Monday, February 28, 2011

Borneo Escapade

East Malaysia has always fascinated me. Despite being a part of Malaysia, there has been something enchanting, almost foreign about it that has always stroked my fancy. And while I'm a regular visitor to Sarawak, it is Sabah that I had yet to experience. Thanks to Firefly, I managed to do exactly that. The subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines had their inaugural flight to Kota Kinabalu recently, and I was one of the lucky few to board their brand new Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Everyone is used to seeing Firefly's ATR 72-500 turboprops, so having their corporate bright orange-and-white colors on a larger jet is rather refreshing. The bigger planes also mean longer hauls and better comfort, which makes perfect sense when it comes to their flights to East Malaysia.

Upon touchdown at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), we were greeted with a traditional aviation industry welcome, which was a water spraying guard-of-honour. After the welcoming ceremony and press conference, we were taken to Kota Kinabalu's Grand Borneo Hotel, which is part of the 1Borneo Shopping Paradise mall. A simple cocktail party with light food, music and dance followed. And luckily for me, I had a friend who's local; she took me sightseeing around town and beaches at night. Kota Kinabalu is really a town which has to be travelled by car, and it is gorgeous at night.

The next day, we were taken for a preview of Saracen Reef World, which was a reef activity pontoon out at sea. From Sutera Harbour, we took a breezy two-hour-and-twenty minute catamaran ride through Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, where we saw numerous beautiful islands along the way. We were told that the pontoon would be towed more than 40km from its current location to a reef area and be similar to the one at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Despite it being a preview, we did manage to see a couple of fish underwater and also to get an overall feel of how the pontoon would be like when it is expected to open in May. We later took a much smaller boat back to shore where we joked how we sat like refugees on the floor.

That night, dinner was at Kampung Nelayan, a floating seafood market restaurant. The seafood there was served fresh and the dishes served included fish maw soup, pucuk paku (wild fern shoot), succulent prawns, steamed grouper, crispy chicken and soft-shelled crab. I also experienced tasting a type of snail/shellfish called Siput Tarik, aptly named because we used a toothpick to pull it out from its shell. It was rather daunting at first, but I found it tasted somewhat similar to squid. Not too bad I must say.

We were also treated to a traditional Sabahan cultural performance, where dances like the Daling-daling, Sumazau and Magunatip were presented. The Magunatip or bamboo dance was particularly interesting, as it required precision and skill so that the dancers avoided getting their feet trapped in the bamboo as they danced. Guests were also invited to have a try, with many hilariously getting their legs snapped. We were also given a chance to try the famed sumpit (blow-pipe). Later, my Sabahan friend once again took me around town, bringing me to a lovely Irish Bar that was located just beside the sea.

On day three we took a two-hour drive to Kuala Penyu jetty, after which we set off to Pulau Tiga via a fun and bumpy 45-minute ride on speedboat. Pulau Tiga is also popularly known as "Survivor Island" thanks to its role as the site for the first season of reality show, Survivor.

Upon arrival I was drawn by the breathtaking view of a true island paradise; white sandy beaches and greenish waters. Our rooms were little chalets on stilts, surrounded by jungle terrain and wildlife. I wasn't kidding about the wildlife; we found out there was a family of over 20 giant monitor lizards behind our chalets. These lizards will chase you if they detect sudden movement, as demonstrated by one of the resort staff. Monkeys were also common residents, as seen from all the 'do not feed the monkeys' signs around the resort.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo Escapade

Frisbee meet a boost to Sabah tourism

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah had definitely made an impact on the 80 local and foreign participants of the international second Borneo Headhunters Hat based on the sentiments and feedback received.

Sabah’s annual Ultimate Frisbee tournament was attended by participants from around the world, including England, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland and the USA, with many vowing to return to Sabah to see more of its offerings including Mount Kinabalu, the Kinabatangan River and diving in Sipadan.

The one-day tournament was held on Saturday at Sekolah Menengah La Salle, and saw many first-timers to Sabah.

“We planned our holiday to Sabah around it,” said Lucas Tschuor and Prisca Mattanza, a couple from Switzerland who flew to Sabah to attend the tournament before moving on to Singapore.

The couple flew in especially for the tournament for the weekend but vowed to return to Sabah and visit more of the well-known sights and get to know the culture better.

Canadians Patrick and Tara Macmaster also flew in for the weekend, especially for the tournament but Patrick, a teacher based in Kuala Lumpur, could not play due to injury on his knee.

“We were so disappointed but at least we could still come and enjoy the weekend,” he said.

Chris Khoo, an Ultimate player from Melbourne, Australia on his way to study in Germany, decided to stop in Kota Kinabalu to attend the tournament first.

“I’ve visited the tourist attractions before, so this time I’m only here for the Ultimate, but it was well worth the effort,” said Chris who has been here a week.

Bruneian Radzi Adnan is on his second visit to Sabah, this time bringing with him a group of friends, both to participate and to cheer.

“We were so impressed with the tournament and Sabah last year that we decided to come back and bring more friends this year,” he said.

Radzi and his friends came earlier in the week to do their shopping and sightseeing before returning home today.

Some 21 college students from Curtin University in Miri, came to play in the tournament and planned an adventure-packed itinerary, including white-water rafting and climbing up Mount Kinabalu.

This year’s tournament saw an increase in participants from 36 last year to 80 people this year with many more foreign participants.

Ultimate is a fast-paced, action packed game, which combines the best elements from other sports like soccer, netball and American football.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Frisbee meet a boost to Sabah tourism

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Gateway Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

The Central Administration building of the park

Deer in its almost natural environment

Tram bringing tourists aournd the park

Female Orang Utan

The well-known Malayan Tiger

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to HAL and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.


In a world of shrinking wildlife numbers, the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park should be a magnet for tourists to visit in the Malaysian state of Sabah.

Located 25km from the capital city of Kota Kinabalu, the 280-acre wildlife park is managed by the Sabah Wildlife Department under the Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Environment, which also includes a botanical garden being maintained by the Forestry Department of Sabah.

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park currently has over 100 species of animals that include mammals, birds and reptiles.

These animals are caged in a compound that resembles the natural habitat. For some animals, water is used as a barrier along the fences and walls, which is then covered with vegetation.

The concept of an open environment provides opportunities for photographers.

This allows wildlife professional photographers to shoot pictures of these animals as if the animals are free in the wild.

Apart from tourists, schoolchildren and students from higher institutions are welcome to use the facilities for educational purposes either through observation or briefings from the zoo guides while passing through the wildlife park.

Entrance fee for visitors (above 18) are RM10 per person and (below 18) are RM5 per person for Malaysian citizens. Non-Malaysian tourists (above 18) are charged RM20 and RM10 for those below 18. To watch these animals, one may consider strolling or using a tram with a reasonable price.

Having to ride on a wagon of a locomotive-style tram, it will stop at every single cage or natural cage of the animals - allowing visitors to snap pictures. For those who much prefer to go on feet, the park has provided a concrete trails to lead your way. A cafeteria debuted as the Lok Kawi Wildlife Café is also available.

Once inside, one would be able to watch some rare animals including endangered animals and habitants in Borneo Island.

It is a brand new experience to see these animals live and not as per watching them in television or book.

Undoubtedly, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park brings human closer to nature and that; visitors are able to appreciate more on nature and wildlife.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Picture perfect day with Sea Gypsies in Semporna

Bajau children playing in a boat

Coral and sea creatures can be seen through the crystal clear waters

Tall coconut trees provide shade from the bright sunlight

Diving homestay where we stayed at Mabul Island

Bajau family relaxing during sunset on Maiga Island

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Azrol Azmi and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.

By Azrol Azmi

If you are planning an island resort getaway this coming school holidays in March, look no further than Semporna and its surrounding islands, which offer stunning white sandy beaches and picturesque views.

Imagine crystal clear waters, long stretches of white sandy beaches, cool breeze blowing from the sea and tall coconut trees providing shade from the bright tropical sun as you unwind on one of the islands.

Semporna, a town located in Tawau division on Sabah's east coast, is inhabited mainly by ethnic Bajau Laut, also known as Sea Gypsies, many of whom live in sprawling stilt villages above the water or in traditional Lepa boats.

Semporna is a gateway to the some of the best dive sites in the world which are situated about an hour's boat ride away.

Among the islands that can be visited are Mabul, Kapalai and of course, Sipadan surrounded by the Sulawesi Sea which needs no introduction to avid divers from around the world.

There are other islands with equally fascinating dive sites. Tourism Malaysia is working hard to promote the lesser-known but equally beautiful dive sites in Sabah such as Si Amil, Mantabuan, Sibuan and Bohey Dulang.

As many as 101 dive spots have been identified by a team of divers who hope to bring greater attention to Sabah's other dive site jewels. These sites are listed in the Sabah 101 Dive Treasures brochure.

I recently went on a photo expedition with a group of friends with the same interest to capture the beautiful scenery at some of these islands.

We started our journey driving from Brunei Darussalam to Kota Kinabalu before catching a flight from Kota Kinabalu International Airport to Tawau Airport, (which is the nearest airport to Semporna) before proceeding on an hour's drive to Semporna town in a tour bus. Enquiries at the airport revealed that public buses and taxis are available to transport people from Tawau to Semporna at a reasonable fee.

In Semporna, we made our way to the public jetty where our friend from Tawau, Muslianshah, who oversaw our stay during our photo expedition, awaited with a boat ready to take us to our first island, Maiga.

We made a quick stop at Bohey Dulang island to take a closer look at the Bajau or Sea Gypsies. We learnt that the Bajau community made their living from fishing and farming seaweed which they sell in Semporna.

Maiga is not well-equipped to receive tourists as the island does not have the basic amenities of running water and electricity. We were told that we would be "camping out" but we actually slept in a makeshift hall built by the Bajau.

We visited other islands before finally staying in Scubajeff-Sipadan diving homestay at Mabul Island, which is one of the more popular islands among diving tourists and beachcombers.

Mabul is well-equipped to receive tourists and even has a resort as well as several diving homestays to cater for "budget" divers.

Mabul is situated just 25 minutes from Sipadan. Running water and electricity are available on Mabul and a few shops selling everyday items can be seen in a small village populated by the Bajau.

More photos can be seen at and look for Semporna set.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

America’s First Lady of Roots Music to sing at Borneo Jazz

KUCHING: Multiple Grammy nominee Maria Muldaur, perhaps best known for her seductive top-ten single “Midnight at the Oasis”, will perform at Borneo Jazz 2011.

Maria Muldaur is often referred to as America’s First Lady of Roots Music.

From her teen years as part of the folk revival of the sixties, to her recent ‘bluesiana’ efforts, Maria has released more than 35 records that have been embraced by fans and critics alike.

She has been garnering many awards and accolades including a Grammy nomination in the Traditional Blues category for her 2005 release “Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul”, a “Best Adult Alternative Album of the Year” award by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors for 1992’s “Louisiana Love Call”, and many more.

In 2010, Muldaur was nominated again for the Grammies.

Maria Muldaur was also the third woman ever to be on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Her singing is a gift she still takes on the road most of the year. She has mastered many musical genres: blues, early jazz, gospel, folk, country, and R&B.

Throughout her career Maria has toured tirelessly nationally and internationally, developing a loyal following of fans of all ages that come out to see this versatile roots music stylist romance an audience as only Maria Muldaur can.

Meanwhile, Borneo Jazz 2011 will be held in Miri from May 12-15.

Maria Muldaur will be taking the stage on Saturday, May 14, at the ParkCity Everly Hotel in Miri. Be sure not to miss this opportunity to see her perform. So get your tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: America’s First Lady of Roots Music to sing at Borneo Jazz

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kota Kinabalu City Run 2011 on March 6

Kota Kinabalu: City Hall together with the Federal Youth and Sports Department in Sabah will stage a 4km City Run in conjunction with the Kota Kinabalu City 11th Anniversary celebrations.

According to Mayor Abidin Madingkir, "City Run 2011" will be held at Padang Merdeka on March 6 from 6.30am.

Assistant Youth and Sports Minister, Datuk Jahid Jahim, is expected to flag off participants of the run, Madingkir said at a press conference Thursday.

Also present were City Hall Deputy Director-General (Corporate) Bahari Hassan, Youth and Sports Department (Federal) Sabah Branch Director Dahali Matsin and Youth and Sports Department (Federal) Sabah Branch Assistant Director (Sports) cum Co-Organising Chairman Stephen Andreas, Corporate Affairs Department cum 'City Run 2011' Organising Chairman Faradillah Abdul Rani and City Hall heads of department.

Madingkir explained that the run has been an annual event organised by City Hall since 2002.

"The run is open to all members of society of all ages and is suitable as a family event on the weekend and promotes a sporting culture as well as gives rise to healthy and active city folk.

"The run will be based on a 'touch and go' concept meaning that participants need not register nor have to pay any entry fees.

"Participants need only finish the 4 kilometer run within an hour for them to receive a lucky draw ticket," he said.

As such, Madingkir invited all residents of Kota Kinabalu and those residing in neighboring districts to participate in the City Run.

Continue reading at: Kota Kinabalu City Run 2011 on March 6

Borneo jungle adventure a real eye-opener

Trekking through a jungle, knee-deep in mud, carrying 15kg backpacks is not how many students would choose to spend their summer holidays.

But it’s exactly what five Batemans Bay High School students did.

As part of World Challenge school expeditions, the students and a high school teacher, Tania Maddison, travelled to Borneo in Malaysia, and spent 28 days battling the monsoon season, camping in hammocks, hanging out with orang-utans and building a prayer house.

They formed a group with five other students from Perth, and a group leader.

The students said one of the highlights was when they tackled the highest mountain in South East Asia, Mount Kinabalu. Most made it to about 200m from the summit, because Andrew Wallace and a student from Perth suffered altitude sickness.

“It is horrible,” the Year 12 student explained. “At first you feel like you’re going to vomit, and then there’s shortness of breath. And migraines.

“As soon as we started going down, it went away.”

The group trekked the Croker Ranges and visited the Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok.

Near the Indonesian border, they stayed in the chief’s house in the village of Pa’ Auk while they finished off a community project that other World Challenge groups had worked on.

They lugged large planks of wood up steep hills and nailed benches together to finish the prayer house.

The students said the trip helped them realise how lucky they are.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo jungle adventure a real eye-opener

Making Kuching Waterfront attractive with more activities

KUCHING: Kuching Waterfront’s management company Sara Urusharta Sdn Bhd will work closely with stakeholders such as the Sarawak Tourism Board in organising activities to attract more visitors to the waterfront throughout the day.

Its event and public relations manager Arthur George Clancy said the waterfront had been receiving a constant number of visitors, peaking at a specific time of the day.

“We have locals who commute across the Sarawak River to the city everyday for work and school. Due to our hot weather, there are more people from 3pm till sunset. During weekdays, we have a few hundred people passing through, and two to three bus-loads of tourists are common,” he said.

There were more people throughout the weekends, he told reporters here yesterday.

Arthur said the move was also in line with the Culture & Community 2011 programme launched by Tourism and Heritage Assistant Minister and Sarawak Economic Development Corporation chairman Datuk Talib Zulpilip last year.

Therefore, events would be held to encourage people’s participation in recreational activities and showcase Sarawak’s diverse cultural extravaganza with the hope that these would further improve the waterfront as an iconic centre for arts, music and community-based activities, he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Making Kuching Waterfront attractive with more activities

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Borneo International Marathon - Runners from 30 countries expected

Kota Kinabalu: Foreign participation for the fourth Borneo International Marathon (BIM) to be held on May 1, is expected to increase to 30 countries this year.

So far, runners from 15 countries have registered for the event, amongst them from Brunei, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Kenya, Japan and Maldives.

"Last year, we had participation from more than 20 countries.

We expect this number to increase to 30 countries this year," said race director Andrew Voon from Championship Sports Events Sdn Bhd, the main organiser of BIM 2011, told Bernama here Wednesday.

Registration for BIM 2011 began on Oct 8, last year to allow participants the opportunity to schedule their travel plans, ahead of time.

With the tagline, 'I'd Rather be Running', this annual event which helps raise money for local charities anticipates in getting more than 2,000 runners this year, as compared to 1,400 participants last year.

Voon said to date, they had confirmed the registration of over 1,000 participants and expected more in the few days before the early bird promotion ended on Feb 28.

Dubbed 'The Beautiful Run', the marathon passes through the city and many of Kota Kinabalu's interesting tourist sights, with three categories offered, namely Full Marathon (42.2km), Half Marathon (21.1km) and 10km race. A 2km Fun Run is also held for children.

Continue reading at: Borneo International Marathon - Runners from 30 countries expected

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tourism industry still not achieving its full potential in Sarawak

IT’S no secret. Sarawak’s tourism industry lags behind Sabah’s.

In fact, we should be ashamed our jewel in the crown, Mulu, is nowhere near as popular as Mount Kinabalu.

(And the less said about Sarawak’s sea, surf and sand offerings the better.)

Sure, Sarawakians can lay claim to two successful music festivals. Each is celebrated over two weekends, one in May and the other in July.

What about the other months? Yes, locals might be able to name a few more events worth taking time-off for, but more importantly, can tourists?

The Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF), an umbrella body representing guides to agents, had said last year’s drop in foreign arrivals hit the local industry hard.

Its president Audry Wan Ullok, who might look demure but can be vocal when necessary, has called on authorities to do more.

As the private sector’s representative, Audry has a long list of complaints and proposals.

At the same time, government leaders insist local businesses lack innovation and drive.

Last year, one deputy minister, upon being handed a stack of brochures, promptly said: “How do you expect me to promote these? Some are photocopies!”

So what gives? One side blames the other, and as a result, there has been little forward momentum.

This year, the State Government’s aim is to have four million tourist arrivals.

It is a nice sounding figure, except the private sector has little faith in such projections and on past statistics.

Between tomorrow and Friday, top tourism leaders are meeting in Kuching. It will be the most comprehensive public-private discussion yet on tourism this year.

Given the industry’s woeful track record in 2010, Star Sarawak has learnt that top of the agenda is flight connectivity.

The private sector will urge authorities to lower airport taxes. People like Audry will tell the government that the private sector cares only about tourist arrivals.

She will reiterate that the federation cared little about how various programmes or proposals would be implemented, or where funds would come from.

Either the Federal Transport Ministry lowers airport tax, or the Tourism and Heritage Ministry subsidises low-cost airlines.

The fact was that tourism in the region depended heavily on cheap travel, Audry said, echoing AirAsia Group chief executive Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes’ recent comments.

The State Government will have a difficult task ahead. First, it must be seen to try to lobby the Federal Government to lower airport tax.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Tourism industry still not achieving its full potential in Sarawak

Sarawak's Wind Cave reopens to public

KUCHING: Wind Cave Nature Reserve in Bau, which temporarily closed due to serious flooding last month, reopened to the public on Monday (Feb 21).

In a press statement yesterday, Sarawak Forestry said all the necessary rectification and repair work for damage due to the flood had been carried out at the nature reserve and they are ready to receive visitors again.

Located about 50km from Kuching, the Wind Cave is one of the state’s top tourist attractions.

Surrounding the national reserve are fascinating villages, rubber estates, pepper gardens, cocoa plantations and lush rainforest.

The park has regional and global conservation significance due to the extraordinary limestone formations in mystical caverns that are thousands of years old. Some of the rock formations resemble figures of animals, becoming a point of religious interest for some locals. One of its unique features is also a cool stream that flows from it.

The Wind Cave is also famous for its diverse flora and fauna, which makes it a great destination for all visitors, whether for recreational, educational or research purposes.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sarawak's Wind Cave reopens to public

Firefly launches Eastern hub in Kota Kinabalu

Fly Firefly Sdn Bhd, a unit of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) revised its passengers target to 3.5 million this year from an earlier target of three million passengers with the launch of its Southern hub in Senai, Johor.

FireFly Managing Director Datuk Eddy Leong said the new hub would operate in May with two fleet of Boeing 737-400 aircraft instead of its 737-800 aircraft.

“It costs us three-and-a-half time less to operate 737-400. Once the hub proves its success, then we will think of bringing in 800 aircraft,” he told reporters here yesterday.

The budget airline is confident the numerous commercial and tourism activities expected to generate in Johor Bahru via the Iskandar Malaysia development would be able to positively contribute to its economic growth.

The new plan follows the community airline’s first jet aircraft flights last month, operated with Boeing 737-800s.

Currently Firefly leases the 737-400 aircrafts from the open market on a short-term lease of less than five years, he said adding that to switch to the 737-800 aircrafts, it would likely take two to three years to do so.

“Eventually when the Iskandar region development progresses there will be increase in in-bound arrivals of business and leisure travellers.

“The economic boost will create natural traffic,” he explained.

The community airline yesterday announced the second phase of its expansion programmes with the launch of its Southern hub in Johor and Eastern hub in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Continue reading at: Firefly launches Eastern hub in Kota Kinabalu

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

MAS offers up to 85 pct discount to all locations

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is offering up to 85 per cent discount to all destinations in conjunction with the eighth edition of the Malaysia Airlines Travel Fair (MATF’11) from yesterday till Feb 28.

Travel period for the fares is from March 21 to Dec 31.

“The MATF is MAS’ very own travel fair and it is usually held at the beginning of the year.

“It is at this time we delight our customers with our best all-inclusive fares and holiday packages,” said Datuk Bernard Francis, executive vice-president (sales and marketing) in a statement yesterday.

He said MAS was also offering up to 50 per cent discount for business class seats.

“For the first time, we are offering up to 50 per cent discount for business class seats for all of our destinations.

“A very attractive price so far, customers can enjoy our award-winning business class service which includes access to the Golden Lounge, 30kg baggage allowance and better overall in-flight comfort,” he said.

Continue reading at: MAS offers up to 85 pct discount to all locations

Firefly launches two new hubs and expands network

FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, (MAS) announced today the second phase of its jets expansion programme with the launch of its Southern hub in Senai, Johor and Eastern hub in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. This exciting phase will be accompanied with the introduction of new sectors and additional frequencies on the Sabah and Sarawak routes, which started operating in January 2011.

KL International Airport

Kuala Lumpur International Airport became the third network hub for Firefly on the 15 January 2011 with the launch of its Boeing 737-800 jet aircraft fleet, offering flights to East Malaysia beginning with Kuching, Sarawak and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. With the arrival of its third and fourth Boeing 737-800 aircraft in the second quarter this year and the planned acceptance of seven Boeing 737-800 aircraft for 2011, Firefly will also expand its East Malaysia sectors by increasing its Kuching and Kota Kinabalu frequencies as well as introducing new routes.


* Current frequency - 4 flights a day
* Effective 1 June 2011 - 7 flights a day


* Current frequency – 3 flights a day

Having just received approvals we are now expanding the routes from our KLIA hub with the introduction of daily flights to Miri and Sibu, Sarawak commencing on 1 July 2011 and 1 Aug 2011 respectively. This will further improve and strengthen Firefly’s connectivity in addition to offering passengers the convenience and comfort of KLIA with its aerobridge services and award-winning facilities.


* Effective 1 July 2011 – 2 flights daily
* Effective 1 August 2011 – 3 flights daily


* Effective 1 August 2011 – 2 flights daily


Kota Kinabalu is Firefly’s fourth and Eastern hub, currently offering three daily flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, will operate with three additional flights from Terminal 1 of Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).

* Effective 15 May 2011 - 3 additional flights daily

(Bringing the total number to six flights daily between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu)


With the commencement of services from the fifth hub in Senai, Firefly is confident of leveraging on the numerous commercial and tourism activities generated in Johor Bahru via the Iskandar Malaysia development and will be able to positively contribute to its economic growth by increasing in-bound arrivals of business and leisure travellers alike.

Source: FireFly Sdn Bhd

New airport to facilitate travel and open up Lawas

LAWAS: Travel for folk in Lawas and southern Sabah would be a breeze when the proposed new Lawas airport is completed under the second rolling of the Tenth Malaysia Plan (10MP)

Deputy Minister of Transport Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said the present transportation and communication woes would be addressed by the building of the airport by the federal government under the mid-term review of 10MP, which has been regarded as an essential project.

The new airport would also open up communication links around Lawas, including the Ba Kelalan and Bario highlands apart from neighbouring Sabah, he said during his working visit here yesterday.

“The construction of the new airport is a necessity and not a luxury for this region,” he said, adding that it would also boost the economic growth of the district and southern districts of Sabah.

The current fleet of four Twin Otter aircrafts is also slated to be replaced with more modern aircrafts that meet the requirements of rural Short Take-off and Landing (STOL) airstrips under the Rural Air Service (RAS) for Sabah and Sarawak.

These reliable aircrafts currently operated by MasWings are already 28 years-old.

Rahim said the ministry was informed by Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan of the problem of frequent flooding at Lawas airport during rainy spells which caused much inconvenience to the people.

The increase in passenger traffic would also bring a brighter prospect for the district’s tourism industry as it is currently constricted by limited air travel connectivity.

The deputy minister also visited the proposed site of the new airport which has been approved by the state government, and gave the thumbs up for its strategic location in the economic development triangle of Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: New airport to facilitate travel and open up Lawas

Monday, February 21, 2011

Brunei villages urged to tap eco-tourism potential

By James Kon

Eco-tourism is one of the main attractions in Brunei Darussalam and is expected to grow 15 per cent yearly.

In light of the vast opportunities in eco-tourism, Sheikh Jamaluddin bin Sheikh Mohamed, CEO of Brunei Tourism, has urged all mukims as well as villages nationwide to look for their own uniqueness and promote their areas as tourist hot spots to attract more tourists to Brunei.

Sheikh Jamaluddin spoke at the Chinese New Year get-together function at the Wasai Batu Mapan recreational park, an area that was developed by Pad Nunok Consultative council, Mukim Kiudang as a tourism site.

The CEO of Brunei Tourism said, "We at the Brunei Tourism have always welcomed the efforts of villages in enhancing tourism products that can show the uniqueness of villages.

"Eco-tourism is one of the strategies that the Brunei Tourism places importance on. And I have gone to visit various unique tourism sites in the country, many of the sites can be developed and become major tourist attractions," he said.

However he also advised the organisers that they should also think of their capacity whereby the number of tourists visiting the unique places in the villages need to be controlled in order to protect the environment.

He urged all the mukims and villages to always look for opportunities to develop their uniqueness to help further increase Brunei's tourism potential.

Sheikh Jamaluddin also said that in the next two weeks, he will head a group of tour agents and hoteliers to the Wasai Batu Mapan recreational park to take a closer look at the area in the hope of adding the recreational park as one of the must-see places for foreign as well as domestic tourists.

Later, Hj Musa @ Matasin bin Hj Matussin, village head of Pad Nunok Tutong presented a souvenir to Sheikh Jamaluddin.

During the ceremony, Sheikh Jamaluddin also had the privilege to hand over a donation to a paralysed patient Leong Fook Ing. The donation was received by a relative of Leong.

The event saw an array of entertainment including Lion Dance, Chinese traditional dance, Dusun community dance and also Malay dance performances.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Maliau Basin to get more protection

KOTA KINABALU: The state Forestry Department plans to expand the protective zone surrounding the Maliau Basin.

Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said under the plan, more forested areas around the 588 sq km basin, about twice the size of Penang island, would be protected in perpetuity.

“We plan to enlarge the protective buffer around Maliau Basin even further, locking up more forests from future harvesting forever,” Mannan said here yesterday.

The plan, he said, would be done by gazetting more Protection Forests (Class I) surrounding the basin.

“The concern shown by the Prime Minister during his last visit here has had a contagion effect on us,” he added.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had expressed deep interest in Maliau Basin during his visit to the conservation area on Jan 28.

Mannan said Najib had shown much interest in the area, particularly the naturally rusty coloured Maliau River, the tallest tropical tree in the world – the 88m Yellow Seraya of Tawau Hills Park – and even its frog species.

Mannan said the department was able to embark on a massive sustainable forest management programme as it received full support from the state government.

The conservation momentum, he said, started with the gazetting of the pristine Danum Valley (43,800ha) as a Protection Forest Reserve (Class I) in 1995, followed by Maliau Basin.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Maliau Basin to get more protection

Tutong night stop for the hungry and weary

By Abang Jit Manis

When you are cruising at night from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kuala Belait and in mid-journey, hungry pangs and thirst get to you, where just do you go? The answer is, "Pasar Malam Tutong"or the Tutong Night Stalls.

Pasar Malam Tutong is smack in the heart of Tutong town near the river bank. Since Tutong District is located mid-way from Bandar to KB or vice-versa, travellers always stop in Tutong town for food and fuel before driving on.

Pasar Malam Tutong was started in 1995. At that time it was located at the middle of Jalan Inche Awang in front of the two old shophouses overlooking the Tutong River. After a few years, it was relocated to one place or another places as the permanent building was not available at that time. The present location of Pasar Malam Tutong was first used in 2008. It was formerly the town's wet market with facilities such as electricity and water.

As a Tutong resident myself, the Pasar Malam Tutong is like my second home. Almost every night, I am there to buy food and chat with the vendors. I would say I am no stranger to the local delicacies and vendors.

One of the veteran vendors is my good friend Ah Chai. Ah Chai is popular for his "rojak" or spicy salad. Ah Chai's rojak recipe was inherited from his grandfather who resided in Kuala Belait nearly 100 years ago. It was passed on to his father, then to him in his childhood years.

The rojak is a mixture of cucumber, ubi sengkuang, squid, pineapple, chili, bean curd and mixed in shrimp paste. His famous rojak also attracts customers from as far as Muara, Rimba, Kuala Belait and Seria. During his grandfather and his father's time, the rojak had no particular name. But nowadays, he simply named his rojak "Rojak Ah Chai".

Ah Chai gave me a guided tour of the delicacies at Pasar Malam Tutong. Here, vendors sell Nasi Katok

with curious names like "Nasi Katok Berhembus Angin Malam" and "Nasi Katok Ujie" after its vendor Dayang Ujie who has been in the Pasar Malam business since her schooldays in 1995.

Then, she only helped her parents sell Begedil, Popiah and locally-made ice cream. Nowadays, the hardworking lass has become boss and mans her own stall with brother Mirul. During the school holidays, cousins Ifah, Tika and Wana help her out. Tonight, only Wana was there.

As business at Pasar Malam Tutong is booming, Dayang Ujie expanded her business to selling burgers, Keropok Lekor, Pulut Panggang and others. Dayang Ujie also sells ABC drink, cendol and the popular pop ice. "Dayang Ujie is certainly a good example to our young generation on how to operate business independently," said Ah Chai.

At another stall, the fragrant "Kuih Malaya" turned me on to how it is made. The girl vendor kindly showed me. First, she prepares the flour mixed with a fruit flavour. Then the flour is poured on a hot pan. The ground beans, sugar and sweet milk are added on top of it and cooked for seven minutes. And voila!

A lady vendor showed me her various foods, Ayam Kari, Ayam Khurma and Tempe. And Popiah Pisang is increasingly popular in Tutong town, mixed with Milo flavour which made it fantastic.

Smoke filled the building of Pasar Malam Tutong as two vendors grilled BBQ chicken wings, dripping with honey and chili sauce.

Colourful signage hung by vendors itemise food as low as $1.What made me proud is seeing teenagers and youths helping out their parents and even running stalls on their own. One was Eja busy preparing Nasi Katok.

Pasar Malam Tutong, though not as bustling as the night stalls in Bandar Seri Begawan, is certainly a gourmet stopover. With on occasions, bus-loads of tourists stopping by, and leaving star-struck with "Rojak Ah Chai" or "Nasi Katok Ujie" and the like.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Usukan Cove, Kota Belud, Sabah

By Tadpole

“A bay full of corals” is my first impression of Usukan Cove. The diversity and density of corals in Usukan Cove is better than Sapi and Manukan. In fact, it looks like Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in pristine condition 30 years ago.

Usukan Cove is only a few minutes away from Kg. Kuala Abai of Kota Belud. On the way to Usukan, you will pass by a white steel bridge called “Japanese Bridge”, which was built by the Japanese to transport the copper mined from Mamut in the past.

Built next to the sandy beach of Usukan Cove is Usukan Cove Lodge, which offers clean and cosy accommodation, from bunk-bed room to sea view twin-bed room. The lodge is able to host maximum of 50 people, so it is a suitable school retreat location.

Many European tourists love this quiet place too, as they want more privacy. A variety of nature-based activities are available for visitors to enjoy the sea, river and forest around.


Snorkelling is the best choice of activity due to the rich corals in Usukan. The density and size of the coral reef is remarkable. A boat sent me to Usukan Reef and Icy Point for the snorkelling. The Usukan Reef mainly consists of hard corals. Many species grow in big clusters. I saw large areas of big plate corals and stag-horn corals.

In Icy Point, I saw hard corals, as well as a mix of soft corals and sea grass. The sea water in Icy Point is a bit strange. In one spot the sea water is warm, but moving a few feet away I would feel cool, probably that’s why they call it Icy Point. The corals come in different forms and shapes, like big boulders, brain, fingers, pyramid, sponge and lower. Though the shore is quite far away, the water was shallow and most of the times, the corals were only a few feet under me.

For divers, you have a choice of four dive sites in Usukan, and three wreck-diving sites for advanced divers. The feature in Usukan is a type of coral that looks like Christmas Tree.


I also tried “deep sea fishing” in the sea 20 minutes off the mainland by boat. Actually it was only 14 Meters in depth. It was so nice that the workers prepared everything for me, from the fishing rod to hook and bait, making my life so easy.

In 3 minutes, we got our first fish! At first I thought we were only lucky. But from there on, we got fish in every 3 minutes. I got 3 fishes, two blacktip groupers and a Jackfish. One of us even got a puffer fish and another got blue-dotted stingray. The capture of blue-dotted stingray caused a brief moment of fear onboard because the sting on its tail is venomous. After an hour of fishing, we returned to Usukan Cove Lodge with our fruitful caught and they cooked the fishes for us as dinner.


We started our river cruise at Kawa-Kawa River in late afternoon, to look for the Proboscis Monkey. On one side of this 15-Meter-wide river is human settlement and another side is mainly mangrove and nipah forest. Since the proboscis monkeys are so used to people, they are relatively less elusive and we can get really close to them.

To stay away from predators at night, Proboscis Monkey has the habit of spending the night on the trees next to the river. About 4 to 5 herds of Proboscis Monkey live along Kawa-Kawa River. Luckily we found 3 groups of them despite the poor weather.

Besides long-nosed monkeys, we also saw crab-eating macaque (long-tailed macaque), monitor lizard and many birds such as oriental darter, white-bellied sea eagle, little heron, blue-throated bee eater, white-collar kingfisher, frigate, doves, egrets and bulbul. After we exited the estuary of Kawa-Kawa River and on the way to Abai River, we were rewarded by the magic moment of the sunset.

Then we proceeded to the mangrove forest of Abai River to look for firefly. We saw the “Christmas Trees”, which are in fact the twinkling light of hundreds of fireflies gathered on the trees! That was such a wonderful closing for my tour in Usukan Cove.

Source: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites

NOTE: Photo Copyright to New Sabah Times

Friday, February 18, 2011

‘Ritchie’ the star orangutan a rare sight for visiting US diplomat at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

KUCHING: US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul W. Jones can consider himself very lucky for being able to view the oldest and biggest orangutan during his visit to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre near here yesterday.

Staff at the centre said that the orangutan, named Ritchie, had not appeared for feeding over the last two weeks or so but surprisingly almost as soon as Jones arrived at the feeding area Ritchie also suddenly emerged from the jungle of the rainforest.

Jones who was brought around the centre by Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) Manager of Conservation Oswald Braken Tisen and other officials, was apparently amazed with the presence of the semi-wild orangutans coming to the feeding area for their meal which of course had always been the main attraction for tourists coming to the centre.

Among others Jones, who was on an official visit to the state, was also taken to tour the facilities around the area, which comprises of a wildlife rehabilitation centre, an arboretum, and a botanical research centre.

Semenggoh Wildlife Centre was established in 1975 to care for wild animals found injured in the forest, orphaned or rescued from being kept as illegal pets as part of the state’s environmental conservation activities.

Such effort had gained good support from worldwide organisations, including the US government who had funded an estimated RM591,000 for environmental conservation activities in Sarawak since 2004.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: ‘Ritchie’ the star orangutan a rare sight for visiting US diplomat at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

Sabah railway service to resume with free rides

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Railway Department is resuming its train service from Tanjung Aru to Beaufort and is celebrating the event by offering free rides to the public for one week.

According to its general manager, Mohd Zain Mohd Said, the service to and from Tanjung Aru to Beaufort will commence on February 21.

“So from February 21 to February 28, commuters from these two areas can take a train ride for free,” Mohd Zain told reporters yesterday.

The train will depart from Tanjung Aru at 7.45am and 1.40pm daily while the return trip will leave Beaufort station at 11am and 4.30pm.

Commuters traveling to and from Tanjung Aru and Beaufort can also request for the return tickets before leaving the respective stations, he said, adding that the coaches can accommodate about 210 passengers one way.

“As of March 1, the fare to and from Tanjung Aru and Beaufort is RM4.80 per adult while children under 12 will be charged 50 per cent off,” he said.

“We will be using Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) 6601 and 6602 as well as a locomotive with open deck carriages for cargo,” he disclosed.

The trains are expected to travel at a maximum speed of 80kph which is 30kph faster than the previous engines.

“This means that the traveling time between Tanjung Aru and Beaufort now is about two hours and 15 minutes,” he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sabah railway service to resume with free rides

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sarawak Tourism Board promotes unique Sarawak experience

KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has transformed to be an effective and efficient organisation, effectively marketing the eco-tourism products available in Sarawak to the rest of the world.

“My responsibility for the first 100 days of becoming a CEO (chief executive officer) was to understand the health of the organisation so we did an internal staff survey to see what are the positive and negative things relating on the organisation culture and management capabilities,” said the CEO of STB, Datuk Rashid Khan in an exclusive interview with The Borneo Post yesterday.

The former commercial director of Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) from 2005 to 2009 took over the reigns of STB on November 16, 2009 in a bid to impart his expertise and management skills to further the growth of STB.

According to him, a changed management programme was put in place to ensure the right capability within the organisation besides putting priorities on talent management, human capital and development so that the staff were able to undertake the responsibilities assigned to them.

During his early days with STB there were a lot of engagements with various stakeholders; the government, ministries, private sector and the players in the industry so that he could guage the industry and put in the right formula to transform it to adapt to the new direction.

“The tourism industry is private-sector driven so we needed to work together with the private sector to ensure successful implementation of the programmes to bring in tourists to the state,” Rashid said.

He believed that the crux of the transformation depended on leveraging on the existing products and facilities that were already in place and then to enhance these tourism products to higher expectations.

“Going forward, we need to take into account that a great competitive edge that Sarawak has is its tremendous natural assets such as forests, mountains, hills and rivers. That being done, the next step is to promote a unique Sarawak experience to tourists, that will provide them with a lifetime of memories.

“There are a lot of things that we have not capitalised on, we need to identify areas and transform them into viable products. STB’s duty is to assist the private sector to market these unique products and services and make them known to tourists so that they are aware that these products and services are available here,” he stressed.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Tourism Board promotes unique Sarawak experience

Sarawak targets RM15 bln from tourism in 2015

KUCHING: Sarawak is targeting some 7.5 million tourist arrivals in 2015 which will churn in a staggering RM15 billion, said Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan.

This year alone, Sarawak is expected to attract some 4 million tourists and rack in some RM8.68 billion to the state coffers.

He said the target is achievable based on STB’s proper planning with other stakeholders such as hoteliers, tour operators, logistics providers, especially air transport providers, to improve air connectivity.

Besides value-added products and services, STB is also looking at new overseas markets in addition to its traditional markets such as Europe, Australia, the United States, Japan, China, South Korea and other South East Asian countries.

“We have to start looking seriously at countries in the Middle East and India as they have big spending power.

“At the moment they are only reaching Peninsular Malaysia, so we have to slowly penetrate their market so that they would visit Sarawak,” Rashid told The Borneo Post at STB’s office here yesterday.

He pointed out that STB’s emphasis is to provide the stake-holders, especially the private sector, the opportunity to venture into new markets that could attract more tourists to Sarawak.

“Sarawak offers one of the best eco-tourism products in the world. Just look at our rivers, mountains and caves, they are of world standard.

“On top of that we are contributing oxygen to the world from our forest.

“This we can always sell to tourists from the Middle East where all these things are a rarity,” he pointed out.

Rashid also stressed that given the budget of only RM9 million from the state government for this year, STB has to maximise its resources to yield good returns.

Continue reading at: Sarawak targets RM15 bln from tourism in 2015

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sabah is South East Asia's best kept secret

BALI has long been a popular destination for Australian travellers, thanks largely to its proximity and value for money.

But another South-East Asian destination is quickly emerging as an attractive alternative - Sabah in Malaysia.

On the beautiful island of Borneo, Sabah is the second largest of Malaysia's 13 states and its beauty is like nothing I have seen. With a consistent tropical climate of 32C, Sabah really is a year-round holiday destination.

It is not overly populated, the tourist hordes have yet to discover it and the beautiful people are so friendly it almost makes you wish you lived there permanently.

In downtown Kota Kinabalu, you can explore the four-level shopping complex Centre Point and still get your quirky mix of traditional Asian markets with fresh fruit, handicrafts and paintings.

If you tire of Asian cuisine, you can still get your fix of Western food, with McDonald's, KFC and Starbucks in the main Kota Kinabalu shopping hub.

And there is a range of resorts competing for tourists.

Luxury resorts

If you're looking for 5-star luxury, the Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, part of the Shangri-La family, is a good option. Set on 10ha of landscaped gardens, only 10 minutes from the city centre, it's easy to see why this fantastic resort was voted the best in Malaysia.

The resort caters to all ages, with a beachside restaurant designed to resemble the popular Ku De Ta in Seminyak in Bali and a separate children's pool zone with an ice-cream parlour.

To truly get the most out of the resort, it's worth paying a little bit extra to stay in a seaview deluxe suite, which looks out on to the resort's private beach.

The equally beautiful Sutera Harbour Resort, which includes the Magellan Sutera Resort and The Pacific Sutera Hotel, has a 104-berth marina and private access to some of Kota Kinabalu's most beautiful beaches.

Here, you can stroll along the waterfront of the harbour and watch the sun set, enjoy a cocktail by the Magellan's beach or swim in one of its eight pools.

It's also a paradise for golfers, with a 27-hole course designed by Graham Marsh.

More adventurous travellers can stay in Sabah's tropical rainforest in one of its many jungle lodges and explore Sabah's wildlife including orang-utans. A regular canoe service allows you to see Malaysia's native flora and fauna up close.

Continue reading at: Sabah is South East Asia's best kept secret

Tourist arrivals to Brunei on the rise

By James Kon

Brunei Tourism is targeting an increase of 20 per cent in tourist arrivals this year compared to last year when an estimated 190,000 to 200,000 tourists visited the country.

Brunei has recorded a jump in foreign tourist arrivals by air thanks to better air linkages and marketing strategies on the majestic allure of the Water Village, Jame' 'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, the Istana Nurul Iman, Royal Regalia, the Museums and other tourism hot spots.

According to statistics provided by Brunei Tourism, 111,538 foreign tourists touched down in Brunei for holidays from January until July last year.

Based on arrival statistics, Brunei Tourism has estimated that arrivals for the whole of 2010 would have been between 190,000 and 200,000, representing a growth between 20 and 27 per cent over 2009.

From the arrival numbers, Malaysians topped the list with 27,736 arrivals. The second spot went to China with 12,482 arrivals followed by United Kingdom and Australia at 9,194 and 9,093.

Recently, 11 charter flights brought in 1,345 tourists from Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan who ushered in the Year of the Rabbit in the Abode of Peace.

The Lunar New Year charter flights combined with the recent lifting of visa requirements for Hong Kong passport holders and the resumption of Royal Brunei Airlines direct flights to Shanghai offering more frequent and direct connections to the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures, are expected to contribute a rise in Brunei Tourism's target of tourist arrivals by air.

Brunei receives an average of 22,000 tourists a year by air from Hong Kong and China and also an additional 2,000 tourists from Taiwan, majority of them coming for a relaxing holiday.

In addition to tourist arrivals by air, more than 20,000 people have come as cruise ship passengers visiting Brunei on day trips.

Arrivals by land and sea (Serasa) are not included, as Brunei Tourism doesn't have the percentage of land and sea arrivals that qualify as tourists, day trippers or border crossers.

With the encouraging figures, Brunei Tourism is targeting a 20 per cent increase over 2010 arrivals for year 2011.

Initiatives to further boost Brunei's tourism are currently in the pipeline and one of the efforts that has already borne fruit is the appointment of Brunei Tourism first marketing representative office in China called Longway recently.

From 2007 to 2009, Brunei received a total of 232,616 tourists by air. Tourists from China made up the most of tourist arrivals from the Far East at 62,769 in three years.

In total, tourists from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan added up to a total of 97,287 arrivals from 2007 to 2009.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

AirAsia and Ministry urged to resolve differences

KOTA KINABALU: The State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment wants the Federal Ministry of Transport (MOT) and AirAsia to seek a win-win situation in resolving differences over the matter of the budget airline’s relocation to the new Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) terminal.

Its minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun said the issue should be regarded from the viewpoint of national interest rather than cost and profit.

“I hope the Ministry of Transport and AirAsia will sit down and seek a win-win situation. AirAsia has some good points but they also need to look at the points raised by the government,” he told reporters during a press conference at the Canadian Education Fair here yesterday.

“I think finally we need to look at the national interest other than just profit and other considerations. AirAsia, being a low-cost airline wants to be efficient and cut costs but they must also consider that the government spent millions to build the new terminal in Kota Kinabalu,” he added.

He also regretted that his ministry and the Sabah Tourism Board were implicated in the issue by AirAsia Group chief executive officer Dato Sri Tony Fernandez.

As a minister of tourism, Masidi said he definitely wanted more tourists coming into the state but his ministry had no jurisdiction over any of the airports.

“If the issue is cost, I’m sure the government would be more than happy to listen but for us, in Sabah, especially my ministry, I don’t think we should even be quoted as having any interest because we don’t own or run any of the airports,” he said.

Sabah Tourism Board chairman Dato Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin also responded that the issue was between the Ministry of Transport, Malaysia Airport Berhad (MAB) and AirAsia.

Continue reading at: AirAsia and Ministry urged to resolve differences

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rare Bear Borne in Malaysia Borneo

A Sun Bear cub was born at the Matang Wildlife Center about 24 km outside of Kuching.

A very rare event in efforts to save the endangered species, Volunteer Leo Biddle stated this rivals efforts obtained only by the San Diego Zoo, a world renowned reproductive center for critically endangered wildlife.

“We had an idea she may be pregnant because she began acting strangely,” Mr. Leo continued. “Then she dug a huge burrow under the largest tree in the bear enclosure. We have had glimpses of the cub. All seems well at this point and the entire center is filled with excitement”, he continued.” The cub could possibly make an appearance in about month after gaining weight and developing fur.

The center has had three major disappointments with breeding Sun Bears. Two were still born and another was killed by a wild boar. “We have cordoned off the area and have provided top security to keep the other bears away.

The parents are mother Gani and dad Gabby, two elderly bears in the later stages of their lives. Gabby, around 25, ancient for the breed and Gani, thought to be in her late teens are doing well.

Continue reading at: Rare Bear Borne in Malaysia Borneo

AirAsia’s misgivings on relocation to KKIA Terminal 1 refuted

KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Transport says the benefits far outweigh the extra costs for low-cost airline, AirAsia, when it relocates to the new Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) terminal scheduled in mid June this year.

According to its deputy minister, Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri, the RM1.6 billion new airport is built to cater for the needs of all airline companies including AirAsia and support their growth in the industry. He acknowledges the extra costs involved but believes quality service and infrastructure would justify the expenses.

“The airport has the facilities to meet the needs of all airlines including AirAsia. There are extra costs involved of course but we have built this airport to ensure the growth of the industry,” he told New Sabah Times yesterday.

He was asked to comment on AirAsia Group CEO Dato Sri Dr Tony Fernandez who had said on Friday that the airline was against the relocation, citing higher costs and charges as well as lack of facilities as among the reasons.

He told newsmen then that if the airline had to move out from its traditional home at Terminal 2 to KKIA Terminal 1, its expansion plan for Sabah which includes strengthening the existing routes and the opening of new markets from here all the way to North and South America, Australia, Korea, China and Japan would be affected. And the state could experience a significant drop in the number of passenger and tourist arrivals as a result.

But the AirAsia boss’ stand on the matter however came as a little surprise to Abdul Rahim who said that the airline had in fact signed a letter of undertaking with the Ministry of Transport a few months ago concerning its relocation to the KKIA Terminal 1.

In December 2010, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha had said that the ministry had an understanding with AirAsia to relocate the airline and other low-cost airlines once the upgrading project of the new terminal’s runway and resurfacing work gets completed.

And he disagreed with Fernandez that KKIA would be congested during peak seasons.

“The new airport is designed for fourteen million passengers. Now we have five million. So the question about congestion does not arise. Even after ten years I don’t think we can reach its maximum capacity. So there’s plenty of space,” he explained.

On Fernandez’s concern that the relocation would cost passengers to pay RM51 of Passenger Service Charge (PSC) from what it is now at RM25 at the low-cost terminal, the deputy minister insisted the “good facilities” at KKIA would justify the extra cost. He explained the RM51 applies to passengers going abroad while domestic ones only pay RM9.

Continue reading at: AirAsia’s misgivings on relocation to KKIA Terminal 1 refuted

Sunday, February 13, 2011

AirAsia explains why airline must remain at KKIA Terminal 2

AirAsia insists on remaining at the low-cost terminal at Tg Aru and warns that Sabah could see a significant drop in the number of passenger arrivals if the airline is forced to relocate to the new Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA). AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer Dato Sri Dr Tony Fernandez argued if the government still goes ahead with the plan, the budget airline will be burdened with higher costs and charges which would badly affect its current service to the state economy especially in tourism.

He also claimed that the new KKIA terminal does not have enough facilities to meet with the needs of the airline.

“We are very against it because they don’t have enough facilities on the terminal for us from the start,” he said to reporters from Sabah and Sarawak at AirAsia’s headquarters here on Friday.

“It looks empty but during peak time there are a lot of planes coming in so where are we going to put our planes and there’s not enough check-in desks,” he said.

He added that the move would not only dampen AirAsia’s plans to expand into new routes but also jeopardize its current routes as well.

“Already my Indonesian counterparts are reviewing whether to keep the Jakarta-KK (route),” he said.

According to Fernandez, AirAsia was planning to add two more planes to the current fleet of six in Kota Kinabalu which is estimated to bring in an additional of about 800,000 passengers into the state in one year.

A move to the new terminal would also mean that the Passenger Service Charge (PSC) would cost higher from RM25 to RM51 that would burden passengers, he said.

AirAsia also had plans to use the low-cost terminal in Kota Kinabalu as a major eastern hub to venture into markets in North and South America, Australia, Korea, China and Japan.

Continue reading at: AirAsia explains why airline must remain at KKIA Terminal 2

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kasih Sayang Boutique Health Resort and Spa - A relaxing refuge in Inanam

By Nazri Noor

The rigours of city life can get quite taxing, even in a city as laid back as Kota Kinabalu, and sometimes it’s nice to be able to escape to a haven far from the drudgery of an urban landscape. For some, a day at the islands is enough to serve a dose of rejuvenation, while others find refuge in trekking through the rainforest. Some might prefer to take a breather on a higher plane, specifically, 2,400 feet above sea level.

Enter the Kasih Sayang Boutique Health Resort and Spa. Perched comfortably in its lofty hilltop home, this diminutive refuge offers a delightful alternative destination for those looking for a change of scenery that, surprisingly, isn’t located that far out of town. A casual 30-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu and through Inanam is enough to take you to a peaceful sanctuary that provides some truly breathtakingly beautiful sights.

Kasih Sayang’s location affords luxurious sights for miles around, from a wide view of Kota Kinabalu and its nearby islands to a vista of the Crocker Range and Mount Kinabalu itself. The resort also stands on its own as a remarkably attractive picture, a collection of homey wooden structures that is both filled with and surrounded by vibrant flowers and lush greenery. All the vegetation also manages to attract a number of curious creatures, including several varieties of butterflies.

Cloud 9, the resort’s restaurant, serves as a primary viewing platform, a perfect place to enjoy the cool weather and marvellous scenery. We’re told that it isn’t uncommon for visitors to pop in for lunch or tea and find themselves staying all throughout the evening, mesmerised by the proximity to nature or perhaps lulled into total relaxation by the resort’s charming atmosphere. Located just above the restaurant is a function room that seats up to 50, making Kasih Sayang quite the exotic option for both corporate and social gatherings.

The selection at Cloud 9 features a mix of local and western dishes, with oxtail assam pedas, fish curry, chicken boxing and buffalo wings served with blue cheese sauce counting as some of the restaurant’s best-sellers. The menu also includes a number of special items designed specifically with nutrition and health in mind. Marked with an image of a little heart, these healthier options are meant to aid in detoxification and nourishment.

Cloud 9 is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7am to 10pm.

12 standard and four deluxe rooms are available for guests who decide to extend their stay at the resort, and the Manja-Manja Spa provides even more ways to completely ease away your stress and tension. Kasih Sayang’s standard rooms are currently on promotion and are available for RM99+ on weekdays (inclusive of breakfast for two).

To get to Kasih Sayang, take Jalan Kiansom from Inanam Town in the direction of the Kiansom Waterfalls and follow a number of signs that will show the way to Kasih Sayang. The resort is only 5.2 kilometres from the Kiansom Waterfalls.

Source: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites

NOTE: Photo Copyright to New Sabah Times