Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sandakan lines up events for Visit Malaysia Year 2007

Sandakan: The Sandakan Municipal Council (MPS) is lining up about 30 events to woo tourists to visit the district famed for an orang-utan sanctuary, in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007.

MPS President Yeo Boon Hai said several new tourism, culture and sports events were added to the programme besides the Sandakan Festival held in conjunction with VMY 2007, he said after attending a meeting of the main committee of the festival, here, Tuesday.

He said among the new events to usher in VMY 2007 were lion and dragon dances, Buy Sabah Products Exhibition, Sandakan Sepilok Nature Run and Salak Fruit Festival.

Continue reading at: Sandakan lines up events for Visit Malaysia Year 2007

AirAsia slashes ticket prices by 99pc

KUALA LUMPUR: The "craziest sale in town" started at midnight with AirAsia offering a 99 per cent discount on tickets to all its destinations.

Limited to 500,000 seats for travel between April 1 and July 31, the booking period will end on Feb 7.

Bookings can be made through its website, call centres, sales offices and airport sale stations.

The discount is only for one-way travel, and does not include airport taxes, fuel surcharges and fees.

"We are just supporting Visit Malaysia Year 2007 the way AirAsia knows best," said AirAsia executive vice-president Kathleen Tan.

Continue reading at: AirAsia slashes ticket prices by 99pc

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

MAS offers 250,000 domestic seats from RM9

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will offer 250,000 domestic seats at between RM9 and RM199 from today (Tuesday) until Feb 6 in support of Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007.

The one-week promotion covers 23 destinations nationwide but is only available online at

MAS senior general manager (network revenue management) Bernard Francis said in the statement Monday that the seats were for a seven-month travel period from March 1 to Sept 30, this year.

Continue reading at: MAS offers 250,000 domestic seats from RM9

RM8.88 Fatt Choi Special on FAX for Sabah and Sarawak flights

Kota Kinabalu: In conjunction with the coming Chinese New Year festivity, Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) is offering seats to selected destinations in Sabah and Sarawak from as low as RM8.88.

In a statement Monday, FAX said the seats under the Chinese New Year Special package include from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, Sibu, Sandakan and Labuan, and from Sandakan to Tawau.

Continue reading at: RM8.88 Fatt Choi Special on FAX for Sabah and Sarawak flights

Monday, January 29, 2007

Sabah calls for clean image in promoting tourism

By Arman Gunsika

KOTA KINABALU - Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Enviroment Datuk Karim Bujang said Sabah is definitely not a destination for tourists who come to the state looking for sex.

He said Sabah is proud to be able to project a healthy image to tourists. Sabah wants a clean image in all respects, be it physical, moral and spiritual when promoting tourism.

Karim was responding to recent remarks by Deputy Prime Ministry Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that foreign tourists who come to the country with sex on their mind should forget about it.

"Indeed we don't encourage such tourism in the state and to some extent we have achieved some success in drawing people for our good culture, food and environment. It is true that we don't have tourism in that category," Karim said.

Commenting on the poll conducted by the Global Traveler magazine, which has ranked Malaysia as the world's best tourism destination in 2006, Karim said this augurs well for Sabah and Malaysia.

We are proud of this because it is timely with our Visit Malaysia Year 2007. This accolade by a renowned US Travel Magazine is what we have been waiting for a long time, he said.

He said what have been said all these while about Malaysia are true, that it is a safe place to visit, has scenic environment in its natural setting and friendly people. The poll results also prove that allegations about Malaysia by certain groups are baseless.

However, the challenge now is for Sabah and Malaysia to maintain the ranking which is very difficult to do. Winning the ranking is one thing, retaining it is another that requires all Malaysians to be together in the effort.

The publication describes itself as a business travel magazine that takes into account the sophisticated lifestyle interests of today's executive travellers.

The magazine claims to have a paid circulation of 60,055. A total of 13,653 completed questionnaires were received by the magazine from its readers.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tap full potential of Sarawak’s unique eco-tourism products

KUCHING: Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud wants tourism players to help tap the full potential of Sarawak’s eco-tourism products.

He said these unique products, which made the Land of the Hornbills different from the peninsula, were mostly found in rural areas.

“It is in the rural areas that nature is at its best, where cultural practice is well-preserved and where there are lots of animals and plants to show tourists,” he added in presenting Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Appreciation Awards 2006 to the winners at a hotel here recently.

Sarawak Tourism Federation, which hosts the annual event to give recognition to outstanding tourism players, received 368 entries - the highest so far.

Continue reading at: Tap full potential of Sarawak’s unique eco-tourism products

Lauding Sarawak tourism development

The awards were organised by the Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) in collaboration with the state Urban Development and Tourism Ministry, Sarawak Tourism Board and Tourism Malaysia.

A total of 368 entries were received for 15 categories of the awards.

For the first time, a Model Toilet award was given to encourage a high standard of cleanliness.

The award went to the public toilet at the Sarawak Museum maintained by the Kuching North City Hall.

In other new categories, the Best Homestay Programme went to Abas Homestay in Kampung Panglima Seman Lama while Top Spot Food Court in Kuching received an award for best hawker stalls.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Lauding Sarawak tourism development

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Europeans puzzle at viability of AirAsia’s budget fare for long haul

FRANFFURT: Not that there have been no low-cost airlines in the past. America, Europe and Asia have had their share of budget airlines that have given the big, established ones a run for their money.

But the recent announcement by AirAsia Bhd, Malaysia’s leading low-cost carrier, to start a regular service between Asia and the United Kingdom from July will mean that it will be the first low-cost airline to serve a long-haul route.

The undertaking has also led to a vibrant debate in both Europe and America over the viability of such a service.

German experts say that the undertaking is inherent with high risks.

They admit, however, they are not surprised that the initiative comes from AirAsia, a market leader in Asia, because it is a highly profitable company commanding a profitability of nearly 15 percent on turnover.

Continue reading at: Europeans puzzle at viability of AirAsia’s budget fare for long haul

Friday, January 26, 2007

Majestic Mount Kinabalu

Thick mists covers the summit of Mt Kinabalu.
Picturesque view of Mount Kinabalu.
Beauties of Mt Kinabalu.
Tourists flocking to stalls at the foot of the mountain.

Photos: Mohammad Abdullah ;
Copyright © 2007 Brunei Press Sdn Bhd. All right reserved.

By Mohammad Abdullah

Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain of Borneo. It is located 70 miles from the northern tip of the island. It is an impressive flat-topped granite block, rising in isolation, thousands of feet above the gently sloping plain.

It is a rugged, heavily eroded mountain, scarred by gullies, with jagged rocks and sharp pointed peaks surrounding the main terrace. The lower slopes are farmed, while the higher slopes are covered in thick jungle with rich biodiversity. The mountain's high peak is easily climbed, but all other peaks require rock-climbing skills.

Many of the trees and flowers are unique or extremely rare but to the uninitiated novice in matters botanical there is no doubt that the pitcher plants steal the show. Even the most casual observer cannot fail to notice these impressive insect guzzling monsters with up to a pint of liquid waiting to lure and drown the passing fly or mosquito.

Mount Kinabalu is considered to be the highest mountain in South East Asia, although there are higher mountains in Indonesia, on the island of Irian Jaya (Indonesian New Guinea). These include Puncak Jaya, also known as Carstensz Pyramid, which is 4884 metres high. This is generally considered as part of Oceania and is climbed as such by people who like to climb the highest mountain on all of the seven continents.

There are two theories about the origin of the name Kinabalu. The first is that Kinabalu stands for 'Chinese widow' with Kina being a corruption of China and Balu being a commonly-used term for widow in the local languages. The story goes that a Chinese prince visited the region and climbed the mountain.

This was either to look for a giant pink pearl or to slay a dragon that was terrorising the neighbourhood, or both of the above. After accomplishing these mighty deeds he fell in love with and married a local girl. He then returned to China, promising to come back for her, but never did.

If that's too sad for you, an alternative explanation is that it stands for 'the revered place of dead' in the local language.

The first person to climb the mountain was Sir Hugh Low, a British colonial officer, in 1851. The indigenous peoples of Sabah didn't climb the mountain to the top because they believed that it was sacred and home to mountain spirits. (Probably also because they considered it a pointless activity - nothing to eat at 4,000 metres after all.)

He relates that the hardest bit of the expedition was hacking through the jungle from the coast to reach the base of the mountain. During the ascent his local guides required the sacrifice of white cockerels at a regular basis along the trail, in order to appease the mountain spirits. It is now not necessary to strangle one's own chicken, as the sacrifice is performed annually with the appropriate ceremony.

Of course now we have the modern roads to help us on our climb to the summit. Though the roads are just as treacherous, narrow winding roads with plenty of blind corners, not to mention daredevil truckers who hug the blind corners at high speeds. Accidents are more common than naught, and most of which are fatal.

At 3pm like clockwork the mountain fogs up. Locals would advise travellers to either stay put, or put some warming clothing on, as at this time the temperature drops, the clouds cover the mountain, and visibility is almost zero.

The thick mountain fog makes it the mountain road a treacherous road to travel on. Even with your headlights on to the fullest it will still not cut through the fog. Worst still if the cars are using halogen lights. The light will reflect back from the fog and would make matters worse.

Yellow fog lights are preferable, it won't cut through the thick fog, however it will let oncoming cars know that there's another car coming. It is slightly safer, but only just.

The drive up to the summit is steep. It will take a toll on the brakes and the brake lining of the car, so always check your car's brake fluid and braking system before the drive up. Its dangerous especially when the brakes fail when the car is descending the mountain. Accidents always happen because of lack of preparation and failing brake systems.

All in all though the ride to the top is worth it. One would feel slightly dizzy once nearing the summit, it's either from the breath taking view, or the lack of oxygen due to the height.

There's a small town in Mount Kinabalu, called Ranau. There are no proper shops, just huts selling souvenirs, and fruits. As the lower valleys of Mount Kinabalu are farming fields, there are a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables on sale. There are a lot of tourists who stop by this small village to buy refreshments and souvenirs to take home.

Mount Kinabalu is an experience like no other. Breathtaking views, beautiful sceneries, magical histories, and rare flora and fauna only found on the mountain. Pay a visit and stand tall on the tallest point in Borneo.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Malaysia Voted Best Tourist Destination Of 2006 In Magazine Poll

NEW YORK -- In what has come as a surprise to many in the US travel and tourism trade, Malaysia was voted the world's best tourism destination for 2006 by a prestigious US travel magazine.

This was the result of a poll conducted by Global Traveler magazine, a monthly published in Pennsylvania.

The publication describes itself as a business travel magazine that "takes into account the sophisticated lifestyle interests of today's executive travelers". The magazine claims to have a paid circulation of 60,055.

The extensive poll, the third such annual survey conducted by Global Traveler magazine amongst its readers between Feb 1, 2006 and Aug 31, 2006, addressed open-ended questions for the best in 42 categories.

Continue reading at: Malaysia Voted Best Tourist Destination Of 2006 In Magazine Poll

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Promoting Brunei tourism on global scale

By P Marilyn

Brunei tourism has reached the shores of the Gulf with the publication of an article entitled "Knocking On Brunei's Door" in the biggest newspaper in United Arab Emirates, Gulf News.

In the article, the writer described Brunei Darussalam as a "quiet, peaceful destination" and commented that the Sultanate has a good chance of hitting the same visibility as Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bali with the aggressive campaign accredited to the tourism authorities and the national carrier.

In an effort to encourage more tourists to visit the Sultanate, the Tourism Development Department has been organising familiarisation trips to bring in television companies, travel writers and travel agencies.

Speaking to the Bulletin, Sheikh Jamaluddin bin Sheikh Mohammad in his capacity as the Director of Tourism Development under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources said that the familiarisation trip is one of the marketing strategies of the Tourism Development Department to create greater awareness on what Brunei can offer to tourists.

"On average, we organise around 40 trips a year bringing in media people from all over the world such as Australia, UK, Germany as well as the Gulf region but recently the majority of foreign media and travel agencies are coming in from China and Korea," said the director.

The Tourism Development Board has been collaborating with the national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines, hotel industries in Brunei such as the Empire Hotel and Country Club, as well as local tour agencies, to ensure that the invited foreign media and travel agencies are well taken care of throughout their stay in the Sultanate.

"The familiarisation trip usually takes only about three to four days. Throughout that period, they will be exposed to attraction sites in Brunei such as Temburong and Tasek Merimbun," Sheikh Jamaluddin said, adding that they would also be given a city tour.

"This is the best way to get them exposed to the Sultanate," he added.

The Tourism Development Department also takes part in trade shows overseas to promote the Sultanate.

According to Sheikh Jamaluddin, the Tourism Development Department on average participates in approximately 26 trade shows a year all over the world such as the UK, Germany, Australia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and China.

The Tourism Development Department will be taking part in the Asean Tourism Forum in Singapore from January 26 to February 2. The event will involve meetings between tourism officials, ministers and invited speakers from all over the world who will share their views and ideas on tourism issues.

There will also be an exhibition during the event, where the Tourism Development Department will have a booth for local travel agents and hotel industries. Among them are Freme Travel, Sunshine Borneo Tours, the Empire Hotel and Country Club, Rizqun International Hotel, Orchid Garden Hotel and Royal Brunei Airlines.

The Asean Tourism Forum is a big event, which Brunei hopes to host in 2009.

The tourism authorities hoped that the nation's exposure would go beyond the Gulf and that its strategies could draw in more tourists to the nation.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sabah’s ‘Homestay’ a hit among tourists

KOTA KINABALU: The “homestay” programme in Sabah is getting more popular with foreign tourists who want to savour local lifestyles, culture and food, Tourism Malaysia Sabah director Iskandar Mirza Mohd Yusof said.

He said among the more popular popular homestays were those in Kinabatangan and Misompuru in Kudat.

“The uniqueness of the homestay is that it allows our visitors the opportunity to experience how Malaysians in Sabah, especially those from the various ethnic groups, live,” he said.

Continue reading at: Sabah’s ‘Homestay’ a hit among tourists

World-class musicians set to 'jazz up' the stage in Miri

By George Francis

MIRI - The Miri International Jazz Festival on May 11-12 this year will showcase six world-class bands, expecting to rope in at least 4,000 participants around the region and jazz clubbers from around the world.

The exhilarating Dirty Dozen Brass Band from New Orleans, US one of the new comers to this second series of the festival, is a brass band from New Orleans where jazz music was first born.

"We're bringing in all the different countries for varieties of styles, carrying the same concept similar to last year," said Gracie Geikie, CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board, the festival organiser.

Among the jazz groups who will be performing at this year's festival are Lluis Coloma from Spain Habana Sax from Cuba - a quintet with the fiercely energetic Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, Brazilian and Latin jazz rhythms.

Other world class jazz musicians who will also make an appearance are KCP4 from India and Germany, George Washingmachine Quartet from Australia and Orak Naa Naa from Morocco and Germany.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sarawak Tourism Awards - lauding tourism development

OUTSTANDING contributions to Sarawak’s tourism industry were honoured at the Hornbill Tourism Appreciation Awards in Kuching recently.

The awards were organised by the Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) in collaboration with the state Urban Development and Tourism Ministry, Sarawak Tourism Board and Tourism Malaysia.

A total of 368 entries were received for 15 categories of the awards

For the first time, a Model Toilet award was given to encourage a high standard of cleanliness. This award went to the public toilet at the Sarawak Museum maintained by the Kuching North City Hall.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sarawak Tourism Awards - lauding tourism development

Low price in air travel by MAS

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahans are invited to take up some five million discounted seats that are being offered in the coming Malaysia Airlines Travel Fair (MATF) slated for Jan 31-Feb 6.

The offered discount is as much as 70 per cent off the prevailing market fares.

“The fair will be held simultaneously in Malaysia and in all Asean countries,” said MAS area manager for Sabah, Morris Ong Sing Luk yesterday.

He said children could also enjoy a further 15 percent discount from the rack fares while infants will be charged only 10 percent of the adult fares.

“These attractive deals are offered through our 24-hour toll free call centre at 1300 88 300 (for Malaysia) as well as ticketing offices in Malaysia and in Asean countries,” Morris said.

Continue reading at: Low price in air travel by MAS

Monday, January 22, 2007

Rainforest reunion at the Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival

The 10th edition of the Rainforest World Music Festival in Santubong, near Kuching, Sarawak, from July 13-15, promises to be a reunion to remember, and artistes are already being confirmed for this special anniversary event.

This year, there will be no new acts, with all artistes performing making return visits after having previously taken this annual festival by storm. Acts confirmed thus far hail from the four corners of the world and will eventually total some 20, organisers have revealed.

From Africa come Madagascar’s Tarika Be and Zimbabwe’s Black Umfolosi. Led by charismatic singer songwriter Hanitra Rosoanaivo, Tarika will surely be welcome, while Black Umfolosi makes an unprecedented third visit to the festival.

There’s a large contingent coming in from Europe, including the highly energetic Gaelic-rock band Shannon from Poland, the Sicilian group Tammora, and Huun Huur Tu and Malerija from Tuva, Russia.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Rainforest reunion at the Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sarawak's tourism attractions to get wider exposure

KUCHING: Sarawak’s tourism industry will gain wider international exposure as more foreign television stations air their productions on the state’s unique culture and colourful lifestyles of its various ethnic groups, Sarawak Tourism Board’s marketing executive Catherine Lau said.

Also to be featured in their adventure series are the state’s world heritage site - Mulu National Park - and other eco-tourism attractions in the tropical forest settings.

Taiwan-based Sanlih E-Television (SET TV) is the latest foreign TV station now on a filming stint in the Land of the Hornbills.

The station’s six-member film crew is expected to produce at least three episodes for its “The King of Adventure” programme during their 11-day trip in Sarawak , said its director Cheng Au-Lin.

Continue reading at: Sarawak's tourism attractions to get wider exposure

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Scaling Mount Santubong, Sarawak

Gunung Santubong in Sarawak is a mite tiny at only 810m, but it leaves you in no doubt that it deserves the epithet ‘mountain’ once you’ve taken it on.

Occasionally, flights into or out of Kuching, Sarawak, hover over the Santubong peninsula with its breathtaking view of forested coastline, shimmering rivers, and the unmistakable profile of a dramatic and solitary limestone massif.

Some 35km from Kuching, the Santubong peninsula has always been alluring for its strategic location and scenic beauty, even from ancient times.

The villages here continue a tradition hundreds of years old. Excavations have unearthed evidence of settlements dating back to the 9th and 10th century AD.

Today, the Santubong peninsula and its surrounding beaches are literally a breath of fresh air for people from Kuching when they seek a break from the town life. A number of upmarket resorts line the beaches that fringe the peninsula, and there are idyllic fishing villages basking beside rivers or sheltering in little bays.

Rustic seafood restaurants offer al fresco dining – airy spaces, romantic views, the sound of waves lapping beneath wooden platforms projecting out to sea and fresh seafood.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Scaling Mount Santubong, Sarawak

More extreme sports to lure visitors to Mulu

By George Francis

MULU NATIONAL PARK - More extreme sports will be held this year to promote Royal Mulu Resort as a tourist attraction and to complement the existing facilities amidst the natural attractions of the Mulu National Park - a world heritage site.

The resort's general manager, Alan Cyril Robinson, said among the new projects are the Flying Fox to be built across the resort from the nearby rocky hill. The project is expected to be completed by April 2007. Also, to be introduced at the same time are jet ski rides to take advantage of the calm waters of Melinau and Tutoh.

The Royal Mulu Resort, built 15 years ago by a Sarawakian entrepreneur, according to Alan, is to enhance facilities available in and around the Mulu National Park, which is famous for its caves and rich bio-diversity. An average of 30,000 visitors come yearly and more are expected during this Visit Malaysia Year.

Among the resort's newly introduced activities are the nightly cultural performance, and extreme sports such as quad-bikes, kayaking and river cruise.

Defending champion - Bu China Yah - a team from the Mulu National Park, emerged as champion in the race organised by the Royal Mulu Resort.

They defeated three other finalists in the six kilometre race which began from

the resort up to the Mulu Airport and back. Trojan Two from Royal Mulu Resort was adjudged as the best decorated Chariot.

Prizes to the winners were jointly presented by the resort GM Alan Robinson and the Mulu National Park Manager, Brian Clark at a ceremony in conjunction with the recent Miss and Mr Mulu 2006 contests.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sarawak Cultural Village - Sarawak's Living Museum

Cultural dance of the hunt at Sarawak's Cultural Village
Cultural performance at the theatre
House of the Melanau tribe
Dining area adorned with ethnic decorations
Selection of the traditional handicrafts on offer at the cultural village
Workers actually live and work in the cultural village

Copyright © 2007 Brunei Press Sdn Bhd. All right reserved.

By Mohammad Abdullah

Sarawak Cultural Village is a spot definitely worth checking out. Dubbed the 'Living Museum' by locals and tourists alike, the cultural village only employs ethnic indigenous people of Sarawak. This 17-acre site, nestled on the foothill of the legendary Mount Santubong and fronting the South China Sea, offers an excellent introduction to local culture and lifestyles. It is situated 32 kilometres, or 45 minutes' drive from Kuching.

Like a museum, the Cultural Village showcases many artefacts from the past. The biggest attraction of the village is that visitors can walk around and experience the way of life of the different ethnic backgrounds of Sarawak's rich heritage.

Visitors can walk freely from one settlement to another and enter the exact replicas of ethnic houses that are built by the natives of Sarawak. In each settlement there are ethnic tribes of people who live and work in the cultural village.

They will guide visitors around their settlement, and present to them their own individual tribe. Their culture, customs and beliefs will also be explained to those visitors who wish to learn about their history and culture.

Among the replicas of buildings that represent every major ethnic group in Sarawak are longhouses of the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu, a Melanau tall-house and a Chinese farmhouse. The village also has a theatre where visitors can enjoy a multi-cultural dance performance. They can also treat themselves to traditional delicacies at a restaurant situated there and browse for mementos at the handicraft shop. Visitors can even 'get married' at the Sarawak Cultural Village, in traditional Iban, Malay, Bidayuh or Orang Ulu style.

The longhouse has separate rooms placed side by side, all of which open to a long communal hall used for leisurely activities like woodcarving and basket weaving. Guests are often invited to attend nightly ceremonies and drink a potent rice wine called 'tuak', which the Ibans make themselves.

There is also an opportunity for visitors to stay over in one of the several ethnic houses. Rooms are provided for home stay visitors, with each room being authentically traditional. As there is a need to retain the traditional feel, there is no air-conditioning. For those who are adventurous and would like to experience what the natives of Borneo experience when they stay in their houses, the cultural village will provide for them.

There are about 150 people from Sarawak's wildly diverse tribes living in the village, demonstrating traditional daily activities like the processing of sago and the making of handicrafts. They wear traditional costumes and also put on dances for visitors. The village residents provide information on their various traditional cultures and lifestyles.

There are seven ethnic houses, ranging from the Bidayuh round huts, Iban longhouse to the stilthouses of the Melanaus. The centre offers an insight into traditional pastimes such as tattooing, blowpipe making, weaving of the "pua kumbu" and top spinning. Traditional dances are also a common sight in this village.

The Sarawak Cultural Village portrays the state's rich cultural diversity in one single place. A typical Sarawakian's warmth and hospitality awaits visitors to the village. The hosts are always keen to share the arts, crafts, games, foods and music of the seven major cultures of Sarawak.

After touring the village, enjoy a multi-cultural dance performance in the village's own theatre, where each tribe will showcase their own unique traditional dance. Here, visitors are invited to participate in the dance at the end of the show.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

AirAsia offering more flights out of KK and Kuching

KUALA LUMPUR: Budget airline AirAsia will fly to Macau daily from Kota Kinabalu next month.

At the same time, it will also fly four times weekly from the Sabah capital and Kuching to Penang.

AirAsia executive vice-president (commercial) Kathleen Tan said the flights to Macau from Feb 6 were an expansion of the Kota Kinabalu hub’s international connectivity and a response to market demands.

“Our low fares are expected to attract traffic from not just Macau but also from southern China,” she said, adding that visitors from Sabah and Sarawak could now take direct flights to Macau.

Continue reading at: AirAsia offering more flights out of KK and Kuching

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Traditional food-making, Papar’s main tourist attraction

PAPAR: Food manufacturing and traditional handicraft making continue to be the main attraction for tourists going to Papar.

District Officer, Iman Ali told the New Sabah Times that tour agents who bring in tourists to the district often bring them to view traditional food-making which are conducted at several different villages in the district.

“For instance, tourists are brought to a factory making ‘kuih cincin’ (cakes shaped like a ring), which is found a lot at local market grounds at Kampung Melugus in Papar,” he said.

He said that the factory has received a lot of tourists and his office has received requests to increase on the number of such establishments in the district.

In addition, the Papar district is also famous for its ‘gambus’, traditional guitar, he said.

“Tourists can view the making of the ‘gambus’ at Kampung Seri Serpang in Bongawan, Papar. Aside from that, we also have a yearly ‘Gambus Festival’ which is held every July,” he said.

Continue reading at: Traditional food-making, Papar’s main tourist attraction

Direct flights sought by Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is seeking feedback from the Tourism Ministry on the feasibility of increasing direct flights from China to Sabah to replace charter flights from that country.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said there were now only direct flights to Kota Kinabalu from Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

“Last year, there were a lot of charter flights from eastern and western China to Kota Kinabalu,” Chong told a news conference after receiving a call from Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim at his office here on Monday.

Continue reading at: Direct flights sought by Sabah

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Development at Kudat Riviera, a tourism boon for the Tip of Borneo

As Kudat, more commonly referred to as the Tip of Borneo, begins to grow in terms of popularity as a premier tour destination in Sabah, more exclusive accommodation development is on-going and will be pivotal to attract more well-heeled tourists to a part of the world that has recently become known as the Kudat Riviera.

There are at least four exclusive hideaways development adjacent to the beach or in the foothills immediately behind the beachfront of the Kudat Riviera.

These include:

  • Kudat Karma - 19 villas of between 2 and 5 bedrooms
  • Kulambu Cove - 1 exclusive villa of 6 bedrooms
  • Beach @ The Tip - 8 villas of 3 to 4 bedrooms
  • Coconut Reef Club - 10 villas of between 2 and 4 bedrooms

For more information, please refer to a recent Asian Pacific Post's article entitled Lots of karma in Kudat.

Also see: Sabah Tourism Packages

Tourism players told to promote Kuching as holiday destination

By Magdalene Rogers

KUCHING - Sarawak Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud urged tourism players in the state to speak up in order to promote Sarawak's tour packages more effectively and to give tourists the unique opportunity to know the beauty of the state.

He said that the importance of good accessibility as well as skilled workforce would entice more tourists to come to the State and enhance the eco-tourism packages that are only unique to the East Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah.

"We have to project our own image because the tourist attractions throughout Malaysia are not the same. Perhaps Sabah and Sarawak can share the same (promoting) strategy but we cannot share the same strategy with Penang or Malacca because we are just different," he said at the Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Appreciation Awards 2006 here Monday night.

Taib added that if Sarawak, with its highest number of repeat visitors, "can assemble the state's attractions and present sufficient information to the tourists then we can have a product that we can sell."

"The state must sell the idea of selling 'broad-lateral tourism' where the attractions are in the rural areas and where nature is at its best, where cultural practice is well-preserved, where there are a lot of animals and plants to show to tourists," he said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

MAS Travel Fair back with discount fares

Kuala Lumpur: Delightful news for travellers as Malaysia Airlines will once again hold its Travel Fair, from Jan 31 to Feb 6 this year.

The national airline said during the promotional period, customers could get their hands on a wide array of attractive airfare deals as well as discounted Golden Holiday packages for both domestic and international travel.

The value-for-money deals will be made available through the airline's ticketing offices and travel agents, both in Malaysia and in Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

In a statement Tuesday, it said that bookings and purchases could also be made through the airline's website at or by calling its 24-hour call centre at toll-free number 1-300-88-3000 in Malaysia.

Continue reading at: MAS Travel Fair back with discount fares

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sabah hopes to have more regular direct flights from China

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is seeking assistance from the Tourism Ministry on the possibility of increasing regular direct flights from China to Sabah to replace charter flights from that country.

Sabah Tourism, Culture & Environment Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat said there were now only direct flights to Kota Kinabalu from Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

“Last year, there were a lot of charter flights from eastern and western China to Kota Kinabalu,” Chong told a news conference after receiving a call from Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim at his office here yesterday.

Continue reading at: Sabah hopes to have more regular direct flights from China

Sarawak CM wants full exploitation of Sarawak's eco-tourism

KUCHING: Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud wants tourism players to help tap the full potential of Sarawak’s eco-tourism products.

He said these unique products, which made the Land of the Hornbills different from the peninsula, were mostly found in rural areas.

“It is in the rural areas where nature is at its best, where cultural practice is well-preserved and where there are a lots of animals and plants to show to tourists,” he added before presenting Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Appreciation Awards 2006 to the winners at Crowne Plaza Riverside Hotel here on Monday night.

Sarawak Tourism Federation, which hosts the annual event to give recognition to outstanding tourism players, received 368 entries - the highest so far.

Continue reading at: Sarawak CM wants full exploitation of Sarawak's eco-tourism

Sarawak’s Fort Margherita temporarily closed

KUCHING: Fort Margherita, one of the most popular tourist spots in Sarawak, has been closed temporarily.

The Sarawak Museums Department said the closure was due to the poor condition of Jalan Astana, the road leading to the fort, which made it unsafe for visitors to travel there.

“There is also a construction project going on nearby,” said the department in a statement.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak’s Fort Margherita temporarily closed

Brunei Tourism campaign kicks off in Kg Ayer

By Jon Tampoi

A campaign to promote Brunei kicked off yesterday at the residence of village head of Kampong Setia B, Hj Khamis bin Hj Metassan. The campaign, which aims to promote domestic tourism, is organised by the Brunei Tourism Board, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.

The event was attended by Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Dato Paduka Awg Hj Hamdilah. Also present were CEO of Brunei Tourism, Sheikh Jamaluddin bin Sheikh Mohamed; Assistant Brunei-Muara District Officer, Awg Azamain bin Hj Mumin, penghulus, village heads, officers from the Brunei-Muara District Office and travel agents.

The campaign aims to promote the concept of domestic tourism, boost employment creation potential and highlight tourism as a career choice. It also hopes to showcase the country's various attractions that are usually taken for granted by local residents.

Brunei Darussalam will have the Visit Brunei Year Festival of 2008 with the theme 'Know Your Country', for which many activities have been planned and potential places identified to be developed.

This includes Kampong Ayer, which is listed as one of the tourist attractions in Brunei that has great potential.

Dato Paduka Awg Hj Hamdilah said Kampong Ayer is a suitable tourist attraction as it was the beginning for most Bruneians and has its own uniqueness.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

3.9m passengers used the KKIA last year

Kota Kinabalu: The Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) has emerged second only to KLIA in terms of domestic and international passenger arrivals and departures.

Last year 3.9 million domestic and international passengers arrived and departed from KKIA, a 10 per cent increase to the 3.6 million recorded in 2005.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), Operations Senior General Manager, Dato' Azmi Murad said KKIA had recorded a tremendous growth over the last few years.

He revealed that previously it was Kuching that was placed second behind KLIA followed by Penang.

Azmi was speaking at the KKIA Project Sports Carnival 2007 Prize Presentation cum Annual Dinner here on Sunday night.

He said KKIA's growth could be attributed to the hard work and efforts of not only its staff but everyone involved in making the airport successful.

Continue reading at: 3.9m passengers used the KKIA last year

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sarawak tourism assets under-utilised

MIRI: Tourism assets in Sarawak are under-utilised, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam.

Though the state was endowed with a diversity of tourism attractions, a large part of these remain untapped, he said.

He attributed this to the lack of participation from the private sector in Sarawak.

“A lot of our tourism attractions have not been fully exploited. For example, in Miri Division alone, we have five huge national parks (Mulu, Niah, Lambir, Loagan Bunut and Pulong Tau).

“However, there are no major holiday resorts in these parks, except for one resort in Mulu (Royal Mulu Resort).

Continue reading at: Sarawak tourism assets under-utilised

MAS staff in Kuching airport achieve zero accident rate

KUCHING: Malaysia Airlines staff achieved a zero accident rate at Kuching International Airport last year.

MAS occupational safety manager Ahmad Kamal Muhamad said there were no accidents involving staff or the workplace on the ground.

"This is nothing to do with aircraft incidents, we're talking about accidents on the ground under my department of occupational safety and health," he added.

He also said that thanks to the zero accident record, Kuching was chosen by MAS to host the first of its safety and health campaign this year.

Continue reading at: MAS staff in Kuching airport achieve zero accident rate

Sabah air ticket agents will charge “ticketing fee”

KOTA KINABALU: Booking air tickets via travel agents is going cost more in Sabah from today.

Travel agents in Sabah will begin charging a “ticketing fee” following the trend towards zero commission policy being implemented by airlines.

The Sabah Association of Tours and Travel Agents (SATTA) said that they would collect a maximum of 10 per cent of the issued airfare for the air ticket with the adoption of the “ticketing fee.”

SATTA in a public notice advertisement taken out in a local newspaper said that the ticket fee was additional to the existing Agency Collection Fee of RM5 for domestic and RM30 for international flights.

Continue reading at: Sabah air ticket agents will charge “ticketing fee”

It’s costlier to fly in Sarawak and Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Booking air tickets via travels agents will cost more in Sabah and Sarawak from today.

Travel agents in Sabah will begin charging a “ticketing fee” of up to 10% of the airfare following the trend towards zero commission policy being implemented by airlines while Sarawak travel agencies will impose RM20 and RM60 for cash sales of MAS' domestic and international tickets respectively.

The Sabah Association of Tours and Travel Agents (Satta) announced yesterday that the ticket fee was additional to the existing Agency Collection Fee of RM5 for domestic and RM30 for international flights.

Satta, which placed an advertisement in a local newspaper, said travel agents would collect the ticketing and agency collection fees on issuance of tickets.

However, the ticketing fee was only applicable to airlines that had implemented the “zero commission” policy.

Continue reading at: It’s costlier to fly in Sarawak and Sabah

Penampang to develop tourism potential

PENAMPANG: There will be a tourism council set up in this district to develop its tourism potential.

“The council will include tour operators here to enable them to come up with the best ideas,” said member of parliament for Penampang, Donald Mojuntin.

He said eco-tourism would be especially suitable because the district has many natural attractions and products and is strategically located.

“Penampang is close to the airport and the city. There are many tourism products here one of which is the Kadazandusun culture itself.

“People can go fishing, enjoy the waterfalls, sight the rafflesia flower in Kg Kibunut and even try jungle trekking,” he said.

Donald was speaking at the launch of the Tagal Tourism Centre in Kg Babagon here.

Continue reading at: Penampang to develop tourism potential

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park - Going under in Sabah

Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park ... is an interesting
dive location for experienced divers.

Copyright © 2007 Brunei Press Sdn Bhd. All right reserved.

By Catharine Goh

Popular tourist spot in Sabah, the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, is a cluster of islands which is only about 10 to 20 minutes speedboat ride from the capital city of Kota Kinabalu.

The five islands, comprising Gaya island, Sapi island, Manukan island, Mamutik island and Sulug island, are characterised by shallow waters, sump-tuous coral gardens and all boast splendid white sandy beaches.

While the reefs lie in shallow waters with little current making it an ideal location for novice divers, the diverse and sometimes rare marine creatures also make it an interesting dive location for experienced divers and underwater photographers.

Along the sandy seabed a good variety of marine life can be found such as Scorpion fish, Blue-spotted rays, cuttlefish, mantis shrimps and the occasional green or hawksbill turtle. At some locations, rare creatures such as harlequin ghost pipefish and mandarin fish can be found especially with the help from local dive guides.

A popular tourist spot, especially in view of the "Visit Malaysia 2007 " programme, an increase number of tourists are expected to visit it in comparison to more than 150,000 tourists visited the islands, including about 90,000 to Sapi Island from January to October last year.

A State Park created to protect the natural environment, including the coral reefs, marine life, the fauna and flora, there is however, a need to be extra careful in the wake of the two recent drownings, involving tourists from South Korea and Japan, off Sapi Island.

Although sited between three-eight km from Kota Kinabalu, the Sabah government has requested all tour operators to prioritise safety aspects when taking tourists to resort islands, especially scenic islands within the Park.

To dive in the marine park a tourist must contact one of the local dive centres based in Kota Kinabalu who also offer a full variety of PADI courses ranging from Discover Scuba to Instructor.

Sabah Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Karim Bujang says this is part of the precautionary measures taken by his ministry to ensure the safety of tourists visiting the islands.

"They (tour operators) were the ones who brought tourists to the islands and to a certain extent, they were equally responsible. Of course, nobody wants such tragedy to happen but it just happened," he discloses.

In fact during the cooler months from November to February, plankton blooms attract krill which in turn attract whale sharks, the world's largest fish.

At times, the density of the krill can be so thick in these murky conditions underwater encounters with these colossal animals can be exciting as they suddenly appear out of the gloom.

Back in the city, the discerning visitor can also have a scenic view from the Signal Hill Observatory Platform. Signal Hill, the highest point in the city, is one of the best places to get a good view of Kota Kinabalu.

Just a couple of minutes drive from Padang Merdeka will bring you to the airy deck where amazing views that extend to the outlying islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park and further can be seen.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Look after your clients at TAR Park, tour guides told

KOTA KINABALU: Tour guides have been urged to do their part in ensuring the safety of the tourists they bring to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TARP) islands here.

Assistant TARP manager, Thomas Yusop said they should advise their clients the do’s and don’ts and insist the visitors wear life jackets if they do not know how to swim.

He told the New Sabah Times this during the Environment Project Awareness Cleaning and Gotong Royong for Tourist Guides at Sapi Island there yesterday in the wake of the drowning incidents involving tourists at the island recently.

Thomas said Sabah Parks personnel have come across cases where the tourists did not even know where their tour guides were.

Continue reading at: Look after your clients at TAR Park, tour guides told

Saturday, January 13, 2007

MAS offers new competitive fares from Jan 15

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will start offering new competitive fares starting January 15, which would be more market-driven and dynamic, in line with the completion of its global fare review.

On Friday, it also announced cheaper fares for certain routes such as the return air fares for the Kuala Lumpur-Sydney route would now cost RM1,730, the Kuala Lumpur-Jakarta RM590 and Kuala Lumpur-Canton RM1,110.

In a statement here Friday, MAS said with the more sophisticated pricing system, the airline will be able to adjust its fares on a weekly basis with the lowest price benchmarked against those offered by other full service airlines.

Customers will enjoy up to 16 fare options, compared to eight currently, for more than 100 routes worldwide, it said.

Continue reading at: MAS offers new competitive fares from Jan 15

Friday, January 12, 2007

Leaders endorse Heart of Borneo declaration

Cebu, Philippines – A historic agreement to conserve the “Heart of Borneo” was officially endorsed today by the heads of the three Bornean governments — Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

A statement by leaders attending the Summit of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) outlined the importance of one of the most important centres of biological diversity in the world, covering approximately 220,000km2 of equatorial rainforests and numerous wildlife species.

“We congratulate the three governments of Borneo for the groundbreaking conservation pledge they have made,” said Dr Mubariq Ahmad, WWF-Indonesia’s Executive Director.

Continue reading at: Leaders endorse Heart of Borneo declaration

Thursday, January 11, 2007's clients escape Sandakan boat capsize

Re Sandakan Sea rescue drama, we learnt from our travel company, Colourful Frontiers Travel Sdn. Bhd. (license no. KPL/LN 4605) that about 4 to 5 of our clients were supposed to be in one of the boats of the ill fated trip.

A wife of a boatman drowned while 10 people, including seven foreign tourists, were rescued after the tour boat they were in capsized in the estuary of Sungai Padas at Libaran, Sandakan in tempestuous weather.

Our deepest condolence to the deseased family but we are extremely grateful that our clients put their own safety first and heeded the call not to continue with the excursion given the inclement weather. The safety of our clients is always a top priority.

The strong winds and high tide (50 to 60km per hour and rough seas with waves as high as 4.5 metres according to Sabah Meteorological Department) in waters off Sabah are expected to continue until the weekend.

If you are currently holidaying in Sabah, please take note and do take extra precaution.

We will return said Sandakan tourist survivors

SANDAKAN: The seven tourist survivors of the capsized boat incident at the Padas river mouth are undeterred by the experience and said they would make a return visit to Sabah.

Despite having their holiday cut short, their brief encounter with the many natural wonders of Sabah has convinced them that the state is worth a return visit.

The seven are Australians, Ross Weber, 27, Megan Johns, 23, Kimberly Cinpoy, 31, Prudence Vence, 29 and Suzanne Cliston who is a New Zealander permanently residing in Australia as well as British tourists Russell Holdsworth, 49, and Christina Grand, 58.

Reporters had the opportunity to speak to the survivors after Kimberly and Prudence were brought back to the mainland onboard the naval vessel KD Pahang at about 11.30am yesterday.

Continue reading at: We will return said Sandakan tourist survivors

'Spirit of Adventure' in Brunei

By Achong Tanjong

A group of 180 veteran tourists from England were bowled over by the country's hospitability during their brief tour of the capital yesterday.

The group was on a brief stopover at Muara Port, as part of its round the world cruise on the cruise ship 'Spirit of Adventure'. The world tour "Inspiring Cruise of Discovery", includes stopovers at several Asean countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Brunei.

The half-day city tour was handled by Exotic Borneo, a travel agent based in Sabah dealing with sea cruises, and local travel agent, Freme Travel Services Sdn Bhd.

According to a crewmember of the cruise ship, the group has been travelling around European countries before coming to this region.

The crewmember who joined the ship in Dubai said, "This is the first group to visit Brunei and the tour is part of efforts to bring more tourists to Southeast Asia."

The cruise ship had earlier made a stopover in Sabah prior to coming to Brunei. The ship arrived in Muara Port at 7.30am yesterday and left on the same day at 5pm for Kuching, said Mr Chang from Exotic Borneo.

While in Brunei, the group was brought to several tourist spots and places of interest as part of the city tour organised by local travel agents. Amongst places of interest they visited were the Brunei Museum and Royal Regalia Building.

Brunei Museum recorded a total of 53,884 visitors last year, while in 2005, the Museum recorded a total of 34,466 visitors from January to August. The Museum was closed to visitors for three months in 2005 for renovation works.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

AirAsia’s 1 mil seats offer causes Net jam

IN RESPONSE TO QUERIES on AirAsia’s 1 million free seats campaign, Kathleen Tan, Executive Vice President said:

‘We are ecstatic with the overwhelming response to our 1 million free seats offer. In barely less than 24 hours of the campaign launch, our internet traffic has surged by 500 fold compared to a normal day.”

This irresistible free seats offer is taking the region by storm. We launched the campaign first to our 1 million online subscriber base from 4.00pm yesterday (Tuesday) to allow priority booking.”

“Today’s modern technology enhances the power of viral marketing through the use of internet and mobile phones, with news of our free seats campaign spreading like wildfire across Asia even before for South East Asia alone, we expect huge waves of internet traffic to our website which is surfed by users from over 200 countries.”

Continue reading at: AirAsia’s 1 mil seats offer causes Net jam

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Flotilla of tourists coming to Brunei

By P Marilyn

The new year is beginning with the arrival of a "fleet" of tourists to the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures.

Last week, the ocean-liner "The Coastal Marine" stopped by for a day bringing about 700 tourists who managed to visit several places of interest, including a half-day city tour, and the tropical rainforest in Temburong.

Today, the cruise ship "Spirit of Adventure" is coming to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu with about 180 tourists. The cruise ship will dock in Brunei for 10 hours before heading off to Nhatrang Port in Vietnam.

Another cruise ship "Artemis" from the United Kingdom is scheduled to dock at Muara Port on January 18, this time bringing in a total of 1,700 passengers and crew. According to the shipping manager of Jasra Harrison, the passengers onboard comprise Americans, British, Europeans and Australians. The ship is going on a world cruise and will be coming in from Kota Kinabalu. It will leave for Penang after its Brunei stop-over. During their 12-hour stay in Brunei, the crew members will be brought on an inbound tour, while the passengers will enjoy a city tour.

Speaking to the Bulletin, Sheikh Jamaluddin bin Sheikh Mohammad, the Director of Tourism Development under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, said, "The increase in cruise ships coming to the Sultanate shows Brunei as a destination of choice. Five years ago, there were no cruise ships coming to Brunei. It takes time for word to get around about what Brunei has to offer, and I believe as time goes by, the ships will stop here longer than a day."

"The Tourism Development has been conducting overseas marketing by attending trade shows and hosting familiarisation trips by inviting foreign journalists to Brunei to promote the Sultanate.

"The increasing arrivals of cruise ships reflect the success of the efforts made by the Tourism Development in promoting Brunei. It also partly contributes to the country's economy. I am also very happy with the port authorities for doing up the terminal where tourists can make use of the facilities during their short stay in Brunei," added Sheikh Jamaludin.

Two more cruise ships, "Silver Whisper" and "Costa Marina", are scheduled to stop over in Brunei towards the end of this month. Another ship, "Seven Seas Voyager" from America, currently in the Middle East, is expected to arrive in Brunei on February 26, bringing in more tourists.

The increase in tourists and cruise ships coming to the country reflects Brunei's popularity as a tourist destination amongst foreigners, and this in turn will help boost the country's economy as well as uphold the country's reputation as the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sandakan Sea rescue drama: Swift action saves 10 tourists

SANDAKAN: Ignoring a warning of strong winds and choppy seas proved fatal as a boat carrying tourists to Pulau Libaran capsized, killing a Malaysian woman.

Prompt action by the marine police, the navy, maritime personnel, police air unit and General Operations Force resulted in four Australians, two Britons, a New Zealander and three Malaysians being rescued.

Mariamah Kawari, 40, who was married to a tour agent, was found by villagers in the waters off Tanjung Pisau. However, she died later.

Malaysian tour guide Robert Ernest, 26, was found alive seven hours later treading in the waters off Pulau Libaran.

Two of the tourists swam 4km to Tanjung Pisau and alerted the authorities.

Those rescued were Suzanne Cliston, Megan Jones, Kimberly Cinpoy and Ross Webber from Australia, and Russel Holdsworth, 49, and Christina Grand, 58, of Britain. The New Zealander has not been identified.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sandakan Sea rescue drama: Swift action saves 10 tourists

AirAsia offers one million free seats to six hubs

KUALA LUMPUR: Low-fare airline AirAsia Bhd is kicking off the New Year by launching its biggest regional marketing campaign which offers one million free seats.

The free seats, available for online booking, are for all its six hubs, mainly in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Johor), Thailand (Bangkok) and Indonesia (Jakarta).

The free seats offer excludes airport taxes and fees, fuel surcharges, and is applicable for travel one way only, AirAsia said in a statement yesterday.

“This is the second major regional free seats campaign we are launching and the timing is perfect to coincide with Visit Malaysia Year 2007,” said executive vice president-commercial, Kathleen Tan.

Continue reading at: AirAsia offers one million free seats to six hubs

Monday, January 08, 2007

Kuching - City of the eternal cats

Cat statues adorn the town centre in Kuching.
Unique buildings such as this one can be
found in various locations of the city.
Popular shopping mall in Kuching.
Aerial view of Kuching, Sarawak.
Islamic Court resembles an inverted pyramid.
Chinese gateway signifies the longstanding
between the Kuching Malay
and Chinese communities.

Photos: Mohammad Abdullah ;
Copyright © 2007 Brunei Press Sdn Bhd. All right reserved.

By Mohammad Abdullah

Kuching's history is also Sarawak's; the kind of adventure story that would be unbelievable if it were not true. Local bookshops are crammed with volumes old and new describing the reign of the White Rajahs in great detail. What follows is a brief summary.

At the beginning of the 19th Century, Sarawak was a typical Malay principality, under the reign of the Sultan of Brunei. Apart from occasional piracy on the coast and headhunting in the interior, Sarawak was peaceful. All of this changed when the Sultan of Brunei appointed a hugely unpopular Governor. The Malays and Bidayuhs of the Sarawak River revolted in 1836 and declared independence. An ugly guerrilla war ensued, which continued until 1839, when James Brooke, a young and wealthy Englishman, arrived on the scene in his well-armed yacht, The Royalist.

Brooke set himself up as a freelance adventurer and the Sultan's uncle immediately asked him to help put down the rebellion. Brooke readily agreed. The spears and muskets of the rebels were no match for a modern warship and the conflict soon ended. As a reward, the grateful Sultan made Brooke the Rajah of Sarawak in 1841. Brooke was not content to rule over a small riverside town, and set out to pacify his new kingdom, with the help of the British Navy. At the time of his death in 1868, Sarawak was a relatively peaceful territory covering the area between Tanjung Datu (which is now the Indonesian border) and Kuching.

James Brooke's nephew Charles, who succeeded him, was no adventurer like his uncle, but an excellent administrator and politician. He set up a proper system of government, gradually expanding his area of control until it formed the present day Sarawak. His legacy is everywhere in Kuching. It was he who built the Astana, Fort Margherita, the Courthouse, the Sarawak Museum and many other fine buildings. Charles Brooke died in 1917, and was succeeded by his son, Charles Vyner Brooke, who built on his father's achievements and improved the general administration of the state. In 1941 he set up a State Council to oversee the passing of new laws, bringing the first stirrings of modern government to Sarawak. The rule of the State Council was short-lived, as the Japanese invaded at the end of the same year.

Why is Kuching called Kuching? There was a story behind the naming of this eternal cat city. The first white man who set foot on Kuching saw an unusual animal from the other side of river. They had never seen this type of animal before. They had asked the local people what the animal was. The locals answered, "Itu pusa'", referring to 'cat' in the local dialect.

However, that was not why Kuching was called 'Kuching'. There is a small river, called the Kuching River which originates from Mata Kuching hill. This is where Kuching got its name, not from the river but from the hill.

However, the true origins of its name have never been clear. "Kuching" does indeed translate into 'cat' in Malay ("kuching" is an old Malay spelling, whereas the new official Malay spelling today would be "kucing", but both of them are pronounced the same), in specific reference to the domesticated cat, but it may actually be a variation of the Indian name for "port", which is "Cochin".

Apart from the possible unrecorded natives of the land, Kuching was first settled by Indian traders who set up base at Santubong. Artefacts of Hindu origin can today be seen at the State Museum. The city has never been remembered for having a significantly larger population of cats when compared to others. In fact, the numerous cat statues, the Kuching Cat Museum and other association with cats have been part of a modern effort of tourism. Many travel brochures refer to Kuching as "Cat City" or the "City of Cats". Otherwise, they hold no real meaning for the residents and are not considered by locals as romantic.

There are other theories which attribute the name to a fruit called "mata kucing" or "cat's eye"; it would seem that trees bearing this fruit used to grow in abundance by the river banks - where the city proper lies today.

Mata Kuching is a local fruit whose direct translation would be "cat's eye". However, due to the cumbersome name, the word 'mata' was dropped, and Kuching had since been used as the official name of the city.

The unique political system in Kuching is that the city has two mayors, with two governing councils administrating the city - one in the north and one in the south. The two mayors are appointed by the government of Malaysia.

The northern section of Kuching is run by the Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara (Kuching North City Hall) while the southern section is administrated by the Majlis Bandaraya Kuching Selatan (the Council of The City of Kuching South). There are those who believe that the divisions in power for the northern (primarily Malay and Bumi residents) and southern (primarily Chinese residents) districts came about due to ethnic reasons in the 1980s. There are also those who believe the administration is divided due to geographical reasons, as the northern and southern districts are linked by only two bridges spanning the Sarawak River.

The existence of two councils seem to create a healthy political administration system. The two councils are in healthy competition with each other, and hence the state of Kuching is run very smoothly.

The development of the Cat City is therefore constantly on the rise, and the general cleanliness of the city, immaculate.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

Visit for more Kuching tours

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Colourful launch of VMY 2007

Kuala Lumpur: The Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007 was officially launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, here, in an elaborate and colourful ceremony Saturday night.

The rain in the Federal capital failed to dampen the spirit of the more than 20,000 visitors who had flocked the Taman Tasik Titiwangsa to witness the glittering event.

The event was launched exactly at 10pm with a fireworks display which was greeted with loud cheers from the spectators who remained at the recreational park even when the rain turned heavier as soon as Abdullah completed the launch.

Continue reading at: Colourful launch of VMY 2007

AirAsia travellers impressed with low-cost terminal in KK

By Rosli Abidin Yahya

Travellers from Brunei Darussalam on board the AirAsia budget airline during the last week of December were pleasantly surprised to return via Kota Kinabalu, Sabah through the nearly-completed low-cost terminal during the first few days of the New Year.

About 75 per cent of the new terminal's facilities are in place pending demolition of the old complex but already passengers are giving it the thumbs-up for comfort and excellent service.

Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) from the Philippines who were on their way to Brunei after spending their Christmas and New Year holidays in Manila said two weeks ago, they saw piles of rubble, dusty roads and hot and congested halls.

"When we stepped out of the AirAsia plane to enter the new terminal, we thought we were in the wrong place. You can still see some work going on but it's definitely better now," they said.

"It was all chaos prior to our journey on Christmas Eve to Manila. However when we returned two weeks later, it was all pleasant. With such a facility, things can only get better as far as tourism is concerned," they added.

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to officially open the RM60 million terminal, which caters to AirAsia, Fly Asian Express and Transmile flights, on January 15.

The new terminal, developed by Global Upline Sdn Bhd, was completed in seven months - 29 months ahead of schedule - and could cater up to 2.5 million passengers annually, a five-fold increase compared to the old terminal.

There are 26 check-in counters compared with four at the old building and 13 immigration counters.

There are also six aircraft parking bays, seven luggage X-ray machines, 176 vehicle parking bays, 750 public seats and 500 luggage trolleys.

Kota Kinabalu has been a favourite destination among Bruneians as well as Philippine OFWs, as they can travel cheaply to Clarks, Manila on board the budget airline AirAsia.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, January 06, 2007

AirAsia X (long haul service) takes off July

Kuala Lumpur: Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) Friday launched AirAsia X, the long-haul budget airline which is expected to begin operations from the KL International Airport (KLIA)'s low-cost terminal in July this year to three continents - Europe, Asia and Australia. AirAsia X will not be a member of any alliance.

AirAsia X's network will cover destinations which are more than four hours in flight duration from Kuala Lumpur, offering daily point-to-point frequencies to popular destinations in China, India, Europe and Australia.

It also has the rights to service international routes via Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Continue reading at: AirAsia X (long haul service) takes off July

Also see: RM9.99 to fly to Old Trafford

Hygienic public toilets for tourists in Kuching

By Magdalene Rogers

KUCHING - Tourists visiting Sarawak during this year's Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) might not have anything to complain about once the city council carried out its strategic activities towards enhancing public toilets in the city.

Kuching North City Council (DBKU) public relations official said in a statement released here yesterday that the "activities would be carried out in DBKU's jurisdiction to ensure that the public toilets do not mar Kuching's image as a clean and beautiful city particularly when tourists are expected to come to Kuching in high numbers this year."

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

Friday, January 05, 2007

AirAsia X London flights from RM9.99

KUALA LUMPUR: Fly Asian Express (FAX) will fly its long-haul operations using the brand Air Asia X, under franchise from AirAsia, starting July.

The flights will have two classes - super economy and economy. In-flight entertainment and food will be available for purchase onboard.

Fares to London will start as low as RM9.99, excluding tax and surcharges.

Continue reading at: AirAsia X London flights from RM9.99