Monday, March 31, 2008

Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival June 21

Kota Kinabalu: The Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) is set to hold the 2nd Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival on June 21 at the Jesselton Point.

RCKK President Frankie Fu said last year's inaugural event was a crowd-puller, drawing as many as 1800 people, young and old alike, and from all walks of life.

"It goes to show that KK folks are receptive to the idea of a jazz festival to inject live entertainment into the city, among other creations. As such, we are motivated to repeat the event this year albeit with different performers from abroad in addition to local artistes. It's going to be just as exciting," he said.

Fu said the second jazz festival is the key event in the first Kota Kinabalu Arts Festival featuring four events in June. His Co-Organising Chairperson is Datuk Adeline Leong who is President of the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (SPArKS).

The fascinating Aseana Percussion Unit (APU), among other performers, will make a special appearance at the 2nd KK Jazz Festival.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival June 21

Tiger Airways keen to fly to Sabah, Sarawak

SINGAPORE’S Tiger Airways is akin to a tiger on the prowl.

The pace of its expansion since inception over the past three years has been phenomenal.

This tiger is not about to take a break. East Malaysia is the next destination to add to its network besides three more bases in Asia.

Group chief executive officer Tony Davis believes that the airline could provide alternative linkages to East Malaysia from Singapore and the rest of the world.

He said passengers flying Tiger from China to Australia were asking for access to East Malaysia and Tiger believes it can play a part to promote tourism in Sabah and Sarawak.

“People in East Malaysia have asked us many times to fly into East Malaysia, and so have those in Ipoh and Penang. We are a willing party but it really depends on the Government.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Tiger Airways keen to fly to Sabah, Sarawak

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Good tourism growth potential in Sibuti

SIBUTI: In a visit to Kuala Bakam here on Friday, Aidan Wing, State Assemblyman for Lambir, said he noted good potential for tourism growth in areas such as Sibuti, Bekenu and Lambir, with strong emphasis on eco-tourism products.

He said the natural beauty of green environment, beautiful sandy beaches and rivers ideal for water sports should be exploited further to attract more tourists especially foreign ones to come. More activities should also be planned in these areas for the purpose, he added.

Meanwhile, he said he was happy with efforts so far to develop more tourism products to boost the local tourism industry.

“I’m confident the development of eco-tourism and agro-tourism products along Bakam district and its surrounding areas would continue to grow to boost the tourism industry,” he said during an interview held his visit to Kuala Bakam.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Good tourism growth potential in Sibuti

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wild water rafting at Padas river

FORGET upstream and downstream. The normal laws of physics do not apply in Padas where the river writhes, tosses and turns, sending rafters paddling furiously to stay afloat amid its churning white waters.

If you have no idea where Padas is, relax, you are not alone.

From my lodge in Kota Kinabalu, I had to first make a 90-minute minibus journey just to reach the transit station of Beaufort.

That's where I caught Borneo’s only train, which unfortunately runs on what my guide called “rubber time”, meaning it arrives when it chooses and not according to schedule. When it finally rolled in, a cabal of Koreans duly pushed bags through the open windows, reserving all the seats and forcing me to spend this second 90-minute journey standing up, which in hindsight proved to be good white-water rafting practice.

The train, which is just over 30 years old, set off with a sound like a thunderclap.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Adopt a tree to save orang utans

Adopt a tree to save orang utans

WHAT link is there between trees and tea that could possibly save the orang-utans’ home in the Kinabatangan forest in Sabah?

Boh Plantations Sdn Bhd (Boh) and WWF-Malaysia (WWF) have organised a campaign themed “Tea for Trees” to create public awareness towards restoring the Home of Orang-Utans.

The campaign encourages public participation in the efforts to conserve this endangered species by symbolically adopting a tree.

The tree adoption drive held at The Curve in Petaling Jaya last weekend drew strong interest from shoppers and environment enthusiasts with the many fun-filled educational activities organised to keep the public enthralled.

“We believe that we are in a position to reach out to Malaysians and share the message of the need to protect the orang utans which are threatened due to destruction of their habitat,” said Boh Plantations chief executive officer Caroline Russell.

Continue reading at: Adopt a tree to save orang utans

Royal Brunei Airlines too hikes fuel surcharge

By Azaraimy HH

The national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines on Friday informed that it will increase its fuel surcharge on selected routes in the wake of rising oil prices.

In a press statement, RBA said due to the continuous rise of oil prices Royal Brunei Airlines will increase its fuel surcharge on selected routes for tickets issued or reissued on and after Tuesday 1st April 2008.

Below is the updated list of surcharges that will apply to tickets issued in Brunei for travel from and to Bandar Seri Begawan.

* Kota Kinabalu and Kuching - B$30 one-way (no change),

* Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali and Ho Chi Minh City - B$55 one-way,

* Hong Kong and Shanghai - B$65 one-way,

* Perth, Brisbane and Sydney - B$75 one-way,

* Auckland - B$110 one-way,

* Dubai and Jeddah - B$90 one-way,

* London - B$135 one-way.

Earlier this week Singapore Airline (SIA) announced increased fuel surcharges between Singapore and Asean countries due to soaring jet fuel prices.

SIA said surcharges between Singapore and other Asean countries will increase from US$26 (B$37.30) to US$30 (B$43.50) per sector, while for flights to US and Canada, fuel surcharges will go up from US$123 (B$178.35) to US$130 (B$188.50) per sector.

Other SIA flights to Europe and North Asia will see an increase in fuel surcharges from US$75 (B$108.75) to US$80 (B$116) per sector.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Papar Kadazan Costume

The Kadazandusun community is widely spread throughout Sabah. Their costumes identify the home district of the wearer. For example, the Kadazan costume most commonly worn by women is the Penampang version: a long velvet skirt and sleeveless blouse with gold trimmings.

The Papar Kadazan costume is slightly different; it has a knee-length skirt (gonob) with a horizontal and a vertical cross-stitched panel lined with gold thread, and a short jacket (sia) with brass buttons, worn over a white blouse. The costume is complemented by a conical hat (siung) made of fine bamboo strips.

Coloured feather-down or artificial flowers at the top of the hat show the wearerís marital statusófeather-down for unmarried women and flowers for married women. Widows, grandmothers and other elderly woman wear neither feather-down nor flowers on their hats. A scarf (soundung) is usually worn under the siung.

The outfit is further adorned with silver ëdollarí (British trade dollar) belts, called rupia or lupia. Unmarried women wear four rupia, whilst married women wear only two.

The arms are adorned with bolilit, flat silver bracelets shaped like a spiral. The menís costume is fairly simple. It consists of a long-sleeved jacket (sia) similar to the womenís, worn with a pair of velvet trousers with gold trimmings (souva). A dastar cloth is folded into a headdress known as the sigal.

Courtesy of: Sabah Malaysia Borneo - Sabah Tourism Monthly Tourism Magazine

Waterfall in Ulu Sarikei a good tourist attraction

SIBU: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) Sibu has identified another potential tourist attraction in Ulu Sarikei - a waterfall.

Tucked away in the secondary rainforest, Sungai Munsoh waterfall was about the best one could find in Sarawak, according to STB Sibu executive, Rudy Anoi.

Easily accessible through easy jungle trekking from Rumah Nyuka longhouse at Lubuk Lemba, the waterfall should be an ideal get-away destination especially for those who like to escape from the hustle and bustle of busy town life, he added.

Incidentally, Rudy had been very busy of late trying to locate new pristine spots in the interior of central region of Sarawak which could be promoted as new tourism products to boost the tourism industry.

The discovery of Sungai Munsoh waterfall was definitely very rewarding, according to Rudy. He and his team, comprising a travel agent and staff from STB, made the discovery during a recent trip to Lubuk Lemba in Ulu Sarikei upper-river interior region in search of potential tourist destinations.

The 10-member team was led by Rudy and Ling How Ming of Greatown Travel.

“As part of our tourism product identification programme, this new discovery having the good potential as a tourist destination has been very promising, considering the perfect location and surroundings,” he said.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Waterfall in Ulu Sarikei a good tourist attraction

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival 2008 to be held from July 11-13

KUCHING: The Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) 2008 being organised by Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) will be held at the Sarawak Cultural Village, Santubong from July 11 to 13.

The annual event has been voted among the top 10 world music festivals by World Music Expo (WOMEX) in an announcement made in Spain last year, STB Chief Executive Officer, Gracie Geikie told reporters at a press conference held at STB Board Room in Bangunan Yayasan Sarawak here yesterday.

She added that last year the event managed to generate RM18 million in revenue and this year the target is RM20 million. The event this year had a budget of about RM1.85 million.

“Last year more than 22,000 people attended the 3-day festival with more than 60 percent of them from outside Sarawak. This year STB is targeting to attract about 25,000 festival goers.

“We intend to bring the Festival to a higher level, to enrich the event with more to see and do for outsiders so that they will stay here at least 6.5 nights instead of the usual 5 days (4 nights). And the fringe events to support and complement RWMF are the inaugural Rainforest World Crafts Bazaar from July 9 -15, 2008, and Folk Art Forum from July 9-11, 2008,” said Gracie who is also the advisor for RWMF 2008.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival 2008 to be held from July 11-13

Monday, March 24, 2008

Gayana Eco Resort: Live it up with nature at resort

KOTA KINABALU: The Gayana Eco Resort on Pulau Gaya will be the first resort in Sabah to be affiliated with Small Luxury Hotels, a worldwide group of hotels offering exclusive holiday experiences.

Situated in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, its 44 water chalets lie in Malohom Bay.

The resort offers a seafood restaurant, dive centre, Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC), infinity pool and personalised service.

Spokesman Joshua Wong said the resort wanted to incorporate an environmentally-conscious concept in its products and services, as well as encourage guests to interact with nature.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Gayana Eco Resort: Live it up with nature at resort

Sarawak move to boost Borneo garden

SARAWAK Tourism Federation (STF) hopes to boost the Pitcher Plant and Wild Orchid Garden at Kota Padawan near Kuching as an attractive tourist destination.

Its president Wee Hong Seng recently led a 30-strong delegation of tourism industry players to the garden to explore its potential and provide feedback on how it could be improved to attract more visitors.

“Operators and tour guides should have knowledge of tourism products in Sarawak which they can package for clients,” Wee said.

The delegation included members of the Malaysian Association of Tours and Travel Agents (Matta) Sarawak Chapter, Association of Sarawak Inbound Agencies, Sarawak Tourist Guide Association, Urban and Development Tourism Ministry and the tourist police.

Continue reading at: Sarawak move to boost Borneo garden

Friday, March 21, 2008

MASwings plans more flights

KUCHING: MASwings will introduce twice daily flights from here to Mukah from March 30.

The current frequency for the sector is nine flights per week.

The increased flights are part of the airline’s intention to do more flying as well as introduce new aircrafts and chart new destinations.

The airline has attracted 250,000 passengers within five months of operations.

Another route, the Kuching-Tanjung Manis, will have three weekly flights from April 5.

MASwings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, is a regional airline operating the Rural Air Services (RAS) in Sabah and Sarawak. It took over the services from FlyAsianXpress.

Continue reading at: MASwings plans more flights

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Arts programme at Kuching waterfront villages

KUCHING: Come the end of March, city folks and tourists can catch local art and cultural performances at the waterfront of Kampung Boyan, Kampung Gersik and Kampung Sourabaya here in a programme put together by Kuching North City Hall and the state Culture, Arts and Heritage Department.

Dubbed the Kuching North Arts Centre, the programme will kick off on March 29 and take place twice a month until December 20.

State culture, arts and heritage director Chua Tek Luwi said it was a way of preserving and promoting local art and culture besides providing a space for artists and groups to perform or display their work.

“The arts centre programme will be the cultural hotspot for Kuching North, showcasing various art and cultural activities.

Continue reading at: Arts programme at Kuching waterfront villages

Monday, March 17, 2008

Good Nyonya food in Kuching

Nyonya cuisine is hard to come by in Kuching. But somewhere in 4th Mile lies a shop that promises customers delicious nyonya food.

The name Nyonya Bites may or may not be familiar to many, but it has been around for the past one year. It started out as a simple snack shop of sorts, selling Nyonya kuihs and so on. Recently, its menu has undergone a little “revamping” and now it offers more than just things to bite.

The kitchen was recently taken over by a new team of chefs specialising in Nyonya cooking, while the other in Chinese cuisine, and their assistants. They are called under Xiang Lian Seafood and offer an a la carte menu of restaurant dishes like fish, crab, oysters, chicken, pork, prawn, lamb, venison, vegetable, noodle, rice and soup.

Though the eatery no longer carries Nyonya kuihs like Pai Tee since the change, they have, however, introduced several Nyonya specialties that has grown popular with its regular diners.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Good Nyonya food in Kuching

Miri to offer free tram service soon

MIRI: A “free tram service coupon system” will be implemented in hotels and motels in Miri for tourists and guests here to enjoy free public transportation services.

Under the coupon system, to be introduced by the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) in a joint-venture with hotels and motels here, guests with confirmed room bookings would be entitled to use the tram for free rides to tourists spots, shopping complexes and recreation parks and markets in the city.

STB director for the northern region, Lee Kim Shin, said the service would be the first in the state.

Continue reading at: Miri to offer free tram service soon

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tamu is Borneo's grassroots mall

By Rahmat bin Hj Abdul Rahman

Tamu or Open market on Sundays that made its debut about four decades ago in the old oil town of Seria are a common feature in many parts of Borneo today.

Besides the variety of fare offered by small time vendors the Tamu provides an ideal opportunity for people to converge and meet up with friends and relatives who are doing their Sunday shopping.

The tamu lets small time traders to bring their produce from rural to the urban areas besides exchanging goods and reasonable prices.

Some of the popular items that are hawked in abundance, vegetables, groceries, textiles, cottage products and other agricultural produce.

Kota Kinabalu City is famous for its' Tamu or Sunday Market at Gaya Street that opens from early in the morning until 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

Kota Belud is also known for its Sunday Tamu and the Big Tamu. Sipitang's Tamu is on every Wednesday that runs early in the afternoon up to Thursday evening.

Lawas Tamu is on every Thursday morning to Fridays at 6 o'clock in the evening.

Meanwhile, in Limbang across the Brunei border the tamu is held every Thursday from 6 o'clock in the morning till 6 o'clock in the evening and is located near the public Wet Market in Limbang town. But on Friday, the tamu starts at 6 o'clock in the morning until 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

Some of the agricultural produce sold here come from Sabah. Fruits like avocado, watermelon and pineapples are available around March. Fruits like Rambutan, durian, pulasan, langsat, mangosteen and others were hardly seen at Limbang tamu. These tropical fruits are only available during their season between September to December.

The harvesting of the tropical fruits in Tenom, Sipitang in Sabah, in Merapok and Trusan, Lawas and Limbang varies from a location to another.

Meanwhile, the multi-racial ethnic communities in Sarawak trade in the tamus in harmony.

The ethnic Melayu Brunei, Kedayan, Lundayeh or Lunbawang, Bisaya, Iban and Chinese sit together to sell their goods.

One of the vendors was seen using timber trunks to improvise kitchen utensils like the "gagawi" and "sasaban" and "hulu parang". He made these utensils from the abandoned tree trunks instead of leaving them to simply rot away.

What impressed us mostly was the cottage industrial products made with traditional items like the "utau", "barut", "bantal guling or bantal paluk", pillows made from cotton by local woman for babies and post-natal mothers

Jangan, an officer from Limbang Municipal said, "The tamu operates fairly on a ' first come first served basis'. No booking can be made by prospective vendors leaving their goods during the day and night. The fee for a small plot is only about RM2.00.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sarawak undergoing a tourism revival

MIRI: American, European and Asian tourists are visiting Sarawak by the planeloads, sparking off a tourism boom in the Land of the Hornbills.

Tourist arrivals from the United States and Western Europe had gone up by a third, said Sarawak Tourism Board executive officer Gracie Geikie.

The board's latest statistics showed that Sarawak is now enjoying a major tourism revival, following flight connectivity woes in 2006 and early last year that had almost derailed the industry.

“Our international tourism business is back on track. Not only have we regained lost customers, we have also uncovered new markets.

Continue reading at: Sarawak undergoing a tourism revival

Sarawak saleable as tourist destination

KUCHING: Sarawak, with its rich culture and beautiful land, is saleable in term of tourism if all agencies work together to bring in tourists.

AirAsia Manager for East Malaysia and Brunei, Shahmugamunathan Suppiah, in an interview yesterday, believed that with the State government, travel agents and tour agencies working as a team, the tourism industry in Sarawak would be better than in other states.

During a recent Travel Mission with Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), Air Asia sponsored 25 tickets and six lucky draws in forms of airtickets. The five-day travel mission was to Macau, Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Shahmugamunathan said AirAsia expected a lot from such travel mission and it was unfortunate that Minister of Urban Development and Tourism, Datuk Sri Wong Soon Koh could not make it due to the election campaign in the country.

“It was also unfortunate that the Sarawak Tourism Federation was unable to make it due to technical problem,” he added.

Continue reading at: Sarawak saleable as tourist destination

Miri Jazz Festival gaining popularity

MIRI: The 3rd edition of Miri International Jazz Festival (MIJF) and the only tourism driven jazz festival in Malaysia is fast gaining recognition among both local and international jazz music lovers.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), Gracie Geikie is optimistic that MIJF is getting very popular, and its popularity is moving faster than the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), which is now one of the top ten world music festivals.

“MIJF has emulated the success of RWMF as a great model in organising and commercialising music-based events for Sarawak. Although there is no ranking on jazz festivals so far, we have high confidence in MIJF in line with our aspirations to put Miri on the world music map,” she told a press conference at ParkCity Everly Hotel here yesterday.

Gracie, who is also the advisor of MIJF, made this positive comment based on several aspects, including overwhelming applications from bands to perform, sponsorships, tickets sales and bookings of hotels, packaging, media personnel wanting to cover the event following greater awareness through promotions and widespread publicity on the event.

The MIJF, she pointed, had been included in the national tourism calendar this year.

Continue reading at: Miri Jazz Festival gaining popularity

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

178,000 tourist arrivals visiting Brunei last year

By Azlan Othman

About $1.54 million was allocated for the tourism budget in the 2008-2009 financial year, which recorded a 12.8 per cent growth in 2007 with 178,000 tourists visiting the Sultanate last year.

This was revealed by Minister of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR), YB Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Dr Awg Hj Ahmad, at the legislative council session which entered its sixth day yesterday.

However, YB Pehin Kapitan Lela Diraja Dato Paduka Awg Goh King Chin said the budget is not enough to promote Brunei tourism, including sports, globally like advertising which he proposed, in the CNN, BBC, ESPN and Star Sports.

The issues raised by members yesterday morning focused on the departments under the MIPR. The Minister also highlighted the responsibility of the public themselves in assisting in the tourism campaign.

"In Brunei, based on the statistics of tourist arrivals (178,000) against the population (391,000), shows that one tourist is looked after by 1.5 people compared to Singapore where there is one tourist for every 2.5 people. 10 million tourists visited Singapore which has a population of four million. In Malaysia, there is one tourist for every 1.5 people", he added.

Responding to a question from YB Dato Paduka Hj Idris, the Minister said tourism last year contributed about $328 million to the Gross Domestic Product (KDNK) in 2007 compared to $275 million in 2004.

The Minister also revealed that there are plans to improve the Ulu Temburong National Park and UBD field studies and research centre, but said there is no plan to set up a golf course in Temburong as proposed by Temburong legislative member, YB Hj Sulaiman Hj Ahad. Currently, there are 44 chalets under the jurisdiction of the Forestry Department at the park.

The Minister also said that BSP Sdn Bhd also plans to make "sky scaffolding" at Sg Liang Recreational Park like those at the Ulu Temburong national park. Sg Liang park received about 23,000 tourists two years ago but the number of visitors dropped at Sg Lalak recreational park.

Asked about the follow-up action made by the Minister himself and officials from his ministry after their visits to the plantations together with the people which was also touched on by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam at the opening of the session last week, which was raised by YB Hj Sulaiman Ahad, the Minister said the visits were part of their tasks where assessment was later made by the heads of department on actions taken and whether they were satisfied or otherwise with the developments.

On the microbe project under the Heart of Borneo between MIPR and Japanese National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE) and our rights if such a project is accepted worldwide as well as the issue of sustainable development as raised by YB Dato Paduka Hj Idris, the Minister said there is a biodiversity centre in Sg Liang under an eight-year plan and the MoU between Forestry and NITE is still in the process, so too is the legal framework.

On the need to inform the public about the Heart of Borneo (HoB) project's implementation, objectives and control as inquired by YB Dato Paduka Hj Puasa, the Minister said that the policy has been agreed upon by the three Borneo countries, while the consultation report to implement it is now under discussion. Meetings have been held in Brunei, Jakarta and soon in Kuching.

A council will be established, subject to the three leaders' approval from Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. "We have no problem on this. We are just awaiting the decision made by the central governments of Malaysia and Indonesia," he said.

The approved 2008-2009 budget of MIPR yesterday include for the Ministry itself which stands at $13,985,720.00, Forestry ($8,203,095.00), Fisheries ($8,398,708.00), Agriculture ($29,550,791.00), Brunei Industrial Development Authority, BINA ($3,940,816.00) and Department of Tourism Development ($1,543,716.00).

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Cruise ship passengers visit Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

KUCHING: A large group of German tourists from the cruise ship “M V Columbus” visited the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre at Mile 13 here yesterday afternoon.

According to the ship’s German tour guide, there were 245 of them and they came from all over Germany. Their ages ranged from 16 to 85 and for many of them, this was their first trip to Sarawak.

The ten-year-old cruise ship is Bahamian owned and caters exclusively for German tourists. It can carry 420 passengers and 170 staff.

It arrived at Sim Kheng Hong Port, Kuching yesterday morning and left for Sabah last night.

The tour guide, who preferred to remain anonymous, added that besides Malaysia, the ship was also visiting other parts of Asia, the Carribean and Europe.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Cruise ship passengers visit Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hope and harmony in Borneo’s rainforests

It was love at first sight from the moment Ed Grenby met her in Malaysia. A ravishing red-head, she was star-crossed, sweet and short .

I look deep into Hope’s eyes, and she looks back into mine. She smiles and I smile too. She reaches out for my hand, and I reach for hers. But just as we are about to touch, a uniformed gentleman with a truncheon sternly reminds me of the no-contact rule, and Hope is led away, her big brown eyes brimming with sadness, and her knuckles scraping the floor.

It’s a tragic, Romeo-and-Juliet story of a love that couldn’t be, of a couple who shared so much but were divided by that age-old barrier: she was from one species; I, another.

If I’m honest — and that’s important when a relationship ends, isn’t it? — she probably only ever liked me for my spiffy new Nikon. “Orang-utans love small, shiny objects like digital cameras or iPods,” says John, chief warden at my Malaysian hotel’s on-site nature reserve, fingering his truncheon thoughtfully. “They’ll steal anything like that.” Surely Hope couldn’t be that shallow, I think, but when I look over to her, expecting a picture of inconsolable yearning, she seems to have cheered herself up pretty effectively with a banana and a stick.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Hope and harmony in Borneo’s rainforests

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sarawak - Land of wonders

We checked out the Sarawak Tourism Board website for places to go. Each activity promised an exciting and novel experience.

In the end, we decided to drive to the Semengoh Orang Utan Sanctuary. To get there, we had to first drive to the Forestry Department Research Centre in Semengoh, and follow a small trunk road leading to the Rehabilitation Centre through the forest. In 30 minutes, we reached the 740ha of forest reserve.

We had to pay RM3 to enter.

A park ranger briefed us on the orang utans. He told us to keep as quiet as possible and not stray away from the group. We walked 10 minutes into the jungle to the feeding platform. This is where the semi-wild orang utans are fed twice a day. The ranger showed us the mixture of foods, from fruits to vitamins. For calcium, they are given bottles of milk mixed with boiled beans, sugar cane, sunflower seeds and fresh young coconuts.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak - Land of wonders

Royal Brunei Airlines only airline to fly direct to Kuching

By Ben Ng

National carrier Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) is participating in the Sarawak Travel Fair that kicked off yesterday in efforts to increase public awareness on the reinstatement of their flights to neighbouring Kuching.

"As the only airline that flies direct to Kuching from Bandar Seri Begawan, Royal Brunei Airlines wishes to use the Sarawak Travel Fair as a platform to increase public awareness on the reinstatement of our flights to Kuching," RBA said in a statement yesterday.

During the travel fair, visitors may purchase special promotional fares to Kuching for B$159.00, RBA said. Golden Touch Holidays - RBA's tourism arm - will also be showcasing their special holiday package to Kuching.

In addition, RBA is offering a complimentary dinner or city tour vouchers to the first 40 passengers who book "Golden Touch Holidays' 4 Days & 3 Nights Retreat" packages to Kuching.

Meanwhile, Royal Skies members who purchase tickets to Kuching during the fair "will see their mileage doubled", said RBA. Non-members need not worry "as they can enrol during the travel fair to also take advantage of this offer".

"This travel fair will be a good opportunity for the public to discover more about Royal Brunei Airlines' products and services to Kuching, and to take advantage of all the great offers. Our helpful and friendly staff will be readily available during the travel fair to assist visitors," RBA said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sinurambi: Country living in a jungle abode

WITH sweeping views of the coastline, surrounding hills and vast expanse of sky, Sinurambi is an oasis of sheer indulgence. Sinurambi (meaning a jungle abode in the native Kadazandusun language) was conceptualised way back in 1999 when its owners, Terry and Rose Mills, were on the look-out for the perfect location to build their dream home.

Ironically, the present location was passed up because of the almost impassable access to the property. A land broker was then engaged to continue the search for the desired location. As fate would have it, the broker led them to the exact same property one year later.

“You can say that the land found us,” summed up Rose about their home located near the Inobong area of Penampang.

Perched on the edge of the Crocker Range National Park which forms the backbone of Sabah, it is located at 1,000m above sea level. From here, almost the entire southern west coast from the Klias Peninsula, across the city landscape and into the mountainous range eastward is laid out before your eyes. The dramatic change from lowland to forest covered hills before finally culminating in the towering granite peaks of Mt. Kinabalu is the perfect backdrop for an ambitious desire to create a luxurious home in the country.

Despite it’s the humble origin of its name, Sinurambi is by no means a jungle abode. It has turned out to be an amazing architectural feat that blends local designs and materials inspired by the people, culture and natural beauty of Sabah. The search for an architect – the one who would bring the vision to life – was a process in itself. With no takers to their advertisement in the newspaper, the Mills approached six of Sabah’s top architectural firms.

Two were not interested, three had ideas of their own and finally, one who would literally be – the one.

Ling Fahshing suggested the L-shape of the house to suit the landscape of the eight-acre site and its terrain. It has five bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a dining room, an entertainment room, a small office on the top floor and an outdoor swimming pool. The outdoor timber deck where you can entertain guests or just indulge in some quiet time by yourself is made entirely of salangan batu, a local hardwood species. The use of wood throughout the house, whether it is part of the structural frame or furniture, gives the house a warm and cozy feel.

Large framed windows of aluminum and glass balances the warmth of the wood with the cool of the surrounding green hills. The rooms are arranged in such a way to take advantage of this so that you can soak up the scenery as you curl up in a comfortable chair in the living room with a book or whip up a wicked spread for family and friends in the kitchen.

The most structurally impressive part of the house has got to be the living room. Inspired by the shape of the wakid, a traditional Kadazandusun basket, it is not only aesthetically pleasing but the framed glass walls that face outwards offer the most spectacular views. The sun’s rays warm the room in the morning as it brushes off vestiges of the night’s mist and bathes it in glowing colours as the sun sets. On less than perfect days, Mother Nature puts on a brilliant show of rolling thunder and clouds that you can only look upon in awe. Then at the break of dawn, the storm clouds dissipate and reveal one of the most stunning sights in the distance – Mt. Kinabalu.

Sinurambi offers the opportunity to experience this truly unique home and exclusive lifestyle. The newly introduced Country Stay Programme is a blend of homestay and bed & breakfast. It is a niche market that has the potential to develop even further with the existence of Sinurambi. The programme can be very up-scale where you can organize trips on a yacht, fly in a helicopter or ride a motorbike through Sabah’s rugged terrain. Or you can choose to have a more relaxed tour of the nature parks, islands and open air markets.

Whatever your options, you know that at the end of the day, you will come home to the warmth and tranquility that is Sinurambi. For more info, please visit

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

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Heightened security on islands off Sabah gives assurance to tourists

By Arman Gunsika

KOTA KINABALU - Heightened security on islands off Sabah has had a calming effect on holiday-makers, particularly foreigners, many of them from countries which were warned against making such trips.

Sabah Commissioner of Police Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim said he had seen for himself that foreign visitors had no worries about holidaying on the islands.

Almost eight years since the infamous Abu Sayyaf siege on Sipadan Island - a kidnapping nightmare still etched in the minds of the world and locals alike - he is convinced that people have been able to put the episodes behind them especially after seeing the levels of security there.

He said that many tourists he had met indicated their intention to come back to visit Sabah. Some of them have been here seven or eight times.

"With the beautiful islands in Sabah, tourists will keep coming and I was made to understand many had to book in advance, some between six months and a year ahead," he said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin