Friday, June 30, 2017

‘Ant House’ a new attraction for Sabah tourism


KOTA KINABALU: Tourism industry players should think out of the box to come up with unique and fun products so that tourists will not get bored seeing the same things when visiting Sabah, a state minister said.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Sabah has a lot of potential in the industry, and it is more than just snorkelling, islands and mountains.

“Yes, we have many tourists coming here every year but if we keep telling them to go up the mountain, go to the islands and try snorkelling, they would probably feel bored after some time,” he said at the opening of the Borneo Ant House theme park in Tuaran, 35km from here.

Masidi said there were about 3.24 million visitors to Sabah last year, generating revenue of about RM7.5bil, showing the state’s popularity as a destination.

That is why, he said, Sabah’s tourism products need diversity and creativity.

“The more products (we have) and the more diverse they are, the better it is for us and for tourists,” he said.

He also urged tourism players to incorporate homestays and hotels into their products as these are some aspects of tourism where there is demand and room for growth.

Masidi commended the operators of the Borneo Ant House for daring to be different by offering underground walkways and tunnels, simu­lating an ant nest, as well as canopy walkways.

“This is a family business and I am proud to see Sabahans tap into this industry,” he said, adding that the ministry would help promote the Borneo Ant House through its Sabah Tourism Board.

“We will assist where possible for this place to be marketed and maybe expanded in future,” he said.

The Borneo Ant House will be open to the public from July 1. The entrance fee is RM9 for the disabled, senior citizens aged 60 and above as well as children aged seven and below.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: ‘Ant House’ a new attraction for Sabah tourism
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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sabah's Borneo Ant House opens


KOTA KINABALU: The Borneo Ant House, Malaysia's first underground gallery, near Tuaran and some 35km from here, opens its doors to visitors on July 1.

Owned and managed by a local family from Sabah, it offers visitors a chance to learn more about ants, as well as Sabah and Sarawak's ethnic groups.

Borneo Ant House chief executive officer Sufiah Abd Rahim Lee, 59, said the name "Ant House" is taken from the concept of "living underground", like an ant.

"Ants live underground and since the theme park's main attractions are the underground galleries, we decided to name this place as such," said the retired teacher and mother of five.

The main attractions would be the three galleries - the first would be on sculptures of ants and some description of the insect, said Sufiah.

The second would be on the cultures of the Bajau, Dusun Lotud, Iban and Bidayuh people, and the last, on swords.

"The Bajau and Dusun Lotuds make up the majority of the population in Tuaran and the Iban and Bidayuh people are the largest ethnic groups of Sarawak," she said.

"This is why we chose to focus on these four ethnic groups," Sufiah said.

She added that the gallery on swords among other weapons were relevant as decades ago, the people of Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) were known as headhunters.

"So we think this topic would be interesting for visitors to learn more about it," she said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sabah's Borneo Ant House opens
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Business communities want AirAsia to fly Sibu-KK route


SIBU: Sibu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) president Dr Hii Sui Cheng has called on the government to consider the Sibu-Kota Kinabalu (KK) air route as a big commercial sector.

He told reporters this when met at Assistant Minister of Education and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee’s Hari Raya open house here on Tuesday.

“Sibu-KK sector is included in MASwings contract with the Ministry of Transport under rural air service classification.

“What the Sibu business community wants is a jetliner to service this particular route.

“The Chinese and Bumiputera business communities sent a joint letter to Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg last month to  ask for this commercial sector serviced by a jetliner such as AirAsia.

“This is because MASwings’ service is poor and compounded with restricted capacity, it is going to affect the business communication and tourist arrivals.

“Don’t give it as an exclusive right for MASwings,” he said.

He said the joint letter was from Sibu Chinese community (represented by SCCCI), Dewan Usahawan Bumiputera and Dayak Chamber of Commerce.

Dr Hii noted that the new arrangement for extension between the ministry and MASwings would take effect from Jan 1, 2018 for a period of seven years but the finer details were yet to be finalised.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Fest 2017 to further reduce its carbon footprint


KUCHING: The Rainforest World Music Festival is taking steps to further reduce its carbon footprint this year.

Now in its 20th edition, the festival aims to increase its environmental sustainability, contributing not only to the preservation of culture and art but also nature.

“The festival is uniquely positioned, as a locally held and internationally recognised event, to create a positive social, environmental and economic impact that can benefit the Sarawak people,” Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) events and corporate relations director Angelina Bateman said in a statement.

The green initiatives taken by festival organiser STB include providing shuttle buses to reduce carbon emission as well as waste segregation at the venue.

In 2011, a tree-planting initiative was introduced, giving performers, sponsors and volunteers the opportunity to contribute to the local ecosystem.

Last year, STB expanded its green activities by collaborating with social enterprise Biji Biji Initiative to implement food waste management at the festival.

Over 300kg of food waste was collected, of which 195kg was used for compost.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Here Be Dragons Travel: Three Days in Malaysian Borneo


We had been stuck in the bustling city for three months and we needed a break.

We were scouring the internet for the cheapest flights to tropical destinations throughout Asia, and stumbled across Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

Now, Malaysia had never really been a priority destination for either of us, but after some research, we realised it was the gate to Borneo.

Orangutans, elephants and peaceful riverboat cruises? Done deal.

We flew to Kota Kinabalu straight from Hong Kong, and caught a connecting flight to Sandakan for our Bornean adventure.

Sandakan is by no means a city with plenty to do, nevertheless, we decided to explore, so headed straight to the waterfront.

We stumbled upon countless shops stocking bootlegged items and were overwhelmed with the smell of spices which filled the air.

After a light dinner, it was time to return to the hotel and relax before our jungle adventure.

After breakfast, we were picked up by our tour company.

A quick briefing later, we sped off towards the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary.

This was such a wonderful experience. First, we headed to the Outdoor Nursery.

Juvenile orangutans are fed here, and visitors are able to watch their feeding from behind sound-proof glass.

We saw one small female swinging in to grab some fruit. She spent a little time hanging around but was soon off on her way back into the jungle.

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Trusan Sugut Forest Forest reserve houses iconic wildlife


KOTA KINABALU: Environmen-talists are coming together to restore a mini forest reserve teeming with wildlife in Sabah’s interior.

The Trusan Sugut Forest Reserve (Trusan Sugut FR) in the state’s north-eastern part, which is home to 365 butterfly species, 57 types of amphibians, 103 reptile species, 335 bird varieties and 168 kinds of mammals, was recently elevated from a Class II to Class I (totally protected area) forest reserve.

However, The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia says there is still much to be done in terms of restoring the forest.

Its executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said the 8,690ha forest reserve was severely degraded in many parts due to human activity.

He said natural regeneration took a long time and usually, the altered conditions did not suit the orang utan and other wildlife.

“We intend to lend nature a helping hand, and urge the public to support our fundraising efforts for Sabah’s wildlife haven,” he said in a statement.

The Trusan Sugut FR houses ico­nic wildlife such as the proboscis monkey, banteng, Bornean orang­utan and Sundaland clouded leo­pard, among others.

In terms of habitat, the forest reserve also boasts of various forest types including endangered ones such as lowland mixed dipterocarp forest, a variant of which is the kapur (limestone) forest, lowland kerangas (heath) forest, lowland peat swamp forest, and lowland freshwater swamp forest.

WWF-Malaysia senior programme officer for orangutan conservation Donna Simon said some parts of Trusan Sugut FR occupied by Bornean orangutan had become severely degraded due to past logging activities and fires.

“We are keen to help the Sabah Forestry Department restore the landscape with native and fast-growing tree species,” she said.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

WanderCursed: Borneo


We arrived in Kota Kinabalu and were met at the airport by a transfer. Mum had organised a 10 day tour of Borneo through Intrepid Travel so we had to at back and be led around the island.

We got to the hotel and had the day to kill before meeting our guide and the rest of our group. We opted to fill that time with a relaxing massage. Well it was supposed to be relaxing, I had a hot stone massage, mum and head neck and shoulders.

The ambiance of my massage was constantly interrupted by giggles, oofs and ahhhs coming from mums bed next door. Not sure mum enjoyed it too much, saying that she didn’t have as many knots in the shoulders afterwards!

We met our group the following day, 8 Australians, 2 Americans and us 2 brits. We would be lead by our guide Aldrin. We made our introductions and sat and listened to the tour itinerary.
Due to the nature of the “comfort” tour, many of our fellow tourists were a bit older, and the itinerary was suited to an older clientele. It was perfect for mum, maybe a bit restrictive for me but we would have fun.

After introductions we grabbed some much needed zs.

I awoke early the following day, and decided to start my 29th year as I meant it to go on, by a morning trip to the hotel gym!

We jumped on a bus and headed a few hours out of KK towards mount Kinabalu. We spent some time at a stunning viewpoint enjoying the imposing view of the mountains before heading out to a local town.

We had a lovely walk through the town, seeing all the local fruits growing, including some juicy looking pineapples! The walk was topped off by some wonderful home cooked lunch, at a locals house. We got to learn about the local culture and way of life.

We followed lunch with a hike around the Kinabalu mountain national park. While I would have loved to have climbed the mountain mum wouldn’t have managed to get to the top. It was a 2 night trek. We settled for the hour long hike around.

It was a nice walk. I’m incredibly proud of mum for how she did. It wasn’t an easy walk, it was a hot day, hiking through slippery and uneven ground, and she smashed it.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: WanderCursed: Borneo
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Sunday, June 25, 2017

TravLifeStyle: Borneo a truly beautiful Island


Most people, who think of Borneo, think of lush rain forests and orang-utans. However, I discovered a completely different side of Borneo.

I chose to fly out to and stay in Kota Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu is on the ocean side of the island, so, instead of lush rain forests, Aidan and I had paradise like Islands around us and so, we spend most of our time there in the water.

I am personally not a big fan of booking tours ahead of time, because you always end up paying more. What I like to do, is take the time and have a look around and that is exactly what we did.

At first, we came across a travel agent, who showed us all the tours he could book for us, among which were several island-hopping tours.

After seeing the options, I decided that a trip to the harbour would be the best, to find out about their offers.

Our two-star hotel was not just clean and very concerned with our well-being, they were also very centrally located and so we only had a 20-minute walk to the harbour. We entered a big hall, were many boat and business owners were vying for the attention of the tourists.

We ended up booking an island-hopping tour for in a couple of days, with pick up from the hotel and for Aidan snorkel gear hire (I had my own snorkel gear).

The next day, when we walked around and thought about what else we wanted to do, someone on the streets approached us and offered us a very cheap diving tour. We took his card, but I knew that we would never accept the offer.

When it comes to diving, I rather do it with an established and professional business because of the risks involved. We went back to the first travel agent and booked a diving tour with him, which was still incredibly cheap compared to Australian standards.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: TravLifeStyle: Borneo a truly beautiful Island
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Bidayuh museum in the offing at the Dayak Bidayuh National Association headquarters


KUCHING: The public can learn more about the Bidayuh community once the museum at the Baruk in Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) headquarters here is fully ready by end of this year.

DBNA president Datu Ik Pahon Joyik said the association was still collecting feedback to improve the museum which was soft-launched yesterday by Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong.

He said visitors to DBNA and the restaurant located within its headquarters can visit the museum soon, especially for those who want to do research on the Bidayuh community.

“One of the purposes for this Baruk was  as a collection centre for culture and heritage of the Bidayuhs. In the past two to three years, we have been looking at all our files and archives, to see what are the relevant documents that are relevant to DBNA which we can exhibit, and we have also set up a special committee on this.

“The DBNA museum is more pictorial (in its presentation), to relate how we started in 1955, who were the leaders then, the programmes and activities done by them and how we have progressed,” he told reporters when met during the DBNA’s triennial general assembly yesterday.

He revealed plans to expand the content of the museum to include map showing the population and demographic distribution of the Bidayuh, as well as to feature photos and biodata of successful members of the Bidayuh community.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge II gives rare opportunity to see megaliths


KUCHING: The Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge II will give participants the rare opportunity to see megaliths rarely found elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Registration for the ecotourism event by communities living in the highlands is open until the end of this month.

A press release yesterday said the highlands of Sarawak, Sabah and North Kalimantan are dotted with ancient stone monuments or megaliths, with over 40 sites and about 100 earth-made effigies.

Event director and Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples in the Highlands of Borneo (Formadat) Sarawak deputy chairman John Tarawe said the first Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge took place in 2015 and the trekking route was from Ba Kelalan to Mount Murud Church Camp, and ended in Bario.

He said this time around, the Eco Challenge routes are expanded to the highlands in Long Pa Sia, Sabah and Krayan, Indonesia.

“This event is special because it is the only cross-boundary event to be held in the highlands, deep in the Heart of Borneo. Furthermore, this year’s event reflects the spirit of Formadat’s slogan ‘Perurum, Selawe, Meruked’, which means unity,” he said.

“We are brothers and sisters divided by regional and international borders. We share a common heritage and land as the Lun Dayeh, Kelabit, Lun Bawang, and Saban people. I hope this biennial ecotourism event will bring us together to work, protect our remaining forests, enhance security along the borders and our home within the highlands area.”

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Friday, June 23, 2017

The Island Drum: My Discoveries in the Land Below the Wind

There’s more to Sabah, Malaysia than rainforests, orangutans and mountain gods. And Kota Kinabalu is just the tip of the state’s jungle-clad destination iceberg. Like meeting new people, first impressions of a new destination weigh heavily in my initial decision as to whether I like a place or not.

But my first impressions of Kota Kinabalu? I had imagined something completely different. My pre-imagined trip to Kota Kinabalu included dense, steamy jungles, adorable orangutans and a massive, snow-capped mountain. I had imagined sherpas milling about among adventure seeking tourists.

I had imagined the ho hum culinary offerings of a land spoilt by their popularity. I had imagined plenty of kitschy souvenirs for sale alongside unenthusiastic vendors, indifferent to the massive daily arrival of tourists like me.

What was the reality? I found Kota Kinabalu to be a fascinating city which sparkles with community pride.

It became apparent quickly that the Malaysian state of Sabah deserved some serious future exploration, but for an initiation Kota Kinabalu and the surrounding area is a great place to start. But even Kota Kinabalu deserved more than just one week.

A LITTLE HISTORY

The history of Kota Kinabalu is fascinating as well as complicated. Much like the rest of Malaysia, it involves British colonialists, unhappy locals and the horrors of WWII.

Kota Kinabalu, once known as Jesselton, is the state capital of Sabah; the second largest of the 13 states of Malaysia. It wasn’t until August 31st 1963 that North Borneo (as it was previously known) became independent of the British Empire.

Shortly thereafter (newly named) Sabah, was united with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore, to form the Federation of Malaysia on September 16, 1963. It wasn’t until August 1965 that Singapore was encouraged to leave the federation (to do their own thing) and the rest is history. This is all part and parcel for the melting pot of Malaysia and perhaps even more so for Sabah.

Here are a few of my discoveries during a week-long visit to Kota Kinabalu and my first visit to the land below the wind.

THE SABAHAN WELCOME WAGON

The people of Sabah are known as Sabahans. There are 32 recognized ethnic groups in Sabah, with the largest indigenous group being the Kadazan-Dusun people in addition to the Bajau and Murut people. The largest non-indigenous ethnic group are the Chinese. Kota Kinabalu’s charming melting pot of people won me over from the get go.

Although I was with a local guide for many of my excursions, I did have ample opportunity to mix and mingle with locals on my own. There was absolutely no change in the genuine friendliness of everyone who I encountered.

Plus, they are very easy to communicate with! English is widely spoken, in addition to the Sabahans’ own mother tongues, Bahasa Malaysia (the national language) as well as Mandarin and other Chinese dialects.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival to feature tai chi for wellness


KUCHING: The upcoming Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) from July 14-16 will feature tai chi sessions as part of its wellness programme.

In a statement yesterday, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) said the sessions will be hosted by the Sarawak Shenlong Tai-Chi Chuan Society led by instructor Lai Cho Sin.

Open to all ages and any level of physical fitness, the tai chi sessions will be held in the mornings of the three-day festival at the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) festival ground.

Tai chi is a mind-body exercise classified as a martial art, with principles of relaxation that can be applied in daily life.

Thanks to its low-impact and slow movements, tai chi is not taxing on the body.

The Sarawak Shenlong Tai-Chi Chuan Society was established in 1988 under master Wu Kuo-Chung.

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BeyondTheOffice: Mt. Kinabalu, You May Have Won the Battle, But If I Were Fitter, I Could Maybe Win the War


Mount Kinabalu

At 2am this morning the sky was clear, the stars were out and it seemed almost ashame to let a mountain with a crying problem defeat me.

So, with the help of a dry pair of pants (courtesy of our guide) and borrowed plastic bags to cover my socks in an attempt to keep my feet dry, I joined our group and trekked toward the summit.

We hiked in the dark for three hours, the ultimate sneak attack, somehow hoping that the mountain didn’t notice 105 headlamps pointed her way, or a 210 feet clamering about on what I can only assume was her chest cavity.

Miraculously, after pouring her heart out yesterday, she was feeling in a generous mood and rewarded our climb with ridiculously gorgeous views – she let every one of us trample on her rocks, pull on the ropes whose lines were drilled into her, and then scramble up her head to take pictures.

Incidentally, this was not a quick invasion – half way through the ropes bit, I thought my arms would give out, and by the time we got to the peak, we all needed to stop every five rocks. The invasion was more the “let’s plod along and see how we go” variety.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

BeyondTheOffice: A Message to Mt Kinabalu, Regarding a Truly Terrible Hike


Dear Mt. Kinabalu,

You may be the highest peak in South East Asia and maybe you’re used to hearing people say how beautiful you are, and how your views are stunning – but sometimes you need to hear from the people who you beat down, whose will power you took so easily, as though it were a muffin from a buffet table.

I’m sure on a normal day, hiking the 6km (as the crow flies) up to the lodge would be doable, and beautiful. It would be a day filled with clouds, giant trees, sunshine and sweaty people.

But, this was not a normal day – today you decided to pour out rain as though this were a rainforest plagued with a drought and you had one day to fix the problem.

Today was the day you made me question my faith in dry bags and anything sold as “water proof”.

Today was a day that would have had weathermen named “Storm” out in giant yellow ponchos to report on the extraordinary amount of rain and interview the 105 climbers on whether (ha) the rain was a factor in them being cold: “do you think you would be this cold if it werent raining nonstop for five hours?”

And then say, “now, back to the studio, where it’s dry as a hay stack in summer.”

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Sarawak - Always a welcoming state


THREE months ago, Eunice Sandi-Moyo led a delegation comprising members of the Zimbabwean industry and tourism players from the province of Bulawoyo to Malaysia to explore potential business collaborations.

The provincial affairs minister, together with her entourage, made a pit stop in Sarawak to search for an “indigenous set-up of cultural tourism” module, which perhaps, could be applied in Bulawayo, which is the second largest city in Zimbabwe.

Sandi-Moyo’s group did not know what to expect when they arrived at Kuching International Airport as the trip was their first to the Land of the Hornbills.

“All I see are wonders, including the warmth of the people here,” she said at a dinner hosted by the state government in conjunction with her visit on March 17.

All this while, she had only heard about and adored the greenery of the forests and richness of Sarawak’s biodiversity from advertisements on television and in magazines.

Her appreciation of natural resources was understandable as Bulawoyo is also the gateway to Matobo National Park — a 44,500ha reserve housing the Matobo Hills rock formations and stone age cave art, which were recognised as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Site in 2003.

She also spoke on the richness of the diverse cultures in Sarawak, which she concluded after the group’s visit to the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong and a handicraft centre in Petra Jaya.

“What is great about your state is you keep welcoming. There is so much that I want to say.

“We are so amazed that we want to be the ambassador to those who have not visited the state before,” said Sandi-Moyo in calling for collaborations between Sarawak and Bulawoyo to promote tourism in both places.

Sandi-Moyo’s views on Sarawak had been expressed by many international and local figures, who were impressed with the state’s natural treasures and its racial integration among people from diverse cultures.

Among them was 1Malaysia Foundation trustee Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who acknowledged that the integration of various ethnic groups had helped to develop the state in many sectors, including tourism.

“Apart from Sabah, Sarawak is a good example of what the people can do to bring about greater integration and unity in helping to promote moderation.”

Lee said this was among the reasons that compelled the foundation to declare Kuching the first “City of Unity” in the country.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sarawak - Always a welcoming state
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Only 5 pct flew international from Kuching International Airport last year


KUCHING: Only 5 per cent of passengers using Kuching International Airport (KIA) last year flew from the airport to an international destination.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad Kuching senior manager Mohd Nadzim Hashim said the other over 4.5 million passengers travelled from KIA to a destination within Malaysia.

As such, he explained the airport had difficulty getting operators to run stalls at the international departure hall.

“I can understand the frustration of these international travellers once they are inside the holding room, so much so when they are looking through the glass wall, noticing all the activities occurring at the domestic departure hall,” he said during a tour of KIA for The Borneo Post yesterday.

He was commenting on complaints that international flight passengers were not allowed access to many shops, eateries, and toilets available to domestic passengers.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

BareFaceFettle: North Borneo Sunset Dinner Cruise in Sabah


North Borneo Cruises offer the first of its kind dining experience onboard a cruise ship that takes you on a scenic route along Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park islands and KK City Waterfront.

For those planning a trip there and not sure what to pack in your itinerary, believe us, this is a MUST-DO!

If you have been to Sabah and not heard of North Borneo Cruises, allow us to tease you with these:

* Sumptuous buffet spread (need we say more?)

We love the wide variety of international buffet spread available onboard.

Besides the yummy local delicacies, there is a great selection of salad and protein picks for the health conscious.

Thumbs up for the satisfyingly appetizing dinner!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

AngeeTheDiva: 5 Things I Did in Kota Kinabalu


Kota Kinabalu…what can I say? 

It is quite an interesting place…

It reminds me a lot of Honolulu, just a lot smaller. 

It is a city with traffic and trash and all that, but there are hoards of tourists and it has that laid back vacation all the time feeling.

Honestly, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. 

I was there for a quick trip, so I missed a lot, but, I’m happy to share 5 Things I Did in Kota Kinabalu.


1. Mari Mari Cultural Village.

Sabah is home to more than 40 different tribes, all with different language, culture, and history. 

At the Mari Mari Cultural Village, you get to experience 5 of the largest tribes. 

The village features traditional houses, food, crafts, costumes, and dance of each tribe. 

You walk around the village with a guide who explains a bit about each tribe and answers questions. 

You also get to taste something in each place, like raw honey, rice wine, and some sweet treats.

At the end of the tour, there’s a dance performance and a buffet style lunch. 

It’s definitely a must see if you visit Kota Kinabalu. 

The village is about 45 minutes from the city center, so you will need your own transportation or book with a tour company.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: AngeeTheDiva: 5 Things I Did in Kota Kinabalu
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Sarawak in negotiations with AirAsia on proposed LCCT


KUCHING: The state government is in negotiations with AirAsia Berhad to pave the way for the construction of a Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in the city.

Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the negotiations “are now in the process” but he cannot disclose any information yet.

“We are now in the process of negotiations with AirAsia,” he said when asked if there was a plan to build an LCCT here when met by reporters after attending a function at SK Rakyat in Satok yesterday.

Abang Johari said the site for the proposed LCCT had “more or less” been identified but it was “not confirmed yet”.

Asked whether he could disclose the proposed site, he replied: “Near the airport (Kuching International Airport – KIA) lah.”

On June 8, Minister of Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said he was in favour of having an LCCT if the proposed facility could facilitate the growth of tourism industry in the state.

“If a separate LCCT building could expedite and facilitate the growth of tourism industry in Sarawak, of course it would be good to have it,” he said.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

BeneathTheMeadow: Kota Kinabalu ¦ Mantanani Island


This is my second time to Kota Kinabalu (a.k.a. Sabah), most of my trips are circling around Southeast Asia and the most common thing you can find there are tropical islands.

Kota Kinabalu is a developing city, hence the living pace is really slow and chill, which is a perfect place for vacation.

The Mantanani Island we went to is quite different from all the other beaches I have been to before, fewer people and watersports, more silence and relaxation.

The blue sky and the clear water is a perfect match, surely is an eye candy.

The water is very see-through but not as many fishes compared to beaches in Phuket.

In Phuket, you can see fishes when there is water, they will come in groups to bite you, thinking you as food.

However, I am a snorkeling-lover so we took a speedboat away from the island to explore the sea anyway.

There are many fishes once the sea level reaches around 10m and they are all very fascinating.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: BeneathTheMeadow: Kota Kinabalu ¦ Mantanani Island
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Trans Borneo expedition to cover three countries


KOTA KINABALU: Trans Borneo, the ‘mother’ of all 4×4 events in Borneo is back and this year, it will be held from August 13 to 27.

Organised by North Borneo Explorer Sdn Bhd, Trans Borneo 2017 which carries the theme ‘Into the Heart of Borneo (The last frontier)’ will see participants travelling all three countries on the island of Borneo.

Organising chairman Anuar Ghani told a press conference that the road adventure will start from Sabah, crossing into Kalimantan Utara and Kalimantan Timur before moving westwards across one of the last frontiers in Borneo, from Malinau to Ba’kelalan in Sarawak.

The objectives of the event includes promoting travel and tourism within the three countries’ region in Borneo especially to promote the potential adventure tourism in east Kalimantan to international audience.

“We also aim to strengthen relationshop between the three countries as well as among the BIMP-Eaga members,” he said adding that the event will also challenge men and machine against the great outdoors while enjoying adventure.

According to him Trans Borneo 2017 is also promoting culture, history, adventure, agriculture and nature in Borneo Island.

“We will have among us, a media team from Australia who will be filming the event for a television outdoor series. They are thrilled to know that the route we will be taking is the Death March trail. So they will incorporate the historical part of the event into their program.

“They will also be visiting the war memorials in Kundasang, Sabah Tea and Sandakan where there will be a ceremony to commemorate the death march,” Anuar said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Trans Borneo expedition to cover three countries
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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sarawak government keen to promote Rainforest Fringe Festival


KUCHING: The state government is keen to add to Sarawak’s calendar of tourism events to make Sarawak a more lively place.

Speaking at a press conference in his office yesterday, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah hoped for more such annual events in Sarawak which is rich in arts, culture and nature.

Presently Sarawak’s annual Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) attracts tourists from around the world, but the government is promoting a new festival that can do the same, namely the Rainforest Fringe Festival (RFF) to be held at the The Old Court House, Sarawak Tourism Complex.

“RWMF has proved to be a success and I think it’s time for us to introduce another festival. This year the RFF will be held in the heart of Kuching city,” he added.

According to Karim, RWMF is a music festival while RFF promotes and celebrates Sarawak arts and culture, artists and artistes.

He believes the inaugural RFF will be a platform for Sarawakian artists and artistes to showcase their talent.

“RFF will reflect Sarawak’s rich identity when it is held here (in Kuching) next month from July 7 to 16. Those interested in arts and culture should take time to check out this festival,” he said.

He believes Sarawakians have a lot to offer in terms of arts and culture, and the state government welcomes anyone wishing to promote them.

The highlights of the RFF next month include an evening concert that features an eclectic mix of Sarawak’s local talent as well as an array of homegrown artists to present their work at The Old Court House, Sarawak Tourism Complex.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Norina Summers Journey: Best of Borneo


We traveled Kota Kinabalu, Gunung Mulu national park and Kuching.

With the “Best of Borneo” I want to tell you why I liked Kuching and its surrounding best!

You find all the attractions linked to homepages that will help you to plan your trip.

Kuching

We stayed in Le Nomade Hostel & Cafe and we can highly recommend it!

The accommodation is very cozy and nice, quiet but central.

You can walk to Bishop’s gate and Carpenter road.

There’s great street art to be found around the corner.

Waterfont and shopping malls are also close by.

Check out the Black Bean cafe – it became our absolute favorite for a strong local coffee, iced or hot!

We took hundreds of pictures in the Orchid garden.

The entry is free and it is very beautiful and peaceful there!

You should bring a book and sit down somewhere in the garden.

By the way: any small boat can bring you to the other side of the river for 1 Ringgit!

You find the orchid garden just behind the government building (the special golden one).

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Norina Summers Journey: Best of Borneo
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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Action plan to protect clouded leopard in Sabah to start in 2018


KOTA KINABALU: A 10-year action plan to protect the Sunda clouded leopard is likely to be implemented in 2018.

According to Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) director Dr Benoit Goossens at the closing of a three-day workshop on how to protect the species yesterday, they will be preparing the draft skeleton on the action plan and will be submitting the final draft to the Sabah Wildlife Department which will then be presented to the State Government for endorsement.

“We are likely to launch it by 2018,” he said.

He added that their objective is to ensure the clouded leopard continued to exist in years to come and are preserved.

At the same time, he also hoped that the public would become more aware of the clouded leopard, which is presently the least known cat in the world.

He added that Sabah has five wild cats, one of which was the clouded leopard.

“It is the biggest cat in Borneo,” he said.

Benoit also said that it was imperative that Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) continued on with their enforcement activities as the cats were vulnerable to illegal hunters and poachers.

Among the recommendations made during the workshop were the study on the impact of domestic dogs and cats that were brought in by hunters to the jungle, on the clouded leopards.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

MummyOnTheRun: A Romantic Hideaway at the Tip of Borneo


Hotel Location: Hibiscus Beach Retreat is a collection of two one bed chalets, one called Clifftop and the other called Treetop, situated at the Tip of Borneo in Kudat, the most northerly village in Borneo and just a 10 minute drive to the Tip of Borneo.

If you are visiting the Tip of Borneo and are wondering where to stay, you should check out Hibiscus Beach Retreat. 

We stayed in Treetops, a one bed chalet (with a day bed and pull out bed so it can accommodate up to four people) in the most stunning location.

Our taxi dropped us off at the bottom of a small pathway into the jungle vegetation.

I could hardly fathom that there was accommodation just a three minute ‘trek’ away.

But there was… nestled within the lush green jungle with the music of the wildlife mixed with the roar of crashing waves (we couldn’t see the sea at this stage but we could hear it).

It’s a three minute walk to its own white sand private beach, shared only with the other accommodation.

Room: Treetops is a chalet comprised of one large room with a double bed (with mosquito net), a daybed and a roll out extra bed.

It has a tiny kitchen with a fridge, toaster and kettle and an equally tiny but modern bathroom with a shower, loo and sink.

The chalet has a decent sized balcony with two sun loungers and a table with four chairs.

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Samalaju Resort Hotel in Bintulu a must-holiday destination


SAMALAJU: Samalaju Resort Hotel is a beautiful four-star hotel located by the shoreline of the Samalaju Industrial Park and a must-holiday destination in Bintulu.

When visiting the resort yesterday, BAT7 was mesmerised by the hidden gem that has existed since 2014, overlooking the natural and stunning views of the crystal clear blue South China Sea.

This tropical hidden paradise resort is about one hour’s drive from Bintulu or two hours’ drive from Miri City.

BAT7 was told that hotel can also  pick  visitors  from  these two towns  but arrangement has to be made first on the pickup point.

The hotel has a total of 175 spacious and contemporary rooms, consisting of 148 hotel guest rooms and 27 chalet rooms.

Out of the 148 hotel guest rooms, a total of 134 units are superior room, 12 units are deluxe room and two are executive suite.

And of the 27 units of chalet room, 18 are Chalet Room and nine are Chalet Premium Room.

The chalet units come with a living room and kitchenette for guests who like to prepare their own food and enjoy the comfort of the tropical resort like their own homes.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Concerted efforts needed to save remaining Sunda clouded leopards in Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: There must be more concerted efforts made as Sabah’s Sunda clouded leopard numbering between 700 and 800 in the wild, is now threatened by human activities.

In this context, Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) has taken the lead role supporting the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) in preserving the leopard.

YSD has been supporting the DGFC since April 2011 with a total commitment of RM3.96 million over a period of six years, to conduct research on three species- Proboscis monkey, Sunda clouded leopard and Bornean banteng.

In her speech, YSD Chief Executive Officer, Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin, said: “Yayasan Sime Darby is very supportive of these important environment conservation causes and since 2009, we have committed RM131 million under our Environment pillar to support not only initiatives but also crucial research in revitalizing as well as sustaining our ecosystems and the susceptible species that depend on them.”

YSD project chief, Muzdalifah Mohd Yasir who delivered Yatela’s speech at the Clouded Leopard International Workshop and Conference, here yesterday, said it is extending a support of RM1.46 million to support the cause and save the Sunda clouded leopard from extinction.

Muzdalifah also added that the Sunda clouded leopard research has had a very encouraging start.

“Four clouded leopards has been collared to assist in spatial research on the effects of multiple landscape features on their movement in fragmented and protected area within the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary,” she said. Meanwhile, SWD official, Mohd Soffian Abu Bakar said that all the protected Sunda clouded leopards can be tracked and observed frequently via satellite collars attached to the animals.

“On our part, we (Sabah Wildlife Department) also visit schools around the Kinabatangan area and we also do an exhibition field trip to create community awareness,” he said.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

BizarreGlobeHopper: The Best of Borneo in 2 Weeks: Itinerary for Orangutans, Pygmy Elephants, Snorkeling, and Jungles


Squeeze the highlights of Borneo into an adventurous 2-week itinerary. Explore the last stronghold of Bornean primary rainforest – the real jungle – in Danum Valley, make a record in orangutan spotting on tranquil river cruises along Kinabatangan, unwind on a secluded paradise island snorkeling with turtles, visit orangutan sanctuaries, and indulge in Bornean cuisine and cultural treats in the charming cities.

Along the way, you can choose between world-class hiking, snorkeling, and wildlife spotting – or just opt to sit back and enjoy the sceneries. This two-week route maximizes the chances to find funny-looking proboscis monkeys, orangutans and rare Borneo pygmy elephants in the wild – astonishingly, we saw the latter three times!

The pace is leisure, so following this 2-week itinerary will set you to relaxed vacation mode. But at the same time, you’ll pack in a lot in terms of truly experiencing all the different flavors of Borneo. Let’s take off!

Sepilok: Introduction to Borneo with Orangutans, Sun Bears, and Giant Flying Squirrels (2 nights)

Sepilok is a perfect spot to start your journey, as it allows you to avoid starting and ending your trip in Kota Kinabalu. When time is short, every night counts! Internal flight from Kota Kinabalu (where your international flight lands) to a nearby coastal city of Sandakan takes just 45 minutes, and from there it’s just less than 30 minutes’ taxi drive to Sepilok.

But why Sepilok? Choose a resort that is tucked away from it all and a room facing the rainforest and sleep away your jetlag. Wake up to the sounds of exotic birds and enjoy breakfast outdoors while spotting monkeys in the trees.

Then head to the world-famous orangutan sanctuary to witness semi-wild red-furred cousins swinging to the feeding platforms for their lunch. Still not completely charged up? What about visiting orangutan nursery and watching babies wrestling and chasing each other?

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

MummyOnTheRun: Family Holiday Bliss at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, Borneo


After visiting Kota Kinabalu for two nights, we decided to stop off at the Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort, less than an hour away from KK and en route to Kudat and the Tip of Borneo, our last stop before heading home.

We had a fantastic start to our holiday at the Shangri-La in Bangkok and so we had high expectations for our two nights at the Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort.

Situated amid the lush tropical vegetation and crystal clear seas of Pantai Dalit, the resort comprises of 499 rooms and suites.

It’s split into two sections – the Garden Wing and the Ocean Wing.

We had an Ocean Wing room with a gorgeous room, the biggest bed I’ve ever seen and a day bed.

The best bit about the room is the balcony with its gorgeous beach views.

It’s a spacious area with a love seat, a table and chairs and an oversized bath with the best view of the stunning sunset.

Customer service plays a massive role in my high expectations of the Shangri-La.

The Rasa Ria didn’t disappoint.

The staff members were friendly, attentive without being intrusive.

Everyone says hello with a smile and eye contact when passing and many greeted us and the kids by name.

It was very impressive and as a result we were made to feel part of the family, which is an instant winner for me.

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New dive site discovered at Vernon Banks in Labuan


LABUAN: Labuan could well be the next underwater paradise for scuba divers from all over the world with more unique dive sites being discovered, including the latest one the Vernon Bank dive site’.

The new dive site,  located over 40 nautical miles off north Labuan was first discovered about five years ago by an engineer turned boat operator Ahmad Nasir Othman, 60,  who has been taking anglers there.

However, it was  Clement Lee, and his diving colleagues who explored the pristine reef for the first time in April 2017.

The Labuan born Lee, 65, is the Tourism Malaysia Ambassador for the diving segment (2017-2019) and is an internationally renowned diver as well.

Based on his observation there, he believes the dive site has the potential to be on par with other popular scuba dive sites across the globe.

“The new dive site has its own uniqueness compared with other internationally renowned dive sites and it is certainly a great site to be explored,” he said  adding that this new dive site is different from the much sought after dive sites of Sipadan and Mabul islands in Sabah when it comes to the marine species and underwater landscape.

The Vernon Bank is stated in the old British admiralty charts and publication and the site has a number of rare marine species like the porcelain crab, fishes like the bubble Goby and the colourful Nudi branch among others.

Vernon Bank’s uniqueness

Under good weather, with a twin engine 115HP boat, the journey to Vernon Bank from the Labuan marine jetty takes about one and half hours.

“I did not discover the Vernon Bank site but we heard of it many months ago. Hence, we have been planning to dive at the site since last year with our diving team.

“Yet we had to postpone our intention many times due to our tight schedule and the weather.

“Me and the other divers including Miri based Co.Co.Dive general manager, Ross Kelly, and the diving centre’s Labuan-based manager Roy Jak Ngau finally reached Vernon Bank on April 26 and again on May 1.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: New dive site discovered at Vernon Banks in Labuan
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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Festival of Wildlife in Danum Valley, Lahad Datu


KOTA KINABALU: Naturalists including film producers and award winning photographers are in Sabah’s Danum Valley, in Lahad Datu as they arrived earlier this month for the inaugural Festival of Wildlife .

Over 30 wildlife enthusiasts have been in Danum Valley since June 4.

Chris Breen, founder of Worldwide Wildlife, a company specialising in wildlife related tours, said the delegation was excited to see what Sabah, particularly Danum Valley, had to offer.

“We heard so much about this pristine virgin forest filled with flora and fauna and cannot wait to see and experience for ourselves what it has to offer.

“We have similar programmes globally and each time, we want to find iconic places that truly have prime wildlife.

“We cannot wait to see what all of us can get here, be it ideas for painting or sculptures, amazing photographs or just the experience of being in a virgin forest of Sabah,” he said at a cocktail reception here.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Festival of Wildlife in Danum Valley, Lahad Datu
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Friday, June 09, 2017

Alvinology: Cats, Orangutans and Kolo Mee: 8 things to see, do and eat in Kuching, Sarawak in Malaysia


Old colonial buildings and modern towers line the diverse and laidback city streets of Kuching, the riverside capital of Sarawak in East Malaysia, just one and a half hour direct flight from Singapore.

Some folks said the name of the city was derived from a tropical fruit called “Mata Kuching” (cat’s eye fruit), widely available in Malaysia and Indonesia.

But much has also been said as to how the city got its name – Kuching means “cat” in Malay language and the city is littered with dozens of cat statues at every corner. Like the cat statue (pictured below) seen at the entrance of Chinatown in Kuching.

But the city began its roots as a trading post that was built by a British man called Sir James Brooke, the first white rajah (king) who ruled Sarawak from 1842 until he died in 1868, at the age of 65.

Visiting Kuching tells me of a time that’s quieter and calmer as the city is not congested with traffic and high rise buildings.

From glorious street foods to long walks along Sarawak River taking in the views of fishing boats, old houses and 19th century landmarks, Kuching is a laidback city with small town rustic vibes and friendly locals who love to tell a story or two to travellers who have arrived in their home.

What to see: Ethnology Museum, orangutans, crocodiles

Located at the top of the hill along Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, the Ethnology Museum was built in 1891 and renovated in 1911, and is regarded as among the oldest museums in Southeast Asia. Here, the spotlight is on Borneo’s incredibly rich indigenous cultures. On the upper floor, the exhibits include a full-sized Iban (an ethnic of Sarawak) longhouse, masks and spears. On the ground floor, which I toured, is an old-fashioned display of a small collection of natural history. On display were stuffed animals from the local area such as birds, snakes, orangutans, cows, tortoises, and more.

When in Sarawak, visiting our red head friends at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is a must where you will find Borneo orangutans (“man of the forest” in Malay language) spotting red hair. The sanctuary is half an hour’s drive from Kuching city and another 10 minutes on foot.

Here, the orangutans are semi-wild which have been rescued from captivity and trained to survive in the surrounding forest reserve. The rehabilitated animals roam freely in the rainforest and often return to the centre at feeding time. It’s advisable to know there’s no guarantee the orangutans will come out to say hello. Note that the best months to visit are between March and August when food is scarce and they leave inner forest to hunt for food.

However at feeding time, there’s a good chance some may venture out for food. There are about 104,700 Bornean orangutans left in the world, according to World Wildlife Fund.

At Semenggoh, there are 28 of them. I was lucky to spot four Bornean red heads up close in their natural environment and element – swinging from branch to branch, feasting on bananas and even spotted a mother feeding her baby.

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Can the mountain forests in the Heart of Borneo be saved?


The forests covered by the Heart of Borneo initiative are very important to three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

The area refers to the mountainous centre of the great island of Borneo. The forests here have indeed fared far better than in the lowlands and coastal areas (where the challenges of deforestation are well known) – that’s the good news so far.

Heart of Borneo covers the deep interior areas of Brunei, the Indonesian province of Kalimantan, and the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

In 2007, there was a historic declaration by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei to conserve an area designated as the Heart of Borneo. Since then, considerable work has been carried out under this initiative by the three governments and their local and international supporters, including WWF.

In conjunction with World Environment Day on June 5, WWF-Malaysia and WWF-Indonesia released an executive summary of their upcoming publication titled Environmental Status of Borneo 2016. This provides an overview of the environmental issues in Borneo that can be widely shared to gain collective support to save Borneo’s forests.

Borneo is home to a great diversity of plant and animal species, with rich resources for the livelihood of 11 million people. This includes one million indigenous peoples who inhabit the area called the Heart of Borneo, which lies in mountainous, hard-to-access upriver areas. These people have sustainably managed the natural capital here for centuries.

“This World Environment Day is a good opportunity to draw attention to the state of the environment that we are passing onto generations to come,” said Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma, executive director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.

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Thumbs up for a Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) for Kuching


KUCHING: The proposal to construct a Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) here has received support from Minister of Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

He said an LCCT could help to facilitate the growth of the tourism industry in Sarawak.

“If a separate LCCT building could expedite and facilitate the growth of tourism industry in Sarawak, of course it would be good to have it.

“I do not have any detail on this yet. I need to check. If there is, it should be under the purview of the federal government unless the state government decides to be involved,” he said when contacted yesterday on AirAsia Berhad chief executive officer Aireen Omar’s recent statement that Kuching International Airport (KIA) had almost reached its capacity of five million passengers.

Abdul Karim said the ministry and other tourism industry players had to go the extra mile to ensure there are more flights for Sarawak.

“We have to work harder and bring in more flights and connectivity lest any buildings like this will come to waste and be a white elephant.

“Of course if we were to use present number of flights to and from Kuching as a guide, the present KIA is sufficient to handle the volume. But the state government and my ministry are hoping for an increase in tourist arrivals in the coming years. Thus the planning for an LCCT is appropriate.

“I am (in favour of an LCCT) if it could bring more benefits to Sarawak and the general public,” he said.

He added that Sarawak targeted to receive five million tourists this year compared to 4.6 million tourists last year.

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