Friday, July 31, 2015

The Beauty of Borneo: Part I, Kota Kinabalu

Borneo is a large and complex island, not least because it’s comprised of three countries: Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. It’s the third largest island in the world and, as such, you could spend months exploring the beaches, mountains and rainforests that cover this magical place. But to really appreciate the beauty of Borneo, explore it region by region, starting with Sabah.

Sabah is one of two Malaysian states on Borneo, and visitors often choose to base themselves in one of two cities within the state: Kota Kinbalu in the west or Sandakan in the east.

Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is quickly becoming a sprawling tourist hub, but if you look hard enough, you can still find some of the beauty that makes Sabah special. This compact town is best explored on foot, and you’ll soon find that Jesselton Point Harbour forms the centre of all that is good about Kota Kinabalu, or ‘KK’, as it’s known.

Located at one end of the tourist strip, Jesselton Point is the best place in KK to go for fresh seafood cooked in an authentic fashion. Restaurants on the jetty have their catches of the day on display and the fishing boats responsible for the delectable displays bob in the harbour only a few feet away.

The selection all depends on what’s been caught, but expect gigantic prawns and crustaceans as well as grouper and other local fish. There’s also a range of preparation options, with sweet coconut battered prawns and chili-seared fish being local favourites.

If you’re spending a couple of days in KK, a tour of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is an absolute must. TARN is a collection of five islands located just off the coast of KK, offering some of the world-class diving and snorkeling that has made Borneo famous. And at only 20 minutes off the coast of KK and incredibly cheap and easy to access, there’s no excuse to miss these islands.

Tourist boats heading to TARN depart from Jesselton Point Harbour and most operators will offer the option to visit three islands over the course of a day: Sapi, Manukan and Mamutik. If you want to visit all three islands, which I highly recommend, get to Jesselton Pier before 9am, as the ferry tickets sell fast and there are limited number of multi-island tickets. If you want to visit only two islands, arrive well before 10am.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The Beauty of Borneo: Part I, Kota Kinabalu

Record Borneo highlanders’ rich cultural heritage and folklores

BARIO: Communities living in the Kelabit and Maligan highlands in Sarawak and Sabah have something to be proud of – a book that documents their rich cultural heritage and folklores.

Entitled ‘Highland Tales in the Heart of Borneo’, the 92-page tome written in English and Bahasa Malaysia is a colourful showcase of the community’s past, present and future intertwined with their surroundings in the picturesque highlands of Ba’ Kelalan, Bario, Long Semadoh in Sarawak and Long Pa’ Sia, Sabah.

The book, launched by the Chief Minister’s wife Puan Sri Jamilah Anu during the Bario Food and Cultural Festival yesterday, is published by the highland’s grassroots and transboundary alliance Forum Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi (Formadat) supported by Sarawak Forest Department, Ministry of Tourism Sarawak, Sarawak Museum Department and WWF-Malaysia.

Formadat Malaysia leader Penghulu George Sigar Sultan said the highlands of Sarawak and Sabah are home to the
Orang Ulu comprising the Kelabit, Lun Bawang and Lundayeh in the northeastern of Heart of Borneo.

“Each has its own distinct dialect and cultural nuances rooted at the core with parallel mythology and oral history. We are the guardians of a rich array of tribal stories and legends,” he said in a press release.

He said the book documented the stories of old and showcased some of the most distinctive sites and stories known to these communities in Sarawak and Sabah.

“This publication will serve as promotional material for ecotourism at natural and cultural sites of the Kelabit and Maligan highlands, a reference for nature guides to use and share with visitors and tourists, and a way to document the history of the Kelabit, Lun Bawang and Lundayeh people in the Heart of Borneo,” he said.

George added that the book meets Formadat’s objectives to raise understanding about the communities in the highlands, maintain cultural traditions, build local capacity and encourage sustainable development in the Heart of Borneo without degrading the quality of social and natural environment.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Oh Borneo, you were indescribable

I made it back to Australia all in one piece. Our Malaysian Airline flight did not crash, I did not contract any deadly viruses, neither was I attacked by any stray animals, and my passport and money was not stolen. Who knows what could have happened while overseas?

Although, I did end up with some lovely sunburns (thank you Malaria tablets), and chemical burns on my eyelids – NOTE: never put 80% DEET on your forehead or eyes. Not my smartest moment!

Following up from my mid-experience post. My time in Borneo was quick and sweet but, it was filled with many experiences, friendship, life lessons, and blew my expectations out the window. I focused on embracing every single day while I was over there and saying yes to everything that was thrown my way.

When I came back everyone started asking me, ‘How was Borneo?’. What a good question but, how do you describe such a unique experience within a few words or sentences? My time in Borneo was not as life changing or as radical as I thought it might be in comparison to the reports of prior leaders who traveled to Laos.

In saying that, this experience taught me many life lessons. Words like exceptional, amazing, beautiful, incredible, and practically any related adjective just doesn’t do my experience justice. So, while I try and condense the 80+ page journal I wrote, here is what made up my 12 days in Borneo.

Arriving in the country there were two things that hit me. First was the heat! Borneo is very close to the equator and subsequently it was stinking hot and very humid – especially when you come from dry 15 degree Brisbane weather.

At least at the end of the trip my skin had undergone a 12 day detox – hello smooth skin! The second thing was the landscape and the gorgeous mountains in the background. From the aerial view when were descending into Kuching, we noticed the dense rainforest everywhere.

Jessie and I had our heads propped into the small airplane window and pointing out sights while letting out a few ooohs and ahhs! It was just breath taking to see such a city that still preserved the rich green colour of the trees. In the days following it became clear as to why the area looked like it did.

They honour the land around them and feed off of the natural resources rather than creating man-made factories to house resources.

Now, the best part – FOOD! In the days prior I was told by another Griffith Business Staff member and my local ANZ staff member who both were from Kuching that the food is absolutely and undeniably one of the best things about Borneo.

To be honest, they were not wrong. From day 1 until the very last day, the food did not falter in it’s reputation. Everything that was placed in front of us was fresh, and you could taste the difference! Never have I ever tasted such fresh and juicey watermelon, papaya, and orange.

While the portion sizes were non-existent, the food never felt unhealthy, it just fueled our body for the day ahead.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Oh Borneo, you were indescribable

Proboscis monkeys, iconic species for eco-tourism loses more habitat in Kinabatangan

KINABATANGAN: Gambu was once a “happy” proboscis monkey living with his group in the riparian forest of the Kinabatangan and one of its tributaries, Sungai Sukau. But one morning, half of his home range was cleared, all trees (including some parts of the riparian reserve) were felt to leave place (soon) to a rubber plantation.

Gambu (short for Gambunan who was a Dusun group leader from Tambunan) is a male proboscis monkey that was set up with a satellite collar in June 2012 as part of a collaborative project between Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and Sabah Wildlife Department, funded by Sime Darby Foundation.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said the aim of the satellite tagging programme is to understand the ranging patterns of proboscis monkeys and the factors impacting their movements and density in order to determine the adequate amount of habitat available in order to sustain a continuous viable population in the Kinabatangan region.

“With the continuous degradation and loss of habitat in the Kinabatangan, I wonder whether the proboscis monkey and other wildlife have a chance to sustain viable populations in this iconic eco-touristic jewel that is the Kinabatangan,” he said.

“I understand that the land that has been cleared is native land but what about the riparian reserve that was cleared at the corner of the Kinabatangan River and Sungai Sukau, and along the latter?” he asked.

Goossens said if the government is not imposing a moratorium on further land conversion in the Kinabatangan, Sabah will lose one of its most iconic touristic assets.

According to the director, the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best places in Borneo to encounter Bornean elephants, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, estuarine crocodiles, Storm storks, rhinoceros hornbills and hundreds of other species. “If people continue converting the land along the river, legally or illegally, tourists will desert the region,” he said.


18th Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival more exciting

SANTUBONG: The 18th edition of Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) from Aug 7 to 9 promises to be more exciting, with 17 international and seven Malaysian bands to play a diverse range of world genres.

This year’s performers will be from Alaverdi (Georgia), Bargou 08 (Tunisia), Driss El Maloumi (Morocco), EPI (Mongolia), Harubee (Maldives), Kapela Maliszow (Poland), Kobagi Kecak (Indonesia), Kobo Town (Trinidad/Tobago), Korrontzi (Spain), Le Blanc Bros Kajun Band (Australia), Lindigo (Reunion Island), Ndima (Congo), Sangpuy (Taiwan), Shooglenifty (Scotland), Son De Madera (Mexico), Sona Joberteh (Gambia/ UK) and Ukandanz (France/Ethiopia).

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) in a statement distributed to the media said the groups would be joined by Malaysian musicians like Culture Shot (Penang), Mah Meri (Malaysia), 1 Drum.Org (Malaysia) and Kenwy Yang-Qin Ensemble, Lan E Tuyang, Sayu Ateng and Sarawak Cultural Village all from Sarawak.

The festival, according to STB, has been awarded the Brand Laureate Best Brands Award 2012-2013 in the Asia Pacific region, and has also been recognised as the top 25 Best International Festivals by Songlines, a renowned world music magazine.

The organiser is anticipating a crowd of about 20,000 for the three-night event, with 40 per cent from outside the country.


Visit Sibu Year 2016 postponed

SIBU: Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) has decided to postpone the Visit Sibu Year 2016 due to insufficient facilities for the event.

Its deputy chairman Dato Andrew Wong said some of the facilities were not ready.

“We are also trying to establish better air connectivity to ensure the success of the VSY 2016,” he said.

“One of the routes we are working very hard on is the Kota Kinabalu-Sibu sector. I know MASwings is serving the (Kota Kinabalu-Sibu) route but their planes are a bit small for the passenger load.

“Furthermore, the flight frequency is not there while the airfare is expensive,” he told a press conference to announce the Borneo Talent Award 2015 contest yesterday.

Wong reiterated the need for better air connectivity and more transit points to attract international tourists especially from Southeast Asia to come to Sibu.

He said the council had to apply to the Ministry of Transport for opening up the sky, and if it materialised, a negotiation on the matter would take at least six months.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Visit Sibu Year 2016 postponed

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Orangutans face extinction on Borneo where deforestation is ‘simply unsustainable’ – UN

The massive conversion of Borneo’s forests for the production palm oil together with the impact of climate change is driving to extinction the orangutan on Asia’s largest island, making it “clear that a future without sustainable development will be a future with a different climate and, eventually, without orangutans, one of our closest relatives,” a new United Nations report revealed today.

This, according to Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), who wrote the foreword of the report, The Future of the Bornean Orangutan: Impacts of Change in Land Cover and Climate, released today. And the report’s lead author Dr. Serge Wich declared: “The current policies for land conversion on Borneo are simply unsustainable” not just for orangutans but for the human population as well.

According to the report published by UNEP and Liverpool John Moores University in collaboration with the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), “the massive conversion of Borneo’s forests for agricultural development - primarily oil palm - will leave the endangered orangutans fragmented and facing extinction in a number of areas.”

“The environmental impact of climate change exacerbated by the deforestation of Borneo could result in severe floods, temperature rises, reduced agricultural productivity and other negative effects,” the report said.

While native to Indonesia and Malaysia, a century of deforestation, illegal logging, hunting and expansion of agro-industrial plantations, have combined to isolate orangutans to only the rainforests of Borneo – the world’s third largest island – and Sumatra, says UNEP.

Borneo’s deforestation rate has been among the world’s highest for over two decades and 56 per cent of the protected tropical lowland forests – an area roughly the size of Belgium – was lost between 1985 and 2001.

The report goes on to say that if deforestation in the Southeast Asia continues, a staggering 75 per cent of the original forest cover will be lost by 2030.

The Future of the Bornean Orangutan, according to a UNEP press release examines different climate and land-cover scenarios for the years 2020, 2050 and 2080 and models the individual and combined effect of both factors on the orangutan habitat.

In each scenario, “dramatic rises” in temperature brought on by deforestation and the loss of land cover cause serious damage to the island’s biodiversity, with the combined model showing an even more pronounced impact than either factor alone, the report said.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Opening Mt Kinabalu to climbers in September ‘optimistic’ despite new aftershock

RANAU: Nearly two months after the 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit Sabah on June 5, another tremor, at 4.4 magnitude, was reported yesterday about midnight at Kilometre 8, West Coast of Ranau.

According to Sabah Meteorological Department director Abdul Malik Tusin, the tremor was the 112th aftershock recorded since the earthquake in early June.

He disclosed that to date a total of 107 aftershocks had been recorded while the rest of the aftershocks were not fully detected.

“Out of the said number, 76 aftershocks were reportedly felt, including the most recent one last midnight,” he said.

In the meantime, geologist Professor Dr Felix Tongkul said the recent aftershock could be considered as one of the five or six main strongest aftershocks since the June 5 quake, with aftershocks possibly continuing to occur for several more weeks albeit with less frequency and smaller magnitudes.

“The epicentre of this tremor is still located within the aftershock zone in terms of geographical distribution and timing. Aftershocks may continue for several more weeks.


Borneo Cultural Festival must resonate with travel agents

SIBU: Travel operators from Peninsular Malaysia and overseas have been invited for a familiarisation trip here during the Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) as an effort to elevate the event to a higher level.

Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) deputy chairman Dato Andrew Wong, who disclosed this, said most of the operators are from the Peninsula while one or two are from China.

“At the moment, we are still targeting visitors within Sarawak.

“However, for this year, we have invited a lot of travel operators from outside Sarawak to visit us, in what we call a familiarisation visit during the BCF.

“We are working in collaboration with Sibu Travel Operators Association.

“The move is for us to better promote Sibu and BCF in future,” Wong, who is BCF organising chairman, told The Borneo Post.

He was asked if there were plans to promote BCF to the international arena.

Towards this end, Wong reckoned Visit Sibu Year 2016 would be the flag-off for BCF to be launched into the international stage.

“We have to do promotion for BCF before we can actually launch it onto another level. So, this is what I call the transition period,” he said.

BCF, into its 12th year, will kick off on July 30 and ends on Aug 8.

It goes by the same theme as last year – ‘Beauty in Ethnic Diversity’.


Kuching to host national-level International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

KUCHING: The national-level celebrations for this year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous People will be held in Kuching from Aug 7 to 10.

The celebrations, organised by the Indigenous People’s Network of Malaysia (JOAS), will be hosted by several indigenous organisations led by Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) and will be held at the Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) headquarters.

Sadia secretary general and JOAS steering committee member Nicholas Mujah said the event will see the participation of indigenous groups comprising Orang Asal from Sabah, Orang Asli from Peninsular Malaysia and the Dayak from Sarawak.

He explained the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is observed on Aug 9 each year to promote and highlight the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples following the decision of the United Nations’ General Assembly on Dec 23, 1994.

In Malaysia, he added JOAS has been organising the celebration since 2008, rotating the venues between Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia. Sarawak is hosting the celebration for the third time, twice previously in Miri. Peninsular Malaysia will host the event next year.

“The indigenous people of Malaysia, which make up 13.8 per cent of the population, continue to face many issues and challenges that affect their rights as citizens of the country.

“Even though Malaysia endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 – which outlines the rights that the government should respect and recognise; the serious gaps in our laws, policies and administration continue to persist.

“As such, Malaysia’s indigenous peoples continue to assert their rights and are determined in their efforts to bring about positive change in the country,” he said to reporters at the Sadia headquarters here yesterday.

Nicholas also said he expected the celebration will attract a lot of interest from both locals and tourists alike, since it coincided with the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) to be held in Kuching.

Activities planned include cultural presentations by various indigenous groups on the evenings of Aug 7, 8 and 9, including a rare opportunity to witness performance by Orang Asli cultural troupe.


TV drama will help promote Sabah tourism in Singapore

KOTA KINABALU: A family TV drama ‘Beyond Words’ to be shot by MediaCorp in Sabah would help promote the state in Singapore, and bring in more tourists from the island country.

The 30-episode series featuring popular Singaporean artists would be shot in various locations, including in and around Kota Kinabalu.

“Sabah has many beautiful places that would make a very good location for shooting TV drama.

I hope MediaCorp will continue to choose Sabah for its future shootings,” said Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

Speaking to reporters during a lensing ceremony and press meet with MediaCorp Singapore here yesterday, Bangkuai said STB always welcomed any ventures that could help introduce Sabah to foreign visitors.

He said over 25,000 Singaporeans visited Sabah last year and about 10,000 tourists from the country had spent their holidays here as of July this year.

“The shooting, which is expected to take a month to complete, would not only attract visitors from Singapore but also other countries where the drama will be aired,” said Bangkuai.


Monday, July 27, 2015

The best ever KK Jazz Festival to date

KOTA KINABALU: If the first night of the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival (KKJF) was mesmerizing, the second night was nothing short of scintillating.

With an estimated 4,000 people in attendance over both nights, the ninth edition of this glittery event might just be the best one ever.

“We have the most fabulous trumpeter, a great line-up of performers and fans came out in full force. After nine years, I think jazz has finally arrived in Kota Kinabalu,” said organising chairperson Jack Ong.

Also present on the second night of the festival was Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.

“I think the standard is getting better and better every year, and the crowd is growing as well,”said Masidi, when asked to comment on the event.

“KKJF is fast becoming an event which is widely known in this part of the world. My hope is that it will eventually become the premier jazz festival in this region and I’m sure it can, one day.”

He also commended the efforts of the joint organisers, the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) and the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu (SPArKS).

“I think they’ve done a wonderful job, considering that all of them are volunteers. This is something that all of us in Sabah should be very proud of. The fact that they are able to attract quality performers indicates their confidence.”

Masidi wrapped up his statement by saying:“Tourism is one aspect, but the most important thing is the Sabahans’ ability to organise something of a world-class standard, and I think we are moving towards that.”

The first night of the festival saw outstanding performances by local and international talents alike, namely, Faizul Sany and The Hybrid, Headhunters and of course, the legendary Bobby Taylor.

It certainly raised the bar for the second night, but what unfolded exceeded all expectations.

Suria Buskers set the stage with their mixture of various genres, consisting of world music, pop and rhythm and blues, just to name a few. This highly experienced group of professional musicians, comprising of bands from Sandakan boasted a catalogue of music styles that best complemented the event.

Following Suria Buskers was Eilvane Chang, who is no stranger to the KKJF stage. Returning for the second time around, Eilvane reminded the crowd why they fell in love with her in the first place, displaying exceptionally smooth vocals and a repertoire the audience adored.

Eilvane, who is of the opinion that jazz is“one of the best genres out there,” shared her views on why it is an important genre to upkeep.

“To me, jazz is like an expression of life,”said Eilvane.“The thing about jazz is that everything is so unstructured; nothing is really set in stone. That’s kind of the way life is. Everything just happens and we make improvisations along the way. The same thing goes for jazz. It’s the best expression of life, in a musical way.”


Sabah Tourism - Visitors are slowly coming back

Kota Kinabalu: Earthquakes and mudfloods have spooked visitors from coming to Kundasang for holidays, leaving lodge operators with barely any business for weeks.

But there are now signs the industry is finally recovering.

It has been near two months since the deadly 5.9-magnitude earthquake hit Ranau, and thereafter mudfloods, damaging properties and cutting off water supply for a week.

According to homestay operators, tourists are now making a return with some saying their outlets have been fully booked in August.

Walai Tokou operator Kohadie Watiman said 50 per cent of the accommodation is now filled with guests and could be hitting over 60 to 70 per cent by September.

The situation is much better than having only two to three families checking in a few days after the earthquake.

"Before the earthquake, the occupancy was full, it stayed on until June 8, three days after the first and most powerful jolt hit Ranau," he told the Daily Express.

Kohadie said he had also not lost any of his bookings, stressing that it will be all business until end of the year.

"We did not cancel any bookings. The tourists have agreed to postpone their stay here," he said.

Walai Tokou is a licensed homestay operator with house owners serving as host to their visitors.

It has homestay accommodation across several villages in Kundasang.

Kota Belud Tanak Nabalu operator Djuanis Mogirong said he also secured 10 groups to his facility, while about 20 groups are expected to be at his Bilit Homestay in August.

"Tourists now prefer to stay with local communities. The end of July and August onwards seem to be positive," he said.

Djuanis revealed he had lost around 90 per cent worth of two months business after his guests cancelled their bookings following the two disasters.

But not all are enjoying good business returns as yet.

Most large hotel and lodge operators around Kundasang are still recording very, very low occupancy.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Kota Kinabalu, naturally

As mentioned previously, I've recently returned from a somewhat unexpected visit to Malaysian Borneo, and in that previous posting I promised more material from that exciting experience. 

Here's the first instalment. You might like to follow the link above to the previous posting for some background if you missed it, but it's certainly not essential.

Kota Kinabalu (pronounced ki-na-BAH-lu) is the capital of Sabah, in north-eastern Borneo.

It is a busy - but by no means intimidating by developing nation standards - port city of around half a million.

For travellers there are two general accommodation options. You can stay in city centre, near the port, or you can stay near the airport south of the city centre. I did both at different stages.

During the trip, which started and ended at KK (to use the familiar name used by many locals) we returned partway through en route to Sarawak, and stayed in the centre, just a block from the waterfront.

Even here wildlife was quite good (even aside from the very large and presumably exotic rats which pottered about the wonderful fish market, and the gang of introduced House Crows, the only ones in Borneo, which also loiter thereabouts).

House Swifts and Glossy Swiftlets breed on buildings, and there are herons and terns in the port and various passerines in empty land nearby.

My favourite was near the airport, where I stayed at the start and end of the trip, close to the popular Tanjung Aru Beach (tanjung is a cape, and it's always abbreviated to Tg Aru), backed by extensive parklands with the unlikely name of Prince Philip Park.

I stayed at the Casuarina Hotel, cheap and pleasant and just a few minutes walk from the beach and park.

Just looking out the windows was a good introduction to the local birdlife.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Kota Kinabalu, naturally

The right priorities to sustain marine tourism

EARLY this month, the international diving community was up in arms over a series of photos uploaded to social media websites allegedly depicting the removal of marine species from the ocean, including what appeared to be threatened and protected species, and tourists physically touching and handling the creatures out of the water.

Many commentators expressed disgust and dismay at the act, said to have taken place on a boat, operated a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) accreditted dive resort in Sabah earlier this year — condemning it as irresponsible and unprofessional.

Others threatened to boycott the operator.

It evoked strong reactions from the diving community because removing the animals from their natural habitats would not only cause them distress but may also give tourists the wrong idea it is acceptable and routine for such acts to take place.

Sabah wildlife authorities are now investigating the incident while the resort concerned has apologised over the incident.

Misaligned priorities

Situations like these are unfortunately not uncommon in this part of the world where much public and private sectors funding and attention are given to capturing the tourist dollar but comparatively very little to developing sustainable marine tourism.

More often than not, it is a case of good intentions but misaligned priorities. The word sustainability has become something of a cliché with governments and for-profit businesses recognising its marketing and branding value but may not fully understand or be committed to what it entails.

This often puts them at odds with other stakeholders, including environmental non-government organisations (NGOs), scientists, researchers, and local communities dependent on the environment for their livelihoods.

Even in countries with strict environmental protection laws, there may still prevail a blinkered perception of tourism and its subsets as the purview of the National Tourism Ministry, whereas the legislative authority to enforce environmental protection laws and prosecute crimes often lie with other agencies.

This adds unnecessary red tape and confusion when it comes to setting up and enforcing policies which better support sustainable practices in the industry.

Thus, it is not surprising even well-meaning individuals, businesses, non-profit groups and government agencies may still run foul of what constitutes sustainable tourism practices.

Building bridges

One of the aims of the upcoming 4th Coral Triangle Regional Business Forum is to help create common ground between the marine tourism industry’s various stakeholders and establish a framework of best practices to guide decision-makers and business operators, hoping to take advantage of the industry’s economic potential in the Coral Triangle.

The forum which will focus on sustainable marine tourism, is set to take place in Bali, Indonesia, from Aug 27 to 29.

It was created by the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) and its development partners to engage with the private sector in creative innovative business solutions to sustain the region’s marine resources that are economically profitable and environmentally sustainable.

Covering 1.6 per cent of the Earth’s oceans, the Coral Triangle, stretching across six countries — the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands — is rich in marine biodiversity.

The area is home to 76 per cent of all known coral species, 37 per cent of all known coral reef fish species, 53 per cent of the world’s coral reefs, the greatest extent of mangrove forests in the world, as well as important spawning and juvenile growth areas for the world’s largest tuna fishery.

It is an important source of food and resources to about 363 million people who reside within, along with many more outside the region. Fish and other marine resources are a principal source of income, food, livelihoods and export revenue in all of the Coral Triangle countries.

However, the pressures of expanding populations, economic growth, international trade and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing are putting the region’s marine ecosystem at risk and reducing the region’s ability to ensure food security for the long-term.

Ensuring marine biodiversity and food security for all dependent on the Coral Triangle will require effective preservation and management of the marine life within this area.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The right priorities to sustain marine tourism

Adventurers take on Heart of Borneo trek

KUCHING: After months of elaborate preparation, the inaugural Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge kicked off with an enthusiastic group of adventurers.

They will walk in the footsteps of the early settlers of the highlands, who used to travel on foot between Ba Kelalan and Bario through challenging terrain and weather, amidst breathtaking mountainous landscape in the Bornean rainforest.

The eco-challengers, comprising visitors, villagers from the highlands and media practitioners will also walk past historical sites of the people living in the Maligan and Kelabit highlands between Ba Kelalan and Bario. The number of participants was kept small to reduce the impact upon the environment.

This event is organised by Forum Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi (Formadat), a transboundary, grassroots initiative that aims to raise awareness and understanding of the highland communities in the Heart of Borneo (HoB).

It is supported by Ministry of Tourism Sarawak, Sarawak Tourism Board, Forest Department Sarawak, Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Sarawak Museum Department, Curtin University Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Gantuman e-Bario, Tutum Bala e-Ba’ Kelalan, Planet Borneo Tour, Highland Paradise, WWF-Malaysia, Rurum Kelabit Sarawak and Persatuan Lun Bawang Sarawak.

The Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge, the first of its kind to be held in the highlands, started from Ba Kelalan on July 25 and onwards to Pa’ Rebata, Lepo Bunga, Mount Murud (Church Camp), Long Rebpun and Pa’ Lungan, finally ending in Bario after seven days of trekking.

The ending of this event will coincide with the first day of the 10th Bario Slow Food and Cultural Festival (Pesta Nukenen dan Kebudayaan Kelabit) that will run from July 30 to Aug 1.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Adventurers take on Heart of Borneo trek

Betel nut chewing - A surviving tradition in Borneo

Betel nut or quid chewing has traditionally played an important role in social customs, religious practices and cultural rituals, not just among the Malays but also other indigenous groups in Borneo.

HE has lost most of his upper front teeth and what is left is either black or deep red in colour — a result of years of chewing potent parcels of betel quid.

He is someone I know personally. He began chewing betel quid about 50 years ago and is still at it today.

He started chewing very small portions and the first experience was terrible — he could feel a striking sensation in his mouth.

As he chewed, he recalled, the flavour filled his mouth and the taste was pretty bad. However, after sometime, he felt something very mild in his mouth and it produced a lot of saliva.

Wanting to be known only as uncle, he said the effects were simply terrible — something like intoxication, dizziness, vomiting, convulsion or diarrhea.

“They lasted about an hour — worse than my first experience of smoking a cigarette or getting drunk. I have quit smoking but I still chew betel quid,” he said through well-worn teeth.

This uncle revealed he became addicted after chewing betel quid — leaves, red saliva and all — several times.

After years of daily use, long-term betel chewers will develop a distinctive deep red stain in their mouths, teeth and gums — as what can be seen in this uncle.

Betel quid chewing has been claimed to produce a sense of well-being, euphoria, warm sensation of the body, sweating, salivation, palpitation, heightened alertness and increased capacity to work.

This, according to the uncle, is quite true.

Upon his suggestion, I tried chewing a small portion.

He helped prepare a simple quid for me, comprising a portion of betel leaf (from the Piper betel vine), ripe areca nut (from the areca catechu tree), slaked lime (predominantly calcium hydroxide) as catalyst and a small portion of dried gambir leaf (a bushy schrub of the family of rubiaceae).

Warming sensation

Once I chewed the quid, the result was a truly warming sensation and it quickly woke me up.

I swallowed a little of it and felt intoxicated, dizzy and wanted to throw up. Truly, the ‘spinning feeling’ was worse than getting drunk.

Other not so nice effects are the mouth, lips and teeth becoming red from the quid juice as well as the frequent spitting.

The whole quid, if chewed over a few minutes, will form a thick, deep red paste between gums and cheeks and sometimes, it stays for hours.

If you suddenly feel like trying it yourself, do not expect too much of a nice test. For a first timer, try a tiny bit of betel nut first. The taste is exotic — ranging from tangy, slightly sour or cheesy, a bit bitter sweet with a hint of caramel.

When you add betel leaf with lime, you will find a refreshing sharpness to it. As you chew, you begin to feel the bitterness and a little bit of hotness in your mouth — until you cannot resist spitting.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Betel nut chewing - A surviving tradition in Borneo

Saturday, July 25, 2015

More promising KK Jazz Festival

KOTA KINABALU: The highly-anticipated Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival (KKJF) is back for its ninth edition, this time more promising than ever.

The annual fund-raising event, jointly organised by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) and the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu (SPArKS), will be held on July 24 and 25, from 7pm to 11pm at the Covered Tennis Court of the Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club here.

Known for being a melting pot of musical talents from around the world, KKJF has earned itself a spot as the “premier event in the Sabah Tourism annual calendar of events – and Malaysia Tourism calendar – and is also a key component of the Kota Kinabalu Arts Festival,” said organising chairperson of the festival and current RCKK president, Jack Ong, at a press conference here yesterday.

Jack said the main objectives of the event were to be a tourism event in Kota Kinabalu, develop local jazz bands and most importantly, to raise funds for community projects.

Since its inception in 2007, the funds obtained from KKJF ticket sales have been channelled towards community projects such as organising medical camps in rural areas, providing clean water to villages, conducting literacy programmes and having eye screenings under the Avoidable Blindness Campaign.

Also present at the press conference was co-founder of the festival, Datuk Adeline Leong of SPArKS, who said: “Our jazz festival in this region is a very special one because we emphasise a lot on our local talents. That’s why, every year, we have a jazz talent search amongst our local bands, and the winner of the search will perform at the festival.”

The winner of the talent search this year is Supertonic, a group from Labuan. They will be performing alongside other local acts including Quadro Forte, The Prathaz Band, Headhunters, Suria Buskers, Eilvane Chiang, May Mow, Liyana Fizi and 2013 Akademi Fantasia winner, Faizul Sany.

International artistes include The Rio Sidik Quartet and Gugun Blues Shelter from Indonesia and Shun Ng from the United States.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: More promising KK Jazz Festival

Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival - A lot of untapped musical talents

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s musical talents have caught the eye of an American producer and singer who feels they have great potential.

“Sabahans possess an incredible amount of untapped talent in music,” said musician Bobby Taylor who has worked with the likes of Michael Jackson and Shania Twain.

“I heard a girl singing last night (Thursday) and my, she can really sing. All I could tell her was to stop singing from the nose and use her diaphragm. She was that good,” he said at the KK Jazz Festival press conference yesterday.

Taylor said some other singers whom he had a chance to hear sing were also very good and all they needed was a place to unearth their talents, to explore what they can do and be heard.

“People need to hear them sing. Music needs to be heard and these singers have to be given a chance to actually sing,” he said, referring to the lounge band of a resort here.

Taylor is among dozens of singers invited to perform at the ninth KK Jazz Festival here today.

He commended the festival organisers for their effort in introducing jazz to the people and to help local talents showcase what they can do.


Sarawak on track to achieve 5 mln tourists target

MIRI: Sarawak is expected to register a faster growth rate above eight per cent in the peak period between May and September this year, putting it on track to achieve five million tourists this year.

With the first quarter of the year registering an eight per cent growth and the weaker ringgit being a strong pull factor as the greenback has further strengthened against the Malaysian currency, the target is achievable.

Minister of Sarawak Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the rising trend, boosted by a forex-driven boon, would push the growth rate higher than the eight per cent in the first quarter of this year.

“This is a positive development as January and February are supposedly ‘lean months’, and if this trend continues, there is a possibility that we may touch five million tourist arrivals,” he said.

The weaker ringgit would further fuel this increasingly significant buoyant services sector of the state economy, with an uptick in hospitality industry despite an anticipated annual trough expected between October and December.

Abang Johari expected a favourable foreign exchange range with the ringgit due to greater inflow of tourist dollars in shopping and spending in the state this year.

“Shopping has become another attraction and two guests from the US recently told me that they were impressed with the shopping experience here where certain goods are just as attractive as the shopping hub of Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

The state being marketed as a film-making destination is also gaining traction with two on the scene, including one involving Jacky Chan and Running Man China programme which may include an episode here.


Tourism expected to be major economic spinner in Sarawak

MIRI: Indications are that the hospitality industry in Sarawak will emerge a major economic driver in the next five to seven years into the 12th Malaysia Plan if its blue print is translated into reality.

Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Haji Openg said this would increase the contribution from the services sector to the state’s economy as tourism has a bigger multiplier effect suited to the people’s competency compared to the more rigid employment structure of the manufacturing sector.

In an interview with The Borneo Post at Miri Airport on Thursday, he said: “The hospitality industry is the right thing for us as Sarawakians are trained to a certain higher level compared to manufacturing where expatriates are at the top and locals at the lower echelons of employment.”

Total tourism receipts hit RM10.69 billion or 17 per cent of GDP last year against RM9.59 billion in 2013, an increase of 11.5 per cent,

The upward trend continue this year with the first quarter registering 8.1 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) to 1.2 million arrivals compared with 1.11 million in 1Q14.

Out of 4.86 million tourists who visited Sarawak in 2014, three millions were foreign tourists while domestic tourists from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah contributed 1.86 million people.

Abang Jo said the state is adopting a multi-pronged approach in the hospitality industry, adapting to the evolving segments and changing taste in the market.

There has been greater emphasis on drawing tourists for meetings, incentives, conventions and events (MICE) to complement culture, adventure and nature (CAN) attractions of the state.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Sabah Continues To Be Role Model In Tropical Biodiversity Management

KOTA KINABALU -- The Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ITBC) and various state agencies are continuing to be a role model for developing countries in tropical biodiversity management with the launch of the Third Country Training Programme (TCTP) next month.

ITBC director Prof. Dr Charles Santhanaraju Vairappan said the TCTP 2015, organised by the ITBC of University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and state Natural Resource Office (NRO) from Aug 6 to 26, is part of the Malaysian government's vision to develop the country as a centre of excellence in conservation, research and utilisation of tropical biological diversity by 2020.

"The programme's concept is derived from the United Nations' Triangular Cooperation initiative with expertise provided by government agencies such as Sabah Biodiversity Centre (SaBC), Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Parks and Sabah Forestry Department.

"Seventeen officers from government departments and agencies involved in biodiversity and ecosystem conversation from the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), South Asia and Africa -- Cambodia, Botswana, Vietnam, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, India, Tanzania and Kenya -- will take part in the programme," he said at a press conference here Thursday.

According to Dr Charles in previous programmes, participants showed much success in dealing with challenges in biodiversity conservation in their home country after attending the training.

"Some were promoted to key positions afterwards; they had an opportunity to provide input into government policies. The whole idea of the course is to help other countries in the region and other developing nations to tackle tropical biodiversity issues," he said.


Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival offers free T-shirts for tickets purchased at shopping malls

KUCHING: The Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) organiser is offering free tee-shirt for every purchase of two entrance tickets for adults or child and are available at major shopping complexes this weekend.

Booths selling festival tickets will open at tHe Spring, Boulevard Shopping Mall, CityONE Megamall, Green Heights Mall and Plaza Merdeka here on Saturday and Sunday at 10am onwards.

Current promotion rate for single entry ticket is RM110 for adult and RM50 for children age seven to 12.

Also available are the three-day entrance ticket priced at RM300 per adult and RM130 per child while the family package for two adults and two children day pass is available at RM220.

The 18th edition of the festival will be held at Sarawak Cultural Village from Aug 7 to 9 with 17 international groups and seven Malaysian bands will take to the stage.


Borneo Rhythms of Rimba (ROR) Wildlife Festival 2015 set to captivate

KOTA KINABALU: Get set for an ‘out of this world’ outdoor festival which will be staged to create awareness on wildlife conservation.

The 2nd Borneo Rhythms of Rimba (ROR) Wildlife Festival 2015 will be held at the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok, Sandakan.

It promises to bring information, knowledge, adventure and music in one event to people of all ages.

The event is organised by the Future Alam Borneo (FAB) society in partnership with the Protective Action for Wildlife in Sabah through Education initiative.

It will feature four zones – Conservation & Environment, Adventure, Creative and Music.

The Conservation and Environment zone will feature presentations by some of the most important conservationists and scientists who are at the forefront of the country’s environmental sphere, as well as international speakers.

To add to the experiential factor, the other zones will bring interaction, creativity and pop culture into the conservation message.

The highlight of the Adventure zone will be the presence of the Moab Monkeys from Utah, United States.

Known for their record-breaking feats and extreme highline and base jumping experiments, three of their members will be bringing their 2014 Mothership Space Net Penthouse concept to Sandakan in the form of a human nest.

The human nest is a 20’ x 20’ web, rigged to the four points of the Sepilok rainforest and suspended over the lake.

The public will have a chance to be cradled in it and hopefully understand the importance of the forest habitat to tree-dwelling life forms such as orang utan, sunbears, birds, insects and much more.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

10 Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu with Kids

If Malaysia isn’t on your family holiday to-do list, there are many reasons why it should be. My daughter and I recently visited Kota Kinabalu in the state of Sabah on the western side of Borneo. It’s a popular destination for those who would like to take a break from city life to enjoy a tropical vacation in an incredible biodiverse part of the world.

We had a brilliant time experiencing the area’s extraordinary wildlife, attractions and luxury hotels. It may surprise you to know that there are many things to do in Kota Kinabalu with kids, some of which are mentioned below.

1. Go Snorkeling

The snorkeling off the coast of Kota Kinabalu in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is amazing.

A particularly excellent option is Mamutik Island which we had direct access to it via Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa’s STAR Marina private boats. But the park has five islands in total: Gaya, Mamutik, Manukan, Sapi and Sulug. Snorkeling and diving can be done around most of them.

You’ll see a variety of tropical fish, eels, rays, black-nosed sharks, jellyfish (the harmless kind), stunning coral and so much more in often clear waters. A number of tours run from Kota Kinabalu and it only takes a few minutes to reach the islands by boat.

2. Visit an Orangutan Sanctuary

A family vacation to Kota Kinabalu with kids (or without) is not complete without a visit to an orang utan sanctuary. We were short on time so could not visit the famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Sanctuary, which may require a flight or a long (over 5 hours) bus ride. I have heard that if you can swing it, a visit here is well worth it. It is larger than others, with 40-60 orang utans there at any given time, and by far the most famous for viewing these amazing rescued animals in their natural habitat.

Instead of Sepilok, we attended a morning orang utan viewing at Shangri-la's Rasa Ria Resort and Spa Nature Reserve where some orang utans are rehabilitated before being transferred to Sepilok to relearn life skills prior to release. After learning about orang utans and Borneo wildlife in general, we walked to a viewing platform where we enjoyed a close-up look at the two orang utans in residence (my daughter also participated in Ranger for a Day where she cut up the fruit and veg they ate).

3. Watch a Sunset

The sunsets in Kota Kinabalu are nothing short of amazing. The sun appears larger closer to the equator, the air quality is good and the tropical clouds create an incredibly dramatic effect. Witness the magic of a Borneo sunset at Tanjung Aru Beach, the Sunset Bar at Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa or Sutera Harbour.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: 10 Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu with Kids

Langkah Syabas Resort, Kota Kinabalu Sabah

I was supposed to climb Mount Kinabalu last June but after the earthquake that shook Ranau and destroyed the mountain trails, that was obviously a no go this time. For the mountain that is. I was still determined to fly out to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and enjoy a well deserved relaxing holiday by the beach. 

So just two weeks before my trip, my friend recommended Langkah Syabas Resort, an isolated beach resorted located just 30 minutes south of Kota Kinabalu.

A quick Google search of the resort won me over and this post will show you ten reasons why.

1. Beach side location

I wanted something close to the sea where I could bask in the sun on the beach or by the pool with the sound of the waves crashing in the background. At Langkah Syabas Resort, I got exactly just that. The beach wasn't exactly the cleanest as rubbish kept getting washed up to its shores but the sunset views were stunning.

2. Swimming pool right outside the chalet

I enjoyed swimming about in one of the two swimming pools that was the epicenter of the chalets. It was a bit dirty with leaves and twigs falling into it from the hanging trees but I've seen worst and it can't be helped that Mother Nature shreds so often.

3. Spacious private chalets

I absolutely love their chalets. For my entire three days two nights stay at the resort, I hid indoors, locked away from the outside world with just a television, my laptop (and no wifi) and my sister and friend. Just lazy around and emerging only for food and to explore the resort. It was absolute bliss. My deluxe room came with a queen sized bed and a single bed, sufficient for the three of us to share.

(Although by the afternoon of day 2, I started to get bored due to lack of activity option onsite. I only later found out that I could have gone kayaking. Dammit.)

4. Delicious resort food

As we were more or less isolated to the resort grounds (as we were too cheapo to call a cab to go into town), we dined all three meals at their Balcony restaurant which served pretty delicious and reasonable meals for a resort. Western food was their specialty along with their homemade brie and camembert cheese. That's right, this little beach resort made their own cheese onsite and fresh from the source which brings me to....

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Langkah Syabas Resort, Kota Kinabalu Sabah

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival 2015 Performers List

The Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival 2015 (RWMF 2015) will be taking place this 7-9 August at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Kuching and this is also the 18th year for the world renown Rainforest World Music Festival. Do you also know that every year, more and more new international and local acts are brought in to perform to world music lovers.

And for this year's RWMF 2015, the list of performers or artist is pretty amazing with some rare and unique groups performing on stage. In total, there will be 24 different performers throughout the three day festival here. One to look out for is our own Malaysian Mah Meri ethnic group, one of the oldest ethnic groups in the country and very little known about them. Other highlights would also be the Ndima, a rare pygmy tribe from Congo, Africa and a Kecak group from Bali, Indonesia.

List of RWMF 2015 Performers in alphabetical order are; (Malaysia) is a wonderful celebration of rhythm and spontaneous percussive beats; where everyone, young and old are invited to participate in a musical experience that is second to none. 1Drum Circle is a great way to meet like-minded people and an opportunity to reconnect with your inner rhythm. Drums will be provided for 100 pax per session.

Alaverdi (Georgia)
The four-piece ensemble Alaverdi from Georgia has specialised in the traditional Georgian folk music and church chants which are hailed as one of the most unique musical traditions around the world. Performing on the most traditional folk instruments, such as string, wind and percussion instruments, the band brings back the original sound of Georgian music and creates a mystical atmosphere.

Bargou 08 (Tunisia)
The band BARGOU 08 from Tunisia brings back the almost forgotten music of a region in the north west of the country which is isolated between the mountains and the Algerian border. Their music is the gateway to old Tunisian traditions and stories which are embedded in the lyrics, the melody and the dance.

Culture Shot aka La La Li La Tam Pong (Penang, Malaysia)
This six-headed band from Penang, Malaysia, combines different musical traditions and instruments into a multiracial music style based on old Hokkien music. Using instruments such as Er-hu, Lang Tin Tang, Rebana, Gongs and a Gendang, they mix sounds from different regions and create a new sound representing the diversity of their country.

Driss El Maloumi (Morocco)
The talented artist from Agadir, Morocco, mixes Arabic music with classical Western music and has not only worked with various famous musicians from all over the world such as Montserrat Figueiras or Omar Bashir, but also composed music for shows and films such as “La Source Des Femmes”. In 2013 Driss El Maloumi released his album “Makan” which he recorded in a trio with two percussionists Said El Maloumi and Lahoucine Baquir.

Enkh Jargal Danfarvaanchig aka EPI (Mongolia)
Epi is a Mongolian Moorin Hoor (Horse Fiddle), a traditional Mongolian instrument, player who grew up in the countryside and is therefore deeply rooted into the traditional and nomadic way of life that his people live in Mongolia. He studied the Moorin Hoor at the Music-Conservatorium of Ulaanbaatar and has performed all over the world and also on TV to bring back the awareness towards Mongolian traditional music.

Harubee (Maldives)
Harubee is 16 young men exploding with energy. Boduberu music evolved from the 11th century, brought in from the sailors traveling from parts of Africa. It is the relief found in dance for the common people. The songs are about everyday life, often heavy with satire. The drumming and dancing are frenetic, crescendo-ing into immense passionate climaxes.

Kapela Maliszow (Poland)
Kapela Maliszów is a family band of three members, led by the multi-instrumentalist Jan Malisz and inspired by the traditional music of Beskid Niski and Pogorze in South Poland. Their instruments have been played by family members since the early 20th century and they have won a variety of prizes playing folk songs and dance music from Gorlice County using their traditional instruments (violin, basolia and drum).

Kenwy Yan-Qin Ensemble (Sarawak, Malaysia)
The yangqin or the hammered dulcimer of China originally came from Persia, and it’s characterised for its bright tones yet extreme expressive range. Ken Wy is a master at this instrument and has established a Music & Arts Academy in Kuching. He brings an impressive ensemble of yangqins and percussion to the festival playing a range of traditional Chinese songs.


Restoration of Mount Kinabalu - Trail up to Laban Rata ready

KOTA KINABALU: The trail up to Laban Rata on Mount Kinabalu has been repaired.

Sabah Parks is now deciding on three possible alternative routes to the mountain’s summit.

The three routes are more challenging than the original trail between Laban Rata and the summit that was blocked by boulders and rocks during the June 5 earthquake, said Sabah Parks chairman Datuk Tengku Adlin Tengku Mahamood.

Laban Rata, at an altitude of 3,272m, is where the rest house is located. Climbers usually stop there overnight before they ascend to Low’s Peak at 4,095.2m.

“We are making sure these alternative trails are away from falling rocks,” he said yesterday.

Tengku Adlin said the alternative trails were steeper than the original one, but he was confident that most climbers would be able to manage them.

He said the trails would require the use of ropes along the steeper sections.

He added that there was a boulder about the size of a house just near Laban Rata, and Sabah Parks was using an “arresting system” to secure it as the mountain continued to experience aftershocks.