Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Best of Mt Kinabalu: Giddy moments at the Peak

IT is said that one must scale Mt Kinabalu with one’s heart – not one’s feet. If the heart is willing, then the battle to conquer South-East Asia’s highest mountain can be won.

Even the spine-tingling gorges that seem to scream “We’re dangerous… go home!” will not deter you.

The cool highland breeze offers little respite for the splitting headaches that come with inhaling oxygen-thin air. Amid the shortness of breath and groaning muscles, giving up seems to be the sensible thing to do.

Yet, the mighty Low’s Peak that looms above seems to cheer: “C’mon, you can do it!”

Such are the emotional strings that tug climbers who make, or break, Mt Kinabalu year after year. It’s the kind of place that separates the chaff from the wheat.

Continue reading at: Best of Mt Kinabalu: Giddy moments at the Peak

Sabah Tourism arrivals up despite the KKIA upgrade works

Kota Kinabalu: TOURIST arrivals into Sabah are on the upward trend despite the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) being actively upgraded, CM Datuk Seri Musa said.

He said there were 175,288 arrivals up to April this year compared to 161,335 in the same period last year.

"This shows that efforts towards developing the State's tourism sector are starting to bear fruits," he said.

Musa, who is also Finance Minister, said Sabah saw 2.091 million visitors in 2006 compared to 1.828 million in the previous year.

"(So) in view of this positive development in tourism arrivals, those directly involved in the industry must take a proactive approach in fulfilling the needs of our guests," he said.

Continue reading at: Sabah Tourism arrivals up despite the KKIA upgrade works

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sabah has potential to generate RM70 bil from tourism by 2020

By Arman Gunsika

KOTA KINABALU - Sabah has the potential to make RM70 billion from the tourism by 2020. Justifying this optimism, the fact is that tourism and not agriculture is the largest industry in the world and still growing unabated.

Chairman of the Sabah Tourism Board Tengku Datuk Dr Zainal Adlin cited World Tourism Organisation estimates on international tourist arrivals in all countries hitting the 1.6 billion mark by 2020 generating an annual tourist receipt exceeding US$2 trillion or a spending rate of US$5 billion daily.

Just one per cent of that means RM70 billion and Sabah has all the attributes to make it.

"It is a matter of how to harness it sustainably by playing smart and staying focused," he said in his presentation entitled 'Global Tourism Trends - The Challenges and Opportunities for Sabah' at the Swepa Business Convention here.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Agnes Keith’s house: In a hall where history echoes

By Anna Vivienne

Walking into the white colonial style house on top of a gently sloping hill, I felt like I was walking towards a past…my past and the people’s past. For that house look like the houses my father (a carpenter) used to work in for opulent families in the 1960’s.

In those days, the style was vogue and almost everyone who could afford to build a house would make something like that. Even our first house that departed from the palm fronds roof- norm looked like that.

In my village these types of houses are disappearing and most people now live in the uniformed terrace or apartment buildings. So it is understandable that walking into that particular colonial style house, built on a hilltop at Jalan Istana in Sandakan encouraged ‘déjà vu’ or the strongest kind. To me at least.

I believe our tourists will also love to walk through that house, if not for the memories but for the historical value. This house is almost 100 years old although it was damaged during the Japanese occupation and repaired after that.

This house which is taken care of by the Sabah State Museum’s claim to fame is that the author Agnes Keith lived here with her husband, Harry, who was Conservator of Forest and Curator of North Borneo Museum during the time of the British.

The couple lived in that house until they were interned in 1942. After the war the Keiths returned to Sandakan to find the house destroyed. They built a new house in 1946-1947 on the original footprint and in a similar style to the original.

They named this house Newlands and lived there until they left Sabah in 1952. After nearly fifty years of gradual deterioration, first under tenants and then as an empty shell, the house was restored by Sabah Museum in collaboration with the Federal Department of Museums and Antiquities in 2001.

The house is deemed a rare survival of post-war colonial wooden architecture. It was opened to the public in 2004 and is a popular tourist attraction. It contains displays on Agnes and Harry Keith as well as information about colonial life in Sandakan in the 1900s.

Keith’s contribution to the perpetuation of Sabah History is the fact that she wrote three internationally-acclaimed books on Sabah while living in the rebuilt house. She wrote a book about life in North Borneo in the 1930s, which was called "Land Below The Wind". After the war, she wrote "Three Came Home" which dwelled mostly her experience in a Japanese War Camp. Her third book was "White Man Returns".

Anyways, there are several artefacts belonging to the couple there, including photographs of the couple and their children. If you are interested in history and the life of the people during the colonial era, visit Agnes Keith’s house. After that you can enjoy an English Tea at the English Tea Garden nearby.

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

Friday, July 27, 2007

Diving Sites in Sabah

Divers will testify that Sabah’s diving sites are exciting, fascinating and not readily forgotten.

This is especially true for those who managed to take in the marvels of coral gardens, fishes, caverns, turtles and a dugong or two.

A diving spot in Sabah well known in the international diving community is the Sipadan Island. It boast diverse marine life and those who have dived there will sing the praises of colourful fishes, corals reefs and other sights that only the marine world can give.

North of this island is another diving site that offers a different world of diving opportunities from most other diving locations.

Here is a macro diving paradise where you will be able to find rare macro-world inhabitants hard to find at other dive sites. It is known as one of the best muck diving site among the international diving community.

Muck diving is a term used to described diving with restricted visibility especially in shallow sites with sandy bottoms.

The site in question is Kapalai, a water village style resort perched atop a splendid reef that borders the rich and deep Celebes Sea.

Although not far from Sipadan, Kapalai scuba diving itself is completely different.

Kapalai is considered a macrolovers paradise. This does not necessarily mean poor visibility but due to the various interesting inhabitants such as frogfish, blueringed octopus and cuttlefish.

Most dives here are nice and gentle in warm, relatively shallow water, so are perfect for the less experienced, as well as yielding sufficient rewards for experienced divers.

Diving in Kapalai is nice as the gentle sea breezes cool the divers as they come up from the waters.

The chalets there also give them a sense of freedom and comfort while according them the proximity to amazing diving.

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

Three airports in Sabah get Aerodrome Certification

KOTA KINABALU: Three airports in Sabah – the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and the Tawau and Sandakan airports – have been awarded the Aerodrome Certification by the Department of Civil Aviation, making them some of the first airports in the country to be so honoured.

The award certifies that the airports have been audited and meet the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) with respect to facilities, equipment and operational procedures.

The three, plus the Lahad Datu and Labuan airports, have also been awarded MS ISO 9001: 2000 Quality Management System certification by Sirim QAS International.

Continue reading at: Three airports in Sabah get Aerodrome Certification

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival: Reunion of sorts on its 10th year

ONCE again the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong, near Kuching, reverberated to the sound of music during the annual Rainforest World Music Festival recently.

This year, the festival celebrated its 10th anniversary with resounding success.

The organisers brought back many of the best performers of the past 10 years for a reunion of sorts, while ticket sales hit the RM1mil mark as more than 20,000 people packed the festival grounds over three nights.

Groups making their third appearance at the festival included the ever-popular Black Umfolosi from Zimbabwe, Inka Marka from South America, Shooglenifty from Scotland and Aseana Percussion Unit from Kuala Lumpur, while Canadian multi-instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch was appearing for the fourth time.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival: Reunion of sorts on its 10th year

Fun activities lined up for Lawas Regatta 2007

By Rosli Abidin Yahya

Local participants and spectators are expected to participate or witness the Lawas Regatta 2007 on August 17 to 19 with organisers lining up a horde of activities on land, river and sky in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2007 and the nation's 50th Merdeka Day celebrations.

A crowd of over 30,000 are expected in Lawas surpassing the numbers in previous years for the event that will also mark the 45th Anniversary of Independence for the district.

There will be buffalo races, top spinning competitions and concerts, with the regatta to be held along Lawas River and paragliding shows on air in a carnival-like atmosphere.

Besides the regatta and traditional games, there will also be cultural stage performances and competitions which are the part-and-parcel of the celebrations with participants coming from Brunei Darussalam, Labuan, Limbang, Beaufort, Sipitang and other places.

The buffalo races conducted over the last decade are a tradition of Lawas, as are the stamina-sapping Lawas Regatta races.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park: Up close with Sabah’s wildlife

SALES executive Samuel Pur and his family felt great to be close to nature as they walked through Sabah's first zoo, the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.

“I had a wonderful feeling when I walked in the park with the wildlife just nearby in a natural setting,” he said.

Pur, who was with his wife Siti Firhana Dasuki and daughter Sarah, visited the park in a U-shaped valley surrounded by hills, about 25km from Kota Kinabalu during an Open Day recently.

He said it was the first time he saw the Borneo rhino, clouded leopard and otters moving about.

“You get to realise that there are many important animals in our state and realise it is important to preserve these animals in the wild,” said Pur from Long Pasia in Sipitang.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Lok Kawi Wildlife Park: Up close with Sabah’s wildlife

Sabah tourism industry wins national laurels

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sabah tourism industry won six of the 41 awards at the 15th Malaysia Tourism Awards.

Borneo Eco Tours Sdn Bhd’s Mark Louis Benedict won the Best Tourist Guide Award under the Nature Guide’s category, while Touchdown Luxury Yachts Touchdown Holidays (M) Sdn Bhd walked away with the Best Tour Programme Award under the Luxury Tourism category.

Also in the limelight was TYK Adventure Tours Sdn Bhd which won the Best Tour Operator Award under the Innovative category, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort for the Best Indian restaurant category and for service excellence in the five-star resort category, and Kinabalu Pine Resort for the service excellence award under the two-star category.

Continue reading at: Sabah tourism industry wins national laurels

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sarawak's homestay programme to attract more visitors

KUCHING: Sarawak's homestay programme looks set to attract more visitors following the launch of its website and directory.

Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh said the website provided an opportunity for homestay operators to promote and market their packages online to local and international tourists.

"Visitors can now make online bookings and plan their journey to reach the homestay of their choice," he said when launching the website and directory at the Sarawak Tourism Complex here on Tuesday.

Continue reading at: Sarawak's homestay programme to attract more visitors

Kota Kinabalu Jazz Fest: Performers hold first jamming session

KOTA KINABALU: Seasoned musicians and members of the public jammed on stage yesterday at The Atrium, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu in the first of three weekly sessions leading up to Kota Kinabalu Jazz Fest, the first of its kind to be held in the city.

Organised by The Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK), The Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (SPArKS) and Suriagroup, the session allowed amateurs and members of the public to jam on stage with musicians such as Roger Wang (from the duo ‘Double Take’), Professor Hanafie Imam and June Tan (from the Jazzelton Quintet).

The first Jazz festival in Kota Kinabalu will be held at Jesselton Point (formerly the Kota Kinabalu Ferry Terminal) on 11 August 2007 from 6pm to 11.30pm.

The two next jamming sessions will be held on 29 July (Sunday) and 5 August from 3pm to 5pm. Admission is free, and all members of the public are invited to participate or simply to enjoy the music.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Kota Kinabalu Jazz Fest: Performers hold first jamming session

Monday, July 23, 2007

Making Sabah a sanctuary for shoppers

Sabah would inevitably conjure images of the famed Mount Kinabalu and the diving haven of Pulau Sipadan.

There is also the orang utan, Borneo pygmy elephants and the yearly Kaamatan or Harvest Festival of the Kadazandusun community.

Sabah’s tourism promotion efforts have until now largely focused on the state’s nature and cultural attractions.

That is all about to change and Sabah can take its place among the shopping destinations in Asia in about eight months.

Designer brands like Cortina Watch, Guess, BYSI, Southhaven, Edmundser, Bega, Esprit, Hang Ten, Charles and Keith, Royal Sporting House, Elianto, Tomei, Blush and Salabianca are heading to the state capital.

They are setting up shop at the mammoth 1Borneo hypermall that will open its doors come March next year.

Continue reading at: Making Sabah a sanctuary for shoppers

First public aquarium in Sabah at 1Borneo

1BORNEO will house Borneo’s first public aquarium and ocean discovery centre called Aquatica.

Covering an area of some 2,800sq m Aquatica will showcase over 500 marine life species.

For children and teenagers, 1Borneo would feature playgrounds and entertainment centres spread over two floors.

Sagajuta (Sabah) Sdn Bhd managing director Raymond Chan said: “One of our key target markets are teenagers. When they come to 1Borneo, the parents will naturally follow.”

Continue reading at: First public aquarium in Sabah at 1Borneo

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Do You Know: Proboscis Monkey

By Anna Vivienne

The Proboscis Monkey, Nasalis larvatus also known as Longnosed Monkey is a reddishbrown to greyish white in colour. It is the only species in monotypic genus Nasalis.

The monkey’s distinctive trait is the male’s large protruding nose. The purpose of the large nose is unclear, but it has been suggested that it is a result of sexual selection. The female Proboscis Monkey prefers big-nosed male, thus propagating the trait.

Males are much larger than females.

The Proboscis Monkey has a large belly, as a result of its diet. Its digestive system is divided into several parts, with distinctive gut flora, which help in digesting leaves. This digestive process releases a lot of gas, resulting in the monkey’s “bloated” bellies.

A side-effect of this unique digestive system is that it is unable to digest ripe fruit, unlike most other simians. The diet consists mainly of fruits, seeds and leaves.

The Proboscis Monkey is distributed and endemic to the coastal mangrove, swamps and riverine forests of Borneo. It lives in small groups of 10 to 32 animals. Group membership is very flexible, and they are known to move from group to group quite often.

The Proboscis Monkey lifestyle is both arboreal and amphibious, with its mangrove swamp and riverine environment containing forest, dry land, shallow water allowing wading, and deep water requiring swimming.

Like other similar monkeys, the Proboscis Monkey climbs well. It is also a proficient swimmer, often swimming from island to island, and has been picked up by fishing boats in the sea, a mile from shore. While wading, the monkey uses an upright posture, with the females carrying infants on their hip.

Troops have been filmed continuing to walk upright, in single file, along forest trails when they emerge on land, the only non-human mammal, with the exception of gibbons and giant pangolins, known to use this form of locomotion for any length of time.

Due to ongoing habitat lost and hunted in some areas, only about 7000 are known to still exist in the wild in Sabah. In Sarawak, the population of this species has declined from 6500 in 1977 to only 1000 in 2006. The Proboscis Monkey is evaluated as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix I of CITES.

The monkey is know as ‘monyet belanda’ locally. This is due to its large monkey, reddish complexion and huge stomach. Orang Belanda means ‘Dutchman’. Perhaps in the past the first impressions the people had of the Dutch was their huge nose, reddish complexion and their huge belly.

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

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A less direct route in store from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu

Thai AirAsia's direct flight between Bangkok and Kota Kinabalu has been a boon for travellers who have ties between the two cities. But due to the unfavourable load factor the route looks to be discontinued.

AT ABOUT 100m above ground, the battle for domination for the armrest between seat 12b and 12c in the Thai AirAsia flight from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu began just after take off.

The man who unceasingly picked his nose seized control when he plunked his left elbow on the armrest that separated us. I felt constricted sitting on the leather seat of 12b, as my right hand did not have enough elbowroom. As much as I wanted to elbow that man out of Boeing 737, I needed him, however.

Continue reading at: A less direct route in store from Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu

Friday, July 20, 2007

Kota Kinabalu Jazz Fest promises to be world-class affair

The first-ever Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival promises to be a spectacular world-class affair and an opportunity to do your bit for charity at the same time.

Audiences would be entertained non-stop from 6pm to midnight by more than 20 international, national and local musicians performing at the Charity Concert on Aug 11 (Saturday) at the historical Jesselton Point overlooking the idyllic South China Sea.

The five performing groups are Denise Mininfield (USA), Son2nos (Venezuela), Farid Ali (KL), Double Take (Sabah's very own solo fingerstyle guitarist Roger Wang and vocalist, Mia Palencia) and Jazzelton Quintet (comprising June Tan (piano), Professor Hanafie Mohd Imam (bass), Mohd Nizam Attan (violin), Vincent Chin (saxophone and flute) and Mohd Shaun Yazeed (drums)."

The concert will feature internationally-acclaimed artistes like Farid Ali a.k.a. Mr Gambus (Malaysia), vocalist Denise (dubbed live-wire on stage), British-born jazz pianist Asif Pishori and youngest brother Imran (keyboards), and Venezuela's James Vielma (percussion/vocals) who has been involved in Latin Music from a very young age.

The inaugural Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival is jointly organised by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu, Society for Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (SPArKS), Suria Group and Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK).

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu Jazz Fest promises to be world-class affair

Heart of Borneo beats in Brunei

By Suria Rina, Lyna Mohamad and Liza Mohd

The Heart of Borneo vision is fast gaining momentum in the country. The declaration signed in Bali in February this year brought in the commitment of three countries, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia to work together to protect the unique rainforests of Borneo.

Considered to be the key centres of biological diversity in the world, it covers approximately 220,000 square kilometres of equatorial rainforests and numerous wildlife species shared by the three countries.

The Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Dato Paduka Hj Hamdillah bin Hj Abd Wahab stated that the HoB initiative is a big and complex task and it commits three countries to harmonize the implementation of their national efforts to conserve and sustainably manage approximately 240,000 sq km of mainly forested land.

Brunei's part in it will be 58 per cent of its land area, which compared to the total size of the country is the biggest slice of the HoB.

At the First Tri-Country Implementation Meeting on the Heart of Borneo - Three Countries, One Conservation Vision held yesterday morning, Dato Hamdillah noted that Brunei is on track in its commitment towards the Heart of Borneo (HoB) vision and that Brunei is offering itself to become the host of the HoB centre.

Lending support to one of the world's largest conservation and sustainable projects in the world is Brunei Shell Petroleum with a BND$203,000 fund to MIPR that forms part of its funding commitment for the Project Implementation Frame-work of the Heart of Borneo initiative in Brunei Darussalam.

Dr Grahaeme Henderson, Managing Director of Brunei Shell Petroleum at an MoU signing yesterday said that the contribution is central to BSP's mission of sustainable development of the Nations' precious hydrocarbon resources. It has an equally abiding commitment towards protection and preservation of the environment.

"This commitment finds expression in a whole range of internationally-benchmarked policies, practices, standards and controls geared towards environmental sustainability, which we have integrated into our business."

Meanwhile 88 different specimens of rainforest trees were planted yesterday morning at the open area of Jalan Carey, previously a staff residential area for Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP) employees in Kuala Belait.

The initiative will also support the Belait District Office's effort to beautify the district, specifically the area in Jalan Carey, which is a popular jogging and recreation area for residents.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Confirmed MASWings taking over from Oct 1

Kuala Lumpur: MASWings Sdn Bhd (MASWings) takes over the Rural Air Services (RAS) in Sabah and Sarawak from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) from Oct 1, the Transport Ministry announced Thursday.

It also directed that Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which now handles the general maintenance of the Fokker 50 and Twin Otter aircraft that FAX uses for RAS, take over the total fleet management from Aug 1.

This encompasses maintenance, refurbishment, maintenance scheduling, spare parts logistics and maintaining records, the statement said.

Continue reading at: Confirmed MASWings taking over from Oct 1

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Telaga Air in Kuching Set To Be Angling, Maritime Sports Hub

TELAGA AIR (KUCHING) -- Kampung Telaga Air, located some 45 km from Kuching, is set to be a hub for angling and maritime activities with the completion of the RM5.0 million esplanade.

State Legislative Assembly Member for Pantai Damai, Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, said Telaga Air is an ideal location for angling and maritime sports as it is located near the sea apart from being in the vicinity of a fishing village.

"We are confident that this facility (expected to be completed by the end of 2008) will provide the opportunity for local folks to get more income as they can provide boats for hire to tourists," he told Bernama here recently.

Dr Abdul Rahman said so far Kuching and its fringes have neither fishing port or jetty suitable for maritime and angling activities, unlike that available in Miri or other major towns in Sabah and the Peninsula.

With the completion of the esplanade at Telaga Air, enthusiasts of maritime sports like angling, scuba-diving and sailing would have a hub in south Sarawak.

Continue reading at: Telaga Air in Kuching Set To Be Angling, Maritime Sports Hub

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sibu to have new RM60 mil tourism icon

Sibu is to have a new tourism icon soon in the form of a sprawling Chinese temple complex costing some RM60 million at km26 Sibu/Bintulu Road here.

State Minister of Urban Development and Tourism Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said yesterday the complex, developed by a private investor on a 6.5 hectare site, was now about 70 per cent completed. He said this when launching a 38-seater tourist coach belonging to Metropolitian Travel Services Sdn Bhd, a travel agency of the KTS Group of Companies.

Wong said he was told by the owner during a recent visit that the complex, although catering to those professing the Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian faiths, was also developed as a tourism site, a centre for Chinese heritage rather than a temple.

"It is believed to be the largest if not one of the largest such complexes in Asia. I'm sure that when completed, it will be the new icon for the Sibu tourism industry in particular and for Sarawak as well," he said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

3-star hotel to open in Asia City, Sabah by 2010

KOTA KINABALU: The shortage of hotel rooms in the city is expected to be gradually addressed when the proposed three-star hotel cum multi-storey car park complex under the phase IIB of the Asia City Urban Development project is ready in 2010.

A.C. Property Development Sdn Bhd (ACPD) Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer Dr Ting Ing Chiew said that once completed, the hotel will have 240 rooms inclusive of seven luxurious suites of various sizes.

The hotel will also have a rooftop swimming pool, one of the highest in the city, with a spectacular view of the city and Mt Kinabalu.

Other facilities in the hotel include a coffee house, bar lounge, function rooms, business centre, gym, spa, 600 indoor parking bays and two levels of ballrooms that can accommodate 1,010 guests at any one time, he said.

Continue reading at: 3-star hotel to open in Asia City, Sabah by 2010

Home check-ins for MAS flights

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) passengers can book seats, get tickets and check in from ther home or office once it upgrades its passenger services system at a cost of RM200 million.

By September, the airline will be electronic ticketing (eTicketing) capable, meaning customers can print their tickets and make changes to their travel itinerary online, without having to go to the ticketing offices or travel agents.

“Check in will also be easier as passengers will just have to show their e-ticket numbers as an identification. There will be no more problems over misplaced, damaged or forgotten tickets,” the MAS senior general manager for transition management, Dr Amin Khan, said yesterday.

Continue reading at: Home check-ins for MAS flights

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival: Ticket sales hits magical RM1m mark

KUCHING: History was made at the 10th Rainforest World Music Festival when ticket sales crossed the million-ringgit mark for the first time.

Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said this was the first time that ticket collections had crossed the magical mark.

Ticket sales this year was greatly boosted by on-line purchases. . Last year, ticket sales was about RM700,000.

Tickets were priced at RM80 this year, up from RM60 last year. Three-night tickets were sold at RM200.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival: Ticket sales hits magical RM1m mark

Borneo Cultural Festival: A celebration of diversity

THE Borneo Cultural Festival in Sibu was a celebration of Sarawak’s diversity, showcasing the music, dances and traditions of the state’s ethnic groups.

The week-long festival was made up of a Malay/Melanau festival, Mandarin festival and Dayak festival which ran at the same time.

It also featured three themed nights at the Sibu Town Square - “Beats and Beauty”, “Fusion and Action” and “Hornbill and Heritage”, with cultural performances from various troupes.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Borneo Cultural Festival: A celebration of diversity

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Australian Senator to report Sabah is truly safe

AUSTRALIAN Senator Anne McEwen has pledged to help spread the word among the people there that Sabah is safe.

She gave this undertaking on being told that the Australian Government has issued a travel advisory to its citizens travelling overseas, warning them against visiting Sabah.

"The Australian Government is very cautious in the information given to Australian citizens travelling overseas. It has to be, because there are occasionally problems," she said.

Continue reading at: Australian Senator to report Sabah is truly safe

Mabul Marine Day highlights importance of marine ecosystems

KOTA KINABALU: The Mabul Marine Day will be held from July 15 to 17 this year at the Sipadan Water Village Resort on Mabul Island, off Semporna.

Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman, Tengku Datuk Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahmood told a press conference here yesterday 2007 marked the 10th anniversary of Mabul Marine Day, an environmental awareness programme held annually on the island to heighten awareness on the importance of the marine ecosystems.

Once a year at least, the people can be educated through informative programmes such as the Mabul Marine Day.

Various environment education programmes have been lined up for divers, school children and the local community such as coral transplanting, sea and beach clean-up, talks by marine scientists, drawing competition and snorkelling activities.

Continue reading at: Mabul Marine Day highlights importance of marine ecosystems

Sabah's bid to revive Aussie flight

Ranau: Sabah has set its sights on reviving the direct flight service between Australia and the State.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said this would be among the objectives of a tourism delegation from Sabah which he would leading to Australia on a promotional campaign soon.

The delegation comprising Sabah Tourism Board (STB) and Tourism Malaysia officials was supposed to go there this month but the trip had to be postponed due to his busy schedule.

"Nevertheless, we will go there soon to meet with all the tourism players and authorities there to promote SabahÉwhile there we will also seek the revival of direct flights between Sabah and any major town in Australia," he said. Previously there used to be direct flights between Sydney and Kota Kinabalu provided by the Australian airline, but it was stopped due to insufficient load.

Continue reading at: Sabah's bid to revive Aussie flight

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Culture and adventure in Sabah

AS we blazed our way through north Sabah and Labuan, we were stunned by the breathtaking landscape, the flora and fauna, intriguing cultures and different peoples that made our trip a thrilling experience.

The cultural extravaganza and adventure tour themed Mansau Ansau 3 (or sojourn in Kadazan-Dusun language) was organised by Tourism Malaysia in conjunction with Sabah Fest (May 3-4) and the closing of the Water Festival in Labuan in May.

Sabah Fest offered a rare view of all the ethnic groups of the State and a chance to share their music, songs, dances, arts and crafts.

The trip also took us to remote parts like Sungai Klias at Kuala Penyu where we cruised along the river to look for the elusive proboscis monkey. We looked like wet monkeys ourselves! But the heavy drizzle did not dampen our moods.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Culture and adventure in Sabah

Sarawak boosts historical landmarks

KUCHING: Sarawak has identified 19 historical buildings, monuments and sites to be added to its heritage list, Sarawak Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh said.

He said the state Cabinet approved the additional sites to the existing 70 last month and they were being gazetted.

The buildings include the Tua Pek Kong Temple which was built in 1770, Bishop’s House (1848), St James’ Church in Quop (1865), St Thomas Secondary School (1885), St Joseph’s Secondary School (1894), the Chinese Chamber of Commerce (1912) and a “baruk” or Bidayuh headhouse in Kampung Opar (1952).

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak boosts historical landmarks

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Maliau Basin hopes to attain World Heritage status

TAWAU: The existence of the mysterious Maliau Basin, located in the south of Sabah’s central region, came to light in 1947 when a pilot almost crashed the light aircraft he was flying, into a steep slope in that area.

Since then, many attempts have been made to venture into this thickly forested and mist shrouded area but all were futile.

Only in 1981, a group of Sabah Foundation surveyors who used a helicopter, managed to venture into this basin.

The basin which is about 58,840ha wide is a unique in the sense that it is shaped like a huge volcanic crater.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Maliau Basin hopes to attain World Heritage status

Rainforest World Music Festival: Bands start to fly in for weekend of global rhythms

The place to be this weekend is the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong, where The Rainforest World Music Festival will take place.

The event which is being organised by the Sarawak Tourism Board will kick off on Friday and end on Sunday.

It will feature 20 bands performing diverse musical styles.

A spokesman for the board said some of the acts like Randy Raine-Reush from Canada and Tarika Be from Madagascar, had arrived in Kucing. They two will be performing on Friday night.

The last band expected to fly in for the festival is the Foghorn String Band from the United States.

Most of the bands are making a return to the festival, which is in its 10th year.

Continue reading at: Rainforest World Music Festival: Bands start to fly in for weekend of global rhythms

15,000 tickets sold for Rainforest World Music Festival

KUCHING: Ticket sales for the Rainforest World Music Festival this weekend have already hit the 15,000 mark with more expected to be snapped up.

Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive Gracie Geikie said ticket pre-sales this year had surpassed that of last year when 11,000 tickets were sold prior to the event.

She added that the RM200 three-day pass had sold out but one-day passes, priced at RM80, would be available for sale at the entrance of the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong, where the three-day festival, starting Thursday, will be held.

Continue reading at: 15,000 tickets sold for Rainforest World Music Festival

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Do You Know: Monkey Cups

By Anna Vivienne

The Nepenthes or Monkey Cups grow in many parts of South East Asia but the greatest diversity is available on Borneo and Sumatra. There are many endemic species in these two locations. Many of these plants thrive in the lowland where it is hot and humid, but most grow in montane areas.

A few are found in alpine areas. The Monkey Cup, called ‘Kukuanga’ in some Kadazandusun dialect has shallow roots and climb on other plants around it. It can grow to several metres long. The petioles that look like a leaf ends in tendrils are used to grip on to other plants nearby. The tendrils will end in a nub that develops into a pitcher.

This pitcher will expand to form a tube like container that acts like a trap for its food. Food for pitcher plants includes insects and small animals like rodents. One of the most famous Nepenthes found in Sabah is the Nepenthes Rajah. It is believed to be the largest pitcher plant and different from the others in that it is a shrub. They are found in Mt Kinabalu and Mt Tombuyukon.

It is believed that Nepenthes of the Nepenthaceae family contains about 80 to 100 species.Other species found in Sabah are Nepenthes albomarginata, albomarginata ampullaria, bicalcarata, edwardsiana, fusca, gracilis, lowii, mirabilis, rafflesiana, reinwardtiana, tentaculata and villosa.

In the 60’s, large ‘Kukuangas’ were found in our background, even in my village in Inanam. There were as large as two hands. Some of the children then liked to take the sticky substance inside the cup and oil their hair with it. It is supposed to help hair growth and darken it.

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

Conquering Mt. Kinabalu 50 times in 50 days

RANAU: Utusan Malaysia photographer, Mohd Noor Mat Amin, set off to create a new record yesterday by climbing the majestic Mount Kinabalu 50 times in as many days or less.

The 40-year old photographer, who was a member of Malaysia-Everest project in 1997, was flagged off on his solo quest for excellence by Kota Kinabalu City Mayor Datuk Illyas Ibrahim at Timpohon Gate about 9 am.

The Terengganu-born Mohd Nor said he hoped that his feat would help to draw interest among local and foreign tourists to visit the country, particularly to climb the highest peak in Southeast Asia at 4,095 metres above sea level.

Continue reading at: Conquering Mt. Kinabalu 50 times in 50 days

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sarawak’s first five-star beach resort and spa to open in August

KUCHING: Sarawak’s first five-star beach resort and spa is set to open in Santubong here in August.

The Damai Puri Resort and Spa was originally scheduled to open early this month in time for the Rainforest Worl d Music Festival at the nearby Sarawak Cultural Village.

"However, due to unforeseen circumstances, including additional work to be done and the ordering of additional materials locally and from overseas, there’s been some delays and we’re now targeting August for our soft opening," the resort’s general manager Fritz J. Klug said recently.

Continue reading at: Sarawak’s first five-star beach resort and spa to open in August

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival - East-bound sound

The festival that brings together musicians from all continents and puts Sarawak on the world map is back.

A custom that the Rainforest World Music Festival has managed to cultivate is in bringing back music lovers who have attended the festival held at the foothills of Mount Santubong in Sarawak again and again.

Not surprisingly, in conjunction with the Rainforest World Music Festival’s 10th anniversary, bands that have performed here before are making a return to celebrate the occasion.

One such band is Mas Y Mas, based in Britain, that plays Latino-Flamenco/Afro-Cuban dance music. The last time it was here was in 2004 when the members wowed the audience with sounds from the Spanish guitar, a 100-year-old double bass and congas, just to name a few exotic instruments.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival - East-bound sound

Booming tourism versus sustainable environment in Sabah

KUALA PENYU: Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman has pointed out that the booming tourism industry in Sabah should not in any way compromise the environment.

He said the growth of the industry should be made sustainable by balancing it with environmental conservation.

“While the industry players are all racing to make profits in tourism, I hope they will not sacrifice the environment in the process.

“It is important that as we all work towards promoting the growth of tourism in the state, we also look after the environment at the same time,” he said.

Sabah’s flora and fauna was an important factor in attracting tourists to the state and must be protected so that more people will come to visit, he added.

He warned that if destinations popular with tourists coming to Sabah become polluted, then tourism will fail and the state will lose an important source of income.

Continue reading at: Booming tourism versus sustainable environment in Sabah

Sarawak imposes tougher restrictions on eco-tourism projects

MIRI: In an effort to ensure that virgin jungles in Sarawak are left undisturbed as much as possible, the state government has imposed higher levels of restrictions to limit the number of new eco-tourism resort projects statewide.

It is now ‘extremely difficult’ to secure licence from the state government to open up virgin jungles for building of tourist-resorts and hotels, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam.

“We (state government) have received many applications for permits from people who want to open up forests for building resorts and accomodation facilities to attract tourists.

Continue reading at: Sarawak imposes tougher restrictions on eco-tourism projects

Tourism Ministry working hard to get tourists to stay longer in Sabah

SANDAKAN: The Tourism Ministry is working hard to get tourists to stay longer in Sabah, especially in the east-coast towns like Sandakan.

Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the abundance of potential tourism products in areas such as Sandakan and Tawau would be developed for the purpose.

The ministry would meet hotel operators, tour agencies and tourist guides to discuss the matter, he told reporters after opening the Sandakan Harbour Square International Hotel and Shopping Complex here Saturday night.

Continue reading at: Tourism Ministry working hard to get tourists to stay longer in Sabah

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Kota Kinabalu airport upgrade leads to cancellation of 60 chartered flights

KOTA KINABALU: The upgrading of the international airport here has forced the cancellation of 60 international chartered flights to Sabah.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said that there was nothing much they could do about it but wait for the upgrading of the KKIA project to be completed by 2009.

"Most of these charter flights bringing tourist, prefer to land late nights but they cannot do so because of works at the airport," he said, adding that he would try and see what can be done to assist the state tourism players on this matter.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu airport upgrade leads to cancellation of 60 chartered flights

Making Sabah wildlife park a must-see

Kota Kinabalu: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun is appealing to tourism players here to include the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in their promotional efforts on Sabah. He called on tour agents in Sabah to make the Wildlife Park a "must stop destination" for tourists, as it is one of the largest wildlife parks in the country.

"I will be meeting up with all tour and travel agents soon to get their consent on including the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in their city tour package for tourists.

In fact, I feel it is appropriate to forward such suggestion to them as it only takes 15-20 minutes to reach the park located about 15-25km from here. It is very near from the heart of the city," he said at a press conference at the official "Open Day of Lok Kawi Wildlife Park" on Saturday. Head of State, Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah, will officially launch the park at a later date.

Continue reading at: Making Sabah wildlife park a must-see

Sarawak carrying out wide-scope of research on orang utan

KUCHING: Sarawak, which has taken a lead role in orang utan conservation work, is carrying out a wide-scope of research on the "wild man of the forest'' in Borneo.

The recently established Conservation Centre of Excellence for Orangutan Research is spearheading the comprehensive studies that cover the endangered species' behaviour (reproduction, diet, foraging, vocalisation and nesting), its ecology, population enhancement, habitat improvement and rehabilitation programmes.

Other activities are to compile an inventory of orang utan population, DNA studies, zoonotic diseases, visitors' impact study and eco-tourism programme.

Sarawak Forestry said the Conservation Centre of Excellence set up early this year in Nanga Delok, n the Batang Ai National Park in Sri Aman Division, had a research adminstration station to provide various facilities, like a research laboratory, telecommunication installations and accommodation for researchers.

Continue reading at: Sarawak carrying out wide-scope of research on orang utan

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Borneo Cultural Festival - Cultural gateway to Sarawak

By Catharine Goh

Last month (June), many visitors from throughout Borneo and further a field thronged Sarawak's riverine town of Sibu, along the mighty Batang Rajang, for week-long festivities.

In fact the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC), which organised the annual Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) 2007 held from June 30-July 7 was optimistic it would promote Sibu as the gateway to the central region of Sarawak. Being part of the variety of events in the Sarawak tourism calendar, it promised to be a showcase of the rich ethnic culture unique to Borneo Island.

Following previous years' success, the local community in Sibu was pleased to bring an even bigger range of events to entice those keen to experience the rich variety of cultural activities as well as business prospects at the Trade and Exhibition.

The annual cultural festival, which was first held at the Sibu Town Square in 2002, has since seen hundreds of local talents featured through a fabulous week-long event packed with great Borneo bands, dancers, plays, food, games and handicrafts.

Visitors to the BCF would be able to sample a scrumptious medley of traditional local delicacies, including the Dayak "Manok Pansuh" or chicken cooked in bamboo, the Melanau "umai", a spicy dish of raw marinated fish, and the Foochow signature bun, "Kompia", at the food fair at down-to-earth prices.

For entrepreneurs, the Trade and Exhibition Expo, opened by Sarawak Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Sri Wong Soon Koh on June 22, was an added attraction as it was an ideal platform to showcase their products at 185 stalls.

It also gave the opportunity to have the region's products and services be placed in front of thousands of prospective customers from the central region of Sarawak across a span of 16 days at this expo, which started earlier than the BCF proper this year.

Many foreign tourists also converged on Sibu for the Second International Borneo Tattoo Convention from June 29-July 1.

The convention held at the Bukit Aup Park, formerly known as the Jubilee Park and about 20 minutes drive from the town centre here, brought together acclaimed tattoo artists from all over the world, as well as, local talents to highlight the art of tattooing through traditional performances in music and dances and tribal peace offerings to the spirits.

However, visitors who sought souvenirs could also find interesting indigenous handicrafts, traditional clothing and accessories, beadwork, embroidery and floral arrangement from skilled artists and craftsmen selling and demonstrating their unique products.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Maliau Basin - Priceless Treasures In The lost World Of Sabah

TAWAU -- The existence of the mysterious Maliau Basin, located in the south of Sabah's central region, only came to light in 1947 when a pilot almost crashed the light aircraft he was flying, into a steep slope in that area.

Since then, numerous attempts have been made to venture into this thickly-forested and mist-shrouded area but all proved futile.

But in 1981, a group of surveyors from the Sabah Foundation, flying in a helicopter, managed to venture into this basin.

About 58,840 hectares wide, the Malau basin is shaped like a huge volcanic crater.

Situated 40 km north of the Sabah-Kalimantan border, the basin has its own eco-system as well as various biological life form found nowhere else in the world.

As there is no evidence that "treasure-seekers" had ventured into this area, the basin is still free from mankind's destructive intrusions.

Continue reading at: Maliau Basin - Priceless Treasures In The lost World Of Sabah

Images of the Sarawak heartland

IT TOOK two years for former business journalist Bob Teoh to come up with the photo essay titled Between Two Rivers that is being featured in a month-long exhibition.

Teoh, who has been taking photos since his early school days after receiving a camera as a birthday gift from his parents, said during his working days, a friend had suggested that he visit Lumbawang in Ba’ Kelalan as it was a beautiful place not known to many.

"I went there and discovered that what my friend had told me was true – it was so beautiful. I promised myself then that I would return to take photos of the place," said Teoh, 59.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Images of the Sarawak heartland

Tourism industry in Sarawak affected by rural flight woes

By George Francis

MIRI - Intensive campaigns must be carried out to increase tourist arrivals to Sarawak's nature attractions following flight woes of rationalisation exercise since August 1 last year, said Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim.

"The Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has to work on a recovery strategy with our counterparts and from my ministry to bring back tourists," he said after meeting with tour operators here.

He predicted once a new airline system takes over the Rural Air Service (RAS), it would take another six months to a year for the tourism sector to get back on its track.

He said the operators complained about flight cancellations and uncertainties, and about public criticisms against the RAS provided by Fly Asian Express (FAX).

Lim also made a trip to Mulu National Park - a world heritage site - with MPs and senators from the peninsula to have a first-hand knowledge on the state's tourism products.

The Mulu Resort also complained of its two years' profit all gone because of flight woes.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Monsopiad Cultural Village

By Anna Vivienne

Monsopiad Cultural Village is a small enclosure in Kg Terawi Penampang about half an hour drive from Kota Kinabalu. The village is built nearby a river, that flows lazily through; its bank overgrown with tall grass, bamboos and various types of shrubs. Within the enclosure, there are several huts that house artifacts unique to the Kadazan people of Penampang.

As soon as you pass the main gate you will see a house that is built of bamboo, wood and thatched with sago palm leaves. Upon entering this house, you will see a kitchen used by the people in the past, as well as cooking utensils.

Go down behind this house and you will see utensils for pounding rice. Visiting Kadazandusuns will definitely have a feeling of déjà vu when they see these implements of yore.

Take a walk behind this house and you will find an open space, where one lone house stands. On the compound, you will see a sago processing ‘plant’. I mean really. The sago pith is placed on a dais with a grater on top. In the past the sago pith was grated finely and pressed for its sago. The sago is eaten as supplementary food; made into an edible gummy substance called ‘nantung’ or ‘ambuyat’, dried fry on a wok like a pancake and many others.

The pith when unused is also allowed to rot. When it starts to rot a certain type of beetle will lay eggs on it. These eggs grow into large grubs called ‘butod’ and are considered a delicacy by the Kadazandusuns.

Some traditional games utensils are also available there, such as ‘rampanau’.

There is a nice house located in this area. This house boasts ceramic jars, sets of gongs and cooking implements.

Awad Bajerai, the Operations Manager says the house is very basic but if anybody wants to stay there and experience the ambience of a Kadazan village, they can stay for a night.

“We cannot accommodate too many people though, maybe a couple at any one time,” he stresses, adding that his staff have to be informed a couple of days in advance though.

A few months ago, I was in West Malaysia, visiting an off-spring. Needless to say, I toured with her to her many in-laws (!) all the way from Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Melaka. In every visit they would ask about Sabah.

One of the questions posed was about head hunting and if they can see the mementoes of the ancient custom. I enthusiastically told them about the village and the House of Skulls.

The House of Skulls, is where all 42 ‘trophies’ or heads won by the warrior Monsopiad during his heyday. They hang from the rafter of a house which is cared for by one of the warrior’s descendent Dousia Moujing.

If you are not familiar about Monsopiad, the warrior, well, it is said that Monsopiad lived in this area a long time ago, maybe about three hundred years ago. He was bestowed with special powers when he was a baby.

Actually he was born in a village, called Kuai, which often became a victim of plunderers due to insufficient warriors. Monsopiad took the challenge and with three boys, he sought out the robbers. A battle ensued when he found them and Monsopiad managed to behead the leader, witnessed by the three boys.

He was later given a warrior welcome. The village was later named after him. The rest is history, so they say. You can get the full unabridged version from documentaries on Monsopiad in the village.

To ensure that this legend does not die down, Awad and his colleagues, is ensuring its perpetuity through tourism. Interest by youth in Monsopiad will be kept alive through the cultural village while ensuring that tourists get an in sight in the people’s ancient way of life.

Nowadays, visitors will be treated to cultural dances such as the Sazau Penampang and warrior dance Angalang/magunatip as well as a tour of the village.

So get your tourists and friends to visit the village, the experience will surely be exhilarating for them.

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

Ministry hopes to turn Moyog River into tourist attraction

KOTA KINABALU: The Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry hopes to turn the Moyog River into a tourist attraction with activities like scenic boat rides along the river.

But first, said its minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, the river has to be cleaned of its unsightly rubbish.

“Moyog River was once a beautiful river, with scenic views on both sides of its banks. We would like to develop the river for river cruises but only if it is clean,” he said.

Continue reading at: Ministry hopes to turn Moyog River into tourist attraction

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sarawak delights

VISITORS to Sarawak shouldn’t miss the chance to have a bowl of laksa Sarawak, bihun belacan or kolo mee. In fact, some regular visitors make a beeline for their favourite stalls or restaurants as soon as they get off the plane.

People from West Malaysia are slowly learning to appreciate these three Sarawak specialties.

These items are usually sold in family-operated businesses and you’d often find two or three generations working together.

Continue reading at: Sarawak delights

Mission to rescue tourism in Sarawak and Sabah

MIRI: The ongoing rural air services crisis in Sarawak and Sabah has brought about a near-collapse of the rural tourism industry in these states, and the Government must avoid another such debacle, said Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim.

Lim, who was in northern Sarawak with MPs, senators and tourism board officials to check on the ground situation, was shocked to find tour agencies, motels and resort operators, and local tourism-related players in Mulu National Park on the verge of “closing shop” after suffering two years of financial losses because of the flight woes.

Continue reading at: Mission to rescue tourism in Sarawak and Sabah

Monday, July 02, 2007

Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary - Birth of a sanctuary

SANDAKAN: A prolonged dry spell in 1997 and the resultant lack of food impelled proboscis monkeys to venture out from their natural habitat.

In their desperation to search for food, some of the monkeys encroached into the workers’ quarters of an oil palm plantation belonging to Lee Weng Hing, now famous for the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary he created on the site, at mile 19 from the town.

“The proboscis monkeys come here by chance… it was during a dry season in this area and they had no food to eat,” said the general manager of the sanctuary, Sean Lee Vui Vun, the son of Lee Weng Hing.

“The plantation belonged to my father and together with my uncle Michael Lee, they actually wanted to clear the forest for the cultivation of oil palms,” Sean recalled.

“Actually, at that time, some 900 acres of the land had been planted with oil palm and when we wanted to reclaim the mangrove area which is about 470 acres, we discovered that it was the natural habitat of the proboscis monkeys,” he said.

Because of this, he said his father decided not to disturb the area and turned it into a reserve area to protect proboscis monkeys, now estimated at about 300.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary - Birth of a sanctuary

Royal Brunei Airlines to introduce Boeing 777

By Za'im Zaini

Royal Brunei Airlines will be acquiring Boeing 777 extended range aircraft on lease, with the first due to arrive in the third quarter of this year.

The B777 aircraft, to be used on the long-haul routes to Europe and Australia, will vastly improve RBA's capabilities by offering a higher passenger and cargo load capacity. It will also present the opportunity to operate direct flights to London.

The B777's seat capacity of 273 seats is significantly higher than the current Boeing 767's capacity. It will have a three-class configuration, encompassing Royal Executive Class with 12 seats, Darussalam Class with 46 seats and an Economy Class with 215 seats. The introduction of the new Royal Executive Class gives premium travellers the opportunity to upgrade to a class that offers "cocoon" flatbed sleeper seats, which provide plenty of space and privacy.

The leased B777 aircraft are an interim solution to the airline's re-fleeting programme. In line with RBA's Strategic Business Plan, it aims to phase out the current Boeing 767 aircraft. Under the re-fleeting programme, RBA will also acquire new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft that have been ordered and are due for delivery in late 2009.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin