Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Heart of Borneo needs extra monitoring

Kota Kinabalu: WWF-Malaysia's Borneo Species Programme team has captured images of a female Sumatran rhino believed about 20 years old in the Heart of Borneo, further strengthening the need to sustainably manage the forest in this part of the region that is shared by Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia.

Raymond Alfred, Senior Manager of the programme, stressed the importance of strong and coordinated enforcement in the forest reserves involving the Forestry Department, Wildlife Department and Sabah Foundation, with the support of the police, to ensure the survival of this endangered species.

The current enforcement and survey work in this area is supported by Honda Malaysia. Consistent monitoring of the rhino population here has so far identified the presence of two rhino calves.

Raymond said the future of the rhinos in Borneo now depends on how serious the forest reserves could be managed sustainably and how the enforcement and monitoring could be carried out effectively and be supported with appropriate activities.

WWF-Malaysia is now looking into how Forest Management Units (FMUs) could be sustainably managed since the forest stand and condition in most of the FMUs in Sabah are poor.

He said based on long-term field survey data, the rhino monitoring and survey activities in other forests by the programme shows that the home range of the rhinos is also affected by oil palm expansion near the eastern coastline of Sabah.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Heart of Borneo needs extra monitoring

RBA waives rebooking, rerouting fees for concerned travellers

Royal Brunei Airlines, in a gesture of goodwill, is waiving rebooking and rerouting fees for customers who do not wish to travel due to concerns about the Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic.

The waiver programme is for RBA customers holding tickets that were issued on or before June 30, 2009 and are valid for travel before November 30, 2009.

Under the waiver programme, passengers may defer their travel up to December 31, 2009, subject to seat availability on their chosen flight.

The administration fees waived are for changes of passenger names, flight dates and destinations.

However fare differential charges may still apply for the selected new flight dates or routing, especially if passengers defer their flight to a higher season, in which case the seasonal fare difference applies.

For further information, contact the RBA ticketing office at 2225931 or RBA Service Centre at 2334465.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Monday, June 29, 2009

KL show to kick off Sarawak Rainforest World Music festival

KUCHING: Red Chamber (Canada/China) and Asika (Malaysia) will perform in two preview shows in Kuala Lumpur in the run-up to the Rainforest World Music festival.

The first of the shows will be held at the Curve on Friday.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Gracie Geikie said local music fans here would be entertained by four international and Malay-sian musical groups at the second preview show at the open-air amphitheatre at Jalan Taman Budaya on July 8.

The three-day festival, the 12th edition, will feature 13 foreign and four Malaysian groups at the Sarawak Cultural Village on the foothill of the legendary Mount Santubong near here from July 10.

The other international groups are from France, Tanzania, Korea, New Zealand, Finland, Hungary, Portugal, Morocco, United States, Portugal, Indonesia and Poland.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: KL show to kick off Sarawak Rainforest World Music festival

RM150mil to upgrade Sibu airport terminal

SIBU: Visitors arriving at the Sibu Airport two years from now will enjoy a bigger, fully airconditioned new terminal building and better facilties.

Sarawak Minister of Environment and Public Health Datuk Sri Wong Soon Koh told reporters here Monday that the building and its facilities would be upgraded at a cost of RM150mil under the second economic stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak recently.

The federal government was in the final stage of calling for tenders for the works.

The terminal would have, among others, three aerobridges so that passengers need not walk for long distances to and from the aircraft, he said.

Continue reading at: RM150mil to upgrade Sibu airport terminal

Sunday, June 28, 2009

45 kms to Poring Hot Porings

A view overlooking the memorial site

Colourful masks

The canopy walk

Local handicrafts up for sale at Pekan Nabalu stalls

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Siti Hawa and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Siti Hawa

The second day in Kota Kinabalu started with my mum ringing me up from the hotel room next door. It was 7am sharp so I was a bit groggy and tired after the shopping spree the day before.

"Get the kids ready!" ordered my mom, "We're going to have breakfast and then off we go."

I practically had to drag my two protesting children to the bathroom where they then refused to come out after busy playing and splashing away with the soap bubbles and imagining that they are superheroes fighting villains in the vast sea (bath tub).

Our tour guide, Ismail, was waiting for us at 9am. He briefed us on where he was going to take us that day. Mount Kinabalu, Hot springs and the Canopy walk at the Kinabalu Park, he said firmly. Little was he to know, the demands and how my family can be quite sidetracked if something catches our eyes.

So we were bundled in a 12-seater Urvan, my dad sitting next to the driver and the rest of my family, four garrulous kids and seven adults at the back. Up we went through the winding road, with mum occasionally reciting a doa, causing my brother-in-law and youngest sister to snigger especially when there was a long trailer with metal wires jutting out its back. I was also in a state of constant anxiety, fussing over my two kids whenever our van tried to overtake these long trailers. On the way up though, we noticed that houses are quite a distance away from each other and that there are a number of churches along the area. There are orchards and plantations, which explains the abundance of stalls selling fruits and vegetables.

After one-and-a-half-hours on the road, my family was getting restless. My son and nephew were forever asking, "Are we there yet?" similar to the donkey in Shrek! And similar to the troll, I got so fed-up that I threatened to leave them at the side of the road if I had to. The view, however, was breathtaking and fantabulous and we just wanted to get out of the van and get busy with the cameras. So dad finally told the driver to stop, which he did at Pekan Nabalu.

Pekan Nabalu is a small town where tourists usually stop by to get their pictures taken at the ridge overlooking the majestic and grand Mount Kinabalu. There are small stalls selling local handicrafts, food and the famous local honey; they are open to bartering. To attract visitors as well, a converted longhouse was used to sell all these mementos that can be brought back for friends and relatives. For those who need to replenish themselves with local delicacies, small restaurants also adorn the area.

I dragged my youngest son with me, scouring the local handicrafts with its pretty vases and colourful masks. I would have taken a much longer time if not for the drizzling rain that I found out was quite common up in the highlands. So we continued our journey upwards to the Mt Kinabalu Heritage Park.To enter, we had to pay a small fee. We took pictures in front of the "Selamat Mendaki" signboard with no intent of climbing. My pa asked some questions and was told that one would take nine hours to climb and that in the end a certificate would be given to verify the climb.

Next on the list was the Kinabalu National Park where in our minds, we'll have time to dip in the hot springs and enjoy a short canopy walk on the way. So off we went, till everyone complained of being hungry. We stopped at a nearby local restaurant which I eyed suspiciously having experienced a bout of stomach cramps the day before. But to my delight, the soup was totally yummy and the main dishes appealing. We filled our tummy with my pa making small talks with the local people and visitors alike. Tearing my dad from his chitchat, we then proceeded on our journey.

"Solat!" exclaimed my dad, so we veered off track again going first up to the Perkasa Hotel, to reminisce (we were there before 15 years ago) and then going down the trail stopping at a local surau where all the males in my family performed their prayers.

"Mum, I want salak now," I stated vehemently after seeing all the fruits being sold along the road.

So mum told the driver to stop and dad went out to buy me some 'salak' with my brother and sisters shaking their heads at my instant cravings. But then, my nephew popped his head out through the window and yelled, "Banana too! Nenek!!" at which point that means an added 10 minutes as my dad bantered happily with the locals. "We're near the Australian memorial park," said our tourist guide, "perhaps, we should stop by and have a look."

We all agreed. The sky was pouring so in the end it was just me, my seven-year-old son, my dad, my brother-in-law, my two younger sisters and of course Ismail, the tourist guide who hopped out of the van, determined to explore the site which is located at Mile 8, Jalan Labuk Utara, Kundasang. The fee was just RM3 each though at the gate, the price was stated as RM10. So we went in and were astounded with the charming garden and yet saddened by the history (we read the exhibits), which then led to the establishment of the memorial site. This memorial is dedicated to 2,700 Australian prisoners of war (POWs) and others (650 Britons) who died at the Sandakan POW camp and death marches in North Borneo in World War II. Only six Australians lived to tell the story while others died in various ways. One who tried to escape had his legs amputated while others were tortured and killed. We left the area feeling melancholy and relayed the stories of these marches to my mum, brother and sister-in-law who stayed back in the van.

"No more stops," declared my brother-in-law who understandably was quite tired of the various stops we made.

"45kms to Hot Porings," I stated happily looking out the window. So we passed Ranau, with me dozing off the rest of the journey. When I opened my eyes, I found out that we have reached our intended destination. With rain still pouring though lightly, I carried my three-year-old out of the van and then discussed with other family members of what we should do next. My sister-in-law opted to stay behind as my one-year-old niece was making a huge fuss. The rest of us, including my mum, who at this point was weak with exhaustion wanted to go to the Poring Hot springs where it is said to have medicinal values.

And lo, the sights that greeted us! The baths were literally packed with visitors and tourists alike, which dampened my mood slightly. Just as I was going to dip my foot to one of the baths, Ismail approached us and told us that we should do the canopy walk first before resting our tired bodies.

My mom refused but the rest of us were raring to go. So we trotted along the path and found out that we had to pay for the climb. My sister paid for everyone (Yay!!) and we struggled along the damped earth, which my three-year-old automatically rejected, crying, "Aiman shoes dirty!!" to my embarrassment. Luckily, our tour guide was not averse to little kids and went out of his way, chose to carry my little boy all the way up. Hand in hand, I yanked my complaining seven-year-old up to the top with him citing "if he had superpowers like Spiderman" all the way. Finally, wet and tired, we saw the canopy hanging from tree to tree.

I was literally shaking as I then dragged my youngest behind me while my first ran happily in front causing the canopy to sway dangerously. My dad was the first one to finish it though with a big smile plastered on his face. Even in his advancing years he was the one who seemed tireless, and was the one who first reached the bottom of the track while I was predictably the last.

Poring Hot Springs? We were so tired then that we all opted to go home, that after ravaging the souvenir shop at the premise. Would we do it again? I am planning a second trip there with my hubby and kids this December aiming for the Labuk Bay site, the strawberry garden, the islands and perhaps enjoying more of the seafood delicacies that Sabah is famous for. A cheap and fun holiday for all!

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pom Pom Island, Semporna

With a name like Pom Pom, it’s hard to forget this gem of an island located on the east coast of Sabah. Our trip to Pom Pom Island was already an adventure by itself – The pelting rain followed us on the boat ride all the way from Semporna; by the time my team and I arrived, we were drenched but happy to see land! Thankfully, nothing but sunshine paved the way for the rest of our trip.

Pom Pom Island Resort is located some 40 minutes by speedboat from the town of Semporna, Tawau. Originally the island was named Pom Pong but over time, the name Pom Pom proved to be more catchy and easier to remember. The resort is built on 40 acres of land with an impressive frontage of some 28.5 acres. The long stretch of beach offers ample sunbathing spots for you to soak up the sun! However, the first thing that caught my eye was the huge dining and reception area. Never before have I seen such a massive wooden structure at an island resort - it is a beautiful piece of architecture and I was fascinated with the detail.

As I further explored the resort, I noticed the attention to detail in each of the structures. There are currently three types of accommodation: Water Bungalows, Beach Villas and Garden Villas. A combination of natural materials was used to construct the buildings, from coconut tree bark for the walls, selangan batu timber for the floors and for the ceiling, the very sturdy belian wood. I was also impressed with the tasteful décor in each room - simple with an elegant touch, giving the rooms a 'clean' look with very little clutter.

Our friendly guide Ronnie gave us a tour of the resort. The Beach and Garden Villas are for everyone, from travelling friends to honeymoon couples on - not only are they spacious but I loved the idea of having the beach literally at your doorstep. I spent a good portion of my afternoons falling asleep on a hammock, listening to the gentle lapping of the waves. But for the ultimate luxury, stay at the Water Bungalows. Imagine diving right into the ocean at your own personal 'jetty' and enjoy the marine life swimming right below you. Located nearby is a special bungalow that provides much-needed body massages and heavenly reflexology sessions. All this with a fantastic view of the sea!

Back on land, we were given a tour of the island's very own vegetable and fruit garden. Ronnie explained that the resort supplies its own fresh produce where possible. We saw a colourful combination of eggplant, chillies, bananas, papayas and even dragonfruit just begging to be on the kitchen table. Another unique aspect of the resort is the use of RO (reverse osmosis) water. This means that the water supply is filtered several times, making it purer than what is normally found in our household taps. According to Peter Loong, the owner of the resort, Pom Pom is the first resort to implement the use of RO water. We further traipsed the resort and found it well-equipped with a meeting room, a games room for a round of billiards and darts, a souvenir and convenience store and internet services. Plenty to do should you ever decide to peel yourself away from the lure of the beach!

Scuba divers are well taken care of by the experienced divemasters working here. Apart from the surrounding marine attractions of Pom Pom, divers can opt to explore nearby diving sites, such as those of Mataking, Timba Timba, Kalapuan, Pandanan and Bohey Dulang (which is part of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park).

As the sun begins to set, nothing beats a walk along the starfish-studded beach. Divers flock to the common area come dinner time to share their amazing underwater photos and exchange dive experiences. Need a drink? Nothing the friendly bartender can't fix. Whether you wish to explore the oceanic wonders of the East Coast or escape the humdrum of the city, the pleasures of Pom Pom will not disappoint.

Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter

NOTE: All Photos Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Friday, June 26, 2009

RM69m for Labuan’s tourism

LABUAN: The Ministry of Tourism has allocated a total of RM68.82 million for Labuan’s long term tourism industry plan.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Sulaiman Abd Taib said that the allocation was under the Ninth Malaysia Plan and various development programs are being implemented.

“The Ministry also recorded a significant increase in tourist arrival into the island every year,” he said in answering a question from Labuan MP Datuk Yussof Mahal in Parliament.

He said that only tourism development projects are given priority to be implemented under the ninth Malaysia Plan, while less important ones to be brought up to 10th Malaysia Plan.

He said his Ministry would also be closely working together with local authority in Labuan to boost the tourism industry.

Meanwhile, Yussof Mahal said Labuan, being an international financial centre and hub for Oil & Gas industry should not be left behind in the national mainstream development.

Continue reading at: RM69m for Labuan’s tourism

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sarawak protects orang-utans: Conservationist

KUCHING: A leading orang-utan conservationist stated yesterday that Sarawak has done a great job protecting the orang-utan population, countering negative criticisms hurled at the state by foreign environmental groups.

Indonesia-based Dr Bruite Mary Galdikas, regarded as the world’s foremost authority on the orang-utan, said she was impressed with Sarawak’s progress thus far.

“The government of Sarawak is doing a very good job in protecting the orang-utan … when I was last here in 1998, the Chief Minister had created a reserve specifically for orang-utans. As you know, orang-utans are difficult to conserve because they need large areas and they are deep forest animals.

“I’m very impressed by what I’ve seen here. There are other issues but I will not want to talk about that,” she told reporters after visiting the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, which houses 24 orang-utans.

The Canadian-born Galdikas, together with her American collaborator Irene Spencer, were in Sarawak to identify sites in the state for the proposed joint tour programme that will enable visitors to see orang-utans in Sarawak, Sabah and the Indonesian province of Kalimantan Tengah.

They also visited Lanjak-Entimau in Batang Ai and the Matang Wildlife Centre on Tuesday.

According to Galdkas, the joint tour programme, which is expected to commence next year, will create greater global awareness on the protection and conservation of the orang-utan.

A primatologist by training and now regarded as an educator on orang-utan, Galdikas has spent 38 years raising public awareness on the protection of the orang-utan, particularly from Camp Leakey, Kalimantan Tengah, which is currently rehabilitating 330 orang-utans.

She rose to fame when Hollywood actress Julia Roberts did a special documentary on her work many years ago.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sarawak protects orang-utans: Conservationist

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Green Brunei's eco-tourism potential

By David R Smith

As Brunei continues to develop and expand, some have raised concerns about what effect this has on the local environment, and rightfully so.

With massive deforestation elsewhere in Borneo, Brunei's efforts with the Heart of Borneo project have become essential in combating the destruction of her incredibly rich flora and fauna.

With over 70% of Brunei's land covered with primary rainforest, Brunei is one of the most densely covered countries in the world, with hundreds of species of animals native only to Brunei.

Unlike other countries, a visitor only has to take a boat ride down the Brunei River, or even a short walk into the jungle to encounter thick mangroves, proboscis monkeys or maybe even the occasional crocodile.

One of the most beautiful things about Brunei is the way in which its wildlife seems to blend in with the new man-made environment.

Take Mabohai's famous monkeys for instance, built just in front of a thick jungle, the troupe of monkeys that frequents have probably been there for longer than the supermarket itself. Rather than utterly wiping out their habitat, people do their part by feeding them and it's not uncommon for shoppers to see the occasional monkey swinging from a lamp post or casually strolling around the parking lot.

Whilst the occasional monkey might be an appealing feature for some, similarly, the monkey population is strong enough to steal fruit off of fruit trees in residential areas. Easily remedied by putting black plastic bags over the fruit, this relatively mild response is symbolic of the easy going relationship here in Brunei between humans and wildlife.

With such bountiful natural gifts, Brunei is a prime target for a booming eco-tourism industry.

Well situated as a mid-way point between Europe and Australia, Brunei received up to one million foreign tourists in 2003, most staying for little more than three days as part of a stop-over.

If Brunei were able to harness this vast number of tourists it would open up an enormous amount of employment which would indirectly address a number of social ills, the biggest of which being simply boredom.

Fifteen years ago, Temburong's eco-tourism industry was massively underdeveloped. Host to the occasional intrepid explorer and small groups of students on school excursions; Temburong has come a long way. With the Outward Bound Centre freshly renovated and a slew of other eco-lodges established in recent years, Temburong is fast becoming a hot destination for tourists in Brunei seeking white water thrills and incredible rainforest beauty.

At Brunei's current rate, she is fast fulfilling her goal to increase the number of tourists visiting Brunei by 7% annually, the average Gadong-goer would be helpless to agree with hundreds of tourists from as far away as Japan and Australia descending on shops at least once a week, snapping up DVD's and emptying restaurant's kitchens.

So far the Brunei Government has done an excellent job in tapping into what will soon become a key industry for Brunei. In the next fifty years, it would be of utmost importance to ween Brunei's economy off of crude oil and natural gas exports as supplies begin to dwindle.

Eco-tourism offers to be the next brightest natural gift that Brunei has to offer the world.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sarawak to have nation’s first e-tourism portal

MIRI: Sarawak will be the first in the country to have an e-tourism portal to market and promote the state’s tourism products.

“Such a marketing and promotion application is not yet available in the country. We will be the first to introduce such a portal,” Minister of Urban Development and Tourism Datuk Michael Manyin Jawong disclosed to the reporters during a visit to Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort here yesterday.

“We are now actually getting some input from outside and getting those who have the expertise to brief us on this concept. We need RM3 million to RM4 million to create the portal,” says Manyin, adding that the application has been successfully implemented in other countries such as in Singapore and Europe.

Asked on how soon Sarawak will come out with the portal, Manyin said it depends on the capability of the experts which include all the technical aspects.

“I don’t want people to do it half-heartedly. Through the portal, tourists will be able to plan and make bookings at the comfort of their homes, 24 hours a day. They can book directly through the internet without having to go through any agency,” he added.

Continue reading at: Sarawak to have nation’s first e-tourism portal

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sabah Dragon Boat Race - Farmers No.1 in boat race

KOTA KINABALU: Despite only training for two weeks, a group of farmers from the Farmers Federation of Tuaran managed to beat five other heavyweights to grab the biggest prize at the 24th Sabah Dragon Boat Race.

Team leader Jamaluddin Ibrahim, 37, said although the team had started training in earnest just two weeks before the competition day, their natural ability and teamwork managed to give them the edge.

The team edged out runners-up Terayung by a mere 0.01 seconds to land the Sabah Head of State's trophy.

The team of 20, aged between 20 and 43, won the cup last year and came in second in 2007.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sabah Dragon Boat Race - Farmers No.1 in boat race

Notice: Canopy Walkway in Poring Hot Spring

Greetings from Sabah Tourism Board!

Please be informed the Canopy Walkway in Poring Hot Spring will be partialy closed for works maintenance as stated below:-

Date: 1st July 2009 untill 31st August 2009

Should you need any clarification please do contact Sabah Park office at Tel: 088 211 881 for further enquiry.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Robin Chin
Tourist Assistant
Sabah Tourism Board
51 Jalan Gaya,
88000 Kota Kinabalu,
Sabah, Malaysia.
Telephone: +(6088)212121
Fax: +(6088)212075, 219311
Website: http://www.sabahtourism.com

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Beauty and the beast at Bisaya festival

By Hj Minor Absah

LIMBANG - The Bisaya Association of Sarawak with the cooperation of the Resident's Office of Limbang Division recently organised the 'Babulang' fiesta and buffalo race 2009.

Many 'rakyat' (people's) sports and Bisaya traditional dances were highlighted this year. Also held were a remote control boat race, Iron Man contest, Borneo top spinning competition, tug-of-war and cooking buffalo meat competition.

Other highlights included 'Ratu Agak Babulang' or Miss Babulang beauty contest and 'Ratu Kebaya Badoro' or Miss Kebaya attire contest.

Buffalo racing is a popular sports in the Bisaya community and the Sarawak Tourism Ministry agreed to include it in its calendar of events.

The Bisayas are an ethnic minority residing in northern Sarawak, mostly in Limbang and Baram districts such as at Linai Bukit, Batu Belah, Long Terawan and Padang Kerbau in Marudi.

Though they are a minority group, their culture is rich, especially their music, dances and songs.

Among those, 'anding' is an artistic culture that is very popular and synonymous with the Bisaya community.

'Anding' is a traditional song of the Bisaya in Limbang and usually played along with musical instruments such as 'Dumbak' and viola.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Kota Kinabalu International Airport expected to be ready by year-end

KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu International Airport is expected to be fully completed by the end of this year.

Currently, it is 86 per cent completed, said Chief Inspector-General of Sabah, Datuk Amir Kahar Tun Datu Mustapa after attending the project’s progress briefing by KLIA Consultancy Services Sdn Bhd manager Mohd Fadhil Ramli yesterday.

Amir Kahar said efforts are under way to overcome existing problems affecting the RM1.4 billion KKIA extension works on the 101.89-hectare land.

“Even the economic gloom did not affect the operations that much…for now, we are slightly ahead but we cannot predict that the project would be completed earlier as there are other issues to be considered such as the unpredictable weather,” he said.

Amir Kahar has been given the responsibility to audit and inspect the various projects and developments being undertaken in the state so as to ensure that all are completed on time and on budget.

“In my position, I have been monitoring many projects within Sabah, especially those that have the ability to create outgoing employment and to increase the standard of living and economic opportunities for the people and businesses in the state,” he said.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu International Airport expected to be ready by year-end

Friday, June 19, 2009

Best of Sarawak cuisine

WANT to have a taste of Sarawakian cuisine without having to travel across the sea?

At the Rajah Brooke Café, co-owned by husband and wife Kenneth Kuan and Yvonna Jee, a bowl of Kolo Mee or Sarawak Laksa is just an order away.

A 2.9m portrait of Rajah Brooke adorns the interior of the café.

Jee, who hails from East Malaysia, named the outlet after the historical figure “so that people can relate it after Sarawak”.

The café also uses Rajah Brooke’s motto “Dum spiro spero”, which means “While I breathe, I hope” in Latin, as its tagline.

She is proud of her Three Layer Tea (RM3.80), the café’s signature drink, which she feels is the best in town.

“The Sarawakian drink is made from tea, milk, and “attap sugar” which tastes like gula Melaka and is imported from Sarawak. Some say it tastes like cendol,” she said.

Sure enough, the sweet and fragrant drink was refreshing and does somehow taste like cendol.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Best of Sarawak cuisine

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: 24th Sabah Dragon Boat Race

Date: 20 & 21 June 2009

Venue: Likas Bay, Kota Kinabalu

Fast and furious dragons glide over the South China Sea to the pounding of drums this June during the 24th Sabah Dragon Race. The Dragon Boat Festival or Duan Wu, which originates from China and dates back to the 4th century, falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. This is when the Chinese pay homage to their ancestors and appease the Dragon (Controller of the Water) to ensure adequate rainfall to ripen their crops. The race also commemorates the Chinese poet and countryman, Qu Yan who threw himself into Milo River to commit suicide. People began to row out in boats to search for his body and they threw rice dumplings into the river to console his spirit. The throwing of dumplings or chung tze into the sea is now a symbolic gesture and marks the start of the event each year.

Initiated by the Sabah Chinese Cultural Association (SCCA) 19 years ago, the Race was placed under the responsibility of the Sabah Tourism Board in 1996. The race was then briefly under the organization of the Ministry of Youth & Sports in the years 2002 and 2003 but is now (since 2004) back in the hands of the Sabah Tourism Board with the support of the SCCA.

This year, some 50 teams are expected to participate, both local and foreign, including teams from Brunei, Kalimantan, Singapore and China. Teams will be vying for nine trophies:

  • Sabah Head Of State Trophy – International & Top Malaysian Men’s Teams* Sabah Chief Minister Trophy – Malaysian Men’s Teams

  • Sabah Dragon Trophy – International & Malaysian Mixed Teams

  • SCCA President Trophy – Chinese Men’s Teams

  • SCCA President Trophy – Chinese Mixed Teams

  • Kinabalu Dragon Trophy – Junior Team Under 21 Years Old

  • Men’s Team Open 200 Metre Race – Open to all Men’s Teams

  • Mix Team Open 200 Metre Race – Open to all Mixed Teams

  • Charity Race – Open to all teams

The newly-introduced Charity Race is a unique category in which teams select a charitable organization to represent. The name of the organization must be incorporated in the team name when registering for this event. All cash prizes of the winning team will then be donated to the respective charitable organisation. This year, the total cash prize for this year is RM43,000. The Heats for all categories take place on the 20th of June while the Finals are held the following day.

In between races, enjoy the spectacular dragon and lion dance performances and a 24-Chinese drum presentation. On the 20th of June, visitors can also participate in a host of events at Likas Bay including beach soccer matches organised by KK Futsal Centre, canoeing by the Sabah Canoe Association and sailing activities by the Kinabalu Yacht Club and Sabah Sailing Association. Come and catch the excitement this June at Likas Bay! The event kicks off at 8:00am.

For more information, please contact Zachary Mobijohn (Organising Secretary) at +6088-232121, fax +6088-265540 or e-mail zachary@sabahtourism.com. Visit the website at http://dragonboat.sabahtourism.com

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

MASwings is enhancing services in Sabah and Sarawak

KOTA KINABALU: MASwings will strive to continue providing safe, reliable, affordable and excellent services for the travelling public to Sabah and Sarawak, its managing director, Mohd Salleh Ahmad Tabrani said yesterday.

Speaking at a media briefing here, he said MASwings is undertaking a major fleet renewal programme this year and the next with a view to improving its rural air services (RAS) in Sabah and Sarawak.

Four new 68-seater ATR 71-500 aircraft have so far been acquired and they are being deployed to serve domestic routes in Sabah and Sarawak, said Mohd. Salleh.

Three more will be delivered before the end of this year and by March next year, MASwings will have 10 ATR 72-500 serving the Sabah and Sarawak regions, he said.

With the acquisition of ATR 71-500 aircraft, the existing eight Fokker 50 aircraft will gradually be phased out, he added.

Mohd. Salleh said the decision to purchase ATR 71-500 instead of jet was that the former is 60 per cent more fuel efficient than a 70-seat jet. “ATR 71-500 emits 50 per cent less carbon dioxide per passenger/kilometer, and is 50 per cent quieter than modern jet; thus, providing better customer comfort,” he said.

Continue reading at: MASwings is enhancing services in Sabah and Sarawak

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kuching International Airport, Borneo’s longest airport runway, ready

KUCHING: Kuching International Airport (KIA) is the only airport in East Malaysia and the third airport in the country with the capacity to accommodate Airbus 380 landing.

Global Upline Sdn Bhd advisor Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing told reporters this yesterday before a tour of the KIA extended runway which will be declared open by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tomorrow.

The runway is now 3,780 metres long. It measured 2,454m previously. Construction took four years to complete and incurred RM800 million in cost.

“KIA is one of the three airports in Malaysia that caters for Airbus 380. The other two airports are Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Langkawi International Airport,” he said.

He said Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) would be next and that works to upgrade it by Global Upline were ongoing and should be completed in eight to 10 months’ time.

Ting said yesterday that a fully loaded MAS 747 would be the first aircraft to land on the extended runway at 4.45pm tomorrow.

According to Ting, the runway complies fully with international requirements that include visual aids such as glide path, localiser, precision approach light, runway and taxiway lighting and signs.

He said construction was not easy because it involved transforming a swampy area.

“We have to remove unsuitable soil and filled the area layer by layer. The filling was around 60 feet to 100 feet … in some places almost 10 storeys high.

Continue reading at: Kuching International Airport, Borneo’s longest airport runway, ready

Wildlife experts out to save stray rhinos in Borneo isle

KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife researchers are tracking three Sumatran rhinos roaming an isolated patch of forest in Sabah’s east coast, hoping to eventually relocate the animals to a conservation area.

WWF-Malaysia Borneo Programme species conservation manager Raymond Alfred said the rhinos -- a male adult, a female and a calf -- were confined to less than 1,000ha of forest surrounded by oil palm plantations.

“This is obviously insufficient for the rhinos which require a home range of about five square kilometres (500ha) per animal,” he said following a media briefing about WWF’s programmes in Sabah Tuesday.

He said WWF was working with the Sabah Wildlife Department that would decide when the translocation of the rhinos would take place.

Continue reading at: Wildlife experts out to save stray rhinos in Borneo isle

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: The Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival 2009

Date: 19-20 June

Sway, shake and shimmy to the sounds of jazz maestros from around the world! This year’s KK Jazz Festival takes place at the Tennis Arena, Sutera Marina Club from 6:30pm to 11:00pm.

Indulge in the musical stylings of Sabah’s very own Double Take, featuring Roger Wang and Mia Palencia, Malaysian vocal harmony group Six2Eight, Hong Kong’s Junk Unit, Nah Youn Sun from Korea, UK-based Son2nos, Rimba, SIA Jazz Syndicate and Jonathan Tse.

Music enthusiasts will also have the chance to jam with the performers on the 7th and 14th of June from 3pm to 5pm at the Sutera Harbour Resort. Tickets for the 2-day access are priced at RM50.00 and RM100.00 and can be purchased at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlets around Kota Kinabalu.

This event is organized by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) with the support of the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (SPArKS). For more details, contact the organizers at 088 230245 or e-mail sparksmalaysia@gmail.com

Source: Sabah Tourism

Note: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Gong fest to showcase ethnic beats of Sarawak

KUCHING: The inaugural Sarawak Gong Festival in Miri will feature gong music from seven ethnic groups.

Organised by the Sarawak Museum Department, the festival on June 27 will feature musical gong performances from the Lun Bawang, Kayan, Tagal, Bisaya, Melanau, Iban and Bidayuh communities.

Eight to 10 groups will perform at the festival, each comprising five to seven musicians and five to seven dancers.

Museum director Ipoi Datan said various events had been lined up for the festival, including a workshop on the role of gongs in Sarawak society.

“For example, one of the topics will be gongs as a form of communication.

Continue reading at: Gong fest to showcase ethnic beats of Sarawak

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gawai, the force that binds all Dayaks

KUCHING: The annual harvest festival, Gawai Dayak, has been described as the force that binds all Dayaks to celebrate as one community and state.

“In 1965, the government declared June 1 for all Dayaks to celebrate Gawai in a big way in order to unite them - the Ibans, Bidayuhs and Orang Ulus,” said Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at last night’s national-level Gawai Open House.

Sarawak, he pointed out, has been able to achieve much socio-economic progress, thanks to a united people of various racial backgrounds, particularly the various Dayak groups.

Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Muhammad Salahuddin and wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Norkiah were the guests of honour at the event, along with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan, Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Michael Manyin, federal and state ministers and foreign and local dignitaries were also present.

Manyin and Minister of Information, Unity, Culture and Arts Datuk Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim were joint organising chairmen of the event.

Taib said in 1988 the government took another step to further unite the people and promote Dayak culture to other communities throughout the country.

“Today, Dayak culture is part of Malaysia’s identity and it has enriched the country’s cultural heritage,” he pointed out.

Continue reading at: Gawai, the force that binds all Dayaks

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Best Kumangs (Fair and Lovely queens) for National Gawai Open House

KUCHING: Just when they thought they already won the Kumang Gawai title, the various divisional Fair and Lovely queens and finalists had to go through another rigorous test before being selected to represent the state in the Annual Majlis Rumah Terbuka Malaysia Gawai Dayak 2009 (national-level Gawai Dayak Open House) at Stadium Perpaduan, Petra Jaya, here today.

Datuk Peter Minos, the chief coordinator, said the Kumangs had to be the best of the best.

“Besides beauty, the Kumangs we select must have also their own traditional costumes,” he added, laying particular emphasis on the authenticity of such costumes.

Apart from a minimum height of 5ft 2inches, an age limit of 24 years and looking great in full regalia for the cameras, Minos’ emphasis on perfection lies in the fact that the Kumang Gawai represents the apex of all that the year’s harvest has to offer.

“The apex of the Gawai Dayak is not complete without the Kumang — that’s why it’s the centre of the Gawai. People just think it’s a beauty pageant but the Kumang is a reward from the Almighty. In the past, there were a lot of rituals with religious connotations surrounding the Kumang Gawai,” he explained.

For Janet Bennet, the Kumang Gawai title represents the beauty and uniqueness of Sarawakian women not found anywhere else.

At 5ft 10 inches tall, Janet towers over the average Sarawakian girl. This winner of Miss Fair and Lovely 2009 from Kampung Asap in Belaga, stands out with her grace and composure — and she is just 19.

However, she didn’t succeed all on her own. Besides support from friends and family, she’s also grateful to Sarawak Cultural Village manager, Jane Lian Labang, for encouraging her and boosting her self-confidence.

To Janet, still studying for her diploma in public administration at UiTM, the most challenging aspect of being a Kumang is dividing her time between studies, family, friends and the various assignments she has to fulfil as the reigning ‘queen’.

The composure and inner confidence that won her the crown will serve her well in future when she becomes an ambassadress or a lawyer. In fact, that’s one of her primary reasons for joining the Fair and Lovely pageant.

Continue reading at: Best Kumangs (Fair and Lovely queens) for National Gawai Open House

Colourful national Gawai open house

KUCHING: Sarawak’s Dayak communities put on a colourful display to celebrate the national Gawai Open House at the Indoor Stadium here Saturday night.

Head of State Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak joined thousands of spectators to witness a cultural showcase of music, dance and drama.

Themed 1Malaysia: Segulai Sejalai (Together in Unity), the festivities kicked off with Gawai songs by six Dayak singers comprising two each from the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu communities.

They were accompanied on stage by beauty queens from each community, respectively known as Kumang (Iban), Dayung Temengun (Bidayuh) and Keligit (Orang Ulu).

Dancers from the Dayak Cultural Foundation then performed the Bidayuh “Ngabang Gawai”, Iban “Ajat Nyambut Tuah Gawai” and Orang Ulu “Kajen Ngelamei Dau Gawai” dances.

The highlight of the evening was a musical drama, “Simpang Impang”, which told the story of a legendary Iban farmer’s efforts to safeguard his rice harvest from mice and sparrows. The 15-minute drama was performed by artistes from the Sarawak Cultural Village.

Continue reading at: Colourful national Gawai open house

Thursday, June 11, 2009

State and National Kaamatan Festivals - Let everyone join in the fun

ONE was a celebration, the other a show. That was the difference between the state and the national Tadau Kaamatan Festivals which were held a week apart in Sabah.

Both were successful in their own right. But, as far as being people-friendly was concerned, the national do at Padang Merdeka, Kota Kinabalu, on June 7 left much to be desired.

In contrast, the state-level event at the compound of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association building, on May 30 and May 31, focused on programmes which involved the public.

People from all walks of life were welcome to dance, sing and feast at the various exhibition homes provided by the hosts. Merrymaking was the order of the day.

But at Padang Merdeka the visitors were merely onlookers.

The main focus of the national do was on the exhibitions and shows prepared by the organisers, spearheaded by the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry.

Although highly entertaining, those involved in the performances, including the popular artistes, could not bring out the true meaning of the festival.

There was a lot of dancing and singing, but the problem was none of the thousands of visitors, who thronged the venue in the heart of the city, were involved.

Continue reading at: State and National Kaamatan Festivals - Let everyone join in the fun

Notice: Marine Exhibiton Centre in Manukan Island

Greetings from Sabah Tourism Board!

Please be informed the Marine Exhibition Centre in Manukan Island will be closed for public for renovation at the following date.

Date: 8th June 2009 untill 31st December 2009

Should you need any clarification please do contact Sabah Park office at Tel: 088 211 881 for further enquiry.

Thank you for your kind attention.

With regards,

Robin Chin
Tourist Assistant

Sabah Tourism Board
51 Jalan Gaya,
88000 Kota Kinabalu,
Sabah , Malaysia .

Telephone: +(6088)212121
Fax: +(6088)212075, 219311
Website: http://www.sabahtourism.com/

Kaamatan-Gawai bash on 12 June 2009

Penampang: The third Kaamatan-Gawai celebration, jointly organised by the Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), will be held at the Atlantis Seafood Garden Restaurant along Jalan Bundusan, here.

Organising publicity chairman, Pius Jaua, said the celebration tomorrow (Friday) would begin with a round of friendly golf at the Sabah Golf and Country Club in the morning.

The celebration will culminate with a dinner graced by Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

He said the evening would see cultural presentations by the Monsopiad Cultural Troupe and a special cultural presentation by the natives of Sarawak.

"The event will be highlighted by the parading of the Kaamatan Unduk Ngadau and the Sarawak Kumang Gawai," he told reporters here, Wednesday.

Continue reading at: Kaamatan-Gawai bash on 12 June 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Environmentalist says OK to Mt Kinabalu abandoned hostel project

KOTA KINABALU: Environmentalist has no problems with the government’s proposal to restart an abandoned controversial hostel project on Mount Kinabalu.

However, Sabah Environmental Protection Association president Wong Tak said that the project must be accordance to environmental requirements to put a structure on the mountain’s trail.

“We understand the state government’s aspiration to provide cheaper alternative accommodation for locals to climbing the mountain.

“It would not be fair for us to object to it as the current facilities have been privatised and is quite costly for locals to make the trip up the mountain,’’ Wong said.

He was commenting on state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun statement that the state was considering a move to revive the project.

Masidi said that any move to revive the project would not jeopardise the World Heritage status of Mount Kinabalu and would be in accordance to the environmental impact assessment.

Continue reading at: Environmentalist says OK to Mt Kinabalu abandoned hostel project

Best cultural show for national-level Gawai

(From left) Bidayuh Kumang, Rafaelia Ashley, Orang Ulu Keligit, Janet Bennet,
and Iban Kumang, Durin Edward Jalani posing for a photograph.
Photo copyright to the Eastern Times.

KUCHING: Cultural performances, beautiful Kumangs and Keligits, and powerful renditions by six singers will be the highlights of the 2009 National-level Gawai Dayak Open House to be held at the State Indoor Stadium here this Saturday (June 13).

Chairman of the celebration's sub-committee, Dato Peter Minos said the cultural show would be jointly performed by the Sarawak Cultural Village and the Dayak Cultural Foundation.

Minos also said that two singers, one each from the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu communities, would also perform at the show. "We will put up the very best cultural shows for the National-level Gawai to indicate that, we the Dayaks (Ibans, Bidayuh and Orang Ulus) have very rich, colourful and wonderful cultures.

We have also selected beautiful Dayak maidens from all over the state and top Dayak singers for the show."

Continue reading at: Best cultural show for national-level Gawai

Ethnic groups to perform at Sarawak Gong Fest 2009

KUCHING: The inaugural Sarawak Gong Festival 2009 slated for June 27 in Miri will showcase the different types of Dayak gongs.

Organised by the State Museum Department, the event will feature performances by seven ethnic groups — Lun Bawang, Kayan, Tagal, Bisaya, Iban and Bidayuh - commencing from 7.30pm to 10.30pm at Imperial Hotel.

“Currently we have seven confirmed groups but the number could increase to 10. The focus is mainly on groups who use gongs as their main musical instruments.

“The performances will be accompanied by several dancers of between 10 and 12 per group,” said museum director Ipoi Datan.

“It will be a very exciting performance as each group has its own beats, tempos and tunes. The public are urged not to miss the show,” he told a press conference at the museum here yesterday.

He added that though the festival is held for the first time this year, the festival will be an annual event of the department.

“The festival is meant to compliment the Miri Jazz Festival and the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF). It is aimed at developing the festival concept,” said Ipoi.

Continue reading at: Ethnic groups to perform at Sarawak Gong Fest 2009

New 7 Wonders of Nature - Sipadan now no. 4


After a surge of votes, Sabah Borneo's very own dive haven, Sipadan island, is now ranked no. 4th (up from 14th last week) in the search for seven new wonders of nature being carried out via Internet voting at new7wonders.com.

Currently, in its 2nd phase of selection, Sipadan will have to remain in the top 11 under the "Islands" category (out of 7 categories) by 7 July 2009.

Then, the top 77 voted nominees, on a category group basis, will be considered by the N7W Panel of Experts for finalist shortlisting. The shortlist of the selected 21 candidates will be announced on 21 July 2009, and will go forward to the Official Finalists stage of voting.

You can keep Sipadan with a hope of being selected as a finalist by giving it more votes - vote for Sipadan at votesipadan.com or simply vote on this blog (see right column).

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Sabah Government may revive hostel project at Mount Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: A controversial plan to put up a hostel at Mount Kinabalu that was stopped by the State Cabinet three years ago is now being reconsidered.

State Tourism, Culture & Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said that the state was considering the move to revive the project in trying to provide cheaper accommodation for people scaling the mountain.

However, he said that any development plan along the mountain trail would not jeopardise the World Heritage status of Mount Kinabalu and would be in accordance to the environmental impact assessment.

“We have not made any decision but we are just looking at it,” he told reporters after a briefing for Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen who was on a working visit to Sabah yesterday.

The controversial RM4.35 million restaurant-cum-rest-house project at the height of 2727 metres was stopped by the state government in June 2006 when the contractor was found to have carried out rock blasting works.

Continue reading at: Sabah Government may revive hostel project at Mount Kinabalu

Wooing more flights to Sabah

Kota Kinabalu: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said his Ministry is continuously talking to airline companies for more flights to Sabah.

"We are currently finalising talks with Chinese Southern. I have also met with the managing director of an airline company from Abu Dhabi which is actually already marketing Sabah as a tourism package although there is currently no direct flight to the State due to economic reasons.

"This company is now promoting Sabah as a special holiday package in the European and Middle East markets," he said.

The Ministry has specially chosen this Abu Dhabi-based airline company because of its good marketing network in Europe, he said, adding they were hoping it could start with an indirect flight to Sabah.

Sabah needs to continuously expand its flight connections to ensure a continued expansion of the State's tourism industry, said Masidi, adding he has also talked to Australia's Jetstar but "again the question is about load and the type of planes available."

"Our (Sabah's) stand is that if there is going to be a direct flight between Sabah and Australia, it needs to be either to Perth or Brisbane because there are substantial number of Sabahans living in these two cities É but as I understand there is a problem with the load and type of airplane," he said.

Continue reading at: Wooing more flights to Sabah

Winner Hotel in Sabah gets face-lift

KOTA KINABALU: The Winner Hotel has undergone a major renovation and refurbishment, symbolically taking yet another mile in its already exciting history.

Considered a premier hotel in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Winner Hotel used to host many distinguished patrons including former Heads of State, Chief Ministers and Ministers and community leaders.

City Mayor Datul Iliyas Ibrahim, for one, recalls its glory days.

“Other than hosting countless wedding receptions and social functions, it was also the venue for the reception of the official delegations from Indonesia and Malaysia upon the end of the Confrontation between the two countries,” he said.

The then Chief Minister of Sabah, Tan Sri Peter Lo led the Malaysian side which also comprised Tun Mustapha Datu Harun who was at that time the Federal Minister of Sabah Affairs and Civil Defence, and Sabah’s Brigadier Commander General Ibrahim who was later promoted to Chief of Staff of the Malaysian Armed Forces.

Also an interesting piece of history: Winner Hotel was the first hotel with a lift!

But more significantly, the hotel played a significant role in lifting the economy of the state capital in many ways.

Other than contributing to the revenues of City Hall by way of commercial assessment rates and licence fees, Winner Hotel also provided employment opportunities as well as affordable accommodation and delicious food.

Continue reading at: Winner Hotel in Sabah gets face-lift

Monday, June 08, 2009

20,000 attend national-level Kaamatan Fest bash

KOTA KINABALU: A breezy afternoon proved to be the perfect weather for the national-level Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) celebrations which was attended by an estimated crowd of 20,000 at the historic Padang Merdeka here.

Traditional dances such as the sumazau of the Kadazandusun, magunatip of the Murut and igal igal of the sea Bajau and Suluk were among the various performances which kicked off at 4pm.

The crowd, however, reserved their loudest cheers for Malaysian artistes such as Akademi Fantasia star Felix, as well as Dayangku Nurul Fatihah.

Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah launched the festivities by beating the gong seven times, watched by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Information, Communi-cations and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

Also present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the Huguan Siou or Kadazandusun paramount leader, and other members of the state Cabinet.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: 20,000 attend national-level Kaamatan Fest bash

A Cultural Village for Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: A cultural village similar to one in Sarawak will be built in Sabah to preserve and showcase the culture and tradition of various ethnic communities.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in announcing this yesterday when officiating the national Tadau Kaamatan Open House, said the setting up of the centre will be discussed at the federal level.

He said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan had informed him during their meeting earlier that Sabah has yet to have such facility.

“Perhaps it is time for Sabah to have its own cultural village or centre. The government will discuss to ensure this project will be successfully implemented,” he said.

Completed in the late 80s, the award-winning cultural village in Sarawak acts as a living museum that depicts the heritage of the major racial groups in the state.

Continue reading at: A Cultural Village for Sabah

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Lun Bawang Festival - One heart one soul festival

By Rahmat bin Haji Abdul Rahman

With the fine weather, the ethnic Lun Bawang celebrated the Irau Acau Lun Bawang 22nd Lun Bawang Festival in a happy atmosphere. The festival with the theme "Sehati Sejiwa" or "Do Ruyud" or "One Heart One Soul" organised by Sarawak Lun Bawang Association, was held at the football field in the heart centre of Lawas town in Sarawak.

The Lun Bawang, or "people of the country", are indigenous to to the highlands of East Kalimantan, Brunei's Temburong District, Sabah's Interior Division and Sarawak's Limbang's Division.

The chief guest at the launching ceremony was Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Minister of Planning and Resource Management II and Minister of Public Utilities of Sarawak.

After leaving Kota Kinabalu city at 4.30am and reaching Lawas district at 6.45am, I noticed it was very quiet. Curious, I asked the Malay waitresses why. They said it was a public holiday in Sarawak. They told us not to miss the chance to witness the Lun Bawang celebration just across the road.

In the vicinity, we could see ethnic Lun Bawang men with their red triangle scarves and women with their colourful embroidered "seraung" and black embroidered attire and beads standing in line, holding bamboo musical instruments and bamboo flutes ready for the march pass.

The drums and various sizes of flutes were made from bamboo and wild animal skins. A Lun Bawang said the goat skin has a thin layer that is good for the traditional music when compared to the skin of the water buffalo or cow, which is thick.

The Lun Bawang Association has branches in villages in Lawas, Kuching, Bintulu, Miri, Limbang, Lawas, Sabah, Lun Dayeh in Sabah and Lun Bawang in Indonesia.

Upon the arrival of the chief guest, all the Lun Bawang ethnics on the field performed their traditional music by blowing bamboo instruments.

The traditional welcoming of the chief guest, using the 'parang' and shield, was similar to the Iban ethnics in Sarawak.

The ethnic Kedayan (Gadaian origin of Java during the Majapahit Empire and Kutai, "Kedaian" in Sabah of Mile two, Lawas did not miss to participate in performing traditional music from pieces of wood called "gulingtangan" at the festival.

Some members sold ribbons for the Women's Association welfare fund.

Indoor and outdoor games were organised: futsal and badminton for the women in group, open championship category for both men and women's volleyball and badminton.

The Kebaya Queen fashion show contest and traditional dances of various ethnics were amongst the events listed to end the three-day Lun Bawang Festival.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Use Gawai to promote culture, traditions

SRI AMAN: The Dayak community should make use of the Gawai Dayak festival to showcase and promote their culture and traditions, aside from enhancing racial unity.

“We have a rich culture and traditions that need to be promoted to other races and outsiders,” said Land Development Assistant Minister Datuk Francis Harden.

He pointed out that as the Gawai Dayak is visited by other races and even foreigners, it is the best platform to promote the culture and traditions of the community.

He said this at a Gawai gathering organised by the Sri Aman branch of Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and the village development and security committee (JKKK) of Entawa Longhouse, Undop, near here.

The gathering held at the longhouse on Friday was also attended by Sri Aman MP Masir Kujat.

Harden said it was important the Dayaks continued to promote their culture and traditions as a way to keep them alive and pass them on to the younger generation.

It would also help to boost the local tourism industry, he added.

Continue reading at: Use Gawai to promote culture, traditions

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The last of the Kadazandusun's Bobohizan (shamans)

In Sabah, the bobohizan, or high priestess, braves the tides of modernity to bring changes into the lives of those around them.

The sceptics say it’s a load of superstitious nonsense; you’d have to be a certified nut to believe it. However, that has never discouraged some of Asia’s richest and most powerful from dabbling in the occult.

Ancient rituals have been known to change the world, from the way governments are run, to the personal decisions that are made. Some time back, exiled Thai ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s cousin and former supreme commander of the armed forces, General Chaisit Shinawatra, was rumoured to have visited a medium.

His reason: to put the evil eye on Thaksin’s opponents.

According to the Bangkok Post, this rite was just the latest in a series of black magic war being waged by both the pro- and anti-Thaksin camps to topple each other.

On the other end of the spectrum, spiritualists and clairvoyants play a more benign role in Mumbai, India. As the polls draw nearer, they remain close at hand should any political candidate need their advice after a long, hard day of campaigning.

Malaysian politicians and celebrities aren’t oblivious to the wonders of the occult either. Many are known to visit bomohs with various requests to increase their power, wealth and beauty.

The chosen one

Enter 84-year-old Losimin Majanil, Malaysia’s very own “living heritage” — a term given to those recognised by the government as celebrated experts in their field. She isn’t a scientist, nor is she a technical specialist of any kind. In fact, her occupation defies conventional logic.

Losimin is a shaman — one of the few surviving ones from Kampung Limbanak in Penampang, Sabah.

“My grandmother used to make me walk with her to Losimin’s house,” says Agusta Lojiwin about her aunt.

Continue reading at: The last of the Kadazandusun's Bobohizan (shamans)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Sabah making gains in yacht tourism

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah is now among the world's best attractions in terms of the super yacht marine tourism sector.

This segment of the tourism industry benefits not only tourism players in Sabah, but other industries and the economy as well, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He said the Federal and State governments work closely with private sector companies specialising in this field to move towards improving infrastructure and enhancing areas requiring attention to further promote this sector in Sabah.

"Marine tourism is massive worldwide and Sabah, with its unparalleled diversity, holds the key for it being one of the most suited destinations for this lifestyle holiday in Asia," said Sabah Tourism Chairman, Tengku Datuk Dr Zainal Adlin.

"Indeed our super yacht visits over the past few years are growing exponentially to prove this and it now seems commonplace to see at least one or two of them berthed at Sutera at any one time," he said.

Touchdown Holidays Sdn Bhd, luxury yacht handlers and Sabah agents for Asia Pacific Super Yachts, alone had already received visits this year from six super/mega yachts ranging in size of up to a whopping 300 feet valued at hundred of millions of US dollars.

Continue reading at: Sabah making gains in yacht tourism

Tadau Kaamatan: Symbol of unity for all Malaysians

TUARAN: It was sunny on the morning of May 31, that marked Sabah’s Kadazandusun community’s celebration of their harvest festival or ‘Pesta Kaamatan’.

An octogenarian was sitting leisurely at the stairway of her wooden house in Kampung Mantob, Kiulu while listening attentively to a Kadazandusun song entitled ‘Tadau Kaamatan’ over Radio Vfm Kota Kinabalu.

The woman, Mundahoi Sompong, who is now 83 years old, was a distance away from the KDCA building in Penampang, the heart of this year’s Pesta Kaamatan celebration.

For more than two decades, age had forced this woman to skip witnessing events in the celebration that included its highlight, the Unduk Ngadau (beauty pageant).

“I yearn to view the traditional events of Pesta Kaamatan (at KDCA) but I no longer can walk a long distance. Anyhow Pesta Kaamatan celebration is over,” she told Bernama here.

Mundahoi’s face that appeared glum, suddenly lit up when told that there would be another Pesta Kaamatan celebration, this time on a bigger scale which is at the national level to be staged this coming Sunday, June 7.

“Atukoi haro po di kagu karamaian tagayo” (Is there another grand Pesta Kaamatan festivity?)”, Mundahoi queried in the Kadazandusun lingo.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to officiate at the opening of the national-level Pesta Kaamatan, also known as the Malaysian Tadau Kaamatan Open House 2009. The Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture and Sabah government are jointly organising this event to be held at Padang Merdeka, Kota Kinabalu.

Continue reading at: Tadau Kaamatan: Symbol of unity for all Malaysians

Thursday, June 04, 2009

An enchantress named Sabah

IF northern Sabah is a woman, I want to marry her. She has natural beauty and charm and is cultured too. Oh heck, she even entices with her demure dresses in oh-so-calm green.

And although she may not be singing all the high notes of the 21st Century, she has enough to take one’s senses to a high. Untouched for decades, the northern tip of this Land Below The Wind is a world not quite adjusted to new age.

Take for example the fried free-range chicken. The meat is leathery tough but I swear it’s the most natural-tasting and flavoursome chicken I’ve had for a long, long time.

This simple meal is but a little depiction of Borneo’s idyllic charm, untouched by modernity. For me, it’s one of the many small and pleasurable parts of my journey.

For every great journey, the destination is only half the deal. The rest is made up of many things, food included, and the people you meet and travel with.

Mine is a mix bag of characters that completes my Kota Kinabalu-Kudat trip. My travelling partners include a reforestation project director, a retired accountant and an intrepid seafarer.

With an anthropology professor, an award-winning botanist and an eco-design architect stirred in, the days gallop along with astute narrations from these experts.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: An enchantress named Sabah

A world class Sandakan airport

Sandakan: Sandakan Airport will be elevated to International Airport status with upgrading works costing about RM110 million set to begin under the 10th Malaysia Plan, according to Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Rahim Bakri.

He said the project, also under the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), was among efforts to turn the district into the economic centre for the East Coast.

Speaking at the briefing by Malaysia Airport Berhad (MAB) and Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) at the airport, Tuesday, he said the upgrading in two years time would see the widening of the apron parking to cater for additional aerobridge for A330, B737-800 including open bay for FK50 and smaller airplanes.

The landing strip would be lengthened to 2,591metre from 2,133 metres to allow Airbus A330 to land while the airport terminal would be expanded.

A consultant had been appointed to do the new design for the airport.

According to Rahim, a new aviation radar system would also be installed to solve the line spot problem for aircrafts to safely navigate the airspace here.

Last year alone, the airport handled about 620,000 passengers.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk V.K Liew, who is also the Sandakan MP and was present during Rahim's working visit said the move was appropriate due to the increasing number of tourists coming to the district.

Continue reading at: A world class Sandakan airport

Grand Borneo Hotel opens in Land-Below-The-Wind

KOTA KINABALU - Grand Borneo Hotel, a homegrown brand, makes it debut in the modern city of Kota Kinabalu - a gateway to Sabah and Borneo.

This 325-room property is a four-star deluxe class hotel strategically located within the convenient 20-kilometre radius of the city centre, international airport, 1Borneo Hypermall, marinas, championship golf courses and tropical forests of Sabah, according to a press release.

Grand Borneo Hotel is the epitome of a successful combination of chic and urban appeal with the natural feel of the local culture and tradition, making it a hotel with a touch of its own class.

The hotel has direct access to Sabah's biggest mall, 1Borneo, a conveniently located hypermall with over 400 stores providing a myriad of selections. Guests staying at Grand Borneo are spoilt for choice with the best of entertainment, shopping and varied culinary delights.

Room categories comprise of standard, superior, deluxe, Borneo Privilege Club Rooms and suites.

All rooms are tastefully decorated with an exemplary blend of modern colours with luxurious furniture and intricate arts and culture from over 30 local ethnic tribes.

Accommodations at Grand Borneo offer spectacular views and are a haven of luxury, convenience and comfort at an affordable price.

Four food and beverage outlets - Soul Out Coffee House, Bubble Bar, Poolside Bar/Snacks, and Borneo Privilege Lounge - offer gastronomical adventures of local cuisines and beverages and 24-hour room service.

With Kota Kinabalu International Airport a mere 20 minutes away, a short drive to the city centre and places of interest within close proximity, Grand Borneo is the convenient and smart choice when in town.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Facebook brings couple to visit Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: A couple from the grand duchy of Luxembourg in Europe arrived in Sabah for the first time recently and was impressed not only by the natural wonders of the state but the Kaamatan festival which unites the many ethnic groups in celebration.

“We are happy to be here not only because we have the chance to visit many beautiful places like Mount Kinabalu and the orang utan sanctuary in Sepilok but also to have met friendly people.

“The Kaamatan festival is a truly exciting event. You should be proud to have this kind of celebration which brings together all the ethnic groups in the state in a joyful atmosphere,” said Nevio Salciccia.

He commended the state government in its effort to preserve the cultural heritage of the people.

Nevio and his wife Claudine came to know of Sabah through the social networking website, Facebook.

Their decided to take time off from their busy schedules to meet their new friend Mama Anne who is the caretaker of the Bukit Harapan charity home in Inanam.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Facebook brings couple to visit Sabah

Gawai Dayak celebrated on quiet note

KUCHING: The Gawai Dayak celebration in the city was relatively quiet and mild this year.

This might be due to several reasons one being the absence of the Gawai countdown on May 31 and the state-level Gawai celebration on June 1.

The grand events were called off following the death of Datuk Amar Puan Sri Laila Taib, wife of the Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Besides that, many Dayaks are celebrating moderately due to the economic slowdown.

Nonetheless, a number of Dayak leaders held open houses to welcome well wishers from all walks of life.

They included Social Development and Urbanisation Minister Dato Sri William Mawan, Balai Ringin assemblyman Snowdan Lawan and State Secretary Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot.

In true Gawai spirit, the Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin and wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Norkiah visited several Dayak leaders on Monday morning.

Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg; Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Fadillah Yusof; Kuching City South Mayor James Chan and Consul-General of the Republic of China here, Xie Fu Gen also wished the leaders Happy Gawai.

Continue reading at: Gawai Dayak celebrated on quiet note

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Kaamatan Festival culminates in Sabah

Venue of the Kaamatan Festival or "Magavau,"
as it is known in the Kadazan language in Sabah

Fair damsels donning tribal colours

Magavau, a thanksgiving ceremony conducted by Bobohizan,
the Kadazandusun high priestess, to invoke the Rice Spirit, Bambaazon

Musicians embellish tradition with instruments like the gong and ethnic drums

Symbolic representation: As folklore goes ... the body of Huminodun (daughter of Kinoingan and his wife Suminundu who was sacrificed) produced padi seeds that have become the food we eat today. Thus, the existence of the belief that paddy possesses a spirit named "Bambaazon"

Stage proceedings with the paddy stalk taking centrestage

Maidens - from as many as 21 tribes - dressed to the hilt with ornate jewellery

Warriors in full regalia

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Kasha and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

Story & photos by Kasha

It's that time of the year when the Kaamatan Festival or as it is known in the Kadazan language, "Magavau", culminates as a specific celebration to pay respects to "Bambaazon" or a good padi harvest. The festival is done traditionally by the Kadazandusun for generations, after harvesting.

According to folklore, "Kinoingan" and his wife Suminundu had a daughter named Huminodun. In order to save the Kadazandusun from hunger due to insufficient food supply, Kinoingan was forced to sacrifice his daughter and thus Huminodun was killed and her remains buried in accordance with tradition.

The story goes that the body of Huminodun produced a variety of padi seeds that has become the food we eat today therefore the existence of the belief that paddy possesses a spirit named "Bambaazon".

From here, the Kadazandusun started the Kaamatan Festival (Menuai Festival) in hope that they will receive good harvest yield and that respect is given by the Kadazandusun tribe to Kinoingan who willingly sacrificed his daughter in order to save his people from starvation.

The Kaamatan Festival celebration commenced on May 1 at district level. The Kaamatan Festival in Sabah was held at the Hongkod Koisaam Penampang that housed traditional homes in assorted shapes.

As many as 21 tribes donning clothes of various designs along with ornate jewellery, congregated. The official ceremony of the celebration was opened by Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin