Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Being on the edge of Borneo

Never mind the usual suspects of beaches near Kota Kinabalu or the diving sites off Sabah. It’s about time to try a relatively unspoilt area instead!

Robert Frost once wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” He could very well have written about Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, a mere dot on the map of Kudat district in Malaysia. Relatively unknown due to its remote location, Tanjung Simpang Mengayau doesn’t get many visitors, and for now, this outpost on Borneo Island remains a paradise.

This promontory in an isolated part of Sabah northeast of Kota Kinabalu, is reachable after three hours’ drive, the last part of which is over unpaved dirt roads snaking through a small traditional Borneo village. A proper road to these parts, in fact, was only built as recently as in the 1960s, prior to which access was made possible only by navigating a boat along the coast.

But those who don’t care for a little discomfort – though it must be said, the views along the way are spectacular – will be rewarded, at journey’s end, with a landscape so magnificent that you will believe in the existence of heaven on earth.

The crescent-shaped Kalampunian Beach here is carpeted in pure white sands on which gentle waves lap to the shore. This sweeping coastline, fringed by casuarinas trees and said to be one of the most inspiring vistas in Sabah, leads up to the rocky headland called Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, the northern-most tip of Borneo.

Now, imagine standing on this cliff edge and looking out to where the South China and Sulu seas meet in a great clash of waves. Dark and wet sandstone boulders stretch out into the sea like beached humpback whales in a spray of ocean mist. The winds blow in forceful, frightening gusts, wafting a fine vapour of sand into the air. Visitors stand in awe with tousled up hair and billowing skirts. It feels like you are in a remote frontier, facing wild and unknown possibilities – it’s exhilarating. Perhaps this was what Ferdinand Magellan, fabled to have stopped here during his circumnavigation of the globe, felt those many years ago.

It hadn’t always been such a solitary place, though. The name, Tanjung Simpang Mengayau itself is derived from the Rungus words sampang mangazo referring to the great battles once fought here in the 18th and 19th centuries by the locals. According to legend, the coast was a favourite landing point for looting pirates, and Rungus warriors bravely fought them off in bloody battles to protect their land. Tanjung Simpang Mengayau then became the perfect lookout point for incoming pirate attacks.

Though it is uncertain how long the Rungus have been occupying the area, they are considered to be the most traditional tribe in Sabah due to their isolation from the bigger towns for so many years. While many have adapted to modern living rather well, the older generations still clutch to their unique culture and traditions.

Many of the female elders continue to wear traditional brass coils on their arms and drape colourful beads around their necks. Their basketry, weaving and beading works are said to be legendary, and while modern ways have overtaken their more traditional lifestyle, it is still possible to visit a Rungus village and experience a night’s stay in their longhouse at Kampung Bavanggazo.

Besides the homestay in the Rungus longhouse, there are only a handful of places that can accommodate tourists in Tanjung Simpang Mengayau and Kudat, reflecting the district’s relatively new exposure to tourism (See “Accommodations” below).

However, there are still a number of cultural experiences here that warrants a tourist to put up at least a night in the area, such as seeing gong artisans at work in Kampung Sumangkap and the small apiculture industry at Kampung Gombizau. The people of Gombizau, familiar with the local botanical properties, have also commercialized a type of cure-all called ubat seribu or potion of a thousand uses made of wild plants, roots and herbs. Reputed to alleviate various health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes, it is a worthy souvenir to bring home.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Being on the edge of Borneo

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lawas an untapped eco-tourism goldmine

LAWAS: The eco-tourism potentials of Lawas is immense, but creativity and innovation are needed to turn them into money spinners.

Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said lessons could be learnt from the Republic of Czechoslovakia, which managed to turn a valley with a hot spring into a renowned medical tourism attraction.

“Tourism is a money spinning industry, and it can provide employment and economic spinoffs. 

Czechoslovakians used their creativity and innovation on the valley, which now contributes to their national coffers,” he said at a Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) gathering in Hotel Seri Malaysia to present Raya goodies to orphans, the disabled (OKUs), and single mothers over the weekend.

Awang Tengah said Lawas had great attractions in the Merarap hot spring and Mount Murud, the highest mountain in Sarawak.

In addition, tucked in Brunei Bay are marine resources that would soon be gazetted as a marine park to protect the biggest sea grass plains in this region. The area boasts of dugongs and is a rich fish-breeding ground.

On the cultural front, the rich and unique heritage of the Tagals, Lun Bawangs, Kedayans and Brunei Malay communities, coupled with food unique to the region between Brunei’s Temburong District and Sabah – as such ‘Tahai’ (smoked fish) also help bring in tourists.

“We are proud also of our rich diversity, cooperation and unity,” he beamed.

Awang Tengah acknowledged that for this dream tourist destination to materialise, Lawas needed proper infrastructure.

“This (infrastructure) would be carried out in stages,” he said, urging the private sector to give a helping hand.

“With tourism thriving in neighbouring Sabah, there should be a spillover effect in Lawas.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Lawas an untapped eco-tourism goldmine

Sarawak in June: Damai Beach Resort

This sprawling Resort is situated at Damai Beach, hence the name. It is located about 45minutes from the airport and the resort charged us one way RM120 for airport pick up, an exorbitant fare, but Michael felt it was safer.

No, the hotel did not send a limousine, but a small van. That similar van would also send you around to Kuching (RM20 per pax both way), to  Kumpong which is less than 5km away from our resort (RM5 per pax per way), Buntal Village (RM7 per pax per way).

That means to go to Buntal Village for seafood, we needed to pay RM42 on transportation for a sumptuous seafood dinner which costs RM50. However, we really had no choice as there weren’t any taxi service around.

Damai Resort offers a few types of accommodations. There are the standalone beach front chalets which were popular with young people; the luxurious hilltop rooms over looking the bay, with a spectacular sunset view every evening. Then there is the in-between for families, rooms that were neither beach front nor hill-top, which we were booked in.

We were given a family suite, a two-storey unit apartment. My son had his own room downstairs with bright solar d├ęcor.

The master bedroom is linked via a narrow stairway upstairs with its own entrance.

The room was huge and a sofa bed at the side means we could sleep a family of five if all my sons were with me. The rooms were decorated with framed artifacts from local tribes, and I really enjoyed looking at them.

Damai Resort has a beautiful long stretch of beach. We arrived there on a weekend and the beach was strewn with garbage, cans, drink bottles and even diapers (shame on the parents!). The situation improved when the crowd left during the weekdays and we were blessed with beautiful sunset view every evening, enjoyed in pristine condition.

With such a wonderful beach, we really can’t complain about the small odd-shaped pool in the hotel. Other than the pool, there were kayaks that could be rented, a spa, two restaurants, a small shop selling essentials and snacks and a travel office.

I wanted to go fishing but the hotel has no equipment although boats can be rented at RM600. Daily free activities listed on a board were also not carried out.

We tried the breakfast buffet one morning (RM30.20+ per pax). While the variety of nasi lemak, fried bee hoon, porridge, salad, cereals were standard fares in local hotels in Malaysia, the food was disappointing. The nasi lemak was not fragrant, the condiments were lacking, and the beehoon very oily.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sarawak in June: Damai Beach Resort

Monday, July 29, 2013

Borneo's Orangutans Are Coming Down from the Trees: Behavior May Show Adaptation to Habitat Change

Orangutans might be the king of the swingers, but primatologists in Borneo have found that the great apes spend a surprising amount of time walking on the ground. The research, published in the American Journal of Primatology found that it is common for orangutans to come down from the trees to forage or to travel, a discovery which may have implications for conservation efforts.

An expedition led by Brent Loken from Simon Fraser University and Dr. Stephanie Spehar from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, travelled to the East Kalimantan region of Borneo. The region's Wehea Forest is a known biodiversity hotspot for primates, including the Bornean orangutan subspecies, Pongo pygmaeus morio, the least studied of orangutan subspecies.

"Orangutans are elusive and one reason why recorded evidence of orangutans on the ground is so rare is that the presence of observers inhibits this behaviour," said Loken. "However, with camera traps we are offered a behind the scenes glimpse at orangutan behaviour."

The team positioned ground-based cameras across a 38-square-kilometre region of the forest and succeeded in capturing the first evidence of orangutans regularly coming down from the trees. The amount of time orangutans spent on the forest floor was found to be comparable to the ground-dwelling pig-tailed macaque, Macaca nemestrina, which is equally abundant in Wehea Forest. Over 8-months orangutans were photographed 110 times, while the macaques were photographed 113 times.

The reason orangutans come down from the trees remains a mystery. However, while the absence of large predators may make it safer to walk on the forest floor, a more pressing influence is the rapid and unprecedented loss of Borneo's orangutan habitat.

"Borneo is a network of timber plantations, agro-forestry areas and mines, with patches of natural forest," said Loken. "The transformation of the landscape could be forcing orangutans to change their habitat and their behaviour."

This research helps to reveal how orangutans can adapt to their changing landscape; however, this does not suggest they can just walk to new territory if their habitat is destroyed. The orangutan subspecies P. p. morio may be adapted to life in more resource scarce forests, having evolved larger jaws which allow them to consume more tree bark and less fruit but they are still dependent on natural forests for their long term survival.


14 international troupes coming for Sibu International Dance Festival

SIBU: The Sibu International Dance Festival to be held here from Aug 13 to 17 has attracted 14 dance groups from seven countries.

This colourful event is organised by Hornland Dance Theatre, in association with Sibu Municipal Council. It will be held at several locations here.

“There are folk dances from Eastern Europe, Nora dance that originated from Southern Thailand, contemporary dances presented by professional dance troupes, Ballroom Dancing Team of Guangzhou Art School that won two World Championships, and the Devayani Dance Troupe,” the organiser said in a statement.

There are both outdoor and indoor performances.

The outdoor performances will be held at the Rejang Esplanade, where each dance group would be asked to choose a site and then perform at that site.

“Entrance is free and the audience will be able to watch the performances at a close distance.”

Indoor performances would be held for three nights, from August 15 to 17, at the Sibu Civic Centre.

It would be presented by 14 dance groups.


New ATR affirms regional expansion plans for MASwings

Malaysia Airline Systems Bhd (MAS) subsidiary MASwings will continue to expand its regional footprint in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-The Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) via its new route to Puerto Princessa in Palawan, the Philippines by year end.

According to MASwings chief executive officer Datuk Captain Mohd Nawawi Awang, the route to Puerta Princessa was supposed to begin in 2012 but the plan was delayed due to the Lahad Datu intrusion episode.

MASwings planned to start again the flight to the place latest by October this year, he added during the receipt of the group’s very first ATR 72-600 aircraft on Toulouse early Thusday.

MASwings business expansion journey does not end with Puerto Princessa.

With its above 90 per cent on time performance annually and carried 1.5 million passengers recorded last year, MASwings is confident with the new addition to its f leet, the targeted two million this year would be an achievable mission.

ATR is an equal partnership between two major European aeronautics players, Alenia Aermacchi (a Finmeccanica Group company) and EADS.

Founded in 1981, ATR has become the world leader on the market for regional aircraft with 90 seats or less.

Since its inception, ATR has sold over 1,300 aircraft.

ATR planes are represented in the fleets of 180 operators in 90 countries and have a total over 21 million flight hours.

Delighted with the success of having purchased the aircraft, Nawawi in a press conference christened her as Rafflesia in honour of the largest flower in the world which is found in all countries within the BIMPEAGA region.

The new ATR 72-600s of MASwings are equipped with a stylish and widest new cabin in the turboprop market, featuring thinner seats, new LED lightening and larger overhead bins by 10 per cent while, providing passengers with additional legroom.

ATR propeller planes are more cost effective for regional market particularly at routes that require less than two hour long flight each because they would only burn 700kg of fuel per hour compared to jet planes that burnt 207,000 kg of fuel per hour.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Miri offers great diving sites

AROUND the hundreds of tropical islands in Malaysia, there is an incredible choice of undiscovered beaches and diving sites.

Given such natural endowments, it’s no surprise Malaysia is regarded as one of the world’s top diving destinations.

Many may not realise that Malaysia has other diving sites just as good as Sipadan, Pangkor and Langkawi – or even better.

For instance, there are great diving sites in and around Miri waters — some 28 of them from Sibuti (Kuala Niah) all the way to Lutong.

Those nearest to the Miri coast are Eve’s Gareden, Azam’s Reef, Seafan Garden, Anemone Garden, Sunday, Siwa, Tusan, Lakim, Atagomaru Wreck, New Reef V and Siwa Oil Rigs.

Other popular spots are Tukau Oil Rig, Barracuda Point, Sri Gadong Wreck, Beting Niah, Batu Butik, Berabok Bubble and Batu Tar.

Home to over 3,000 species of fish, these diving sites cover 100,000km of coral reefs, about 34 per cent of the total worldwide.

Moreover, they are also breeding grounds for 600 of 800 species of coral reefs in the world, making Miri waters the richest in coral reef species as well as marine life.

Underwater structures

Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals and they are colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients.

Most coral reefs are built from stony corals which, in turn, consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps belong to a group of animals known as cnidaria which also includes sea anemones and jellyfish.

Unlike sea anemones, coral polyps secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons which support and protect their bodies.

Coral reefs are the most diverse and beautiful of all marine habitats. The development of these oceanic structures is aided by algae that are symbiotic with reef-building corals known as zooxanthellae.

Today, Miri waters are attracting divers from foreign countries, especially Japan, Australia and Europe.

The Resort City is fast becoming a sought after diving destination that’s well poised to attract divers not only at home but also from abroad.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Miri offers great diving sites

Cruising Sabah’s Klias River in Photos

Our trip to Sandakan to see the orang-utans inspired us to discover more of Sabah’s wildlife.

From our base in Kota Kinabalu, we arranged another primate-themed day-trip, through an eco-tour company, based in the Horizon Hotel.

We would cruise down the Klias River searching for Malaysian Borneo’s other famous inhabitant, the proboscis monkey.

Rather than tell you about our river cruise, we decided to show you what we saw. So come along on a photo tour of the Klias River with us:

After several hours driving through lovely countryside, we arrived at the Klias River, where our intrepid guide scored us front row seats on our small boat.

A group of Chinese tourists filled up the rest of our vessel. Only a few of them spoke English but everyone was friendly and happy to smile for a photo.

It wasn’t too long before our captain spotted movement in the trees. The proboscis monkeys are quite shy so we had to look way up to see them in the treetops.

The proboscis monkeys aren’t the only inhabitants of the Klias wetlands. Our captain spotted this monitor lizard sunning himself on a log.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Cruising Sabah’s Klias River in Photos

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Flanked by jungle on all sides, Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort and Spa overlooks its own pristine 3km  soft white sand beach in a secluded cove, which according to my travel companion, ten years resident, is one of the cleanest in Malaysia. Not many hotels can boast this kind of location with the added draw of an on-site Orangutan Sanctuary and an 18 hole championship golf course.

On arrival, the gong is sounded, ‘Welcome home,’  breathes our elegantly dressed hostess. We are taken straight to our rooms in the Ocean Wing.  The room is spacious, light and airy, in natural tones with splashes of vibrant orange and lime. Opening the door to the terrace we are surprised with our private Jacuzzi bath and garden/pool entrance. Verdant lawns and flowering trees lead the way to the glowing sand and sparkling sea.

Shangri-La likes to ensure that personal tastes are catered to. If the room scent is not to your liking, please choose a different aroma from the menu. We plump for passion fruit, which fills the room for the rest of our stay with a warm tropical glow. If you don’t like feather pillows, please choose from the pillow menu. Monica exclaims at the expresso machine, and happily gets busy figuring out its mechanics. Should you need a restful evening, there is an extensive DVD menu available on request. 

We love our spacious bathroom with huge mirror and double sink, and the luxurious body products combined with early travel, demand an instant hot shower. Refreshed and smelling of bergamot and lemon grass we step out to explore the environment. 

The resort is extensive with many different locations to relax in, whatever your preference, be it beach, garden, pool, lounge or bar. The Ocean Wing is the quieter side, with adult pool bar. The Garden Wing is more appealing to families with an entertaining pool including several water slides. It’s lively and the children are having fun.

Down to the beach where bright blue sunshades echo the sky, and pristine white sand sinks between our toes. In the calm of the morning enjoy a paddle on the flat ocean, while in the afternoon the wind gets up nicely, the ripples on the surface of the water enticing the sailors amongst us out for a whizz on one of Rasa Ria’s colourful cats or windsurfers.

The Rasa Ria package includes breakfast, served either in the Coffee Terrace overlooking the garden or for guests in the Ocean Wing, at Coast on the beach. We are delighted with the choices. Monica takes three different mueslis - a raw, a toasted granola and a bircher. Being Scottish I start with a small bowl of porridge, delicious and creamy.

We are spoilt for choice, as well as the regular cooked breakfast items, fresh fruits and wide range of breads and patisserie, we are presented with salads, smoked salmon, cold cuts local brie and camembert (quite good and strong). For the Asian tastes try local laksa or chicken noodle soup. I have to try the special of the day, the chocolate rice pancake with berry compote and conclude that it is delicious. Monica is happy with her eggs. Coast also offers a glass of sparkling with breakfast which mirrors the shimmering sea which is the view from our breakfast table.


Friday, July 26, 2013

South Korean city adopts orangutan from Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

KUCHING: South Korea’s Guro City and Kuching City further enhanced and developed their friendship and cooperation with the adoption of an orangutan called ‘Digital Guro’ from Semenggoh Wildlife Centre (SWC) yesterday.

The Guro City Council of Seoul Metropolitan Government also donated 3 million South Korea Won (approximately RM10,000) to SWC for the Orangutan Adoption Programme in a simple ceremony at Jalan Puncak Borneo here.

Digital Guro is orangutan Analisa’s second offspring, and was first sighted on Aug 16 last year. Her first was Anakku born in 2006.

Its vice-mayor Hang Soo-Dong said Guro City also shares the same desire and commitment in wildlife and nature protection.

“We had toured the nature reserve (Semenggoh Wildlife Centre) earlier on and were amazed by the local people’s love for nature,” he said with much praise.

“We look forward to visiting more places and hope there will be more mutual exchanges between the two cities in all aspects including social, cultural and economy in the near future,” Hang added.

Kuching City South mayor Dato James Chan, who was there to welcome the entourage and witness the adoption ceremony, encouraged more Korean friends to visit Sarawak often.

“Also, come back more often to visit your orangutan pet, Digital Guro. Keep track of its progress from time to time,” he said.

Chan praised Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) for its efforts in maintaining the nature reserve which has become the centre of attraction for locals and tourists.

Congratulating Guro City for their commitment and support, Chan said: “We (the two cities) have moved on to a new chapter through nature.”

Meanwhile, SFC managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) Datu Ali Yusop called on all, especially locals, to emulate the praiseworthy act of Guro City Council.

“If foreigners from so far away can be so generous and make efforts to show that they care, we should be able to do better since this is in our own backyard,” he reminded.

“Conservation work will never be enough when it comes to orangutan as it needs a lot of time and money and therefore we are very grateful to the Guro City Council for their generous contribution,” he said.

According to him, it is estimated that there are only 2,000 to 2,500 wild orangutans left in Sarawak today.

On the cost for the general care of an orangutan, Ali said it is around RM18,000 a year.


Borneo Cultural Festival achieves its aim of being environment-friendly

SIBU: The recently concluded 10-day Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) had achieved its aim of being environment-friendly – thanks to its additional theme of `Green BCF, Clean Sibu’.

Sibu Municipal Council deputy chairman Daniel Ngieng yesterday said the council had been very committed to promoting BCF as an environment-friendly event.

“While maintaining the old theme of ‘Beauty in Ethnic Diversity’ for our BCF, we’d an added theme, ‘Green BCF, Clean Sibu’ for this year’s BCF,” he enthused.

He said with the cooperation of BCF visitors, littering was not as bad as before.

Speaking at a press conference after chairing a `post mortem’ of the BCF, Ngieng said the `No Styrofoam Food Containers’ campaign had also yielded a good result.

“This campaign will continue to be an integral part of all future events of our council,” he enthused.

Ngieng, who was the organizing chairman of this year’s BCF, said the purpose of promoting the rich and diversified cultures of the Borneo had been served.

The BCF, he added, had its part in promoting inbound tourism.

“On the whole, we had a successful BCF, and it would not be so without the contributions of the non-governmental organisations and the public at large.


Borneo beads conference to feature special presentation

KUCHING: A presentation on the documentation of Borneo beads will be made at the upcoming third Borneo International Beads Conference here in October.

Borneo beads expert Heidi Munan will make the presentation in her paper entitled ‘Borneo Beads in Literature’ at the three-day conference which begins on Oct 11.

“What I will present is the survey of what has been written about Borneo beads in the last 100 years,” said Heidi.

Her interest on Borneo beads started when she first came to Sarawak more than 40 years ago.

Heidi who is a director of Crafthub Sdn Bhd is instrumental in organising the conference starting with the first, a few years back.

The conference is an ideal venue for cross-cultural sharing of knowledge and expertise on beads, she noted.

Other speakers at the conference will include Elaine Kim from Korea, Akwele Suma Glory (Africa), Valerie Hector (USA), Martina Dempf (Germany), Stefany Tomalin (UK), Su Chin Sidih, Patricia Nayoi, Dr Zuliskandar Ramli and Dr Poline Bala (all from Malaysia).

The conference will be held at the Four Points By Sheraton here. It is expected to attract 300 delegates.

The conference is managed by UCSI Communications Sdn Bhd. Apart from the presentation, other programmes at the conference will include hands-on workshops and demonstrations, a bead bazaar, a gala dinner and a post conference tour.

The Borneo International Beads Award will also be held. The competition is open to anyone above 18 years old and offers cash prizes amounting to RM17,185.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Discovering Sabah in Malaysian Borneo

Sabah, one of two states of Malaysian Borneo, is so rich in treasures it is easy to be overwhelmed when planning a trip there – wildlife, culture, jungle and national parks both in land and on water entice thousands of visitors to the area every year.

The capital Kota Kinabalu is a great base, and will likely be the first point of contact for arriving visitors. It has a charm of its own, particularly down on the waterfront area which has been developed to include many bars, restaurants and nightmarkets. Sites of interest include the Sabah Museum, both the City and State Mosques, the Atkinson clocktower and the handicraft and Filipino markets.

There’s also the North Borneo railway, where passengers can experience the sights of Sabah via a vintage steam train, which has been refurbished to recreate the bygone era of British North Borneo.

The city is home to around 452,000 people, of which the largest majority are non-Malaysians. Kota Kinabalu, or KK as it is commonly known, is the gateway to the Sabah region, which can only be described as a travellers delight, because there are so many diverse things to do.

Those with a love of the outdoors, nature and wildlife are due to get the best experience out of visiting the state, as it prides itself on its natural environment – with the majestic Mount Kinabalu being the main attraction for many visitors.

But rest assured, even if you’re not enthusiastic about a three-day hike up the mountain, there is more than enough to keep you occupied as you explore Sabah and all its beauty. You’ll likely fall in love with the area so much you won’t want to leave. Here’s a list of highlights we recommend.

Mount Kinabalu

Standing at 4,095 metres tall, Mount Kinabalu is one of the highest mountains in South East Asia and one of the reasons many tourists visit Sabah. Mt Kinabalu is situated in the Kinabalu National Park, which is a relatively easy and scenic drive from Kota Kinabalu.

While the three day Mt Kinabalu climb (two if you’re super fast) to the peak of Borneo is the real challenge, the Kinabalu National Park also has a number of other walks available, plus the option of not going all the way to the top of the mountain.

The mountain park’s impressive flora and fauna over four climate zones also attracts nature lovers, and the mountain is home to the famous Rafflesia, which has the largest single flower in the world (nearly one metre in diametre).

There are various legends surrounding the history of the mountain, but the main one tells the story of a Chinese prince who fought with his family, so the king chased him away from the palace, so he sailed until he reached the sea near Borneo. His ship sank and everybody on board died, except him. He was found on the beach by local villagers, alive, and they took him into their community.

Eventually he married a local woman at the village. He subsequently confessed to his wife about his family troubles, and said he must return home to China to heal the rift. He sailed back to China and was welcomed by his parents, and told them he married a local girl. The father asked him how could he marry a woman of such low status. Every day the man’s wife climbed up Mt Kinabalu and would gaze out to the ocean to look for any ships coming in, in the hope it was her husband. Eventually she became sick and died on the mountain, where she was buried.

After his father forgave him, the Prince returned to Borneo, where he found out his wife had died, and he climbed the mountain to visit the gravesite and mourn the death of his wife. He also died on the mountain

The mountain is also host to the Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon every year – dubbed the world’s toughest mountain race. The event started in 1987 as a search and rescue exercise for the staff who worked at the park, and has since developed into a world class mountain running event.

Currently the record holder for the run to the summit and back is Italian Marco De Gasperi in 2 hrs 36 minutes and 59 seconds – not bad considering it usually takes most three days to walk.

Northeast of the park is the Poring Hot Springs, the word “Poring” the Kadazandusun (Sabah’s largest ethnic community) word for the bamboo species which grows in the area. A great spot to relax after a hard day’s trekking and explore the jungle.

Sabah Tea plantations

Located near the Poring Rd Junction, the Sabah Tea plantation is more than 2,500 hectares in size and produces both regular and certified organic tea. Sabah Tea is the only organic tea farm in Borneo and one of the few in the world.

Visitors can see Mt Kinabalu from the tea house, and enjoy a guided tour of the processing factory and plantation. Also on site is obstacle-crossing in the Sapaon Recreational Area, batik making, trekking along the trails to the peak of Kamunsu Hill or going on a nighttime walk to see unique insect life. There is also accommodation available and a restaurant on site.

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Situated around 25 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu, the Mari Mari Cultural Village is recommended to those who are interested in finding out about Borneo’s ethnic tribes. Tour guides are well informed and tourists are given an insight into traditional life in the villages of Sabah in a scenic jungle setting.

Traditional homes from five ethnic communities – Bajau, Lundayeh, Murut, Rungus and Dusun – have been recreated and tourists have the chance to enjoy local specialities such as rice wine, fried snacks and honey on their trip, as well as a spectacular authentic ceremony to end the tour. Tours are three times daily at 10am, 2pm and 6pm and include a meal

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Discovering Sabah in Malaysian Borneo

The Magic of Light at Weston River

Sabah has many beautiful places which are only reserved for people actively seeking for them. I noticed Weston when I saw many stunning sunset photos of Weston being shared everywhere on Facebook and Twitter. That’s why I traveled 125 Kilometers from Kota Kinabalu to Weston town last month, to see the magical moment with my eyes. However, I find more interesting things than a nice sunset.

Weston the Historical Town

Named after a railway engineer, Arthur J. West in 1889, Weston town was an important meeting point for trains and ships, due to its strategic location back in the old days of British colony era. Today it becomes just another “remote” Sabah town between Beaufort and Sipitang. Few knows that Weston is the town which North Borneo Railway first constructed.

Probably one of the oldest wooden school of Borneo, Che Hwa school is a two-storey building constructed in 1932, and funded by donations from timber tycoons, charcoal merchants and shopkeepers of Chinese community*. In 1930s, many Chinese lived in Weston, the period when Weston was a key hub. Now this school has only 5 teachers and 7 students.

Weston River was used to be called “Jump-Jump” River because of the mudskippers here. In late afternoon, you would see many villagers gather around the boardwalk, fishing and playing RC speedboats there.

British government abandoned Weston port when they learnt that the shallow water of Weston is unfit as a deep sea wharf. Now this jetty is a favorite spot for local anglers.

Weston Jaafar River Lodge

The lodge is a 2-storey wooden building built on riverside and surrounded by dense Nypa palm (or Nipah). Nipah swamp forest, which has existed over 70 million years, is one of the oldest forest type in the world.

River Safari & Wildlife

It was around 5pm after we were done with tea break, everyone couldn’t wait to start the river cruise. The cool thing about wildlife sighting here is – we don’t even need to move our legs to look for animals.

Weston River is part of the largest wetland (Klias Peninsula) in Sabah. Wetland is a generic term that covers different aqua-ecologies such as coastal areas, river, lakes, mangrove, peat swamp, nypa swamp, etc., and it is the important habitat for some endangered Borneo wildlife such as Proboscis Monkey.

Very soon our guide spotted a saltwater crocodile taking a nap on the muddy river bank. It is about 3 Meters in length.

Couple of months ago, a 1-Meter crocodile was found in city drain and made news headline. Haha, compared to this beast, that city croc looks more like a gecko. FYI, crocodile never ceases growing throughout its life, it can reach massive size if it lives long enough.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The Magic of Light at Weston River

Tower of Heaven at the Mouth of Borneo

Looking at the increasing luxurious condominium built on the hill of our city, you will have no doubt that people are willing to pay a lot for scenic view from the top. For Lahad Datu town of Sabah, the best view point will be on Mount Silam, which is only 10 Kilometers away and one of the highest place in this district.

From its top, you can have a bird’s eye view of Lahad Datu town and its surrounding mountains, forest and the beautiful Darvel Bay.

Luckily, Mt. Silam is not developed into a condo area for the rich. Instead, it is part of the Class-1 Sapagaya Forest Reserve fully protected by Sabah Forestry Department (SFD).

Not only that, SFD also builds an observation tower on Mt. Silam, name it as “Tower of Heaven” (Menara Kayangan in Malay language) and open it to public in year 2012.

Tower of Heaven (Menara Kayangan) is 30-Meter tall (about 98 feet) and located at 620 Meters above sea level on Mount Silam.

The tower is a very solid building supported by steel and cement structure, and able to hold up to 30 visitors.

As this is a forested high ground, the air here is cooling and refreshing.

You will feel so comfortable that you want to stay longer for the nice air and view.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Tower of Heaven at the Mouth of Borneo

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Similajau Park mind-blowing for tourist who’s ‘park-hopping’

BINTULU: The Similajau National Park (SNP) with its golden sandy beach and lush green forest has been receiving a rising number of visitors over the years.

The park, which is located 30 km north-east of the Bintulu town, has been a popular destination especially during weekends and public holidays.

Last year, the park received a total of 13,068 visitors where 11,945 of them were locals and the rest foreigners, where the peak months are August and September.

Leah Hollmayer, whose travel plan in Sarawak is to hop from one national park to another, told BAT3 that this was the second national park in the state she had visited.

“I just came from Bako National Park and I will be staying here for two days. My next stop is Niah National Park and later Lambir National Park,” said Hollmayer who is touring with her 20-month old daughter Inga.

The Canadian said that despite visiting and staying at two national parks, she still finds the national parks fascinating.

“It is a mind blowing experience. And each national park is different from another, the vegetation and the setting, for example,” said Hollmayer.

The Similajau National Park has been known as a spot to watch dolphins which usually appear in the morning in groups of three or five.

Gazetted in 1976 as a conservation site to protect the flora and fauna, the park covers an area of 8,996 hectares, where vegetation ranging from littoral fringe, ‘heath forest’ or Kerangas forest and Mixed Dipterocarp Forest.

Littoral fringe consisted of rock and cliff vegetation, beach vegetation and mangrove forest while Kerangas forest supports stunted trees and scrub-like vegetation.


Fort Margherita to focus on Brooke's legacy

KUCHING: Fort Margherita will take people back into Sarawak's past with a focus on the Brooke family's legacy.

Brooke Heritage Trust chairman Jason Brooke said the fort would include a section on the Brooke family history. "We are working with the state and museums on the restoration. We expect the fort to be ready by the end of next year."

The 134-year-old fort was built during the reign of second White Rajah Charles Brooke to protect Kuching from pirate attacks.

It became the Police Museum in 1971 but the police handed it over to the Sarawak Museums because of financial constraints.

The Brooke family ruled Sarawak for more than a century, but many still think of them as a colonialists.

When first White Rajah James Brooke arrived in the state 173 years ago, he came as an adventurer who repelled the pirates who had rebelled against the Brunei sultanate.

For his services, he became the governor who worked with locals and earned the title rajah four years after his arrival.

"The relationship between the locals and my great-great-grandfather, James, made many things possible for Sarawak back then.

"And the first thing he did was eradicating piracy, a problem too difficult for the Brunei sultanate then," said Jason, the great-great-grandson of Charles Brooke.

The trust is working with the state government and Sarawak Museums to educate the younger generation on the relationship between the state and the Brookes during and after their rule.

"There are wrong perceptions about the Brookes as this region was surrounded by colonies, but Sa-rawak was never part of that colony. It was a colony only after World War 2. We have a different story to tell."

As Sarawak celebrates its 50th independence from British rule (July 22) and also its 50th anniversary as part of Malaysia, the state government is working with the Education Ministry to ensure its history is covered in textbooks.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Fort Margherita to focus on Brooke's legacy

Sago worms, tebaloi, umai and all things about Mukah

SIMILAJAU: The Mukah Wet Market at the riverfront is a must-see for any first-time visitor to the burgeoning administrative centre.

Although it sits in a relatively small area, it is known for its fresh fish and produce at reasonable prices. Unsurprisingly, many locals still prefer to shop there for their groceries instead of at supermarkets.

A good time to visit is when the market is at its busiest – in the early and mid-hours of the morning – where one can see fishermen unloading the day’s catch off their boats at the jetty and customers snapping them up quickly, sometimes even before the fish has the chance to be displayed on the tarpaulins laid on the floor.

Among the exotic fish offered for sale yesterday was a large ikan landak at least a foot long with long spines, and small sharks.

Freshly prepared umai – thinly sliced pieces of raw fish marinated with onions, chilies and lime juice – can usually be found at the market as well although the BAT3 team did not manage to spot any umai vendors during a visit yesterday morning.

Another of Mukah’s specialties which can be found at the wet market is sago and its derivatives, including the tasty tebaloi crackers and sago flour balls. They are sold at the small stalls housed in a building along the waterfront.

Of course, one cannot visit the market without keeping an eye out for sago worms, the larvae of a beetle which lives in and eats the pith of the sago palm. The fat grub is prized for its rich and buttery flavour and texture, and can be eaten raw or more commonly, stir-fried.

Greengrocer Josie Eyun, 56, told the BAT3 team that the current price for the delicacy is about RM50 per kg as it is not the season for it.

“In places like Miri and Bintulu, it is even more expensive – about RM80 per kg,” she said, adding that someone had asked her to help them sell the larvae at her stall.

Josie comes from Kg Tebakang in Serian but moved to Mukah 25 years ago with her husband. She has pretty much settled down in this place but still visits her village at least twice a year.

After the short visit to the market, the BAT3 team set out for Bintulu via the Pan Borneo highway.

The three-and-a-half-hour trip included a brief stop at the bright-yellow Batang Mukah Bridge just outside of the town to look at the massive coal yard and operations just next to it, and a quick lunch at a 24-hour rest stop at the Mukah-Selangau junction.

About 77km before we reached Bintulu, somewhere near Tatau, we stopped to take photo of a large rock by the roadside that has been spray-painted with 4-digit numbers. Apparently thisrock is a popular destination for lottery punters from as far away places as Sibu and Bintulu who would go there to pay respects to the spirit of the rock and hopefully receive good fortune for their bets.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sago worms, tebaloi, umai and all things about Mukah

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Magic Borneo Beads - Using art as a medium to instill pride and sense of identity of Sabah’s natives

Eleanor Goroh is very passionate about  things connected with indigenous culture and arts. A full-time craftswoman for Magic Borneo Beads (a homegrown dealer of beaded ornaments ) and an artist by profession, this 31-year-old Dusun-Lotud woman believes in the power of arts in reaching out to the rural community.

Tapping into her own roots, she believes that beadworks are a vital part of the Rungus and Lotud indigenous identity.

It all started with a project-based contract under the Indigenous People Network of Malaysia (JOAS), which is a non-governmental organization aimed at representing the Malaysian indigenous communities in striving for indigenous rights and advocacy. The three-year project gave Eleanor an in-depth exposure to the lives of the indigenous people in the rural areas of Malaysia.

While she does not consider herself as a social activist, Eleanor realized that there is a way to spark native enthusiasm for their own culture through arts. Today, when she isn't at her studio assembling her beadworks, Eleanor would be conducting a beading workshop somewhere.

She hopes that by making villagers aware of the cultural significance of the beads, she could  instill pride and a sense of identity among them.

"Many people think that beaded ornaments are just for adornment, not knowing that each pattern and colour tells its own story. In the olden days, beads are even used as currency," said Eleanor, adding that there is so much to learn about the traditional Borneo beads.

Apart from designing beaded knick-knacks to be sold individually, Eleanor also creates special art pieces to be auctioned off for charity, thus giving her a deeper sense of purpose and satisfaction in her work.


The Sabah Museum provides glimpses of Sabah’s past

A museum is not just a building that keeps old things and artefacts. It is also an institution that preserves a country’s heritage for its future generations.

Creating its own history, the Sabah Museum has existed since 1886. It first started in a room in the Chartered Company’s Secretariat in Sandakan. Through the years that followed it has been relocated to a few places, including an upper floor of the Nosmal Court building opposite the old General Post Office on Gaya Street in Kota Kinabalu before moving to its present permanent Sabah Museum building on Penampang Road.

The Museum was officially declared open by His Majesty the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on 11 April 1984.

The Sabah Museum complex comprising the main building, the Science and Technology Centre, the Heritage Village, Ethno-Botanical Garden and the Sabah Islamic Civilization Museum.

This year the Sabah Museum celebrates its 48th anniversary and some of its galleries have been upgraded to mark the occasion. The upgraded galleries were the history, archaeology and culture sections, while the new additions were the Head-hunting Gallery and the traditional musical instruments studio.

The history gallery displays some  historical artefacts and the general maritime history of Sabah including periods before and after the Chartered Company Rule, the Second World War, the colonial period, Sabah's independence and the subsequent  formation of Malaysia.

The new addition is the head-hunting gallery. Head-hunting among the Kadazandusun communities was a common practice in the old days. It was thought that the collection of enemy heads was a heroic thing to do and a sign of bravery.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The Sabah Museum provides glimpses of Sabah’s past

Monday, July 22, 2013

What to eat in Labuan

Labuan is another Federal Territory of Malaysia located in Sabah. It is known as the Pearl of Borneo. Labuan is an island with relaxing and beautiful sandy beaches and has numerous world class resorts to welcome visitors locally and from all around the world.

It is an international offshore financial center. Some of the major activities that attract visitors are adventurous activities like wreck diving, eco diving, snorkeling, sport fishing, horse riding and best of all duty free shopping. There are also various delicious food items to try out here.

Coconut Pudding and Lambam

Coconut pudding is a famous and special delicacy in Labuan. It is a mouthwatering dessert made from steamed coconut water and jelly. It is a refreshing treat after spending your day out under the hot sun. Visitors may devour the best version of this dessert at the Pulau Labuan Restaurant.

Another delicacy would be Lambam, it is sweetened steamed rice wrapped in coconut leaves. If you have a sweet tooth, this is a must try delicacy.

Barbecued Chicken Wings

Another popular local finger food is the barbecued chicken wings. The chicken wings are drizzled with lime juice all over then when you eat by dipping into the sweet chili soy sauce, the mix of sour, sweet and spicy flavor is amazing.

It is available in many places around Labuan but visitors can try out one of the best one at the roadside stall along Kampung Sungau Keiling.

Punjung and Jelurut

Punjung is a cone shaped desserts with green jelly like fillings made from rice flour that wrapped in banana leaves. It is a local favorite dessert here. It can be seen selling in most of the food stalls in Labuan.

Meanwhile, there is another local dessert worth trying which is the Jelurut. It is a delicacy made from rice flour, sugar and coconut milk and is wrapped in lined nipah leaves. Jelurut is green in color and it is available in other flavors such as durian and yam.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: What to eat in Labuan

Mount Kinabalu Summit Trail map comparison between a climbathon runner and a casual climber

While browsing through Every Trail, one of the best website which has a connecting apps for the smartphone to track any jungle or mountain trail that you took, I found two different trail profiles of Mount Kinabalu. One trail profile was posted by a Mount Kinabalu Climbathon runner and the other one was posted by a casual climber. Both showed the elevation profile of the mountain in simple term of how did they do while running / walking / hiking / climbing / scrambling the trail in relation of the time they took and the elevation of the trail from sea level.

Although both person took the same Summit Trail, you can see the difference in the profile of how they took the trail. I just would like to inform you that the most immediate difference that you could see from the profiles was the TIME taken to finish the trail climb. While the average climbathon runner took less than 6 hours to complete the course (some climbathon runners can make it in less than 3 hour mark), casual average climber will take at least one and a half day.

The Climbathon Runner

If could see the red button with the word “GO”, that is the point where climbathon runners starts their run, just few hundred meters before Timpohon Gate. Timpohon Gate is situated at about 1600 meters above sea level (the start of the blue line in the graph) where this is also the official gate for anybody who would like to enter the Summit Trail up the mountain.

You could see the starting speed of the runner, the first 800 meters of the climb showed the climber ran about 9 km/h. That’s a pretty fast starting speed as these few hundred meters was run on a paved road. After entering the gate, the runner will start climbing stairs – some says that its the unending stairway to hell – and starting from this point, you could see that the speed goes down to around 6 km/h for the next 6 kilometers. As the runner gets higher and higher, the speed is significantly slower, as fatigue sets in.

After the 6 kilometer mark where Laban Rata is, the speed of the runner gets slower, just around 4 km/h for the next 2.5 kilometers. The runner actually ran on barren rock – the summit plateau – for the last 2 km up until Low’s Peak. This slowing down of the speed may be due to exhaustion and exertion of the runners running up into thinner air. At 3200 meters above sea level, there is a significant drop in temperature, barometric pressure and thinning of air, making the runner hard to breath. It can be a significant stress to the runner’s wearing body, scrambling slowly to reach the peak at 4095 meters after running uphill for about 8.5 kilometers.

After tapping the signboard at Low’s Peak, 4095.2 m above sea level, the climbathon runner must run down the mountain as fast as they could back to Kinabalu Park HQ. You can see the runner running down fast at about 9 km/h for the first 2 km on the Summit Plateau, and the speed gets slower just as he reached the stairs. From kilometers 10 to kilometers 12, the speed was about 5 km/h and the speed gradually increased to about 20 km/h as the distance nearing the 20 km mark. These last few kilometers was fast because it was run on paved roads.

In total, a climbathon runner will cover 20 km of trail running (including paved road) with 2565 meters of vertical up and 2837 of vertical down. The fastest that a climbathon runner can finish the race in less than 3 hours. This runner finished the race in less than 6 hours. Almost double the time. Not sure about the pain.

The Casual Climber

Any casual, slow, relaxed and unfit climber of Kinabalu will start the climb from the same point as the climbathon runner – The Timpohon Gate. As you can see from the graph, from kilometer 0 to kilometer 6, the speed of the climber never reaches 9 km/h. The elevation gradually increased from 1600 meters above sea level to 3200 meters, and you could see that at this point, the elevation does not increases although he walked the distance.The climber walked about 2 kilometers at this level because he is at Laban Rata Resthouse, a point where every casual climber has to stop and have a rest.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Spa Village, Gaya Island Resort by YTL, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Ever so impressed with Spa Villages around the country, and after respiting in most of them, I couldn’t wait to try out their latest site at Gaya Island Resort.

Expecting the traditional architecture I’d seen in the others, I was surprised to see a modern construction on the island. Glass, wooden beams, high ceilings and multi level platforms sit amongst the mangroves. A contemporary, sustainable, raw feel imbues the experience.

Neutral tones blend with the surrounds and low-lying oatmeal hued seating areas dot across an unstained deck.

The reception leads out to an open balcony through giant double story glass doors. A pond gently trickles reflecting natural lighting. A bonsai, the only sign that man has attempted to interfere with nature, is the nucleus of the interior.

It is here that guests are welcomed with a scented cold moist towel and chilled juice – a revitalizing concoction featuring guava, lime, pineapple, star anise and chili. If it were allowed, a curl up in one of the round outdoor lounges, a carafe of this nectar and a good book could steal a very pleasurable few hours.

There’s no pre-treatment questionnaire filled out here. Rather, a casual conversation with the therapist before the service unveils any special medical conditions, areas to work on and your individual heat and pressure preferences.

Treatment rooms are in a separate building, a short walk downstairs and along a boardwalk through nature. They’re equipped with private bathroom, robe, slippers, disposable underwear and vanity products.

Massage beds are dressed in the central room lined by glass walls, but sheltered by soft curtains. The room flows out onto a deck with a transparent railing leading thoughts to linger in the lush mangroves and be absorbed by the sounds of the wild.

I’d booked in for the Aki Nabalu experience. Inspired by the “tremendous biodiversity” of the “botanical and biological species” found around Mount Kinabalu, the brochure assured me an “uplifting and unforgettable experience.”


Borneo Elephant Sanctuary begins second phase

KOTA KINABALU: A safe haven for Sabah’s threatened elephants is taking shape in the wildlife-rich Lower Kinabatangan region on Sabah’s east coast, thanks to seven Japanese groups and companies.

The first phase of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary (BES) project has seen the  construction of an elephant handling paddock, staff quarters and a storage building at a cost of some RM1.8mil.

Helping to make BES a reality is local NGO Borneo Conservation Trust whose head of conservation and research, Raymond Alfred, said that first phase of the sanctuary was due to funding from  Asahiyama Zoo, Suraya, Hunting World, Tokio Marine, NTT Data Kirin, Taiseh and Yusen Logistics.

“The endeavour is what the Japanese describes as an ‘Ongaeshi project’ which means ‘giving back to nature’,” explained Raymond.

Raymond said that work on the second phase of the BES on 25 hectares of land had already begun and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The second phase of the project is expected to cost between RM25mil and RM30mil.

“The Malaysia Palm Oil Council (MPOC) has already allocated a funding of RM5.2mil for this part of the project,” he said.

The council was also providing financial support in the preparation of the BES master plan at Lot 8 of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary,’’ Raymond added.

He said  the master plan was being prepared by BCT together with the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD).

Sabah Wildlife director, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said that BES will be able to accommodate between 12 and 16 elephants at any one time.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Visit to Sarawak in Borneo

Borneo, the third-largest island in the world, is shared between Malaysia, Indonesia, and the tiny country of Brunei.

The Indonesian part of Borneo, known as Kalimantan, takes up a lion's share of the island, while the Malaysian side is divided into two states: Sarawak and Sabah.

I thoroughly enjoyed both Sarawak and Sabah; each have plenty to offer including a chance to see endangered orangutans and lush rainforests.

But for some reason, Sarawak is the one that really captured my heart. Perhaps it's because Sarawak gets a little less attention than Sabah, which can be bursting with tour groups sometimes.

Sarawak's capital of Kuching is smaller, cleaner, and more pleasant than Kota Kinabalu -- the capital of Sabah. Sarawak just feels a little wilder and less touted; maybe that's why the friendly vibe has remained intact.

I just enjoyed eight adventurous days in Sarawak which included my first visit to Bako National Park, my second visit to the Rainforest World Music Festival, and finally a stay in a traditional Iban longhouse to see how indigenous families live.

Continue reading at: A Visit to Sarawak in Borneo

Maranjak Home-stay Lodge offers visitors authentic Rungus experience

For those who wonder what it is like to live in a Rungus longhouse, the Maranjak Longhouse Lodge in Kudat is the place for the experience.

Built in 2005 by Maranjak Malarag on a piece of land that he had inherited at Kampung Bavanggazo in Matunggong - approximately 40 kilometers away from Kudat town, the Maranjak Longhouse Lodge is built of bamboo, a traditional building material of the Rungus in Kudat.

Maranjak used his own savings to build the 21 twin-room longhouse.This  home-stay longhouse is operated by Maranjak’s family with help from the village community.

To give visitors an authentic experience of Rungus life, the Maranjak Longhouse allows their guests to take part in daily kampung activities such as fishing using the bubu (a traditional fish trap made of bamboo), jungle trekking and cycling around the village.

The home-stay also serves traditional Rungus food at dinner and arranges demonstrations of Rungus cooking as well.

In the evening, after dinner, visitors are entertained to traditional Rungus musical and cultural performances by the villagers in the lounge area.

Clad in traditional Rungus costumes, they would play music using the turali (traditional nose flute) and mongurunding (two-stringed lute) and dance the mongigol sumundai, mangatip-atip and the manaradan dances.

During the day before nightfall, the women of the village would come to the longhouse to display and sell their ware of handmade beads and other handicrafts on the longhouse corridor. 

Visitors can also see demonstrations of how various Rungus handicrafts are made - from their famous bead-necklaces and other knick-knacks to their intricately woven tapestry called kain pudang.


Sarawak to relive historic moment

KUCHING: A re-enactment of the final moments before Sarawak became independent from British rule 50 years ago would be staged at the Kuching Waterfront on July 22.

The spectacle will also mark Sarawak’s independence through Malaysia on Sept. 16, 1963.

Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin and Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud are scheduled to attend the grand event, which will also depict British governor Sir Alexander Waddel and the first five State Supreme Council members in the first State Cabinet.

An exhibition called ‘Sarawak Gemilang 50 Tahun’ and themed `Sarawak Harmoni, Kemakmuran Dinikmati’ will also be launched by Salahuddin at the Sarawak Tourism Complex on July 22. “As 50 years is a significant period, Sarawak will mark this occasion on a very big scale,” announced Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan in a press conference here yesterday.

He said the spectacle would, among others, give the younger generation, especially those born after 1963, a chance to experience the final moments leading to the state’s independence.

“The formation of the cabinet came about after 100 years of the Brooke era and 17 years as a British colony.

“It will also be a good time to learn and appreciate what local leaders have done to make Sarawak what it is today,” he said.

The late Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan helmed the first State Cabinet as chief minister. At that time, Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud was Minister of Works and Communications.

Awang Tengah said this topic ought to be included in school history books to promote the state’s history.

On the exhibition, he said it would highlight the developments of Sarawak from the time of the Brunei Sultanate’s rule in the 16th century to today.

Continue reading at: Sarawak to relive historic moment