Saturday, August 30, 2008

Exploring the depths of Sarawak jungle

By Garry Anderson

Two friends, Rick Cole and Ken Watt, and I recently realised a 10-year-old ambition of ours - to reach Bario in the farthest depths of the Sarawak jungle.

We regularly make back-country trips to far-flung villages, longhouses and places of interest by motorbike. The more remote the better, but Bario, a Kelabit village nestling on a highland plateau behind the Tama Abu Ranges and Gunung Murud (7,950ft - the highest point in Sarawak) near the Kalimantan border, remained unknown to us, despite our previous attempts to reach it from several different directions.

At the beginning of July, armed with new information on a possible route tracking the Baram River to its source, the three of us set out from Miri. After a 100-km ride inland the public road ended and we entered the logging areas where the roads are built and maintained by timber companies.

A unique right-of-way system is used on timber roads, which helps the fully laden logging trucks stay on the strongest part of the road. The side which you have to drive on is indicated by arrow markers and it changes from side to side with the topography. It can be a hair-raising experience to round a corner on the wrong side and come face to face with an empty logging truck thundering straight at you.

One and a half days and 420km later we reached the end of the road, literally. At Pa Bareng on Sg Dapur, everything bound for Bario must be unloaded and taken by boat one to two hours upriver. That is, anything that has managed to get that far!

Even though Bario is only accessible by air, boat and on foot, they have 4WD vehicles, bulldozers, excavators and tractors; all bought up by boat in pieces and reassembled.

We were lucky to find three small long boats at Pa Bareng loading bags of cement to ferry up to Bario (for a new water treatment plant) and they were able to give us a ride on top of the cement - the bikes were left under a hut on the river bank.

The Kelabit people of the Sarawak high country are into long ears. Shoulder-length ear lobes are achieved by wearing heavy earrings. The Kenyah people who live lower down river boast long lobes and 'bowl' haircuts, plus unique hats.

The last truly nomadic people in Borneo are the Penans, who wander from hunting area to wild sago plantation and carry what they need with them. Fixed abodes are not for them. We were humbled to meet one Penan man who had walked for two days from his jungle district near Pa Tik over the ranges to Bario to register his kids for school; people from Kalimantan walk a similar distance to Bario for basic supplies like salt and sugar.

Staple planted food in Bario is highland rice and 'ubi kayu', or tapioca, supplemented with jungle fare. We dined that night on rice, pakis, a ferny-type vegetable and heavily peppered barking deer. At 3,500ft elevation there is no need for air conditioning in Bario, indeed the locals don jackets and hats at night when the cool air sets in.

The next morning, our boatmen showed us around the village and the local market before ferrying us back downriver to our bikes. We rode for five hours to our overnight stop at Long San, visiting the Kenyah village of Lio Matoh on the way for fuel.

A swim in the muddy Baram served as our shower that night and the Williams sisters were on television, playing the Wimbledon Finals after dinner.

Early the next morning, we began the long haul to Miri and then back to Brunei Darussalam, thus completing a round trip of some 1200+km. Job done!

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

So much more to Sandakan

Many people think that Sandakan is on the tourist map because of its proximity to the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Sandakan is much more than Sepilok. I didn’t know, until I stood at the waterfront in Harbour Square and looked out into the bay.

Sandakan, in north-eastern Sabah, has one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. If Sabah looks like a dog’s head, then Sandakan is somewhere near its eye. The waters of the bay open up to the Sulu sea, just south of the Philippines.

The town derived its name from the Suluk word “sanda”, which means “to pawn”. Exactly who pawned what to whom is none too clear, the truth being lost in the murky annals of Borneo’s history.

In the early 1870s, William Clarke Cowie, a Scottish adventurer and engineer, delivered guns and ammunitions to the Sultan of Sulu, who needed them to fend off a possible onslaught by Spaniards who had by then overrun much of the Philippine islands.

In return, the Sultan granted Cowie permission to set up base in Pulau Timbang, a sparsely inhabited island within the bay. Cowie christened his territory “Sandakan”, but strangely enough, it soon became known as “Kampong German”, due perhaps to the increasing number of German traders who dropped by to visit the Scotsman. And there you have it, Sandakan’s early international connections!

Continue reading at: So much more to Sandakan

Friday, August 29, 2008

Pioneer Status For New Investments By 4-star, 5-star Hotels In Sabah And Sarawak

KUALA LUMPUR -- The government has proposed that new investments by four-star and five-star hotel operators in Sabah and Sarawak be given pioneer status with 100 per cent income tax exemption or Investment Tax Allowance of 100 per cent for five years.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the proposed incentives were to support the development of corridors in Sabah and Sarawak as well as to increase tourism activities in these states.

"The proposal is effective for applications received by the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida) starting tomorrow to Dec 31, 2013," he said in his Budget 2009 presentation at the Dewan Rakyat Friday.

He said that before this, new investments by four-star and five-star hotels were not given tax incentives like the one-star to three-star hotels.

Continue reading at: Pioneer Status For New Investments By 4-star, 5-star Hotels In Sabah And Sarawak

Brunei Street Directory launched

By Haji Minor Absah and James Kon

To better find your way around the streets and interesting places in the country, the Survey Department under the Ministry of Development in collaboration with Dr Kazimierz Becek of UBD and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd yesterday launched the new Brunei Darussalam Street Directory in a grand ceremony at the Ministry of Development.

Officially launching the new Street Directory was Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, the Minister of Development.

The minister said, "The Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam is aware of the importance of geospatial information as one of the main forces for the progress of a nation.

"The Ministry of Development through the Survey Department has long since identified the importance of geospatial information as a spatial instrument to provide a competitive edge for our country in the digital era.

"The launching of the new Brunei Darussalam Street Directory today is one of the many good examples of cooperation between the government and private sector. The government is represented by Survey Department and Universiti Brunei Darussalam while the private sector, Brunei Press, the publisher of main newspaper in Brunei Darussalam.

"I hope that the lesson learned from the cooperation will became an example and continuous guide for all parties on the importance of developing the country," he said.

The minister said that the Brunei Street Directory 2008 is the most up-to-date and comprehensive in terms of the coverage of areas in Brunei Darussalam. A similar publication was made 12 years ago and there are obvious distinctions between the two publications because the country has fast developed since then, he said.

After the launching, the minister presented a token of appreciation to the sponsors.

The Brunei Darussalam Street Directory, a 144-page book which includes the latest street maps and essential tourist information, is targeted at locals, tourists and expatriates. The maps are simple, clear and user friendly, while information on places of interest, dining and shopping, hotels and travel agents, transportation, road safety are also featured in the street directory.

Dr Kazimierz Becek, a senior lecturer at UBD, and competent cartographer with 25 years of professional experience, took about two years to create the maps.

The Survey Department, in its role as the country's competent authority on maps, has verified the accuracy and usability of the maps in the book.

The Brunei Darussalam Street Directory is priced at $14.90 and will hit the shelves of bookstores, selected hotels and shops across the country.

For further information, the public can contact 8160055, 8777656 in the Bandar areas, while for KB the contact number is 3334345.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Borneo University Dance Festival - Unity dance fest like Rainforest World Music Festival

KOTA SAMARAHAN: Minister of Social Development and Urbanisation Dato Sri William Mawan Ikom hopes that the Borneo University Dance Festival, which is held biennially, will be listed in the Sarawak tourism calendar.

He felt that such a prestigious international event would be able to draw a large number of tourists just as the Rainforest World Music Festival has been doing.

“The diverse and unique culture in Borneo should be staged in the international arena and the Sarawak government is always supportive of any events that promote not only various cultures but also tourism development,” said Mawan during the opening of the Borneo University Dance Festival 2008 at the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Sarawak campus on Wednesday night.

Continue reading at: Borneo University Dance Festival - Unity dance fest like Rainforest World Music Festival

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sarawak gives tourists good value for money

MIRI: Visitors to Sarawak get good value for money spent in the state as costs here are some of the lowest in Malaysia.

Speaking at a welcoming dinner for participants and officials of the 5th Borneo International Yachting Challenge (BIYC) on Tuesday night, Deputy Minister of Urban Development and Tourism Hamden Ahmad explained that visitors to the state get a good deal as Sarawak has a lot to offer in terms of culture, adventure and nature.

He said most items and services required by visitors in Sarawak such as accommodation, food and transportation are also reasonably affordable.

“You, like other tourists and visitors to Miri and Sarawak are always welcome to experience the natural wonders, diversity in culture and tradition in Sarawak,” said Hamden citing marine life at Belais Reef and Luconia Shoals as some of Miri’s many attractions.

“The rare, beautiful and many species of flora and fauna found at Loagan Bunut National Park, and the world renowned Niah Caves and Gunung Mulu National Park await nature lovers and adventurers from abroad and locally. So make an effort to stay longer in Sarawak to enable you to savour all these.”

Continue reading at: Sarawak gives tourists good value for money

Borneo International Yachting Challenge event helps to boost tourism

MIRI: The Ministry of Urban Development and Tourism Sarawak was pleased to be associated with Borneo International Yachting Challenge (BIYC) since its inaugural edition in year 2003, according to Assistant Minister of Tourism, Tuan Haji Hamden Haji Ahmad.

He said the State Government via the ministry could foresee the great tourism potential in the BIYC project and was giving total support to the event as one of the international-class events in the Sarawak tourism calendar as well as Visit Malaysia Year (VMY).

“It is indeed happy to see BIYC now gaining popularity among the world yachting sport enthusiasts,” he said in his address when attending the dinner welcoming the participants to BIYC 2008 event. The dinner was held at Miri Marina Bay Seafood Restaurant Tuesday night.

He also urged the foreign participants to act as ambassadors to Sarawak by promoting the State to their family members and friends at home.

Speaking about the yacht race, he congratulated the organising committee for their success in organising the event for the past six years.

Continue reading at: Borneo International Yachting Challenge event helps to boost tourism

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

US happy with post-Sipadan security

Tawau: The United States Navy (USN) has expressed satisfaction over the level of security in Malaysian waters since the 2002 kidnap incident at Pulau Sipadan.

This was reflected in the increase in the influx of foreign tourists, including those from the United States of America.

This was disclosed Malaysian Chief of Staff Joint Force Headquarters Rear Admiral Dato Jamil Osman to the media, after accompanying USN Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Robert F Willard during his visit to the Malaysian armed forces base at Kukusan, in Tawau, and Ops Pasir Putih.

Continue reading at: US happy with post-Sipadan security

Call for review of international tourism products in Sarawak

MIRI: There is a need to review some of the so-called international tourism based events in the State because the contents of such events were deemed not ready for the world market, according to Minister of Urban Development & Tourism, Datuk Michael Manyin ak Jawong.

He said the organizer of such event should make sure the products have the right quality before using the international tagline to sell to foreign tourists.

The minister was giving the remarks during an interview recently.

He cited the Baram International Regatta (BIR) 2008 as an event “not ready yet to cater for the international market”.

“Although BIR has great tourism potential for the world market, the event at this moment is not ready yet for the foreign market because of the lack of supporting facilities such as accommodation, proper roads, air services as well as proper eating outlets,” he explained.

Manyin said he had already discussed with the Assistant Minister of Water Supply Sylvester Entri and Telang Usan Assemblyman Lihan Jok and told them that BIR was not ready to be included in the tourism calendar of events.

He added that the supporting facilities should be in place first or otherwise, it would be difficult for his ministry to sell the product to foreign markets.

“At this moment, the regatta cannot be included in the tourism calendar of events. They (foreigners) would be disappointed,” he remarked.

Continue reading at: Call for review of international tourism products in Sarawak

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Borneo International Kite Festival adds new dimension

BINTULU: The just-concluded Borneo International Kite Festival (BIKF) will take Bintulu into the world tourist map as one of the best destinations to visit in Malaysia, said Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip.

He said the festival, which attracted international participants, had added another new dimension to the state’s tourism industry.

Bintulu was not only known as an oil and gas industry town, it was also recognised as a happy melting pot for its people and also for tourists, said Talib during a dinner reception for BIKF participants at Parkcity Everly Hotel last Sunday night.

He said Bintulu would continue to organise events and festivals, which could gather all people together, especially amongst international tourists.

Continue reading at: Borneo International Kite Festival adds new dimension

Be hospitable to tourists

LABUAN: Malaysians must do their part to play host to foreigners visiting the country.

This call came from Deputy Tourism Minister Dato Sri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib after obtaining feedback from tourists and participants of the Borneo International Yachting Challenge (BIYC) yesterday.

Sulaiman said tourists were touched by the hospitality of Malaysians, and that tourism would help boost the state’s economy and benefit the people.

Earlier he had flagged off participants of the Labuan-Miri Passage of BIYC at Marina Waterfront.

Sulaiman noted the increase in number of participants which had more than doubled from 23 last year to 43 this year.

He said the challenge had attracted more tourists to the country.

Continue reading at: Be hospitable to tourists

Dayak Music Awards tickets on sale

KUCHING: With only a month to go, what are preparations like for Dayak Music Awards (Dama) 2008?

“Let me begin by answering the most popular question of tickets,” said Dama 2008 organising committee chairman Dato Sri Celestine Ujang Jilan.

Speaking to The Borneo Post, Dama 2008 official newspaper, after chairing a meeting of his committee yesterday, Ujang said tickets to the awards night slated for Sept 27 at the Crowne Plaza Riverside here are now on sale.

According to him, there will be 10 RM3,000 tables, 20 RM2,000 tables, 30 RM1,000 tables and 20 RM800 tables.

“Tickets to these tables will be distributed fairly among followers of Dayak music in Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri who have called us to enquire about buying the tickets and coming to the awards night,” Ujang said.

Continue reading at: Dayak Music Awards tickets on sale

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2008 - Spaniard wins race second time

KUNDASANG: The 22nd annual Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon held here yesterday saw Spaniard Agusti Roc Amador clinch the win for the second time.

A good dose of luck and experience helped him cross the finish line first in a time of 2:44:47s in the men's category of the 21km race of running up and down the 4,095m peak at the Mount Kinabalu National Park.

Amador, 36, who last won the race in 2002, pocketed US$4,500 (RM14,850) for his efforts. In his wake were second and third place winners Japanese Toru Miyahara and Yokoyama Tadao, respectively.

"I expected to finish well because I was confident during the climb. I was also fortunate not to fall or injure myself. My plan was to reach the peak as fast as I could and to take it slow in the descent.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2008 - Spaniard wins race second time

Festival can help turn Kanowit into tourist destination

KANOWIT: Deputy Tourism Minister Dato Sri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib thinks that Kanowit Festival can help to promote this place as a tourist destination.

“The festival can attract visitors, and the powerboat regatta like the one held today can be another attraction,” he said.

He reasoned that when more people come, some would carry out business activities such as selling food and drinks, souvenirs and so on.

“The festival can help to stimulate the economic growth of the town,” he said when opening the ‘F3000 Fast Powerboat Regatta’ at the festival yesterday.

Continue reading at: Festival can help turn Kanowit into tourist destination

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2008 - French runner Favre finally emerges as ‘Queen of Climbathon’

KUNDASANG: Corinne Favre can finally put the ‘Miss Number Two” tag behind her for good.

The French ace bagged her first ever Women’s Open title in her fifth attempt at the 22nd edition of the TM Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon here yesterday.

Favre clocked a personal best of three hours 17 minutes and 29 seconds (3:17.29s) to edge local favourite Danny Kuilin Gongot, who clocked 3:26.14s and Japanese Yuri Kambara in 3:37.02s.

“I was second best all the time previously but this year I won…it is my first victory in the climbathon,” said Favre when met shortly after finishing the 21km race up and down the majestic Mount Kinabalu.

The 38-year-old runner finished second in 2002, 2004 and 2005 before finishing fourth in 2006, all behind Anna Pichtrova of the Czech Republic who won in each of the four races.

Pichtrova, who was not competing for the second year running yesterday, still holds the women’s record of 3:06.54s she set in 2004.

“The great girl Anna is not here but it is still a great win for me…I’m the champion and I’m extremely happy with it,” added Favre.

In yesterday’s race, Favre was in control from the start and never let her challengers get past her.

Continue reading at: Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2008 - French runner Favre finally emerges as ‘Queen of Climbathon’

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Endangered Sumatran Rhino Found Wandering Sent To Tabin Wildlife

KOTA KINABALU -- Scoring a major stride in conservation work for the critically-endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros, the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) rescued a bull which was found wandering at a oil palm plantation in Sabah's east coast.

Following a two-week rescue operation, a team from the SWD transferred the animal to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

On Aug 5, the rhino - despite its strong sense of smell - had wandered into the plantation, an uncommon habitat for the animal as it tends to stay away from humans.

In fact, knowledge in recent years of the rhinos in Sabah's wilderness is only through pictures or videos taken through cameras set up for monitoring purposes.

It is estimated that only 30 of the Sumatran Rhino sub-species remain in Sabah's wildlife.

Continue reading at: Endangered Sumatran Rhino Found Wandering Sent To Tabin Wildlife

Sarawak tourism needs bigger funds

KUCHING: Tourism Minister Datuk Michael Manyin Jawong is hoping that more funds will be allocated to Sarawak in National Budget 2009 to further develop the state’s tourism industry.

He said Sarawak’s tourism industry was still in the infant stage and would take quite awhile and effort, particularly money, to develop fully.

He said many aspects would have to be addressed before the state’s tourism industry could be considered fully developed.

“Although National Budget 2009 has not been announced, we are hoping to get more funds to develop the tourism industry in the state, more than the previous years’ allocations,” he told reporters after presenting state and national flags to one Mobile Police Vehicle car, 10 taxis, 14 tour vans, 14 tour coaches and various bodies and companies involved in the tourism industry.

Continue reading at: Sarawak tourism needs bigger funds

Friday, August 22, 2008

Watching orang utan in their natural habitat is awe inspiring

KEEN on a closer look at orang utan in their natural habitat? While an initial encounter may scare some, the amusing antics of the orang utan, however, is bound to awe spectators.

Recently, a group of journalists accompanying Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said at the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok, Sabah, had a close look at orang utan in the open.

The centre located in 4,294ha of jungle was opened in 1964. It acts as a sanctuary for more than 300 orang utan.

According to the centre’s guide, Mark Louis Benedict, studies done by Sabah Wildlife Department and several non-govermental organisations in 2004 showed there were 13,000 orang utan in Sabah.

Because the orang utan habitat is threatened by logging, the centre plays a big role in ensuring this ape’s survival.

The orang utan are rehabilitated and their habitat protected.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Laurentius Ambu said the centre rehabilitated orang utan kept as pets and returned them to the wild when they were ready.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Watching orang utan in their natural habitat is awe inspiring

Permai Rainforest Resort aims to be top eco-tourism destination

SANTUBONG: Permai Rainforest Resort strives to be the top eco-tourism destination in South East Asia by improving its facilities while conserving the environment.

Its manager, Rahim Bugo, believed that not many cities offered such suburban resort.

Formerly known as Camp Permai, the resort is about 35km from Kuching, with sea, rainforest, wildlife and mountain in one spot.

The renovation which had been going on for five years had not been completed, he said, adding that more changes or additional features could be expected.

“As we are doing it without any assistance, we try to make some money and renovate some.

“There are more things to come and I want to keep them as surprises for the guests,” he told journalists at the resort on Wednesday after a two-hour exploration tour followed by a high-tea.

Rahim, who began managing the resort some three years ago, said the upgrading involved building most of the 24 cabins. Three of them are still of the old design.

The tree houses have been reinforced using ironwood (belian).

Continue reading at: Permai Rainforest Resort aims to be top eco-tourism destination

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: TM 22nd Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon

23 - 24 August 2008

For non-athletes, the trek up and down the mountain is an arduous 2-day achievement. At the TM Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon, over 100 brawny men and women from around the world, including Great Britain, Venezuela, Spain, Japan, Germany and Singapore push themselves to physical and mental limits to run up and down the mountain at superhuman speed and stamina to complete a total distance of 21km in between 2 and 4 hours. In 2007, the Men’s Open category saw Spain’s Kilian Jornet Burgada come in first place, clocking 2:39.10s. Fellow Spaniard, Monica Ardid Ubed came in first at 3:44.08s in the Women’s category and the Veteran Men’s category saw Malaysian Sarun bin Sadi crowned as champion with a time of 3:24.03s

It all started in 1987 as a Sabah Parks' project to develop a rapid rescue squad—a team of rangers who can bring down injured climbers fast, especially useful during bad weather when helicopter rescue is not possible. Now the Climbathon is an endorsed venue by the Federation of Sport at Altitude (FSA) as the steepest of the six official races for the Buff Sky Runner World Series. Other races in this circuit include the “Sentiero delle Grigne” in Italy and Berga in Catalonia, Spain. The Climbathon in Kota Kinabalu is now also popular among European mountain runners who form the majority of the members of the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), whose patron is the International Amateur Athletic Federations (IAAF).

Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Borneo Marathon holds huge tourism potential for Sabah

Kota Kinabalu: The Borneo International Marathon, to be held next month, has huge potential to attract more tourists to Sabah as part of a sports tourism strategy.

The city will host for the first time in over 20 years the international event which is currently the only marathon in Borneo for 2008.

Race Director Urs Weisskopf said Sabah was selected as it is an ideal nature and adventure tourism destination and a perfect stopover for tourists heading to all of Asia's other exotic destinations.

He added that Sabah is renowned the world over for its scenic beauty and is home to some truly spectacular natural wonders, citing Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia, Sipadan Island as one of the top three dive spots in the world and Maliau Basin that is known as Sabah's 'Lost World', among others.

"The Borneo International Marathon is set for Oct. 12 so that it is comfortably scheduled before the Singapore Marathon in December. This will provide the prefect opportunity for regular marathon and half marathon runners in the region to participate and keep in top racing condition.

"The event promises to offer not only a fantastic race venue, but also a memorable holiday for all. Whether your interests gravitate towards nature, sun or sea, holistic spa treatments, freshly harvested local seafood at unbeatable prices, as well as the opportunity to interact with some of the most hospitable people, Sabah is truly a wonderful experience not to be missed," he said.

Continue reading at: Borneo Marathon holds huge tourism potential for Sabah

Sabah's Borneo International Cat Show gets Kuching's attention

Kota Kinabalu: The Borneo International Cat Show 2008 which will be held in Sabah for the first time at the end of this month has attracted Kuching North City Hall's (DBKU) interest, which plans to hold a similar event in the near future.

The cat show is organised by the Borneo Cat Club which is licensed by The Cat Franchisers' Association (CFA) USA. It is scheduled to be held at Sabah Trade Centre here from Aug. 23-24.

The club's President Ben Hsu said he was told about DBKU's intention by its Director Haji Onn Haji Abdullah in his letter to confirm their attendance at the coming show.

He said Onn, who would be accompanied by Deputy Director Jumaini Haili and DBKU's Cat Museum Curator Bakhtiar Affendi, also informed him about their intention to discuss and gather information on how DBKU can organise such a big event in the near future.

Continue reading at: Sabah's Borneo International Cat Show gets Kuching's attention

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: 1st Borneo International Cat Show

23-24 August 2008

Feline friends will want to mark your calendars for this event! The first ever international-standard cat show known as the Borneo International Cat Show 2008 will be held right here in Kota Kinabalu this August.

Cat-lovers will be ecstatic over the fact that over 225 cats from the world over are expected to take part in this spectacular event held at the Sabah Trade Centre in Likas on the 23rd and 24th August. Cats will be flown in from Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, the USA, Holland, Germany and of course all over Malaysia to compete in the cat show organised by the Borneo Cat Club, licensed by the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA) USA. Some of the cat breeds in this show are Persian, Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Abyssinian, European Burmese, Siamese, Oriental, American Shorthair, American Curl, British Shorthair Somali, Norwegian Forest and Exotic Shorthair. Make your way to the Sabah Trade Centre for the show which will begin at 9.30am and end at 6.00pm.

For more information, contact Ben Hsu at 088 247777 / 016 8368085, fax 088 237777 or email

Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter

Commercial use of KKIA Terminal 1 starts today

KOTA KINABALU: Starting today, Terminal 1 of Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is open for commercial use.

Senior general manager of operation services Malaysia Airports, Datuk Azmi Murad, said the RM720-million terminal underlined the state and Malaysia Aiports’ efforts to further improve air travel experience in Sabah.

“This is our commitment to further boost passenger movements and enhance the services and facilities at KKIA.

“We are confident that the passengers and airport users at KKIA will experience more comfortable visits and Malaysia Airports will continuously monitor all the service aspects of this airport to ensure it is at its level best,” he told reporters at the KKIA here Sunday.

Azmi said the new Terminal 1 building had 64 check-in counters for international and domestic flights, 17 aircraft parking bays capable of accommodating both the wide and narrow body aircraft and the terminal could handle 3,200 passengers per peak hour.

Continue reading at: Commercial use of KKIA Terminal 1 starts today

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sarawak Regatta - Team wins for the second time

THE Pusaka team from the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) retained its “King of the River” title when it won the flagship 30-paddler longboat event at the annual Sarawak Regatta recently.

Cheered on by spectators on both banks of the Sarawak River, Pusaka crossed the finishing line first to win the TYT Challenge Trophy.

The Land and Survey Department, with two teams in the race, finished in second and third place respectively.

They received their prizes from the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hasanal Bolkiah, who was the guest of honour at the regatta.

STIDC general manager Datuk Len Talif Salleh said Pusaka would go for its hat-trick in next year’s regatta.

“I am very proud and happy that we won again this year. We will not rest on our laurels but will aim for our third win next year,” he said.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sarawak Regatta - Team wins for the second time

Borneo International Kite Festival - Bintulu flies into Malaysia Book of Records

BINTULU: Some 1,655 people helped put Bintulu in the Malaysia Book of Records by launching 1,655 kites of all shapes, sizes and colours into the sky here.

The feat at the Bintulu airstrip is part of the week-long Borneo International Kite Festival being held in conjunction with Sarawak’s 45th year of independence through the formation of Malaysia.

The event also marks the 45th anniversary of the formation of the Bintulu Development Authority.

The feat of having all 1,655 kites in the air was attained at about 3.30pm. People from all walks of life took part in the record-setting achievement.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Borneo International Kite Festival - Bintulu flies into Malaysia Book of Records

Baram Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Night - Festivals of unity encouraged

MARUDI: The state government will continue to support the holding of festivals like the Baram Regatta and the Borneo Sape Festival as these events are capable of bringing people closer together, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinngi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang.

Speaking at the Baram Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Night yesterday, Jabu said because these festivals involved Malaysians from all races and religion, they had become a vital tool for uniting the country’s multi-racial society.

Jabu said while the government would continue to host certain events on its own it would encourage the private sector to take it upon themselves to organise festivals and celebrations, in line with the government’s aspiration of strengthening unity and fostering understanding among people.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Baram Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Night - Festivals of unity encouraged

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Jesselton, Sabah's 'Mother Of Evolution'

KOTA KINABALU -- Jesselton, the one-time "ghost town" which has evolved into the present-day vibrant city of Kota Kinabalu, evokes pleasant memories in the people of Sabah.

Founded by the British North Borneo Company by accident after its administration centre on Gaya Island was flattened in a fire, Jesselton became the worthy third capital of North Borneo in 1946 after Sandakan and Kudat.

Located on a narrow strip of land with hills on one side and the sea on the other, the town was named Api-Api (Fire-Fire) apparently in view of the Gaya Island fire.

It was renamed Jesselton later, taking on the name of Sir Charles Jessel, the then deputy manager of the British North Borneo Company.

Historic landmarks that developed in Jesselton have survived to this day, among them the Jesselton Hotel, the Customs building, Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, Chartered Bank, the Kota Kinabalu community hall, the Capital Cinema, the Sabah Tourism building and the railway service.

These landmarks had been in existence before North Borneo joined the Federation of Malaysia on Sept 16 1963 and came to be known as Sabah.

Old timer Abdullah Hussin is able to recall vividly the "great life" he enjoyed in those days.

"I still remember, in the early 1950's, we used to hang out with friends of different races - Malays, Kadazandusun, Chinese - and play snooker in Jesselton. Sometimes, we go to 'aramati' (a party) together.

Continue reading at: Jesselton, Sabah's 'Mother Of Evolution'

New Kota Kinabalu International Airport Terminal to open on Aug 19

KOTA KINABALU -- Travellers using Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) will enjoy better facilities when the new wing of Terminal 1 is opened for commercial use, beginning Aug 19.

Announcing this, Senior General Manager of Operation Services Malaysia Airports Datuk Azmi Murad said the new RM720 million terminal underlined the state and Malaysia Aiports' efforts to further improve air travel experience in Sabah.

"This is our commitment to further boost passenger movements at KKIA and enhance the services and facilities at this international airport.

"We are confident that the passengers and airport users at KKIA will experience more comfortable visits and Malaysia Airports will continuously monitor all the service aspects of this airport to ensure it is at its level best," he told reporters at the KKIA here Sunday.

Continue reading at: New KKIA Terminal to open on Aug 19

Vast business potentials for eco-tourism in Brunei

By Azaraimy HH

Singapore's vast appetites for eco-travels and cultural tours, especially in the growing educational trips, open up great potential for Brunei's vast green jewel, voiced Singaporean companies on their optimism during a Brunei-Singapore business matching at the International Halal Product Expo in the International Convention Centre yesterday.

Companies like JMA Consulting Group Pte Ltd said nature-touring is gaining popularity among primary and secondary schools in Singapore, and due to the pristine condition of Brunei's forest reserve, coupled with the ambition for a full fledge eco-tourism industry, especially with the Heart of Borneo initiatives, Brunei can easily, if tap, become a ready destination for nature-based educational tours.

JMA Consulting chief executive officer, Sharifah Maznah Syed Omar, said after learning the potential of Brunei's eco-tourism, the company is in the process of networking and identifying potential tour operators as partners.

At the business matching, Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Dato Paduka Hj Hamdilah Hj Abdul Wahab, said being very close neighbours, Singaporeans know the conditions here and what Brunei can offer as potential business and investment partners.

"We have sustainably been conserving our pristine tropical forests, which covers around 75 per cent of our total area today, through a capped production and cut one-plant policy.

"And through territorial initiative of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, Brunei will be allocating 58 per cent of our land area to the Heart of Borneo, commercialising the value of the forest by developing and promoting eco-tourism in the short-term, undertaking research and development of microbes and micro-organisms with NITE of Japan plus other interested parties, and harnessing of our bio-diversity as we become a signatory to the Convention to Biodiversity starting this year."

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Friday, August 15, 2008

World’s biggest and longest ‘sape’ at the the Baram International Regatta

MARUDI: A thirty-foot-long sape at the town square has become a centre of attraction for local and visitors alike in the run-up to the Baram International Regatta.

The sape is a reminder that the Borneo Sape Festival will be held here on Aug 16, one of side activities of the Baram International Regatta from Aug 15 to 17. Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is expected to open the (Borneo Sape) festival on Aug 16.

“We are trying to enter this sape as the biggest replica in Malaysia Book of Records. And, we are keeping our fingers cross hoping that the officials would verify the claim,” the festival organising chairman who is also Telang Usan assemblyman Lihan Jok said yesterday.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: World’s biggest and longest ‘sape’ at the the Baram International Regatta

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Orang Utans au naturel At Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

SANDAKAN – Have you ever seen an orang utan in its natural habitat? The initial encounter may scare some but the amusing and sometimes comical antics of the orang utan are bound to tickle the funny bone in you.

Recently a group of journalist who were accompanying Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said on a visit to the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok, Sabah, had the opportunity to get a closer look at the orang utan au naturel.

Opened in 1964, Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is a primarily jungle covering 4,294 hectares, where more than 300 orang utans are rehabilitated with a view of eventually returning them to the wild.

According to our guide, Mark Louis Benedict, studies conducted by the Sabah Wildlife Department in 2004, with the assistance of several non-govermental organisations, revealed that there were about 13,000 orang utans in Sabah then.


Since its natural habitat is increasingly being threatened by logging activities, the existence of the centre is crucial in ensuring the survival of this ape species. For here, both the orang utan and its natural habitat are rigorously protected.

Sabah Wildlife Department's Director Laurentius Ambu explained that the centre also rehabilitates orang utans, which were confiscated from owners who kept them as pets, and prepare the animals for their eventual return to the wild.

Continue reading at: Orang Utans au naturel At Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Tourism in Sabah to focus on MICE

KOTA KINABALU: The development of the tourism industry in Sabah will focus on Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) as another growth sector.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman said the state had plenty to offer in terms of facilities and the capability to hold such events. “Modern infrastructure, wide-ranging facilities, top-class accommodation and our proven track record in hosting numerous major international events will help us achieve this goal,” he said adding that Sabah also enjoyed strong federal and state relations.

Musa who is also the Finance Minister said this at the International CEO’s Conference (ICC) 2008 Thank You lunch at a hotel here yesterday. The ICC2008 was successfully held from June 15-17.

MICE is the fastest growing section of the international tourism market and is steadily capturing the attention of hoteliers. As a destination that is gaining global popularity, he said Sabah was gaining pace alongside Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as an ideal venue for MICE.

Continue reading at: Tourism in Sabah to focus on MICE

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Welcome to 360 Hotel Kuching

One of Kuching’s best kept secrets is finally out! 360 Hotel is now open and has received rave reviews from guests, some of whom have returned within three weeks after its soft opening.

No, the hotel does not have 360 rooms. It is so named simply because the hotel has it all, literally and figuratively speaking.

Located at Hock Lee Centre along Jalan Datuk Abang Abdul Rahim, the condomunium turned hotel boasts 95 guest rooms. Fourty-five of these are apartment type rooms, which means guests will be able to enjoy an array of amenities for their convenience.

Although the hotel has yet to have any star rating, guests will find that its level of comfort and service as well as its facilities match those of a five-star hotel.

Guest can expect to enjoy amazing views from the hotel. The Horizon coffee house, for example, has glass panel walls and offers a breathtaking view of Kuching City and the scenic Sarawak River.

Similarly, some of the rooms offer guests a panoramic view of the city’s skyline.

Hotel manager, Richard Wong pointed out some of the finer aspects of the hotel.

Shaped like a ship, Hock Lee Centre is an integrated commercial development which boasts a shopping podium, an office tower and a hotel tower (previously a condominium tower). 360 Hotel itself is housed in the latter.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Welcome to 360 Hotel Kuching

Sarawak plans Kuching-Yogyakarta flights

KUCHING: Sarawak plans to explore new air routes with Indonesian airline Batavia Air to improve its connections in the region.

New state Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Michael Manyin will hold talks with the airline later this month to discuss a possible Kuching-Yogyakarta route.

Batavia Air currently flies the Kuching-Pontianak route.

Manyin said that Sarawak had a lot of tourism products but lacked connectivity with the outside world.

“This is our biggest obstacle,” he said in ceremony to exchange portfolios with his predecessor Datuk Wong Soon Koh recently.

Continue reading at: Sarawak plans Kuching-Yogyakarta flights

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Flowers Festival

16 - 17 August 2008

What would the world be without flowers! The Sabah Agriculture Park will be celebrating the beauty and exceptionality of a myriad of flowers found on the grounds of the Park. Besides having the chance to purchase these flowers, join in some of the contests organised for the 2-day event, like the flower arrangement contest and the flower planting contest. There will also be an Art Camp for the public, a sale of various agricultural products and many other exciting events, so don’t forget to make your way to the Sabah Agricultural Park in Tenom for the Flowers Festival!

For more information, contact Ismail Haji Zakariah at 087 737952 / 737558 or fax 087 737571. Alternatively, contact Wan Masalmah Wan Abedin at 088 258529 or email

Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter

NOTE: All Photos Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Sarikei has a lot to offer to eco-tourism

SIBU: When it comes to eco-tourism, Sarikei certainly has a lot to showcase.

Take Sungai Pau waterfall for example, its natural landscape remains undisturbed by human activities.

Sungai Pau waterfall located in a hilly area is reached after a 40-minute walk from Rumah Nyuka (Nyuka longhouse).

It is a popular picnic spot among locals during weekends, said the executive of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) Sibu Office, Rudy Anoi.

Interviewed at his office at Jalan Tukang Besi here yesterday, Anoi cited that Sungai Pau waterfall was another potential area that could be effectively developed as a tourism product in the central region of Sarawak besides Sungei Munsoh which was further away.

“The slightly smaller Sungai Pau waterfall has only two tiers of waterfall compared to Sungai Munsoh which has three.

“The water there is crystal clear and would be very ‘tempting’ for nature lovers who desire to take a swim. The highest point of the waterfall is about one-storey tall.

Continue reading at: Sarikei has a lot to offer to eco-tourism

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kota Kinabalu is Air Asia’s most popular destination

KUALA LUMPUR: Kota Kinabalu has emerged as the most popular among 56 destinations budget airline AirAsia flies to now.

Kuching and Langkawi came second and third respectively in a survey conducted by the airline based on the average of passengers flying to each destination per month.

According to ‘Travel 3 Sixty’, the airline’s monthly inflight magazine, the other seven most popular destinations in its top 10 list were Bangkok, Jakarta, Macau, Bali, Kota Baharu, Shenzen and Phuket.

But the August issue of the magazine does not seem to live up to its publisher’s description of being “your sexy, stylish 5-star onboard companion”.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu is Air Asia’s most popular destination

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Olympics or orang-utans: which would you preserve?

The other evening while at an al fresco supper, I got into an ill-tempered conversation with a woman about the cost of the current Olympic Games compared with the cost of saving the orang-utan. Such differing subjects may seem an unlikely topic for discussion over the after dinner mints. One is the most dazzling sporting spectacle for many decades. The other is a squat, shambling ape occupying increasingly threatened pockets of the jungles of Sumatra, Java and Borneo.

But after reading a report in the newspaper last week about the parlous state of these remarkable creatures, it seemed to me the monetary importance we attach to the two provides a depressing reflection as to our collective priorities. While the world seems to be able to find unlimited funds for the Olympic juggernaut, with its villages, stadia and high-speed rail links, the great wonder of the natural world, the orang-utan, is facing extinction due to the destruction of its natural habitat. Even the survey by the Great Ape Foundation of Iowa reporting this sad fact almost got lost in the sporting frenzy.

But the most disturbing thing I read in the report wasn’t the fact that there are just an estimated 60,000 of these remarkable apes left, it was the paltry cost of ensuring their future survival. A mere $1,000 each, apparently, would buy them space and security.

Continue reading at: The Olympics or orang-utans: which would you preserve?

Friday, August 08, 2008

In and Around Ranau

About 3 hours’ drive from Kota Kinabalu, Ranau is a small place with big offerings. Make it a point to visit Ranau and its popular attractions:


The quaint district of Ranau is a getaway perfect for those who like cool climates and lush, mountainous landscapes. Enjoy the view on your journey there and stop at Kundasang’s little town to browse through it’s famous road-side market where you will find colourful rows of fresh vegetables, local fruits, fresh flowers and other local produce such as bottled honey and preserved tuhau.

Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu Park is located 1,585 metres above sea level and is hailed as a World Heritage Site. The Park is a great getaway whether for a day trip or week-long stays to explore the rare and infinite amount of eco-treasures of plants and wildlife found within. Numerous jungle paths wait to welcome the footprints of trekkers within the park, including the trail leading to the peak of South-east Asia, Mount Kinabalu. For inquiries, contact Sabah Parks at 088 211881 / 212719 or email /

Kundasang War Memorial

The Kundasang War Memorial, established in 1962, was the first memorial in Sabah to remember the Autralian and British POWs who died in Sandakan and the death marches to Ranau, as well as the people of North Borneo who risked and lost their lives for helping the POWs. The Kundasang War Memorial is located at the foot of Mount Kinabalu and has four Gardens. The Australian Garden, The English Garden, the Borneo Garden and the Contemplation Garden and Pool commemorate each of the nationalities involved in the war. The Memorial is open daily including public holidays. For information and inquiries, contact Sevee Charuruks at 019 8992041.

Poring Hot Springs

Located 39 km away from the Kinabalu Park headquarters is the Poring Hot Springs, where visitors can soak in the skin-curative properties of a hot sulphur bath, trek the various trails through the lowland forests, mountains streams and waterfalls or enjoy a day of bird-watching. You might even be lucky enough to catch a rare glimpse of the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, inside the vicinity of the Poring Hot Springs. Poring offers affordable chalet and cabin accommodation including dormitory jostle-type accommodations and camping grounds for the more adventurous. To stay at the Poring Hot Springs, contact Sutera Sanctuary Lodges for reservations at 088 243629 or email Poring Hot Spring & Nature Reserve can be contacted at 088 878801.

Sabah Tea Garden

Sabah Tea is the only organic tea farm in the whole of Borneo and one of the few in the world, and their plantation is within the vicinity of the Kinabalu Park in Ranau. Not just a plantation, the Sabah Tea Garden offers tea factory and plantation tours, courses on basic jungle survival skills, river trekking and even batik painting.

For reservations or enquiries, please contact them at 088 440882 or email (Kota Kinabalu); 088 889220/ 889330 (Ranau).

Mesilau Nature Trail and Resort

The alternative route up to the peak of Mount Kinabalu is the Mesilau Trail - a formidable track that presents climbers with a longer, more testing terrain for avid climbers of Mount Kinabalu. The trail is also worth the effort for naturalists and researchers for the extraordinary flora and fauna that lay along its paths. Perhaps you’d like to slip away to the peaceful hideaway of the Mesilau Nature Resort, tucked away in the green mountainside of Mesilau. The resort is a popular venue for peaceful retreats from the bustle of cities and towns. For inquiries about the Mesiau Nature Resort contact Sutera Sanctuary Lodges for reservations at 088 243629 or email

For inquiries about the Mesilau trail, contact Sabah Parks at 088 211881/212719 or email /

Fish Massage

Yes, you read right. A Fish Massage sounds odd but it’s a unique experience you might not be curious about enough to try. Located in Kampung Luanti of Ranau, the fish massage is made possible by the Dusunic season of ‘Tagal’ which forbids fishing to preserve the environment and to prevent over-fishing. The fish will then have time to multiply to a number exceeding hundreds. Soak either your feet or dip completely in the Luanti River, and the Fish Massage will begin immediately. The affectionate fish, from the Cyprinidae family, will come close to you and smother your skin with gentle ‘kisses’. The sensation is unique - and one you won’t forget to tell your friends and family back home. Call Jeffrin Majangki at 088 878044 / 016 8066958 for enquiries.

Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter

NOTE: All Photos Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Golf to promote Sabah-Johor tourism

SENAI: Sabah and Johor can work closely to promote sports tourism via golfing as both states have the finest golf courses in Malaysia.

Sabah Golf Association (SGA) president Datuk Robin Loh said this would bring economic benefits as tourism was a main revenue earner.

He said there were 17 golf resorts in Sabah with some 8,000 members while Johor had 25 with an even higher membership, including Singaporeans.

“SGA will propose the idea to Sabah Tourism and follow up with Johor Tourism,” Loh said in an interview.

He said this before a press conference on the 100Plus Malaysian Junior Open golf tournament to be held at Palm Resort Golf Club Senai from August 19 to 21.

Continue reading at: Golf to promote Sabah-Johor tourism

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Sandakan Memorial Day

15 August 2008

During World War II, about 2400 allied prisoners were held in Sandakan, North Borneo. Between January to June 1945, groups of prisoners were sent on 3 separate torturous 160 mile marches from Sandakan to Ranau, known today as the infamous Death March.

Although many prisoners tried to escape, only six survived. To commemorate those who suffered and perished during this terrible time, relatives and friends in Australia have initiated August 15 as the Sandakan Memorial Day. The memorial service will be held at the Sandakan Memorial Park, which was once the site of Prisoners of War (POW) camp.

For more information, please contact the Sandakan Municipal Council at 089 275400 ext 39 or Sabah Tourism Board at 088 212121. Email

Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Good response to Sarawak Regatta

KUCHING: The Sarawak Regatta attracted huge crowds as it entered its second day with spectators lining the Kuching Waterfront and the opposite bank of the river.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud launched the event by flagging off the jet–ski open class race.

In his speech, Taib said the regatta was now a major festival in Sarawak.

“It started out as an event to get the different tribes of Sarawak to compete in a peaceful manner.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Good response to Sarawak Regatta

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tawau Treasures

Take a trip to Tawau, Sabah’s third-largest town after Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan, to encounter more of Sabah’s amazing possessions there.

Bukit Gemok

Bukit Gemok literally translates into “Fat Hill”. Make what you may out of its catchy name but this hill is a popular destination for hiking and mountain climbing. Situated just 11 kilometres from Tawau, it towers about 428 metres above sea level and is part of Tawau’s Gemok Forest Reserve. Besides a stimulating trek, there is also a picturesque canopy walkway called Titian Silara that is suspended by a few trees and runs for 231 metres long. Go ahead and make that endeavour to walk that passage above the ground and have the benefit of a spectacular view of Tawau from there. Call the Tawau District Forestry Office for more information at 089 7618333 / 761835 / 761863.

Maliau Basin - Sabah’s Lost World

Make like Indiana Jones and venture into Sabah’s Lost World! There won’t be any treasure-hungry villains there but the Maliau Basin hold treasures of the natural kind - 12 forest types have been identified here, making it a habitat for an almost endless list of Borneo wildlife including the Borneo Pygmy Elephant, the Sumatran Rhinoceros and a host of rare birds. One of its most famous wondrous appeals is the seven-tiered waterfall called the Maliau Falls. Real adventurers will find it worth the time and effort to make necessary arrangements to enter the conservation area (permission is needed in advance from the Yayasan Sabah) and to explore the remote reserve. It is truly an expedition for the hardy - the Maliau Basin is a remote and isolated area with limited access to communication and safety facilities. Make plans for this adventure with a licensed tour operator with experience in the Maliau Basin.

Balung Eco Resort

Set within a tranquil location, this resort is a popular serene getaway. What makes this resort unique is that its 3500 acres is covered with 32 species of crops, many of them exotic local fruit like the dragon fruit, langsat and ciku, as well as economic crops such as cocoa, oil palm and coffee. With the help of a guide you can tour through most of the orchards and learn about the plants and perhaps sample a few of them. The resort is also complete with a gorgeous swimming pool, a fishing pond, jungle trekking tracks, camping grounds, picnic areas, badminton courts and a karaoke facility. Many rare and exotic birds flutter around here, so bird watchers take note! For more information contact the resort at 089 761339 or the head office at 089 261669 / 251669. You can also email them at or visit their website at

Teck Guan Cocoa Museum

Brace yourselves chocolate lovers! Cocoa is one of Tawau’s main produce and the Teck Guan Cocoa Museum is a worthy tribute to that. Drive through their gates with your windows down and you will be met with the sinfully delicious scent of cocoa. The museum opened in 2002 and has been delighting chocolate lovers with all things cocoa ever since. The tour is entirely tantalising: it begins with a short video presentation of the processing and production of cocoa, then a guided tour round the factory, followed by a demonstration of the various ways you can use cocoa in your cooking. You can also purchase a range of cocoa products, including shower cream! Located at Mile 2 at Tanjung Batu Laut, you can get there by taxi or drive there yourselves. The factory is open Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 5.00pm, Saturdays from 8.00am to 1.00pm and is closed n Sundays and public holidays. For enquiries, call them at 089 775566, ext 2601 or email

Tawau Hills National Park

Pack a picnic and head over to the Tawau Hills National Park, a rugged landscape formed by volcanic remains. Located 24 kilometres from Tawau town, the Park presents nature lovers with picnic areas, camping grounds and chalets in the midst of a lush rainforest. With more than a few trekking trails, the Park is a great place for treks through the beautiful dipterocarp forest, and you may want to lace up those hiking boots for a hike up to its highest peak Mount Magdalena at 4300 feet. The Tawau River cuts through the park and creates several beautiful waterfalls, one of them the Table Waterfall which forms a little pool at the bottom, a perfect place for a refreshing dip. Or perhaps take a short trek to the sulphuric hot springs for a therapeutic soak instead. You might sight the Red Leaf Monkeys and the Long-Tailed Macaques, but you may also spot the rarer Giant Tree Squirrels and Forest Tortoise. Within the Park is also the world’s tallest tropical tree, the shorea Faustian, standing at a magnificent 88.3 metres. Your visit to Tawau Hills Park will certainly be rewarded with these and a myriad of other wild wonders within its 280 square kilometres. As public transport is not readily available to this park located in the Bal Estate, take a taxi there. It is open daily from 7.00am to 6.00pm. For more information, contact the Tawau Hills Resort at 089 768719, Tawau Hills Park at 089 918827 or Sabah Parks at 088 211881

Shan Shui Golf and Country Club

Golfers will want to tee off at this award-winning golf course that has more than a few things to boast about. Shan Shui was designed by Nelson and Haworth, the world-renown golf course architects. Since its opening in 1997, the golf course was recognised for having the best par-5 in Asia and a Top 250 par-5. This golf course also has the unique wildlife factor - there is a resident crocodile at hole-3, hornbills and Brahman kites fly above and long-tailed macaques are known to swing in the nearby trees. Opt to stay for a night or two at the golf and country club - they have chalets, a restaurant and a swimming pool for all the comforts for a good golfing getaway. The Shan Shui Golf Club is located at Mile 9, Apas Road. For more information, contact them at 089 916888 or 089 916777.

Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter

NOTE: All Photos Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Borneo Regatta to be held this weekend in Brunei

By Achong Tanjong

Local traditional boat and powerboat enthusiasts are looking forward to the Borneo Level Regatta race, which will be held this weekend at the Serasa Watersports Complex in Muara.

"The competition is held in conjunction with His Majesty's 62nd Birthday Celebration," said championship co-chairman, Awg Hj Maidin yesterday.

"This year's event is the biggest, judging from previous races. It sees participation of teams from Borneo, including from Limbang, Miri and Sabah.

"The teams from Lawas include from Sundar and Awat-Awat. However, Kalimantan will not participate this year," he added.

So far, nine teams from neighbouring states have registered for the meet, he said, adding that this year more than 20 local teams will compete compared to the previous race.

The race is divided into two categories, one of which is open to all associations in Brunei. They will compete in 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 paddlers.

He said 13 local teams have registered for the meet - Persatuan Lumba Perahu Kg Lurong Dalam, Seri Baru-Baru B, X-Team, Tutong, Police, Seri Baru-Baru A, Waktu B, 995 Bomba dan Penyelamat, Aksi Laut, Kg Setia B, ABDB, and Waktu Brunei Darussalam.

Five teams who win first to fifth placings in the local category will be selected to represent Brunei to compete at the Borneo-level race, to be held on Sunday.

Boat race teams from Brunei won the regatta held in Limbang recently.

The highlight of the event will be a marathon open - for 30 paddlers. The marathon is expected to be flagged-off from Muara Port and covers a distance of about 2km to 3km.

Members of the public will also have the opportunity to witness a fireworks display on Saturday night, thanks to B-Win Trading and Marketing Co.

Shuttle bus services will be available to transport members of the public to the venue.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Start of year-long festivities to mark Sarawak’s freedom

SARAWAK recently launched a year–long celebration to mark its 45th anniversary of independence starting off with a grand and colourful show.

Themed Sarawak’s Progress in Malaysia, the celebration was launched at the State Stadium in Kuching by Governor Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng, with Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and other state Cabinet members in attendance.

They were welcomed into the stadium by dancers in traditional costumes who the carried past and present Sarawak flags.

Thousands of performers took to the field to put on dance and drama presentations depicting the state’s history and rich cultural heritage.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Start of year-long festivities to mark Sarawak’s freedom

Monday, August 04, 2008

1Borneo Rainforest - A rainforest in concrete jungle

KOTA KINABALU: A unique experience awaits visitors at Sabah’s latest shopping destination, the massive 1Borneo mall.

Located 10km from downtown Kota Kinabalu, 1Borneo is fast becoming a shoppers haven where everything from designer fashion to daily groceries is available.

But a spot within the mall is gaining much attention, especially from first-time tourists.

Amid the glitzy fa├žades of retail premises, this spot stands out due to its natural look with creepers and plants adorning a rocky wall, as if the mall was built around a primeval cave.

This is the 1Borneo Rainforest, an exceptional cultural centre spread out over an area the size of three basketball courts that promises to delight the five senses with the best Sabah and South-East Asia has to offer.

Visitors passing through the “cave” entrance are greeted by a warrior of the Rungus community with the melodious sounds of kulingtangan or mini gongs in the background.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: 1Borneo Rainforest - A rainforest in concrete jungle

Sarawak Regatta: Mixture of sport and family fun

KUCHING: The just-concluded 2008 Sarawak Regatta with its carnival-like atmosphere was indeed an affair suitable for the family.

When the first event was held in 1871, the crowd probably numbered in the hundreds, but this year the organisers estimated that 20,000 people witnessed the races over the weekend.

Despite some threats of afternoon showers, the races were largely held under sunny skies, and the people came out in droves to soak up the communal ambiance.

It didn’t seem to matter that the ‘live commentary’ was largely inaudible or that there wasn’t much space for spectators along the scenic Kuching Waterfront.

For Dheliah Kiew, 18, the eldest among her siblings, the festival was just a “get-together time”.

“Where my family and I live (Kampung Sungai Laru) I can safely say half of the village is here,” Kiew said, surrounded by other family picnics on the lawn just behind the Chinese Museum.

“Most of us have been here since 8am and will only leave when the last race is over — or when it starts to rain. I’m more than happy to return next year.”

Continue reading at: Sarawak Regatta: Mixture of sport and family fun

Sunday, August 03, 2008

22nd Kuching Festival starts with a bang

KUCHING: The 22nd Kuching Festival began with colourful fireworks over Padang Merdeka on Friday night.

The fireworks definitely mesmerised everyone there. Many had wished the fireworks would not end but with so many on-going activities, the display gave everyone a breathtaking time.

The festival this year is also special as it marks the 20th anniversary of Kuching being a city.

Like in previous years, many interesting events have been lined up during the month -long celebration and members of the public can participate and have fun with friends, families at these events.

Thanks to the wonderful warm weather, thousands flocked in early evening to Padang Merdeka last night to make sure they had a good glimspe of the all activities that were lined up for them and the VVIPs present.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: 22nd Kuching Festival starts with a bang

Miri International Food Festival launched at Grand Palace, Miri

MIRI: Food operators in Miri, especially in hotels and restaurants, are urged to be more competitive in the food industry which could help boost the tourism industry here, Assistant Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communication Lee Kim Shin said. He urged them at add an international outlook to their effort in order to attract more foreign tourists.

He made the remarks when he officiated at the grand launching of ‘Miri International Food Festival 2008’ at Grand Palace Hotel here on Friday night.

“You have to view cuisine more as an art rather than just food. Try to make food more interesting and attractive to all kinds of people,” he advised.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Miri International Food Festival launched at Grand Palace, Miri

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Facelift for popular park in Tutong, Brunei

A building for stage activities

A Rumah Budaya depicting the house of a Tutong community

A hut where people can take a rest

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Rosli Abidin Yahya and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Rosli Abidin Yahya

The well-known Sungai Basong Recreational Park in Tutong is undergoing renovation and maintenance to make it one of the country's top tourist attractions.

This recreation area is one of the famous landmarks of Tutong District, apart from Merimbun Heritage Park and Pantai Seri Kenangan.

The re-branding of the park, which was initiated by the Tutong District Office, involves the current and upcoming upgrading of various facilities.

Perhaps not as large as Bukit Shahbandar Recreational Park near Jerudong, the park was first opened in 1989. Since then, it has undergone various re-branding. The park was also used as a venue for His Majesty's birthday celebrations in the past at a special area near the entrance to the park.

The park is definitely a suitable venue for joggers, walkers and jungle trekkers, including those who love camping and outdoor activities.

During the recent school holidays, the park hosted the camping activities of a uniformed association.

Apart from two lakes, the park has platforms, shelter huts and open activity areas. It is surrounded by rich flora and fauna, thus making it an ideal place to relax.

One of the most popular spots in the district for picnickers and joggers, the park features "Rumah Budaya" or cultural houses which showcase the five ethnic groups found in the district, namely, the Tutong, Kedayan, Iban, Dusun and the Chinese community.

The exhibits also show the rich diverse cultures and the cultural identity of the different ethnic groups such as the Kedayan, Murut and Dusun found in Tutong.

The "Rumah Budaya" was constructed in 2001 at the cost of $800,000 and it is the only park that features cultural houses in the country. These unique houses attract not only tourists but locals, too.

For those who want to take a walk at the park, the Sungai Basong Recreational Park lies just five minutes from the Tutong town centre and is situated beside and to the south of the Tutong Muara Coastal Highway on the outskirts of Tutong.

For those who come from Bandar Seri Begawan or other points in the east of the country, turn left at the traffic lights shortly after the viaduct before Tutong, where turning right would give access to the base of the Second Battalion of the Brunei Army.

If arriving from the west of the country, turn right at these traffic lights, the set after the main lights for Tutong town and beach. The turning is well-signposted.

In both cases, take the first turning left, then the leftmost of the various roadways onto which it opens.

Go to the end, where there is a carpark for the Mawar Emas Park Restaurant.

After a short visit to the samples of traditional buildings of various Bruneian ethnic groups, the trip will go clockwise around the jogging and hill-walking circuit behind the main park. This involves a number of stretches with a steep gradient, but none that are precipitous.

The paths are mostly sandy and clear of undergrowth.

The downside of this is that some sections have no shade, so sunscreen and hats or caps may be needed.

The full walk should take not more than an hour and a half, affording a number of panoramic views inland, out to sea and over the course of the Tutong River.

It is an easy outing that even children could come and join the adults. However, don't forget to bring water and snacks.

Awg Haji Jamain bin Momin, the Tutong District Officer, welcomes people from all walks of life to visit the park either for recreational activities or even for a mere stroll. "There are a lot of activities that can be done in this area for government agencies, private sector, mukim or kampong consultative councils as well as the general public.

"All are welcome here as long as they observe the responsibility of keeping the park clean, tidy and safe for others.

"Tutong District Office is planning to revitalise the area by outlining several activities in the near future such as repair and maintenance of cultural houses or huts, boosting local economies, specifically by setting up selling areas for local handicrafts from various mukims or kampongs under the mukim or kampong consultative councils' activities, re-branding of the information centre to become 'Tutong Galeri Warisan', working in partnership with mukim or kampong consultative councils as well as with the private sector to set family-oriented activities and other such worthwhile activities.

"At this juncture, we have just finished repairing and repainting the viewers' dais. We welcome support in terms of activities sponsor as well as technical expert advice to further facilitate the park activities.

"Insya-Allah, the upcoming action plans will be able to help rejuvenate Sungai Basong recreational area to become a more attractive place for tourists as well as for families.

"For us now, it is time to act. What is more important that every stakeholder will be able to make use of this area more positively," said the Tutong District Officer.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend