Saturday, June 30, 2007

Borneo folk dances with modern significance

A dance of the Murut of Sabah
Modern costumes and batik are frequently used during traditional dances

Dancers performing a dance of the Lundayeh of Sabah

By Rahmat bin Haji Abdul Rahman

Colourful cultural performances have taken places in Bandar Seri Begawan since 2004 with the Malam Rumpun Budaya.

Students train and explore dances of the ethnic groups of Brunei Darussalam to celebrate the traditional festivals such as the Iban's Gawai and the Dusun's Adau Gayoh. They also learn the traditional dances of the Melayu Brunei, Melayu Kedayan and Melayu Tutong.

In Sabah, music is a vital part of nearly every social event at the village level. It symbolises the traditional harmony that exists among its inhabitants. It is played during the wedding celebrations, engagement parties, harvest festivals, first birthday of children, animistic religious ceremonies and other associated events of importance to the community.

Each ethnic group has its own distinct musical forms although several of the major instruments are common to all. Each piece of instrument is usually lovingly crafted, cut, shaped and tested.

Distinctions are often found in different combinations of instruments, varying dance styles, tempos and tunings. There are also certain instruments found only within the limits of an individual community and not shared with other communities.

The communities in Borneo Island - Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah - as well as in the Sulu Sea in the islands of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu-Jolo, Basilan and Marawi in Mindanao have made it possible for us to enjoy a captivating array of culture and art that is both unique and exquisite.

The richness of the cultures that are found in Borneo Island, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu-Jolo and Basilan is expressed in the differences between the traditional dresses, dances, music and handicrafts of the various ethnic communities.

The people of Brunei Darussalam comprise seven ethnic groups listed in the 1959 Constitution. They include the Melayu Brunei, Melayu Kedayan ("Gadaian" originally from Java) and Melayu Tutong (originally from tiny islands in the Sulu Sea).

The people of Sabah comprise 32 ethnics groups and 72 dialects. Among them are the Idahan (found on the east coast of Sabah in the District of Lahad Datu, the Kadazans (districts of Penampang and Papar), Dusun (districts of Telupid, Keningau and Tambunan) Bajau (Semporna, Kota Belud, Kota Kinabalu and Papar), Melayu Brunei, Kedayan Bisaya, Murut, Lundayeh (west coast region), Ubian, Binadan, Orang Sungai (Sandakan district) Tatana, Tagaas and Suluk (Tausug).

The use of traditional costumes can be seen from the classical and modern periods.

In the classical period, traditional costumes were worn during rituals, weddings as well as daily wear. In modern times, traditional costumes are only worn at special occasions like weddings and traditional functions.

Most ethnic groups in Brunei, Sarawak and Sabah used black as the dominant colour of their traditional costumes. The use of black stems from the belief that black is a godly colour and represents power that will protect the user from the bad spirits. Other beliefs state that the use of black is synonymous with the way of life and natural conditions at that particular time.

In the past, red gemstones, coloured glass beads, cowry shells, white buttons or disks made from shells and bronze were used to adorn the men's and women's clothes.

Today most of these ornaments have been replaced with plastic beads and other more modern materials like gold and silver threads, sequins and coloured threads.

Traditional hats/headgear or scarves are normally used by the men and women as protection from the heat as well as to absorb perspiration. The headgear used during official functions is more beautiful and colourful.

Gongs form the backbone of most musical ensembles and are used at nearly every social event. The number of instruments played together varies from one community to another. During a gong beating session, one or two drums are also played to accentuate the main rhythms.

The gongs are highly valued. They are also used as bride-wealth, for animistic religious ceremonies and during harvest festivals such as "tadaau kaamatan", "adau gayoh" and "gawai".

Gulingtangan are instruments usually played on festive occasions such as wedding and religious ceremonies where they are often accompanied by other traditional gongs.

The instruments consist of a set of about eight to nine small brass kettle gongs. The gongs are arranged horizontally in a row on a low wooden bed-like frame. The player sits down on the floor in front of the gongs and beats them with two small wooden mallets.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, June 29, 2007

The taste of Bali at Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu

Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu in cooperation with Laguna Resort & Spa, in Nusa Dua, Bali, another Starwood property, present a fantastic Balinese buffet at the local hotel’s Circle restaurant.

Featuring delicacies and favourite recipes from Indonesia, the buffet offers an incredible selection of excellent food.

Just about everything from wok-fried seafood, succulent mutton and beef dishes to seafood satay are highlighted in the buffet, which has certainly done miracles for the appearance of Circle itself.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: The taste of Bali at Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu

Tourist arrivals to Sabah revised down to 2.3mil

Kota Kinabalu: Tourist arrival figures for Sabah have been revised from 2.7 million to 2.3 million this year due to the on-going expansion of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).

However, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun, said work on the airport terminal and runway had not stopped tourists from coming over to Sabah.

As the second busiest airport after the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), he said KKIA is one of the top choices among travellers coming to Malaysia.

In fact, he said many destinations in the State surpass that of other states in terms of tourist arrivals.

"There are tourists who come here just for the seafood like the Singaporeans. The first thing in their minds when coming here is the seafood," he said at the opening of 13th Food Pack Exhibition 2007 and 6th Hotel and Catering Exhibition 2007 at Sabah Trade Centre, here, Thursday.

Continue reading at: Tourist arrivals to Sabah revised down to 2.3mil

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Royal Brunei Airlines flights to Kuching to resume on November 1

KUCHING - Royal Brunei Airlines will start flying into Sarawak this November, raising expectations of increased tourist arrivals in the state, particularly from Australia and north Asia.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) marketing manager Mary Wan Mering said the airline will fly three times a week from the Bruneian capital Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuching beginning Nov 1.

"We regard Bandar Seri Begawan as an important hub for us because Royal Brunei flies into South Korea, Japan, China and Hong Kong a lot.

"We want to tap into these markets and get these passengers to come here through Brunei," she said. Speaking to reporters after a meeting with industry players here on Wednesday, Mering said STB would team up with Royal Brunei to market the new flights at the airline's various destinations, starting with Australia.

"Royal Brunei have very good access to Australian cities, including Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Darwin. So Australia will be our first target, and north Asia after that," she said.

She added that Sarawak currently received about 20,000 tourists from Australia.

"With the three flights coming in from Royal Brunei, we hope we can increase the number of arrivals by 15 per cent," she said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Brunei Tourism: Selling peace as tourist attraction

PEACE is a rare commodity these days and Brunei Darussalam has this in abundance. It seems that Sheikh Jamaluddin, Director of Brunei Tourism is very much attuned to this fact because earlier this week he promoted this aspect as a superior tourist attraction compared to what other tourism spots have to offer.

He said that, unlike other tourism destinations with nightlife, Brunei Darussalam is rich with cultural heritage, is peaceful and tranquil and boasts of better quality of life. He also said Brunei's strength is its people, and the "soft side" of the country with low crime rate.

Such attributes go a long way in attracting investment in the industry. Jamaluddin was speaking during a roadshow to promote the domestic tourism under the Kenali Negara Kitani (KNK) or "Get to Know Our Country" initiative at the Civil Service Institute, Rimba.

Brunei Tourism, in its three-year drive to increase domestic awareness, is targeting members of the public, government officials, students and associations. The campaign includes as partners the private sector hotel and travel companies. Already 25 partners have signed with Brunei Tourism.

Continue reading at: Brunei Tourism: Selling peace as tourist attraction

Sarawak calling nature lovers

Inspite of the Incredible India campaign selling tremendously well, a number of Indian states have actively emerged as individual promoters increasing their potential as tourist destinations.

Likewise, Tourism Malaysia is now encouraging its largest state of Sarawak at promoting itself as a haven for nature tourism individually but also selling the concept under the Tourism Malaysia banner.

Malaysia is following India's way in promoting tourism. The state enjoys an autonomous status and has an independent immigration process.

The state of Sarawak boasts of enchanting rainforests, a variety of flora and fauna, national parks, reefs and mountain trails, all for the responsible tourists combined with its increasing popularity as a MICE destination.

Its products are as diverse as its ethnic groups, arts and crafts, musical festivals like the Rainforest World Music Festival, Miri Jazz festival, Borneo Cultural festival, wildlife wonders, natural wonders and adventure tourism opportunities are the things that call for a visit.

Continue reading at: Sarawak calling nature lovers

Royal Brunei flights to boost Sarawak tourism

KUCHING: Royal Brunei Airlines will start flying into Sarawak this November, raising expectations of increased tourist arrivals in the state, particularly from Australia and north Asia.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) marketing manager Mary Wan Mering said the airline will fly three times a week from the Bruneian capital Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuching beginning Nov 1.

“We regard Bandar Seri Begawan as an important hub for us because Royal Brunei flies into South Korea, Japan, China and Hong Kong a lot.

Continue reading at: Royal Brunei flights to boost Sarawak tourism

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Babulang Festival listed for the first time in Sarawak’s tourism calendar

SARAWAK’S Bisaya community put on a colourful display of their culture in a night of music, singing and dancing recently.

The performance, capped by a beauty contest, was the curtain-raiser for the Babulang Festival which the Bisaya have been celebrating since 2004.

The Bisaya is one of Sarawak’s minority ethnic groups, numbering some 10,000 people who mostly live in Limbang division.

The festival took place at Kampung Batu Danau, about 30km from Limbang town, on the second weekend of June.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Babulang Festival listed for the first time in Sarawak’s tourism calendar

Bintulu to host global kite festival from Aug 18 to 26

BINTULU: Bintulu will be turned into a global arena for international kite-making and kite-flying competitions.

Sarawak tourism authorities have decided to make this northern Sarawak town a base for kites following its success in turning Miri into an international jazz venue and Kuching into a world ethnic music platform.

An International Borneo Kite Festival will be held here from Aug 18 to 26.

Top kite-makers from 20 countries have been invited to participate in the competition, said Dr Razali Abon, the event’s organising chairman.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Bintulu to host global kite festival from Aug 18 to 26

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tuaran Crocodile Farm: Rocking round the crocs

For a Sabah adventure, all you need is to travel a mere 32km from the Kota Kinabalu city to the Tuaran Crocodile Farm.

Located along the Jalan Sulaman Highway, just a stone's throw away from the Shangrila Rasa Ria Resort, guests will be greeted by a crocodile cartoon painted on the front door and also a smiling, balding man, usually hanging around the main entrance and the ticketing counter.

This man would be Nyo Cho Tong, or better known as Lau Koo.

The Tuaran Crocodile Farm also known as the Crocodile Adventure Land promises a complete Sabah adventure.

It not only gives the visitor an experience with real life crocodiles but also gives a glimpse of the real Sabah, not what the visitor sees in the modern Kota Kinabalu city.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Tuaran Crocodile Farm: Rocking round the crocs

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sarawak culture on display at open house

KUCHING: Sarawak’s ethnic communities celebrated the Gawai Dayak Open House last night with a colourful show of traditional cultures.

Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu lasses and warriors in full regalia welcomed Sarawak Governor Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and state ministers at the State Indoor Stadium here.

Among the highlights was a 30-strong Kelabit bamboo band from the Baram region in northern Sarawak.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak culture on display at open house

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Learning about life in a Dayak long-house

THE harvest festival of Gawai is always a good time to visit the mystical Land of the Hornbill, and a Gawai experience is never complete until you’ve visited a Dayak long-house.

Unless a local resident invites you, the only way to visit a long-house is via a tour operator who organises a homestay at a designated long-house.

I opted to visit a non-commercial Iban long-house in remote Kapit so as to experience an authentic Gawai spirit.

Kapit is the largest division in Sarawak, making up one-third of its total land area. It is 309km up the mighty Rejang River from Sibu and is only accessible via express boat.

Jessie Anak Mangka, Sarawak Tourism Board tour coordinator, revealed to us how some of the settlements, like Kanowit and Song, got their names.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Learning about life in a Dayak long-house

A Bidayuh welcome

The Bidayuhs, or Land Dayaks, are the second largest ethnic group in Sarawak and are known for their peace-loving and easygoing nature.

We had a chance to experience their hospitality when we visited Rumah Annah Rais, a 500-year-old Bidayuh long-house in Padawan District, about 60km from Kuching.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a group of young girls who performed the belanggi or welcome dance in full costumes, accompanied by the sounds of traditional instruments. Two elderly men subsequently performed the male version of this dance.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: A Bidayuh welcome

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Book on Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival published

KUCHING: The Sarawak Tourism Board has published a "Music Without Borders" book to commemorate the Rainforest World Music Festival's 10th anniversary.

The 206-page coffeetable book provides a chronology of the festival's development and contains more than 500 photographs taken during the past concerts.

Board's chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said the book also featured the various musical instruments used in Borneo.

A limited edition of 5,000 copies of the book are being printed.

Continue reading at: Book on Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival published

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sabah dragon boat race makes waves

DONNING pink outfits, 23 women stood out among thousands of people who had thronged Tanjung Lipat near Kota Kinabalu on Sunday to watch the 22nd Annual Sabah Dragon Boat Race.

Loud cheers and thunderous applause greeted the women as their boat made it to the finish line to complete the endurance race.

The women, who called themselves Pink Challengers, finished seventh among nine teams that took part in the event.

But what was extraordinary about these women was not their outfits but the fact that they were all breast-cancer survivors.

“Our goal was not to win the race but to create awareness on breast cancer,” said team manager Babs Delaney.

Continue reading at: Sabah dragon boat race makes waves

FAX cuts flight frequency in Sabah and Sarawak

KOTA KINABALU: Rural air service provider Fly Asia Xpress (FAX) has revised its timetable, with reduced flight frequency to certain locations.

This comes in the wake of criticisms against the airline, whose services have been described as unreliable and affected rural travel and tourism in Sabah and Sarawak.

In a statement here, the company said the new schedule took effect from June 16 and would be in force until Aug 31.

Malaysia Airlines subsidiary MASWings is due to take over the rural air service from Oct 1.

Continue reading at: FAX cuts flight frequency in Sabah and Sarawak

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

World renowned musical groups at Sarawak music festival

KUCHING: Some of the renowned musical groups will be coming back to The Rainforest World Music Festival to commemorate its 10th anniversary this year.

The festival, which won the PATA Gold Award 2006 under the Heritage and Culture category, will be held at the Sarawak Cultural Village from July 13-15.

Organisers Sarawak Tourism Board said the festival would be a reunion of the big names in world music.

It said many music lovers were very excited about the return of several international musical groups.

Continue reading at: World renowned musical groups at Sarawak music festival

Sipitang's Third GATA Festival expects crowd of 50,000

KOTA KINABALU : The third GATA Festival in Sipitang celebrating the tamu and top expects a crowd of more than 50,000 this year with te completion of the road linking Tenom and Sipitang.

In previous years, the number of people flocking to the event have been in the region of 30 to 40,000 said main organising chairperson, Datuk Sapawi Ahmad.

The biennial festival will be held on 3 to 5 August this year and promises to retain its cultural flavour by showcasing traditional games that feature “gasing” or top.

Continue reading at: Sipitang's Third GATA Festival expects crowd of 50,000

Sarawak Govt wants MAS to take over FAX flights immediately

MIRI: The Sarawak Government wants rural air services to be handed over to Malaysia Airlines (MAS) subsidiary MASWing immediately.

The state government feels that the Oct 1 date fixed by the Federal Cabinet for MASWing to take over from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) was “too far away” and would cause more economic losses to the state and suffering for its rural population, said Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.

Wong, who is also State Second Finance Minister, said the state Cabinet had appealed to the Transport Ministry to fix an earlier date for the handover so that Sarawak’s tourism industry could be healed sooner and air-link woes for some 800,000 rural folk could be resolved.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Govt wants MAS to take over FAX flights immediately

FAX announces new flight schedule between Sabah and Sarawak

KOTA KINABALU: Rural air service Fly Asia Xpress (FAX) announced a new schedule for flights between Sabah and Sarawak to overcome constant disruptions to its schedule.

In an email received here Tuesday, the airline said that the revised schedule took effect on June 16 and there was a reduction of flights on certain rural routes inviolving Sibu, Labuan, Mulu and Lahad Datu.

The new schedule was based on using three Fokker 50 aircraft, with one kept as a stand-by, the statement said amid calls by both the Sarawak and Sabah governments for routes to be serviced immediately by Malaysia Airlines' subsidiary MasWing.

Continue reading at: FAX announces new flight schedule between Sabah and Sarawak

MAS Domestic fares as low as RM1

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines, which will be launching its Let's Fly Malaysia campaign tomorrow, expects the drive to bring in RM30mil.

Chairman Datuk Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid said the three-month campaign was in conjunction with the nation's 50th Merdeka celebrations.

“We will be offering fares from as low as RM1 for domestic travel and RM10 for international destinations.

Continue reading at: MAS Domestic fares as low as RM1

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nail-biting finish to Sabah Dragon Boat Race 2007

KOTA KINABALU: The Brunei Dragon Boat Team A out-rowed six other competing teams to win the Sabah Head-of-State Trophy for the main event at the 22nd Sabah Dragon Boat Race 2007 at Likas Bay yesterday.

Racing under a cloudy skies, the team crossed the finish line in 3min 18secs to bag the top prize money of RM4,000. The winning team received their prizes and trophy from Head of State Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah who had earlier thrown dumplings into the sea to mark the start of the exciting race.

The annual race, which attracted some 25,000 spectators, saw Pertubuhan Peladang Kawasan Tuaran take the second spot in 3min 24secs while the Maju Oriental Dragon Boat Team followed closely behind to grab the third spot in 3min 26secs. The second and third place winners received RM2,500 and RM1,000, respectively.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Nail-biting finish to Sabah Dragon Boat Race 2007

Royal Brunei Airlines brings Chinese tourists to Sabah

By Rosli Abidin Yahya

The Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) has helped to bring tourists from China to Sabah, but it can play an even bigger role in helping the state tap into the growing Chinese market.

Sabah Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Karim Bujang said tour operators in the country reportedly receive many Chinese tourists every month, especially those from Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, via RBA.

"We are seeing an influx in Chinese tourists due to RBA," he said. "We can cooperate further, for the benefit of both Sabah and Brunei."

Datuk Karim was speaking to SME traders from Brunei, who were in Sabah to widen their network with Malaysian counterparts, on June 16.

The visitors were also hosted to a dinner and cultural show by the Association of Brunei Community in Sabah (PMBS) at Binsulok Nature Resort, Kg Brunei Membakut.

Datuk Karim also said, "Some 60,000 Brunei visitors have come to Sabah since 2005, and you can do your bit to increase that figure."

He added, "Sabah receives half a million backpackers from Australia, and since RBA flies to Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Darwin, it is a key deliverer of Australian tourists to Sabah."

He called for the strengthening of ties between Bruneians in the Sultanate and the Brunei community in Sabah.

Datuk Karim said being a descendent of the Brunei community in Sabah, he fully agreed for a call towards cultural sharing and exchange between Brunei communities in Brunei and Sabah.

"We must also increase trade and economic activities so as to raise the socio-economic status of the Brunei community, especially those in Sabah."

Meanwhile, PMBS president Datuk Haji Yussof bin Datuk Haji Kassim called for the preparation of tourism, cultural and economic programmes involving the communities in the two countries.

"We have received feedbacks from concerned agencies in Brunei on culture," he added.

Later, the Brunei community in Sabah presented the visitors with song and traditional dance performances as well as gambus and gulingtangan.

The visitors from Brunei, meanwhile, recited poems, syair, performed a silat routine and sang traditional Malay songs at the event.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sabah-Labuan Mansau Ansau Programme: Let’s take a walk of discovery

The Sabah-Labuan Mansau Ansau Programme organised by the Sabah Tourism Promotion Board recently was an eye-opener on many of the attractions around Kota Kinabalu, Kundasang, Sungai Kelias and Labuan.

Mansau Ansau in the Kadazan language means “let’s take a walk” and 40 participants consisting of tour agents and media representatives took part in the programme.

Other than visiting places of interest during the eight-day programme, participants were introduced to the attractive holiday packages offered.

As for me, being my first visit to the Land Below the Wind known for its natural splendour, it was definitely a memorable experience.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sabah-Labuan Mansau Ansau Programme: Let’s take a walk of discovery

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Kuching flights to boost tourism

By Za'im Zaini

A signing ceremony was held between Brunei Association of Travel agents (BATA) and Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF).

The signing ceremony, which was witnessed by the Sarawak Assistant Tourism Minister, Haji Hamden Ahmad, is part of preparations for the resumption of flights to Kuching by Royal Brunei Airlines. Also present was the Malaysian High Commissioner to Brunei, Datuk Ali Bin Abdullah.

President of STF, Wee Hong Seng, told the press that, "Previously since the suspension of Royal Brunei Airlines flights to Sarawak, it was difficult to promote tourism but hopefully with the resumption of flights to Kuching soon by Royal Brunei, probably this year, it will help promote tourism". He said with the possible air linkage, the bilateral ties between the two countries can only get better in order to achieve a win-win situation in tourism.

He said "we have proposed with the kind agreement of BATA to have a memorandum of understanding" covering the following areas and services:

Both BATA and STF will smartly plan, promote and collaborate in any proposed joint tour packages and tourism events covering Brunei and Kuching/ Miri, Sarawak, in the spirit of BIMP EAGA;

Both BATA and STF will jointly plan, promote and initiate proposal for an integrated and better tourism linkages between Brunei and Kuching for increased tour mobility as a springboard to spearhead the BIMP EAGA tourism destination and promotion;

Both BATA and STF will jointly plan, promote and cooperate to encourage more inter-regional exchange visits between people of Brunei and Kuching, Sarawak;

Both BATA and STF will jointly plan and collaborate to increase better understanding and cooperation between members of tourism industry encompassed within the BIMP-EAGA areas of co-operation;

Both BATA and STF will jointly encourage and co-ordinate the promotion and development of tourism between the above mentioned regions;

Both BATA and STF will jointly encourage, coordinate and further exchange the promotion and development of educational exchange programmes and the overall education tourism between the above mentioned regions; and

Both BATA and STF will give support and cooperation towards the harmonisation of the process and regulating border crossing and security initiated by both the Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia governments.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, June 15, 2007

Firefly ‘welcome in Sabah’

KOTA KINABALU: Firefly, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), is more than welcome to operate in Sabah, the State Government said yesterday.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Raymond Tan told reporters after the Shell Educational Excellence Award presentation ceremony yesterday that he believed the carrier would help promote the State’s tourism sector, which is a major source of revenue for Sabah.

“Firefly will be able to improve our situation in the tourism sector… They are welcome to come in. In fact, we encourage other carriers to come in and assist us,” said Tan, who is also the Infrastructure Development Minister.

However, he said that he hasn’t seen any formal request by the carrier to operate in the State.

Continue reading at: Firefly ‘welcome in Sabah’

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tale of Orang Ulu legend performed at World Harvest Festival

A SPECTACULAR outdoor play on the life of the Orang Ulu legend, Belawan Bureing, captivated a large audience at Sarawak Cultural Village in the Santubong peninsula near Kuching recently.

Belawan Bureing, a noble ruler with 11 wives, is dubbed the Hercules of Keliman River. He was the son of Belarik Ubong Do, the creator of thunder and lighting and most powerful spirit in the sky.

The tales of Belawan Bureing have entertained the Kayans of the Balui River in upper Rejang River in central Sarawak and enlivened their evenings for centuries.

According to former journalist Livan Tajang, the original scriptwriter of the play, despite the blood and violence, the polygamy and backstabbing, the tales ultimately centre around one universal theme - the triumph of good over evil.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Tale of Orang Ulu legend performed at World Harvest Festival

US zoo donates to Orang-Utan project in Sukau

Kota Kinabatangan: The Woodland Park Zoo in the United States will donate US$8,500 (RM28,840) to an Orang Utan conservation project here in honour of an elephant which died at its zoo in Seattle last week.

The zoo's conservation director, Lisa Dabek, would come to Sabah soon to present the cheque for the amount to the Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Project (KOCP) in Sukau, the Seattle Times said in its on-line report.

When contacted, Dr Marc Ancrenaz of KOCP confirmed that representatives from the Woodland Park Zoo would visit Sukau next month.

Continue reading at: US zoo donates to Orang-Utan project in Sukau

Most Russians are unaware that Sarawak exists

MIRI: Sarawak is like a “lost world” to first-time tourists from Russia.

These Russians are fascinated by Sarawak, not only because of the natural attractions, but more so because many first-time visitors do not even know Sarawak exists.

Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said she was informed by Russian tourists here on a pioneer visit that they had never read anything about Sarawak in their country.

“There is no information about Sarawak or places like Miri at all in Russia, not in print form or their Internet websites.

“The Russians who came told us they were fascinated by what they saw even though they had never learned about us.

Continue reading at: Most Russians are unaware that Sarawak exists

'Big commitment' on Heart of Borneo

By Azrol Azmi, James Kon & Sim YH

His Majesty's Government has decided to manage more than 60 per cent of the country as Heart of Borneo (HoB) territory. This ambitious plan means that HoB in Brunei will incorporate a mix of totally protected and sustainably managed forest, from the interior highlands, all the way to the coast, joined across the Sarawak border to Gunung Mulu and beyond.

"The Bali Declaration is just a beginning for all three countries. Changes are needed which require planning and investment. Whilst Brunei is a small country, making a big commitment to conservation shows a true leadership by example and the government wants the support of national and international parties which includes the scientific community and the work is just beginning."

This was the defining statement made during International Conference Biodiversity Crisis on Tropical Islands, an oral presentation by Mikaail Kavanagh who is a special advisor of WWF Heart of Borneo Programme and Hans Dols who is a geologist with Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd on the topic of "The Heart of Borneo: Implementation in Brunei Darussalam" which was organised by the Department of Biology, UBD yesterday.

The move will maintain a natural connectivity of various forest types - ranging from the highlands, through the diptero-carp communities and peat swamps to beach forest - that is fast becoming a great rarity throughout the tropical world.

The HoB initiative is a conservation and sustainable development programme aimed at conserving the last large expanse of contiguous forests on Borneo. The HoB area covers 240,000 sq kms of rainforest that straddles the transboundary highlands of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia, and reaches out through the foothills into the adjacent lowlands where there is ecological connectivity.

On February 12, 2007, an historic declaration to conserve the HoB was officially signed by ministers of the three Bornean governments.

An implementation plan will be produced by each government to fast track progress towards specific goals such as the establishment of new protected areas, restoration of damaged forests, expansion of nature based tourism, development of sustainable resource management plans and institutional capacity building.

These three national plans will then be merged to create a tri-country programme that will guide the collaborative effort and help to generate the financial and technical assistance that will be needed for implementation.

With the support of the Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd, the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources is leading the development of a national HoB project implementation framework (PIF) that will form the basis or a road map for realising the vision of HoB in Brunei. The PIF would be drawn up for a period of approximately five months - beginning June 2007 until November 2007 - to plan the overall national approach for Brunei.

Formulating the PIF will involve desk research, field checks and consultations with stakeholders to ensure that the framework will be accurate, effective and in line with national aspirations. The objective of the PIF is to finalise the boundaries, address targets and outputs, programmes and activities, roles and responsibilities as well as funding and institutional responsibilities, to ensure the PIF is in line with the national aspirations through consultation with stakeholders, government, academia, industries, NGOs and others and lastly capacity building in which efforts will be made for the forestry department to spearhead the initiative.

The capacity building activities will include training workshops and travel to other parts of Borneo.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

US navy crew run up Mt Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: American naval officers Lt Katie Baehr, Lt Dan Sweatman and Lt Comm John Anderson had 24 hours to kill and they decided to spend it running up to the top of Mount Kinabalu.

All three, who serve on the destroyer USS Pinckney, which has been on a liberty (rest) stop in Kota Kinabalu since Sunday, made a quick dash up the 4,093m mountain.

They made it to the top in just five hours, when most people made the climb in an overnight trip.

Sweatman, 26, who is also from New York, said they left the Mount Kinabalu base camp at about 7.30am on Monday and reached the peak by 12.30pm.

Continue reading (Incl. pic) at: US navy crew run up Mt Kinabalu

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tourism hub set to lift Sabah real estate

SABAH'S rapid growth as an international tourism destination is fuelling the development of more international-class resorts and other real estate facilities.

If the momentum picks up, there will be more resorts joining the four main ones in Kota Kinabalu now – Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort, Shangri-La Dalit Bay Resort, Sutera Harbour Resort and Spa, and Nexus Resort Karambunai.

Sabah is blessed with abundant natural attractions such as Mount Kinabalu (the highest peak in South-East Asia), the world's oldest rainforest and one of the world's best diving spots, Sipadan.

Hotel occupancy rates and room rates have already been showing impressive growth in the last two years.

According to Karambunai Corp Bhd chief operating officer Datuk Robin Loh, most of the 5-star hotels register year to-date occupancy rates in the high 70% and will be overbooked during the peak season.

Continue reading at: Tourism hub set to lift Sabah real estate

Sarawak Regatta site to lure in more foreigners

KUCHING: Organisers of the Sarawak Regatta hope to attract more foreign participants to the event following the launch of its website.

State Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh said last year’s regatta saw teams from Dubai, Kalimantan, Brunei and Singapore taking part.

“We look forward to their participation this year and we hope that the website will be able to attract more participants from around the region,” he said when launching at the state assembly building here recently.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Regatta site to lure in more foreigners

Buffalo races cap Sarawak's Babulang Festival

LIMBANG: Buffalo races were the highlight of the Babulang Festival, celebrated by Sarawak’s Bisaya community at Batu Danau here.

Twenty-five buffaloes and their riders took part in five races last Saturday, including a straight race and a two-lap race for small and large buffaloes, and a relay.

There were hilarious moments when several riders fell off their mounts and some buffaloes running in the wrong direction.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Buffalo races cap Sarawak's Babulang Festival

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Poring hot spring worth the drive

By Dwi Abdullah

The Poring Hot Spring proved to a be a worthy visit despite the long drive from Bandar Seri Begawan which took us six hours to reach Kota Kinabalu, then another three hours to cover 128 kilometres before reaching the tourist attraction.

Homing in after about an hour, we reached Kinabalu Park, the home of the world's most diverse flora and fauna. Another one hour passed before we reached the hot springs and we were surprised to find that we were not the only visitors from Brunei.

We walked along a trail inside tropical lowland rainforest that led us up the canopy walkways, suspended 157.8 metres long and 41 metres high.

The Forest Canopy walkway is constructed high up in the forest top for use by scientists to conduct research.

With magnificent views, tourists can walk on it, seeing new insights into the canopy. On the ground, humans are characteristically regarded as hunters and are feared.

Therefore, animals rarely can be seen. Artificial lighting at night is used to observe species not active by day.

We did not take a dip in the sulphuric spring water in an opened Japanese-style bathtub. But many visitors did, which they said has curative properties for skin diseases such as eczema.

A historical description of Poring Hot Spring stated that it was first developed by the Japanese during World War II. Pipes are inserted into several open-air Japanese-style baths.

For visitors with more time, there are graded paths leading through rich, lowland forest to the mountainous rivers, waterfalls and the bat caves.

Visitors often see birds and wildlife along the trail. A playing field and courts for volleyball and sepak raga are also available.

The hot springs' water contain sulphur, which have health as well for skin diseases.

At Poring, one can find the world's biggest flower, the Rafflesia which if you are lucky, can see in bloom.

Also, an orchid garden containing most of the native species, and a butterfly farm are some of the attractions at Poring.

On the way back to Kota Kinabalu, we passed by small towns and scattered villages of the Kundasang Valley where we bought vegetables, fruits and souvenirs to take home.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Maldives eyes joint tourism with Brunei

By Sonia K

The Deputy Minister and Assistant Director General of the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation Maldives, Mr Abdul Hameed Zakariyya and Mr Mohamed Waheed, are in Brunei Darussalam to conduct a familiarisation trip and to discuss joint opportunities within the tourism sector between both countries.

Yesterday, the Deputy Minister and Assistant Director General made a visit to the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) where they were briefed by Sheikh Jamaluddin bin Sheikh Mohammad, Director of Tourism Development under the MIPR. Sheikh Jamaluddin gave them a presentation on Brunei tourism's plans, marketing campaigns and strategies.

He shared with them the historical facts on Brunei - cultural heritage, the modern side of Brunei, the activities available, the sights beyond Brunei and showed pictures to illustrate the pristine stage of Brunei's rainforest. He also talked about Brunei's national airline, Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA).

The Deputy Minister and the Assistant Director General are in Brunei for three days, following the UNWTO Conference held in Kuala Lumpur from June 4 to 6, 2007. During their stay here, they visited several places of interest in the Sultanate.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Saturday, June 09, 2007

MASWings takes over Sabah and Sarawak Rural Air Services in stages from Oct

Kuala Lumpur: The new fully-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), MASWings Sdn Bhd, will take over the Rural Air Services (RAS) in Sabah and Sarawak from its current operator, Fly Asian Xpress (FAX), in stages from Oct 1, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said Friday.

He said MASWings will use the existing turboprop or propeller-driven aircraft currently operated by FAX - seven Fokker F-50s and five Twin Otters - to service the RAS routes.

"The aircraft will be fully serviced to ensure they are fit for operation before being handed over to MASWings. Later, it will look for new aircraft but in the beginning, it will use the existing ones," he said.

Chan was responding to concerns over whether the 12 planes currently used by FAX are fit to fly due to frequent breakdowns and technical problems.

Continue reading at: MASWings takes over Sabah and Sarawak Rural Air Services in stages from Oct

Friday, June 08, 2007

Sights of Sabah


Sabah the Land below the Wind is a beautiful land and actively being promoted as an ecotourism destination. The state has six national parks, one being the Kinabalu National Park which was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2000.

Besides the parks, however, there are several other sites, not along the beaten track but just off the roads. Just a few paces away from the road, into the forest, you may chance upon a clear bubbly stream which comes from a thundering waterfall or you may be walking along the beach at dusk and witness a blazingly glorious sunset.

Even man made sights can be interesting and worth a second glance.

So if you are traveling in the State now, watch out for breathtaking sights.

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites - Sabah Travel and Leisure Guide

ED: One excellent example is the Kionsom waterfalls in Inanam, less than half and hour drive from the City Centre of Kota Kinabalu.

A young man walks along a stream just before Kionsom Waterfalls in Inanam

Envoys get a taste of Sarawak's Gawai

SIBU: Not everyone gets the opportunity to visit a longhouse on his or her first visit to Sarawak.

But Patricio Torres, Chile’s Ambassador to Malaysia, managed to visit not just one but 10 longhouses during Sarawak’s Gawai Dayak, the harvest festival of the Iban community, which is celebrated on June 1 every year.

Russia’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Alexander A. Karahava, who came on the second day of the Gawai, managed to visit four longhouses.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Envoys get a taste of Sarawak's Gawai

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sabah Dragon Boat Race June 17

Kota Kinabalu: The 22nd edition of the Sabah Dragon Boat Race will be held at Likas Bay on June 17.

Jointly organised by the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) and its wholly-owned subsidiary company, Sri Pelancongan Sabah (SPS) Sdn Bhd in collaboration with the Sabah Cultural Chinese Association (SCCA), the event offers cash prizes totalling RM33,000.

There are six categories for this year:

1, Sabah's Head of State Trophy (for international teams and top Malaysian Men team only);

2. Sabah Chief Minister's Trophy (for Malaysian Men teams only);

3. Sabah Dragon Trophy (for Malaysian and International Mixed team);

4, SCCA President Trophy (for Chinese Men members only);

5. SCCA President Trophy (for Chinese Mixed team); and

6. Sabah Tourism Trophy (members in the tourism industry).

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sabah Dragon Boat Race June 17

Bottled lihing to boost tourism in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Twelve years ago, German Herman Scholz came to Sabah as tourist. He has made the state his home since then.

The 37-year-old businessman said he fell in love with Sabah after reading the book Sabah, the Stealer of Hearts when he first arrived and has never looked back.

During his years here, Scholz mastered the native language. He is fluent in Kadazandusun apart from being able to converse in Bahasa Melayu.

Scholz raised many eyebrows at the two-day state level Kaamatan or Harvest Festival celebrations at Hongkod Koisaan in Penampang near Kota Kinabalu last week when he dished out samples of his bottled rice wine or lihing for locals and tourists to taste.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Bottled lihing to boost tourism in Sabah

World Harvest Festival cultural showcase

The Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) hosted the World Harvest Festival (WHF) for the third consecutive year recently.

Besides experiencing the rich cultural heritage of the state’s multiracial communities, visitors were entertained by international groups from Uzbekistan and Lithuania. The latter’s participation further enlivened the celebration in the spirit of brotherhood and friendship.

One of the highlights of the WHF was the highly anticipated re-enactment of the Orang Ulu legend, ‘Belawan Bureing – Hercules of the Keliman River’.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: World Harvest Festival cultural showcase

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Memorable end to Sabah's Kaamatan

FOR a whole month, Sabahans celebrated the Kaamatan festival with pomp and splendour. And the merry-making ended with a big bang in another memorable year.

The grand finale was the Unduk Ngadau or beauty queen contest held at the Hongkod Koisaan hall in Penampang near Kota Kinabalu last Thursday.

The event saw 18-year-old Joanna Sue Henly Rampas beat 36 other contestants to clinch the title.

Joanna, a Universiti Tun Abdul Razak student, impressed the judges in the question and answer session and her ability to converse in English, Bahasa Melayu and Kadazandusun.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Memorable end to Sabah's Kaamatan

Monday, June 04, 2007

Miri’s first oil well stands stately at museum

THE “Grand Old Lady” is no stranger to Miri folk, but for visitors a trip to this oil city in northern Sarawak would not be complete without stopping by to see her.

This “lady” is actually the first oil well to be sunk in Miri.

Located on top of Canada Hill, it provides stunning views over Miri and the sea.

The well was dug on August 10, 1910, and completed on Dec 22 the same year, the first of 624 wells to be commissioned in Miri’s oilfield.

After a remarkable record of 62 years in service and produced over 650,000 barrels of oil, the “Grand Old Lady” was finally decommissioned in Oct 31 1972.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Miri’s first oil well stands stately at museum

Spectacular Weston

WESTON: The craving for the best fishing ground was what first led Eric Tan and friends to Weston, an old laid-back town nestled in mangrove, riverine and gymnostoma swamp forest some miles south of Beaufort.

Fish talk led them to one Haji Jaafar, and soon the group hired a boat for a ride along the Si Jam Jam river.

“I felt the serenity and tranquillity and I knew that there was no turning back,” said Eric, a fishing enthusiast and businessman.

The Weston Association is extensive in bays and estuaries and with it hundreds of proboscis monkeys, various other types of monkeys like the macaque and silver langours, monitor lizards, giant mudskippers, smooth otters, flying foxes and snakes, crocodiles, kingfishers, egrets, eagles, and a whole range of birds and other wildlife.

Continue reading (Incl. pic) at: Spectacular Weston

Friday, June 01, 2007

Kaamatan, Korean style

KOTA KINABALU: Yongho High School, in Gyeonggido Province of South Korea, plans to celebrate the Kaamatan Festival as an annual affair through a youth cultural exchange programme with students in Sabah.

The Koreans, who made their maiden visit here last year, are back this year with 38 students aged between 10-17 years, said Jasmine Lee, an English teacher in the school, which is located about an hour’s drive from the capital of Seoul.

The primary, middle and high school students participated yesterday at the culmination of the month-long Kaamatan celebrations at Hongkod Koisaan by setting up a food stall.

Continue reading (Incl. pic) at: Kaamatan, Korean style