Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shrinking habitat threat to Bornean elephants in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: The prevailing human-elephant conflict is expected to increase in the next five to 10 years due to shrinking habitats.

Although the state retains some 50 per cent of its permanent forest cover and is the second largest in the country, the lack of natural wildlife habitats is causing more human conflict with the Bornean elephants whose population has been estimated at less than 1,500.

The forests are broken up by agriculture without corridors linking them.

And, unless this conflict is addressed and private companies make real efforts to reforest corridors, Sabah may reach a stage of having to put down these gentle creatures.

State wildlife director Laurentius Ambu said: “Even if serious efforts on forest corridors are made, we still have to manage human elephant conflict in the interim and there is an urgent need to set up a rapid response rescue and translocation (RRRT) team to deal with this issue,”

He said they are currently working with the private sector to establish the RRRT team.

However, he said the setting up of such a team is extremely costly.

“Rescuing and translocating a single elephant can cost up to RM100,000 or more,” Laurentius disclosed.

Just recently, a young male elephant had to be removed from the east coast and sent to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park for its own safety.

Continue reading at: Shrinking habitat threat to Bornean elephants in Sabah

Saturday, February 27, 2010

AirAsia urged to continue Tawau-Singapore sector

TAWAU: The decision by AirAsia to discontinue its direct flight from Tawau to Singapore end of this month has made many passengers here unhappy.Tawau member of parliament Datuk Chua Soon Bui said the low-cost airline would lose its credibility if it continued to cancel its routes with prepaid bookings until the second half of the year.

Chua said she had received many complaints from the public who were not dissatisfied with the cancellation of the Tawau-Singapore route as they had already bought their tickets.

AirAsia launched the direct flight at the beginning of September last year.

Chua said AirAsia had not given any reason for discontinuing the flight but she hoped the airline could work closely with the Sabah Tourism Ministry and the tourism industry players to relaunch it.

A former senior reporter, Thong Lee Fun, said the least AirAsia could do was to reduce the number of weekly flights rather than stopping them altogether.

Another alternative is to re-route passengers through Kota Kinabalu at no extra cost.

Continue reading at: AirAsia urged to continue Tawau-Singapore sector

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gritty five complete Mount Kinabalu trek

KOTA KINABALU: Five Sabah women completed an arduous four-day trek up Mount Kinabalu, successfully retracing the steps of English botanist Lilian Suzette Gibbs, the first woman to scale the mountain a century ago.

The Sabah Society expedition team led by Vicky Ng, along with team members Tengku Puteri Soraya Tengku Zainal Adlin, Rina Jamieson, Catherine Chu and Jane Chong, reached the 1,096m Low’s Peak at 2.30pm yesterday.

Sabah Society honorary secretary Maimie Scott said she received a text message from Rina at 4pm stating that the team had reached the summit.

“I’m sure they must be ecstatic but tired. It is indeed quite an achievement,” said Maimie, who was monitoring the expedition’s progress from Kundasang, at the mountain’s foothills.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Gritty five complete Mount Kinabalu trek

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

MAS offers amazing travel fares

The much-awaited Malaysia Airlines Travel Fair (MATF'10) is back again with low fares and great deals to 49 destinations worldwide; giving travel enthusiasts more reason to travel, a MAS press release said.

Coming into its 2nd year, the travel fair has been generating positive interest and overwhelming response from the public with discounted fares and travel packages from MASholidays.

Customers need not look any further than MATF '10 as airfares are offered up to 75 per cent discount to all international destinations that Malaysia Airlines fly to.

MATF '10 will run for 14 days from until March 7 with travel periods from March 24, 2010 until January 14, 2011.

Malaysia Airlines' Senior General Manager Sales, Dato' Bernard Francis said, "This is a good opportunity for customers to grab value deals for air travel and vacations while enjoying our Malaysian Hospitality at the same time.

"In order to provide convenience to our customers, the tickets can be purchased via, our ticketing offices and appointed travel agents. We are also extending these offers to our customers in Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar where the fair will be running concurrently," he added.

Customers can purchase one way airfares to any destination in Asia; starting from as low as from BND96 to Kuala Lumpur, from BND244 to Jakarta, and from BND249 to Bangkok. Customers planning on flying to South Asia can fly with only from BND 335 to Chennai or Bangalore or Mumbai one way, from BND 351 to Hyderabad or Dhaka or Delhi one way, from BND 386 to Colombo one way and from BND 438 to Karachi one way. Those heading to Europe can opt to fly one way to London for only BND 663 whereas travelling to China, customers have the option to Shanghai from BND 342 one way and Hong Kong from BND 232 one way. All fares quoted excluding airport taxes.

Those who prefer to have logistics taken care of can also opt for 4days / 3nights travel packages from MASholidays which are inclusive of return airfare, airport transfers, accommodation and breakfast. They can fly with ease of mind for ground package to Bangkok from BND 110 (RM264), Bali from BND177 (RM424), Beijing from BND 202 (RM487), Sydney from BND 314 (RM754) and Gold Coast from BND340 (RM816). Price quoted exclude air ticket, airport taxes and is subject to exchange rate on date of purchase.

Additionally, customers looking to go on their Umrah and Ziarah journey can opt for MASholidays' travel package from only BND 2083 (RM 4,999) for 14 days and 12 nights to Jeddah with 3 nights in Madinah and 9 nights in Mecca. Similarly price quoted exclude air ticket , airport taxes and is subject to exchange rate on date of purchase.

"We encourage those scouting for travel bargains to check out our MATF '10 offers. The fair has been well received from the public since its inception in 2004. The best deals go very quickly, so don't wait, book now!" said Francis.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

The gulingtangan, a forgotten heritage

LIMBANG: The culture and tradition that have evolved and been handed down from the past generations need to be proserved for the younger generation. Such heritage should not be lost to the fast changing times.

A mention of the word ‘Gulingtangan’ is not likely to ring any bell to the present young generation. It is the traditional musical instrument widely used by the Bruneian Malay community and communities in some parts of northern Sarawak.

In fact some of the young people simply shook their heads when asked about the existence of such traditional musical instrument that are made from material sourced from the jungle. The wood is from the tree known locally as the “sedaman”.

The tree is readily available in the wild and the ripe fruits are reputed to be a popular food for a species of birds known as the “punai”.

The leaves of the tree are believed to have herbal medicinal value and the local community used them in post-natal treatment of women.

Mimah Lalim, 61, from Kampung Meritam revealed that by knocking the layers of the properly positioned “sedaman” wood, graceful and hypnotic musical sound could be produced that would be pleasant to listeners.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: The gulingtangan, a forgotten heritage

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sarawak to protect more wetlands

KUCHING: The Sarawak Forest Department plans to have three of its national parks – Loagan Bunut in Miri, Maludam in Sri Aman and Pulau Bruit in Mukah – gazetted as sites under Ramsar, the international convention on wetlands.

“We have to study whether these parks can meet the Ramsar criteria.

“Once the proposal is ready, we’ll present it to the state government. If it agrees, the proposal will then be forwarded to the federal government,” acting state forest director Ali Yusop told reporters after the launching of World Wetlands Day at Kampung Pulau Salak, about 20km from here yesterday.

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance or the Ramsar Convention is an inter-governmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation of wetlands and their resources.

Malaysia has six Ramsar sites namely Tasik Bera in Pahang; Tan-jung Piai, Pulau Kukup and Sungai Kulai in Johor; Kuching Wetland National Park in Sarawak; and Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetland in Sabah.

Continue reading at: Sarawak to protect more wetlands

Male and female Bornean elephants going different ways

KINABATANGAN: Age and gender have been found to dictate the movement of Bornean elephants in the wilds of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS).

These were among the initial findings of a study being conducted on three elephants, that were fitted with satellite collars two years ago, in an effort by experts to help minimise elephant and human conflicts.

“The data we have obtained so far shows that Bornean elephant movements in the wild varied between male and females,” according to researcher Nurzhafarina Othman, who is carrying out a study on the social behaviour of the elephants.

The elephants were fitted with the satellite collars in a joint project carried out by Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and French non-governmental organisation, Hutan.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Male and female Bornean elephants going different ways

Friday, February 19, 2010

Three-day ‘tamu’ to promote local crafts in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: A ‘tamu’ (open market) will be held to promote and enhance the quality of local handicrafts.

Sabah Cultural Board chairman Datuk Wences Anggang in disclosing this said most of the handicrafts in the market are not locally produced, thus depriving locals of the opportunity to showcase theirs.

“One of the problems is the low quality of local handicrafts. We need to find ways to improve them to compete with those in the market today,” he told reporters here yesterday.

Anggang said the first, ‘Sabah Handicrafts Tamu 2010’ is aimed at promoting the uniqueness of local handicrafts; create an avenue for local producers to sell their products and to encourage the public to use handicrafts in their daily lives.

The Sabah Cultural Board is arranging for the three-day event to be held at Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang beginning March 12.

For entertainment, there will be coconut bowling, blowpipe, walking on bamboo stilts and arm wrestling, to mention but a few. Cash prizes await the first three winners in each contest.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Three-day ‘tamu’ to promote local crafts in Sabah

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Malaysia focusing on eco-tourism

Mature, urban and seasoned tourists — these are the groups that the Tourism Ministry is trying to woo to boost the national eco-tourism industry.

Explaining that eco-tourism was not just about jungle trekking, river rapids or scuba diving, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said it was all about preserving the environment.

“Eco-tourism helps to protect nature and spur economic activities for local folk.

“In the process, we also help to conserve our environment,” she said in a recent interview.

The main destinations for eco-tourism include the Mulu Caves in Sarawak, Belum in Perak, Gunung Stong in Kelantan and Gua Kelam in Perlis.

Mulu Caves has the world’s largest cave chamber and the world’s most extensive cave system while Belum is famous for its rich bio-diversity hosting more than 100 species of mammals.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Malaysia focusing on eco-tourism

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bandar Seri Begawan ranked 100th livable city in world

By Azlan Othman

Bandar Seri Begawan has scored highly in areas like stability, healthcare and education, but ranked low in infrastructure, culture and living environment indices in a survey to determine the most livable cities in the world.

BSB has been ranked in the 100th position by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which compared 140 cities worldwide. Brunei's rank this year is a slight improvement compared to 2008 when it was in 103rd place.

Vancouver again topped the list, followed by Vienna and Melbourne in Australia. Three other Australian cities also made it to the top 10 list - Sydney, Perth and Adelaide.

A rating of relative comfort for 30 indicators was assigned across five broad categories: stability; healthcare; culture and environment; education; and infrastructure. The survey gave an overall rating of 0-100, where one was intolerable and 100 ideal. Asian cities were well represented at both ends of the scale, owing to the broad disparities in liveability within the region. Locations across seven countries in the region present no significant problems (Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan).

However, Asia is also home to five cities in which most aspects of living are severely restricted: Phnom Penh (Cambodia 130th), Colombo (Sri Lanka 131st), Karachi (Pakistan 135th), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea 137th) and Dhaka (Bangladesh 139th).

Instability plays a significant part in locations that perform poorly, usually in the form of civil unrest, terrorism and war, as these will inevitably worsen crime levels and other factors such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

Elsewhere, European and North American cities continued to dominate the top tier of the ranking, alongside cities in Australia and New Zealand.

Other regions faired less well, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, with security concerns under renewed scrutiny following attacks on the Togo national football team before the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola. The ongoing social and economic crisis in Zimbabwe has ensured that Harare is still the worst of the 140 cities surveyed.

Bandar Seri Begawan is going to get a facelift with its Development Master Plan, which is a comprehensive plan for the capital of Brunei Darussalam, providing clear development strategies to guide future development.

The objectives of the Master Plan are three-fold: to maintain the status of Bandar Seri Begawan as one of the top 10 most livable cities in Asia (The Asia Week, 1996-1999), to ensure orderly development so as to make Bandar Seri Begawan a safe, friendly and livable place and to craft immediate, medium- and long-term development policies and strategies for Bandar Seri Begawan until the year 2035 and beyond.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Esplanade to rise in Sipitang town, Sabah

By Rahmat bin Haji Abdul Rahman

Sipitang town, a five-hour drive from Kuala Lurah and Tedungan Immigration Control Post, has been developing very fast when compared to two decades ago.

The construction of an esplanade in Sipitang district would give the district a major facelift and a new attraction for the coastal town to bolster its status as the transit town for visitors from Sarawak and Brunei Darussalam.

Esplanades became popular in Victorian times when it was fashionable to visit seaside resorts. An esplanade is a long, open, level area, next to a large body of water, where people may walk or promenade for recreation, whatever the state of the tide, without having to walk on the beach.

A huge green canopy of trees grow vigorously along the coastline, where vendors sell local cuisines like satay, barbeque chicken wings, thighs, rojak, soto and ais batu campur, from three o'clock in the afternoon to 10 o'clock at night.

It is envisaged that once the 452-metre long and 75-metre wide esplanade is completed, the town will become a major landmark and tourist attraction for the Sipitang district. The esplanade would attract more visitors from the neighbouring state and countries to stop by before proceeding to other parts of Sabah.

The Sipitang Esplanade costs RM12 million, which is expected to be ready by mid 2010. With the completion of Sipitang Esplanade facing South China Sea, people will be able to see the sunset. The Sipitang Esplanade is hoped to attract many local and international tourists in the future. However, there is only one hotel available in Sipitang town.

Travellers prefer to travel back in two hours to reach Kota Kinabalu City where there are many low-cost hotels, lodging houses and backpackers lodging houses to stay. But, these do not guarantee to serve clients rooms during peak times.

Based on records, there is a rise in the number of visitors entering Sabah at the border in Sindumin near Sipitang. In 2007, there were 104,515. Up to June 2008, 59,919 people passed through the border to enter Sabah.

The stretches of roads between Mesapol and Beaufort factor contributed to the slow development of Sipitang town. Then, Sipitang district was a den for illegal immigrants for the ethnic Bugis from Indonesia and some Filipinos. The culture of the Bruneians and other ethnics of Sabah almost disappeared if the state government did not curb the socio-economic and security threats. For example, Tawau district was no longer showing the original culture of the Sabahans.

Sipitang district was dirty to the naked eye. Illegal wooden stalls were selling Indonesian cuisine without caring for food hygiene standards as long as money was collected. Early in the year 2000, when these stretches of roads were given attention by the ex-Chief Minister of Sabah, Tan Seri Datuk Seri Chong Kah Kita and ex-premier of Malaysia Tun Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohammad, Sipitang town changed drastically.

A Bailey bridge passable for a three tonne-lorry was changed to a reinforced concrete bridge today.

I saw in Sipitang town the wooden shop houses ran by the illegal immigrants of Bugis ethnic from Indonesia had been improved with the construction of many brick shop buildings, wet markets and tamu stalls.

Across the street from the market was a row of two-storey shop houses. These buildings enclosed a walkway a block long that opened onto the street through a series of archways. The cool passageway was packed as shoppers bargained with vendors over cooking pots and bicycles, sacks of rice and dried prawns.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Monday, February 15, 2010

First footage of new clouded leopard species captured in Borneo

The Sundaland clouded leopard, a newly identified and little understood species of big cat in Borneo, has been filmed for the first time.

The leopard, a healthy-looking animal a metre long (3 feet) and weighing about 40 kilos (90 pounds) was caught on video at night at the Dermakot Forest Reserve in Malaysian Borneo's Sabah state.

"What surprised us was that while clouded leopards are very elusive cats, this one was not scared at all," said Azlan Mohamed, a field scientist with University Sabah Malaysia.

"Despite our powerful spot lights and the roar of our vehicle's engine, it walked around our vehicle calmly," he told AFP.

"It is rare to see the big cat in the wild. These cats are usually shy of humans, it was by chance we caught it on video."

The Sundaland clouded leopard was classified as a new species through genetic studies several years ago and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature designated it as endangered in 2008.

Previously all clouded leopards living across the Southeast Asian mainland were thought to be the same species.

Azlan said the Sundaland species is the biggest predator on Borneo, a resource-rich island split between Malaysia and Indonesia where wildlife habitats are under pressure from logging and plantations.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: First footage of new clouded leopard species captured in Borneo

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year 2010 from

In conjunction with the Chinese New Year Celebration public holidays nationwide, our office will be closed for two consecutive days on 15th and 16th February 2010.

For travel and related requests, do note that all your e-mails enquiries may be replied during this holiday period (depending on priority and/or importance) but earliest confirmation can only be processed on Wednesday, 17 February 2010 (working hours +0800 GMT MYT).

Any inconvenience caused is very much regretted.

For those who are celebrating the Chinese New Year festival, all of us at would like to wish you a HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR 2010. In this New Year of the Tiger, may good luck, good fortune and good health always be with you. Have a joyous and wonderful celebration with your family, relatives, and friends.

Gong Xi Fa Cai.

Warmest Regards,

Management and Staff
[ Travel Company of ]

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Tel: +6-088-722606
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Friday, February 12, 2010

MAS offers Peninsula travellers with 'Saya Nak Cuti-Jom Sabah!'

Malaysia Airlines is offering four great deals for travellers from peninsula Malaysia to Sabah through its “Saya Nak Cuti-Jom Sabah!” which was launched by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun at a hotel here yesterday.

The campaign which will run until June 30, 2010 for travel up to December 31,2010 is offering everyone exceptional value for money travel to Sabah for as little as RM399 for a return flight.

“The broad concept under the ‘Saya Nak Cuti!? campaign is to inspire Malaysians to live out their dream holidays, explore new places and getting new experiences. ‘Jom Sabah! Specifically is about inspiring people to explore the wonders of Sabah, using the special deals offered by Malaysian Airlines,” said Malaysia Airlines Managing Director and CEO Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin.

The four deals under the package comprises return airfares to Tawau, Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu from RM399 one-way trip for a family of 3(2 adults, 1 child) at RM399; Sabah pass for travel to 4 sectors within Sabah at RM399 and MASholidays packages for 2 days 3nights to Tawau, Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu from RM599 inclusive of airfare, accommodation, breakfast and airport transfers.

According to Azmil, ‘Saya Nak Cuti- Jom Sabah’ package was developed with the support of Sabah Tourism, as yet another initiative of the national airline to promote domestic travel and tourism to Sabah.

“We are delighted with Sabah Tourism’s support on this campaign. Sabah is a key destination for Malaysia Airlines which is demonstrated by a growth of 16 per cent in passenger numbers for 2009, amidst the economic slowdown.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: MAS offers Peninsula travellers with 'Saya Nak Cuti-Jom Sabah!'

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pulau Tiga Survivor Island - A disgustingly nice mud bath

Pulau Tiga, which means three islands, was unknown outside of Sabah before the turn of the century. Located about 160 kilometers south of Sabah’s capital Kota Kinabalu, it has since become a favorite destination of local and foreign tourists.

If truth be told, the reality show Survivor has much to do with Pulau Tiga’s popularity. The British and American editions of the hit television show shot in Pulau Tiga at different times.

Loretta Bandaya, a Filipina who has been working the resort there for 19 years, was involved with both editions, the British one in 2000 and the American version two years later.

The truth, according Bandaya, was that the British participants, who were brought to the other side of the island in the middle of the night, were told that Pulau Tiga was an uninhabited island. But resort facilities were already completed and reserved exclusively for the participants and the 150 production staff and crew of the series while the Malaysian government also established its own lodging facilities, which is also open to the public as the island was designated as a forest reserve as far back as 1933 and as a marine park in 1978.

The two other islands that complete the Tiga count are Kalampunian Besar and Kalampunian Damit, more popularly known as Snake island. Tourists go there to see these sea snakes.

Continue reading at: Pulau Tiga Survivor Island - A disgustingly nice mud bath

Five to retrace Englishwoman’s steps up Mount Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: Five Sabah women are set to retrace the steps of Englishwoman Lilian Suzette Gibbs who became the first woman to scale Mount Kinabalu a century ago.

The five — Vicky Ng, Tengku Puteri Soraya, Rina Jameson, Catherine Chu and Jane Chong — will make the climb from Feb 20 to 25 to honour Gibbs as well as mark the golden jubilee celebrations of Sabah Society.

The expedition hopes to retrace the climb by Gibbs, who started her quest to reach the peak of the mountain from Kampung Kiau Nulu on Feb 22, 1910.

Sabah Parks ranger Rossiti Maineh will guide the women up the1,096m Low’s Peak, said Sabah Society president Zahra Yaacob.

The group yesterday paid a courtesy call on Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Peter Pang, who is also state Youth and Sports Minister.

Pang said that the expedition was important because it involved the history of the state and its most important icon.

Continue reading at: Five to retrace Englishwoman’s steps up Mount Kinabalu

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Raleigh International's sun bear conservation centre in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: More than 120 international youths will help in the creation of Sabah’s first sun bear conservation centre in the east coast Sandakan district.

Over the next several months, youths from the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Britain and Malaysia will take turns in building the centre adjacent to the orang utan conservation centre in Sepilok, some 45km from Sandakan town.

The volunteers from Raleigh International will construct fences and a boardwalk at the facility.

They will also be involved in other environmental and social projects all over Sabah starting this week.

Raleigh Borneo country programme manager Mac McCarthy said the youths would be joined by 29 volunteer managers from around the world in the upcoming 10A Expedition, which is among the largest in terms of participation.

Other environment-related projects involving the venturers include building facilities for researchers at the pristine Imbak Canyon in southwest Sabah and a suspension bridge across Sungai Imbak.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Raleigh International's sun bear conservation centre in Sabah

MASwings receives its eighth ATR aircraft 72-500

KUCHING: MASwings received its eighth ATR aircraft, which arrived here from Subang last Saturday.

The additional aircraft in the current fleet will reinforce MASwings obligation in enhancing its connectivity and comfort to travellers in Sabah and Sarawak.

“The delivery of the eighth ATR will enable MASwings to fulfil its obligation to offer daily frequencies which are required to provide air connectivity to the people of Sabah and Sarawak,” MASwings managing director Datuk Mohd Salleh Ahmad Tabrani said.

The eighth ATR is used to replace the Fokker 50 route from Kuching to Sibu, Sibu to Bintulu, Kota Kinabalu to Bintulu, Sibu to Kuching, Miri to Bintulu and Kuching to Bintulu sectors effective Feb 8.

The introduction of the ATR will increase additional overall seat capacity by 1,386 passengers per week or 36 per cent injection on the above routes without changes in the flight frequencies.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: MASwings receives its eighth ATR aircraft 72-500

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Rejang River Regatta: Kenyalang boat race is back

SIBU: After a lapse of 20 years, the Kenyalang boat race will be revived at the upcoming Rejang River Regatta on March 13 and 14 at the confluence of the Rejang and Igan rivers.

The race was last held here in 1990.

Each of the racing boats has the capacity for 20 people – 18 paddlers, one navigator and a drummer – and is distinctively decorated with a kenyalang (hornbill in Iban) head at the front.

Ten boats costing RM30,000 each are being built for the event expected to attract 200 participants from Sarawak and possibly Indonesia as well.

The two-day event will also see power boat races in five categories with 35 teams expected from Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei.

The regatta is jointly organised by Rajang Port Authority and MC Events Management to promote Sibu as a centre for water sports in Sarawak. The organisers hope to hold the event annually.

“I hope it will elevate Sibu into a centre for water sports as envisaged by Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud,” said Sarawak Second Finance Minister and Minister of Environment and Public Health Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Rejang River Regatta: Kenyalang boat race is back

Monday, February 08, 2010

Brunei has green gold too

By SL Wong

A side from black gold, Brunei has green gold too, which it protects and promotes.

Venture deep into deepest, darkest Borneo in the morning and be back in your comfortable hotel room by nightfall. Really? Where? Brunei.

Indeed, our Asean neighbour is not known for its rainforests; in fact, tourism is relatively new there, and unimportant economically. However, what is important to Brunei is rainforest conservation.

Brunei is home to well-preserved and diverse ecosystems. The exciting thing is that they are extremely accessible, largely because of conservation policies (about half of Brunei's forests are protected areas) and a low population that is concentrated in urban centres.

The jewel in Brunei's leafy crown is the Ulu Temburong National Park. The park protects 50,000ha of rainforest, almost 10 per cent of Brunei's land. It is steep terrain, home to crystal-clear rivers, lowland rainforest dominated by the species-rich Dipterocarp family and large mammals such as monkeys and sun bears.

Your journey there begins at 7am when you join locals at the Temburong jetty in Bandar Seri Begawan. A fast ferry winds for 45 minutes past an unbroken nipah thicket that lines the river. You then drive to another jetty, where the traditional temuai (longboat) brings you upriver through about 20 rapids.

Wind in your face, you cannot help but feel that Joseph Conradian sense of adventure as you forge past the ever-denser vegetation towards Temburong's heart. At the park headquarters, you disembark and walk into the forest. It is only a 300m walk, and on a wooden walkway to boot.

However, it is uphill and the humidity increases, aided partially by the panting of the unfit. Still, you cannot help but be encouraged by the trees that manage to grow pole straight despite the steepness of the leaf-littered slopes.

Further encouragement comes in the shape of the calls of the invisible wild: gibbons, cicadas and birds. Finally, you arrive at what looks like construction scaffolding.

This five-tower steel canopy access system was built by scientists to study the canopy. Unlike most of the rope-and-ladder canopy walkways in Malaysia, this one zig-zags dizzyingly up to the various levels, so that the climb is not for the faint-of-heart or vertiginous.

The tallest tower is a sweaty palm-inducing 45m above the ground, but once you get there, it is breathtaking. For as John Lennon said, "No hell below us; above us, only sky".

And indeed where infinite blue ends, there is a green carpet of life, a mosaic of greens, innumerable crowns and shapes, and undulating hills that disappear into the horizon.

The walkway affords intriguing close-ups, too. One tree exhibits the tremendous possibilities of biological interdependence, hosting luxurious communities of an ant-plant (and therefore ants) as well as an orchid, at least 30m off the ground.

Once you are done with the walkway, therapy is available in a cold riverwater soak and a spicy Malay lunch.

There are options for kayaking, rafting, waterfall visits and tougher adventure treks, but this basic tour has you back in your Bandar hotel in time for dinner.

Meanwhile, a wildlife safari can be done in one hour. The nipah palms in Bandar are part of a protected dense mangrove system in northern Brunei, preventing erosion along the rivers which characterise the capital and serve as transport arteries. The mangroves are also home to one of the oddest-looking primates on earth - the long-nosed, pot-bellied Proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus).

Again, the beauty of Brunei is that these endangered creatures can be seen in the wild, just 10 minutes by boat from the city centre. From Bandar's Waterfront, your boat speeds past Kampung Ayer, then slows down as it enters the tributaries. When an animal is spotted, the engine is stilled.

Here, along Sungai Damuan, the seven or so resident groups are completely free from threats by humans, living in some cases virtually next to houses behind the mangrove copses. They are so used to tourists, they are ideal fodder for eager eyes and cameras.

Proboscis monkeys are most active at twilight, feeding on young leaves and fruits, sometimes pushing their large noses out of the way to eat. They look large and clumsy, but move with ease through the dense branches, using all four limbs. They are skilled leapers, and the energetic young are especially delightful to watch, as dusk is playtime for them.

Look occasionally in the river, too, for the lucky might spot a monkey paddling quietly, only its red-brown head visible. Proboscis monkeys rarely venture far from the river. They are good swimmers and take to the waterways mainly to escape predators.

This is one of only a few remaining sanctuaries for these animals, which are found only in Borneo and whose numbers have declined dramatically in the last 40 years; habitat destruction is listed by the World Conservation Union as a key threat.

Dusk is a good time to spot other wildlife too. A flash of blue would be the Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis); a shadow in the sky, the regal White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster); and a flick of the tail in the mud, a monitor lizard (Varanus).

For those who dare, sign up with an experienced tour company for adrenaline-pumping crocodile-watching in the dark of night.

The mangroves are themselves fascinating forests that are tough enough to survive the hostile mixture of fresh and saltwater. Comprising largely pristine bakau minyak (Rhizophora apiculata), which is also found in Malaysia, the forests also have stands of other species such as pedada (Sonneratia caseolaris), a habitat for fireflies.

Large specimens of mangrove trees can be marvelled at a bit further away from Bandar, at Pulau Selirong.

Brunei might not have the high profile of some of the national parks of neighbouring Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan, but its quietly astounding natural beauty is certainly as deserving of attention and a delight to explore.

The best way to experience Brunei's natural attractions is to book a tour through a tour agency, as public transport and tourist infrastructure are limited.

For more information, visit the Brunei Tourism website:

The Brunei Forestry Department ( has a good overview of Brunei's forests and geography.

For facts on Proboscis Monkeys, check out the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, February 07, 2010

TIGERS ROCK! at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

KOTA KINABALU; The Year of the Tiger will be ushered in quite literally this year as Lok Kawi Wildlife Park celebrates the festive season by putting the spotlight on all things feline.

TIGERS ROCK! – A two day event will be held at the Park on 14 and 15 February 2010. Normal admission applies but visitors will be treated to a whole gamut of activities, exclusively for this festive period.

Cat lovers can expect to meet the Park’s Tiger siblings, Labi and Dona, who will display natural hunting behaviors in a special Tiger Feeding Presentation as well as learning about cats through an informative “Cats of Borneo” exhibition by the Sabah Wildlife Department.

In running with the cat theme, the Park is also delighted to welcome two new African Servals to its family. These beautiful pair of cats can be viewed by visitors at the brand new Serval Exhibit after its launch from 14 February onwards. And of course, what would Chinese New Year be without a lion dance performance?

And that’s not all. If you are more of a Jumbo-lover, then come meet our Elephants at our free… yes, free Elephant Rides for three hours each day at the Park. Visitors engaging in our Q&A sessions will receive very special opportunities to touch, stroke and get really close to our gentle giants during these Free Elephant Ride Sessions.

Continue reading at: TIGERS ROCK! at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Adding value to Kuching Wetlands National Park

THE already rich tourism potential of the Kuching Wetlands National Park has been given another boost by the State Forestry Department’s plan to introduce two more tourism-related activities to this biodiversity-rich ecosystem.

“We are looking at night safari and homestay programme that will further increase the value of the area,” disclosed Suliman Jamahari, RAMSAR project manager and park manager.

Currently, the park has only one tourism-related activity — an excursion down the two main rivers and into the various inlets.

Suliman did not say when the two projects (night safari and homestay) would be introduced but he did assure it would be soon.

He made these disclosures at a talk on the state level World Wetland Day that will be celebrated on February 20 this year at Salak Island.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Adding value to Kuching Wetlands National Park

Two Sarawak local tourist spots to be developed

KUCHING: Two local potential tourist spots will be developed to enhance the tourism industry besides bringing economic gains to the locals.

Disclosing this, Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said the Krokong motorcross in Bau would be revived, while the hot spring at Anah Rais in Padawan would also be developed.

Both areas have a great potential to woo tourists, including foreigners to the state, he stressed.

He did not mention when the hot spring at Kampung Anah Rais would be developed, but disclosed that the Krokong motorcross circuit would be done this year.

“I see both areas (Krokong motorcross and Anah Rais hot spring) have great potentials to be fully developed, not only for the attraction and use of locals but foreigners as well.”

Continue reading at: Two Saarwak local tourist spots to be developed

Friday, February 05, 2010

Kota Kinabalu more to offer than Kuching

Kota Kinabalu: Kuching may be one of the most liveable cities in the region but State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun feels Kota Kinabalu has more to offer.

Kuching is the city we look up to as we strive to improve Kota Kinabalu, he said, praising it being voted the seventh most liveable city in South East Asia.

Masidi, however, said Kota Kinabalu has several rare features that Kuching lacks, such as the fact that Kuching's waterfront is located by the riverside, whereas Kota Kinabalu's is by the sea.

"Kuching may be the most liveable but we have the most beautiful sunsets, the clearest skies, the bluest ocean and the most tolerate Malaysians in the country," he declared.

Masidi was speaking at a dinner to welcome delegates to the Kota Kinabalu International City Parade from Korea, Brunei, Kuching, Melaka, Ipoh, Sandakan, Pitas and Tawau.

He said Sabah is proving to be a favourite tourist destination with a total of 88,000 Koreans visiting in 2008 and Singaporean arrivals increasing 130 per cent in 2009.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu more to offer than Kuching

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Kuching Waterfront much safer now

KUCHING: Security measures have been stepped up at the Kuching Waterfront to ensure the safety and well-being of visitors.

Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) deputy general manager Wan Lizozman Wan Omar said that more security guards had been deployed since the beginning of this year to patrol the area and prevent untoward incidents.

“We have doubled the number of guards at any one time from five to 10 and they will patrol round the clock.

“We are working closely with the police, including the tourist police stationed at the Waterfront, and Kuching North City Hall to ensure that safety is taken care of,” he told reporters at the launch of the Waterfront’s calendar of events here.

The Waterfront, managed by SEDC Sarawak, is among the top tourist attractions in the city.

On the 380m Waterfront extension undertaken by SEDC Sarawak, Wan Lizozman said that construction was progressing smoothly and it should be completed by December this year.

He said the RM9mil extension from Beijing Restaurant to Grand Margherita Hotel would comprise a walkway and other facilities.

Continue reading at: Kuching Waterfront much safer now

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Sabah Museum told to acquire valuable cultural artifacts

KOTA KINABALU: The State Museum needs to take aggressive measures to acquire valuable cultural artifacts from the natives and preserve them before private collectors sneak them out of the country.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said it is a shame that priceless relics of our cultural heritage could not be exhibited to the younger generation and visitors as individual agents were more successful in purchasing them from the locals before selling them to foreign collectors at higher prices.

“We have received complaints from many concerned individuals who were worried that our invaluable artifacts such as Tajau which have been bought in bundles by agents would be taken out of the country and end up as private collection overseas.

“These artifacts could be lost and our younger generation would never see them. So, I strongly urge the State Museum to take proactive measures and do the same as these agents, which is to go into villages to find and purchase artifacts that are for sale,” he said, speaking at the opening of North Borneo Sacred Legacy Photographic Exhibition II at State Museum here yesterday.

According to Masidi the agents buys artifacts from villagers for as low as RM50 to RM100 before selling them for tens of thousands of ringgit a piece to wealthy collectors outside the country.

“These agents love going into the villages to hunt for artifacts because the market is there. For them making big money out of our artifacts is one issue, but more importantly many of these important artifacts will be lost and our younger generation may not have the chance to ever see them,” he said.

Continue reading at: Sabah Museum told to acquire valuable cultural artifacts

MASwings introduces muffins as additional in-flight refreshment

KUCHING: MASwings has now introduced muffins as additional refreshment on board its flights as part of its drive to enhance its in-flight service delivery.

The oven-baked muffins come with assorted flavours of blueberry, chocolate, banana and almond vanilla, which could tantalise the passengers’ taste buds.

The muffins are served together with sandwiches in its current light refreshment menu on all flights with flying hours of more than 60 minutes.

These include flights from Kuching to Bintulu, Mulu, Miri, from Bintulu to Kota Kinabalu and Sibu to Kota Kinabalu.

In addition, MASwings will also serve muffins on all flights with flying hours of more than 50 minutes but less than one hour.

These routings cover flights from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau, Lahad Datu, Miri and Sandakan as well as from Kuching to Sibu and Miri to Sibu.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: MASwings introduces muffins as additional in-flight refreshment

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Grand Margherita Kuching serves up Thai and Japanese delicacies

KUCHING: Grand Margherita Hotel’s Orchid Garden Coffee House is staging a special food promotion called ‘The Art and Joy of Thai and Japanese Cuisine’ until Feb 18 in conjunction with its re-opening and also for the coming Lunar New Year and Valentine’s day celebrations.

Assistant Minister of Tourism and Heritage Datuk Talib Zulpilip, who launched the promotion, said the move by the hotel to promote delicacies from neighbouring countries was a good marketing tool for the the city and also the state.

“The tourists, both local and foreign, could take this opportunity of trying out Thai and Japanese without having to go far and travelling to those countries,” he said.

He added that as part of the tourism industry, it is important for hotels to come out with promotions that not only market themselves but also tourism in the state as this would benefit both parties.

Talib, who is Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman, also commended the restaurant for its ‘live’ cooking concept, which would be an added attraction for customers.

“Apart from the beautiful setting, I am pleased that the restaurant and the hotel as a whole, is very clean. This is very important as it could reflect an image on the city and the state,” Talib added.

To ensure the authenticity of the dishes, the hotel has flown in three guest chefs from Bangkok, Thailand.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Grand Margherita Kuching serves up Thai and Japanese delicacies

Monday, February 01, 2010

Kota Kinabalu moves on as a city

KOTA Kinabalu has city reached a milestone this year as Sabah’s state capital by celebrating the 10th anniversary of its acquiring city status.

The city has indeed prospered after shedding its municipal status on Feb 2, 2000.

It now boasts a number of international five-star hotels and resorts, shopping malls and educational institutions.

For some Kota Kinabalu folk like businessman S.Y. Lee, the improvements are noticeable literally at ground level.

“Kota Kinabalu is cleaner and this makes a lot of difference as it is a more pleasant place to live in,” said Lee.

Not too long ago, the city folks were in despair about its state of cleanliness.

In the words of former City Hall director-general Datuk Dr Chua Kim Hing, it was a case of “rubbish, rubbish everywhere”.

He was referring to a time when litter-strewn bus terminals, road pavements, shorelines and sidewalks in front of shops in downtown Kota Kinabalu was a common sight.

Such was the state of the Sabah capital that when its status was elevated, then Chief Minister Datuk Osu Sukam said that a priority for the new city administration was to get Kota Kinabalu cleaned up.

The transformation to a cleaner city was gradual but picked up after former Sabah police commissioner Datuk Illiyas Ibrahim was named as the second mayor in 2006.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu moves on as a city