Monday, August 31, 2009

How to party in Borneo

Rainforest music festival highlights the sounds of cello-beating, hurdy gurdies and mouth organs.

SARAWAK, Malaysia — Nestled at the base of Mount Santubong, in a land made famous by the head-hunters, who only decades ago still fought here for honor, a Kenyah elder holds a dagger in his right hand and a hand-carved wooden shield in his left. He moves quickly, genuinely shocking his foe, a bare-chested Maori warrior, who moments earlier was intensely focused on the crowd in front of him.

Bats fly overhead.

Matthew Ngau is an artist and sculptor who rarely leaves his forested Borneo home and Te Hira Paenga is in training to become an Anglican minister, when he's not performing the Hakka and other traditional arts.

Only on the stage of the Rainforest World Music Festival is it likely that these two men would cross weapons. Cross-cultural surprises and jam sessions define this three-day festival, created 12 years ago to introduce Sarawakian musicians to the world and world musicians to Malaysia.

The festival also likely presents the world's best showcase of indigenous instruments.

“I'm looking to excite, amaze, enjoy, have a good time and also educate a little bit,” says artistic director and festival co-founder Randy Raine-Reusch. “This is a voyage of discovery for the audience. I want concert-goers to say `WOW, I've never seen that before!'”

Continue reading (incl. pic & video) at: How to party in Borneo

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The last of their kind: the nomads of Borneo

LONG NEN, Malaysia — In the language of the nomadic Penan there is no word for forest, it is simply their universe, and its destruction is snuffing out the ancient lifestyle of this tribe who are among the world's last hunter-gatherers.

Wielding spears and dressed in loincloths, one small band who emerged from the Borneo jungles to tell their tale said that encroachment by timber and plantation firms has made their already hard life impossible.

They said they are ready to stop roaming and settle in villages, giving weight to fears that the 300-400 Penan thought to still be nomadic may all be heading this way, or even that their way of life is already extinct.

"Our problem is that there is just not enough to eat, there are no wild boar to catch any more," said Sagong, the headman of the group.

"The companies logged all the teak already, and now they are going to clear the land for palm oil plantations," said the young chief, who brought 15 of his people to a blockade against the timber and plantation companies.

"If that happens, we lose everything, we cannot survive this," he said.

"Yes it is sad to leave this life of roaming. But what can we do? We have to strive for the best for ourselves. It is our fate to face this challenge."

A lean and muscular man aged in his 30s, Sagong said their last hope was to join the anti-logging campaign which has escalated recently in Sarawak state, on Malaysia's half of Borneo, an island shared with Indonesia.

"I came here to man the blockade and safeguard the land," he said at one of the barriers built of logs and bamboo, among seven constructed in the region in recent months to force the timber trucks to a halt.

The Penan of Sarawak, who are estimated to number around 10,000, had mostly abandoned their nomadic ways and settled in villages by the 1970s under the influence of Christian missionaries.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: The last of their kind: the nomads of Borneo

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sandakan-Ranau Death March: Closing the chapter on last mystery

Ranau: The unveiling of the "Last Prisoner-of-war Camp Memorial here, Thursday, also "completes the last mystery surrounding the Death March."

State Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said this when officiating the ceremony attended by scores of relatives of the Australian and British POWs. The last mystery was the exact spot where the Death March ended.

Thursday's ceremony around a gorgeous memorial at Pialungan, Kg Kenipir, five miles (8.3km) south of Ranau town, exposed that best kept secret for over 64 years!

"If our surroundings can speak they'll tell a thousand tales," remarked Masidi, who said he was pleased that the beautiful piece of land was left untouched for more than half a century to enable Sabah to write the shared history between Sabah, Australia and Britain.

"The memorial unveiled at this 'The Last Camp' of the 1945 Death March symbolises the key elements of this tragic story," said Lynette Silver, who has been instrumental in uncovering the site information after 16 years of relentless research on the Death March.

"Embedded into the memorial's base are 1,047 rocks from the head waters of the Liwagu river which ran through the Last Camp - one for every prisoner of war who set out from Sandakan in the three death marches and did not survive," explained Lynette.

"The memorial itself features 183 rocks, one for each prisoner of war who died at this camp while the four rugged slabs of rock on the very top represent the four Australians who, with the help of the local people, escaped," Lynette added.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Sandakan-Ranau Death March: Closing the chapter on last mystery

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Extension to benefit elderly and sick travellers at Miri Airport

MIRI: The elderly and sick travellers can look forward to more comfort with the extension of parking aprons and terminal building for the rural air service at Miri Airport.

Assistant Minister of Infrastructure Development and Communication Datuk Lee Kim Shin said that with the extension the rural air service would have a dedicated departure and arrival halls.

The extended infrastructure will also cater for passengers bound for Labuan and Kota Kinabalu flying on MASwings.

The project was expected to start in October said Lee after being briefed by managing director of Miri Airport Kamaruzzaman Razali.

Earlier, Lee, together with Pujut assemblyman Andy Chia and Resident Dr Ngenang Jangu visited the airport, where representatives from Malaysia Airlines, MASwings and Air Asia also briefed them on their operations.

Continue reading at: Extension to benefit elderly and sick travellers at Miri Airport

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Landscape and garden exhibition at Borneo Highlands Resort

KUCHING: Colours of Nature is set to be the biggest flower and nature exhibition in the country next year with more exhibitors from outside Sarawak taking part in the annual event.

Colours of Nature 2009 organising chairman Charles Chow said the organiser, Borneo Highlands Resort (BHR), would be collaborating with the Padawan Municipal Council to hold a bigger exhibition next year.

“We aim to follow the success of the annual Malaysia International Landscape & Garden Festival (Laman) as a prestigious landscape and garden exhibition here,” he told reporters after the press appreciation lunch in conjunction with Colours of Nature 2009 launch at the resort near here.

The exhibition offers visitors colourful landscaped gardens that feature temperate flowers such as lilies and gladioli.

Flower lovers were in a big rush to the exhibition to see the rare “Eagle Flower,” which blooms only once a year.

The creeper plant that blooms only in August was the main attraction at the event that kicked off last Saturday and will end on Aug 31.

Pink in colour and similar to the Japanese Sakura (cherry blossom), it was dubbed “BHR Sakura Flower” by BHR founder Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew, said Chow, who is also BHR sales manager.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Landscape and garden exhibition at Borneo Highlands Resort

Pistol Shrimp at Manukan Island

From MySabah blog:

I first knew pistol shrimp (aka snapping shrimp), one of the loudest animals on earth, from Discovery Channel, and I was so happy to see this strange animal exists in an unexpected place - Manukan Island (Pulau Manukan) of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.

Compared to other islands nearby such as Sapi and Mamutik, the long and white sandy beach of Manukan Island attracts the most number of tourists. After I was done with snorkelling, I decided to check out the rocky shore behind the island.

Hearing popping sounds, I knew this fellow was around. I search among the rubble partly exposed on the water. Then I sensed something retreated very fast into a burrow under the water.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Pistol Shrimp at Manukan Island

First ‘tagal’ fishing contest in Penampang

KOTA KINABALU: The first ever tagal fishing competition will be held at the Moyog river in Penampang, near here, on Aug 30.

Sabah Angler Association (SAA) honorary secretary Zachary Mobijohn said the competition, organised by the SAA in collaboration with the State Fisheries Department, was aimed to promote inland angling as well as create awareness among the villagers, particularly the Kadazandusun, about the tagal system that had been practised to preserve and protect fish stock in the rivers.

He said SAA would conduct the competition based on tagal rules to minimise the negative impact on fish stock.

“For the first time, “barbless” hooks are introduced with the sole purpose of preventing injuries to the fish when removing the hook from the mouth,” he said recently.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: First ‘tagal’ fishing contest in Penampang

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Miri: The Northern Gateway to Sarawak

Miri as the northern gateway to Sarawak has plenty to offer to tourists as it has some of the world's most fascinating caves such as those found in Mulu National Park and Niah, said Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam.

"Besides, it also offers visitors a wide variety of local cuisines and plenty of native handicrafts easily available at very reasonable prices.

To make Miri a 'must visit' destination in this part of the region, believes that more need to be done to spice it up," Chan told the Eastern Times at his office here recently.

He added that tourism players and the Government must cooperate to make Miri a truly 'happening' place.

"Basically we have two very strong factors to attract visitors to Miri, namely education and tourism.

"In the education sector, we already have the Curtin University of Technology campus, a Skilled Development Institute training and a teachers' training institute.

"And as far as tourism is concerned we have all the ingredients. That's why we called Miri a Tourist City. Now it's just a matter of marketing.

"We already have the products such the Miri Jazz Festival, the Mulu Caves, Niah Cave, Bario Highlands, Loagan Bunut, the mighty Baram River and beautiful coral reef which is ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling," he said.

Chan said, the next big question one may ask is: What is the missing factor to make Miri a northern gateway for visitors to Sarawak?

Continue reading at: Miri: The Northern Gateway to Sarawak

Out-of-itinerary tours not easy for Pandaw Cruise

Tourists prepaid their local agents thus making it difficult for local agents to come up with any inbound tour

SIBU: Tourists coming for Pandaw cruise had prepaid their tour packages, making it difficult for local travel agents to organise any out-of-itinerary inbound tours.

“They have paid their local agents in their own country for the Pandaw cruise package.

“This means that the itinerary is also pre-arranged.

“It is not like to say, for example, after the 10th day or before they embark on the cruise, you can organise an inbound tour for them,” managing director of Equitorial Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd Robert Tan said yesterday.

“This is because for a group of 10 people and above, they don’t normally change their booking at the last minute.

“This will cause them to incur heavy expenses and inconveniences for them,” he said, adding that their next destination was also pre-booked.

He, however, said small groups might want to extend their stay here by going for optional tours.

The managing director was responding to a recent comment by chairman of Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association Johnny Wong, who reportedly said local agents failed to promote local tourism to tourists coming for the Pandaw cruise.

Continue reading at: Out-of-itinerary tours not easy for Pandaw Cruise

Ramadan bazaars have potential to attract many tourists

Promote bazaars at info centres, hotels: Sarawak Tourism Federation

KUCHING: Ramadan bazaars should be promoted at tourist information centres and hotels in order to realise their potential as tourism product, Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) president Wee Hong Seng said yesterday.

He added Ramadan bazaars should also be included as one of the events in the tourism calendar to attract more tourists to visit and experience the scenario during the fasting month.

“Permanent Ramadan bazaars in Satok and India Street, for example, have the potential to attract many tourists with the diversity of food and other items found there.

“As we all can see now, these bazaars not only cater for the Muslims who fast during Ramadan, but also frequented by people of other races and faiths because they are attracted to what they can find there (at the bazaar).

“If there are effective promotions in hotels, tourist information centres and tourism calendar, I’m confident that tourists from outside the state and Malaysia will also be attracted to the Ramadan bazaars,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Wee was asked to comment on the suggestion made by Deputy Tourism Minister Dato Sri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib to turn Ramadan bazaars into new tourism products as these places could be tourist attractions.

Continue reading at: Ramadan bazaars have potential to attract many tourists

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cruising Brunei Bay for treasure

Mangrove Forest Resort

Out on the deck to get a better view

Historical island ... Pulau Chermin

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Abdul Aziz Pandin and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

By Abdul Aziz Pandin

If glossy brochures are to be believed, many places in this world have breathtaking scenes and rustic old world charm but to experience it yourself is the best way to believe what you see on a piece of fancy brochure.

Even though Brunei Darussalam is a small country with an area of 5,765 sq km, it offers many 'treasures' to its people as well as tourists such as cultural heritage, pristine flora and fauna, sandy white beaches as well as other interesting places.

It's true, to get the best of the attractions is to experience them ourselves. And so a group of 40, mostly Bruneians, went on a cruise around Brunei Bay.

Having departed from the Muara Port, our voyage began to explore the Brunei Bay and Brunei River. En route, we saw sailors befriend the winds as they sailed in Brunei waters. The weather was perfectly clear and beautiful even though it was humid and blazing hot. The sea was so beautiful and tranquil. We escaped the heat by retreating into the air-conditioned cabin where it was cooler and comfortable sofa seats were also provided.

Entering Brunei River, we saw one of the historical islands, 'Pulau Chermin' or Chermin Island. We passed a few islands before we encountered some fishermen, which shows that traditional fishing is still practised even though the country has reached the era of modernisation. Along the river, we realised that Brunei is so rich with mangrove forests. They are everywhere!

Talking about development, we encountered one resort amongst the mangroves along the river, the Mangrove Forest Resort. Some of us did not know about its existence and this shows one of the many developments we have so far to improve our tourism industry in line with 'Kenali Negara Kitani' campaign.

As we know, the mangroves are home to many fascinating animals such as arboreal gliding mammals, the Colugo, Pot Bellied Proboscis Monkeys and crocodiles among others. It would be terrific to see these animals in a Night Safari that is offered by some agencies here.

As we cruised further along the Brunei River, the many 'floating' houses caught our attention as well as the water-taxis busy transporting their passengers from one place to another. I can say, the river itself was very busy! And then there it is, the grand 52m - high golden dome dominating the skyline - Sultan Omar Ali Saiffudin Mosque or known as the 'Floating Mosque', a powerful symbol of not only Brunei's religious roots but also its opulence. Alongside such grandeur is the capital's idyllic charm best captured by the water village, with its clusters of wooden school, stores and even dwellings built on stilts.

The end point of the cruise was exactly behind the royal palace, the Istana Nurul Iman which can be sighted from the cruise ship itself and on the left is another tiny island called 'Jong Batu', another folklore and legend of Brunei.

Sometimes we totally ignore the beautiful and simple things in our country because we are too carried away with the rapid development and our daily routine that we forgot all these kinds of breathtaking sceneries have existed and become part of us Bruneians.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Where the Sandakan-to-Ranau Death March ended

Kota Kinabalu: Until now, nobody has been able to pinpoint where exactly the Sandakan-to-Ranau Death March ended that sealed the fate of 2,428 Australian and British Prisoners Of War towards the closing stages of the war.

Most assume it is at the War Memorial site in Ranau, at least because that's where the remembrance events are held.

The Daily Express can now reveal where this historic spot is and which had been a best kept secret for 64 years!

The Japanese captors may have intended so in the first place. Because they picked a remote primeval jungle campsite where no Allied bombers can spot them.

Indeed, this mystery spot, called the "Second Jungle Camp" did escape air raids even though Allied planes were bombing Ranau left, right and center by June 1945, including the use of napalm bombs.

The best tip of its whereabouts is at the confluence of the Kenipir tributary and head of the Liwagu River, five miles south of Ranau.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Where the Sandakan-to-Ranau Death March ended

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sandakan's fortunes in eco-tourism

Sandakan: Batu Sapi MP, Edmund Chong Ket Wah, said nature tourism was the way forward for the district. "It will definitely enhance Sandakan's economy with the influx of tourists from all over the world.

"The Sandakan Rainforest Park is an additional attraction which is not only unique but it is conveniently located within the town area," he said when launching the Sandakan Rainforest Park book, Thursday.

He said with such strong history and scientific values as written and illustrated in the book, the Sandakan Rainforest Park, also known as Kebun Cina Forest Reserve, deserved to be conserved and promoted as an eco-tourist destination.

"That is why I believe the State Government gazetted this forest as an Amenity Forest Reserve in January 2007," Chong said.

"The core area of this park is still in pristine condition. Many lowland species of flora and fauna of Borneo are found in this forest.

"It is a good example of a lowland dipterocarp forest in Sabah, with about 34 dipterocarp species, some with spectacular size.

"There are also four species of the carnivorous pitcher plants, scientifically known as Nepenthes, or sometimes known as the monkey cup and this fascinates people," he said.

Apart from that, Chong said there were also other interesting plants such as the Karamunting, an evergreen, ornamental shrub, after which the Karamunting area here was named.

Continue reading at: Sandakan's fortunes in eco-tourism

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rainforest Discovery Centre at Sepilok a birdwatchers’ delight

SANDAKAN: Sandakan is fast emerging as one of the nation’s key bird watching centres, thanks to the canopy walkway at the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said the canopy walk recorded a total of 16,000 visitors in the first seven months of the year.

“Over the last year, the canopy walk has become an increasingly popular attraction for foreign and local tourists,” he said after receiving the keys to newly completed facilities at the Discovery Centre located some 23kms from Sandakan town.

The new facilities comprising a restaurant, a gift shop and a VIP room form part of the Canopy Walk Reception complex.

Costing about RM2 million from a special allocation from the Chief Minister’s Department, the structure took five months to complete.

Continue reading at: Rainforest Discovery Centre at Sepilok a birdwatchers’ delight

Crown Prince opens Kg Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery

By Azlan Othman

His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office yesterday officiated the launching of the latest tourism product in the country, the Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery (KACTG) managed by the Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.

The Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Yahya in his welcoming speech said Kampong Ayer is a "must see" attraction for the majority of tourists visiting Brunei, as it is the Sultanate's most unique 'treasure'.

He said the objectives of establishing the gallery are to revive the past glory of the water village so that it will not be made extinct by the rapid pace of modernisation, to revive the cottage industries of the villages to diversify the economy and add value to local economic activities, to create jobs and source of income for residents, to make the water village a unique tourist destination and to support the nation's aspiration to make tourism part of an effort to diversify the economy.

Most tourists, however, do not get a chance to know more about the background, history, traditions, society and arts and crafts of this unique settlement.

The Cultural and Tourism Gallery has therefore been built to remedy this situation. The gallery boasts a touch screen information display, which among others showcases information on other tourist attractions nearby.

The five galleries contain background information on Kg Ayer from its historical origins until its present day, as well as a number of photographs and artefacts loaned by the Museums Department to make the displays livelier.

The central hexagonal stage showcases a 'live' exhibition of the traditional manufacturing methods of the Bruneian brocade 'kain tenunan' or intricately hand-woven fabric with gold or silver metallic threads presented by the Women's Business Council while the Tourist Kiosk is managed by Pelangi De' Mutiara, a local souvenir proprietor.

Built in the style of a grand Kg Ayer house, and with a distinctive observation tower that gives visitors a bird's eye view of Kg Ayer and its surroundings, the Cultural and Tourism Gallery has become a new landmark in Bandar Seri Begawan, one that all Kampong Ayer residents can be proud of.

After officiating the launch, His Royal Highness was presented with a brief video presentation about the Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery. His Royal Highness was then given a tour of the galleries and facilities. The Crown Prince later signed a memorial plaque.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Hotel Review: Novotel 1Borneo Kota Kinabalu Hotel

Novotel 1Borneo is part of the 1Borneo hyper mall, set to become the largest lifestyle shopping mall in the area. All the rooms at the Novotel come with flat screen TV's and Internet access. The hotel takes care of it corporate travelers with three meeting rooms, a boardroom as well as a business center. There are several malls, as well as a street market and handicraft market near this Novotel hotel. The Kinabalu National Park, a World Heritage Site is 90 kilometers from the hotel, is popular with visitors with many opting to climb Mount Kinabalu. Try fusion cuisine at either of the restaurants at the hotel, or you can choose to dine in the comfort of your own room 24-hours a day.

Click Here for more info

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Boost for Sabah's Tourism sector

KOTA KINABALU: The establishment of more hotels augurs well to the development of the tourism industry.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman said at the launch of the Cititel Express Hotel here yesterday that this was fitting as tourism was one of the three major sectors that the State government had identified under its Development Agenda or Halatuju, to fuel its economic growth.

Last year alone, slightly more than two million visitors came to Sabah, a five per cent increase from the previous year.

And this positive trend has continued with 1.03 million net visitors’ arrivals to Sabah between January and June, this year, he said.

This signifies an increase of 0.3 per cent as compared to the same period of 2008.

“Tourism as an industry and the services sector on the whole, has grown in the last few years due to a lot of hard work on the part of the government and the private sector,” he said.

He added that the government was aware of the investment put in by the private sector, and on the government’s part, there had been a lot of investment in improving infrastructure needed for tourism, such as airports and roads.

“The recent announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that the civil service and ministries must implement the six National Key Result Areas (NKRA) and the Key Performance Index (KPI) respectively is the Government’s commitment in transforming the country, and this will in its own way have a positive impact on the services sector,” he said.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Boost for Sabah's Tourism sector

The Best Spot for a Scuba Diving Vacation in Borneo

The best spot for a Scuba Diving Vacation in Borneo is without a doubt at Sipadan island and its surrounding waters. Sipadan island is still one of the world's most famous dive destinations more than 25 years after it was 'discovered' by oceans' greatest ambassador, Jacques Cousteau.

Cousteau fell in love with Sipadan so much that he decided to let the Calypso's anchor lay there longer than it had on any other expedition to have a longer scuba diving expedition and vacation.

The unique island is Malaysia's only oceanic island. It was formed by living coral and grew on top of an extinct undersea volcano, which is an isolated column of rock rising defiantly 600 to 700m from the sea floor about 10km south of the continental shelf. Sipadan is still one of the world's most diverse and interesting reefs with a rich marine life.

Besides Sipadan, the other two nearby islands, Mabul and Kapalai, are also excellent dive spots and spectacular on their own right. Mabul is a mere 20min speed boat ride away from Sipadan. Mabul is the most developed at the moment in terms of tourist facilities since the Sabah State government prohibited overnight stay at Sipadan in early 2005.

Kapalai is about 15 minutes by boat from Sipadan and is the smallest island compared to Sipadan and Mabul. Its accommodations is basically a water village as they are mostly built on sturdy stilts on the shallow sandbanks of the Ligitan Reefs and structures erected on water.

Continue reading at: The Best Spot for a Scuba Diving Vacation in Borneo

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bako National Park takes one to nature's bounty

The park jetty offers visitors a chance to view mangroves up close and personal

One of the big trees in Bako's rainforest with huge buttress roots

Delicate pink iron patterns on cliff faces and honeycomb
weathering on sandstone found along Bako's coastline

Pitcher plants found along the trail

Proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus)

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


Lying 37 kilometres northeast of Kuching City is Bako, Sarawak's oldest national park. Often underestimated by travellers, this is actually one of Asia's most perfect nature parks with a wild shoreline of mangrove swamp and a hinterland of kerangas bush bustling with proboscis monkeys and birdlife.

The journey to the national park starts with a half hour boat ride from Kampung Bako, a picturesque fishing village some 45 minutes by road from Kuching, to the park's headquarters at Telok Assam. Along the way, you will see numerous wooden houses on stilts from riverside villages and fishermen tending to their fish traps. On a clear day, you may even catch a glimpse of the majestic Mount Santubong on the distant horizon.

Once at the park headquarters, the ranger will supply you with a park map which clearly shows the trails. You may want an hour to look around the excellent displays and exhibits at the Information Centre; which identifies the flora and fauna available in the park as well as describe in detail the park's history and unique characteristics.

Bako is one of the smallest national parks in Sarawak, yet one of the most interesting, with seven distinct eco-systems: beach vegetation, cliff vegetation, kerangas or heath forest, mangroves, dipterocarps (tropical rainforest), grasslands and peat swamps. Considered the best nature park in Malaysia for self-guided treks, these eco-systems can be explored via the 17 jungle trails (some criss-crossing one another) running more than 30 kilometres within Bako.

One of the great pluses of Bako is the near certainty that you will see wildlife around the chalets or out on the trails. Monkeys are always lurking around on the lookout for food. Snakes, wild boar, giant monitor lizards, squirrels, bearded pigs, otters and mousedeer can be sighted, especially if you're quiet and observant. The park headquarters and the open paths in the kerangas are also the best places for bird watching.

A short walk to Paku beach landed us among the long-nosed Proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus). There are estimated to be only about 150 of them in Bako. They spotted us quickly and casually moved up the trees, honking their low monotone protests like a tenor saxophone.

The most obvious unusual characteristic of the proboscis monkey is the huge fleshy nose sported by adult males. How the nose evolved is something of a mystery. According to one theory, having a long nose helps attract the females. Being strict vegetarians, they need a big belly to contain all the bacteria to break down the heavy fibre they consume. Big males can weigh up to 20 kilos. The noses on the females end in a little snout and they have a redder coat on their backs.

We approached them in a stealth-like manner, one slow silent step at a time and only speaking in whispers. As a result of all our efforts to remain quiet, our reward was a close encounter with a large male who sat on a branch fivemetres above us. We watched him for about 20 minutes and even imitated his call to get his attention but the shy creature did not budge. After a while, we decided to move on.

Although rated as the shortest trek at Bako, Paku trail was an obstacle course of steep inclines; slippery mossy rock holds and gnarled roots waiting to trip us up. Needless to say, this not too physically fit trekker was soon huffing and puffing uphill, wondering if she would ever make it to the end of the trail.

What made all the effort worthwhile, however, was the chance to see a kerangas forest whose trees housed many anthills on their branches as well as the many pitcher plants found along the trail. The fine white sand on the forest floor was like those found on beaches and the rocks had strange pits in them, suspected to have been gouged by raindrops falling over many years.

Although relatively small, Bako is spectacular in its own way; its steep rocky cliffs, punctuated by deep bays and lovely sandy beaches. Guarding the coastline of the park are hard and porous rock formation known as sandstone, which over the years, has been worn down to produce delicate pink iron patterns on cliff faces, honeycomb weathering and contorted rock arches rising from the sea. After what seemed like eternity viewing these stunning formations, we made our way back to the park headquarters. As it turned out the dreaded return journey was much easier and we made it back in double quick time.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Weddings, honeymoon sunsets–in Kota Kinabalu

LIKE many an ancient place, the origins of Kota Kinabalu’s name are tucked away in legend. A Chinese woman, it is said, pined for her husband’s return for years and years after the man went back to, and eventually died in, mainland China. In her honor, the towering mountain that dominates the Sabah skies –and the rest of Southeast Asia – was named Kinabalu (“Chinese widow”). And the city that now serves as the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah was christened Kota Kinabalu (“City of Chinese widows”).

Despite the sad tenor of that beloved myth, a pleasant reversal of sorts has happened to Kota Kinabalu. The city, according to two top hotels in the area, has increasingly become a preferred destination in Southeast Asia for weddings and honeymoons because of its scenic, unspoiled surroundings and first-rate amenities for travelers.

“Many visitors who come here to wed or to spend their honeymoon are from Japan, Korea, the UK, Australia and Europe,” says Jun Cordova, sales director of Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, one of two sprawling Shangri-La hotels in Kota Kinabalu.

Most of these weddings happen in the balmy month of January. The resort has a full-time wedding planner and an array of customizable wedding packages and venues (up to 1,000 guests in the largest ballroom) to cater to all manner of bridal events.

Christian populace

Unlike the rest of Malaysia, Sabah, a state of 3.3 million people, has a large Christian population – about 40 percent, mostly Catholic. Only 15-17 percent are Muslim. Christian wedding rites are thus easy to arrange in Kota Kinabalu, with a residency requirement of only seven working days for a couple to be wed.

The Catholic parish covering the Tanjung Aru resort dispenses permission and services for weddings held in the hotel (in the case of foreigners, often outdoors – by the beach, in the gardens or even at the hotel rooftop).

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Weddings, honeymoon sunsets–in Kota Kinabalu

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Conservation of Danum Valley, The Lost World of Borneo

The Danum Valley Conservation Area, located in the district of Lahad Datu, in the south east of Sabah, is a natural paradise of lush tropical lowland rainforest habitat with an incredible diversity of plant and animal life, a perfect destination for a Nature Tour. The conservation Area consists of 43,800 hectares of protected virgin forest rich in Sabah’s unique flora and fauna. It has been acknowledged to have one of the world’s most complex ecosystems.

The conservation of the Danum Valley began in 1996 by the State government of Sabah. The Danum Valley Field Centre was established on the same year as a tropical rainforest research and environmental education station. Today, the Field Centre has undertaken many important tropical rainforest and conservation research papers and findings.

Some of the wildlife attractions at Danum include 275 species of birds including all eight species of hornbills native to Borneo, 110 species of mammals such as Asian elephants, Orang Utan, civets, clouded leopards, five species of deer, and a full house of Borneo rarities ranging from the Sumatran rhinoceros to Bulwar’s peasant.

To get to Danum Valley, You can take an early morning flight from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu (suggested flight: MH 2084; ETD 0655hr; ETA 0750hr), and transfer by road for about 2 hours to your accommodation (i.e., Borneo Rainforest Lodge). Scheduled transfer to the Borneo Rainforest Lodge is at 9.30am. Alternatively, you might want to stay overnight at Lahad Datu (recommended hotels are Executive Hotel and Grace Hotel), a small town about 407km or 6 hours by road from Kota Kinabalu.

Continue reading at: The Conservation of Danum Valley, The Lost World of Borneo

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Inside the Wind Cave, Mulu

Stairs inside the cave makes touring convenient

Natural formations inside the Wind Cave

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Abdul Aziz Pandin and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd

Story & photos by Abdul Aziz Pandin

No two caves are alike. Indeed it is true. Completely different from their sister caves, Deer and Lang, Clearwater Cave and Wind Cave offer you other endearing insights to behold. You can experience such natural beauty in the Mulu National Park in Sarawak.

By riding a long boat from Mulu Park Headquarters, it took us 15 minutes to reach the drop-off point for the caves. As we got off the long boat and hopped on the dock, we saw a small signboard: the Wind Cave is 100m to the right and 400m to the left is Clearwater Cave.

We headed to the Wind Cave and began our escapade. An ascending long plank walk throughout the way connected the dock to the cave. It was no stroll in the park. It was tiring as we went against the gravity to reach a wide platform at the mouth of the Wind Cave. At the entrance of the cave, while catching our breath, we were briefed by the park guide on safety precautions while touring inside.

The darkness of certain parts heightened our sense of hearing. The interior is naturally designed as a result of stalactites and stalagmites formations. Wind Cave is breezy and at certain spots, the wind is rather strong, and serves as a ventilation system that circulates fresh air in the cave.

At the end of the passage is the famous King's Chamber, magnificently illuminated to highlight the complex details of the stalactites and stalagmites formed in that chamber.

There are also some impressive flow rocks, helictites and rock corals which make the interior view so spectacular!

We headed to Clearwater Cave, Asia's longest cave and also rated as 7th longest cave passage in the world. It measures 107km. It has a subterranean river, part of which is navigable by boat. The 400-metre plank walk that lead to Clearwater Cave was built hanging on the limestone cliff that had fallen down vertically to the floor of Sungai Melinau. The trail took us to the foot of a hill where there is a huge courtyard provided for visitors to rest before proceeding to Clearwater Cave. Picnic tables as well as toilets and changing rooms are available. Nearby the courtyard is another dock where a group of colourful longboats are docked.

The Clearwater Cave can be reached by climbing a 200-step steep stairs and can leave you breathless. At the cave's entrance, we were briefed by another park guide. What really grabbed our full attention was his mention of the local belief that immersing yourselves in Clearwater River can restore your youth by five years. Definitely we did not want to miss that. But since it rained the night before, the river was murky and the current was strong.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Belait rural areas identified for Brunei's second airport

By Liza Mohd

The rural areas of Long Mayan/Merangking Ulu Mukim Bukit Sawat has been identified as a potential site for the construction of Brunei's second international airport, according to the Belait District Structure Plan 2025.

In addition to the ongoing construction of the Telisai-Lumut bypass, the Belait District Plan, unveiled during yesterday's exhibition at the Seria Oil and Gas Discovery Centre, also shows a viable plan of building a Labi-Kuala Balai road network that will lead to the proposed second airport.

Permanent Secretary (Administration and Finance) at the Ministry of Development Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos was present at the launch of the four-day exhibition of the Belait District Plan.

In his speech, he said that one of the ideas which could bring about major and positive impact towards the development of the Belait District is identifying Sungai Liang as the regional centre apart from Bandar Seri Begawan for the purpose of balanced development among the four districts in the nation.

Apart from that, there are also ideas to restore the social and physical infrastructure, distribution of housing, schools, public facilities and others.

In the plan, the population of Belait is also expected to rise to 86,500 people in the year 2025 as compared to 63,900 people in 2006, the permanent secretary said.

"With that kind of growth, the need for housing will also increase by about 40 per cent from the existing numbers," he added.

As revealed in the plan, the demand for housing is expected to increase to 15,871 units by 2025.

In terms of rural development, the Belait District plan has also identified several villages such as Labi and Sungai Mau as rural centres that will be able to contribute to the economic development in their respective areas, the chief guest stated.

The district plan has also identified the main land usage towards ensuring a strategic development and maintenance or the preservation of the nation's forest reserves and environmentally sensitive areas, so that it would be continuously protected for the future generation, the permanent secretary said.

He expressed belief that a comprehensive planning on land usage is crucial towards a balanced and sustainable development.

Apart from that, the district plan also serves as a guideline for controlled development and preparations of infrastructure and coordinated general facilities.

The permanent secretary said the Town and Country Planning Department through a local engineering consultant has been preparing the Belait District Plan since April 2008 with the purpose of providing the strategic framework and directions of development for the district.

The plan has provided for four districts in the country including the Belait District. It has gone through four preparation stages starting from inception, sectoral, proposals and strategies and currently is in its final preparatory stage.

The public, government agencies and relevant stakeholders, particularly residents in the district, have been involved according to the stages of preparations. These include dialogue sessions, focus group discussion and now, the exhibition to disclose the planning for public members.

During the exhibition, residents in the Belait District are given opportunities to give their feedback through forms provided at the venue.

Haji Mohd Rozan also recalled attending a dialogue session with the residents of the Belait District on April 10 this year at the early level of the district plan preparations.

Now the district plan has reached its final stage and the permanent secretary expressed his pleasure in viewing the final results of the plan, which has taken several months in terms of information gathering, data analysis and the direction of the district's development.

He welcomed residents in the Belait District to observe and pay close attention to the plan, which will be available for viewing for four days, and provide their feedback towards improving it.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Town and Country Planning Mr Hong Kok Seng in his welcoming remarks said the exhibition is to introduce and provide exposure to public and residents in the district on land usage strategies and proposals, which has been drafted for the vision and direction of development and progress in the district.

He hoped that it would serve as an investment plan for the district towards continual planning for desired projects carried out by agencies in the district.

The exhibition among others unveiled the National Land Use Master Plan from 2006-2025; the natural resources in the Belait District; housing demand; distribution of squatter settlements, land uses and settlement; economic development and industry, tourism potential; natural environment, Belait roads, traffic and transport; infrastructure and utilities; community services and facilities and also main economic activities in the district.

In terms of agriculture development, the existing and potential future agriculture reserves in the district make it a strong contributor towards achieving national food security. Belait District has the largest area of land reserved for paddy production and accounts for more than 35 per cent of the national rice output and is currently focussed towards raising domestic rice production.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Friday, August 14, 2009

Air Pollutant Index for Malaysia Borneo (14 Aug 2009)

Forest and bush fires in neighbouring Kalimantan are contributing to the haze experienced in several parts of Borneo, especially Miri, Sibu and Kuching. Kota Kinabalu too is not spared. Nevertheless, the haze problem in Malaysia Borneo appears to be improving as compared to the week before (click here for comparison with API level recorded on 7 August 2009). Below is the latest API reading for some locations in the two states of Malaysia Borneo:

Sabah (API reading at 11am)

Kota Kinabalu (42)
Sandakan (29)
Tawau (48)
Keningau (51)

Sarawak (API reading at 11am)

Bintulu (45)
Kapit (51)
Kuching (50)
Limbang (26)
Miri (71)
Samarahan (63)
Sarikei (41)
Sibu (57)
Sri Aman (56)

Legend: API Status

0-50 Good
51-100 Moderate
101-200 Unhealthy
201-300 Very Unhealthy
>301 Hazardous

Source: Department of Environment, Malaysia

Sibu-KK route is MASwings’ after all

KUCHING: AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes appears to have relented in the tussle for the direct Sibu-Kota Kinabalu route with MASwings.

He told Utusan Borneo yesterday that the route was part of an exclusive agreement between the government and MASwings for the rural air service (RAS).

“We don’t have a choice,” he said. “We do not intend to initiate any meeting to discuss the matter as AirAsia is also opening up a lot of flights to other destinations.”

He said that many people were disappointed when news of the termination of the route got out last week. Among those who had voiced their disapproval to him was the Foochow association.

While some might view AirAsia negatively as a result of the termination of the route, he pointed out that his company had contributed greatly to tourism in Sarawak from all sectors and this could be verified with the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB).

“This is not a cherry picking issue,” Tony stressed, referring to allegations made against AirAsia by MASwings managing director Mohd Salleh Tabrani.

AirAsia is to terminate the route on Oct 25 after it started servicing the route about four months ago. When Tony confirmed the termination of the route last week, he indicated that AirAsia was being forced out of it.

He had told reporters in Kota Kinabalu last Thursday that AirAsia would like to continue covering the route because it was good for tourism and for the economy.

“We were caught by surprise by the MASwings protest and to learn that the airline has exclusive rights to the RAS routes,” he said, explaining that to allow a commercial airline to service rural routes would mean that the government would spend less money on subsidy to MASwings.

In retaliation, Salleh issued a statement on Tuesday that denied that MASwings was forcing AirAsia out (refer to Salleh's comments in our blog).

Continue reading at: Sibu-KK route is MASwings’ after all

Rare birds spotted at Bako-Buntal Bay, Kuching

KUCHING: Two globally-threatened bird species – the Pied Avocet and Eurasian Oystercatcher – have been spotted in the Bako-Buntal Bay near here.

Malaysian Nature Society conservation head Yeap Chin Aik said their discoveries this year and in 2007 by its bird watchers were of historical significance to Malaysia and Borneo.

“The Bako-Buntal Bay is one of Malaysia’s top two migratory waterbird sites (the other is in Selangor). The bay is of international importance for the congregation of migratory winter waterbirds,” he said during a workshop here yesterday. The workshop was organised prior to a conservation study that was to be carried out on the bay.

The project is funded by the Darwin Initiative (UK), Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund and the Environment Ministry of Japan.

The bay, located about 40km north-east of the state capital, is an expanse of inter-tidal mudflats fringed with mangrove forests, bordering Santubong mountain and Bako National Park. It is also a component of the state’s first wetland project.

Yeap said the bay was also a critical site for the conservation of wildlife as it supported an increasing population of the proboscis monkeys.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Rare birds spotted at Bako-Buntal Bay, Kuching

Sabah Matta Fair Sept 4-6

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah largest hypermall, 1Borneo, will host the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Fair Sabah from Sept 4-6.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun is expected to officiate at the launching.

The Matta Fair is the nation's number one consumer travel and tourism fair.

Matta Fair Sabah is held the same day Matta Fair Kuala Lumpur is conducted so that Sabahans could also enjoy similar special rates offered by the various airliners.

In a statement, Director of Malaysia Tourism, Sabah, Roslan Abdullah said the event is to promote travel among Malaysians as well as to create awareness on tourism industry.

Continue reading at: Sabah Matta Fair Sept 4-6

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Sandakan Memorial Day

Date: 15 August 2009
Between January and June 1945, approximately 2400 allied prisoners were sent on three separate torturous 160-mile marches from Sandakan to Ranau, known today as the infamous Death March. Only six men survived. Australian relatives and friends of those who died and suffered the terrible atrocities are among those who attend the Sandakan Memorial Day. The poignant memorial service held at the Sandakan Memorial Park which was once the site of the Prisoner-of-war camp.

Sandakan Municipal Council

For further info:
Catherin Chua
Tel: +60 89 224026, +60 13 8869668
Fax: +60 89 274659, 272112, 213452

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Pulau Layang Layang’s spectacular seascape is a diver’s delight

PULAU Layang Layang must be the most civilised island among the archipelago of reefs and islands in the South China Sea.

It actually has an airport where excited divers land on their way to its underwater paradise.

Perched on the rim of the island’s lagoon is a navy base, a research facility of the Department of Fisheries, a resort and a colony of birds.

A wind-turbine generator punctuates the low built-up area, giving the island a 20th century look.

The reef, however, is ancient, with the highest coral formation being about 8,000 years old and coinciding with the highest reach of the sea line the recent past.

Charles Darwin, of the evolution-theory fame, suggested a mechanism for the formation of coral reefs.

He pointed out the relatedness of the different coral reefs — there are three main ones.

Fringing reefs are those that, as the name implies, encrust on the main islands.

Barrier reefs have a dividing body of water between the island and the reef.

The last category is an atoll which has lost the island in the middle and is only represented by a ring of reefs.

Darwin forwarded the idea that the three types of reefs evolved in geologic time from one form to another.

As the islands sink through tectonic movement, encrusting corals of the fringing reefs grow upwards, seeking the light. Corals, like plants, need the illumination to survive.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Pulau Layang Layang’s spectacular seascape is a diver’s delight

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pitas wants to become major tourist destination by next year

KOTA KINABALU: Pitas hopes to become a major tourist destination in Sabah by next year.

District Officer Sapdin Ibrahim said a newly formed tourism cooperation headed by his office is presently formulating strategies to market Pitas as a tourism destination.

He said Pitas, a district with an abundance of natural resources and wonders, is relatively ready for tourists.

However, there are several facilities that still need fine tuning, like upgrading accommodation in tourist attraction areas such as beaches and fishing spots.

“Seven villages have already signed up for the homestay programme, all of which have their own places of interest and things to see,” he said.

The villages, with a minimum of five homes each, have been listed for implementation in the programme.

Continue reading at: Pitas wants to become major tourist destination by next year

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Merdeka Day Regatta

Date: 14–16 August 2009

Held in conjunction with the National Day celebrations, the South China Sea comes alive with the Merdeka Day Regatta. Visit the Tanjung Aru Beach in Kota Kinabalu to witness this exciting event. On 14 August, the Marathon Race begins at 8:00 am while the next two days, visitors can witness the Sea Races starting at 10:00 am on both days. Organised by the Kinabalu Yacht Club, this regatta involves various classes of boats and will see the participation of sailors from around the world.

For more information, please contact Vice Commodore Bobby Willie at 088-240070 or 243070. E-mail

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Borneo International Kite Festival a great success

BINTULU: The Borneo International Kite Festival jointly orgnaised by Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) and Bintulu Resident's Office has been described as a great success.

Jepak State Assemblyman, Datuk Haji Talip Zulpilip, said the participation from various foreign countries in this annual event demonstrated the attraction of this festival which had special appeal to kite flyers throughout the world.

He said the different kinds of kites in terms of motifs, shapes and designs also reflected the rich culture of the countries represented by the respective participants from each country.

There were 34 international participants from 14 countries taking part in the festival held at Old Bintulu Airport from August 2-9.

Talip, who was representing Chief Minister, Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, at the prize presentation ceremony cum dinner at Park City Everly Hotel last Sunday said participants of the foreign countries could play their role as 'ambassadors' to help promote Sarawak, particularly Bintulu when they went back to their own country.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Borneo International Kite Festival a great success

Borneo International Kite Festival platform to promote world peace

BINTULU: Borneo International Kite Festival 2009 is the best platform to promote peace and understanding among various communities in the world, said Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip.

Although the world is not that safe this event can play a little role to get the people together in peace and harmony, said Talib.

With theme ‘Kite for Peace’, the festival was held for the fifth consecutive year at the Bintulu Old Airport and it reflected the 1Malaysia concept.

“Malaysians exist in a multi-racial society and live together harmoniously. In Sarawak, the 1Malaysia concept is synonymous with our way of life,” he said.

Continue reading at: Borneo International Kite Festival platform to promote world peace

Support for AirAsia Sibu-KK route to stay

SIBU: Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Robert Lau yesterday promised to stick his neck out and ensure the AirAsia Sibu-Kota Kinabalu route stays.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday), I will bring up the matter during the weekly cabinet meeting.

“Hopefully, we can reach a solution to that problem as soon as possible,” he said when members of the Federation of Chinese Association Sarawak, led by their president Datuk Lau Cheng Kiong, called on him and presented a memorandum.

Among others, the memorandum said AirAsia had provided a much better alternative to MASwings and the people would very much like to see AirAsia continue to operate the Sibu-KK route.

In addition, the memorandum also lamented the expensive freight charges of MASwings over the Sibu-Kuching, Sibu-Miri, Miri-Limbang and Sibu-KK routes and hoped the Transport Ministry would review the matter.

Lau, who is Sibu MP, said he was aware of the popularity of AirAsia’s Sibu-KK route since it started last April.

“In view of its popularity, I will ensure that we will reach a solution with regard to the Sibu-KK route,” he said.

Continue reading at: Support for AirAsia Sibu-KK route to stay

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sarawak can attract tourists to its ports

MIRI: Sarawak has what it takes to attract foreigners to sail into its ports and stay on for adventure.

Two retired foreign couples from Australia and Belgium sailed in their own yachts into Miri about six weeks ago, and docked at the Marina Bay here.

“We sold our house in Australia to buy our yacht and sailed to Papua New Guinea, the Pacific islands, Cebu in the Philippines, Kota Kinabalu, and Brunei before coming to Miri,” said 64-year-old Tom Welsh when The Borneo Post talked to him during a medical mission in Sepupok, Niah near here on Saturday.

Welsh is a retired geologist from Australia now travelling the world with his wife Fran in their 15m-long yacht which they named Hamamas.

“We have stayed in various places in Australia, and decided not to keep our house which is a hassle to maintain, while sailing around to see the world,” said Welsh who has two sons and a daughter in Australia, with the eldest son at 41 years old.

He considered their yacht to be their mobile home which was very convenient since it was complete with all the amenities they would ever need.

“Our last address is in Queensland where we can fly back to visit during Christmas or other occasions,” he said.

He said his profession as a geologist in the mining industry in Australia helped him in navigation and map reading, which was made much easier with modern technology in satellite communications and the Internet.

Continue reading at: Sarawak can attract tourists to its ports

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Bird-Watching in Tabin Wildlife Reserve

The Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu is home to a variety of wildlife, some of which are highly endangered. It is a great place to get in touch with nature and to encounter some of the most fascinating wildlife found in this part of the world. A 90-minute drive from central Lahad Datu, Tabin is home to the three largest mammals of Sabah—the Borneo Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran Rhinoceros and the Tembadau. Other animals spotted here include the Bornean Clouded Leopard, Long-tailed Macaque, Flat-headed Cat and Orang Utan. However, many birding enthusiasts also flock to Tabin to catch rare glimpses of feathered beauties, most of which are endemic.

Birds in Tabin

Tabin is a bird-watcher's paradise as the forests attract an amazingly rich diversity of birds, including rare and endemic species, due to the abundance of food plants here. The relatively low canopy with sufficient natural light makes birding and photography a delightful experience.

About 42 indigenous families representing more than 260 species have been recorded here including all the 8 of Sabah's Hornbill species: Black Hornbill, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Pied Hornbill, White-crowned Hornbill, Wrinkled Hornbill, Bushy-crested Hornbill and Helmeted Hornbill. Other sought-after species, such as the Blue-headed Pitta, Black-and-crimson Pitta, Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, Temminck's Sunbird, Purple-throated Sunbird, Everett's White-eye and rarely seen species such as Storm's Stork, Large Green Pigeon, Great-billed Heron and Giant Pitta have been sighted in Tabin.

Good places for bird watching - Around the resort

Explore the vicinity of the resort and you will be pleasantly surprised by the abundance of bird life here. The Sunbird Cafe is wonderfully surrounded by greenery and flowering plants that attract a number of brightly coloured birds. Sipping your coffee, your eyes will be kept busy following active species such as the Black-backed Kingfisher, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Red-throated Sunbird, Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, Large Green Pigeon, Dusky Broadbill and Black-and-Yellow Broadbill. Be entertained by the melodious calls of Black Magpie in the nearby vegetation.

A bird hide built facing the flowing Lipad River provides a wonderful site for bird-viewing. Huge boulders in the river are a favourite place for Oriental Darter, Stork-billed Kingfisher and Lesser Fish Eagle to perch especially after rain. Happy families of Otters (Small-clawed Otter and Smooth-coated Otter) have been seen up and down this part of the river and delight guests.

The White-bellied Munia and Dusky Munia can be commonly found in the bushes. A family of Lesser Coucal sometimes make their appearances here. Rare Storm's Storks have made Tabin their home and can sometimes be seen. You will probably be able to see one or more of the eight species of hornbills in Borneo either flying in groups across the sky, or in pairs perching on bare branches. Let the guide share with you the tales and origins of the Helmeted Hornbill's calls.

The Lipad mud volcano and Tomanggong road

The Lipad mud volcano is the one nearest to the main base. The endemic Black-and-Crimson Pitta and Blue-headed Pitta have been sighted along the trail leading to the mud volcano. After jungle-trekking for 20 minutes, arrive at the elevated bare area of the mud volcano. Try to identify the multitude of animal footprints here. Why not take a dip in the volcanic mud, known for its wellness properties, or climb up the Observation Tower for a grand view of the reserve.

Finsch's Bulbul and Black-throated Wren-babblers, Dark-throated Oriole, Malaysian Blue Flycatcher are some species that can be seen around the area. A nearby fig-tree is a busy feasting place for hornbills and other birds and also primates during the fruiting season. Near the observation tower, bare branches of towering trees are a favourite perching place for the Green Imperial Pigeon, Large Green Pigeon and Jambu Fruit Dove with its wonderful coloured chest.

A stroll along the Tomanggong Road is likely to yield sightings of the Giant Pitta ,White-fronted Falconet, Long-tailed Parakeet, Orange-backed Woodpecker and Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker.

Road to the Core Area

Walking along the initial stretch of the road leading to the core area (literally in the heart of Tabin), you are likely to be entertained by wild bird songs and the calls of Borneon Gibbons. On bare tree trunks, the busy Dollarbird can be found along with Rufous Woodpecker, Bronzed Drongo, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Speckled Piculet, Chestnut-capped Thrush, Black Eagle, Black Magpie. The abundance of wild ginger plants attracts colourful varieties of birds, including the Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Thick-billed Spiderhunter, Grey-and-Buff Woodpecker and many others. This road is also the best place to look for the very rare Bornean Bristlehead.

How to get there

Tabin is situated about 1.5 hour's drive from the Lahad Datu in eastern Sabah. You can either fly from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu (flight time of one hour with MasWings or AirAsia) then by road to Tabin, or travel overland from Sandakan (about 4 hours) to Tabin.

Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Brunei Tourism Dept promotes KNK campaign

The KNK promotion ad, '10 Must Do Packages for 2009'

By Aziz Idris

With the Kenali Negara Kitani (KNK) campaign promoting the "10 Must Do Packages for 2009", members of the public could choose to sail along Brunei River; stay a night at Ulu-ulu Resprt or go fishing at Kb Sungai Matan.

Brunei Tourism Development Department came up with three key concepts for the KNK campaign, which consists of promoting domestic tourism, making tourism as a key industry for the future and increasing the awareness of tourism as a career possibility.

The campaign aims to promote and encourage Brunei residents to sample these packages, as well as to purchase tours, services and goods from the listed 'KNK Partners', in order to collect a minimum of 25 stamps on the free issued KNK Passport.

Those interested to attain an official 'KNK Passport' could do so from the Tourist Information Centres, the Tourism Development Department (at the MIPR Building in BSB), or at any of the KNK Passport partners with a minimum payment of $20 per person in tours, services, goods or activities.

The first 1001 participants who have collected the required stamps will be entitled to a special KNK gift where the grand draw will take place in January 2009.

Among the packages that is offered for the "10 Must Do packages for 2009" includes Sunset Brunei Bay Cruise, one-night stay at the Ulu-Ulu Resort in Temburong, Four hours ride at Sungai Brunei Night Safari, enjoying beach fun day with sea sports activities, experience a typical Brunei fishing at Kampong Sungai Matan, sailing in Brunei operated by Dream Charters, the Ulu Temburong Day trip Adventure, Proboscis Monkey Tour along Sungai, stay two days and one night at Ulu Melilas longhouse to experience a Green Holiday at Sumbiling Eco-Village.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

Video of Orangutans at Sepilok, Sandakan Borneo

Below is a video posted by "d4deano1" at, about the fascinating Orangutans at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan, Sabah. We hope you will find it interesting.


Friday, August 07, 2009

Air Pollutant Index for Malaysia Borneo (7 Aug 2009)

Forest fires in Indonesia's Kalimantan and Sumatra is causing the occurence of haze in Borneo once again. Haze is caused by "hotspots" (zones with high temperature levels as seen via satellite imagery) especially in Indonesia. The haze severity is measured by air quality or Air Pollutant Index (API) as well as visibility. Below is the latest API reading for some locations in the two states of Malaysia Borneo:

Sabah (API reading at 5pm)

Kota Kinabalu (69)
Sandakan (55)
Tawau (51)
Keningau (72)

Sarawak (API reading at 5pm)

Bintulu (99)
Kapit (56)
Kuching (99)
Limbang (72)
Miri (115)
Samarahan (148)
Sarikei (75)
Sibu (122)
Sri Aman (95)

Legend: API Status

0-50 Good
51-100 Moderate
101-200 Unhealthy
201-300 Very Unhealthy
>301 Hazardous

Source: Department of Environment, Malaysia

AirAsia wants to get back Sibu-KK route

KOTA KINABALU: The exclusive rights of MASwings to service rural air routes in the country has been given as the reason behind the termination of AirAsia’s flights between Sibu and Kota Kinabalu.

AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said MASwings had protested to the government about AirAsia servicing the route.

MASwings has exclusive rights to the route and the government has no choice but to instruct AirAsia to stop servicing it, he said.

“We (AirAsia) are appealing the decision because we think it is important for our network. Many people from Sibu want to travel to Kota Kinabalu and connect to other destinations and vice versa.

“So that is the reason. We would like to continue covering the route because it is good for tourism and for the economy. We were caught by surprise by the MASWing’ protest and to learn that the airline has exclusive rights to the rural air service routes.

Tony, when explaining about the termination of the Sibu-Kota Kinabalu flights to reporters here yesterday, said AirAsia would ask the government to open up rural routes to commercial airlines.

He explained that to allow a commercial airline to service rural routes would mean that the government would spend less money on subsidy to MASWings.

“Then everyone can save more money,” he said.

Continue reading at: AirAsia wants to get back Sibu-KK route

Sarawak needs to promote its tourism assets effectively

KUCHING: Sarawak’s niche culture, adventure and nature products have to be effectively promoted to attract more tourists, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

These tourism products, he said, appealed to those who want to get away from city life.

“We have to effectively promote tourism so that small operators are able to sell their products directly to clients,” he said when launching Mimos Centre of Excellence in Semantic Technology and Augmented Reality at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in Samarahan near here yesterday.

The centre set up in collaboration with the university is to support the growth and development of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

Taib said the state had to set up its tourism database and photography to promote the industry.

Continue reading at: Sarawak needs to promote its tourism assets effectively

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Fee to climb Mt Kinabalu not expensive

Kota Kinabalu: The cost to climb Mt Kinabalu, especially for locals, is not expensive because there are many options for them to stay before ascending to the summit, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

According to him, Sri Tanjung Assemblyman Jimmy Wong should have done his homework before claiming that the climbing fee is too expensive for the locals.

He said those climbing up the mountain are not compelled to stay at the lodges managed by the SSL (Sutera Sanctuary Lodges) unless it is included in their package.

"Whether you are in the Government or opposition you must be responsible in what you say. Don't simply say it for political mileage," he said when asked to comment on Wong's statement.

He said the agreement signed with SSL to operate accommodation for mountain climbers at Kinabalu Park was for 20 years and it is a valid agreement that cannot be altered.

However, he said application had also been submitted to build a hostel that would be operated by Sabah Parks.

Continue reading at: Fee to climb Mt Kinabalu not expensive

Orangutans only musicians in the animal world

Wild orangutans in Borneo hold leaves to their mouths to make their voices sound deeper than they actually are, a new study shows, making them the only animal apart from humans known to use tools to manipulate sound.

The orangutan’s music, if you can call it that, is actually an alarm call known as a ‘kiss squeak’.

“When you’re walking the forest and you meet an orang-utan that not habituated to humans, they’ll start giving kiss squeaks and breaking branches,” says Madeleine Hardus, a primatologist at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, who has spent years documenting the practice among wild apes in Indonesian Borneo.

She contends that orang-utans use leaves to make ‘kiss squeaks’ to deceive predators, such as leopards, snakes and tigers, as to their actual size — a deeper call indicating a larger animal.

Continue reading at: Orangutans only musicians in the animal world