Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Experiences of Sarawak


My time in Borneo is short but sweet and my time in Sarawak is the shortest. Although limited experiences of Sarawak, I will account and advise all the places I visited and aimed to visit.

Kuching is more commonly known as: “The City of Cats”, and it grows on you over time. At first you might be taken aback by the jumble of business’s and houses packed tightly next to one another, selling precisely the same thing but arranged very differently.

Streets are shaped along the waterfront promenade and all seem to head to the same direction, to the emptiness that surrounds the city. After exploring, you soon realise that Kuching is tiny and there is no need to look further afield, but rather closely, along the streets and alleyways. Being a hotsport for chinese immigrants many years ago for work, means that welcoming those you pass with “Ni Hao”, and munching on fried chicken and fried fish is more common than you expect.

Wander through town passing chinese ornate temples and shopkeepers with rows and rows of glittering gold in front of them, only stopping for a meal at a restaurant with no name where the owner greets you energetically with: “this is the best meal you can get for four ringgitt!”

From here, learn more about the chinese influx on Kuching and what it means to the culture in the Chinese Musuem. I was energetically welcomed to “the only Chinese Musuem in Malaysia- the only one!”

Its interesting to learn about the various ethnic groups and what their trade is and how that has influenced and effected the growth of Kuching. Walk along the waterfront promenade with the vast ugly building of the Hilton Hotel on one side, and on the other: the pointy Sarawak State Assembly which looks like it is made out of oragami, as well as Fort Margherita- a medieval European fort that looks out of place and odd in comparison to the sights that surround you.

Walk past Padang Merdeka, marvel at the enormous ancient tree before heading to the Sarawak Museum. There are glass boxes of stuffed animals which is missbale, however on the top floor, there is an exhibtion based on the local tribes of Sarawak and their traditions. Here you can learn about traditional longhouses and the art of mask making. Just on the other side of Padang Merdeka is Merdeka Plaza, an air conditioned shoppers paradise, which reminds me of the modern world and Asia that we are in.

If your really into cats, walk to the cats column on the other side of town, and catch a cab to the cat museum- I was tempted, until a taxi driver told me in lengthy detail that the city is actually named after an old well, although everyone thinks its about cats- despite this, he tells me he has a cat.

Continue reading at: My Experiences of Sarawak
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Sabah government gets WWF award for largest marine park


KOTA KINABALU: Global conservation organisation WWF yesterday presented its prestigious Leaders for a Living Planet Award to the state government in recognition of its effort to create the largest marine park in Malaysia.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman said the State Government was deeply honoured to receive the award which was presented by WWF-Malaysia Chief Executive Officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma at the Chief Minister’s office conference room in Wisma Innoprise.

Musa said part of Sabah’s great strength lies in the richness of the natural resources contained within the lush forests and bountiful seas.

The proposal to gazette Tun Mustapha Park will pave the way for conservation of a significant ecosystem and coastline, he said, adding the Sabah Government has long recognised the importance of conserving the seas surrounding its coastlines.

“We are committed towards efforts to protect our seas and terrestrial landscapes, as reflected in the State’s Halatuju and Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

“In developing Sabah, we strive for a balanced and sustainable economic development, not to be at the expense of the environment.

“I wish to thank WWF for according Sabah Government this recognition and will strive to fulfill its objectives,” he said.

The proposed Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) represents almost one million hectares of marine protected area off the north coast of Sabah, Malaysia. The park will encompass 50 islands and will protect one of the world’s most biodiverse marine ecosystems.

WWF has launched a major global effort to emphasize the value of coastal marine resources to hundreds of millions of people around the world and to strengthen marine conservation.

As part of this initiative, WWF pledged full support to the state government of Sabah for the designation of the park and to help secure the funding required to ensure its effective management once created.

“The gazettement of Tun Mustapha Park is a globally significant action that will boost the conservation and biodiversity of this uniquely rich natural environment. It will also do much to ensure the sustainable management of the significant marine resources in the area, for the long-term benefit of the more than 80,000 people living on the coast and islands in the proposed park,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.

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Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival 2015 set to be biggest film feast


KOTA KINABLU: The Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival (KKIFF) 2015, which will be held in June, will be offering the biggest feast of films for movie-lovers since it first started in 2009.

KKIFF 2015 festival director Jude Day disclosed that more than 50 movies from 14 different countries covering comedy, drama, animation, shorts, documentaries and true stories will be screened during the week-long event.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Jude said that among the countries participating are Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Argentina, Brazil, Georgia, France, Germany, Spain and the United States of America.

Jude added that the popularity of KKIFF had grown to a level where some of the foreign embassies had called to ask if award winning films from their respective countries could be screened in the festival.

Jude said that the screening has been divided to DOCS+ and World Movie nights on June 5, 8, 9, 10 and 11 and World Movie Day on June 6.

“DOCS+ is an opportunity for filmmakers in the ASEAN region to screen their films. This year, we have a fantastic selection of shorts and feature-length films, showing on June 5, 8, 9, 10 and 11 at 6pm.

“These include the award-winning documentary Nick and Chai, which is about a couple who lost all their children in Typhoon Haiyan. This film was able to be completed with funding that one of the directors got at the KKIFF 2014, so we are delighted to be screening it at this year’s festival,” she said.

According to Jude, the director, Cha Escala, will be present at the screening to answer questions afterwards.

Another award-winning film that will be shown is Children’s Show, directed by Roderick Cabrido, she said, adding that the director had the idea for this fiction film after he had made a documentary about the same topic, where children were being trained to take part in bare-fist fighting as part of a gambling racket.

“This is something that really happens in Manila! Roderick will be at the screening of Children’s Show to take any questions that you might have about this shocking story. The directors of another film will also be coming for the screening of their film: ‘What’s So Special About Rina?’ Made in Brunei, this comedy is the first feature-length film from our small neighbour since 1968! The DOCS+ programme also features short films from Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysia,” she pointed out.

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Sarikei Pineapple and Borneo Fruits Festival to see packed programme


SARIKEI: Starting tomorrow (May 1) there will be a packed programme of daily activities for this year’s Pineapple and Borneo Fruits Festival until May 10.

Stalls selling fruits and other agriculture produce will run from 8am till 10.30pm.

For the photography exhibition at the civic centre foyer showcasing colourful agriculture-related activities from the competition organised by the Sarikei District Council, the opening hours are 9am to 5pm.

Kite-flying and exhibition by the Divisional Youth and Sports Office will run from 4pm to 11pm.

The Sarikei Kitchen run by the Community Development Department (Kemas) to promote local delicacies and pineapple-based dishes will be available from 8am to 10pm.

Tomorrow (May 1), there will be mass aerobics in the morning to mark Labour Day, while the official launching ceremony by Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg will be held in the evening.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah


The award winning Japanese restaurant, Nagisa at Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, is a venue valued not only for quality cuisine, but too for its suitability to entertain important guests and visitors.

Resembling a Japanese winter cottage, the restaurant is framed with dark wood panels, and lit with gentle warm lighting. The main dining area has an outlook over the sea, of which the hotel is an immediate neighbour. The large space is divided into smaller more intimate areas with the division of a tatami room, two private dining rooms, a sushi counter and two teppanyaki tables.

I meet some friends for a light lunch, which turns into quite a feast, as there are so many tempting items that grab our attention.

A house specialty, Unagi Sunomono – vinegared eel with seaweed, sliced cucumber and ginger shoot – whets our appetite for more, much more! Good thing the Miso Soup arrives and takes the edge off our hunger. It proves a good standard with the signature murky broth holding plenty of seaweed, cubes of white tofu and a speckling of green herbs.

An assortment of sushi is made a la minute and we have such a challenge choosing just a couple that we leave our selection in the hands of the manager, who picks three for us to sample.

The white rice exterior of the Soft Shell Crab Maki Roll is speckled with sesame, while the interior is a twirl of green chives, orange ebiko roe and fried brown crustacean. With the crab still hot, the bites are bundles of deliciousness.

The most popular roll is the Unagi Maki. Topped and filled with avocado, ebiko and Japanese mayonnaise, it’s a lovely combination of textures: creamy avocado, fresh bursts from the roe, slippery eel, crispy cucumber, and sweet Japanese omelet tamago.

Last month’s promotion was so successful it remains on the menu, Salmon Skin Maki. Rolled in dried grated seaweed and stuffed with cucumber, pickled veggies and roe, the warm filling contrasts its casing creating a very pleasant experience.

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Wedding Proposal in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo


It has been a while since our last post and that’s because we have been busy dealing with life rather than living it. Terrible I know but what can you do.

In this time however we did get engaged and this post is all about that because it was not just some cheap Italian dinner in the city it was something special that actually came off without a hitch, to my surprise mostly.

It took weeks to plan and i had some great help.

The ring

For anyone who has had to buy an engagement ring you will understand my pain and confusion. Buying something for someone else who will ware it for the rest of their life is quite daunting and you feel like the sales person can see you from a mile off.

I ended up in Tiffany’s but i stand by my choice she seems to like it.

The Setting

It had been a while since our last nice holiday that didn’t involve sleeping in a tent or a tail gate so the plan was to make this something to remember. Just quietly I think I achieved that.

On Sunday Lisa came home from visiting her family in Melbourne. She was met with a box that I had prepared for her in it had all the information about the week that was to come. It included;

- List of what to pack,
- Pamphlet on the hotel,
- Plane tickets,
- AUD $1000 in local currency,
- Pamphlet on the destination from Flight Centre.

Lisa was in shock, she said nothing and it was not until the next day it sunk in that we were going on holiday. She still had no idea what was actually install for her.

Monday Midnight we boarded the first Malaysia Airlines Flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Tuesday Morning saw us land in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo.

I had never really heard of Kota Kinabalu until Jane at Flight Centre in brisbane  suggested it. I went in there with an obscure trip description and she turned it into pure brilliance. It had to be  romantic, somewhere neither of us had been before and as it was a short time frame it had to be short flight.

Although Kota Kinabalu is not the closest of places to fly its convenient that we fly out late and fly through the night so you don’t lose days flying.

We arrived to the movie scene with bongo drums and xylophones at the hotel lobby. As corny as this sounds it is fun and its nice to be welcomed. In Australia your lucky to get pointed in the direction of the lift, even in some of the classiest of establishments.

Tuesday Night was when our lives would change forever. I had seen on the internet that there was a Cocktail bar right out on the point that was said to have the best sunsets in Malaysia. This is where I planned to pop the question.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Wedding Proposal in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo
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Sarawak and Sabah governments mull taking over MASwings


KUCHING: Sabah and Sarawak governments are proposing to take over MASwings to improve air connectivity and enhance travel into the deep interior of the two states.

Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the matter had been conveyed to Khazanah Nasional Berhad as a major shareholder of MASWings.

“The state government through my ministry has registered its interest to take over MASwings together with the Sabah state government.

“A letter to express our wish has been submitted to Khazanah Nasional Berhad as a major shareholder, where MASwings is its subsidiary. The proposal on the takeover is in view of the current restructuring exercise by Khazanah to our national carrier,” he said.

Abang Johari disclosed this when delivering his winding-up speech on the second last day of the current State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting yesterday.

“We have written to Khazanah on the matter but so far we have not received the final answer from them yet so we will pursue this matter until they say yes or no,” he said.

On a related issue, he informed the august house that the state government had submitted a request to the federal government to waive the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on all domestic flights.

He said the GST had caused concern as it had resulted in the increase in cost of air travel, which his ministry viewed as detrimental to the tourism sector as it will hamper the movement of people from Peninsular Malaysia to Sarawak and vice versa.

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Sarawak introduces Borneo Quest


Taking on the Goliath of ASEAN Business Events in Singapore, Sarawak industry members recently hosted a “Borneo Quest” programme at the Grand Mercure Roxy, Singapore. Aimed at enticing potential corporate incentive clients, the event was held as part of the Sarawak Convention Bureau's (SCB) “7 Wonders of Borneo” campaign that showcases the best Borneo has to offer.

In partnership with the Accor Group, the delegation aimed to introduce Sarawak as a Business Events destination whilst highlighting Pullman Hotel Kuching as a preferred venue and accommodation provider. Leading the delegation to Singapore was Mr. Mike Cannon, SCB’s Managing Director and his “mighty team” and Ms Alice Fung, Pullman Kuching’s Director of Sales and her team.

Mr. Cannon commented, “As a relative newcomer in the international meetings industry, we admire the success that Singapore has had in the business events sector. I would like nothing more than to see our two destinations working hand in hand in an effort to bring incentive business to this beautiful and unique part of the world.

With Singapore as the heart of industry and commerce, I believe Sarawak can complement Singapore’s continued growth by providing the energy; inspired by the natural beauty of Sarawak.”

Ms Alice Fung added, “There has never been a better time to come and see for yourselves the best of what Borneo has to offer. With more flights, really affordable new products and hotels ready to welcome you – we can provide endless opportunities for Singapore and Sarawak to form stronger business links.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sarawak introduces Borneo Quest
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Australia’s Doodaddies at Borneo Jazz in May


KUCHING: The four-piece band ‘The Doodaddies’ from Perth, Australia, will be back for this year’s Borneo Jazz Festival in Miri next month.

Featuring Dave Billing, the band’s harmonica player and singer, who specialises in harmonica styles, he has developed one of the most distinctive musical charms heard in Australia.

While their music is based on Chicago-style blues, they also provide a wide range of different jazz genres such as swinging shuffles, boogaloo, soul and blues, among others.

The two-day exciting festival of jazz music will be celebrated on May 8 and 9 at ParkCity Everly Hotel Miri.

Tickets are priced at RM95 for an adult two-day entrance, RM50 for a single entrance and a family package of two adults and two children at RM100.

Tickets can be purchased online via www.ticketcharge.com.my, and are also available at Ticket Charge Call Centres, Ticket Charges in Kuala Lumpur and Penang offices as well as all Ticket Charge authorised outlets in the country.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Australia’s Doodaddies at Borneo Jazz in May
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Sarawak Tourism Ministry eyes more government funding to improve state’s tourism facilities


SARAWAK Tourism Ministry is lobbying for government funding, from both state and federal level, to upgrade tourism facilities here under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP)

Its minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg (BN-Satok), in delivering his winding-up speech at the DUN sitting here yesterday, told the august house that it had submitted request for funds to improve facilities at the state’s national parks – namely in Bako, Semenggoh, Gunung Gading and Lambir.

“New tourism products submitted under 11MP, among other things, are Wallace Discovery Centre, Brooke Dockyard Maritime Museum, Kuching Wetland Ramsar (Convention) Site, Expansion of North Yu Seng/Jalan Merpati (Tourism Belt) and Bakam Point (in) Miri,” he said.

In response to the inquiry by Ripin Lamat (BN-Lambir) on the implementation of Bakam Point, Abang Johari said the project scope had been revised to make it more tourism-related.

“The current fund of RM5 million is insufficient to cover the revised scope, which includes landing ramp to Sibuti-Miri Coral Reef catering for diving enthusiasts, amphitheatre for events, snorkelling and scuba centres, parking space, as well as elevated walkway or jetty.

“The project will include viewing tower, handicraft centre, gazebo, softscape/hardscape and signage, recreational centre, Bakat Point Administration Block, beautification along the river as well as beach and lighting system”.

“The total cost for this project is estimated at RM21.4 million. My ministry has put this project as a priority under 11MP.”

Earlier, Abang Johari – who is also Housing Minister – informed the august house that for this year, the state would expect visitor arrivals to reach the five-million mark.

“Visitor arrivals to Sarawak from January to February 2015, totalled 763,532 – an increase of eight per cent versus (the number recorded in) the same period last year.”

He said to attract visitors, his ministry had been and would be hosting various tourism events all year round, adding that the most recent one was the Asean International Film Festival and Awards (Aiffa) 2015, which took place here on April 9-11.

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Borneo Fruits Festival more than just about fruits


SARIKEI: The 13th edition of the town’s signature event has been rebranded as the Pineapple and Borneo Fruits Festival.

Despite the name change, it will not just be about fruits, just like the Pineapple Fest was not merely about pineapples during its inception 13 years ago.

“The 10-day festival to be held from May 1 to 10 will still be a platform to promote Sarikei as the state’s main food producer or Food Basket of Sarawak and agro-tourism destination,” Sarikei Resident Dahim Nadot said.

Dahim, who is also organising committee’s chairman, said they would strive to showcase the real potential of Sarikei as the state’s food hub and producer of other commercial crops like pepper, palm oil and rubber, and to ensure the festival live up to its name, they had allocated at least 10 stalls for exhibition and sales of different kinds of fruits and several stalls for other crops.

They will try to make visitors spoilt for choice on fruits and other agricultural products.

He admitted that the previous festivals were held during off fruits season, and after realising the shortcomings, they then adjusted the timing for the coming event.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Unduk Ngadau to embody forgotten traditions, origin of Kaamatan


KOTA KINABALU: Kaamatan’s next Unduk Ngadau would not only be the best embodiment of Huminodun but should also have an in-depth grasp of the origins of their ethnicity and heritage.

Based on last year’s feedback, aspects of the whole competition will also revolve around efforts to resurrect the almost forgotten traditions and heritage of the Kadazan, Dusun and Murut, said Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan Committee 2015 chairperson Joanna Datuk Kitingan at a press conference here yesterday.

“We want to go back to the basics and origin of Kaamatan, Unduk Ngadau and the reason it is celebrated till today. You must remember that Unduk Ngadau and Kaamatan have been officially celebrated for 55 years now,” said Joanna.

A total of 42 lasses from the state’s districts as well as Klang Valley and Johor Bahru will vie for the title from May 27 before one of them is crowned on May 31.

Registration will be held from 8am on May 27 at Le Meridien Hotel, Kota Kinabalu, one of this year’s sponsors. On the same day, a Sodop Pintutunan (welcoming dinner) will see the presentation of sashes to contestants by Puan Sri Genevieve Datuk Kitingan and the pre-judging of the creative evening gown based on ethnic motifs.

“We want to emphasize on research of the original costumes. We want them (contestants) to know the history of their own cultures and costumes. It would be more meaningful for the younger generations to know the origin of different costumes of all the ethnicities.

“Evening wear is where designers can express their creativity. As we have done this competition for the past few years, it is high time that the designers incorporate rich multicultural motives and design in the evening wear. We hope that these designs would not only be current but also be fashionable and internationally recognized.

“It should be a classic that can be worn as formal wearable fashion that can represent the identity of Sabah. It’s not just about the ‘bling’ but about the stitching of patterns and motifs that tells of each ethnicity’s origin and story,” said the hopeful Joanna.

The committee will also focus on activities that would delve into traditions and practical way of the old life on May 28 at the state museum, where contestants will be given a talk on cultural tourism, public speaking, motivation, social etiquette and personal grooming, said Joanna.

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Sarikei fruit festival to feature a host of activities


SARIKEI: A host of informative and entertaining activities have been drawn up for the division’s signature annual event slated for May 1 till 10.

Formerly known as Pesta Nanas (Pineapple Fest), the event’s name for this year’s 13th edition has been changed to Pesta Nanas dan Buah-Buahan Borneo (Pineapple and Borneo Fruits Festival), said Sarikei resident Dahim Nadot at a press conference after he chaired the organising committee’s meeting at his office here yesterday afternoon.

Daim said the ten-day event is scheduled to be officially launched by Housing and Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg at the main stage beside the Central Market here on the evening of May 1.

The main feature of the event is an agricultural exhibition while others are entertainment, traditional games, cultural show, beauty contest, singing contest, concert by local recording artistes, water sports, educational seminars and talks, photography competition and many more.

In line with the change of the event’s name, the organiser has specially allocated some ten stalls for fruits exhibition, he said, adding he believed during this time of the year, pineapples and other fruits like oranges would be abundant.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Free Things to do in Kota Kinabalu Sabah


You may wonder if there are any Free Things to do in Kota Kinabalu Sabah and let me tell you - Yes there are! So you are in luck. While most travelers visiting Sabah for the first time would most likely visit Kota Kinabalu or KK in short, before going out to Mount Kinabalu Park, Desa Farm, Padas River for Water Rafting or even the Klias Wetlands River Cruise, there are a number of free things that you can do here as most of those places require a half day tour.

Lets start the ball rolling based on your free and easy stay in KK for first timers or even for those that may have been here before, this information could be a little extra helpful in your travels around Kota Kinabalu city.

Exploring Gaya Street

While Gaya Street is one of the most popular spots to explore on foot, there are numerous shops which date back many years giving visitors that nostalgic feeling. All sorts of business can be found here from traditional barbers, grocery shops, goldsmiths, traditional coffee shops and the modern restaurants and cafes apart from the general convenience stores and banks here.

As there are many hotels found around here, a beautiful heritage hotel is also located here called the Jesselton Hotel which hosts some amazing history too. For the tourist, the Sabah Tourism Board's office is housed in one of the old colonial buildings here too.

However, the best time to explore Gaya Street is on Sunday when they have the Gaya Street Sunday Market which starts as early as 6am till about noon. Loads of traders fill up the main street selling all sorts of wares, clothes, flowers, food, souvenirs and even pets. I would highly recommend visiting Gaya Street on a Sunday Morning. After exploring, give one of the old coffee shops a try, especially the coffee and dim sum or noodles.

Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market

Formerly known as the Filipino Market, this is hands down one of the most visited places in KK. The Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market offers visitors a very unique experience, unlike other commercial markets, this place is filled with all sorts of nick-knacks and more importantly, the famous Sabah Pearls. Rows and rows of stall create a maze to explore where at each turn, you will discover something related to Sabah.

It's free to walk around inside, unless you buy something and the recommended time to visit here in before lunch time. For the first time visitor, you can visit anytime in the day but late in the afternoons, it can get pretty hot and humid inside here.

Just next door is also the KK Fruit Market and also the Salt Fish Market, all of which are equally interesting to visit. Plus if you are up for getting some dried seafood, this is the mother of all places and don't forget to bargain.

KK Waterfront

One of the most popular places in Kota Kinabalu is the KK Waterfront and this is your destination for leisure, food, entertainment and also to catch that amazing KK Sunset. Here, rows of restaurants, bars and pubs line the waterfront offering outdoor seating while catching the beautiful sea views.

The new KK Waterfront 2 has also recently opened where you can find the Oceanus Mall, various clubs, bistros, cafes and also the newly opened Hard Rock Cafe Kota Kinabalu. (Which opened on 1st April 2015). One can easily spend a good 1-2 hours walking around the KK Waterfront and it is recommended to come here just before sunset at 5.30pm. Note the sun sets around 6.00pm in Sabah.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Free Things to do in Kota Kinabalu Sabah
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Tun Sakaran Museum officially opens in Semporna


SEMPORNA: The Tun Sakaran Museum was officially opened yesterday in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of Sabah Museum.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun said the museum was named after Tun Sakaran Dandai in appreciation for donating a piece of one-acre land to enable the government to build a museum.

He said the construction of the building started under the 9th Malaysian Plan while the exhibition building was constructed under the 10th Malaysian Plan and only completed in 2014. It has been opened to the public to gather feedback and suggestions for improvements.

Masidi said the museum is important in view of Semporna as a tourism hub for visitors from all over the world who are interested in the beauty of the sea. The islands around Semporna are reknowned as beautiful diving destinations which are among the best in the world. Therefore, it is most suitable that the government build a museum in Semporna as a facility for tourists who visit the district.

He said the people of Semporna also have their own uniqueness of history and culture.

“Apart from being a tourism product, the museum is also important as a center for culture and history of the Semporna community, of which the majority are Bajau,” he said yesterday.

Masidi said the museum also intends to set up a center to study Bajau history and culture.

“I was made to understand that from April 24 to 26, a dialog is going on together with the community leaders to discuss the best measures on the development of the study center,” he said.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Lounge, Afternoon Tea, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Sabah


Set up as a modern living room, the recently renovated Lounge at Hyatt Regency Kinabalu immediately sets us as ease with its homey décor.

A meeting place pre or post dinner, or for a longer stretch nibbling on an afternoon tea set with sweets, savouries and a hot beverage, The Lounge offers a versatile setting, just as if we might be in our own home.

We’re here today for their Tiffin Afternoon Tea. Following a day of sight seeing, it’s just what we need to refresh and carry us over until evening.

House baked goodies, of both sweet and savoury in nature, are accompanied by our choice of hot beverage.

An organic Sabah Tea is my pick, and hubby chooses a Teh Tarik.

The Teh Tarik is lighter and not quite as sweet as the KL version: I enjoy this more mildly sugared style, as does hubby (surprisingly).

A beautiful red and black lacquered basket tiffin carrier holds a duo of trays: a layer of western and another layer of local.

The top basket is packed tight with treats, the only savoury inside being a three-tiered club sandwich.

The sandwich is plump with sliced beef and chicken ham, tomato, lettuce, egg and mayonnaise.

A large scone, already spread with blueberry jam and cream, centres the tray, with the rest of the sweets encircling it.

Blueberry cheesecake, various fruit tarts, a jam sponge and, a biscuit cored walnut brownie round off the western selection.

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Kaul Fest a viable platform for Mukah folk to generate income


MUKAH: The Kaul Festival serves as a platform for the local community to seek opportunities for improving their economic standing, by way of introducing and promoting their products to domestic and foreign visitors.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem noted that the tourism sector remained a vital contributor to the state’s economic growth.

“Therefore, the local community should seize the opportunity during Kaul Festival towards generating lucrative income for themselves, as well as drawing more crowds to the event.

“The festival is one that brings people of various races together and at the same time, it promotes Sarawak – particularly Mukah – to the world,” he said when officiating at this year’s Kaul Festival here yesterday.

Adenan pointed out that tolerance and respect for one another had made it possible for the local folk to come together for the festival.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Australian and Borneo Connection at Anzac Day


MIRI: Anzac Day on April 25, which is often observed in a big scale in Australia and New Zealand, will also be observed in here.

The anniversary is to commemorate the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

According to the coordinator of the celebration in Miri, Dr Roland Dom Mattu, this year is the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey.

“The day is to remember those who fought for the freedom of others living in less fortunate circumstances. As a Sarawakian, I salute the Australians on this special celebration.

“Australians don’t glorify war; they don’t celebrate Anzac day. It is a sad day in remembrance of?those who fought and died for the Allied countries. It is also a time to reflect on the miseries of wars and appreciate peace,” he told The Borneo Post recently.

Roland said among those who died in the war was his wife Sheryl’s great-uncle Private Wilmot Ernest West, of Westbury, Tasmania (died in the First World War (1914-1918). On 7 June 1917 he was killed in action in France at age 22. He has no known grave but his name is recorded on the The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.

“Sheryl’s godfather CT Robbie Robinson was a British Supermarine Spitfire single-seat fighter aircraft pilot for the Royal Air Force and Allied countries during and after the Second World War (1941-1945).

“He was shot down over Burma but survived. After the war he came to Lawas and flew the mission planes, often on medical flights throughout northern Sarawak. His local name was Daring and his wife Margarets’ local name was Renai,” he revealed.

Records also show that 1,609 Australian and New Zealand soldiers died in Malaysia fighting for Malaysia during World War 2 and during the Confrontation.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: The Australian and Borneo Connection at Anzac Day
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Host of activities planned for Mulu to woo more visitors


THERE are many activities lined up for visitors to Mulu National Park this year and next year, said Sarawak Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip.

“Among some of the activities that will be organised by Borsar Mulu for 2015 and 2016 to attract more visitors are daily scheduled tours such as Deer and Lang Cave and Bat Exodus, Cave of the Winds and Clearwater Cave, Fast Lane (Lagang Cave via longboat) and Mulu Canopy Skywalk.

“In addition, there will be more adventure caving, namely Racer, Lagang Cave, Clearwater Revival, Clearwater Connection, Stonehorse, Drunken Forest Cave, Sarawak Chamber and Sarawak Chamber overnight at Camp One.

“Also in the list will be trekking, which will include Garden of Eden Valley Walk, Mulu Summit, The Pinnacles, Camp Five one-day trek, Camp Five half-day trek, Camp One overnight, Camp One six-hour trek, Long Langsat, Sunset Longboat Cruise and Long Iman Penan Longhouse,” he said in reply to Dennis Ngau (BN-Telang Usan) during the Q&A session yesterday.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

New faces to perform at Sabah Fest


KOTA KINABALU: Talents and skills of indigenous communities will be paramount in portraying the state’s rare and uniquely diverse heritage during the 2015 Sabah Fest, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.

He said the ministry would pursue an authentic production by transforming the festival into another avenue that will truly unearth, nurture and showcase local talents beyond the realms of the Sabah Cultural Board (LKS).

“We are not engaging the Sabah Cultural Board performers this year because we want to train and extend the opportunity to new faces. The ministry also wants to expand the search of dance talents in Sabah outside of the confinements of the ministry’s Sabah Cultural Board,” explained the minister during the festival’s press conference here yesterday.

However, Masidi said the ministry would not completely exclude LKS from the production.

“We will use the board’s in-house choreographers for the show. I am a person who likes to give opportunities to our own people. The show will be choreographed by locals,” he clarified.

He said the ministry would also increase the existing language accessibility of this year’s Sabah Fest to cater for locals as well as foreign visitors of the event and amplify foreign influences in the state in the showcase through elements such as music.

The three-day festival, to be held at the National Department for Culture and Arts in Sabah (JKKNS) from May 1 to 3, will revolve around the cultures and legends of indigenous communities found in localities around the state’s “Agop”, which means cave in Ida’an language, stated the minister.

“Agop” is familiar to Sabah’s rarely known East Coast communities, namely the Ida’an, Orang Sungai, Dusun Begak and Dusun Subpan, who identify with the mysterious ancient cave culture, tradition and practices.

Our caves have played an important role in East Coast Sabah’s civilization growth and the establishment of a trade centre there, said Masidi.

“We will exhibit the cave findings that have triggered the commercialization of the bird’s nest product that has lured the people of China to come here since then and till today,” he stated while adding that communities would also have likely established trade with sultanates in Kalimantan and surrounding Kingdoms.

Sabah Fest will stage the “Agop” musical show daily throughout the festival and hold a special premier show on May 2 this year, which will be attended by the Head of State and Chief Minister, said Masidi.

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Mulu national park tourist arrivals steady


KUCHING: International tourist arrivals to Mulu National Park (NP) are double that of domestic visitors.

“In 2013 the number of international tourists in Mulu NP arrivals was 12,871 and the local tourists was 6,286.

This number increased in 2014 when international tourists was 13,635 and local 6,549,” said Assistant Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip during the fourth day of the state legislative assembly sitting.

He stated that the number of both international and local tourists had increased over the past two years.

“This shows that the interest of international tourists in Mulu NP is already there and expected to be continued in the future,” Talib said.

He also mentioned that tourist activities planned for the next two years for Mulu NP included daily scheduled tours to Deer/Lang cave and Bat Exodus, Cave of the Winds/ Clearwater Cave, Fast Lane (Lagong cave via longboat) and Mulu Canopy Skywalk Tour.

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Experience Gawai in a Iban longhouse


MIRI: Members of the public yet to celebrate Gawai in a Iban longhouse setting are welcome to Gawai Dayak 2015 celebrated at Gua Long House Chalet, about 30 minutes from the city centre.

Themed ‘A Day at the Longhouse’ the event organised by the homestay will take place on Sunday (April 26).

Organising chairlady Letycia Sima Linang said this Gawai Dayak organised at their property is open to the public free of charge.

The Harvest Festival which is a platform to promote the Dayak lifestyle is meant to draw visitors to the property and to Miri in general.

The one-day celebration will commence at 8am with a zumba exercise followed by games, competitions and karaoke contest offering various attractive prizes.

The Gawai will start with a ‘miring’ and local band ‘Bujang Bungai Terung’ will perform.

The highlight of the celebration at Gua Long House Chalet will be the Kumang and Keling Gawai Contest at 7pm.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Officials: Sumatran rhino is extinct in the wild in Sabah


Malaysian officials admit the Bornean rhino may only be represented by three surviving captive animals

There are no Sumatran rhinos left in the wild in the Malaysian state of Sabah, confirmed Masidi Manjun, the Tourism, Culture and Envi­ronment Minister, over the weekend. In 2008, conservationists estimated there were around 50 rhinos in the state. Five years later, it dropped that estimate to just ten. Now, it's admitted the awful truth: the wild rhino is very likely gone.

"We are facing the prospect of our Sumatran rhinos going extinct in our lifetime,” Manjun noted at an environment seminar.

Sabah's rhino is a distinct subspecies of Sumatran rhino, known as the Bornean rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrissoni), and it looks increasingly possible that the Bornean rhino may only be represented by three surviving individuals, all of which are held in fenced, natural conditions at the Borneo Rhinoceros Sanctuary (BRS) in Sabah. These include one male, Tam, and two females, Iman and Puntung.

"If numbers of baby Sumatran rhinos can quickly be boosted in the coming few years, there is still hope to save the species from extinction," said John Payne, the Executive Director of the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) and one of the world's top experts on the species. "The only way now to achieve that is to use in vitro fertilization to produce the embryos and to have a few fertile females in well-managed fenced facilities, under excellent care, as the surrogate mothers."

Conservationists had hoped that Tam would be able to mate naturally with one of the females, however Iman is suffering from tumors in her uterus while Puntung has cysts, making natural reproduction next-to-impossible despite years of trying. Now, the team is turning to technology for hope. Payne said if in vitro fertilization works, "each mother could then bear and raise a baby every three years."

He added, however, that obstruction remains strong to this path.

"As long as prevailing resistance remains from the relevant governments, IUCN, and the big NGOs, then the species will go extinct, and those institutions, not poachers or oil palm producers, will have to shoulder most of the ensuing blame."

There may be a few more surviving Bornean rhinos, but these would be in Kalimantan or Indonesian Borneo. Two years ago, camera traps revealed at least one wild rhino in the state—after no records for decades. But it may only be that: just one.

Across the Java Sea, the Sumatran rhino is holding on by a thread. Conservationists estimate that less than a hundred rhinos survive on the Indonesia island of Sumatra today, split into fragmented populations spanning three national parks. Five of these rhinos, which belong to the subspecies Dicerorhinus sumatrensis sumatrensis, are also held in semi-captive conditions at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, including a baby rhino born three years ago.

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Sarawak wants its own Lords of the Rings epic


Sarawak should be promoted as a unique destination, playing on its rich history of having a white “rajah” (king) to rule it, and to focus on its strengths - rich culture, adventure, nature and music festivals.

This is the message that Sarawak chief minister, Tan Sri Adenan Satem, had for the delegates of the inaugural Sarawak Tourism Forum in Kuching.

Sarawak has a romantic history with Sir James Brooke (1803-1868), a British adventurer, whose exploits in the Malay Archipelago made him the first White Rajah of Sarawak.

As Adenan said, “No country has been ruled by a family of White Rajahs.

Be proud of your history and use this unique history to sell Sarawak.”

He hoped that a movie would be made on this adventurer who is synonymous with Sarawak’s past, and that the film would promote Sarawak in the same way “Lord of the Rings” did for New Zealand.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sarawak wants its own Lords of the Rings epic
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Hefty fine backed for illegal tour guides and vehicle operators in Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, is in favour of higher penalty of up to RM50,000 fine for illegal tour guides and tour vehicle operators.

Masidi said, anyone can afford the RM500 compound penalty and therefore, he has asked the Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC), the licensing authority, to impose heftier penalty of up to a maximum of RM50,000.

MOTAC Sabah director, Ag Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar, on Tuesday warned that illegal tour guides and ‘white vans’ operators, vehicles used as a tour bus without MOTAC’s permit, were at risk of being prosecuted in court and slapped with a maximum penalty of RM50,000, imprisonment or both.

On the other hand, Masidi has proposed that MOTAC and tourism industry players such as the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA), Sabah Tourism Federation (STF) and Sabah Tourist Association (STA) form a task force and have a meeting once every month or two months to discuss and resolve issues related to the industry.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sabah Fest 2015 : A Cultural Extravaganza


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Tun Sakaran Museum in Semporna to be launched on Saturday


KOTA KINABALU: The Tun Sakaran Museum in Semporna will be launched by the Head of State, Tun Juhar Mahiruddin, this Saturday.

State Museum director Joanna Kitingan said at a press conference yesterday that the museum is located on an acre of land at Kampung Inabah Kamal, Semporna.

She said the development of the RM2.8 million museum was approved during the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) under government funding.

She disclosed that the number of visitors visiting the museum since it opened its doors in March last year is increasing.

The building is divided into several galleries, including a special corner to showcase historical events and contributions of Tun Sakaran. The ground floor of the museum comprises of a nature’s gallery, Semporna’s Islamic heritage, Semporna’s cultural heritage and the early history of Semporna, she said.

Meanwhile, several activities will be carried out between April 23 and 26 in conjunction with the launch.

The launching ceremony will be held in conjunction with the State Museum Department’s 50th anniversary and the Regatta Lepa celebration.

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Miri City International Deep Sea Fishing Tournament expects to attract 134 anglers


MIRI: For the ninth consecutive year, the Miri City International Deep Sea Fishing Tournament is here again and this year it will be held from April 23 to 26.

Organised by Miri Anglers Club, the much anticipated event will be held at Luconia shoals, some 80 to 140 nautical miles from here.

According to Miri Anglers Club president, Yee Chung Chai, the event is expecting a total of 134 participants from 11 countries including Malaysia, Brunei, China, Britain, Australia, Norway, India and Singapore.

“Since its inauguration in 2007, this year will be seeing a bigger tournament with hundreds of participants and a dozen of boats involved. Of course, the challenges would be tougher,” he said.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Conquering Kinabalu: The Long Road to Laban Rata


Two weeks ago, I did the most tiring, challenging, and foolish thing I have ever done in my life thus far: climb Mt. Kinabalu. Standing at 4,095 meters above sea level (masl), Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage and ASEAN Heritage site is considered as one of the highest trekkable mountains in the world, which means that you don’t need any technical skills to reach its summit.

This doesn’t make the climb easy though; like I said, it’s a very, very hard undertaking.

So what happened during this struggle?  Was I able to reach the summit?  Join me as I retrace my steps up and down Gunung Kinabalu.

Kinabalu Park

Edge and I, together with our friends Afol and Dane, landed in Kota Kinabalu on a Wednesday, a day before our supposed climb.  From the city, we took a two-hour bus ride that brought us to Kinabalu Park, which in itself is already located in a high elevation at around 1,500 masl.  Staying overnight at this elevation is important to reduce the risks of altitude sickness.

We strolled around and explored some parts of the park later that afternoon.  The park is so lovely and is already a good spot to visit for those who would like to commune with nature but have no plans of climbing the mountain.  There are lots of unfamiliar trees, plants and orchids everywhere.  The weather was very cool, with the air being fresh and rejuvenating.

That night was the calm before the storm.  We helped ourselves to a hearty buffet of Western and Malaysian dishes and turned in for the night.

I felt mixed emotions when Mt. Kinabalu showed itself in its full glory. Mostly, I was in so much awe because it really is a beautiful mountain.  On the other hand, fear of the unknown and apprehension also kept gnawing at me.  But what the hell, I didn’t pay good money only to back out now.

When the sun finally rose, we headed to the restaurant to have our breakfast.  I was still so nervous that I only managed to eat a bowl of cereal and a few slices of bread, a decision I would come to regret later.  After eating, we registered at the park office, met our mountain guide, and finally headed to Timpohon Gate, the jump-off point.

So It Begins

At this point, I managed to drive my fear away and changed it with a sort of cheery resignation.  We arrived at Timpohon Gate where Dawet, our Malaysian guide, gave a short briefing.  Don’t stray away from the trail.  Don’t get too far from your companions.  Rest for no more than five minutes at a time. It sounded too simple. Easier said than done. Our group took off.

The climb surprisingly starts with a downhill trek all the way to Carson Falls, which looked a bit dry when we were there. Just when I was starting to think “Hey, this isn’t so bad.”, the trail starts to go up. And up. And up for the next six kilometers up to Laban Rata, our accommodation for the night.

Out of excitement probably, we were so energized that we made it to the 2.5 kilometer mark in good time. I wasn’t feeling the strain in my knees yet and I wasn’t carrying a huge bag, so I was fine physically.  The trail is also well-established which made things easier.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Conquering Kinabalu: The Long Road to Laban Rata
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Dayak Iban Cultural Carnival on May 23


MIRI: To promote the Dayak-Iban culture, the Dayak Association Miri (DAM) has initiated a ‘Karnival Kebudayaan Dayak Iban’ (Dayak Iban Cultural Carnival) scheduled for May 23.

It is hosted primarily to preserve the culture on traditional Iban costumes, music and dance.

“We hope this will serve as an eye-opener and an encouragement to the younger generations of the Dayak-Iban community.

“And above all, to promote Miri to the outside world through the cultural activities,” DAM’s deputy president Wilfred Mac said yesterday.

Through participation, it would foster a closer relationship between the public and the Dayak communities, he added.

The carnival is organised in conjunction with the celebration of ‘2015 Miri City Day’.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Sibu-KK flight can make Visit Sibu Year 2016 a success


SIBU: A request will be submitted to the Transport Ministry (MOT) and AirAsia soon to revive the Sibu-Kota Kinabalu (KK) sector for Visit Sibu Year 2016.

Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) deputy chairman Dato Andrew Wong revealed a committee had been set up to pursue this matter.

He explained the committee was keen on the Sibu-KK sector as KK was an international hub.

“The event list for Visit Sibu Year has been finalised. We will be requesting MOT and AirAsia to consider the Sibu-KK flight.

I think this is important, given that the airline has bigger aircraft and lower airfares.

“While AirAsia has numerous flights to Kuala Lumpur, KK is actually a more viable option because it is closer to places like Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Philippines,” Wong told The Borneo Post on Saturday.

He believed if the request were approved, it would do wonders for Visit Sibu Year 2016 because of lower airfares.

“If you fly from Korea to KK and then to Sibu, the trip will be shortened by at least a couple of hours. That will bring in more people (here).

“More people will actually know that Borneo stands for Sarawak and Sabah, and not only Sabah.”

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mini Adventure - Mount Kinabalu, The Adventure (Part 2)


At last managed to publish the next installment of the Mount Kinabalu Mini Adventure Trilogy which was delayed due to “I just don’t have the time!”.

Since I am not paid to publish post here and the fact that this is something that I will only do if I have the free time, thus the lack of post is certainly justifiable.

Back to to the adventure, recap on the first day which actually was the traveling day from Kota Kinabalu (KK) to Kundasang.

So my 749 words in my Day 1 can be summarised as the 2 and a half hours road trip from KK to Kundasang with a lot of stops due to a colleague active bowel movement and also “makan” (eat) stops along the way.

For Day 2, the day start with a buffet breakfast at Balsam Buffet Restaurant (included in the package).

A tip for fellow climbers, take a light breakfast on the climb day.

You certainly do not want to contribute freshly churned fertilisers for the trees.

After breakfast, you will be transported from the Park HQ to Timpohon Gate or Mesilau Gate depends on your route.

In our case, we will be starting our ascend from Timpohon Gate.

Ready, get set and GO! And we are off to start the climb up to the summit of Borneo.

So you already took the first step, your adrenaline pumping, excitement building, you feel good (you should be!) and after 100-200 metres you feel that this is not challenging at all, it’s like a walk in the local park.

Well, you are both right and wrong at the same time.

YES, it is relatively easy for the first 1 or 2 kilometres.

NO, it will be easy for the rest of journey.

However, please note that I am referring or benchmarking the difficulties with a normal person and not the super-fit athletes who can run up and down the mountain in less than 3 hours time.

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Fort Alice re-opens as heritage museum


SRI AMAN: Sarawak’s newly renovated iconic landmark Fort Alice here was unveiled by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem yesterday.

The colonial-era fort built by the Brooke family is now a reconstructed building which functions as a heritage museum.

The unveiling yesterday coincided with Pesta Benak 2015, an annual event held in the division.

Adenan, who signed on the museum’s plaque to mark its symbolic re-opening, was taken for a short tour of the premises together with several museum officials.

At a press conference later, Adenan said he was impressed with the restoration work on the museum.

He shared a story he read many years ago about Fort Alice.

“I am impressed. The restoration team has managed to maintain the colonial touch to the building through extensive research. The museum certainly gives you that authentic feel of visiting a colonial-era building,” he said.

According to the director of Sarawak Museum Department, Ipoi Datan, the project was one of several initiated by the department to create more places of interest in Sarawak to boost tourism.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Fort Alice re-opens as heritage museum
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Call for AirAsia to speed up relocation to Terminal 1 of the Kota Kinababalu International Airport


KOTA KINABALU: Matta Sabah Chapter has urged AirAsia to expedite the relocation of its operations from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 of the Kota Kinababalu International Airport (KKIA).

Its chairman Rovert Chong in a statement yesterday, said it had been more than two months since Malaysia Airport Sdn Bhd (MASB) last announced that AirAsia, the six-time champion of world’s best low cost carrier would move to Terminal 1.

He said although many passengers commented that Terminal 2 was no longer ideal as an international airport terminal, “it is too congested and at certain times, caused inconveniences to passengers”.

With the numbers of passengers growing each day, he said Terminal 2 was becoming smaller and smaller day by day.

“The unavailability of aerobridge makes it hard for people, rain or shine, having to go up and down staircase before embarking and disembarking, is among the complaints commonly received by Matta,” said Tan.

In addition, he said the parking area is not safe as security is lacking whereby many passengers had their car stolen or broken into, tires stolen.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mini Adventure - Mount Kinabalu, The Adventure (Part 1)


D-day, started on a good note as we have been blessed with the best of weather.

We had breakfast at a mamak restaurant nearby our place, when I say breakfast it means a very heavy breakfast.

Here’s a tip, a few days before the climb you must piled up carbo intake to build up your energy reserve for the climb.

At 10:00am our pick up van came and we are off to Kinabalu Park in Kundasang, a 2 hours drive from Kota Kinabalu.

Arrived at Kinabalu Park around 1:00pm, an hour more than the 2 hours time it should take mainly due to a lot of toilet stops (a friend is too nervous about the climb that he had to relieve himself a couple of time).

Upon arrival at the Kinabalu Park HQ, our guide (Mr Suning) who was actually the driver of our pick up van gets down to business preparing our registration, arranging our porter and also our accommodation.

I am not sure about the actual charges of the registration, guide, etc as we took a package for this climb.

Only the porter charges are not included but they only charge MYR8/kg for a round trip (Timpohon Gate – Laban Rata – Timpohon Gate).

That is for your stuff and NOT for YOU (yes, you).

You cannot simply weigh yourself on the weighing scale and calculate the cost for the porter to take you up.

For that purpose they will charged based on the distance they have to carry you, the current rate is MYR300/km.

So for a single trip from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata which is 6km in distance, you have to forked out a whopping MYR1800.

But in my opinion even if you have the money, where is the fun in it?

Unless you are injured that is a different matter altogether.

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