Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Brunei Tourism road shows to lure Chinese

By Azaraimy HH in Nanning

"The Chinese see Brunei as an exotic place to visit, a unique destination that offers peace and tranquillity as well as beauty and colour, different from other Asean countries," Mr Songkai, Chairman of Beijing Longway Investment Co Ltd, said.

Some 10 top media personnel and 100 people from China's fast growing travel industry attended a Brunei Tourism Road Show in Guijing Hotel located in the high-street corner of Nanning City yesterday.

The road show is conducted by the Brunei Tourism Development Department together with members of the Brunei Tourism industry and with the assistance of Beijing Longway Investment Co Ltd, the parent company of the Royal Brunei Airlines General Sales Agent in Beijing.

It is part of a series of three road shows in Nanning, Kunming and Chongqing, where Brunei still relatively remains a less known travel destination.

"This is our strategy," said Brunei Tourism chief Sheikh Jamaluddin during the road show. "I am taking advice from travel agents here to fish somewhere that is less known.

"Some people asked me, why do we want to hold a road show in places where Brunei is still relatively unknown to the people. But this is like fishing, you never know what happens until you go fishing in that area," Sheikh Jamaluddin said.

With a growing number of affluent people in China, outbound tourism is on the rise, and Brunei could become a stop for them if only the tourism promotion keeps pace with China's growth.

Mr Songkai said Brunei still needs a lot of effort and it is an ongoing process.

Miss Lu Yeng, a travel journalist from Modern Life Daily, told the Bulletin that she does not know much about Brunei, but she said she knows Brunei as a coastal country, with beautiful beaches, lovely forests and amazing people.

After the road show, she said she would definitely feature Brunei as one of the hot destinations in Asean countries due to its uniqueness and nature. She said Brunei has a niche - its beauty and people.

Mr Songkai said the Sultanate's Empire Hotel & Country Club can be a destination of its own. He said China has a growing number of affluent people, and the Empire Hotel offers both as a beautiful getaway and a very affordable package that could make it as a frequent destination.

The Brunei Tourism said the objective of the road show is to increase awareness about Brunei as a destination and about the RBA flights available from Shanghai and Hong Kong to the Chinese media and travel industry partners at the three second-tier cities in China.

The road shows are expected to attract interest from market areas that are not yet exposed to Brunei.

The format of the road shows, according to the Brunei Tourism, will be the same in each city, and will consist of an evening reception during which a presentation on Brunei and RBA will be made, followed by a networking session between Brunei industry members and their Chinese counterparts, games, animation and prize presentation culminating with a banquet.

Brunei Tourism said the road shows are expected to result in increased sales volumes within a relatively short period of time, probably starting from the 2008 Lunar New Year holiday period.

It is customary for countries to embark on such promotional exercises for their key markets, and with China being Brunei's top market in terms of holiday visits, with some 30,000 tourists from China projected to visit Brunei in 2007, it is timely for Brunei Tourism to woo the market in a more direct way and take the opportunity to begin the road show in Nanning during their participation in the 4th China-Asean Expo.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kuching-Macau flight for RM39.99 by AirAsia

KUCHING: Budget airline AirAsia is offering a four-month promotional fare of RM39.99 for its Kuching-Macau flight, which will be launched on Nov 15.

The fare excludes airport taxes, fuel surcharges and fees, and is for one-way travel.

The thrice-weekly flight is AirAsia’s first international connection from Sarawak.

AirAsia Kuching station manager Shanmugamnathan Suppiah said as Macau was an important gateway to Hong Kong and southern China, the direct service would boost the state's tourism.

Continue reading at: Kuching-Macau flight for RM39.99 by AirAsia

Service fee sends rural flight fares in Sabah and Sarawak up

MIRI: Rural flight fares have skyrocketed with ticketing agents imposing a compulsory service fee of RM40 for a return trip to all rural sectors in Sabah and Sarawak.

Because of this, the total fare of an air-trip in rural Sarawak has shot up by as much as 50%, putting rural folk in a quandary.

There are about a million people living in rural regions in Sarawak, most of whom depend on flights for quick travel.

A Star check revealed that MASWings, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, had not increased its fares.

It was the ticketing agents who imposed the compulsory service charge for all sectors, regardless of urban or rural.

Continue reading at: Service fee sends rural flight fares in Sabah and Sarawak up

International regatta promotes Baram cultural tourism

MIRI - The Baram Regatta which has been slated to be held in September next year in Marudi, about two hours' express boat ride from here, is expected to boost tourism in the constituency, Baram Member of Parliament Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan said.

He said the regatta should be taken as an opportunity for the people of Baram to showcase their colourful culture to the outside world, eventually drawing more tourists to the area.

"The regatta is an international event, so it should be the time for us to show to the world the unique cultures of the various ethnic groups in the area," he said at the closing of the Baram White Water Rafting Challenge 2007 at Long Apu, about seven hours by road from here.

He said the visitors' focus would not only be on the river activities during the regatta as there would be a World Sape Festival to be organised simultaneously.

At the festival, musicians from other countries will also perform using the sape, a traditional string musical instrument of the Kayan and Kenyah ethnic groups that is similar to the guitar.

Visitors to the festival would also get the chance to see the process of making the sape and other traditional handicrafts of the Baram people, Jacob said. He also wants ethnic groups less known of being traditional riverine settlers in the state to participate in the regatta for more diversity at the event.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Monday, October 29, 2007

Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort celebrates OKTOBERFEST

Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort (STAR)’s Grand Ballroom was swathed in green, red, white, and yellow, teasing the eye from a main entrance designed to evoke the colours and look of Munich’s Hippodrom. For one night, the Grand Ballroom became a small slice of Germany, in the resort’s first celebration of Oktoberfest in 15 years.

Oktoberfest is typically celebrated between September and October, and has its origins in a royal Bavarian wedding from the early 1800s. It has since evolved into a fantastic 16-day festival that features all the wonders of hearty German food, plenty of polka music, and, of course, barrels upon barrels of beer.

STAR’ one-night only version of the famed fiesta saw the resort’s Grand Ballroom transformed into a luxe version of the standard Oktoberfest banquet hall. Over 400 guests sat at long tables, partaking of authentic German goulash, sausage, pretzels, potato salad, the trademark apple strudel and more, served buffet-style at a nearby marquee tent.

Continue reading at: Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort celebrates OKTOBERFEST

Miri to host Fruit Festival

By George Francis

Miri will host 'Fruits Festival 2007' come November 3 and 4, featuring an exhibition and sales of Malaysian fruits.

To be held at the City Civic Centre, the exhibition is hoped to help promote and create greater public awareness on the commercial potential and nutritional properties of non-seasonal fruits such as papaya, watermelon, dragon and citrus fruits.

Themed "Towards Greater Commercialisation and Consumption of Quality Local Fruits", an official said the exhibition is also aimed rationalising an incremental consumption of local produce in substitution to the imported ones.

Among the highlights, there will be a launch of clones of several varieties of quality indigenous durian, the king of tropical fruits.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Whitewater kayaking in Kiulu

Follow the bubble line . . . that’s the deepest part of the river,” Tim the guide shouted as we were paddling down the Kiulu River. We were approaching Sweet Corner, a 50m-long stretch of rapids.

“Paddle hard! Keep your kayak straight. Avoid the rocks!” came the command.

I shot past numerous rocks, negotiating the turbulent water with some clever manoeuvring. After clearing the rocks and entering a calmer stretch, I relaxed, thinking I had these rapids under my belt. But before I knew it, I was swimming in the water!

Tim rowed over and towed my upside down kayak to the side.

“If you had continued rowing hard you would have escaped the cross current which flipped your boat over,” Tim told me, with a grin.

The 30m wide river had narrowed to six metres at that bend and the rushing water had hit a solid wall which caused the cross current. That was a lesson well- learnt by this rookie white water kayaker.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Whitewater kayaking in Kiulu

American Tourists Eat And Practise Blowpipe In Sarawak

KUCHING -- A group of American tourists currently visiting Sarawak braved the heat and the muddy waters of the Lemanak River to get the unique first-hand experience on how the Iban tribe is adjusting itself to a fast-changing world.

The 12-member group, mainly from New York, is led by Datin Amy Hamidon, the wife of Malaysia's New York-based permanent representative to the United Nations.

This is the second time that Amy has personally organised such a visit by American tourists after last year's highly-publicised visit which included the wives of the British and Russian permanent representatives to the United Nations.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: American Tourists Eat And Practise Blowpipe In Sarawak

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sabah Ocean Deep

By Anna Vivienne

Sabah is well known for its natural bio-diversity and this not only encompasses the mountains and the rainforests but the sea as well.

The sandy beaches and blue waters are a step towards the wonder of marine life, that divers have the privilege to enjoy.

In fact Sabah has several dive sites that are rated among the top ten best dive sites in the world. Imagine that. One of the islands that offer beautiful diving sites is the Pulau Tiga. This island is located within the Pulau Tiga park which is made up of three islands; mainly Pulau Tiga (!), Kalampunian Damit and Kalampunian Besar.

Pulau Tiga is relatively tranquil as there is only one resort there. The resort offers diving courses and will help novices and the experienced to go to the best sites for diving.

Divers can hope to glimpse bamboo sharks, cuttle fish, marbled stingray and healthy corals, of course.

The sea off Mantanani Island has been hailed as the best location to fish. Tall tales of fish spanning a man’s hug that got away usually get told and retold by hobbyists.

Mantanani a group of three isolated island northwest of Kota Belud is populated by a few locals and boast one resort.

The sea off the islands boasts various interesting sights including three wrecks. And of course there are the menageries of marine creatures inhabiting the blue sea.

Divers will be able to see the Lionfish, Scorpion Fish, glassfish as well as various species of stingray when they submerge into the water here.

If you like photographing the small ones, such as seahorses, this is the place to go.

An alternative area is the Lankayan Island; this is located in the Sulu Sea north west of Sandakan.

The island is quite small and well known for its beautiful sunsets and white sandy beaches. Divers will also love the marine population there comprising of leopard sharks, marbled stingray and schools of parrotfish and barracudas.

After enjoying this island, you can hop over to Mataking Island, which is not far away from the well known Sipadan Island. Mataking is located north of Mabul and is about 40 minutes boat ride away from Semporna.

Mataking is ideal for divers who love to take photographs, especially if you love the beautifully coloured coral reefs and the marine life and swarm over them.

Divers will be able to see lobsters and giant clams as well as stingrays and barracudas.

And then of course there is Mabul Island. Although its initial claim to fame is its close proximity to Sipadan Island, this island holds its own where exotic small marine lives are concerned.

The sea teems with eels and frogfish and harlequin shrimps!

And if you want accommodation to dive in Mabul and Sipadan, go to Kapalai Island and check into the resort there. The resort there is akin to a water village, so it can be an experience of a life time. You enjoy the sunsets and the marine life in your compound at the same time for the duration of your stay.

It can’t get better than that.

So if you feel like you have seen the mountains, the forests, the waterfalls and the rivers, go to the island and enjoy what the sea have to offer.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2007

AirAsia set to fly to Singapore from Kota Kinabalu and Kuching

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia has been given the green light to operate two daily flights each from Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to Singapore, taking the country a step further towards becoming the region's premier hub for low-cost travel.

Sources said the cabinet agreed yesterday to open the routes to budget airlines from the two countries under a reciprocal arrangement, starting in December or January once the logistics are sorted out.

The new routes will expand AirAsia's connectivity to more than 80 destinations across the continent, and provide additional connections for its sister airline AirAsia X, which is due to fly to Australia's Gold Coast on Nov 2, to Guangzhou, China at the end of the year, and to Melbourne and London next year.

Prices for the Singapore flights are expected to start at RM9.90 for return trips.

Continue reading at: AirAsia set to fly to Singapore from Kota Kinabalu and Kuching

AirAsia’s maiden flight from Kuching to Macau

SEPANG: AirAsia, the highly acclaimed award-winning airline, will soon commence its first international route to Macau from its Kuching hub and prove that the “Best Low Cost Airline in Asia” (Skytrax, 2007) continues to revolutionise air travel since introducing its low fare, no frills concept in December 2001.

The maiden flight from Kuching will take off on November 15, followed with three weekly flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Kuching will be the leading and largest low-cost carrier’s fifth hub for direct flight to Macau.

AirAsia made history when it launched its maiden service to Macau from its hub in Kuala Lumpur on December 15, 2004 and was the first low-fare airline to do so.

Currently, the Kuching hub serves seven routes, flying to Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Miri, Bintulu and Sibu. Thus, the inclusion of its international network to Macau will not only allow wider connectivity between the fourth largest city in Malaysia and the gateway to Hong Kong and Southern China, but also to other extensive networks which AirAsia operates from.

Continue reading at: AirAsia’s maiden flight from Kuching to Macau

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More tourists visiting Brunei

By Achong Tanjong

An increasing number of foreign tourists have been coming to the Sultanate in the past few years, according to the statistics recorded at the information counter of the Royal Regalia Building in the capital.

Many foreign tourists come in package group tours.

From January to September 2007, the Royal Regalia Building has recorded 69,623 foreign tourists compared to 84,049 recorded in the whole of 2006.

Some 65,493 visitors were recorded in 2004. The number also increased in 2005, said the information counter officer yesterday. Topping the list of foreign visitors to Brunei Darussalam were visitors from China. They were followed by visitors from Germany, Italy, England, America and from Asean nations.

Every Saturday and Monday, the Royal Regalia Building receives an average of more than 100 foreign visitors compared to other days.

The figure showed the positive trend of Chinese tourists arriving to Brunei.

The highest number recorded was in July this year with 1,577 visitors from China. In January, it recorded 796 Chinese visitors.

Peak months for tourist visits depended on the long holiday season in their countries.

Patrick and wife Elizabeth from Mccormack, New Zealand said they were very impressed with what they saw at the exhibition galleries. The couple, here on a two-day holiday, will be leaving Brunei today.

For the convenience of visitors from Mainland China, the authority has printed the brochure in Chinese and listed all the information available on what they will see in the building.

A must visit destination for tourists, the Royal Regalia Building's design incorporates characteristics of the philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy. It has become a landmark of Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei.

The building is open to the public from Sunday to Thursday, from 9am to 5pm; Friday, from 9.45am to 11.30am and from 2.30pm to 5pm and on Saturday, it is open from 9.45am to 5pm.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sweet memories of Mulu National Park

MULU: The six-member Henan (China) TV crew has sweet memories of Mulu National Park after visiting it as part of their four-day, three-night stay at Royal Mulu Resort recently.

They were happy with the international class nature destination that offered the best combination of resort experience, nature and comfort.

Assistant cameraman Wang Ke felt the resort designed in the style of ethnic longhouse was unique.

“I was amazed with the unique concept of the resort when we set foot on it,” she said, adding the fact that the resort was located next to the famous Gunung Mulu National Park made the stay all the more fascinating.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sweet memories of Mulu National Park

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sabah sees tourism potential in water villages

KOTA KINABALU: The water villagers that dominated some of Sabah's major coastal towns have the potential to be developed as part of a homestay programme but they need to be spruced up first.

Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Karim Bujang said there were plenty of opportunities to turn such villages into a lucrative money-spinner for the tourism industry.

“However, resident and tour operators must work together to clean up and improve these villages to attract tourists.”

Continue reading at: Sabah sees tourism potential in water villages

Bruneians top visitors in Sarawak

KUCHING: Bruneians topped the list of foreign visitors to Sarawak in the first seven months of this year.

According to statistics from the state’s Ministry of Urban Development and Tourism, of the 1.317 million foreign arrivals between January and July, Bruneians totalled 802,866 visitors, or 27%.

This represented an increase of 30% from the 619,309 visitors during the same period last year.

Bruneians enter Sarawak via entry points such as Sungai Tujuh in Miri, Tedungan and Pandaruan in Limbang and Mangkalap in Lawas.

Continue reading at: Bruneians top visitors in Sarawak

KK Mayor: We need more budget hotels

KOTA KINABALU: Property owners in the city centre, especially those occupying older buildings like in Sinsuran, were encouraged to turn their units into budget hotels.

This is because, many owners, notably in Sinsuran area, were found to have put up illegal partitions to make rooms to be let out to tenants, said the Mayor, Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim.

As a result, he said most of the units in Sinsuran are badly maintained and with illegal partitions acting as room dividers, which are deemed unsafe.

He said this when officiating the opening of a budget hotel in the city, Hotel Garden at Lorong Dewan (Australian place) near here yesterday.

“The overcrowding of tenants in Sinsuran has contributed to the blocked sewage and heavy grease deposits in drains in the area,” he said.

Continue reading at: KK Mayor: We need more budget hotels

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Do’s, don’ts at an Iban longhouse

IF you are a first-time visitor to an Iban longhouse in Sarawak, knowing the basic do's and don’ts can save you from getting into trouble.

For example, entering a room belonging to a longhouse occupant without permission can cost you dearly.

Considered rude, an offender has to pay a RM200 fine as compensation.

It is also a no no to start a fight with any villagers. A RM300 fine will be imposed.

Longhouse rules and regulations, which are applicable to everyone, including the occupants of the longhouse, are posted outside the tuai rumah or longhouse headman's room.

“The rules were made to ensure peace and harmony among those who live here,” said Jimbun anak Gong, the headman of a longhouse along Baleh River, located upstream of Kapit town in central Sarawak.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Do’s, don’ts at an Iban longhouse

Brunei for 'Best of Borneo' in London

By George Francis

MIRI - The "Best of Borneo" tourism packages to be unveiled in next month's World Travel Mart in London will comprise products of Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak said CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board Gracie Geikie.

The composition of three territories, she termed as "golden triangle" in producing the packages to the new markets would augur well for tourism development; thus Borneo could potentially become a popular tourist destination.

"At the recent Borneo tourism conference, it was agreed that the Best of Borneo should not just be Sabah and Sarawak, but include Brunei - a country rich in culture and heritage - under its tourism tag - a Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures with which Royal Brunei Airlines flies to most destinations. So Brunei is very important to the Best of Borneo," said Gracie in an interview with Weekend.

In the packages, she said, Sarawak and Sabah would include promoting attractions in both states' rural areas, involving Malaysian Airlines.

"This is especially for a package to Mulu - a world heritage site which for the past one year was badly affected when the AirAsia owned FlyAsian Xpress (FAX) operated the rural air services (RAS) under the government's flight rationalisation exercise."

She said the London promotion is the right time offering packages of the two states' interior destinations with the interlining and connectivity problems solved with the launch of MASWings on Oct 1, a subsidiary of MAS, taking over from FAX.

MASWings under MAS is connected to 200 plus partner airlines and 16,000 travel agents worldwide.

"So with rural air problems solved, we've to synergise our marketing and promotion together. We can't just leave Brunei out. We must now accelerate to diversify our tourism to the world markets," she said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Royal Brunei Airlines resumes flights to Kuching

By Ahmed Shaheeb

Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) announced yesterday it will resume flights to Kuching, Sarawak, starting December 1, 2007.

The three times weekly flights to Kuching on Monday, Friday and Saturday will depart Bandar Seri Begawan at 9.55pm

The new service will allow RBA to make Brunei a key gateway to Borneo and allow passengers from Kuching to connect to RBA's other destinations.

RBA's chief executive officer (CEO) Ray Sayers said, " After A long break from the Kuching market, we are now keen to re-activate our services.

"We foresee great potential in re-establishing the Kuching sector with

the intention of serving the market to and from Brunei Darussalam and beyond."

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) lauded the move.

STB CEO Gracie Geikie said the move would further boost Sarawak's effort in attracting more visitors to the state particularly from all the destinations that RBA flies to.

Geikie also expects frequent travel between Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak, which will also enhance BIMP-EAGA collaboration.

Customers can book flights to Kuching through their travel agents, RBA ticket offices or online at

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Taste of Borneo Paradise - A taste of paradise on every page

By Arman Gunsika

KOTA KINABALU - Sabah, with its diverse selection of local delicacies, has the potential to become a tourist haven. Food can become a tourist attraction, as Sabah is rich with various types of local delicacies that are yet to be discovered.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said that with Sabah's 30 ethnic groups, there should be 30 different types of local cuisine that can be offered to tourists from all over the world.

"I believe that with proper ways and channels, we will be able to market Sabah as a food destination," he said at the launching of A Taste of Borneo Paradise, a compilation of 100 recipes.

The book, which collects the recipes of 40 chefs from hotels and resorts, was compiled by commercial producer Nancy Koh.

"People all over the world love to eat, especially food that they have never tried before, and here in Sabah, we have everything that we can offer," he said.

A Taste of Borneo Paradise boasts recipes ranging from appetisers, main courses to desserts.

Nancy described the book as a dream come true. The book was a compilation of many things that she felt strongly about, and that was food, photography and Sabah, she said

The book was to showcase what Sabah had to offer and to tell the world that Sabah was a beautiful and peaceful place to visit, especially with the variety of food available, she added.

Datuk Masidi meanwhile said the book would be useful as an additional reference not only for the locals, but also for tourists to know more about Borneo and the richness of its cuisines.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Preserving heritage craft from Sabah

WHERE local pottery is concerned, we all know about labu sayong (water pitcher) from Perak and pottery from Sarawak while local heritage craft scholars and collectors are familiar with the terenang from Pahang and mambong from Kelantan.

What about the lapohan from Sabah? Never heard of it? Not surprising as it’s known only to East Sabahans and a handful of “outsiders”.

The lapohan is not a vessel for keeping food and water. Instead, it is a traditional stove that’s still widely used by the Bajau of Semporna despite the availability of modern gas stoves today. For the nomadic sea gypsies, Pala’u, who live in a lepa (house-boat), the oval-shaped lapohan is an essential kitchen utensil.

In efforts to preserve this unique craft, Kraftangan Malaysia, an agency under the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, has categorised lapohan as a heritage craft under its Heritage Craft Apprenticeship Project.

But lapohan is not the only traditional craft found in the quiet fishing port of Semporna. There are also lepa and lepa-lepa made on a nearby island and gong in a hilly village.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Preserving heritage craft from Sabah

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


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Extreme rafting challenge on Baram River in Sarawak

MIRI: The Ulu Baram Whitewater Rafting Challenge to be held on the Baram River at the end of this month will involve participants tackling Grade Four rapids – the second-most extreme for the adventure sport.

The challenge will cover 16 rapids – most of them having Grade 4 category – along the upper reaches of Sarawak’s second-longest river, the organisers said here yesterday.

Advisor to the organising committee Lihan Jok said the organisers want all participating teams to be fully prepared before they embark on this extreme challenge.

Continue reading at: Extreme rafting challenge on Baram River in Sarawak

MASWings receives 3,000 bookings in two weeks

KUCHING: Sarawak has made a headstart in drawing back tourists from long haul destinations with the recent launch of the new airline, MASWings.

MASWings is a subsidiary of national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

MAS area manager for Sarawak Shauqi Ahmad said MASWings had received some 3,000 bookings, including to Mulu National Park, a world heritage site, since its launch two weeks ago.

Continue reading at: MASWings receives 3,000 bookings in two weeks

Monday, October 15, 2007

The unforgettable Bako National Park

KUCHING: Frolicking in the motorboat, swimming in the sea, picking shells on the beach and playing models, that was what the team of Henan (China) TV did at Bako National Park on Wednesday afternoon besides having a whale of a time.

Headed by producer of cultural section, Tian Lei, the other team members, director Geng Nan, reporters, Shi Chun Li and Chen Chen went to Bako to see for themselves the rich natural park Sarawak had to offer.

They were in the State to make a documentary film on Sarawak.

There was already an air of excitement as the four wearing life jackets decided to ‘act’ out the romancing couple, Jack and Rose in the movie, “The Titanic who stood at the bow of the Titanic with the latter’s arms stretched out.

Chen Chen decided to play Rose and asked Geng Nan to play Jack much to the amusement of the boatman and Eastern Times General Manager, Ivy Ngo who escorted the team there.

As the boat was too small to have a bow to stand on, the two decided to do it sitting down.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: The unforgettable Bako National Park

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ecotourism - the next big thing

By Zowy Costa

Ecological tourism or Ecotourism - for short, is a type of tourism, which appeals to the ecologically and socially conscious. Ecotourism focuses on local culture, jungle adventures, volunteering, personal growth, and learning new ways to live on the planet; typically involving travelling to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. It is considered to be 'green' tourism and environmental-friendly.

Responsible ecotourism includes programmes that minimise the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is in the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for the local communities.

Ecotourism aims to give people a first-hand experience of natural environment and to show them the importance of conservation.

Ecotourism is regarded as a sustainable tourism, which can continue without damaging the environment, as well as integrating the local community and involving them in the planning and implementation of tourism development.

Ecotourism is a low density and low impact tourism. Therefore it is considered to be sustainable. On the other hand, mass tourism is the destroyer of environment and considered to be unsustainable. Mass tourism lures in massive numbers of tourists, regardless of age, status, nationality and culture. However, some argued that ecotourism is sometimes regarded as 'egotourism'. With wealthy and snobbish people trying to get closer to the environment and therefore will cause much more damage than mass tourism. Jungle trekkers destroy the natural environment by trampling on the plants and species of the forest.

About 70% of Brunei is still covered with virgin rainforest, especially the areas of Temburong District.

Ecotourism plays an important role in Brunei's tourism industry. Temburong, rich with Brunei's flora & fauna, attracts ecotourists from all over the world. The main attraction is the Ulu Temburong National Park. Not only tourists, but scientists and biologists are also attracted to the flora and fauna of Temburong for their research. The Ulu Temburong National Park, being a forest reserve means that logging is prohibited. It is strictly controlled and managed to maintain the state of virgin forest.

Tourists can spend a few nights at the Ulu Temburong National Park, enjoying the beautiful scenery, witnessing various wildlife species and in addition to that, they can enjoy and experience the indigenous lifestyle of Temburong. Jungle trekking & hiking is one of the activities offered. The main attraction is the canopy walkway, in which tourists can enjoy the picturesque view from hundreds of metres above ground level. Adventure enthusiasts can also enjoy rafting and kayaking along the Belalong River.

Brunei still has room for improvements. Even though Brunei is a small country, it has the potential to develop its tourism industry, particularly in ecotourism. With the success of "Visit Brunei Year 2001", we can do the same thing and improve better for the forthcoming "Visit Brunei Year 2008". We can't deny the fact that tourism is the world's fastest growing industry.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Thursday, October 11, 2007

MASwings offers family fares

KUALA LUMPUR: MASwings is introducing Family Fares in Sabah and Sarawak on its Fokker 50 flights from Monday.

The Family Fares represent a 15% discount from full fares and are available for groups of three passengers (in one reservation record).

The group must travel on the same flight and date and must have at least two adults.

Managing director of MASwings Dr Amin Khan, said, "We are offering these special fares to encourage more families to start planning their holiday travel during the forthcoming school vacation.

Continue reading at: MASwings offers family fares

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sibu home to myriad of colourful cultures

SIBU: The largest town in Central Sarawak, Sibu, known for many of its historical sites, natural attractions as well as the flora and fauna, is also home to a myriad of colourful people and cultures.

The Ibans, the largest of the 26 ethnic groups in Sarawak and formerly known as the Sea Dayaks during the colonial era, are one of the indigenous people of Sibu.

Other ethnic groups, including the Melanau, Malay, Kayan, Kenyah, Punan, Kelabit, Saban, Sekapan, Lun Bawang and other smaller groups, which are collectively known as the Orang Ulu, are also found here, exhibiting their own unique identities and cultures.

The Chinese community, who live mostly in the towns, adds to the culture and lifestyle of the people of Sarawak.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sibu home to myriad of colourful cultures

F2000 powerboat race heads for Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: The state capital will be the venue of the Formula 2000 World Cup on Dec 1 and 2. The event, being held for the first time in Sabah, will see 20 of the top powerboat racers competing.

The Malaysian leg of the race would be the last in this year’s F2000 circuit. This year's legs include Portugal (March 26 and 27), Latvia (Aug 18 and 19) and Saudi Arabia (Oct 17 and 18).

Organised by Power Sports Events Sdn Bhd, the powerboat race, featuring participants from 11 countries, would be held in the sea area just off downtown Kota Kinabalu.

Continue reading at: F2000 powerboat race heads for Sabah

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Kota Belud's 'Tamu Besar' promises exciting event this month

KOTA BELUD: A handicraft exhibition,cultural performances and a colourful Bajau horse parade will be part of the “Tamu Besar” celebration here on Oct 27 and 28.

Member of Parliament for Kota Belud,Datuk Seri salleh Said Keruak said the Tamu Besar or Kota Belud’s big open-air market celebration would provide the best chance for the public to see and appreciate the unique craft work and culture of the local communities.

“Kota Belud is a district rich in cultural heritage from various ethnic groups in Sabah,besides offering a beautiful panoramic view.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Kota Belud's 'Tamu Besar' promises exciting event this month

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tale of Three rivers - Garama, Klias and Padas

NAMED after an English governor and internationally famous for its Dutchman and Grade 3 waters... that’s Beaufort.

The Dutchman is the Proboscis Monkey, an endangered species nicknamed Orang Belanda (Dutchman) by the locals because of its red face, potbelly, large nose and golden brown fur. It’s found in large numbers on the Garama and Klias rivers.

Grade 3 waters refers to the scale for white water rafting offered on the Padas River.

In fact, the district was known as Padas before it was renamed after Leicester P. Beaufort, an English Governor in late 19th Century. Now, it is also known as the Venice of the East for its “off-the-ground shops”, a practical way to cope with the annual floods.

The town is located 95km from Kota Kinabalu, a journey that takes 90 minutes by car and two hours by train. Beaufort is one of the major towns along Sabah’s only railway line and a transit stop for those boarding the railcar to Tenom or heading to Menumbok to take the ferry to Labuan.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Tale of Three rivers - Garama, Klias and Padas

MASWings makes inaugural flight from Miri to Mulu

Photo shows the first MASWings Fokker 50 flight
arriving at Mulu Airport. - PHOTO: GEORGE FRANCIS

By George Francis

MULU - MASWings, a new subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines on Oct 1 took to the skies to serve Sabah and Sarawak. Its 30-minute inaugural flight from Miri to Mulu commenced at 9.20am, the first of 451 weekly flights to serve a network of 21 destinations in Sabah and Sarawak.

Deputy Transport Minister Malaysia, Datuk Douglas Uggah, MASWings chairman and Malaysia Airlines managing director/CEO Datuk Idris Jala and MASWings managing director Dr Amin Khan were among the first passengers onboard the Fokker 50 flight to Mulu.

They were later joined by the Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony of the aircraft bound for the next flight, Mulu to Miri was formalised by the Chief Minister who then inspected the interior of the aircraft.

Sarawak deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan and Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, as well Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh, Land Development Minister Datuk Dr James Masing and assistant minister, including CEO of Sarawak Tourism Board Gracie Geikie were also present at the event.

In Sabah, meanwhile, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman sent off passengers of MASWings' first flight in the state from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu at 10am.

"We're delighted to take to the skies today, offering more frequency, better schedules and connectivity, and affordable fares to the communities in Sabah and Sarawak," Musa said.

Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the policy of Rural Air Service operated in Sarawak since the era of Borneo Airways, started on Oct 1, 1972 as a cornerstone of air services for Sarawak rural destination that was continued on with the subsidy policy when Borneo Airways and Malaysian Airways were combined.

In conjunction with the launch, MASWings also announced its first community programme "Wings for Children". It is to provide a much-needed support to young patients and their families in rural areas - a free airlift for seriously ill infant and children below 12 years who require immediate medical attention.

Meanwhile, MASWings offers weekly frequencies of 168 Fokker 50 flights and 146 Twin Otter flights in Sarawak while for Sabah, 72 Fokker 50 flights and 9 Twin Otter flights are available. There will be 51 Fokker 50 flights and 5 Twin Otter flights between Sabah and Sarawak.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Borneo's fragile underwater world

The following is a recently published article from UK's Telegraph online by Tim Ecott who feels privileged to dive off the Borneo island of Sipadan, which we hope you will find interesting:

The leopard shark swam straight towards me, dark rosettes dappling its pale yellow flanks. Its high scything tail and sculpted sides, glinting as though sprinkled with gold dust, seemed curiously at odds with its blunt snout and toothless grandpa mouth. It moved lazily over the coral, but the strong current at the northern tip of Sipadan made it impossible to follow and I watched it slip over the edge of the reef into the darkening blue depths of the Celebes Sea.

Divers come to Sipadan, a tiny island an hour by speedboat from Borneo's east coast, to see big fish. Malaysia's only oceanic island, it sits on the edge of a submarine shelf above an abyss more than 2,000 feet deep.

As the current threatened to drag me out into the blue I swam hard for the shelter of an underwater rock canyon, where I found batfish with flattened, spade-like bodies and dopey eyes. Just ahead, a tornado-shaped school of barracuda turned in unison above my head, a silver funnel of 1,000 fish oblivious to the clumsy divers below.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Borneo's fragile underwater world

Greater heights for tourism in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: MASWings began its much awaited flight services in Sabah when it took to the skies yesterday bound for Lahad Datu from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) via MH3014.

The flight is amongst the first of what would be 451 weekly flights servicing a network of 21 destinations in Sabah and Sarawak.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman lauded the commencement of MASWings, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, and was confident that it would further boost the state’s tourism industry.

He said by taking over the rural air service in Sabah and Sarawak it would improve air connectivity for both international and domestic routes and lure more foreign tourists to Sabah shores.

Continue reading at: Greater heights for tourism in Sabah

MASWings’ network covers 21 destinations in Sabah and Sarawak

KOTA KINABALU: Fifteen orphans were among the passengers on MASWings' first flight here yesterday to Lahad Datu to mark the rural air service to Sabah and Sarawak.

The inaugural flight, a Fokker 50 bearing flight number MH3014, was among the first few flights of the network covering 21 destinations in Sabah and Sarawak. It has scheduled 451 flights per week.

MASWings takes over from Flyasian Express after 14 months. During that period, many problems such as flight delays and cancellations were reported.

The new company, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, will operate 72 weekly Fokker 50 flights and nine Twin Otter flights within Sabah, and 168 Fokker 50 flights and 146 Twin Otter flights within Sarawak.

Continue reading at: MASWings’ network covers 21 destinations in Sabah and Sarawak

Monday, October 01, 2007

MASWing takes to the sky today

By George Francis

MIRI - MASWing, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), will today commence its rural air service (RAS) in Sarawak and Sabah, taking over from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) for a revival of tour industry to the Borneo states' interior attractions.

In conjunction with this inauguration at Mulu Airport, MASWing will also officially unveil its logo to be witnessed by Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

It has been a year since August 2006 when MAS, under the government's domestic flight rationalisation programme, handed over the RAS to budget airline AirAsia, which then subcontracted them to the inexperienced FAX.

The exercise saw a drop in visitors, especially from the west or Europe, as the tourism sectors suffered serious setbacks due to the air connectivity and interlining problems.

Compounding the problems, the airline switch had resulted in about 80 per cent of rural air services bookings with MAS being cancelled.

This is because, unlike in Peninsula Malaysia, the remote settlements and tourist attractions in Sarawak's interior depended on air services. By not being able to secure seats to the rural destinations online, thus the tourists or agents omitted the routes; the most affected is to Sarawak's tourism crown jewel - Mulu National Park - world heritage site.

FAX's reduction in flight frequencies or cancellations of RAS routes in the interior had also disrupted the local commuters' convenience and lifestyles, and that strong criticisms by the industry and people as well as both states had changed the mind of FAX bosses to hand the RAS back to MAS.

MASWing managing director Dr Amin Khan, meanwhile, said the airline would operate more RAS flights weekly and go all out through its agents worldwide in promoting rural destinations in Sarawak and Sabah.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

New attraction at Sarawak's Bidayuh longhouse

KUCHING: The Kampung Annah Rais longhouse, a favourite stopover for European tourists to Sarawak, is offering a chance for visitors to learn the Bidayuh traditional dances.

The residents of the 140-door longhouse will teach the dances for a nominal fee of RM20 per person.

To try out the colourful Bidayuh traditional costumes, the visitors need to pay an additional RM10 each.

The Bidayuhs make up the second biggest group of the Dayak community in Sarawak, after the Ibans.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: New attraction at Sarawak's Bidayuh longhouse