Wednesday, March 28, 2018

‘Slide the City’ to be featured in Miri May Fest 2018


MIRI: The Students Council of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) is collaborating with a Kuala Lumpur-based event company and holder of the ‘Slide the City’ franchise in Southeast Asia for the event to be part of this year’s Miri May Fest.

Mirians are invited to the first ‘Slide the City Miri’ in Sarawak and Sabah.

Billed as a ‘family-friendly slip-and-slide water party event’ and a major highlight of Miri May Fest 2018, the event will take place at Curtin Malaysia campus from May 5 to 6, running 8.30am to 6.30pm daily.

‘Slide the City’ has been bringing gigantic water slides onto the city streets in the US, Canada, the UK, South Korea, Japan, China and many other countries for over a decade.

The first ‘Slide the City’ in Malaysia was held in Kuala Lumpur in December 2015 – it has travelled to Melaka, Pahang, Johor, Penang and Selangor since.

The highlight of ‘Slide the City Miri’ will be a gigantic three-lane water slide that according to the organisers, ‘will guarantee lots of fun for adults and young thrill-seekers’. Other attractions include live entertainment, fun games and a wide variety of food, retail and activity stalls run by student clubs and local businesses in a real carnival-like atmosphere.

“We aim to provide an invigorating experience for visitors and at the same time, help promote Miri as a tourism destination,” said organising chairperson Wong Pik Yee.

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200 water villas to be built at Semporna resort


SANDAKAN: Sabah Green Development (SGD) and China-based company, Living Great Fortune (LGF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Monday to build 200 water villas at Sipadan Mangrove Resort, Semporna.

The water villa will be used for tourism to support the government’s initiative to attract more tourists to Sabah’s East Coast under the Sabah East Coast Tourism Belt which aims to increase the number of tourists to the state from 3.5 million (2017) to 10 million by 2023.

According to International Marketing Director of LGF, Ong Tat Kian, the water villas will be the pioneer project of such initiative, and the construction will start after three months, after the land is ready for construction.

“The villas will bring more tourists, especially from China, to come to Sabah’s East Coast. We will build more of such villas in other parts of the East Coast, but for Sandakan, probably not this year,” he said.

Ong also said that the villas are now open for investment to interested investors locally and from China. He said that investors will get to stay for a month at the villas for free, after they are completed. Thereafter, LGF will run the operation of the villas while 70 per cent of the profit will go to investors.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

From behind shadows, indigenous Borneo tribes begin to embrace eco-tourism


SAPULOT, Malaysia: The first thing to notice about Richard Gunting is his T-shirt. “I Am The Firstborn” it reads in bold white letters on black.

It is more than a fashion choice for the 67-year-old living in the heart of Borneo. It’s a life mantra.

Gunting’s home is hidden in the depths of precious, pristine jungle in Sabah, one of Southeast Asia’s most incredible treasures. This is a remote and isolated place; its custodians are secretive and traditional and the silver-haired Gunting is one of its leaders on a quest to ensure the prosperity of his people without a loss of their ancient identity.

His shirt shows his pride in the indigenous Murut tribe and their ownership of the land.

The Murut carry a fearsome reputation forged generations ago – they are known to have once been headhunters, a term Gunting believes is “misleading” and one he is ready to overhaul.

But he does not deny that survival has never been easy in this part of Malaysia. Even today, this is one of the poorest districts in Sabah where locals have seen living standards stutter and their land relinquished to oil and timber plantations, which have stimulated local economies but hurt biodiversity.

“When I was growing up, the whole area here was surrounded by pristine jungle and relatively clean streams. After this logging, I went up a hill again and I was shocked,” he said.

“The kind of jungle condition that I used to know had been dissected by a lot of roads that were constructed for logging purposes and a lot of erosion had taken place. It was so heartbreaking.

“I went up that hill some four years ago … I never went back again.”

If Gunting’s instincts and subsequent actions prove correct, the answer to saving a priceless landscape from further degradation from land concessions and industry is to stimulate eco-tourism.

He wants to open the door to communities who have long been in the shadows. But his fellow villagers mostly think he is mad to try, he admits.

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Handlers to be held liable if tourists disturb marine life in Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: All tourism industry players, including dive masters and tour agents found guilty of knowingly allowing their tourists to illegally handle and disturb marine life, will soon be penalized.

Minister of Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun said he had instructed Sabah Parks to look into the possibility of putting the responsibility on tour companies and dive masters to ensure their clients knew the do’s and don’ts when they dived.

“I have asked Dr Jamili Nais (Sabah Parks director) to find out whether there are existing provisions in the enactment that allow us to penalize.

“If there is none, I think it is high time for us to seriously look into it before things get out of hand,” he said after launching the new office of Sabah Tourist Guides Association (STGA) at Lintas Square here yesterday.

Masidi said he often received complaints about irresponsible tourists handling marine life, which was an offence in some countries.

He said that doing so could jeopardize the well-being of marine life and more importantly, send the wrong signal to other tourists.

He said Western tourists were sensitive to such issue and bad publicity in the media could deter them from visiting Sabah.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

State launches ‘The Colours of Sarawak’


KUCHING: A cultural performance called the ‘The Colours of Sarawak’ was officially launched at the Kuching International Airport (KIA) yesterday.

Headed by the National Department of Culture and Arts (JKKN) Sarawak, the performance will be held on selected dates throughout the year as a platform to further promote the state’s tourism industry.

According to JKKN state director Abdul Mutalib Abdul Rahman, there is no better place to showcase the uniqueness of Sarawak other than KIA, which is the main gateway to the state.

“We have 27 main ethnic groups in Sarawak. Added with the diversity of all its sub-ethnic groups, there is a lot of variations that we can show to the world,” said Mutalib during the launch of the show.

The variety of dances, songs of these ethnic groups, he added, is what makes Sarawak unique and an attraction to visitors. He revealed that last year, the state recorded about 4.8 million visitor arrivals, with more than 800,000 visitors arriving and departing via KIA.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: State launches ‘The Colours of Sarawak’
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4 Japanese climbers embark on Low's Gully - MountKinabalu expedition


KOTA KINABALU: Four Japanese men have embarked on a mission to scale Mount Kinabalu’s Low’s Gully via the challenging Panataran trail in Kota Belud.

Naruse Yoichi, Sato Yusuke, Tanaka Satoru and Kobayashi began their expedition on Saturday from Kampung Malangkap Tomis down Panataran River towards Low’s Gully and Low’s Peak (4092.5m).

Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais in a statement Sunday said barring any unforeseen circumstances, the climbers should arrive at Timpohon Gate, Kinabalu Park by March 29 or March 30.

He described the expedition as very interesting as no one had tried to scale Low’s Gully via the Panataran trail since Mount Kinabalu’s gazettment as a heritage park in 1964.

According to him, 10 soldiers from the British army attempted to conquer Low’s Gully in 1994 but were unsuccessful.

In 1998, a joint Malaysia-British team involving 12 people led by Sabah Parks senior rangers Martin Moguring and John Sangkig successfully made it to Low’s Gully, paving the way for further expeditions.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Live and Let's Fly: Review - HyattRegencyKinabaluHotel Suite @LiveandLetsFly


During our Christmas/New Year’s trip to Borneo, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu. We were able to use a suite upgrade and it was one of the best we have had. The waterfront location, excellent service, and suite were all excellent – but those were just the start.

Location

Jalan Datuk Salleh Sulong, Kota Kinabalu, 88991 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

+60 88-221 234

The Hyatt Regency Kinabalu is located in downtown Kota Kinabalu on the waterfront.

The location is centrally located for tourists and near many points of interest. There is a shopping center, restaurants, markets and a ferry terminal all within walking distance. Travel by cab from the airport was only about 15 minutes and cost around $7.

Checkin

Upon our arrival, we were greeted and escorted up to the Regency Club Lounge for our checkin.

The lounge offered canap├ęs at night and a light breakfast in the morning with a mix of hot and cold items. There was enough to eat but for the minimal cost of breakfast in the restaurant it was no contest for us and we opted to eat our breakfast there.

We were able to use a Globalist suite upgrade for the duration of our stay and we were impressed. We use our Globalist suite upgrades sparingly but at the Hyatt Kinabalu it was worth it.

Guest Bathroom/Living Room

When you first walk into the suite, there is a guest bathroom immediately off to the right-hand side. This is a feature we really appreciate as we are often traveling with friends or family members.

If you invite others into your room it eliminates any awkward traipsing through your bedroom or amongst your personal belongings.

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Telipok-Randagong road to boost tourism, agriculture in Kiulu and Ranau


KOTA KINABALU: The RM288 million Telipok-Randagong road project will be a boon to tourism and agriculture in Kiulu and Ranau, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.

Masidi said the road, spanning 60 km connecting Jalan Telipok with Pekan Kiulu, Pukak, Pahu, Lokos, Toboh and Randagong, will create access to hidden jewel areas that lacked infrastructural connection.

He elaborated this will give the hardworking people of Kiulu and Ranau the opportunity to wider access of agricultural produce market and spur rural tourism growth.

“They will have the option of selling at Pekan Ranau, Keningau and also Kota Kinabalu,” said Masidi, who is also Karanaan assemblyman.

“We can plant leafy vegetables for example but if it takes too much time to get to the market, all that work will be to no avail because the vegetables will become spoiled before it gets to the market.

“With my own calculations, from the borders of Ranau and Kiulu, a vegetable farmer can reach Kota Kinabalu in less than an hour and I am sure they will be able to reach the market and get a higher chance to sell it in the city,” he added.

In terms of tourism, Masidi foresees the establishment of upscale tourist accommodation in the environment that had been preserved for the last 50 years.

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Lux Travel: Borneo @LuxTravel06


After visiting Kuala Lumpur at the beginning of our Malaysia trip, we took the short flight over to the area of Kota Kinabalu in the state of Sabah, Borneo.

We decided to stay a week here and use it as a base for visiting the Orangutans at Sepilok and exploring the area.

There is a fairly limited choice of 4/5 star accommodation in Borneo when booking through UK travel operators, but the Shangri La Rasa Ria stood out for me when planning my itinerary with Hayes and Jarvis.

The hotel offers views of the Borneo rainforest one way and the South China Sea the other.

There’s a variety of room types available depending on your taste and budget. We opted for an Premium Ocean Wing Room which is located in a little more of an adult focused area of the hotel (the Ocean Wing) and boasted extras including:

* A separate pool area
* Discounted a la carte restaurants
* Pillow menu
* Separate check in
* Separate breakfast restaurant
* A larger room with your very own (HUGE) bathtub on the balcony.

If you’re a foodie like me, you won’t struggle here. There’s an extensive choice of eateries including an Indian, Italian, Japanese, Tepi Laut (Malaysian Street food style) as well as a buffet restaurant.

They also cater well for different dietary requirements so make yourself known on arrival if this is needed.

The Shangri La offers bed and breakfast, half board or full board so you can choose which one you would prefer depending on how much time you spend in the hotel. This can be upgraded in the hotel if needed.

The Rasa Ria is a half an hour distance from the town of Kota Kinabalu where you can explore local shops, bars and restaurants as well as some more contemporary shopping centres.

The hotel does put on a payable shuttle bus service for guests to and from the town as it would take way too long to walk.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Lux Travel: Borneo
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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Connie Consumes: KinabaluPark – A Mountainside Getaway @connieconsumes


I winced a little every time a local asked me if we were going to climb Mount Kinabalu.

The short answer was no, but their disappointed looks always made me feel the need to explain that on this visit we neither had the time nor adequate preparation for conquering such a momentous experience.

Next time, I promised. Sabah has a reputation for its natural beauty, and Mount Kinabalu is definitely the jewel in its crown.

The tallest peak in Malaysia and UNESCO World Heritage site has been captivating and challenging visitors for years.

The two day hike to the summit is so popular that spaces are limited and often booked out months in advance. Something I will keep in mind for when that next time eventually comes.

But for now, we settled for the next best thing – spending a night in Kinabalu Park and taking in all its natural beauty on steadier ground, at a much more leisurely pace…


Smoking Hot Sinalau Bakas

The journey from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park was punctuated by a snack-stop which our guide had been tempting us with for days.

His description of sinalau bakas, a smoked wild boar which is extremely popular in the hill area, won us over instantly and we could not wait to try it for ourselves.

When we pulled up to a row of barbeque pits just off the main road, we were greeted with the mouthwatering sight of the pork happily smoking away.

You choose a piece depending on what you like – equal levels of meat and fat, or perhaps a bit more of one over the other – then it gets sliced and cooked more closely over some hot coals.

The result is incredibly moreish; a certain someone and I didn’t hold back, with the accompanying toothpicks, we speared the small slices of deeply smoked pork and dipped them into the soy and chilli dipping sauce with such hunger, people might have thought we hadn’t eaten for days!

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SarawakTourism Board partners premier jazz club No Black Tie to stage 13th BorneoJazz Festival


MIRI: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) is embarking on a new model for the 13th Borneo Jazz Festival this year.

The board is co-presenting this year’s edition, to be held at Coco Cabana in Marina Bay from May 11 to 13, with No Black Tie – Kuala Lumpur’s premier jazz club.

Ministre of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports  Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said as part of this year’s festival, No Black Tie and STB are launching the first-ever Borneo Jazz Talent Search.

“I believe we have many young promising musicians in Borneo, and this platform has been developed specially to help nurture our young talents. Some of them will even be performing alongside international artistes during the festival,” he said at the launch of Borneo Jazz Festival 2018 here yesterday.

His text-of-speech was read by Assistant Minister Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin.

Abdul Karim said No Black Tie has played host to leading jazz names from both the region and internationally for the past 20 years, adding that he was pleasantly surprised to learn that the proprietor, Evelyn Hii, hails from Miri.

“I believe this partnership (between STB and No Black Tie) will help the festival to grow even bigger and better in the years to come.”

He said Borneo Jazz Festival has rightly earned its reputation as a noteworthy regional event after 13 years, drawing thousands of visitors every year.

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Visit Miri campaign gets lift from Wings Air’s Pontianak flights


Indonesian LCC Wings Air launched twice-daily flights between Pontianak and Miri on March 15, a timely addition amid the Visit Miri 2018 campaign.

With the only other international direct flight into Miri being AirAsia’s service from Singapore, the new Pontianak route is promising to lend strength to the travel industry’s push for the northern region of Sarawak.

Among the activities and attractions highlighted as part of the Visit Miri 2018 are the Borneo Jazz Festival (May 11-12); Miri City International Deep Sea Fishing Tournament (May 10-13) as well as its UNESCO accredited Mulu National Park.

Visit Miri 2018 is a tourism initiative by Miri City Council in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports; Sarawak Tourism Board; Miri Resident Office; Miri District Office; Sarawak Forestry Corporation and non-government organisations.

Sarawak Tourism Board’s acting CEO, Mary Wan Mering, added: “The new flights will also help attract more medical tourists from Pontianak to the three main hospitals in Miri actively promoting medical tourism – Borneo Medical Centre Miri, Miri City Medical Centre and Columbia Asia Hospital.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Cat Wanders World: Wildlife, Forts and Cultural Villages in Kuching, Malaysian Borneo https://www.instagram.com/cat_wanders_world/


Once again I was forced to fly through KL in order to have the absolute pleasure of flying with Malaysian Airlines (I say that without sarcasm, their seats are roomy and you always get fed). I’m not sure whether it was the meal on the plane or the fast food fish and chips I had in the airport that caused my upset stomach but I was certainly glad of the thunderstorm created delay to my flight! Flight was delayed by about an hour and despite it only lasting 1hr 10 minutes the crew pegged it up the aisle to give us a full meal!

I stayed at Quiikcat hostel and the owner’s very friendly niece came to pick me up from the airport. I slept like a log and when I woke up everyone in my room had checked out. I had free tea and toast with jam for breakfast, both of which were available all day every day. I looked at a few tour places but every single one charges you double the price if you are alone and I couldn’t join any group tours as it was low season so there was no one else wanting to go!

It was incredibly humid and prone to sudden heavy downpours so I went for a stroll along the riverfront and then went on a fruitless search for hair bobbles. I had lunch at Pizza Hut because you got mushroom soup, a personal margherita, chicken sticks and a drink for 17.95RM (just over £3). I walked past one of the cat statues too. I ended up being the only non-Chinese person to visit the Chinese History Museum as it was free and rain was threatening. I found it pretty interesting especially the bit where you could play examples of what people from different parts of China would say!

Next day I went to the National History Museum or at least I think I did. There were 3 museums next to each other and this was the only one open. It had lots about the history of Sarawak and the different tribes that lived there. It also had all about the different mythologies in a cool animated video at the start, my favourite being that the world is on top of a buffalo that is balancing on a flat fish.

The Dayak couldn’t mourn their dead without a skull so there was a lot of head hunting but when the Brooke dynasty took over and banned it they had rental skulls so they could still do it without offing anyone. When the Brooke dynasty officially ceded to the British Government there was a big kick off so the British put out Circular No 9. This meant that if you worked for the government and wanted to keep your job you had to agree to cessation.

There is an entire book of resignations and the circumstances under which they were rehired (or not rehired in the case of the ringleader in the Customs department!). The anti-cessation movement fell apart when a teenager assassinated the British Governor and the remaining member of the Brooke dynasty who had been leading the campaign then said that they had to stop because he wouldn’t condone violence. It was really interesting to learn about!

In the afternoon I took a cab out to the Sarawak Orangutan Sanctuary and my driver was really tickled that my name is Cat, I’m staying in a cat themed hostel and Kuching is actually the Malay word for cat. He told me all about how he’d been moored off the Isle of Man in a storm and about working for Cambridge English, which was deeply interesting. It’s a bit of a trek from the entrance to the actual sanctuary especially when it is incredibly humid but I was greeted by Mina the orangutan in an Instagram ready pose. She was later joined by her son who was dropping banana all over the place.

We were told he liked to pee on visitors but luckily he didn’t do that when I was there! I was a bit confused by the random crocodile they seemed to be keeping at the back of the sanctuary as it wasn’t clear whether this was permanent or because she had laid eggs and was guarding them. This sanctuary certainly felt a lot more tourist orientated than the one in Sabah and to be honest I didn’t like it as much for that reason. I got the bus back for 4RM but ended up in Starbucks because it was pouring down. I was not impressed by the cake or the service and was absolutely gobsmacked at the price for a hazelnut hot chocolate and a cake – 28RM (£5+)!!!

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Traveling Actuary: MountKinabalu travelingactuary.wordpress.com


As my time in Hong Kong begins to wrap up, I’m trying to fit in as many last minute activities as possible. 

I’m not sure when I’ll be back in Asia, so I’m trying to cram in as many places/experiences as I possibly can. 

With this in mind, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a long weekend trip over Christmas with my friend Ewoud to visit Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo

I’m going to apologize in advance for the length of this post. 

If you just want to see the pictures and not get all the juicy details, just skip to the bottom. 

But I promise there might be one or two interesting facts if you bother to read the long version.

Sabah is one of two Malaysian states on the island (which is also shared with Brunei and Indonesia), occupying the northern portion of the island while Sarawak makes up the western part.  

It’s interesting to note that these two states have autonomous laws from the other states of Malaysia, and it is definitely noticeable after having previously visited the peninsular portion of the country. 

For instance, Christianity is much more noticeable here, with Christmas billboards scattered all around. 

Malaysia as a whole is a Muslim country (see the flag), so I found this very interesting. 

This differs from some stories I heard from Nicole where she wasn’t allowed to wear anything with a cross on it because that was seen as an attempt to convert people. 

In contrast, I talked with one shopkeeper who told me that Christians make up a large portion (nearly half) of the population.

Borneo itself is a fascinating place that’s full of interesting history with British background, ties to the neighboring Philippines (currently not for good reasons), and some of the greatest wildlife and nature to be found in the world.

Many people come here for the great diving, but unfortunately I don’t have my PADI license so I can only snorkel for now (more on that later). 

However, if sea life isn’t your thing, there is a great collection of land dwelling plants and animals such as orangutans, proboscis monkeys (big nosed, also known as Dutch monkeys, and are possibly the ugliest in the world), and pitcher plants. 

Many of the plants and animals that live on Borneo can’t be found anywhere else in the world, and the island’s rainforest includes many world heritage sites and national parks.

One of these world heritage sites is the famous Mount (Gunung) Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in SE Asia at nearly 14,000 feet (4,096 km), and the 20th tallest mountain in the world in terms of topographic prominence. 

This mountain towers over the nearby peaks and is a sacred place for the indigenous people.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Traveling Actuary: Mount Kinabalu
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Mandarin-speaking tour guides mulled for Chinese tourists in Sarawak


KUCHING: The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports is looking at temporary tour guides with Mandarin proficiency to accommodate the growing number of visitors from China.

Its minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said this was brought about by the about 20,000 air passengers, mostly from China, who came here in the first three months since the inaugural Kuching-Shenzhen flight at end of December last year.

“The ministry is seriously looking into this issue and is hoping to address it with contingency plan or else it would have an impact on our Chinese guests,” he told a press conference after chairing the Sarawak Tourism Steering Committee meeting here yesterday.

“Currently, we have about 200 licensed tour guides but only a few can speak Mandarin. So, maybe we can train some temporary Mandarin-speaking tour guides,” he said.

He added that Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and Forest Department, which manage national parks in Sarawak, would make arrangement to have Mandarin-speaking park guides or rangers in the frontline as well.

On issuing of Visa on Arrival (VoA) at the borders, Abdul Karim said they would be holding a dialogue with the state Immigration Department today (March 21) in the hope that procedural issues could be ironed out to make it easier for visitors who have entered Brunei in particular, to access Sarawak.

“We note that many foreigners who are visiting Brunei are also interested to continue their journey to Mulu and Niah caves, and we want to tap into this market.

“There are problems with procedures which need to be sorted out in order to facilitate the issuance of VoAs for these visitors to go in and out of Sarawak. The problem is minor, and can be resolved,” he added.

Abdul Karim also said more efforts would be put in to ensure that Sarawak tourism industry remain competitive and continue to contribute to the economy.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Protected area management priorities crucial for future of BorneanElephants


KOTA KINABALU: Degraded forests play a crucial role in the future survival of Bornean elephants.

A new study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, finds that forests of surprisingly short stature are ideal for elephants.

“Our study indicates that forests with a mean canopy height of 13 m were those most utilized by Bornean elephants. These forests are consistent with degraded landscapes or those recovering from previous logging, or clearance,” noted lead author Luke Evans, a postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science and Danau Girang Field Centre.

“The study utilized GPS tracking data from 29 individual elephants that were collared across Sabah, providing high resolution, multi-year data,” said Evans.

The study paired the GPS tracking data for each elephant with airborne laser-based images of Sabah’s forests, providing high resolution three-dimensional maps of forest canopy height and structure.

Co-author Greg Asner, of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, and Carnegie Institution for Science explained “Our mapping of Sabah’s forests is unique in that it provides accurate and detailed spatial information on forest structure. Combined with the GPS telemetry data for the elephants, the connection between relatively low-statured tree canopies and elephant habitat emerged in a way that was previously unknown.

“The danger is that a large proportion of these lower-stature forest habitats could be prime candidates for conversion to large-scale agriculture before their importance is fully realized,” stated co-author Benoit Goossens, of Danau Girang Field Centre, Cardiff University and advisor for Sabah Wildlife Department.

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5th FCAS International SabahDragonBoatRace on May 11-13


KOTA KINABALU: The fifth Sabah FCAS International Dragon Boat Race 2018, organized by the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS), will be held at Likas Bay on May 11 to 13 with a total cash prize of RM93,000.

Two new categories will be created this year, namely the FCAS Trophy (800 metres) for associate members of the federation, and the Kota Kinabalu Mayor Cup (800 metres).

Both categories come with RM3,000 for the first prize, RM2,000 and RM1,000 for the second and third prize respectively.

FCAS president Tan Sri Dr T.C. Goh, JP said the federation has increased the total cash prize to RM93,000 this year from RM81,000 last year with the two new categories.

He said a total of 102 teams, including participants from China, Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Brunei, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, joined the race last year.

“We hope to see more participation this year,” he said in a press conference here yesterday.

Goh said Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai would extend invitations to Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) and local government teams to participate in the Kota Kinabalu Mayor Cup category.

Meanwhile, organizing chairperson Datuk Susan Wong Siew Guen, who is also the vice president of FCAS, said the final race day would be held on May 13, Sunday.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Connie Consumes: TunkuAbdulRahmanPark, Sabah – An Island-Hopping Guide @connieconsumes


Our first few days in Sabah had given us plenty of culture, delicious food, and a taste of their lush forests, but what we were craving now was a healthy dose of the sea! Kota Kinabalu itself is set on the coast, but if you’re serious about getting some beach time then you need to head out to Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.

This marine park is made up of a cluster of islands, but the most popular ones for beach-goers are Pulau Manukan and Pulau Sapi which were where we headed for the day!

From Sutera Harbour we set off to the islands in style on our private speedboat… in just twenty minutes we had gone from city to sea, and moments later we were enjoying the sand between our toes and the soothing sounds of the crashing waves.

Unfortunately, that calm and serenity did not last long. Remember how I mentioned that Pulau Manukan and Pulau Sapi are popular?

I hadn’t prepared myself for just how busy they would be; we literally watched boatload after boatload of enthusiastic day-trippers swarm the beach.

I quickly came to the conclusion that this is probably not the place to come if you want a relaxing, lazy day of doing not that much on the beach.

In fact, all those day-trippers come to these islands because they actually want to do stuff like diving, snorkelling and a couple of other unique activities so we thought if we couldn’t beat them, we’d join them!

We packed away the beach towels and any thoughts of sunbathing, and did some more interesting activities instead…


Conquering the Coral Flyer on Sapi Island

I was always a big fan of the flying fox when I was a child because I absolutely loved that little thrill I got whizzing from one side to the other.

Getting on the Coral Flyer brought all those happy childhood memories back… but this was definitely like no flying fox I had ever done before!

The Coral Flyer is the world’s longest island to island zipline, it’s 250m long and is between Pulau Sapi and Pulau Gaya.

A boat took us from Sapi to Gaya where we were helmeted and harnessed, before being hooked onto the line… it was at this point that I started to get just a tad nervous! It took a tiny bit of reassurance from a certain someone, a bit of laughing from the boys in the line after us, and a bit of a push from the guide and I was off!

It was over in a flash but we enjoyed the most incredible views from the Coral Flyer – definitely one of the most memorable experiences of our trip!

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First homestay in KotaKinabalu launched


KOTA KINABALU: Desa Cinta Kobuni Homestay at Kampung Kobuni, the first homestay in the city, was officially launched yesterday.

The homestay was created under the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) initiative carried out by Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) and other agencies to develop community based tourism.

Located about seven minutes from Inanam town, Kampung Kobuni has 291 villagers from 72 households. The village offers 19 homestay premises for visitors.

Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah hoped that Kampung Kobuni, the first community based tourism NBOS programme implemented in Kota Kinabalu, would serve as a catalyst to its surroundings.

“I hope more homestays will be created in the city apart from developing new potential tourism products in rural areas to be promoted through the NBOS programme,” he said when officiating at the launching of Desa Cinta Kobuni Homestay.

He said Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Haji Aman in his State Budget 2018 speech had emphasized on strengthening the tourism market in Sabah by focusing on rural tourism.

He said Musa also spoke about developing village entrepreneurs, village tourism, entrepreneurship training, micro credit financing and enhancing the one district one product programme to increase the income of rural folks.

In the budget, Yong said the government had allocated RM127.18 million to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and RM152.09 million to the Ministry of Rural Development for this purpose.

“We should seize the opportunities and together enjoy the economic development in the State,” he urged.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Miri welcomes more international flights


MIRI: This resort city welcomes Indonesian airlines, Wings Air and Malindo Air to open up more international routes that would enhance Miri towards becoming the northern gateway of Borneo.

According to Assistant Minister of Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin, there is good road connectivity linking Miri with Brunei and Sabah.

“I’ve a good discussion with lndonesian Ambassador to Malaysia His Excellency Rusdi Kirana to look at possibilities for Wings Air to fly (to Miri) from other towns in Indonesia such as Balikpapan.

“Balikpapan shares similar oil history with Miri and Brunei. I strongly think the next route for Wings Air to explore is Balikpapan to Miri (route),” he stated in a joint press conference on Wings Air inaugural flight from Pontianak to this city at Miri Airport’s VIP waiting room on Thursday.

On Malindo Air, Lee told reporters that Rusdi would talk to Malindo Air’s top management on having the ‘twin cities’ promotion by connecting Miri with other destinations like Bali and Jakarta.

“The state government is very happy to work with Malindo Air and we will look into all possibilities to make tourism a successful part of the state’s economic growth,” he added.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Miri welcomes more international flights
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Hundreds join in SabahTourism Board centenary celebrations


KOTA KINABALU: Members of the public turned up in hundreds to celebrate the centenary milestone of the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) building, yesterday.

The celebration was joined by locals and tourists alike, including descendants of JW Norman, the colonial executive engineer who designed and supervised the construction of the building from 1916 to its completion in 1918.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun officiated at the ceremony with an opening gimmick, where post cards were slotted into an original post box from the building’s post office days in the mid 1930s.

The gimmick serves as a time capsule, where the post box will be opened in another 100 years.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Four World War II tunnels earmarked as KotaKinabalu tourist attractions


KOTA KINABALU: Four tunnels dating back to World War II have been identified in and around the city area and are planned to be developed into tourist attractions.

The Kota Kinabalu City Hall through its tourism committee is looking for new sites with potentials to become tourism products, the latest of which are the tunnels situated behind the Kota Kinabalu Community Hall and on the hills of Kampung Kopungit.

Its director-general, Datuk Joannes Solidau, said there would be continuous effort to discover historical sites because Kota Kinabalu had not many interesting places for tourists to visit.

“These tunnels are among the ones with the most potential for development because they are not far from the city centre, so it’s quite strategic.

“Moreover, the view from Bukit Kopungit is priceless because it overlooks the city and Tanjung Aru, all the way to Penampang.

“When tourists come here, not only do they get to see the historical tunnels, they will also enjoy a magnificent view,” said Joannes, during a site inspection with the media, yesterday.

The two tunnels on Bukit Kopungit are between 50 to 60 feet long, although the path is quite challenging and needs maintenance before visitors are permitted, to ensure safety.

Joannes said the second tunnel on Bukit Kopungit was the largest of the four inspected yesterday,  large enough for people to stand in.

“These tunnels were used by the Japanese in World War II as shelter, and bigger ones even led to larger spaces where they set up underground hospitals.

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Wings Air’s maiden flight to Miri arrives at Miri Airport


MIRI: Some 51 passengers onboard Wings Air’s maiden flight from Pontianak to Miri have landed safely at Miri Airport at around 6.20pm today.

Miri is the second international route operated by Wings Air from Pontianak after the first initiated flight to Kuching on January, this year.

On hand to welcome the passengers was Assistant Minister of Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin.

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Sandakan Airport runway project starts in April


The government is still in the process of selecting a contractor to extend the runway of Sandakan Airport and the project is expected to start in April this year.

The Ministry of Transport disclosed this in a reply to Sandakan member of parliament Stephen Wong Tien Fatt in the Parliament sitting. However, it did not explain why the project which originally was supposed to start in August last year but was extended to April this year.

Regarding the specific number of passengers in Sandakan, the Ministry of Tourism indicated that the department itself did not conduct specific statistics on respective cities and districts, so there is no information on the number of visitors to Sandakan.

However, the ministry pointed out that there are 3.68 million tourists in Sabah, of which 1.23 million are international tourists.

In 2017, tourists generated RM7.8 billion revenue in Sabah itself, an increase of eight percent from RM7.2 billion in 2016.

As for the development of Pasir Putih, the ministry responded that in the 11th Malaysia Plan, the Sandakan parliamentary district received a total of RM700,000 allocation to develop Borneon Sun Bear Conversation Centre eco-tourism development project in Sepilok.

In Sabah, in order to develop eco-tourism, the ministry confirmed that eight eco-tourism development clusters will be developed in Sabah, one of which is eco-tourism cluster from Sandakan to Kinabatangan. The development of Pasir Putih is one of them but the related authorities did not respond specifically on how to develop Pasir Putih.

After reading the written replies, Wong said it was obvious that the government did not have any macro ideas to develop the tourism industry in Sandakan. Even the Pasir Putih Beach in Sandakan was only vaguely involving in a series of plans.

“The BN government cannot explain how to develop. This shows that the related authorities have no intention to develop Sandakan tourism, despite the fact that Sabah’s tourism revenue is impressive.

“In fact, Sabah is one of the best tourist destinations in the country and the tourism industry is developing very fast. However, Sandakan does not gain any benefits from the booming tourism industry in Sabah,” he said in a statement yesterday.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Historical SabahTourism building turns 100 years


KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Tourism building, formerly the old post office, celebrates its 100th year exactly on March 16 after surviving the war, a major restoration and today, housing the Sabah Tourism Board office.

The once-in-a-lifetime occasion will feature a good mix of local resources coming together to mark the event, according to chairman of Sabah Tourism Board, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

The event will be held at the building location and stretching as far as the end of Gaya Street for the “Night @ Gaya Street”, where food outlets, food trucks and vendors will operate till extended hours that day.

North Borneo History Society will feature a virtual reality booth for public to ‘experience’ Jesselton in the past.

The event will also feature a 100-metre long cake co-hosted by Sabah Tourism and Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort for all who attend.

The first ever 3D projection mapping showcasing the history of the building will be projected and produced by Sabah Animation Creative Content Centre.

“It is very rare to witness a centenary anniversary of a structure such as this one, as Jesselton was almost in ruins during the war. Today it is one of the 24 heritage sites gazetted in Sabah. We hope our next generation will conserve and learn to love our history,” added Joniston.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Historical Sabah Tourism building turns 100 years
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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Wings Air to make maiden flight to Miri on March 15


MIRI: The maiden flight of Indonesian low-cost airline, Wings Air, from Pontianak to Miri this Thursday has generated much excitement among tourism stakeholders here.

Malindo Air station manager Harris Salleh said the inaugural flight is expected to arrive at Miri Airport around 6.20pm, with a return flight to Pontianak scheduled around 6.50pm the same day.

He disclosed this at the Wings Air inaugural flight preparation meeting at Miri Airport yesterday, which was chaired by Assistant Minister of Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin.

Harris said the aircraft will fly the Pontianak-Miri and the subsequent Miri-Pontianak route daily.

“This route will be served by ATR aircraft with the capacity of 72 passengers, and the price of the ticket starts from RM163.”

He added that tickets for the flight can be bought online via www.lionair.co.id or www.malindoair.com.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Wings Air to make maiden flight to Miri on March 15
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Labuan International Sea Challenge features jetski, deep sea fishing tournament


LABUAN: The 22nd Labuan International Sea Challenge 2018 is expected to draw a huge crowd to the duty-free island with the newly-introduced international extreme sport game of P1 Jetski Championship, which is set be the Labuan’s exciting event of the year.

The deep sea fishing tournament known as Labuan Game Fishing Tournament offering total cash prize of RM60, 000 is another main event that is also set to attract the established local and foreign anglers to take part in the nine-day event from April 21.

Labuan Corporation deputy chief executive officer Mohd Zamri Mohd Esa said the annual event is expected to attract at least 30, 000 visitors to the island.

The annual event, which started in 1997, has given Labuan a positive image internationally due to the international participation, especially in the Rolex IGFA Labuan International Fishing Tournament.

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Monday, March 12, 2018

Tourists get a taste of Brunei culture


A GROUP of tourists got a taste of the Brunei culture and traditional food when they visited the ‘Pink House’ owned by Haji Mohd Zahari bin Adis at Kampong Tamoi Ujong yesterday.

Deputy Permanent Secretary (Tourism) at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism Wardi bin Haji Mohammad Ali welcomed them to the residence at Kampong Ayer.

The tourists, who arrived in Brunei on a cruise ship, had the opportunity to enjoy the specially made traditional food and also had an up close and personal look at the lifestyle of village dwellers.

Brunei’s water village is world famous and a must-visit spot for tourists.

The visitors agreed that the water village offers spectacular sceneries and lamented that their stay there was too brief.

“We are immensely impressed with your local culture and your friendliness, and I look forward to coming back,” said Helmuth from Germany.

The tourists were guests onboard Seven Seas Navigator, which brought in 530 passengers and 324 crew members.

The vessel docked at Muara Port yesterday and left the Sultanate the same day for Singapore.

Other groups from the ship visited other places of interest including the Royal Regalia Museum and the Malay Technology Museum in Kota Batu.

Based on statistics, the country received 25,000 to 30,000 tourists via cruise ships annually in recent years.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Tourists get a taste of Brunei culture
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Sarawak Cultural Village to kick off digital marketing


KUCHING: The Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) has become the first Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) subsidiary to embark on digital marketing as part of its rolling initiatives to remain as an iconic tourism attraction to both domestic and international markets.

The digital marketing concept will revolve around Sarawak’s cultural attractions, as well as on its traditional delicacies.

“We are proud that SCV has taken the initiative to start its digital marketing to promote itself locally and abroad. With digital marketing, anyone who wants to know more about Sarawak and SCV can do so through the click of a button,” SEDC chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Aziz Husain told reporters after officiating at the opening of SCV’s 28th staff anniversary celebration in Grand Margherita Hotel here on Saturday night.

Digital marketing, he pointed out, would be in line with the vision of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg in developing the state’s digital economy.

According to Aziz, the perks of digital marketing include SCV being able to reach out to a wider population of potential tourists who have access to the Internet anywhere around the world.

“Right now, if we Google search the three letters – ‘S, C and V’ – we would be directed to the official website of Sarawak Cultural Village. With this, I hope that more tourists from outside the country would know about Sarawak and its various ethnic groups, as portrayed in the village,” he added.

Since opening its doors in 1990, SCV has recorded a total of 3,843,612 visitors while their performers have clocked in a total of 51,600 hours.

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Trust in SabahParks, state govt convinces climbers MountKinabalu safe


KUNDASANG: Trust in the Sabah Parks and the state government’s priority and attention given to the safety of mountaineers were sufficient to convince four local avid cyclists that it was safe to conquer Mount Kinabalu following Thursday’s earthquake.

Rizin Kusop, 45, of Kota Kinabalu-based De Sulap Cycling Team said they had wanted to cancel their scheduled hike on Saturday, but when they learned that the mountain was safe to climb, they went ahead with their plan.

“Of course, naturally, we were quite worried whether there might be aftershocks during our climb. But we believed we could climb the mountain and we proved that we had safely reached the summit and returned,” he told Bernama when met after concluding his climb at Timpohon Gate, the starting point of the climb here yesterday.

Rizin, who has now conquered the mountain five times, was joined by team mates Juslee Dousin, 46, who has climbed the mountain four times, and first-timers Dilly Eduin, 45 and Lehenry Kaunsir, 46.

He said climbing Mount Kinabalu was part of the cycling team’s initiative to stay fit and be prepared to face any cycling race they would participate in. Dilly said he was impressed with the safety measures which Sabah Parks had put in place, especially with the presence of Mountain Search and Rescue (Mosar) personnel along the hiking route, which gave him the assurance that he was in safe hands.

German businessman Luethje Wilhelm, 30, who flew from Hong Kong with several friends on the night of the earthquake, had no idea of the incident, or of the suspension.

“We only found out about it (earthquake) later that night when we arrived in KK (Kota Kinabalu). But we still hoped to climb the mountain and we checked with our agents and they said Saturday (yesterday) was fine,” he said.

He and his compatriot friend, Markus Georg, 30 described their experience in scaling the mountain as fun and that the mountain guides were great in assisting them.

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