Friday, December 31, 2004

Donations/Relief Funds Information for Malaysians

Malaysians can make their donations to the “National Disaster Fund” managed by the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee headed by the Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, as well as the various Humanitarian Fund for relief efforts in the northern part of Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India, by following the information at any of the websites below:

Also note that the AMP Tsunami 26/12 appeal, where you can sent your donation via SMS, has closed, midnight 31 December 2004. More info here.

Malaysia is one of the richest (if not the richest) tsunami-hit nations. But our destruction and the number of deaths can be described as insignificant compared to the other nations, especially the neighbouring Aceh province of Sumatra in Indonesia, which sheltered Peninsular Malaysia from the full force of nature. We are indeed lucky. Feel it in your heart to think of the other less fortunate Malaysans and the people in the other nations, and give generously.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

What Have We Learn from the Asian Tsunami

It is extremely difficult for us here in Borneo to enjoy the year-end holiday season and to shepherd in the coming new year. Although Borneo is literally untouched and unshakened, the scale of the natural disaster really hit home with the fast rising death toll each day.

Some of us here may still be in disbelief that something so disastrous can happened so close to our home, but the horrific images on the television and other media helped to disseminate the true picture of the situation.

One look at this animation (which shows the wave of the tsunami moving outward from northern Sumatra and travelled some 750 miles to Sri Lanka and Eastern India in less than 2 hours) and we in Borneo can somehow feel how lucky and blessed we are sometimes. Not only are we living in the Land Below the Wind, but we are also in the Land away from the paths of the Ring of Fire.

We shouldn't take this for granted.

Additionally, we must bear in mind that the entire disaster will probably only get worst as the aftermath of disease and sickness will likely kills many more. Any disease outbreak may spread to other neighbouring unaffected region, including Borneo. We can only hope that the local and international aids arrives in time to check this. We, the lucky ones, can do our part too!

Check out the interactive SEA EAT Blog on how you can help the countless number of victims and displaced families.

Asian Tsunami News, Resources and Donations

For the latest news update and resources, check out the following sites:

Information on multinational disaster relief effort, resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts:

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Worst Tsunami in History!

Based on the latest death toll, the tsunamis generated by an earthquake Sunday off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia is the worst in history. The worst tsunamis, by number of fatalities by Location, Year and the No. of Deaths, as follows:
  • South China Sea ; 1782 ; 40,000
  • South Java Sea ; 1883 ; 36,500
  • Tokaido-Nankaido, Japan ; 1707 ; 30,000
  • Sanriku, Japan ; 1896 ; 26,360
  • Northern Chile ; 1868 ; 25,674
  • Southwest Kyushu Island, Japan ; 1792 ; 15,030
  • Ryukyu Trench ; 1771 ; 13,486
  • Moro Gulf, Philippines ; 1976 ; 8,000
  • Tokaido-Kashima, Japan ; 1703 ; 5,233
  • Nankaido, Japan ; 1605 ; 5,000

Source: West Coast & Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

Monday, December 27, 2004

The Asian Quake & Tsunamis

The huge earthquake off Sumatra Island, northern Indonesia on Boxing Day, which triggered giant tidal waves or Tsunamis across south east and western Asia, is undoubtedly the worst natural disaster of the 21st century thus far. While most of us here in Borneo were just getting over the Christmas turkey hang-over, and did not realise (or feel) anything was amiss on the other side of Malaysia, and Asia..., until we tuned in to the news.

We were captivated by the images shown on the television, and could not really comprehend the magnitude of this disaster. It was already devastating in Penang and Phuket, but in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India, it was simply horrendous. To think that we in Borneo did not even feel the earth shake may be a real blessing from above but to see others in the effected countries including our countrymen in Peninsular Malaysia having to go through this unthinkable devastation and its aftermath during the holiday season leaves us totally lost for words.

All we can utter is that our prayers and heartfelt thoughts for all the victims of the catastrophic disaster...

Click here for more updated news.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The Archaelogical Niah Caves of Sarawak

Niah is about 110 km south of Miri, Sarawak. Niah is an archaelogical site where the skull/remains of early cave dwellers were found. Walk to the Painted Cave with Borneo's only haematite paintings. Witness the harvesting of Birds' nests during harvesting time and enroute to the picturistic Latak waterfall at Lambir National Park.

Click here for more tour information.

Niah Caves

Copyright © 2004

Monday, December 06, 2004

NEWS: Extension denied, dive operators to be evicted from Sipadan

SIPADAN, Malaysia -- The Government has rejected a request from scuba diving resort operators to be allowed to remain on Sipadan for another year.

The Dec. 31 deadline stays for the five operators to vacate the popular diving spot. The Government will allow only day trips from Jan. 1 next year and limited to 80 visitors. The decision is expected to strengthen the Government's application for the island to be listed as a world heritage site by Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

It was learnt that all five resorts have been fully booked till Dec. 31 even four months in advance, as this is the last chance for people to stay overnight on the island.

It was learnt that the five dive operators had, through their lawyers, asked for the extension in September, citing the need for more time to relocate.

The lawyers had met the authorities twice to discuss the request.

The committee set up to oversee the matter is jointly headed by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Samsuddin Osman and State Secretary Datuk K.Y. Mustafa.

The National Security Division in the Prime Minister's Deparment, through the State Secretary's office, issued the notices to vacate late last year.

The five operators on the island are Borneo Divers, Sipadan Dive Centre, Pulau Sipadan Resort, Abdillah Sipadan Paradise and Sipadan Lodge.

Sipadan, listed among the world's top 10 diving destinations, is also a nesting spot for turtles and a transit point for migratory birds.

State National Security Division Deputy Director Abdullah Daud said the dive operators must demolish all the structures they own on the island.

"Ample time had been given to them and we will make a spot check on the island next month," he said when contacted.

However, the security post on the island will remain, and the requirement for all visitors to fill out a security form would continue.

The island was a subject of dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia until the International Court of Justice ruled on Dec 17, 2002 that the island belonged to Malaysia.

At least one of the five dive operators intends to stay open until the end of the year. November and December are peak periods.

The dive operators may relocate to the nearby islands of Mabul and Kapalai, half an hour from Sipadan.

SOURCE: Daily Express

Thursday, December 02, 2004

NEWS: Thumbs Up for Sabah Security from US Politicians

KOTA KINABALU: A group of nine politicians from the state of Iowa, United States, have given Sabah’s security situation the thumbs-up despite the recent US government’s advisory to the contrary.

The American legislators said the people in Sabah were very friendly and accommodating and that they felt very safe being here.

“I feel very fine and safe here. From what I’ve seen, everybody seems to be friendly and very accommodating,” the group’s leader Patrick Murphy told reporters when met at the lobby of the State Legislative Assembly building here yesterday.

The delegation had earlier observed the proceedings and question and answer session of the ongoing State Assembly sitting.

They arrived here on November 28 under the US-Sabah Legislative Exchange Programme and would leave for home on Dec 8.

Murphy, who is a Democrat representative in the state of Iowa, was asked to comment on the United States’ recent advisory to Americans against visiting Sabah as it was still unsafe for them.

Commenting on the same issue, Murphy’s Republican counterpart Nancy Boettger said Sabahans had been wonderful.

“Starting with the Malaysian Airlines service, they are very gracious and everyone has been very gracious,” he said.

On the US-Sabah Legislative Exchange Programme, Murphy said it was beneficial for both governments.

“It helped us to learn more about constitutional monarchy government.

“It (system) is not exactly the same as in the United States but it is very close. We expect to learn more on how the state government operates under the system (constitutional monarchy),” he said.

Murphy also invited Sabah Assemblymen to go to Iowa in late January or February next year for the same purpose.

“We hope they (Sabah Assemblymen) too can learn how our government works, especially how to make the government more transparent so that the people have access to the government.
“Things will be running differently from usual in Iowa Senate as both Republican and Democrat have 25 representatives each,” he added.

The American delegation will pay a courtesy call on Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman today.

Source: New Sabah Times

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Top 5 Folklore Tips for the "Mount Kinabalu Climb"

Additional folklore but equally important tips when climbing Mount Kinabalu as follows:

  1. Respect the mountain and 'nature spirits' even if you are a sceptic (or skeptic for US English)
  2. When you need to relieve yourself, tell the "nature spirits" (say aloud) that may be lying on your path to give way to avoid offending them
  3. Don't shout or make too much noise or you might disturb the "nature spirits"
  4. When lost, talk aloud to the "spirits" to "set you free" and apologise for anything that you might have done wrong.
  5. Never take what doesn't belong to you from the Mountain - "Take nothing, leave nothing but your footsteps"

The Good Holiday Guides Are Those Who've Lived The Experience.
The Best Holiday Guides Are Those Who Are Living The Experience.

Copyright © 2004

Top 20 Tips for the "Mount Kinabalu Climb"

Mount Kinabalu is still a relative safe mountain to climb. While climbing the mountain doesn't require any specialised mountaineering skills, and there is a mountain guide to accompany you (a prerequisite), it is useful to be reminded when one is traveling on unfamiliar grounds, and it pays to stay focussed on the climb.

Some useful tips for a successful climb include:

  1. Wear and bring adequate clothing
  2. Always climb in a group and stay close to the group
  3. Focus on what you do, (i.e., don't get distracted)
  4. Always use the well-trodden path
  5. Never get reckless or try to be a show-off
  6. If possible, climb during dry season
  7. If unavoidable, be extra careful with your steps during the wet spell
  8. Stay where you are if you are lost
  9. Leave a trail in case you have to walk away from the path where you got lost
  10. Bring along a whistle just to be extra safe.
  11. Always stay close to your mountain guide
  12. Wrap up your dry clothings with plastic bags in your napsack
  13. Bring lots of chocolates and candies
  14. No red meat or heavy meal before climbing
  15. Noodles and eggs are recommended before the more challenging second ascent from Laban Rata
  16. Never sit or lay down on high altitute (just stand still)
  17. Never forget to bring along a torchlight and sufficient water (but not too much/heavy)
  18. Cover your nose (and mouth) with a scarf in windy condition on high ground
  19. Make extra sure your feet and hands are warm and dry during the final ascent
  20. When descending, try to walk sideway if you are feeling the pinch

More Description and Tips Here.

The Good Holiday Guides Are Those Who've Lived The Experience.
The Best Holiday Guides Are Those Who Are Living The Experience.

Copyright © 2004

Monday, November 29, 2004

Attraction: Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Mount Kinabalu, located in Sabah, Malaysia, is the tallest peak in South East Asia measuring some 4,095 metres. Mount Kinabalu was recently accorded a World Heritage Site, a prestigious worldwide recognition for its uniqueness. It also host the annual Climbathon where runners managed to conquer the mountain and back in a few hours. But you can proved that Mount Kinabalu can be conquered in a day, a memorable and adventurous day. Your trek/climb, accompanied by a mountain guide, will start at Timpohon Gate (about 15 minutes drive from the Kinabalu Park HQ). For a normally fit person, it takes an average 5-6 hours for you to trek up to the fully heated Laban Rata Resthouse (more popularly known as the 11,000ft) or surrounding huts. Get some rest and sleep before waking up at around 1.00am the next morning for the second phase of ascent. This is a more gruelling climb, normally takes about 2-3 hours, and it is best to time your ascent to reach the peak (calls Low's Peak after Sir Hugh Low) just right for the sunrise as you will tend to experience an awe-inspriring sun-rising sight.

Click here for tour information

Scaling the Roof of SEA - Mt Kinabalu, Sabah

Copyright © 2004

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Poring Hot Spring, Sabah, Malaysia

Poring Hot Spring is 456 m above sea level, passing Kundasang and Ranau. Poring Hot Spring is named after the tall bamboo plant that is abundant in that area, is a natural spring where hot sulfurous water emit from the ground. As such, one of the highlights at Poring is undoubtably the Japanese style sulphur baths. A dip at the hot spring is a unique experience where the invigorating sulfurous water stimulate the body. Experience the canopy walk, a spectacular view of the forests as you trek along this walkway built 80m high. A trip to Poring Hot Spring will not be completed without a visit to the nearby Kinabalu National Park, located about 47 km from Poring, at the foot of Mt Kinabalu.

Click here for tour information.

Poring Hot Spring, Ranau, Sabah

Copyright © 2004

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Bako National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia

Bako National Park, situated about 38km from Kuching on the Muara Tebas peninsular at the mouth of the Sarawak River, can be reached by car and longboat in one and a half-hour. The park is a botanical treasure with as many as 25 different types of vegetation. It is also home to
numerous species of birds, snakes and animals such as proboscis monkeys, long tailed macaques, wild boars, sambar deers and monitor lizards. Sixteen well-demarcated paths in the park can be followed without any difficulty or fear of getting lost.

Click here for tour information.

Bako National Park

Copyright © 2004

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Sandakan - Gateway to Borneo's Wildlife

Sandakan, Sabah's second largest town on the east coast, holds a lot of hidden secrets which are gradually being unlocked. It's touted as The Gateway to Borneo's Wildlife.

Englishman William B Pryer founded Sandakan on June 21, 1879. But it was a Scot William Clarke Cowe, who set up the first European settlement on the northeastern coast of Sabah known as Kampung German which was later razed to the ground.

A new settlement sprouted at Buli Sim Sim and came to be known as Elopura - The Beautiful City. A few years later, the name was changed to Sandakan.

World War II saw a lot of destruction to the town and it lost its capital status to Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu) to the north.

Sandakan's timber wealth has been translated into hotel development. There are the four-star Sabah Hotel and the three-star Sandakan Hotel. A five-star hotel will be built as part of a new urban re-development project - the Sandakan Harbour Square.

The main waterfront street, where the Old Market is situated, is named after Pryer. The hilltop colonial-style house - a former government quarters - in Red Hill overlooking the town of 320,000 inhabitants and its big bay is being turned into a museum to remember author Agnes Keith of Three Came Home and White Man Returns fame.

There is de javu as much for locals as for European tourists with the English Tea House and Restaurant only a stone's throw from the English author's former residence where she and her civil servant husband Harry lived after the last war.

Click here to read the entire article

Attraction: Borneo Rainforest Explorer, Danum Valley

Explore Borneo rainforest at Danum Valley, 83km drive from Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo on the edge of 438 sq. km of undisturbed lowland rainforest. Stay at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, home to the full range of Sabah's lowland fauna, including the rare Sumatran Rhinoceros, Elephants, Clouded Leopards, and Orang Utans. So far some 275 species of birds have been recorded in the area. Explore nature trail, nearby river and view some of the nocturnal animals.

Click herefor tour information.

Borneo Rainforest Explorer, Danum Valley, Lahad Datu

Copyright © 2004

Attraction: Mulu Show Caves

Mulu in Sarawak is best known for its caves.

Lang Cave is known to have beautiful and magnificient stalagmites, flow rocks, helitites and rock corals of various forms and shapes which should not be missed.

Deer Cave is the biggest cave passage in the world.

Wind Cave is known for its magnificient stalactite and stalagmite.

Other activities are bat watching and observation of the Penan settlement lifestyle.

As for accomodations, there are basically three types - the deluxe Royal Mulu Resort (4-star), standard Park Chalet, and budget Park Resthouse.

Click here for information.

Mulu Caves, Sarawak

Copyright © 2004

Monday, November 15, 2004

Only 15,000 Orang Utans left in Borneo

It was recently reported in the local newspaper (initially published with an error which was later corrected by the press following a statement from WWF Malaysia Media abd Public Affairs Coordinator) that there are about 13,000 orang utans in Sabah and only around 2,000 heads of the red apes in Sarawak. Almost all of the orang utans in Sarawak can be found in the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and Batang Ai National Park, wheras in Sabah, they are mostly found in around the Kinabatangan/Sukau area in Sandakan and in forest reserve areas of Danum Valley and Tabin near Lahad Datu.

Orang utans are protected species under the Malaysian law and it is against the law to kill or harm them. But this has not deter the human kind to break the law out of greed such as last year's shocking and senseless "murder" of three orangutans named Terry, Mambo & Marrie (Click here to refer to news report).

While the wild orangutans are more easier to be looked after or protected in Sarawak (perhaps due to its small number and contained in National Park/Sanctuary), it is a different case in Sabah. Although the largest rehabilitation centre is located in Sabah (at Sepilok, Sandakan), most of the 'rehabilitated' orangutans are finding life harder outside of Sepilok. The orang utans movement between the forest reserves of Sandakan and Lahad Datu are slowly being reduced and segregated (if not already in effect) today due to the ever increasing clearing and conversion of non-reserves land into oil palm planting (not to mention strongly perceived unscrupulous and illegal clearing of logs at forest reserve boundaries).

Wild orang utans are now mostly contained either in Sandakan or Lahad Datu area. They can't roam as freely as they used to in the past. The oil palm industry may be prospering at the moment but for the orang utans, their livelihood is at stake due to modernity but more seriously, due to commercialisation.

Both the Sabah and Sarawak state governments are doing their level best to ensure the survival of the orang utan populations, but they too need the assistance of the human population in both states as well as from other countries to realise the ultimate goal that the orang utans, the symbol of Borneo tourism would remain in existence for centuries to come.

The Good Holiday Guides Are Those Who've Lived The Experience
The Best Holiday Guides Are Those Who Are Living The Experience

Copyright © 2004

Encounter with the Orang Utans: Sepilok or Semenggoh?

This was a tip from's "residence" orang utan, Raj, on the above subject, which was published on one of our previous newsletters:

For my first proper advise/tip, Its not really surprising that I am going to touch on something that I know better than most humans. Well, if you are an orangutan lover and like to pay us a visit/observe what we are really like close-up and personal in our natural habitat, the tropical rainforest, there are two popular destinations where you can do just that in Malaysia Borneo - at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan, Sabah, and at the Semenggoh Orangutan and Wildlife Sanctuary in Kuching, Sarawak.

However, one of the most common queries a visitor would ask is which is the better place to visit. Simple really, if your trip only allows you to stay in only one state (either Sabah or Sarawak), then you don't really have much choice, do you? Both has its own uniqueness. But, if you have the luxury to choose, hmmm, I would personally recommend Sepilok. Not that I'm bias since it's my little hometown but it just that you will be more likely to meet at least one of us there compared to Semenggoh.

Firstly, Semenggoh is not as visitor-friendly and well developed as Sepilok - the feeding platform is not as sophisticated as the ones at Sepilok. The sanctuary is actually a temporary home for various endangered wildlife of Sarawak, especially the Orangutans which have been rescued from captivity. Secondly, there is not that many Orangutans nowadays there compared to Sepilok. Maybe my cousins in Semenggoh are much more evasive than us here in Sandakan? Maybe, we are simply not as shy as them? Nah, I think this shows that they are adapting very well to the wild habitat of Semenggoh nowadays and have left the sanctuary into the deeper rainforest.

And contrary to how it used to be, there is no more scheduled feeding time for them (supposedly the highlight of this type of tour), so now they only come to the centre when wild foods are scarce, for example during the low-fruiting season. With the inconsistent visits, there is no more guarantee that visitors will see orangutans mingling about in the centre. Anyway, during the high-fruiting season, you will be lucky to see even one orangutan at Semenggoh although you can still hear them 'sing'. Apparently, according to Sibangau, my second cousin there, although they would have like to come down to the feeding station when they are lots of tourists (normally during their normal feeding times), they have had so much to eat already that they just couldn't move. Don't quote me on that. That's what Sibangau told me!

Sepilok is different. During the fruiting period, I remembered that although we were pretty full, we still put on a show for the tourists..., with some fake bananas. After all, Sepilok is a world-famous rehabilitation centre for goodness sake. Hence, it is better organised for tourism purposes. But, I must mention that in recent times, the number of Orangutans there have declined. Like Semenggoh, many of us have graduated, or like what you humans like to say, rehabilitated. Hey, I'm one of the success product of the centre you know. I'm the first orangutan to be 'employed' as a virtual guide to an Internet website, and now, a contributor to this newsletter.

Ok, enough about me. At Sepilok, you can walk along a raised wooden platform to witness my mates swing in from the jungle on to the specially-designed feeding stations during feeding time. There are two standard feeding time daily at 10:00am and at 2:30pm. Sometimes, it feels more like a zoo than anything else before and during the feeding, but if you wait until the centre is less crowded, you might get a surprise visit from my curious friends. This seldom happens at Semenggoh.

Sorry Semenggoh..., I guess I'm just plain bias after all (:@P

Anyway, both Sepilok and Semenggoh are interesting places to visit. Sepilok may be more 'sophisticated' for tourists, but Semenggoh allows visitors to be right in the middle of the forest to catch a glimpse of my kind and to witness their feeding. More info refer to the webpages below:

For hardcore orangutan lovers, I know of a one-of-a-kind package deal where you will have the rare opportunity to get real close to an orangutan - that is if they don't outsmart you. Check out the following URL for the "In Search of Borneo Wild (huh?) Orangutans at Jingin, Sarawak" special package:

Hey, I've not forgotten Kalimantan, the Indonesian Borneo. The best spots if you happen to be there is likely to be at Wanariset Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in East Kalimantan, Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Project in West Kalimantan, and Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Central Kalimantan. For more info at the URLs below:

I seriously don't think these places are part of any tour packages as they are essentially projects/centers for orangutan research and reintroduction run by an independent US non-profit organisation called BOS-USA. But you probably can do a self-guided tour there and pay them a fee/donation. This is just my idea, ok? Better email them first ( ). For your info, BOS-USA was formed to support orangutan conservation and to raise awareness of the plight of the orangutan. They also support the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project (Project HUTAN) in Sabah. Bless them. So, if you do go there, make an effort to dig deep into your pocket and give them something. Tell them 'Raj' sent you, ok? Better still, you can actually donate online at their website ( ).

Copyright © 2004

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

About Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Sabah is a state that is truly made for an adventure eco cultural and scuba diving vacation. It was once known as North Borneo, under the British colony rule from the late 19th century to early 20th century. It changed its name to Sabah after gaining independence through Malaysia on 16 September 1963.

Sabah is the second largest State in Malaysia behind its Borneo neighbour, Sarawak. With a land mass of 76,115 square kilometres, Sabah is home a host of invaluable touristic wonders such as the highest mountain in Southeast Asia — the majestic Mount Kinabalu — which stands at 4,093 metres, the "Lost World" rainforest at Danum Valley, and the world's only mushroom-shaped island-diving destination, Sipadan.

Blessed with scenic views, an abundance of flora and fauna and cultural resources of multi-ethnic groups, Sabah’s touristic assets have definitely boost the expansion of the State’s tourism industry. Sabah is affectionately known as The "Land Below the Wind", first made famous by Agnes Keith, the famous US writer in the early 20th century. It is also a name appropriately given to the State as Sabah lies below the typhoon belt of East Asia. Sabah is beginning to carve a name for herself as one of the premier nature and adventure vacations destination in the region.

The world famous ecology professor, author, and documentary producer, Ralph Bellamy, has called Sabah, the "Nature Hollywood" of the world. Oceans' greatest ambassador, Jacques Cousteau, fell in love with Sipadan and its surrounding area so much that he decided to let the Calypso's anchor lay there longer than it had on any other expedition to have a longer scuba diving vacation.

Sabah is fast gaining popularity as a world's preferred holiday destination. Blessed with its unique geographical advantage whereby within 76,115 sq km, one can climb the highest peak in the region, get close to the Orang Utan in the largest sanctuary in the world, admire the largest flower in the world, ride the rapids on wide water rafting, trek and be one with nature in the world of million years old rainforests, and dive into some of the world's best underwater wonderlands.

Click here for more info on Sabah.

Check out some of Sabah's diverse eco-treasures below:

Copyright © 2004

About Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

Sarawak is a state that is truly made for Adventure Vacations, Eco Tours and Wildlife Tours. It is located north of the Equator between latitude 0° 50° and 5°N and longitude 109° 36' and 115° 40' E, and stretches approximately 800km along north-west coast of the island of Borneo.

Sarawak is popularly known as the Land of the Hornbills, which is the national bird of the State. Sarawak was once ruled by the infamous Rajah Brooke administration in the late 19th century to early 20th century. It gained independence through Malaysia on 16 September 1963 together with Sabah. Sarawak is by far the largest State in Malaysia, occupying a land mass of 124,449 square kilometres or 37.7 percent of the total area of Malaysia.

Sarawak is a land of vast primeval rainforests, national parks, and awe-inspiring limestone caves, including the largest caves in the world, and the longest underground cavity cave in the world. The forests in this state are so dense that rivers form the backbone of the transportation system, hence, there are thousands of longhouses in Sarawak, best suited for cultural eco and adventure tours. These vast forests are home not only to Proboscis Monkeys, Orang Utan, Flying Squirrels but a vast array of wildlife. Visitors have the opportunity to take jungle treks or even spend the night in an Iban tribal longhouse and let the locals entertain you or take you on a wildlife hunting trip.

Although not as well known compared to the dive islands at Sabah, scuba diving vacations at Sarawak is now also very plausible. Sarawak's underwater world, especially off Miri, is now gaining much attention from scuba divers ever since the untouched coral reefs were discovered in recent years.

Sarawak is considered to be one of the hidden paradises of Borneo for a unique holiday. Given its ecologically and environmentally rich natural assets and advantages, Sarawak's tourism attractions are indeed one of the few true natural eco adventure tour sites left in this world.

Find out more about Sarawak here

Check out some of Sarawak's diverse eco-treasures below:

Copyright © 2004

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Safety in Borneo

This was a question posted at our Travel Forum early this year. We feel that it is still extremely pertinent today and we would like to share with you our local experience on the said subject:


I am an Aussie wanting to travel to Borneo. I am concerned, given recent world events about safety when travelling in South East Asia in general. I would be interested to hear from someone who is currently in Borneo about the present safety for Westerners wanting to travel to Borneo. The places we want to go to are Kuching, KK, Mount KK, Mulu, Poring Hot Springs, Sandakan, Turtle Island. Many thanks - "Aussie traveller"


I do hope my comments here will not be considered as bias. Based on the experience and comments from our foreign clients, Borneo itself seems to be safer than say, Australia, for 3 reasons as far as terrorist threats, and the places of your interests are concerned:

1. Not densely populated and easy-to-target tour destinations (e.g., eco, rainforest, natural caves, rural areas, etc. normally do not and cannot have too many people visiting at one time).

2. Not a prime destination for Americans (or Australians), or with lots of US interests (at least not yet, and not likely in the immediate term). And the capital of Malaysia is not located in Sabah or Sarawak.

3. Politically and socially most stable and peaceful in the region, two important ingredients that can minimise the threats of terrorism.

Most Aussie tourists actually opined that Borneo feels safer than Australia at present. They said that it feels much more threatening there. One true blue Aussie even go as far to say that the safest place on earth right now is somewhere in the middle of the rainforest jungle, in the heart of Borneo, staying with some longhouse community.

In the past, piracy (mostly confined in the East Coast diving spots of Sabah) is more of a threat than terrorists, but security had really been stepped up big time and most divers now feel that Sipadan, Kapalai and Mabul are safer than before.

However, it must be noted that NO destinations in the world can be guaranteed to be safe from terrorists or any other threats either natural or man-made. Borneo is no exception. This has been debated before in this forum. You may hurt yourself falling down from a staircase in a 5-star hotel here, or you may get stung by a jellyfish. Mosquitoes, leeches and insects are aplenty in the jungle.

It is best for tourists to do their research and get opinions from locals on the present local condition as what you are doing now. Great! Then it is really up to you on whether to make the trip or not based on your findings.

Just browse through the topics of discussion in the forum esp. in Govt and Politics where most forummers (esp Sabahans) like to go, and you may get an inkling of the real situation here.
Do hope others will join in to give their own 2 cent piece of advise on safety here so that you will get a honest and unbias opinions that may help you make up your mind about visiting here.

But for me personally, Borneo IS the place to visit as far as eco and wildlife tourism are concerned. It is definitely much safer in the jungle or natural environment than a populated high rise building or nightclub (not enough nightlife here in fact). It is the ultimate Adventure and Nature paradise.

Hope the above helps you out.

Click Here for Borneo Forum

The Good Holiday Guides Are Those Who've Lived The Experience
The Best Holiday Guides Are Those Who Are Living The Experience

Copyright © 2004

Thursday, November 04, 2004

New Direct MAS Kuala Lumpur-Tawau Flight

Malaysian Airlines (MAS) had recently introduced a direct flight between Kuala Lumpur and Tawau (East Coast of Sabah Malaysia Borneo) on 31 October 2004.

Currently, there is only one direct (non-stop) flight per week on every Thursday. The schedule as follows:


Thursday -- MH2662 -- Depart 12:40 -- Arrive 15:30 -- 734 Aircraft


Thursday -- MH2663 -- Depart 19:05 -- Arrive 21:45 -- 734 Aircraft

This is a great piece of news for especially scuba divers as it will cut down airfare cost if they were to fly to Sabah from KL. In the past, they would need to fly to Kota Kinabalu first before transiting (or overnight) to Tawau, and further transported to Sipadan/Mabul/Kapalai islands by road to Semporna and by speedboat from Semporna jetty.

It is hope that there will be more demand for the KUL-TWU direct flight to render an increase in its weekly flight frequency.

Click Here for more Borneo diving info.

The Good Holiday Guides Are Those Who've Lived The Experience.
The Best Holiday Guides Are Those Who Are Living The Experience.

Launch of Sydney-Kuching Flight

Malaysian Airlines had recently introduced a direct Sydney-Kuching flight. The inaugural Sydney-Kuching flight touched down at 2.55 am at the Kuching International Airport on 3 Novermber 2004. It is hoped that the new direct flight will boost more Australian tourist arrivals to the State especially given the historical link Sarawak has with Australia courtesy of World War Two as well as the Borneo Confrontation Year. There is even a a war memorial built in Kuching although it is needed to have a facelift to make it more fitting to the sacrifice and contributions made by the soldiers.

Refer to more information on Sarawak below.


The Good Holiday Guides Are Those Who've Lived The Experience.
The Best Holiday Guides Are Those Who Are Living The Experience.

NEWS: Sabah hopes for more overseas direct flights to boost golf

Date: 4 November 2004

KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Environment welcomes more scheduled direct flights to Sabah by airlines from the Asia Pacific region, particularly to promote the State as a golfing haven.

“We hope airlines that have already secured direct flights to Sabah would consider increasing the number of flights,” said its minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat.

“Sabah can be considered as one of the best golfing haven in Asia. And with more direct flights coming in – especially from other Asian countries – the number of avid golfing tourist arrivals would certainly improve,” said the minister, who is also a Deputy Chief Minister.

“With concerted efforts and aggressive overseas marketing, we expect the number of Asian golfing enthusiasts as well as tourists to increase by 1.5 million to 1.7 million people within the next two to three years,” he said at a dinner here to welcome about 90 South Korean golfers.

The South Koreans have signed up the Destination Golf Members Club, which is being marketed by the Sabah Tourism Board to lure Asian golfers to utilise existing direct flights to the State.

The club, which was launched by Chong in October last year, has so far seen more than 1,500 avid South Korean golfers and their family members signing up.

“Apart from the South Koreans, we are also targeting golfers in Japan and China next year,” said Chong.

During the function, senior advisor to the Destination Golf Members Tournament Lee Young Ho presented a US$5,000 donation to the Bukit Harapan Home.

Chong then gave away prizes to the winners of the tournament, which was played over golf courses at Sutera Harbour Resort, Karambunai Resort and Dalit Bay Golf & Country Club.

Source: New Sabah Times

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Sarawak Cultural Village

The Sarawak Cultural Village is a MUST visit destination for anyone who is visiting Sarawak. Located about 35km from Kuching city and built on a 17-acre site, next to a scenic man-made lake, the village boasts seven ethnic houses representative of the Malay, the Chinese, the Penan and the longhouses of the Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu and the Melanau.

Take a stroll around the village and observe the inhabitants of the various houses displaying their skills in making traditional handicrafts such as beading, wood-carving, bamboo-carving, pua-weaving, etc. You can also view traditional methods of making sago, and crushing sugar cane. One of the highlight is to take a look at how the Penans make blowpipes and other hunting instruments, and try out your blowpiping skill..., aimed normally at a balloon from a distance.

Another highlight is the 2-hour live cultural dance show at the theatre (check time of peformance on arrival - few shows a day). You can also have your lunch at the village and don't forget to taste the rice wine of Sarawak, called 'tuak'.

For more info, refer to the URL below:

The Good Holiday Guides Are Those Who've Lived The Experience.
The Best Holiday Guides Are Those Who Are Living The Experience.

Copyright © 2004

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Climbing Mt. Kinabalu

The standard Climb up the mystical Mt. Kinabalu is via Kinabalu National Park, about 2 hours drive from Kota Kinabalu city. The first ascent is from the starting point at Timpohon Gate, about 30 mins drive from the Kinabalu National Park Headquarter. If you want to start the ascent on Day 1, it is advisable to arrive at the Park late morning the latest or else, depending on te weather condition, the Park may not allow you to do the first ascent due to dangerous condition (the fog will get too thick late evening). Most climbers prefer to stay overnight at Kinabalu National Park to not only aclimatize to the altitude but also to enjoy the magnificent flora and fauna at the Park before the assault on the next day/morning.

The first ascent is to climb (trek really) up to the 11,000ft area resthouse (Laban Rata) from Timpohon Gate where it is a must to stay overnight and recharge your energy. Should take a normal fit person an average 5 hours although some did it in 3. Participants at the annual Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon competition went all the way up to 13,400ft (4092.5m above sea level) and back in 2 hours. But its not really about how many hours. Its about the experience of trekking pass different vegetation zones from Oak and Chestnut to mossy and eventually to alpine type of vegetations, and observing the rare and exotic flora and fauna up there.

Early morning about 2 am or 3 am, the start of the second and more grueling stage - all the way to the summit. Should take a few hours. Some info can be found at the URL below:

One tip before the second ascent is not to eat any "red meat" for breakfast or else you will not likely to last the distance. Take some noodle and eggs, eat plenty of chocolates and take Glucose drinks. The sweeter the better for energy.

One important tip is to make reservation early. Given the popularity of the Climb nowadays, it is advisable to book at least 3-4 months in advance (or even much earlier during the peak season usually around mid-year) or else, you will be disappointed. This is mainly due to the limited accommodation at the Laban Rata mid-summit. In the event that there is no accommodation at the mid-summit, the Climb will not be possible (and won't be approved by the Park's HQ). Additionally, a mountain guide is compulsory.

The Good Holiday Guides Are Those Who've Lived The Experience.
The Best Holiday Guides Are Those Who Are Living The Experience.

Copyright © 2004

Monday, November 01, 2004

White Water Rafting Adventure

Sabah is possibly the only destination in Borneo that offers the best and well packaged White Water Rafting experience. There are two excellent locations at Padas (Grade 3-4) and Kiulu (Grade 1-3).

Padas, near a town called Beaufort, is about 3-4 hours drive and train ride from Kota Kinabalu city. Enjoy the exhilarating ride down the Padas River rapids and get to know the various points like Head Hunter Point, Scooby Doo Point, Cobra Point, Lambada Point till the ending point. More for the adventurous type and not recommended for small children. Although graded 3-4, the grade is a point lower during dry spell (not predictable anymore nowadays but normally mid-year).

Kiulu is located in the Tamparuli district about 1 to 1.5 hour drive from KK city. Enjoy the exhilarating ride down the White rapids and get to know the various points like Body Rafting, The Wall Rapid, Holy Smoke Rapid till the ending point. It is more suitable for a family white water adventure vacation, but during long dry spell, the Kiulu river may not be deep enough for this thrill seeker experience. However, in the event that the Kiulu river is not deep enough, there is always the alternative of checking Padas river, which should usually be suitable for a family outing. But always check with your guides first on the condition of the rivers.

For more info, refer to the links below:

* Padas -

* Kiulu -

The Good Holiday Guides Are Those Who've Lived The Experience.
The Best Holiday Guides Are Those Who Are Living The Experience.

Copyright © 2004

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Diving HotSpots in Sabah Borneo

For scuba diving enthusiasts, the third quarter of the year is probably one of the best time to experience Borneo diving. Borneo or more particularly Sabah, is one of the best bio-diversity hotspot in the world. With its sandy beaches, tropical islands, blue waters, coral reefs and atolls, Sabah has several dive sites rated to be amongst the top ten in the world and many more yet to be truly explored. Over the years, prominent marine biologists have visited and dived Sabah's waters including oceans' gretest ambassador, Jacques Costeau, who rated Sipadan Island as the Eight Wonder of the World.

Divers many find many rare and endangered sea creatures such as green and hawksbill turtles, napoleon wrasse, giant clams, as well as countless species of sharks and schools of thousands of barracuda and jacks.

Sabah is not only well known for its reef's larger inhabitants but also as a "Muck Diving" paradise with such rarities as the mimic octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, mandrinfish, harlequin ghost pipefish plus many types of weird and wonderful frogfish and nudibranchs.

These underwater delights are not resricted to the certified divers only but snorkelers and hopeful divers may enroll in one of the many PADI affiliated dive courses and crash courses run at any of Sabah's dive resorts.

Whatever your underwater wish, Sabah's seas and coral reefs can easily fulfill and surpass your wildest dream.

More ifo on Diving at Sabah Malaysian Borneo, refer URL below:

The Good Holiday Guides Are Those Who've Lived The Experience.
The Best Holiday Guides Are Those Who Are Living The Experience.

Copyright © 2004

Friday, October 29, 2004

Adventure Tour vs. Independent Travel

The following was an advice given by us to one of our site's visitors recently:

Depending on the places you want to go, getting an Adventure Tour package may be more feasible than doing it yourself. Some places like Mt. Kinabalu, Danum Valley or Mulu, you need to get permits and you need to have a jungle/mountain guide. It is less troublesome to use a tour company to arrange all these and include accommodation, transport, entrance fee, everything.

And for the cost, two of my friends from UK did their own independent tour to hike Mt. Kinabalu and Mulu pinnacles last year and the cost came up to be more than what a standard tour company offer. But it can be a lot of work and time to get all the right things done or booked especially if you are not familiar with the relevant offices. They had enough time and was happy with doing everything themselves as they were staying with us and they can get advise from us too.

But bear in mind that Mt. Kinabalu and Mulu need several months the least to be booked in advance. If you are only spending a short time here with no contacts or minimal knowledge of the places, you could be disappointed. You can end up simply visiting Kinabalu and Mulu Park instead of doing the summit climb or hike the Headhunters Trail.

My 2 cent piece of advise - for adventure tour, get some travel company to arrange for you, even if it means paying a bit more, but it will save you lots of time for leisure. If standard tours, it could be much cheaper if doing it independently as you will definitely be paying walk-in rates.

The Good Holiday Guides Are Those Who've Lived The Experience.
The Best Holiday Guides Are Those Who Are Living The Experience.

Copyright © 2004

Thursday, October 28, 2004

New Special Pre-Designed Tour Deals!

To coincide with the just launched's BLOG, we are offering several ONE-OFF pre-designed travel package deals just for the first people who arrived at this site.

For more info, please visit our other "Special Package Deals and Alerts" Blog at:

KK-Bangkok Direct Flight

The recently introduced AirAsia's Kota Kinabalu-Bangkok daily direct flight is really getting good response. Those residing in Kota Kinabalu would have seen the advertisement at a local newspaper promoting the KK-Bangkok flight via a cut-off coupon at only RM49 one-way (that's only about USD13). A lot of KKians have already made a booking for a holday at Bangkok during the year-end school holidays. Check out Air Asia at

Those who are still looking for a good accommodation in Bangkok, please check out Precision Reservations which offer one of the cheapest hotel rates on the Net. Based on several clients' experience, they estimated that booking online via Precision was about 50% less than if they book direct with the hotels. Compare the room rate on your own:

For those on holidays in South East Asia, you can now have the convenience to travel direct from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu where all the best adventure, eco, wildife and diving destinations are all within Sabah. You can save time and airfare cost now instead of the need to fly to Kuala Lumpur first before redirected to KK.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Travel Borneo Blog

Welcome to the Travel Borneo Blog contributed by the team from, one of the firsts (if not the first) Borneo InfoTravel Gateway and Trip Advisor site around. This blog will attempt to keep you abreast with the latest Borneo Travel News, Tips and Alerts, as well as latest updates on our website.

Please consider it your personal source of information to an adventure vacation, eco tour, wildlife tour, scuba diving vacation or leisure trip to Borneo (i.e., Sabah, Sarawak or Brunei Darussalam).

We hope that this Blog can give you a better perspective of Borneo as well as its current development, whether pertaining to travel or not. Although we are based in Sabah Malaysia, we are regularly in touch with our travel partners in Sarawak and Brunei Darussalam (with the exception of Kalimantan at this point of writing).

Sincerely hope that this will be the start of many informative and productive posting for your reading and research purposes.

The e-Team