skills and listening to good ol’ Jack Johnson. It was such a simple holiday, one without any buzz from the outside world.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sabah, Part I: Mountains
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The Sarawak blowpipe — a legacy of art and survival


AMI Unja is a humble guy who ‘dresses up’ or adorns blowpipes with rattan weavings.

He has been selling his attractively designed blowpipes and other artefacts at the Miri Handicraft Centre for the past 15 years.

Ami and his wife, Aweh Emang, from Long Moh, have made a name for themselves among the cultural beaders and craftsmen in the resort city.

While Ami is an Iban rattan craftsman, specialising in weaving rattan decorations on blowpipes and a wood carver especially with kayu hujan panas, Aweh is a Kenyah beader as well as a basket weaver.

Both are enterprising and talented in their own specialities. And not surprisingly, Aweh is a shooter to be reckoned with in women’s blowpipe competitions.

Nelson Janting, a handicraft stall owner and retired teacher, said the Iban blowpipe is similar to the ones made by the Penans.

Previously, a blowpipe would take three to four months or longer to make using very primitive methods of ‘plain drill and jungle scaffolding’.

In the old days, the longhouse blowpipe was not only for decor but also a functional weapon — with the craftsman holding special social status as the pride of the community.

The blowpipe is perforated by means of a long metal rod with a chisel-shaped bit. The craftsman chooses a good hardwood such as belian with a dark colour. Some blowpipe makers even build a hut just to get their work done in isolation and solitude.

Today, Ami sells belian blowpipes, some of which can fetch RM800 each.

A factory nowadays can easily bore a hole in a rod of any width and size,  producing a blowpipe in a matter of hours. But Ami pointed out it is just not the same because a slight mistake may mean the blowpipe is not ‘chun’ (accurate) in hitting its target.

“A hand-made blowpipe is still the weapon of one’s heart’s desire,” he said.

The blowpipe is usually around seven feet long with a metal spear tied with rattan at one end. The dart is inserted at the other end, using the spear to point to the target.

Some blowpipes are shorter – two feet in length — for short distance shooting. The Americans have even copied the blowpipe by coming up with a metal foldable version obtainable from reputable stores in Labuan.

An article describes the blowpipe as a weapon made with a piece of strait-grained wood, roughly shaped to about two metres with a 15-centimetre diameter.

From time to time, water is poured into the hole to float out wood chips. The pipe is trimmed and whittled to a diameter of about five centimetres after the drilling is completed.

Then the finished weapon is polished with a tough-grained, slightly waxy leaf. The bore of the blowpipe is very slightly curved to compensate for the weight of the weapon in use as it is horizontally held. The bore is polished by means of pulling lengths of rattan through it.

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