Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Lower Kinabatangan Needs a Wildlife Corridor

AS WE ROUNDED UP a corner of the Lower Kinabatangan River, we spotted them. A herd of Borneo pygmy elephants were quietly grazing, barely 7m from our boat, the bull guarding the group, that includede three calves, a short distance away.

We were at Danau Girang, a 10km boat ride from Kg Batu Putih, near the Mile 32 Lahad Datu-Sandakan junction, mixed feelings of excitement and sadness welling within us. For we knew that these majestic pachyderms face an uncertain future if nothing is done soon to curb the encroachment of palm oil plantations all the way to the river bank, thus hindering their movement.

We were a group of journalists and environmentalists on a wildlife expedition to the Lower Kinabatangan through the Nature Conservation Programme under the auspices of the School of Biology and Tropical Studies, Universiti Malaysia Sabah. The 31-member team was headed by Datuk Rajah Indran, the programme’s adviser.

The 560km-long Kinabatangan River is home to such endangered species as the Borneo pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, orangutans, hornbills, clouded leopards, sun bears and Sumatran rhinoceros.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: The Lower Kinabatangan Needs a Wildlife Corridor

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Donnavventura's cultural snapshots

Joining the local community in a dance
Benedetta Delogu posing with Kampong Ayer as the backdrop

Walking on a jetty at the Water Village

Group photo at Goh Hock Kee Motors showroom

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Azrol Azmi and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.

By Lyna Mohamad

As part of their Asian tour, the Donnavventura visit to the Sultanate to promote "Brunei Eco-tourism" to television viewers in Italy not only provided them with an informative adventure and a taste of the local culture but also fond memories during their brief but busy trip.

The team arrived last Monday to a warm welcome at the Sg Tujoh Control Post and toured numerous places of interest to learn about the culture and people of different ethnic groups.

The team made quick stops at the Billionth Barrel Monument and Tasek Merimbun, the largest lake in the country, and met with the Dusun community there.

Among the landmarks they saw in the capital were Masjid Jame Asr' Hassanil Bolkiah in Kiulap, Kampong Ayer, Istana Nurul Iman and Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque.

They continued their adventure in Temburong District for a visit to Batang Duri and a longhouse as well as a "Temuai" ride down the river to Ulu Temburong National Park where they spent the night in a chalet.

The six Italian adventurers, Silvia Spalvieri, Elena Papuzzo, Stefani Donati, Chiara Babilani, Elisa Grazzini and Benedetta Delogu will share their experiences on Brunei's culture and traditions, particularly the MIB philosophy, with viewers of the highly-rated Italian television series "Donnavventura".

Joint organisers, Brunei Tourism Board and Goh Hock Kee Motors, have done a great job in making the Donnavventura visit run smoothly and showed how the government can cooperate with the private sector in promoting Brunei to the world.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Climbing Mount Kinabalu in 12hrs

The five successful hikers who
conquered Mt Kinabalu in 12 hours

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to MKL and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.


Can you climb Mount Kinabalu in one day - let alone do it in 12 hours?

But for a very physically and mentally fit person it is indeed a joy ride. With great determination 17 hikers accepted the challenge to conquer Mount Kinabalu in 12 hours.

On September 1, 2007, at exactly 7.30am, we began the trek and aimed to reach the summit before 12.30pm in order to avoid getting caught up in the heavy mist in the summit.

It was a tall order for one of the hikers, as he had to go back to the starting point before reaching the Laban Rata. In the end only five hikers reached the summit at the time they aimed and the rest only climbed up to Laban Rata where they enjoyed a hearty meal.

By 4.30pm finally all hikers safely returned to the starting point as five who reached the summit eagerly related their experiences during their trek up the mountain.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

YB hails MAS for revising schedule

KOTA KINABALU : Elopura Assemblyman Au Kam Wah has hailed the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) move to finally reinstate and to increase the flights to Sandakan, Tawau and Kudat,describing it as good news for the development of east coast region and the tourism industry of Sandakan especially.

The revised flight schedule will take effect October 1.

In a statement issued in Sandakan on Thursday,Au who is also the Deputy Chairman of Sandakan Tourism Development Committee noted that the said move was confirmed by the Area Manager of MAS Sandakan when contacted recently.

Under the revised flight schedule, MAS will recommence its flight to Sandakan and Tawau with one flight daily and will increase it to two flights daily starting from October 28.

Continue reading at: YB hails MAS for revising schedule

Friday, September 28, 2007

Undersea Giant Clam garden at Gayana Resort

Kota Kinabalu: The new owners of Gayana Resort on Pulau Gaya, Gayana Eco Resort Sdn Bhd, has undertaken an environmental mission to restore the flora and fauna found within its waters.

Education will be a major thrust of the resort's new conservation wing - the Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) - a non-profit marine centre that will provide a platform for marine ecology studies, research and education, said aquatic biologist Alvin Wong, head of MERC.

"Our focus will be on Giant Clam propagation," said Wong. "This threatened mollusc would be intensively propagated at MERC and restocked into waters around Gayana Eco Resort to eventually create an underwater Giant Clam garden," Wong said.

Continue reading at: Undersea Giant Clam garden at Gayana Resort

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sarawak hoping MasWings will boost tourism for state

KUCHING: Sarawak is banking on new airline MasWings to boost its tourism industry.

''We (tourism industry) have suffered a great deal in the past year. I am sure MasWings will do its best to improve the situation because a lot of our eco-tourism products are rural-based,'' said state Tourism and Urban Development Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh.

He said Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud was scheduled to launch MasWings' inaugural flight from Miri to Mulu on Monday.

MasWings will take over the rural air services in Sabah and Sarawak from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX). It will operate nearly 200 flights weekly in the two states and between them using Fokker aircraft and Twin Otters. The airline is expected to be fully operational by December.

Continue reading at: Sarawak hoping MasWings will boost tourism for state

More than 60 Spanish journalists, travel writers to visit Sabah

KUALA LUMPUR: The Tourism Ministry will boost its marketing strategies to woo more Spanish tourists to Malaysia as the European country is a growing and important market for Malaysia to pursue.

“We’re very keen to promote local tourist destinations to visitors from Spain,” its secretary-general Datuk Dr Victor Wee said at the opening of the 18th Federation of Spanish Tourism Journalists and Tourism Writers (Fepet) International Congress here yesterday.

He said bilateral relations had been enhanced with the announcement by the Spanish government on the setting up of its Asean Business Centre in Kuala Lumpur to intensify investment activities in Malaysia and the rest of Southeast Asia.

Malaysia received 10,649 Spanish tourists in the first seven months of this year.

Continue reading at: More than 60 Spanish journalists, travel writers to visit Sabah

Kingwood Hotel Mukah project takes off

MUKAH: The Proposed Kingwood Hotel Mukah project was officially launched with the earth-breaking ceremony yesterday morning performed by Datuk Haji Mohammad Tufail Mahmud, chairman of The Sarawak Company (1958) Sdn Bhd and Kingwood Hotel Mukah.

That auspicious event was held at the proposed hotel’s site, strategically located in the vibrant and bustling Medan Setia Raja Commercial Centre. The centre has over 100 units of 3-storey shophouses and food courts fronting the majestic Boulevard Setia Raja, Mukah.

Among those present at the event were Mukah Deputy Resident, Dr Anthony Valentine Laiseh, Mukah District officer, Mohammad Nawawi, Dalat/Mukah District Council, Walikota, Ali Suhaili, Group Managing Director of Kingwood Group of Companies, Hii King Chiong, Hock Peng Organisation Deputy Managing Director, Kapitan Dr Francis Toh Chiew Peng, Penghulu Ting Kee Kuan, Pemanca Haji Shamsuddin Haji Hossien, Kingwood Resort Mukah, Henry Tiong and local community leaders.

The proposed new hotel would be a three-star hotel. The building would be five storeys high and would feature modern architecture.

Continue reading at: Kingwood Hotel Mukah project takes off

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Eating Out in Sabah - Seri Selera

By Anna Vivienne

RECENTLY a friend from West Malaysia called to ask me where he and his family could dine on good and fresh seafood.

I immediately recommended Seri Selera located at Kg Air in Kota Kinabalu, The food there is served in time, it is fresh as to be almost still kicking and the waiters promptly arrive to present the bills upon request. That is the epitome of efficiency, the desires of most diners, be it in posh glitzy restaurants or in backstreet coffee shops. And of course sampling delicious grilled seafood and dumplings, oyster omelets and sushi, all served in one location is the dream of gourmands.

Seri Selera offers a wide selection of seafood from six restaurants, offering Chinese, Malay and other Asian seafood cuisines. This means you can choose your seafood from six shops. The number of shops also ensures that customers get what they want. Since not everyone agrees on one type of food items or cooking, they can opt to order something else besides the main dish.

Customers can choose their food live from the glass tanks located around the shops; fish, lobsters, clams and prawns as well as crabs. Choose your vice and you will get it fresh from the tank onto the wok, literally speaking. This ensures that the crustaceans do not have a chance to start decaying. From the tank to the wok, literally. They could not be fresher.

Besides the six seafood restaurants, there are 21 hawker stalls offering a wide variety of other food. From these stalls you can pick char kway teow, prawn noodles, fried noodles curry laksa, satay, dumbplings barbecued chicken wings, oyster omelets and rice as well as a personal favourite, grilled seafood. And of course there is the veritable sushi.

While dining, patrons can enjoy music and cultural performances. From Monday to Saturday starting fr5om 7.30pm, there are live cultural performances held on the stage situated in the middle of the centre. And every Wednesday the Bamboo Orchestra will serenade diners.

The other feature of the whole set up is the central cashier system. This means that you don’t have to wave or call the waiters from the respective restaurants for the bill. You will pay your bill in one area and this ensures efficiency and speed.

The most irritating thing to occur after having a good meal is the lackadaisical attitude of waiters who seem not to see you waving, nor hear you calling to ‘kira!’. Personally I think these types of waiters should be trained intensively and if they are un-trainable give them something else to do, like wash the dishes. They give the food outlet a bad name.

Anyway, in Seri Selera they solved this problem with the central cashier system.

The other irritating feature of some eateries is the clusters of tables. They are so close together that you cannot help but jostle your neighbors as you dine. And of course the waiters have to keep on saying ‘panas-panas’ (hot hot) when they pass you for fear of you jostling them and upsetting whatever it is they are carrying.

There is no fear of this happening at the centre, as it is quite spacious and therefore comfortable to dine in. It is able to accommodate 1200 diners at any one time. It can also be turned into an open air dining area as a retractable roof has been installed. On good clear nights, you will actually dine under the stars.

Some diners may like to watch television while eating. They will not be disappointed as the centre has a perfectly good Astro service. No chances of it being interrupted through power disruption either as there is a stand by generator available.

By the way, the security there is excellent. You will not be bugged by peddlers selling watches, sun-shades and the likes.

Getting interrupted in mid chew by these salespeople can disrupt one’s appetite, especially when even vigorous shakes of the head are not a deterrent.

Overall the centre is a fabulous place to dine as almost all the needs of patrons have been taken into considerations. It is a commendable place to bring tourists who love seafood, as they will not only enjoy the food and the ambience but also the cultural performances.

The director of the centre’s management, Sebumi Magnetik Sdn Bhd, Alex Yong stated that this centre is the largest live seafood venue in Kota Kinabalu and he may well be right.

So if you are at the vicinity at the moment, drop by for food; bring your guests, family and friends there.

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sabah Museum

By Anna Vivienne

Tour guides who are actively involve in taking their guests for tours may have gone to many places in the State; rivers, forests, flowers, water falls, sea, sun, sand and edibles. You may have shown them all of these and you are not wrong in assuming that your guests have seen everything. Almost.

But there is something that you may have left out. The people’s past. A visit to the Sabah Museum is a must, if the guests are to know about the people cultural heritage and the State’s history, culture, social and natural history. In the Museum, you can see them all in one place.

First of all there is the Time Tunnel, a gallery that shows prehistory; through archaeological and antiquity studies.

On exhibit is Stone Age artefacts found in Tingkayu archaeological site and Madai caves. They are believed to be 20,000 to 25,000 years old. These are considered to be examples of the finest stone tools discovered in South East Asia. Human presence have also been detected at the. Baturong, Madai, Gomantong and Tapadong caves.

A replica of the only known prehistoric rock carving in Sabah is also displayed here. This is the Tomani (in Tenom) rock carving.

Folklore has it that it was made by five brothers who expressed their grief in the carving at the death of their youngest brother.

A replica of a cave is also exhibited here. This cave actually seeks to show guests how the caves in Sabah look like. One fine example of functional caves (at least in the past) is the Agop Tulug Caves in Kinabatangan, The Agop Tulug is used to as burial ground in the olden days. Within the caves are carved coffins more than 250 years old.

In fact, the simulated cave at the houses a pair of intricately carved coffins which are two of the old coffins found in the Agop Tulug caves.

Some section of the Time Tunnel shows the evolvement of the State in modern age. There you will be able to see how the State grew from the colonial era to how it is today. This includes the administration during British times, the Second World War, and the independence of Sabah. You will also know how the leaders of yesteryears looked like.

The people’s life in the past is mystical in that there are spirits in every living beings even inanimate subjects like stones, rocks and boulders. They carry out rituals to appease these spirits. In these rituals earthen containers are used.

The rites and rituals are almost gone now, but you can view the vessels that were used in the ceremonies.

A gallery is dedicated to these items; there the various wares that were used are exhibited. The vessels were acquired by barter trade.

In the gallery 14th. - 19th. Century trade ceramics of Vietnamese origin, 17th. - 19th. Century Japanese make, 19th. - 20th. Century European origin and the trade wares of Thailand are exhibited. There are also several ceramics from China. They include ceramics from the Song, Yuan, Late Ming, and Late Qing periods. Burial and dowry jars used by the people are also on exhibit.

Also on display are several ritual jars which are used by the local people for burial and as dowry.

The rich and diverse zoological and botanical heritage of Sabah is also on exhibit at the Natural History Gallery. Preserved local zoological specimens are also displayed.

They include a 2-horned Sumatran rhinoceros, Rheithrosciurus macrotis, the Otter Civet, Moon Rat, Tangalung, Giant Tufted Ground Squirrel, and short-tailed Mongoose.

A gallery is also dedicated to the people of Sabah. Called the Colour, Cloth and Costumes gallery, various traditional attire of the indigenous people of Sabah are on display there.

The traditional costumes, headgear and personal ornaments of the seven main groups of people are shown here. As we all know each group have their own costumes and attires so the exhibition is quite colourful to say the least.

The seven groups represented in the gallery are: Bajau, Kadazan Penampang, Lotud, Rungus, Suluk, Murut and Dusun Tindal.

For an insight of the people’s home, the Sabah Museum Heritage Village sited within the Ethnobotanical Gardens, in the Sabah Museum Complex, is a good place to go. The Village displays replicas of traditional houses which are made up of 11 units of houses of the local communities from various areas in Sabah. A Lepa boat is also sited there. Lepa doubles as a home for the people at Semporna.

The ethnobotanical garden found here consists of herbs and ritual plants used by the people since time immemorial.

The traditional houses there depict the usage of wood and related materials by the people. They show how ingenious the people were in the utilisation of wood and other plant material. I am informed that the houses were built by the relevant ethnic group to ensure authenticity.

To emphasise this authenticity, the houses are furnished with items that were part of the people’s household in the past. They include bamboo water containers, spoons, ladles and various others.

Occasionally activities such as handicraft making demonstrations and sales, cultural dance performances and traditional games are held here. These activities are usually carried out during the month of May, to coincide with the State level Harvest Festival Celebrations.

Any visits by dignitaries and VIPs will usually end at the Heritage Village.

So if you are taking your tourists on a tour of Sabah, treat them like VIPs and end their visit at the Museum.

I am sure they will leave with better and deeper insight about Sabah and its people.

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

Monday, September 24, 2007

Concerns over future of Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary

When we spotted a herd of Borneo Pygmy elephants at the banks of the Lower Kinabatangan river at Danau Girang in Sabah recently, we were overcome excitement and sadness.

We were excited and exhilarated because we had a close look at the giants of this forest, almost face to face at a distance of about 4m.

There were three newborn calves closely guarded by their mothers and gracefully nibbling the green leaves. A bull elephant was guarding the herd a short distance away, watching every movement of the intruders.

However we were sad and worried because such endangered species may soon disappear if corrective measures were not taken quickly, for the forest reserve or the corridor of life at one side of the riverbank had been encroached by oil palm plantations, leaving little room for movement for wildlife.

Such is the scenario witnessed by a group of journalists, environmentalists and non-governmental organisation members when they were taken on a Wildlife Expedition at Lower Kinabatangan through the Nature Conservation Programme under the auspices of the School of Biology and Tropical Studies, Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Concerns over future of Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary

MASWings To Start Operations In East Malaysia From Next Month

KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia Airlines' wholly-owned subsidiary MASWings will start its operations in East Malaysia from beginning next month.

MASWings will take to the skies with two Fokker 50 aircraft flights in Sarawak and Sabah -- flight MH3630 at 9.10am from Miri to Mulu and flight MH3014 at 10am from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, the airline said in a statement today.

It will initially operate with four 50-seater Fokker 50 and four 19-seater Twin Otter aircraft to serve a network of 21 destinations in Sarawak and Sabah as well as Labuan.

Cabin crew services will be available on all Fokker 50 flights.

Continue reading at: MASWings To Start Operations In East Malaysia From Next Month

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Central Sarawak 4X4 Challenge in Bintulu

KUCHING: The first Central Sarawak 4X4 Challenge, an off road adventure sport, will be held in Bintulu between Sept 28 and 30, announced event director Malcolm Jitam of organiser Outdoor Treks Sdn Bhd, at a press conference at Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) office yesterday.

“To-date, 40 vehicles from 4X4 enthusiasts have already confirmed participation with the largest contingent of 12 vehicles representing Sabah. Sarawak is represented by groups from Kuching, Miri and the largest from Bintulu. Competitors from Indonesia and Brunei are also expected,” he said.

Organised in collaboration with Bintulu 4X4 Skill and Adventure and Bintulu Resident Office, this event is listed under Visit Malaysia Year 2007 and is endorsed by the Ministry of Urban Development and Tourism (MUDT) and STB.

According to Malcolm, the event was originally planned for 2006 by STB and Outdoor Treks but due to budget constrains, it was postponed. “Outdoor Treks managed to secure some small seed funding and Bintulu 4X4 Skill and Adventure secured the prizes to make this event possible,” he added.

Prizes worth RM28,000 are up for grabs. The overall champion, who complete the challenge in the shortest time, will receive a cash prize of RM3,000, one set of tyres worth RM2,400, and free entrance fee to the upcoming ‘Heart of Borneo’ Safari 2007 valued at RM1,500.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Central Sarawak 4X4 Challenge in Bintulu

Friday, September 21, 2007

Driving Northward bound from Kota Kinabalu to Kudat

A drive up to the North of the State is a good experience, especially for those who love nature, the country side and the long ride.

The ride starts to be enjoyable as soon as you leave the city centre. The scenery starts to get more picturesque when you pass the University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) area.

This is when you start your drive seriously. As you drive towards Tuaran, you will see quaint villages along the way. At the road side you will see locals selling cockles and shells, as well as coconut. The most interesting item on sale is the roasted coconut (!!!).

The water of roasted coconut is supposed to be good for the heart. Drive on along the Sulaman highway and you will come to a crocodile farm. You can stop by and have breakfast there, and if you have time to kill walk in and look at the 1000-odd reptiles, laying around. You can purchase crocodile meat in the farm as well as leather goods.

As you drive on, you will come to Tuaran. This town ship has a distinctive nine-story Chinese pagoda as a landmark. The tourist attractions in this area are the Mengkabong Water Village and the Penimbawan Water Village, with stilt houses built by the Bajau over the shore.

Every Sunday morning, Tuaran town holds a market known as Tamu locally. Harvests from nearby villages and valleys are brought to the market, such as river turtles, shells, clams and bananas, among many others.

In Tuaran you should not forget to sample Tuaran mee, or ‘noodle of Tuaran’. This is a famous hawker dish of Tuaran.

As you leave Tuaran Township, you will come upon the bridge. From the bridge you can see villages clustered near the river. The water that flows under the bridge is quite sluggish, but it is deep. After leaving the bridge you will travel on the highway onwards to Kota Belud.

Kota Belud is a town located just one hour away from Tuaran. It is a quaint town, used to be called ‘cowboy town’ but it is now fast developing.

The development there can be seen through the construction of new buildings and the establishment of various enterprises. This township is well known for its ‘Tamu Besar’, an annual event that shows off the people’s culture and traditions. During this time, bedecked ponies with their equally colourful ride will take to the field and show off their equally colourful costume.

At that time, jungle and marine produce, as well as handicrafts and food, from all over the area will be displayed and sold in the tamu. Various other activities will be carried out, including sports and tele-match. If you want to taste local food and cakes, the tamu besar at Kota Belud is the best time and place to obtain them.

The Kadazandusun and Bajau is the predominant group in this area.

As you leave Kota Belud, you will notice that houses tend to be located at the roadside. At times the houses seem to near the road for comfort. You may have to be careful when you drive from Kota Belud township right up to the Timbang Menggaris area. This is because the cows there prefer sleeping on asphalt and goats and nannies seem to think that they have a licence plate on their rump.

The scene is beautiful though. This is an area where you can still see the yellowing paddy plants and scare-crow in the fields. As you drive on you will come to a junction where a row of stalls are selling groundnuts and its product. The groundnuts are really sumptuous. Take the left turn as this will take you to Kudat.

Kudat is about 190 kilometers north of Kota Kinabalu. On the west, it faces the South China Sea, and on the east the Sulu Sea.

The ethnic composition is mainly Rungus, a sub-group of the indigenous Kadazan. About 10 of the population is ethnic Chinese, and there are minorities of Bajau, Dusun, Murut, and Malay.

The town was founded by A H Everett of the British North Borneo Company on December 7 1881 to be the first capital of British North Borneo, due to its strategic geographic location.

However, after being repeatedly raided by Bajau, Sulu and Irranun pirates, the capital was shifted to the more secure port of Sandakan, on the east coast.

Since Kudat is the end of the drive, you may want to stay over as there are many interesting sights that you will enjoy in Kudat.

On Sept 8 and 9, the Coconut Festival was held there. There were several activities organised for the occasion.

Anyway, the tamu at Sikuati is one such attraction. This is where you will see various types of food being sold, hardware and many others. There are also sets of gongs for the taking. So check in to Kudat Marina Resort, which will accord you a beautiful sunrise or at Ria Hotel that offer you friendly services.

Among the various local attractions are the Rungus longhouses, gongmaking factory at Bavangazo, where traditional brass gongs and the Honey bee farm at Gombizau.

Or take a walk to Tanjung Simpang Mengayau and enjoy the sea breeze as well as the knowledge that you are at the Tip of Borneo. A fitting end to a driving tour up north.

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

Boost for tourism in Sarawak

MIRI: World heritage site Mulu National Park and other attractions in Sarawak are back on the tourism market following the past year’s problems of connectivity.

International tour agencies operating more than 60,000 Global Distribution System terminals have restored the destinations in Sarawak onto their marketing list.

This follows news that MASWings would be taking over the rural air service sectors in Sarawak (and Sabah) from Oct 1.

“It is indeed very good news for our local tourism industry,” said Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie.

Continue reading at: Boost for tourism in Sarawak

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rural airport tax and security charges in Sabah and Sarawak waived

MIRI: Good news for nearly one million rural folks travelling by air in Sarawak and Sabah.

MASWings, the airline that will take over the rural air service sector from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) next month, has done away with airport tax and security charges for those flying out from rural destinations in the two states.

Both the charges ranged from RM11 to RM50 one-way depending on the sector.

MASWings managing director Dr Amin Khan said the airline took the decision as a social service to rural folks.

Continue reading at: Rural airport tax and security charges in Sabah and Sarawak waived

AirAsia to launch Kuching-Macau route on Nov 15

KUCHING: Budget carrier AirAsia will launch its first international connection from Sarawak when it inaugurates the Kuching-Macau daily flight on Nov 15.

Its Kuching station manager Shanmugamnathan Suppiah said the carrier would add more flights if there was more demand from travellers.

"If the Kuching-Macau flight is a success, we may consider introducing a Kuching-Shenzen route," he said when meeting state Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh on Thursday.

Continue reading at: AirAsia to launch Kuching-Macau route on Nov 15

Art gallery plan in Kota Kinabalu city centre

KOTA KINABALU - All that's left of a colonial building in the heart of the city's financial hub here are its concrete pillars and the floor.

But even in its pathetic condition now, Sabah Art Gallery director Datuk Yaman Mus sees it as an historic centrepiece that deserves attention.

For that, Yaman has made it his mission for nearly 30 years to turn the structure into an art gallery. And it may soon be realised. Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said funds were being sought to rebuild the government-owned structure at a prime lot along Jalan Pantai.

"It is the perfect location for an art gallery where the works of local artists can be highlighted and provide another attraction for tourists."

Masidi said he saw no reason why it should not be turned into a gallery as at present the Sabah Art Gallery was located in the city outskirts.

Built in 1918, it used to be the post office, later housed the Land and Survey Department and eventually the Welfare Department.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

AirAsia X going to London

SEPANG: Long-haul low-cost carrier, AirAsia X, is expected to launch its maiden flight to Standsted, London, by end of next year, says its chief executive officer Azran Osman Rani.

Speaking to reporters after the welcoming reception for AirAsia’s Airbus A330-300 here yesterday, he said the company had already secured the landing rights for the London destination and would fly on a daily basis using the A340.

“If all goes well, we should be ready to launch the UK route by end-2008 and commence sales and bookings in February,” he said, adding that the two A340 aircraft would arrive in October and November next year.

Continue reading at: AirAsia X going to London

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Karambunai Lagoon Park

By Anna Vivienne

CRUISING in the Karambunai Lagoon Park is a worthwhile experience, especially if you have all the time in your hands and nature’s beauty is all you seek.

As you cruise along, you will be entertained by the sunlight twinkling upon the rippling water of the lagoon.

The waves gently ripple on the water surface, as fishes swim in shoals within. The mangrove trees, standing like waterlogged sentinels, spread its branches allowing birds and insects to rest underneath its shady leaves. As the sun begins to shine down fiercely, its rays add sheen to the blueness of the water.

The Lagoon Park of Nexus Karambunai Resort, is where nature lovers can go river cruising. The river cruise is commendable for those who want to enjoy the natural beauty of the lagoon in the relative comfort of a boat.

Here, a deft and expert boatman will bring you in and out of little outlets among Mangrove trees, where you can spot birds and other wildlife. I am informed that at night, fireflies come out in droves to twinkle among the mangrove tree leaves.

Along the way you will see water villages along the way. The attraction in these villages is the aquaculture activities carried out by the fisherfolks. The people here breed mussels and clams and other shells as well as fish for the market.

It is a very interesting project and should be visited by all. The people tending the farm are very friendly and knowledgeable. You will know all about their culture, traditions and economic activity in just a half-hour conversation with them, if you stop by.

There are many other activities that can be enjoyed at the lagoon even if you don’t go on the boat ride. These include kayaking and jet-skiing.

Nexus Karambunai Resort, it is sited in one of the most beautiful beach in the State; about 30 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu the State Capital.

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

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Garama River Cruise - A date with nature

Want to see the Dutchman of Borneo? Go to Garama, near Kota Kinabalu and keep an eye out for the strange-looking proboscis monkey unique to these parts.

Shortly after we checked into Only In Borneo Resort, we joined a big group of day trippers in a fibre glass longboat. We were soon on the Garama River, cruising through the Klias Wetland Conservation Area, looking for wildlife in a massive mangrove swamp.

Wetland wildlife

We were, of course, watching out for the proboscis monkeys but before encountering this star attraction we were alerted to the presence of a green, triangular-headed snake (Wagler’s pit viper) on the low branches of a tree behind the resort’s boardwalk.

We were warned to approach it with caution because its venom could kill a person in 30 minutes. That did not stop the two photographers in the group from taking close-up pictures, as they lay stretched out on the boardwalk or hung precariously over the guard ropes.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Garama River Cruise - A date with nature

Sabah Homestay - A trump card for Sabah tourism

KOTA KINABALU - The homestay programme is here to stay.

A decade after being introduced to the rural community here, it has gained momentum with growing interest among locals keen to venture into tourism.

The Sabah Homestay Association said a portion of the RM200 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund for Sabah and Sarawak announced in Budget 2008 could be used to upgrade facilities under the programme.

Association President Joanna Kitingan said about 300 households were already participating in the programme in 12 districts but that more needed to be done to get others to participate.

"We hope some of the money can be channeled to upgrade roads leading to some potential homestay villages. We also need to upgrade toilets and renovate some homes.

"We must also continue to train homestay operators on how to interact with their guests and on issues of concern such as environmental awareness and what tourism means.

"Many of these homestay locations are at important ecotourism belts such as at the Kinabatangan River. Locals need to know that some visitors are concerned about conservation matters."

She said promotion and marketing of homestay programmes in Sabah was another area that needed funding.

Having been personally involved in establishing homestays in Sabah for more than 10 years, she has seen the benefits it has brought to locals.

"At the Miso Walai homestay in Kinabatangan, there were 12 households involved when we first started seven years ago. Now there are 30 involved and they have programmes back to back.

"Those who conduct homestays have learnt how to improve the way they live and now know the importance of cleanliness."

Joanna said Sabah has so much to offer foreigners because of its diverse culture.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tourism Malaysia will rebrand Sabah as major tourist destination

TORONTO: Malaysia will embark on a rebranding exercise to promote primary tourist destinations including Langkawi, Port Dickson, Penang, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and Mulu in Sarawak.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the ministry would promote these places as value-for-money destinations.

He said sustainable tourism would be the main focus of the rebranding, selling places that offered eco-tourism products and activities.

These include nature and leisure holidays such as diving, angling and marine life in Pulau Sipadan, golfing paradise in the north, sail and cruises in Langkawi Geopark, Monsoon Cup in Terengganu, beach and islands that welcome visitors all year round, he told Canadian tour operators at a luncheon here Wednesday.

Continue reading at: Tourism Malaysia will rebrand Sabah as major tourist destination

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"Best of Borneo" tourism product to be launched in November

KUCHING: Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei will promote a new tourism product called the “Best of Borneo” or BOB to the world by end of November.

This was disclosed by Minister of Urban Development and Tourism Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh to the media after officiating the Borneo Tourism Conference held at the Sarawak Tourism Complex here yesterday.

“The product is now being finalised for proper costing by all the three partners,” he said.”With this new product we can offer the best to our visitors.”

He added that through such promotion the tourism potentials of Borneo could be maximised.

“A 14-day tourism product would offer the best for tourists to visit us as we have such a rich cultural and natural products,” he said.

Among places of interest that would be included are the Sarawak Cultural Village, Bako National Park, Orang Utan rehabilitation Centre at Semeggo, Iban longhouses, Mulu Caves, Brunei exotic Kampung Air, Royal regalia, Mt. Kinabalu and Sipadan Island.

Continue reading at: "Best of Borneo" tourism product to be launched in November

ED NOTE: had already customized a pre-designed tour product coincidentally name "Best of Borneo" (a budget special) several years ago.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Packaging Borneo as a tourist destination

KUCHING: Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei should together draw up a regional tourism development plan to market Borneo as a destination, said state Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh.

He said the plan should focus on the distinctive and unique tourism attractions of the respective regions.

"Borneo and neighbouring Kalimantan have vast tourism potentials for development. You name it, we have it; and we have what (other countries) probably do not have," he added when opening the 4th International Borneo Tourism Conference at the Sarawak Tourism Complex here Wednesday.

Continue reading at: Packaging Borneo as a tourist destination

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mountain climbing in Sabah: Mountain high…

By Anna Vivienne

Trekking up mountains is not everybody’s cup of tea. And those who take it up as a hobby will not be ‘sailing away’ in ecstasy either. It is a tough and challenging hobby to take up.

Some people believe that mountaineering can be a profession; well, it is hardly a coveted job; unless you are a scientist, then you will be more concerned about findings than ‘bonding’ with nature.

Be that as it may mountaineering exist for the mere fact that it is a sport or/and a hobby people who simply love walking, hiking, trekking and climbing up mountains. These people are either there because they covet some recognition in sports or just to enjoy nature and learn from it where and when they can.

I believe there are three types of skills one have to acquire to climb mountains…there is the rock-craft, snow-craft and skiing. Actually it depends on the route chosen.

In Sabah, though you just walk up the mountain; granted you huff and puff for a hundred metres or so up steep rocky terrain, but you don’t really require extensive climbing skills.

One of the mountains that have been scaled up in Sabah is Mount Tambuyukon. It is Malaysia’s third highest mountain at 2,579 metre.

This mountain can be seen very clearly when you go towards Ranau, because it is sited very close to the sacred mountain, Mount Kinabalu.

Mount Tombuyukon is well known its diversity of flora and fauna.

For another interesting trek, the Mount Trus Madi at 2642 metres high is the next challenge. This mountain stands on the Trus madi Range, and is the second highest mountain in Malaysia.

They are a tremendous diversity of flora and fauna there including some that are unique, notably the nepenthes.

The Crocker Range should not be overlooked at all. This mountain range separates the east coast and west coast of Sabah and stands at an average height of 1800m.

It is the highest mountain range in Sabah with the highest mountain in South East Asia standing on it; Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site.

This mountain as most people know is surrounded by a tremendous variety of flora and one of the world’s most significant biological sites.

Climbing this mountain is easy and can be achieved by a person in good physical condition. Other rocky peaks there however need rock climbing skills.

Since Sabah is quite mountainous, Sabah is generally mountainous especially in the western side while the central and eastern art generally has lower mountain ranges and plains as well as gentler sloping hills.

However, these lower mountain ranges are no less formidable than their loftier cousins. In fact there too are found unique diversity in flora and fauna. And the trek is no less tough.

Places to be considered for trekking and mountaineering are the Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Tabin Wildlife Conservation Reserve.

If you wish to enjoy nature with your tourists during the weekend school holidays, mountaineering is one activity that you should look at.

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

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sabah wants lesser-known tourism attractions to be promoted

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah wants more attention given to lesser-known tourist attractions and is hoping that part of a special RM100mil fund in the 2008 Budget can be used for this purpose.

Acknowledging that its renowned tourism icons such as the Kinabalu Park and Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park were constantly crowded, state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjum said that the fund for tourism infrastructure could be used to make them accessible to more people.

For a start, the fund would be used for the construction of Sabah’s first Seri Malaysia chain of hotels costing some RM35mil in the east coast Semporna district.

Continue reading at: Sabah wants lesser-known tourism attractions to be promoted

Sunday, September 09, 2007

RM3 billion invested in Sabah tourism last five years

KOTA KINABALU: The total investment in Sabah’s tourism from both state and private sector was a whopping RM3 billion in the last five years.

Disclosing this yesterday, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman said this reflected the state government’s seriousness in developing the tourism industry.

The government, he said encouraged the private sector especially the industry players to venture into the hotel, resort and hospitality industry.

“There are a number of hotels coming up in the next two years as we are still experiencing a shortage of four to five-star hotel accommodations,” he said when addressing delegates of TAFI during a gala dinner here last night.

Continue reading at: RM3 billion invested in Sabah tourism last five years

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Kinabalu's Green paradise

The majestic Mount Kinabalu is the pride of Sabah, the Land below the Wind
Administrative office at Kinabalu National Park
Among the flowering plants in the park
One of the thousands of orchid species found in the park
One of the many species of frogs

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to NYL and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.


Kinabalu National Park was established as one of Malaysia's premier national parks in 1964.
Playing an important role as one of the most important biological sites in the world, UNESCO selected it as the country's first World Heritage Site in 2000.

The park spreads over 750 square kilometres and is located on the west coast of Sabah.

Park headquarters is located at 1,588 metres and provides accommodation such as hostels, lodges and chalets.

A number of restaurants and exhibition centres are located in the vicinity of the park.

Park administrative offices manned by Sabah Parks are well sited.

Climbers need to register here before climbing.

The temperature varies from 20 degrees centigrade to 13 degrees as evening approaches.

The most suitable time to visit the park is from March to April, during the dry season.

The average rainfall can exceed 400 cm per year and the temperature at night can drop below freezing point especially at Laban Rata, half way up to Mount Kinabalu.

The park is blessed with such beautiful flora that you can't help but stop at every blossom to snap a memorabilia. There are more than 1200 types of orchids found here.

The unique carnivorous pitcher plant is also one of Kinabalu's endemic prized possessions.

They prey on insects by secreting alluring nectar. It is documented that more than nine species of pitcher plants grow here.

The world's largest flower, the red Rafflesia can be found here if you are lucky enough to spot one. It is beautiful to look at but has a pungent smell. It wasn't such a surprise to learn that it really is a parasite.

It can grow to three feet wide. It does not have any leaves, stems or even a root. The unique plant can only be found in the rain forests of Sumatra and Borneo. Almost extinct, it is protected by law.

The park's system of trails allows visitors to make the most of their visit, with trails ranging from less than an hour to four days in length.

The wide altitudinal range covered by the park means that a large number of different habitats and forests types are found within its environs, from lowland diptherocarp forest where only little light can enter, coniferous forests, alpine meadow and of course the stunted bushes.

Some of the richest montane oaks grow here. To date there are more than 40 different species recorded.

As for fauna, residents include orang utans, gibbons, ant eaters, sun bear, the grey and the red leaf monkey, tarsier, ferret badger, more than 200 species of birds, various types of strange insects, 200 species of butterflies and over 100 types of macro moths.

There are more than 60 amphibian species of frogs and toads, which have been recorded and 40 species of fish. There are about 90 species of lowland creatures and around 22 montane mammal species.

Few landmarks have dominated the landscape in any part of the world as much as Mount Kinabalu does over Borneo. The majestic Mount Kinabalu is the pride of Sabah, the "Land below the Wind".

The mountain came into existence less than a million years ago when a plutonic rock forced its way upwards through sandstones of the Crocker Range due to winds and torrential rain. However, the youngest non-volcanic mountain is still growing at the rate of five mm per year.

The mountain was first climbed by Sir Hugh Low who collected many of Kinabalu's unique plants.

Today's research is directed towards the conservation of this magnificent mountain and its remarkably rich biodiversity.

Climbing Mount Kinabalu may seem like no big deal these days but it is no stroll in the park either. Actually, some preparations are needed. While climbing up is one thing, the descent may be even more taxing. Bearing that in mind, climbing Mount Kinabalu is within reach for all able-bodied people.

Climbers are assisted by steps hewn from rocks and ropes placed at strategic points. Hence some 30,000 people annually are able to scale Southeast Asia's highest peak at 4,101m (13,455 ft).

The climb to the top takes about two days so you will have to acclimatise over night at Laban Rata at 10,700 feet. You will need a guide to go all the way to the top.

Enjoy the stunning and breathtaking views during your climb.

However, for those who don't intend to reach the frost covered rocky summit, you can go trekking in the foothills. For time out to unwind, head to the open air sulphur health spa, Poring Hot Springs, located 43km away from the park.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Sabah International Folklore Festival: East-West redezous at Sabah fest

By Julia Chan

KOTA KINABALU - It was like a whirlwind around the world in a few hours for those who watched the 3rd Sabah International Folklore Festival grand show here on Wednesday night.

The 1,000-strong crowd was captivated by the showcase of 12 amazing cultures from countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Latvia, Khazakstan, Poland and India.

The festival's theme was "East-West Rendezvous".

The Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah graced the grand show, which was held at Menara Tun Mustapha.

The Khazakstan all-girl group, Onaltikis, kicked off the evening with a lively beat followed by Thailand's Narisuwan University students whose performance was infused with electronic folk music.

The haunting chants' duet from Yunnan, China, accompanied by the Chinese lute set a mellow background before the thumping beats and stomps from the Saudi Arabian troupe.

The Latvians danced their merry, optimistic tune, while the Bruneians did their Zapin dance and showcased a traditional Malay wedding, complete with a silat performance.

The Singapore group performed the traditional Keroncong, while students from Kortowow University in Poland gave a youthful performance accompanied by two violinists and a choir.

The bhangra, performed by the Indian troupe, got the crowd to shoulder-shake. This was then followed by the graceful Japanese dancers.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Tourism Minister urges MAS to review Sabah flights

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has urged Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to review its flight services in Sabah. He said that although the State Government has on numerous occasions asked MAS to increase its flight frequency for the busy KK-Sandakan and KK-Tawau sectors, the airline has not done so, to the detriment of the state’s tourism industry.

Speaking to reporters after officially launching the MATTA Travel Fair Sabah at Sabah Trade Centre yesterday, Masidi said, “I have asked MAS to rethink the rates – even though they have introduced several packages, I feel the rates is still very high for Sabahans.”

For example, he said business class rates on KK-KL sector were raised to RM1,700 from RM1,250 although the service provided is still the same. Although the airfare price increase is attributed to the rising cost of fuel, Masidi said that prices could be adjusted from time to time according to the fuel price in the world market.

Continue reading at: Tourism Minister urges MAS to review Sabah flights

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bigger Sabah International Folklore Festival in offing

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah International Folklore Festival will be held in a bigger scale with better promotion in the future.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun said the event had not been widely promoted.

“We accept that presently, we are still at the experimental stage as we want to gauge the response from other countries,” he told reporters after watching the prime show held at the Auditorium Tun Raffae here on Wednesday evening.

He assured that the next time around, the event would be held on a grander scale given the foundation and the budget for it.

Continue reading at: Bigger Sabah International Folklore Festival in offing

Boating on Sungai Sarawak Kiri

If you love nature and adventure, then Sungai Sarawak Kiri is the place for you. The 26-km tributary of the famous Sarawak River flows between Kampung Danu and Kampung Git in Padawan, Kuching Division. The villages are an approximate one hour’s car drive from Kuching City centre.

Sungai Sarawak Kiri boasts picturesque scenes of naturally curved river banks, large river boulders and unique rock formations. Pebbled beaches, white water rapids, river vegetation and limestone hills with caves can also be found there.

A constant cool breeze and a thick canopy naturally protect visitors from the scorching tropical heat and create the perfect environment for boating adventures. Boating activities are particularly popular during the dry season between the months of June and September.

Sungai Sarawak Kiri is also the perfect place for picnics and walks. The shallow water at this time of year makes way for natural pebble beaches. During the dry season, the river is usually only a few inches deep.

Continue reading (with pics) at: Boating on Sungai Sarawak Kiri

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Shangri-la’s Rasa Ria Resort’s teens treatment

By Anna Vivienne

A friend of mine had just come back from a vacation in one of the most visited island resort in West Malaysia. She however seems to be more tired than rested.

And I am not surprised; she has a teenager, a 13 year old girl whose greatest gift seems to be the ability to stump her mother or turn her into a raging gorgon.

The young lady can undo her mother by just staring and leering while growling ‘This place stinks.’ Or ‘does it get much worse than this?”

A holiday in the ‘posh-est’ of place can be a nightmare if your ward keeps on giving you that ‘special treatment.’

In places like the Shangri-la’s Rasa Ria Resort in Dalit Bay Tuaran, you have chance as there are several activities that teenagers can join in without getting bored.

They may be unhappy not to be unhappy (teenagers!) for a while but once they get into it, they will definitely enjoy themselves.

For instance they have an activity called ‘In Search of the Orang Utan’. It is exactly what it is …in search of the Orang Utan. They are supposed to spot the primate with on a Jungle Walk. At the same time, they will be accorded a lot of information on the primate.

The Jungle Walk is of course another experience that most ‘city kids’ will enjoy. They will be informed about the flora and fauna around them as they walk in the woods.

Besides that Bird Watching is recommended for children who are interested in the avian population. As they will be guided by a well-informed guide, the children will come away with knowledge of the sights they saw.

Other than that, they can choose to watch Fireflies. Watching the small insects twinkle is always fascinating especially if you have never seen fireflies before. If there are more of them sitting on one bush, they can actually look Christmas lights. I am sure the children; even a teenager, will be fascinated by this sight.

Rasa Ria has a beautiful beach in front of it with the blue sea waves lapping incessantly on the sea shore. The water can be quite tempting, so I believe teenagers will also love the Ocean Kayak.

Teenagers who wish to get away from the hotel environment for a while, can join in the Bicycle Village Tour where they can cycle to their hearts content. Even though they are accompanied, they won’t be leashed in to strictly.

They have a choice for bicycle tour such as the Sunday Bicycle Market Tour and visit to the Sea Gypsy House.

There are many more activities that parents can choose from for their children or their children can choose for themselves.

They can go Parasailing, jet skiing, fishing on the Reef Catamaran, go on an island cruise as well as horse riding.

Rasa Ria actually has a seven day planned activity for children from age four to 12 years old.

Monday starts at 8am with a fun exercise with Pongo, followed by Crazy walk way challenge and then there is the blowpipe competition. Lunch break comes soon after followed by a treasure hunt and then there is the ‘Lets Visit the Forest Garden’. After that there is water volleyball, sand castle building and lighting ceremony. That would be about 6pm or thereabout.

On Tuesday, the day starts with Back of the House tour, followed by Badminton Lessons and Horse shoe games. Lunch break comes soon after and then it is Tampanau walk demonstration and Signature Hunt. Later there will be Kite making and Kite Flying followed by Lighting Ceremony.

Wednesday starts with Sand castle building, followed by Fruits Eating Competition and Coconut leaves weaving. Lunch break comes soon after followed by Sarong Wearing Demonstration. A fun activity called Let’s Visit the forest Garden comes soon after followed by Water Volleyball, Soccer Time and the Lighting Ceremony.

On Thursday, the day starts with a Splashing Time followed by Arts and crafts and Baking Lessons. Lunch Break come soon after followed by Treasure Hunt and a lesson on how to use chopstick. They then have tea time with Mom and Dad and then try their hand in Golf Putting. As usual the Lighting Ceremony ends the day.

Friday’s activities are akin to Monday while Saturday activities are similar to Tuesday. On Sunday, there is a Mini Beach Telematch and Pony lead Ride. There will also be Shell Collecting before Lunch. After lunch there will be a ‘Let’s Learn The Sumazau dance’ and a Blowpipe Competition. A Fun Frisbees will commence after that. As usual the day ends with a Lighting Ceremony.

There are many other activities that are tailored especially for children and young teens, you just need to ask the receptionists there to find out.

If none of the activities suit your teenager get them to help the rangers there in their daily work such as husbandry work and preparing food for the animals. This is recommended for those aged eight to 16 years old.

As long as they have fun.

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

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

@Ease hotel to open in Sabah next month

Value Hospitality Group, which currently manages eight hotels under the four-star Everly and three-star Prescott brands, will open its first hotel under a new brand – @Ease – in Sandakan, Sabah, next month.

Group general manager Dennis Tan said @Ease, which is a mid-level boutique hotel, would feature a new design but offer the same efficient management and services as the group's other brands.

“The rooms are smaller but set up in a trendy and contemporary design. The name @Ease is to reflect our concept which is just that – to put our guests at ease,” Tan said in an interview.

If discussions went well, a second hotel under the new brand would open in Kuala Lumpur by year-end, he said.

The 129-room boutique hotel in Sandakan would be run by an initial 20 staff, Tan said, adding that the opening room rates would be RM80 to RM120.

Continue reading at: @Ease hotel to open in Sabah next month

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sabah International Folklore Festival: Burst of culture and colour

Kota Kinabalu: The gorgeous faces and costumes of exotic Kazakhs, Russians, Poles, Latvians, Singaporeans, Saudi Arabians, Japanese, Indians, Thais and Bruneians, set the stage rolling for the 3rd Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF) Sunday night.

All it took was the Sabah Cultural Board's band and soloists to strike the mood and the Latvians reciprocated spontaneously on the dance floor of the Suan Tian Restaurant, culminating in everyone from the 11 countries joining a crowded interactive free style dance to joget tunes.

Prior to all that, festival organisers from the Sabah Cultural Board took the opportunity to present the best of Sabah's ethnic dances to highlight the State's famed ethnic diversity and colours.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sabah International Folklore Festival: Burst of culture and colour

RM9m boost for Bako National Park, Sarawak’s oldest national park

KUCHING: Bako National Park, the oldest in Sarawak, has been given an allocation of RM9mil under the Ninth Malaysia Plan for various infrastructure development projects.

State Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh said they included new visitor accommodation facilities, an office, interpretation centre, cafeteria, campground, jetty and improved water supply system.

“For 2007, there is a fund of RM650,000 for maintenance and upgrading of tourism infrastructure at Bako,” he said when opening a new boat terminal in Kampung Bako, near here, yesterday.

Describing national parks as the crown jewels of the state’s tourism industry, Wong said they should be sustainably managed and preserved for future generations.

“The state’s national parks play a very important role in tourism. Each year, they attract about 350,000 visitors,” he said.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: RM9m boost for Bako National Park, Sarawak’s oldest national park

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sarawak Regatta: Bigger regatta next year

KUCHING: A grander Sarawak Regatta is expected to be held next year to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia, said Chief Minister, Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud.

This would include a much bigger participation for all the different events to mark the historical event next year, said Taib.

He added that a bazaar would also be put up in the Malay villages opposite the Waterfront in next year’s celebration to enrich the experience of visitors for the Regatta especially with a more elaborate home-stay programme.

“But at the moment we cannot anticipate too much as we have not appointed any team (to organise the event) yet. When the committee has met then we will know, otherwise I anticipate that other people also want to give ideas,” said Taib briefly to the media in a jovial mood after officiating the Sarawak Regatta at the Kuching Warerfront here yesterday.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak Regatta: Bigger regatta next year

Developing Borneo International Yachting Challenge as sports-based tourism

LABUAN: The Labuan Corporation & Labuan Tourism Action Council (LCLTAC) aims to develop the Borneo International Yachting Challenge (BIYC) into a signature water-sports based tourism event, and to put it on the yachting industry’s world map.

Member of Parliament for Labuan, Dato’ Haji Suhaili Abdul Rahman who is also the chairman of LCLTAC has high hopes that the event will effectively promote Labuan while at the same time contribute to its economic development.

“Under the smart partnership between Miri and Labuan, the BIYC has been continuously gaining popularity since its inception in 2003,” he stated at a press conference after the flag-off event of the Labuan Harbour Regatta 2007 at Waterfront Hotel here yesterday.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Developing Borneo International Yachting Challenge as sports-based tourism

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Tales for Tourism in Sabah

By Anna Vivienne

Folklore s and legends can be promoted as tourism products. They are after all an essential part of the people, notably the Kadazandusuns, as their way of life and belief are based on these ideas. In the olden days it was even stronger and influenced their daily life, than it is now.

Those involved in the Homestay programme should put some thought on this idea. The programme is after all designed to allow tourists to get closer and bring home a memory of a people instead of the ‘normal’ tourism products, such as stage performed dances.

When the people’s folklores and legends are shared, most tourists will understand and feel closer to their hosts.

There are many such tales that are of interest to tourists. The legend of Mount Kinabalu for instance is quite interesting, even though the tale may vary from one Kadazandusun tribe to another.

One of the many legends that is told and retold is the legend, or belief, pertaining to Mount Kinabalu. In the olden days, the people believed that when a person died his soul would go up to Mount Kinabalu to rest. In the mountain there is a gigantic portal that led to the other-world. The soul would pass through and never leave the place again unless summoned by powerful bobohizans (priestesses).

On the seventh day of a person’s death, his soul would be summoned for the last time and he would come and eat in his old house. After that he would be told that never again should he cast his shadow on the house again. His way in this world would be ‘closed’ by incantations and he would return to the other-world.

Never again would he wander to his old home unless called by the Bobohizans.

The more famous legend is of course the tale of Huminodun, Spirit of the Rice. The tale of Huminodun is chanted by Bobohizans every year. The incantation is long and varies from one Kadazandusun tribe to another. However, the essence is the same.

A long time ago, there was a famine, nothing grew on earth. So Kinoringan, the father of Huminodun went to look for food. Huminodun and her mother Suminundu waited and waited but he did not return. As a last resort, Suminundu, a great Bobohizan herself, went to the cultivation ground and invoked the elements as she slaughtered her own daughter.

“Your teeth shall be maize, your flesh shall be rice….” And so her body became various types of food plants.

Therefore every year, the people commemorated the event by holding the Harvest Festival.

There are many other folklores and legends that could interest tourists especially when they are in your homes as guests.

Even superstitions are interesting. These tales could be told in a positive environment for tourists, probably around a fire. The person relating the stories should however be articulate and knowledgeable so that tourists will understand the flow.

Food for thought there.

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

Brunei Tourism to promote Heart of Borneo Project at Borneo Conference

Story by Azlan Othman

Brunei Tourism will showcase the much-publicised and highly-praised Heart of Borneo (HoB) conservation project in a presentation for the upcoming Borneo Tourism Conference in Sarawak beginning September 11, the CEO of Brunei Tourism Board told the Bulletin.

Tourism players ranging from tour operators to hoteliers will be taking part in the 4th Borneo Tourism Conference 2007, which will end on September 13.

"I don't want Brunei to be left out in this seminar. We will be presenting a paper on the Heart of Borneo (HoB) rainforest and its uniqueness, as (the upcoming forum) is a good platform to showcase what is available in Brunei," Sheikh Jamaluddin said.

According to the CEO of Brunei Tourism Board, the Sultanate is the only country in Borneo that does not promote logging. He added that there are signs that eco-tourism is booming as more people are interested in nature.

"While in Sarawak, we will be trying to sell Brunei to the tourism players and tell them why they should come to Brunei, how we take care of our environment and how we value the HoB project," he said.

He added that Brunei has been working with its counterparts in Borneo to promote tourism such as organising joint promotions.

The upcoming conference will be a good opportunity for Brunei officials to meet renowned eco-tourism speakers, he said, adding that four officials will be representing the country at the event.

The Borneo Integrated Services and Sarawak Tourism Board are jointly organising the conference with support from Tourism Malaysia Promotion Board, Sabah Tourism Board and Brunei Tourism Board.

Over 120 delegates comprising industry practitioners, national park operators, hoteliers, civil servants and university students from the Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Brunei, Indonesia and Thailand will be attending.

Sheikh Jamaluddin added that Brunei would also be taking part in other tourism forums in the coming months such as the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) travel mart in Bali, JATA in Japan, as well as trade shows in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Malaysia's 50th Independence Day: A celebration to remember

Celebrations to usher in the 50th Merdeka (Independence) Day were held in a grand manner nationwide.

While the main event took place at the Dataran Merdeka, similar celebrations were held in the states and other cities.

In KOTA KINABALU, the Malaysian flag was hoisted at Padang Merdeka at midnight.

The flag was carried by 50 soldiers who had walked, in what was dubbed the “Merdeka March - The Spirit of Kalabakan,” from Kalabakan in Tawau to Kota Kinabalu over a distance of 550km.

Yesterday morning, the annual colourful parade was held Jalan Tun Fuad, emphasising on the ethnic communities found in the state.

Continue reading at: Malaysia's 50th Independence Day: A celebration to remember

Tar and gravel ride to heart of Borneo

By Rahmat Hj Abdul Rahman

Twenty years ago, the roads between Brunei Darussalam, Limbang and Lawas in Sarawak, and the Sabah Hi-Way infrastructure were applauded by travellers.

This was just after the Federal Government of Malaysia, through the state government of Sabah, straightened a few areas of the of its undeveloped 35-kilometre roads between the Mesapol suburb of Sipitang District to Beaufort District under the leadership of the ex-premier of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir bin Mohammad.

Now, the roads between Tedungan in Limbang and Merapok in Lawas have been given thorough attention by the state government of Sarawak and the Federal Government of Malaysia.

What we saw in the past were bad roads. Travellers drove on soil surface roads, which were sandy and dusty roads during hot days, and turned into mucky and slippery roads during the rainy seasons, just to reach the ferry point near Sungai Limbang.

Some years later, the ferry operation was grounded by the State Government and Federal Government when they decided to build a stronger concrete bridge at Sungai Limbang. Knowing that many travellers drive to Limbang, the Sarawak state government constructed the permanent reinforced concrete bridges from the former old Limbang airstrip towards Sungai Pandaruan.

This was followed by the Immigration Posts Control at Merapok; the second construction was at Sungai Pandaruan, and ongoing construction is now at Tedungan Immigration Control Post and another Immigration Control Post across the Temburong border, as well as the construction of the permanent concrete bridge at Batang Lawas in the Heart of Borneo.

With the basic infrastructure to be completed in forthcoming developments, travellers are expected to enjoy driving towards to the East Coast of Sabah.

However, it is also relatively important for the state government of Sarawak to complete the roads in rural areas, if tourists want to visit the Heart of Borneo, which comprises Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah.

About two decades ago, such facilities were not available for travellers.

However, BIMP-EAGA businessmen now can access and transport goods between Sabah and Sarawak through the Tedungan and Kuala Lurah Immigration Control Posts. The roads from Sipitang District are already connected to Tenom District. Journeys take approximately one-and-a-half hour. From Papar District to Keningau District, it takes two hours on tarmac roads.

It is known that businessmen in Sarawak are planning to construct a five-star hotel in Lawas near the riverbanks of Lawas town.

Residents have protested against what is perceived to be a land grab, sources said.

People from as far as Kuching in Sarawak and Brunei Darussalam can drive to the east coast of Sabah at Lahad Datu to cross over to the island of Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, where the natural beauty of their flora and fauna is incomparable.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Visit Brunei not next year

By Azlan Othman

The Visit Brunei Year (VBY) will not happen next year, but would probably be in 2009 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of our independence or 2010 to coincide with the Asean Tourism Forum (ATF), which Brunei is expected to host, CEO of Brunei Tourism Board revealed.

Speaking to the Weekend, Sheikh Jamaluddin said, "We were just toying with the idea of hosting it next year. It was not officially endorsed by the Tourism Board. We called 2008 as celebrating Brunei 2008-09.

On Brunei's big tourist spending in Malaysia where over $400 million (RM 1.1 billion) were spent during the first half of this year, Sheikh Jamaluddin said this is where the Kenali Negara Kitani (KNK) campaign or know our country is important as a step towards promoting Brunei's domestic tourism.

"The KNK campaign is very important in trying to encourage Bruneians to spend their holiday in the country itself. This goes to show the importance of Brunei to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) to open more supermarkets, departmental stores and more high quality shopping in Brunei."

Malaysia's Bernama reported Malaysia's Deputy Tourism Minister, Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai, saying recently that Brunei is the third biggest contributor to Malaysia's tourism revenue after Singapore and Indonesia with RM 10.8 billion and RM 1.7 billion respectively.

Sheikh Jamaluddin added tourism is very important for Brunei. If we can bring more visitors to the country, these visitors will create the demand for the shop to prosper in their business. Tourism is a very important part of the nation building.

Talking about the current Brunei Golf Open, Sheikh Jamaluddin said players who come to Brunei for the first time love it. Our job is to market Brunei and it comes in many forms like golfing, familiarisation trips, trade shows and advertising.

During the recent KNK roadshow held at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, it was highlighted that in three years, KNK is expected to encourage Brunei citizens to be tourists in their own country, increase SME growth, increase quality of available products and lessen the dependence on foreign tourists.

Tourism has created 11 per cent of employment for locals and therefore it was important to develop tourism and the need for everyone to know about tourism. To support our international campaign, we want to focus on domestic (tourism) first and we have KNK partners ready to support us. The campaign is a domestic branding to promote domestic tourism, which gives emphasis on programmes, activities and events to promote domestic tourism.

The objective of the KNK is to increase demand and develop domestic tourism, to make Brunei an interesting destination, educate society on the potential of tourism industry, and open opportunities of employment and business. It is hoped that Brunei would be able to achieve $356 million in tourism industries by 2023.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend