Sunday, October 30, 2005

MAS raises ticket fares due to higher fuel prices

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will revise its fuel surcharge effective Nov 15 due to the current high fuel prices.

The national carrier said in a statement here that the revised rates for tickets sold in Malaysia had been approved by the Government.

The revised rates are for:

  • Travel from Malaysia to Europe, Australia and New Zealand, North and South America, West Asia and Africa from US$36 (RM137) to US$50 (RM190) per sector.
  • Travel from Malaysia to Asia, including Singapore and Brunei, unchanged at US$18 (RM69) per sector.

For tickets sold outside Malaysia, the rates are:

  • Travel from Europe, Australia and New Zealand, North and South America, West and Africa into Malaysia from US$45 (RM170) to US$50 (RM190) per sector.
  • Travel from Asia, including Singapore and Brunei, into Malaysia unchanged at US$20 (RM75) per sector.

“The revised surcharge is applicable for tickets issued on or after Nov 15 for travel on or after Nov 15. The surcharge will be collected at the point of ticketing,” the statement said.

However, MAS said, domestic surcharge rates remained unchanged at RM15 for travel between Peninsula Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak as well as RM7.50 for travel within Peninsula Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak, including the rural air services.

Courtesy of Bernama

Friday, October 28, 2005

Padas White Water Rafting: Great fun rafting and shooting rapids

By Harjinder Kler

TIRED of doing the same old thing every weekend? What about doing something a little bit adventurous and more exciting like thundering down river rapids in a rubber boat to get your adrenaline pumping and have lots of fun?

Now you know you are going to have fun shooting rapids that are named after dance moves and cartoon characters along the 10km Padas River rafting area, which ends at the Rayoh Train Station.

That's right, the only way to get to the starting and ending point of the rafting area is by taking a ride on Borneo's only railyway track which links Kota Kinabalu all the way south to Tenom.

The journey begins with the daily train that leaves Beaufort town at about 11am for Tenom.

One quickly realises that this route is the only form of transportation for people living in the area, as everyone seems to use the train and surprisingly, even though there is a road to Tenom, cars are also being transported via the train.

But be prepared, as the train ride is not known for its comfort and it is the only means of transport in the area. It makes frequent stops along many "stations" for passengers to disembark and board the locomotive.

Still, the journey can be described as pleasant, as one gets to see the scenery and a little bit of people as the train line cuts through villages, past homes, schools and of course the Padas River.

The river itself seems like a rather level river and hardly the place to raft really; well that is the impression at least at the beginning of the journey. Perspectives change pretty quick, as we make our way closer to the rafting part of the river.

A quick stop at the Rayoh Station, which serves as the changing room and the end point of the trip, is made before we journey by the 10km of river, whitewater rafting down.

"There's the Lambada Rapid and next we will see The Curve," says one of the many guides from different rafting companies that bring thrill seekers to the Padas for rafting.

"Why is it called the Lambada?" asked one of the rafters, but the guide only grins and says we will soon see enough!

After a quick snack of fruits at about 1pm, the guides give a safety briefing to make sure everyone understands the rules for a safe trip.

Life jackets have to be securely fastened as you would not want it to come off during one of your dips in the river which might be sudden or planned.

Helmets must be worn and if you do fall in, make sure you keep you foot forward (to avoid any rocks) and your hands on your life jackets to keep it down.

Once everyone is ready, it is time to get into the rafts with the guides positioned at the back to steer them.

We jump into our raft with our guide from Riverbug, who tells us to call him Ikan (the Malay word for fish).

The journey down river begins calmly enough as we do a few practice runs with Ikan shouting out instructions.

Then, before you know it, we're heading for the first rapid dubbed Head Hunter Rapids.

Everyone in the raft gets excited, as we brace for a close encounter with the force of the Padas River.

And there is nothing like sitting in a rubber boat being propelled almost like a toy in what might feel like, well a washing machine!

"Alright, well done!" yells Ikan who now teaches us how to celebrate a successful navigation of rapids.

We all lift our paddles into a group salute and then slap the water with our paddles to make a loud slapping sound.

But celebrations are short as we now head for the Scobby Doo Rapids and more thrills and screams with some of us being pushed back onto the deck of the raft by the force of nature.

To celebrate the last rapid, Ikan invites the rafters to enjoy the river up close. "Jump in and float down the river, we'll pick you up before the next rapid," says Ikan cheekily.

It makes you wonder if he will but hey, why not and everyone jumps into the river and floats somewhat gently down the river, remembering to keep our feet in front and our hands on the jacket.

While jumping in maybe simple enough, climbing back on the boat is a whole different matter. Let's just say if one doesn't have upper body strength, just leave it to the guys on the boat to pull you up!

Now off we go to face Cobra Rapid before coming to the fun 180 degree whirling rapid aptly named Lambada Rapids!

This is followed quickly by The Curve which makes a nice finish to the rapids thrill as we almost reach the end.

"Okay guys, last chance to body craft," says Ikan as most jump into the water for the last chance but some are drained from the earlier swim and paddling, as it does sap your energy. Then before you know it, you are at the finishing point and it is time to get out of the water at Rayoh Station for lunch and a change to dry clothes before catching the 3:30pm train back to Beaufort.

So how does rafting down the Padas rate? Well, if losing the concept of time while rating is anything to go by, it rates well because almost all of us couldn't believe that we had spent an hour and a half rafting, as it seemed like 20 minutes.

"I just had so much fun even though I kept falling in the water that I couldn't believe we took that long," said an excited first-time rafter Dayang Khaminah.

So the next time, you are thinking about something different over the weekend, remember Padas River is just a train ride away.

Courtesy of Borneo Post

Thursday, October 27, 2005

RM40 million Tanjung Aru facelift to begin January 2006

Kota Kinabalu: Plans are afoot to upgrade Kg Tanjung Aru Lama and Kg Tanjung Aru Baru into a clean systematic tourism-orientated water village costing RM40 million with the first phase expected to begin in January.

The implementation of the Federal Tourism Ministry project would be carried out in two phases due to the physical constraints such as squatters and funding. The first phase would cost RM10 million.

Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim announced this Tuesday after chairing a meeting on the Proposed Upgrading of Tanjung Aru Water Village, together with Local Government and Housing Assistant Minister Ir. Edward Yong Oui Fah who is also the Assemblyman for Tanjung Aru, Director-General for City Hall, Dr Chua Kim Hing, Directors of City Hall namely, Alijus Sipil, Ir. Lee Tet Fon, Walter Kenson and Maryo Ngasio.

Also present were the project consultant architect, J.T. Tan and some 20 community leaders, community development leaders and village heads from Tanjung Aru Baru and Kg Tanjung Aru Lama.

Iliyas said the project was mooted at a meeting of the Economic Development Unit under the Prime Minister's Department in November 2002 with the aim to upgrade and turn the existing water village into a tourist attraction with some elements of sustainability in the long run.

Tuesday's meeting was to brief the stakeholders, especially the affected residents, about the upgrading works.

Towards this end, Iliyas said the water village would become a tourist attraction, maintaining the original concepts of the water village, with enriched components of tourism aspects and economic activities.

Iliyas said the scope of the upgrading works would include the following elements:

* Providing proper and systematic basic amenities, thus adding value to the environment;

* Improving the level of cleanliness especially along the coast line;

* Upgrading the living standards of the locals in the said area by providing them with proper public amenities.

Other facilities include walkways, streetlights, sewerage system, water and electricity supplies, telephone lines, bin centres, landscaping and open decks to serve also as observatory stations and for water taxi point as well.

Iliyas warned the village heads not to take advantage of the situation by permitting new houses to be constructed in their respective areas.

Action would be taken against those who illegally build houses in their respective areas after this announcement has been made.

Thanking the Federal Government and City Hall for looking into this proposed upgrading works, the village heads also raised several issues at the meeting which shall be addressed by the Government.

Courtesy of Daily Express

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Scuba-diving attracts German tourists to Sarawak

KUCHING - An increasing number of German tourists visited Sarawak for scuba-diving activities in the coral reefs, off Miri in the last few years, German Ambassador to Malaysia Herbert D. Jess said Tuesday, Bernama reported.

Herbert, who was on a working visit here, said the newly discovered scuba diving site in the South China Sea was obviously a new subject of interest for Sarawak-bound Germans, who were equally fascinated with its eco-tourism and cultural aspects.

"Germans come here because they want to experience the tropical rainforest in the natural state and going to Sarawak, in particular, is a pleasure as they can still enjoy the wildlife, fauna and flora," he told reporters after paying a courtesy call to Sarawak Tourism Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh at his office in Petra Jaya here.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tropical Vacation Resort: Shangri-la's Rasa Ria Resort, Tuaran

    • Hotel Rating: 5-Star
    • Hotel Address: Pantai Dalit Beach P.O. Box 600
      89208 Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo
    • Location: Tuaran
    • No. of rooms: 330 rooms

The Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort is situated at Pantai Dalit, Tuaran, about 40 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah. The Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort is located at the point where the jungle meets the sea and surrounded by 400 acres of tropical gardens.

Besides being a perfect tropical vacation resort, the Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort is also an equally perfect setting for a romantic or family tropical vacation as well as a great tropical vacation getaway.

The hotel rooms overlook the stunning vista of white sands and surf of the glorious Dalit Beach, one of the best (if not the best) in the whole of Borneo. Most of the 330 rooms have been beautifully furnished in restful earth colors and natural wood. Each guestroom is a compliment to the casually luxurious ambience at Rasa Ria.

Excellent recreational facilities compliment the resort's 18-hole championship golf course and 64-acre nature reserve where you get the rare opportunity to watch some orangutans in their naturally-controlled habitat. The Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort is definitely a place for an idyllic retreat to peace and tranquility.

Click Here for more information

Copyright © 2005
written for our sister site Borneo Tropical Vacation

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A British effort for orang utans at Sepilok

By Julia Chan

Spending a week at the Sepilok Orang Utan Research Centre in Sandakan five years ago had left such a profound effect on Englishwoman Sue Sheward that she established the Sepilok Orang Utan Appeal UK on her return.

But it was not easy for Sheward, an accountant, to set up the body.

It took a year of negotiations with the Sabah Wildlife Department, 50 phone calls overseas and 25 faxes before it became a reality.

Based in the south of England, Appeal UK is dedicated to the rehabilitation and preservation of orang utans and their habitat in Sabah. It is the only body authorised to seek charity for the Sepilok centre.

The appeal has raised funds through donations, raffles, jumble sales, car- washes and sponsors. Two people, in fact, raised STG2,000 (RM13,400) after shaving their heads.

The appeal has also found more than 5,000 "adoptive parents" or sponsors for several orang utans. For a minimum of STG25, they can adopt a young orang utan. They are given regular updates and photographs of the adopted primates.

With the money raised, Apeal UK has funded, among other things, the construction of a new quarantine ward, a nurse, a Land Rover and a new enclosure. It has also hosted tours and exchanges for key players.

The latest project is post-release monitoring research to find out how rehabilitated orang utans cope in the wild after their release from the centre.

The pilot research will see primatologist Sheena Hynd following a particular orang utan daily to monitor its activities, including the distance it covers, nesting and feeding patterns.

Sheward said: "It was not hard to fall in love with the primates. They are such intelligent, warm and loving creatures who just tug at your heartstrings.

"It is truly an exciting project and very rewarding in terms of new data."

The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre aims to educate people on conservation, carry out research and assist other endangered species, such as the rhinoceros.

Some 60 to 80 orang utans roam freely in the 43 sq km protected land at the Kabili Sepilok forest reserve.

About 25 young orphaned orang utans are taught the basics of eating, climbing and living in the wild.

Often, other wildlife such as sun bears, Sumatran rhinos, gibbons and even the occasional elephant get treated at the centre.

Courtesy of New Straits Times

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Tales of Kinabatangan River

A photograph of the Kinabatangan river taken by Osa Johnson in 1935.
Osa and Martin Johnson during the Borneo
Safari in the Kinabatangan river in 1935.

By Ismail Hj Mansor

Maybe no one from the younger generation could imagine how the rivers in Sabah looked like in the past because most of these rivers today have been destroyed by human activities and natural disasters and lost their beauties.

Unlike before when the rivers were clean, they are polluted now.

Some of the rivers could no longer be found as they had vanished due to the rapid social and economic developments which took place in almost every part of the country.

The rivers are not spared from being destroyed or reclaimed in order to make way for other developments.

In this respect, Sabah Museum is holding an exhibition entitled 'Tales of Sabah's Great Rivers' with the aim of instilling greater public awareness on the important role played by river in our daily lives.

The showcase also hopes to bring back sweet memories of the rivers in the past, and to compare the condition of these rivers in the good old days with their present state.

Most of the rivers today are not as useful as before to the communities living along them. Due to pollution, the river water are only good for bathing but not for drinking and cooking. Sadly to say, some of the rivers are merely a dumping ground to litterbugs.

The Kinabatangan river, one of the most important rivers in Sabah, is considered a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. However, the exhibition will feature the unique and colourful culture of the many ethnic groups living along the river and the interesting history of the river.

For decades, the Kinabatangan has been as the main gateway through which outsiders could come in contact with the local people. In the 14th century, an expedition led by Ong Sum Ping set sail for North Borneo (Sabah) through the Sulu Sea and entered the Kinabatangan river.

The name of the river is believed to have derived from the word 'Kina' which refers to the Chinese and 'batangan' which means river.

In 1935, Osa and Martin Johnson made the first international eco-adventure-tourism called 'Osa and Johnson's Borneo Safari' in the Kinabatangan river. During their stay, they recorded the local wildlife and the indigenous people on still and movie films, and they also brought back orangutans, gibbons and other wildlife to a zoo in New York.

The Kinabatangan river is the longest river in Sabah and the second longest in Malaysia, stretching some 276 kilometres. It has five ox-bow lakes, namely Danau Pitas at Kampung Abai, Danau Kenannap at Kampung Sukau, Danau Bilit at Kampung Bilit, Danau Girang at Kampung Batu Putih and Danau Kalabon at Kampung Bukit Garam.

'Sungei' is a local word which means river and the ethnic peoples staying along the river are known as 'orang sungei'.

Interesting enough, the lifestyle and culture of the multi-ethnic river community or 'sungei' peoples are still untouched by the modernisation process taking place around the river.

The 'sungei' community comprises various ethnic groups such as Kimaragang, Tambanoa, Makiang, Pingas, Minokok, Paitan, Buludupih and Sukang, living peacefully together despite of their differences.

The riverine eco-system had nurtured the unique culture and traditions of the riverine peoples, and the interactions took place among the different groups in turn created the legends of the Kinabatangan river .

More than 200 photographs on rivers, animals and plants found along the rivers in Sabah including 34 photographs taken by Osa and Martin Johnson during their expedition along the Kinabatangan river are on display at the exhibition.

Visitors to the exhibition can take a glimpse of the nostalgic tales of Sabah's rivers.

Content & Pics Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Jesselton Point to transform KK Waterfront

KOTA KINABALU: The city is set to see a new landmark that would attract both local and foreign tourists with the development of the Jesselton Waterfront project.

Works on the immediate phase of the waterfront development involving the upgrading of the existing Kota Kinabalu Ferry Terminal and jetties costing around RM5 million will commence soon and is expected to be completed by February 2006.

Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim inspected the KK Ferry Terminal recently accompanied by City Planning Director for City Hall, Alijus Sipil, Landscape Director, Walter Kenson, Suria Bumiria Sdn Bhd managing director, Zainie Abdul Aucasa, and officials from the company.

The project with an estimated development value of RM1.5 billion, would be undertaken by Suria Capital Holdings Berhad through its wholly-owned subsidiary Suria Bumiria Sdn Bhd, and is expected to be completed within 10 to 15 years.

Iliyas said the project is aimed at transforming the existing Kota Kinabalu port area into a world-class waterfront city development.

Apart from being another tourist attraction for the city, the project will also provide a place for people to work, live, visit, shop and enjoy leisure cultural activities in a convenient and pleasant environment.

“Once completed the project will transform the perceptions and looks of the old jetty and port area into a “must visit” centre consisting of, among other things; commercial, retail, hotel, residential, entertainment, convention and exhibitions facilities with a park setting,” explained Iliyas.

Meanwhile, he said the upgraded and re-branded ferry terminal will be known as Jesselton Point.

And once completed the Jesselton Point will consist the followings:
  • Upgraded and new design ferry terminal ticketing counter and operation area;
  • New operation centre consisting of retail, restaurant passengers’ waiting areas, customs, immigrations and quarantine centre;
  • Reinforced newly designed jetty and jetty operations; and
  • Fustsal centre consisting of four high class turf court, the first such turfing in Malaysia.

Commending Suria Capital for embarking on to develop the Jesselton Waterfront Project, Iliyas said the project was timely and in line with City Hall’s development and beautification plans for the city.

Courtesy of New Sabah Times

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Brunei's The Empire Hotel voted Best Resort

Brunei's palatial The Empire Hotel & Country Club was voted as the 'Best Resort Hotel' for the second year in a row in Travel Trade Gazette Asia's annual travel awards.

The accolade in TTG Asia's 16th Annual Travel Awards 2005, which was held in Pattaya, Thailand, was from a poll of the region's travel agents, tour operators and destination management companies.

The award was collected by Director of Events Shafar Jamaludin, who was attending the IT&CMA event held in Pattaya to further promote The Empire Hotel & Country Club as an ideal venue for meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions and events.

Over the past three years the magazine's readers have voted The Empire as 'Best New Resort', 'Best Independent Hotel' and 'Best Resort Hotel'.

One of the world's largest and most luxurious resorts and a member of the prestigious WORLDHOTELS' Deluxe Collection, The Empire's latest award follows three prestigious honours in last year's World Travel Awards - Asia's Leading Golf Resort, Asia's Leading Resort and Brunei's Leading Hotel.

The 360-room resort with 63 lavish suites and private villas is renowned as the most opulent in Asia, spread over 180 hectares (445 acres) of manicured gardens incorporating a floodlit Jack Nicklaus-designed championship golf course overlooking the South China Sea.

In previous World Travel Awards it also won the 'World's Leading Presidential Suite' category for its breathtaking Emperor Suite, one of the world's largest at 666 sq m, including its own indoor swimming pool that has counted royalty, heads of state and famous celebrities including former US President Bill Clinton and Chinese leaders among guests.

The Empire Hotel & Country Club, on the rainforested island of Borneo, continues to make a name for itself not only as Asia's most opulent resort but also as an emerging MICE venue and prominent destination for golf and scuba-diving.

Its golf course this year received the ultimate recognition when sanctioned by the Asian Tour for the inaugural Brunei Open.

A new PADI dive centre is meanwhile opening Brunei's spectacular underwater reefs and shipwrecks to scuba-tourism for the first time.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, October 14, 2005

Brunei Museum to remain closed due to unfinished work

By James Kon

The Brunei Museum, one of the popular tourist spots in Brunei Darussalam, will remain closed until further notice due to the ongoing renovation work.

According to a press release by the Department of Museums, the Brunei Museum that was scheduled to reopen on October 16 will not be opened until further notice due to unfinished renovation work.

Besides the incomplete interior renovation, the repair work for replacing tiles at the lobby as well as the exterior of the Brunei Museum is still in the process.

It is hoped that the new look of the Brunei Museum will attract more local visitors.

The Brunei Museum was established in 1965 and has moved to the current location in Jalan Kota Batu since 1970.

The Brunei Museum houses six galleries namely Islamic Art Gallery, the History and Technology of Brunei Darussalam's Petroleum Gallery, Natural History Gallery, Brunei Darussalam Archaeology and History Exhibition Gallery and Temporary Exhibition Gallery.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, October 13, 2005

MAS opens new ticketing office at Bintulu Airport Terminal

By Marie Sitong

BINTULU - In a bid to upgrade its services, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) recently opened its Ticketing Office at Bintulu Airport Terminal.

MAS Area Manager for Sarawak and West Kalimantan, Shauqi Ahmad who graced the opening ceremony said the office is operating seven days a week between 8.30am and 5.30pm for the convenience of passengers.

"They need not have to face any trouble to book or buy tickets especially for those who are compelled to travel at last minute due to urgency or important matters to attend to," he said.

Besides, the MAS Office at Jalan Masjid in Bintulu Town closes on Saturday afternoon, Sunday and public holidays.

Shauqi described the opening of new Ticketing Office reflect MAS' commitment to render best services to its valued customers to make their travelling or trips comfortable and at ease.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Latest Rafflesia bloom a hit at Sabah Agricultural Park

NEW BLOOM… Rauji with the latest Rafflesia bloom
Picture courtesy of and copyright to New Sabah Times


TENOM: The blooming of a Rafflesia flower at Sabah Agricultural Park last Sunday has got many people excited.

Many are heading to the park to see the world’s largest flower before it withers.

The park assistant supervisor Rauji Baluga said the latest bloom was the third of a Rafflesia recorded in the park.

“We are delighted with the latest bloom as it will definitely attract more visitors,” he said adding that the first recorded Rafflesia bloom in the park was in November last year while the last one was in July this year.

Rauji said that this particular Rafflesia species were suitable for low land and they were planted in the park in 1994.

“This goes to show that our efforts were not wasted in introducing Rafflesia to the park,” he said.

A French tourist who happened to be visiting the park yesterday said she heard about the park but did not realized that she would get to see a Rafflesia flower again.

The park also has an orchid garden containing about 400 species and many exotic and rare plants.

Courtesy of New Sabah Times

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sarawak Tourism Industry Unaffected By Dengue Outbreak

KUCHING -- The tourism industry in Sarawak has remained unaffected by the outbreak of dengue, which has claimed seven lives in the state so far this year, State Tourism Assistant Minister Hamden Ahmad said Monday.

He said the dengue menace was mainly a health problem and had not had a negative impact on the industry.

Hamden spoke at a news conference to announce the forthcoming Lundu Off Road Assault (Lora) Four Wheel Drive special stage competition here.

About 40 vehicles, including from Brunei, Indonesia and Johor, are scheduled to participate in the two-day event beginning Nov 26 at the Lundu-Sematan junction near here. The event is organised jointly by the ministry and a Kuching-based sports and tourism specialist company.

Hamden said the state government was also taking precautions to prevent any outbreak of the avian flu with a ban on the import of poultry from affected countries, including Indonesia.

On tourism development in the Lundu District, he said the ministry, in co-operation with the Lundu District Council, would implement a pilot project to turn five acres at Pandan Beach into a camping ground for outdoor lovers in a safe environment.

He said the camping lots, equipped with barbecue pits as well as toilets and shower facilities and to be rented to visitors, would be ready in nine months' time.

As part of efforts to promote the Lundu-Sematan area as a tourist destination, he said the barramundi species of fish popular in northern Australia would also be introduced into the Sematan River soon.

He said the ministry would work with the Sarawak Agriculture Department to promote angling to increase the range of tourism products in Sematan.

The coastal town of Sematan, which fronts the South China Sea, is used as a base by anglers to go out for fishing, he said.

Courtesy of BERNAMA

Monday, October 10, 2005

Private Kota Kinabalu Water Village Art Opens

There are only two water villages left within easy access of Kota Kinabalu. This excludes Sembulan which is fast giving way to development. Mengkabong, in the vicinity of Tuaran is the better known of the two as a tourist destination. Tanjung Aru, in the surburbs of KK, is relatively unknown except to locals and a few tourists. In recent weeks, however, it received national attention when rough seas demolished some eight houses on stilts there.

Yet, despite what many thought is the precariousness of living in a water village, it is home to a large, mixed population. Like Mengkabong, Kampong Tanjung Aru has a unique water village identity. Over time, a distinct way of life or culture, if you will, has surely evolved thereabouts. Life by the sea differs from life on land, in many ways.

But it takes an artist and his third eye to see and appreciate the wonder of living some six feet above the waves lapping against the billian stilts and the constant murmuring of the sea. There are long wooden bridges instead of tarred paths by which residents get from place to place. Some people go about in sampans. Children go fishing with homemade gear. They play basketball at ebb tide. Gardens inevitably grow in pots here. And there are some quaint and picturesque houses too.

It is a place unlike many others. As Dzulkifli Abdul Rahman (Pok), water village resident artist, observes, “Many of the villagers are unaware of the attraction that the village holds for visitors. They might ask, Apa ada di kampong saya? Dia lupa budaya dia special.”

Highlighting these special cultural images of the water village and its way of life became the impetus for the founding of the privately run Water Village Art Gallery, which opened 24 September 2005. It is founded by Dzulkifli, Suhailee Palasian and Bahari Md. Shah. The gallery takes pride of place in Pok’s entrance hall and sitting room.

Pok lives in the water village with his wife Salmah Amit, children Nadia, Aidan and Adain. Aidan who is seven years old also has three of his colour pencil drawings exhibited at the opening, along with some of the founders’ paintings. The majority of the paintings at its launching depict water village icons, such as the sampan, houses on stilts, and the wealth of the kingdom of the sea–fishes, mangrove and such like.

The founders view the Water Village Art Gallery as a magnet for attracting visitors and tourists to Kampong Tanjung Aru Water Village. As Pok said, “There are many hotels hereabouts and there’s quite a lot to observe of our lifestyle and culture here. In deed, we have our very own unique identity.”

Supporting the opening Exhibition of the Water Village Art Gallery are KL artists Shafurdin Habib, Maamor Jantan, and Shima. From Sabah are Mohamad Fuad Bebit, Tony Gondolos, Ishak Salahuddin, Charles Mawan, Mastini Asap, Christianne Goonting and Daiman Bona.

Courtesy of New Sabah Times

Friday, October 07, 2005

Sabah hopes to be one of five World Forest Observatories

KOTA KINABALU - Sabah is quickly emerging as a frontrunner in the Asean region in research efforts into the rainforest canopy, described as one of the last unexplored frontiers on earth for scientists, The Star reported.

The state now has two canopy walkways located about 30m above ground at Poring in the pristine Kinabalu Park and a 100m canopy flux tower in the Danum Valley. The state is now hoping to be selected as one of five locations in the world for the proposed World Forest Observatories (WFO), a towering canopy crane to be set up in the middle of the forest.

"Being part of the WFO network will enable us to explore the economic potential of non-timber forest products from canopy and canopy-based eco-tourism," Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said recently.

Opening a canopy training programme for the Asean region at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Chong said that WFO would be part of the initial phases for the establishment of a global canopy-based conservation network.

The three-year canopy training programme will involve groups of scientists, students, conservationists and forest managers from around Asean undergoing two weeks of training in climbing trees using ropes and conducting canopy studies.

Chong, the Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said the training provided by the British-based Global Canopy Programme (GCP) was crucial as the forest canopy was the most threatened and least explored habitat on earth.

"An important function of the canopy is its influence on global climate," he said, adding that forest canopies intercept 25 per cent of precipitation over 45 million hectares of land surface.

Chong said 90 per cent of the earth's biomass interfaces with the atmosphere through forest canopies that were the richest in terms of biodiversity.

UMS vice chancellor Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin said the university would be the first institute of higher learning in Malaysia to have the capacity for scientific research in forest canopies and train others in Asean to do the same.

He said a canopy training syllabus and manual were being developed and these would serve as the basis of modules to be included in UMS academic training programmes soon.

Also present were UMS Tropical Biology and Conservation Institute director Datin Dr Maryati Mohamed and Prof Roger Kitching of GCP.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Kota Kinabalu International Airport to be expanded next year

Kota Kinabalu: The multi-million ringgit Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) expansion project - that will see the reclamation of sea to accommodate a longer runway as well as a bigger passenger terminal - will begin early next year.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said preliminary works had actually started but the real scope of the project would start early next year as the Federal Government had already appointed the main contractor.

Speaking after chairing the State Action Council meeting at the State Legislative Assembly building in Likas, Tuesday, he said the State Government, on its part, would be rendering assistance to facilitate the project such as removing the squatter colony near the sea in Putatan.

Musa said the Council was briefed on the scope of the project by the Transport Ministry during the meeting.

He said the project would see the runway extended up to 3,780m (12,400ft) with full parallel taxiway and additional connecting taxiways, compared to the existing runway length of 2,988m (9,800 ft) with only partial taxiway.

The project was also to add more parking aprons to accommodate four B-747s, one AB-330, seven B-737s, three F-50s and three Dorniers.

The passenger terminal building would be extended to 53,513 sq m, with a total area of 79,000 sq m to accommodate about nine million pax (in 2004), compared to the present 25,487 sq m.

A new Low Cost Carrier (LCC) terminal, which is currently operating in Terminal Two, and airside facilities for five Air Buses would also be built.

As for precision approach, navigation aids (Navaids) and lighting would be made available at both Runway 02 and 20 under the projects.

On whether the project would affect the Royal Sabah Turf Club (RSTC) in Tanjung Aru, Musa said it would not since the runway extension would see the reclamation of the sea at the upper part of the KKIA.

The RSTC management had requested assistance of the State Government to shift their race course located at the lower end of the runway following the approval of the KKIA expansion project.

Courtesy of Daily Express

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

National Park Vacation: Mesilau Nature Park

For a unique National Park Vacation in Borneo, you must make sure that you drop by at Mesilau Nature Park near Kundasang town, about 108 km or about 2.5-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, Malaysia Borneo.

Mesilau Nature Park is located within the Kinabalu National Park area on the Pinosok Plateau near Kundasang town. It is about 30 minutes by road away from Kinabalu National Park (about 108km from Kota Kinabalu). The stretch of the road from Kundasang to Mesilau Nature Park, which is about 2,000 metres above sea level, is extremely steep and some parts of it are in bad condition (at this point of writing).

On the way, you will surely be captivated by the spectacular views of the Kundasang valley with terraced hill slopes planted with highlands vegetables, and parts of the scenic beauty of the Kundasang Mt. Kinabalu Golf Course, a challenging 18-hole golf course for avid golfers, undeniably, the highest golf course in South East Asia.

But once you get to Mesilau Nature Park, you will notice that the place is more natural and "virgin" than the now "commercialized" Kinabalu National Park. As the Park lies at the base of Mount Kinabalu, the mountain will look even more spectacular with a sheer wall of granite towering a few thousand meters from the virgin forest floor and ending in jagged peaks. This is the so-called breathtaking Mesilau Pinnacles.

Mesilau Nature Park is the starting point for the alternative and more challenging route up Mount Kinabalu. Trek the route up to a kilometres or two even if you are not planning to climb Mount Kinabalu. Since the Mesilau Summit Trail is relatively newer and less crowded than the old summit trail, your chance of encountering (tamed) wildlife is also brighter. One prominent feature of the route is the seemingly abundance of orchids (Rhododendrons) and pitcher plants.

But to experience the best of what Mesilau can offer, you will need to spend a night or two at the eco-friendly Mesilau Nature Resort, which is nestled amongst the trees at the foot of the mountain within the Park. The Resort itself is amazing since it was carefully planned and built to blend into its natural surrounding. The chalets are on slopes surrounded by trees with the full view of the Mesilau River flowing below. And for food, the Kedamaian Restaurant is famous for its piping hot steamboat, and barbecue dinners if you are staying overnight.

Mesilau will enchant you with its cool temperate climate (temperatures vary around 17-21 degree Celcius during the day and 10-15 degree Celcius at night) and serene surroundings as a truly amazing nature’s paradise. The world’s largest pitcher plant, the “Nepenthes Rajah”, is recorded to grow in abundance here. A guided nature walk around the Park is recommended and will leave you with lasting "natural" memories.

Mesilau Nature Park and its Resort is an ideal venue for relaxation or retreat. The bio-diversity of the flora and fauna found here makes Mesilau a haven for naturalists. It is one of the best location for a memorable National Park Vacation.

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Monday, October 03, 2005

19th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon: Men's Results

KUNDASANG: It was an all-foreign affair in the men's Open of the 19th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon Championship that ended Sunday. All the top 10 finishers were foreign athletes, with Recardo Mejia of Mexico emerging champion with a time of 2:41.41s

The win is Mejia's second title. He first won the event in 2001 then followed up with second placings in 2003 and 2004.

The 42-year-old runner pocketed US$4,500 and a 24-carat gold pendant for being the first athlete to reach the summit with a time of 1:38.45s. From then on it was a close race from second to fifth positions with runners going head-to-head all the way.

In second place was Italian Dapit Fulvio with a time of 2:48.18s followed by 2000 champion Jean Pellisier who clocked 2:49.57s while the fourth and fifth finishers were Neido Jose Guiller of Venezuela and Simon Booth of Great Britain with a time of 2:52.38s and 2:52.50s.

Mejia when met after the race said that he had no problem in running up or down the 4,095.2 metre-high Mount Kinabalu.

"The only thing that matters to me during my run was winning the race," he said with a grin.

Describing himself an old person, Mejia said everything was excellent?I did not encounter anything that could spoil my run."

"It feels good to win after a long and tiring run," he said, adding that he is satisfied with the time he clocked.

"What's important is becoming the champion," he added. Mejia revealed his next race would be the Mexico 10km race next month.

Dapit Fulvio said coming second behind Mejia was good enough for the Italian who won US$4,000 for his effort.

Fulvio described Mejia as a runner from another planet.

"I was aiming and pushing myself to win the first place but it was hard," he said.

"Mejia is really fast and strong³t was hard to overtake him right from the start to the finishing line," he said.

"I had no problems with the race except it was too steep when running up the mountain," he said, adding that the race was perfect with its beautiful weather.

A total of 125 runners from Malaysia, Italy, Great Britain, Mexico, Spain, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore and Thailand took part in the yearly championship, which was flagged off by Environment, Cultural and Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Karim Bujang.

The race is also accredited as the finale of the 2005 World Skyrunning Championship circuit under the Federation of Sports At Altitude.

Courtesy of Daily Express

Sunday, October 02, 2005

19th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon: Ladies' Results

KUNDASANG: Czech Republic's Anna Pichtrova proved her billing when she clinched her fourth consecutive title in the women's open of the 19th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon yesterday (Saturday).

The 34 year-old ran way up and down the 21-kilometre-long race trail from start to finish with a time of 3:13.25s, some 15 minutes ahead of her nearest challenger Favre Corinne of France.

Corinne who is also crowned as the World Mountain Running Trophy champion clocked 3:29.08s to take the second spot. The climbathon serves as the final leg of the Buff Sky Runners World Series circuit.

In third spot was Venezuela national athlete Cruz Aleida Salazar with a time of 3:42.19s.

Pichtrova said the whole race was hard.

"I was doing better going uphill. Technically the race was tough on the downhill section but I just kept running," said 34- year-old Pichtrova.

Pichtrova bagged the top cash prize of US$4,500 with her effort and a gold pendent for being the first to reach the summit of Mt. Kinabalu with a time of 2:02.26s.

The four- time champion said, France's Favre Corinne was her toughest challenger in the event.

"I just dashed up the mountain and when I looked back she (Favre) was behind me," the Czech said, adding that it was fourth time luck that made her champion.

Pichtrova said the climbathon served as her last championship for this year. "Everything starts again next year with the marathon races being her opening races," she said, adding that next year she would return again to defend her title.

The weather yesterday proved to be on the runners' side. It was clear and bright throughout the race which began at 7am.

Corinne, meanwhile, said she's happy with her podium finish despite having to run all the up and down the 4,095.2 metre-summit with a headache and stomach pain.

"I was really tired and I felt head and stomach were hurting me...but I just had to keep going," said the WMRT champion after the race. Corinne won US$4,000 for her effort.

Corinne, who is a sky instructor by profession, said that she had to go slow on the downward trip as the path was a bit slippery.

She revealed that last year she could not take part in the WMRT due to her busy schedule.

Favre with her second place finish was declared the world skyrunning champion having won the four previous legs in the circuit. She won in Dolomites, Italy; La Pagne, France; Colorado, US and Grigne, Italy.

Third place winner Cruz Aleida Salazar was stretchered to the medic's tent from the finish line after limping through half the downhill section. She clocked a time of 3:42.19s while in fourth place was Spain Roser Espanol Bada with a time of 3:44.46s.

Meanwhile in the men's veteran event, all local faces topped the three top spot with Kota Belud farmers Taising Bukolong, Jios Kundapit and Raimin Iki winning the RM1,000, RM800 and RM600 cash prizes respectively.

"I did not face any problem until I have reached the finishing line," Taising said, revealing that his feet felt sore and painful after running up and down the mountain.

"I only had one training session prior to the race. I was not afraid and this time the weather was perfect.

Taising said he would take part again next year.

The race, which is divided in three categories-men, women and veteran men-offers cash prizes totalling RM130,000.

A total of 44 participants started Saturday in the women's section and 46 in the veteran men.

Dubbed the world's toughest mountain race, the climbathon has a race distance of 21km for both men and women with an elevation from an altitude of 1,800m up to the peak at 4,095m and down the same trail.

The race is also accredited as the finale of the 2005 World Skyrunning Championship circuit under the Federation of Sports At Altitude. Prior to this six other circuit races were held in Spain, France, US, Italy (two locations) and Switzerland.

Courtesy of Daily Express

Sabah to tap potential in medical tourism

CM Datuk Musa said the Government is very committed to improving the overall level of medical care in Sabah and will continually seek ways to ensure those in rural areas are not marginalised in terms of access to healthcare.

He said this is proven with more hospitals and government clinics that have been built statewide with the assistance of the Federal Government.

"The State Government is highly conscious of the fact that the right to health and medical treatment is the responsibility of the Government," he said. At the same time, he urged the private sector to assist the Government in providing better healthcare system for all.

Sabah also has the potential to progress in medical tourism given the increase in its domestic and international arrivals this year.

Musa, who is also Finance Minister, said between January and August this year, Sabah recorded 1.22 million visitors from both domestic and international arrivals compared to 1.14 million for the same period last year. He said it is a sizeable increase of 800,000 or 7.4 per cent in the number of arrivals.

"However, it must also be stressed that to remain competitive in the global and regional tourism market, Sabah must build on its existing strengths," he said.

He said the state's diversity in natural attractions alone is not enough to pull visitors here or keep them coming back.

In this regard, Musa said the government would create a niche market to turn Sabah into one-stop premier tourism destination that meets the needs of every type of tourists, including medical tourists.

While the development of medical tourism may be far-fetched to some, he said those who have had the opportunity to experience medical care here are quite pleased by the high standards of medical practice and care they received.

Courtesy of Daily Express