Thursday, March 31, 2016

10 Sabah tourist spots to be gazetted National Heritage Sites

KINABATANGAN: Ten tourist spots in Sabah will be gazetted National Heritage Sites.

They are Batu Tulug Agop Archaeological Site Kinabatangan, Kinabalu National Park, Bukit Tengkorak Archaeological Park Semporna, Marine Park Pulau Sipadan, Maliau Basin, Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Turtle Island Park and Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.

Disclosing this, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said these sites would be gazetted under the National Heritage Act 2005 as it was important to preserve such places of interest.

“To date, 12 Sabah heritages involving games, clothings, traditional food and dances have been gazetted as national heritage,” he said during a visit to Batu Tulug Agop Archaeological Site near here yesterday.

He added that recognition of these 10 sites was important before they could be nominated as World Heritage Sites under UNESCO.

Mohamed Nazri also said his ministry, through the National Heritage Department and the Sabah State government via the Sabah Parks, is in the midst of evaluating Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon which have the potential for nomination as World Heritage Sites.


Semenggoh Wildlife Centre's orang utan Ali to hit the ‘limelight’ in Shanghai

KUCHING: The Borneo Orang-Utan Project (BOP) will be hitting the shores of Shanghai, China, for the Incentive Travel & Conventions, Meetings (IT&CM) China this coming April 6-8.

BOP, the official corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Congress 2016, is inviting all ICCA members to generate awareness on the plight of the Borneo Orang-Utans by participating in this highly distinguished initiative by the Local Host of ICCA Congress 2016 – Malaysia and ICCA.

Following the successful launches of BOP at the International Business and Tourism Management (IBTM) Barcelona 2015 and the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) in Australia 2016, this third instalment will see one lucky ICCA member win the opportunity of a lifetime to adopt a precious baby boy orang utan named Ali for a year.

Tough little baby Ali was rescued at the age of three with a grave stomach infection.

Now stronger than ever following full recovery, Ali is currently journeying with his keepers on daily excursions into the jungle to prepare for his release into the semi-wild.

Currently, Ali is being cared for at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, a world-renowned research facility and nature reserve that has also successfully rehabilitated and reintroduced many of these primates back to the forest.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sabah tourism's big threat - Shark fin menus

KOTA KINABALU: A mass boycott of restaurants serving shark fin dishes has been called for by tour operators. The clarion call comes amid fears that the iconic marine predator is being hunted to extinction.

And its disappearance could have a devastating effect on Sabah’s tourism industry which raked in RM6.4 billion in 2015.

That was the singular warning from the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) which have also called for urgent federal government action.

“The shark population in Sabah has declined by 80 per cent over the past three decades and they are rarer in waters off peninsular Malaysia,” said MATTA vice president-elect Datuk Tan Kok Liang yesterday.

“The remaining sharks found in Sabah attracted over 55,000 divers last year, pumping RM323 million to the local economy. But this annual revenue may be wiped out once the sharks are further depleted,”he said.

According to him, shark hunting and finning had already been banned by the European Union, and a further 27 other nations have followed suit since 2013.

Sabah has repeatedly called on the federal government to ban shark hunting.

“We need to be more caring and shark finning is cruel. As for the tourism industry, it is no different from killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.”

Many tourist visiting Sabah were environmental conscious, and if this continued, it could backfire on ecotourism.

“But the ban on shark hunting and killing will continue to be delayed as long as the hunters are accorded greater priority than this magnificent fish species, which plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of nature in our marine ecosystems,” Tan said.

He added that MATTA was now adopting a two-prong approach by calling for a boycott of establishments serving shark fins.

“The slogan – When the buying stops, the killing can too – is just as applicable here as in other conservation efforts.

“Shark fin consumption has no longer been in vogue for some time and leading hotel chains such as Hilton, Hyatt, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Peninsula, Shangri-La, Waldorf Astoria and Westin do not serve it.”

A recent report by the Hong Kong Shark Foundation, found that a shocking 98 per cent of the 375 restaurants surveyed continue to choose profit over environmentally friendly practices.

But if voluntary efforts were ineffective, tourism authorities could compile a blacklist of restaurants serving shark fins so that tourists could boycott them altogether, and not just the dish.

“A strategic campaign to raise awareness and educate restaurant operators, locals and tourists would have a rippling effect across society, and ensure that such noble conservation efforts are sustainable.

“A simple competition to pick the best slogan for not eating shark fins would generate much interest and publicity, and those enterprising enough to take part could make a killing selling T-shirts with meaningful slogans,” he added.


Kampung Sukau to become tourism village

KINABATANGAN: The government has decided to turn Kampung Sukau into a tourism village in the near future.

Tourism and Cultural Minister Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, who visited the village yesterday, said the village which is rich in biodiversity, had the potential to emerge as a well-known tourism spot.

The village is the centre of the Sungai Tribe to hold various cultural events such as Pesta Sungai in May and Pesta Damas in November apart from producing handicrafts, cultural arts and bird nests.

“Looking at this potential, the government will give a grant and allocation to upgrade the public toilet, homestay, cluster inns and jetty not only for the usage of local residents but also for visitors.

“In order to emerge as a well-known tourist spot, cleanliness is very important. Good hygiene must be practised not only by local residents but also by homestay and tour operators, who should ensure they have clean toilets and a clean surrounding compound of their homestay,” he said after officiating the ceremony of ‘Merakyatkan Seni Budaya’ organised by Sabah Association of Bangsa Sungai (SABAS) at Kampung Sukau, Kinabatangan, yesterday.

In order to keep up with recent developments, Nazri said the government would review the license fee for those locals who work as guides.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sarawak Cultural Village to host annual World Harvest Festival

KUCHING: The annual World Harvest Festival will be held on April 29-May 1 at the Sarawak Cultural Village featuring various activities.

Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the festival will be held as a prelude to the Gawai celebration in June.

Among the activities are the theme play ‘Dayang Bulan – The Moon Princess’, based on the Kelabit legend while 15 finalists of the ethnic beauty pageant, Miss Cultural Harvest Festival 2016 will showcase their talents, grace and beauty at the pageant final.

There will also be the Ironman World Harvest Festival 2016 and a Sarawak Kitchen Food-Culinary competition.

“This year we are targeting 10,000 festival goers compared to over 7,000 last year. This is because the first Hong Kong-Kuching-Hong Kong flight will be here on April 26. The flight is a twice-weekly. It is possible that our friends from Hong Kong will come for the festival,” Abang Johari said at a press conference yesterday.

He added that agents in Hong Kong will incorporate the festival as part of their promotion in Hong Kong.

Apart from that, visitors can also experience living in a village via a homestay programme, Gawai Village Stay Tourism Package.


Book on the Penans released

MIRI: After years of photographing and documenting the lives of the Penans, former deputy minister of education Datuk Hon Choon Kim has finally released his second book of photography, ‘The Penan Through The Lens’, and with the new book he hopes to raise funds to assist the forgotten nomadic tribe.

An avid photographer, the 68-year-old retiree with a heart of gold first stumbled on a chance to visit a Penan village in 2010 when he saw several photos of Penans posted by the then president of Miri Photography Society (MPS), Siew Tick Chai.

“Living primarily in West Malaysia, I did not have much exposure to the natives who live in the rainforests of Sarawak. As much as I was particularly curious about this nomadic tribe, I’ve learnt more about their nomadic lifestyle and unique culture which really opened my eyes,” Hon is quoted in his book.

In the past five years, Hon had travelled numerous times to Penan villages in Long Seridan, and captured thousands of photographs that tell the culture and customs of the Penan people.

“This book of photographs faithfully records the life of Penan people, the challenges during the time of living with them, mosquito bites as well as other insects, while living at some of the villages without water and electricity which takes hours of walk to reach, nonetheless, I have enjoyed every single trip and every moment, as the Penans have already had an important place in my heart.”

Hon also took the opportunity to share his thought: “Besides taking photographs, I strongly believe that photographers also bear the responsibility to capture the unjust social happenings so as to initiate a change for the better.

I agree with Lewis Wickes Hines, an American photographer, when he pointed out that photography should not just capture beautiful things but also things that need to be changed.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Book on the Penans released

Monday, March 28, 2016

5-star Pullman Miri Waterfront to open on April 2

MIRI: Strategically located in the centre of this city, Pullman Miri Waterfront will be part of the city’s landscape and will enhance its image as a Resort City.

General manager Michael Weiss in an interview disclosed that the five-star hotel will open for business on April 2.

Ideally located adjacent to Miri River and the South China Sea, the latest addition to the resort city is a 24-storey building towering over Miri Waterfront Commercial Centre with spectacular sea views from all rooms.

He said all the 324 modern and elegant rooms and suites in Pullman Miri Waterfront are incorporated with the latest audio-visual and communication technologies inspired by special Pullman designed features catering to the comfort of contemporary business and leisure travellers.

“A key feature of the hotel is the breathtaking sunset from the Grand Ballroom and function rooms overlooking South China Sea and Miri River.

“Pullman Miri Waterfront will host its clients and guests with the best of Sarawakian hospitality whether they are travelling for business or leisure,” said Weiss.

Weiss also believed that the hotel could emulate the peaceful and harmonious living among Sarawakians.

“I believe that a peaceful and harmonious working environment and setting will enable everybody to be united and work as a team.


269,731 turtles land at Turtle Islands Park

SANDAKAN: A total of 269,731 turtles landed and laid eggs on three islands which comprise Turtle Islands Park of the Sabah coast from 1979 to 2015 or a span of 36 years.

The park comprising the islands of Selingan, Gulisaan and Bakkungaan Kecil covers an area of some 1,740 hectares, of which 18.2 hectares are on land while 1,721.8 hectares at sea.

Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais said 22 million turtle eggs were collected while 16 million hatchlings were hatched during the same period.

Three hatcheries were built on Selingan, Gulisaan and Bakkungaan Kecil, the landing sites for the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle and the olive ridley turtle.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

38 Gorgeous Photos To Prove That Sabah Is Truly A Rare Gem Of Southeast Asia

Taking a step away from all the heat, haze and madness clouding the nation, we take a look at why most refer to Sabah as the jewel of Southeast Asia:

1. Stunning, jaw-dropping islands!

One of the first things that come to mind when one thinks of Sabah, would definitely be its breathtaking beach strips with blue-green crystal clear waters.

With islands like Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai and more 'virgin' beaches, Sabah serves as the ideal destination to satisfy all your beach holiday cravings!

2. Locals there are probably the warmest and friendliest in the country

If there's anything that travellers most often worry about, it would most probably be language barrier.

However, Malaysians or in this case, Sabahans are mostly multilingual, with many that can speak at least three languages including English, Bahasa Baku, Mandarin, and other indigenous dialects.

3. There's lip-smacking CHEAP seafood and a delectable selection of local cuisine

One of the most popular local fruit in Sabah, 'Bambangan' is a type of wild-mango fruit that is known for its durian-like distinct scent.

The fruit is usually pickled, fried with onions and chillies to make sambal or tossed into a fresh salad.

Bambangan fruits are easily available in wet markets around the state.

Being a coastal state that is pretty much surrounded by the South China Sea, seafood is not only easily available but is also reasonable and rather cheap in Sabah, compared to other states in Malaysia.

To top it off, the eclectic blend of cultures add an interesting twist to the local dishes!

4. There are even dairy farms that resemble quaint little Swiss villages

Located at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu, Desa Cattle Dairy Farm offers one of the most amazing scenery one could envision.

Often chosen as a wedding photography destination, with the majestic Mount Kinabalu overlooking beautiful green pastures, the scenery is breathtaking, not forgetting the cool breeze that Kundasang has to offer.

The real attraction here is the cattle farm, producing about 900,00 litres of milk per year.

The farm is 199 hectares and most of the milking cows are Friesians, the highest milk producers of all cattle breeds.

A mini bonus if you are visiting the Desa Dairy Farm; the Kundasang War Memorial which is located just minutes away from the farm, will surely remind you of the majestic, medieval Scottish highlands!

5. Its lush rainforests could easily rival the Amazon

Did you know that the Borneo tropical rainforest is about 130 million years old, making it one of the oldest in the world?

While many parts of the country is covered in degraded jungles and secondary forests, Borneo's forest remains the only undisturbed virgin forest in the country, with a dizzying number of exquisite flora and fauna.


Pure Glutton - Dining at Gaya Island Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Gaya Island Resort boasts of several dining options on its premise.  Believe me, guests are quite spoilt for choices when it comes to food at the resort.

Besides the regular offerings at the outlets, guests can also request for private dining should there be any celebration to be held or simply because they want a special dining experience. 

How about a Sunrise Breakfast, an Aqua Dinner, a Sinagang Steamboat or a personalised gourmet picnic? 

All these can be arranged with a day advance notice to the resort.

We had a special unique dining experience at Gaya Island Resort, too … more about that later.


Our first meal at the resort was at the Feast Village, YTL’s signature all-day dining outlet. 

Feast Village in all the YTL Properties is well-known for its sumptuous array of food, whether it’s on the buffet or on a la carte orders.

Upon arrival at the resort, we went straight for lunch at Feast Village, hosted by James Sutcliffe, the Resort Manager. 

The chef cooked up a storm of local dishes for us, using the freshest seafood. 

In between laughter and friendly conversations, we dined on a huge seabass with sambal, black pepper beef, sweet and sour chicken, butter prawns and crunchy saute’ed four-angle beans.

It was an immensely satisfying lunch indeed and definitely coma-inducing when we hit the bed in our villa after that.

The breakfast buffet spread at the Feast Village is something not to be missed. 

Being sea-fronting, the view from the restaurant adds on to the total enjoyment of the meal, of course. 

There are the usual counters offering salads, breads, cereals, hot dishes (Japanese/Asian/Western), rice congee as well as egg stations but my favourites are the fresh fruit juices and noodles counters. 

Get the chefs to fry you a plate of noodles on-the-spot…  they do a darn good job at that! Oh, and also their Pisang Goreng (fried bananas) and Cucur (fried fritters) were amazing!


Saturday, March 26, 2016

2 Weeks in Sabah Borneo

Borneo is an absolute dream and the only negative thing I can say about our time there is that we regret not spending more time there.  We had planned to spend much more time and for some reason we got there and realized we would have to cut our time short. It was just poor planning on our part, but it gave us a good taste of what there is on offer there and we have no doubt we will be back.

As you know if you follow along, I am a rainforest jungle junkie. Whenever we get a chance to get out of the city into a forest or jungle I am completely in my element, so you can imagine that visiting the equatorial rainforests of Borneo was a highlight for both of us. There is just something about the sound of nothing, the sound of distant birds and crashing monkeys that just makes me feel at peace.  Borneo delivered on this aspect.

Top that off with some of the most stunning islands and underwater life we have ever seen and we are raving about this destination. Simply put, we cannot wait to get back and it seems our list of places to revisit in Southeast Asia continues to grow.

Now that I have told you about our new found love I’ll divulge on a couple other things. This island is an adventurers paradise with a variety of things to do on the ground, in the clouds and under the water. The opportunities are endless if you have the energy. Getting around the country in really easy with efficient bus routes and perfectly scattered airports. Transportation is affordable as well.  There really isn’t a real reason to not come here and just explore all that it has to offer, other than time of course. That will be your only limit.

Where Did We Go?

We visited the Malaysian State of of Sabah, leaving Sarawak State and Kalimantan, the Indonesian side of Borneo unexplored for now. Our stops included Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Sukau, Kinabatangan River, Sepilok, Semporna, Mabul, Kapalai, Siamil and Sipadan.

What We Loved:

Borneo is stunning and the few parts we saw delivered on all aspects of what we expected.

Adventure. Sabah is an adventure lovers paradise. There is a trek, climb, safari, dive and more around every single corner. The cities of course are modern and it is easy to find your every day comforts but once you get outside of them, nothing but adventure awaits you in the undeveloped areas.

Prime Equatorial Rainforests.  Ah, I get goosebumps just thinking about it and regret not spending more time exploring them. I am genuinely fascinated by dense rainforests and after seeing many different versions of them around the World, there was only one that swept me off my feet, the Amazon Rainforest. That was until we paid a visit to Borneo, while it’s not as big, the rainforests here are a close second and well above many others we have trodden through over the years.

World Class Scuba Diving. Well, I had to mention this as Sabah boasts one of the World’s top 5 dive sites with Sipadan Island. Of course we couldn’t resist the urge to dive here, so we spent 5 days living on an island diving Sipadan and the surrounding islands of Mabul, Kapalai and Siamil. It really was world class.

The Wildlife. Borneo is home to so many endemic species, I can’t even remember them all. This makes for spectacular wildlife viewing just about anywhere you go. We even went out birding and on a wildlife safari where we spotted Proboscis Monkeys, Silver Langurs, Orangutans, several varieties of Hornbills and other endemic species.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: 2 Weeks in Sabah Borneo

Friday, March 25, 2016

Off the Beaten Track: BORNEO

Tired of going to Phuket or Bali and fighting for a quiet spot on the beach? This month, we take you off the beaten track instead, to a destination, which is a wonderfully kept secret – until now of course. From unique wildlife to untouched jungle, few places can match the natural drama of Malaysian Borneo. Visit the local tribes, spot orangutans in the wild, explore tropical islands, and enjoy the most gorgeous sunsets on this unforgettable adventure, only a two-hour flight away!

Half of me does not want to write this article. I want to keep Borneo as my little secret, and I resent the thought of anyone else knowing about my special Asian vacation hideaway. The other half of me can’t stop talking about Borneo at every party or get-together, and wants to regale everyone with tales of how fantastic this place actually is.

“If Borneo is so wonderful, how come nobody has told me about it yet?” I imagine you asking eagerly. Well, they are probably facing the same dilemma described above. Except the writer and travel enthusiast in me has won; so read on as I share where to go to get the best out of your Borneo experience.

Best for Orangutans:

It is feeding time at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, but it’s surprisingly quiet, with bunches of bananas, coconuts and jackfruit piled on the feeding platform. The quiet doesn’t last very long. Soon I hear the snapping of trees, and two chocolate eyes peek out straight at me. Pretty soon, more orangutans swing down, cartwheeling lazily through the trees to gather up the fruit. I look over at the rapture on my two-year-old daughter’s face, and share her unbridled fascination with these animals.

Of all of Borneo’s wild inhabitants, the Orangutan is clearly the king. Derived from the Malay words, orang (person) and hutan (forest), these “people of the forest” live wild only in Sumatra and Borneo.  It is a surreal experience watching these animals in their natural habitat. They seem to have their own personalities; some are forthcoming, others shy, some greedily grab the fruit and linger for photographs, while others nonchalantly stretch out for a siesta.

The Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is a great option for people with little time to spare in Sabah, since it is only 30 minutes away from the capital, Kota Kinabalu. The 280-acre wildlife center is home to several tigers, elephants, orangutans and other protected animals. Go early in the day to beat the heat, and have the best chance of spotting the orangutans in near solitude.

Best for Tribal Culture:

Babbling streams of water, screeching birds and humming crickets make me realize that it’s never quiet in the jungle. As I step inside a traditional longhouse at the Mari Mari Cultural Village, I am surprised to hear the history behind these longhouses (a salient feature of the Rungus tribal culture in Borneo) that our guide, Adam, describes. Each longhouse includes private quarters for up to 50-60 families as well as a shared veranda for village meetings and storage.

The Mari Mari Cultural Village is located deep in the Borneo jungle, about a 25-minute taxi ride from the capital of Kota Kinabalu.  The undisturbed beauty of the forest is certain to capture your heart as soon as you step into the village. The village shares the knowledge, history, culture and tradition of the various tribes in Borneo.

A very interesting experience ensues as our guide takes us to view various tribes and explore the way their ancestors lived. We also have a chance to see their different activities such as rice wine making, honey tasting, bamboo cookery, rope- and vest-making from the bark of a tree, tribal tattoos, fire starting and jumping on a trampoline floor. This is followed by a cultural performance of various dances, including jumping across bamboo pipes (audience participation necessary!).

Lastly, we are treated to a light Halal meal of fish, chicken rice, vegetables and salad (If you are a vegetarian, it is best to let your tour guide know in advance so vegetarian arrangements can be made). If you go for an evening session, as we did, remember to pack the mosquito repellent!

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Off the Beaten Track: BORNEO

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Video - Explore: Malaysian Borneo

This is a video from Austin Vavrovics on his trip to Mabul island and Sipadan island.


Conviction Cave at Mulu National Park to receive visitors in a year’s time

KUCHING: Newly discovered ‘Conviction Cave’ at the Gunung Mulu National Park is expected to receive visitors in a year’s time after the state Forest Department has completed its studies.

According to Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, one of the issues that had to be addressed was the narrow entry – a vertical shaft that goes down 100m and a 1km passage – that leads to the main chamber.

Experienced guides would have to be commissioned if visitors planned to explore the cave.

“The Forest Department is currently carrying out a study on the Conviction Cave. Once finished, the cave will be open to the public. We expect the study to be completed in one year.

“The entrance is quite narrow. We have to provide a guide from the main cave going to that cave. Visitors would also need to acquire an experienced guide to explore the cave. The cave network goes all the way to Gunung Buda Range in Limbang,” he told a press conference after chairing the State Tourism Steering Committee annual meeting here yesterday.

The media conference was used to announce the state government’s plan to boost its tourism sector in the next five years and beyond.

The Conviction Cave was discovered by a famed British subterranean explorer Andy Eavis, who took 24 expeditions since 1977, to make the find.

The cave is estimated to be at least six million years old and early indication shows the cave could be one of the 15 largest in the world.

Located just 15km from the Gunung Mulu National Park headquarters, the cave’s entrance is a hole on the ground – just large enough for a human – within an area called ‘The Hidden Valley’.


Borneo Jazz Festival 2016 - Free workshop on Jazz and Pop Patterns for Keyboard

MIRI: This year’s Borneo Jazz will feature a keyboard/piano workshop on ‘Jazz and Pop Patterns for the Keyboard’ as an outreach programme that targets local musicians.

It will be held at ParkCity Everly Hotel’s Ruai Bar from 10am to 12pm on May 13.

The workshop is free of charge and all interested pianists and keyboardists are invited to register in advance with Miri Music Centre by calling 085-412 615.

The invitation is on a first come, first serve basis.

The workshop is intended to provide free tutelage to local musical enthusiasts with a passion to learn the art of playing jazz.

The workshop will be conducted by Associate Professor Razif Mohd @ Jeep, a graduate of the Conservertoire de Region de Rueil-Malmaison and Centre d’Information Musicale de Paris, France.

He is lecturing in general musicianship, improvisation techniques, contemporary ensembles and short courses programme-continuous education for community at the School of Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

He has written books on the subject of jazz including ‘Boogie-Woogie piano’, ‘Piano Ragtime’, ‘Latin Jazz Piano’, ‘Koleksi Lagu-Lagu Jimmy Boyle and P Ramlee’ among others.

Razif is the founder, conductor and music director of the Voice Over Voice Ensemble, Jeep Jazz Trio + 1 and the USM jazz band.

Borneo Jazz intends to hold the workshops every year as part of its programme to reach out to young budding and talented local musicians.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Being Millennials - Simply KK: A Sojourn in Sabah’s Capital

The thing about The Mainstays’ friendship is that we have this unspoken rule that we should be on-call 24/7. There’s no contract, no peer pressure to do so—it’s just that we’ve become our own constants over the years.

We have this thread, which has been housed in several messaging apps already (we’ve been on Facebook Messenger, Viber, and WhatsApp, but we’re happily using LINE now), and notifications can go from 10 to 200+ on our peak hours daily.

It’s in our everyday conversations that we find out what’s happening among our circle—work frustrations, upcoming interesting events, life updates, friendly chika, and cheap air fares that are up for grabs.

Usually, it’s Claire (and sometimes, Alex) who does that, so when she asked who wants to go to Kota Kinabalu and back for some PhP2,000++ late last year, I couldn’t say no… even if I have no idea what the Malaysian coastal city has to offer. Because clearly, how could you pass up on seats that cheap?

Fast forward to March 2016, Claire and I find ourselves exploring the city simply called KK.

Love at First Bite

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from binging on TLC’s travel shows, it’s that you will only truly know a country through feasting on its cuisine.

Malaysian food is somehow close to what we have here in the Philippines. Variations of mee look like our pansit, while satay appears to be similar to what is collectively called “barbecue” that’s practically sold in every kanto in any Filipino neighborhood.

What sets KK eats apart, however, is the explosion of flavor its food leaves in your mouth, right after the moment it touches your tongue.

I haven’t tried Malaysian cuisine prior to our visit to KK, making our food crawl of sorts a pleasant surprise to the palate.

The food in KK (and probably the whole of Malaysia) appears to be a fusion of Malay, Indian, and Chinese cuisine—there’s just something for everyone.

It was love at first bite when I had mee goreng (fried noodles) paired with hot teh tarik (pulled tea) in a restoran near our hostel for my first meal.

The moment I took a bite and sip of my order, I knew KK was going to be one heck of a gastronomic adventure.


Elusive Marbled Cats Secretly Photographed in Sabah, Borneo

A secret photo shoot deep in the forests of Malaysian Borneo is helping researchers determine just how many marbled cats — rare, tree-climbing felines — live in the region, according to a new study.

Marbled cats (Pardofelis marmorata) are extremely elusive creatures. To get a better idea of the cats' stomping grounds, the researchers placed camera traps in eight forests and two palm oil plantations in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, they said.

After four months of secret, motion-triggered infrared photography, the researchers found that marbled cats are most numerous in the lowlands where the forest is undisturbed. However, they did find a few cats in selectively logged areas.

"We show that marbled cats can still survive in logged forests," said study lead researcher Andrew Hearn, a doctoral candidate at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

"This lends further weight to the argument that such disturbed forests are important to the conservation of biodiversity and should be preserved wherever possible."

Little is known about the cats, which are named for their marble-patterned fur. They live in dense tropical forests, and are rarely seen, except for the odd camera-trap sighting.

Perhaps that's because the species is listed as "near threatened," according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) red list, largely due to habitat loss and poaching.

In the new study, the researchers used the surreptitiously taken photos to identify individual cats and estimate the species' population density and distribution. They found that the lowland Danum Valley Conservation Area had about 19.5 cats per 39 square miles (100 square kilometers).

Tawau Hills Park had fewer — about seven cats per 39 square miles. The Tabin Wildlife Reserve, which was selectively logged from 1969 to 1989, had an estimated density of about 10 cats per 39 square miles.

These estimates provide "tentative evidence" that undisturbed, lowland hill forests have the highest densities of marbled cats, Hearn said. Other areas, including disturbed lowlands and undisturbed highlands, had lower densities of the cats, he said.


Beach cleaning to save turtles on Libaran island

SANDAKAN: With the recent press coverage on the turtle conservation work by FOSTER (Friends Of Sea Turtles Education & Research) on Libaran island, a group of teachers from SMK Batu Sapi and SMK Ulu Sugut decided to get down to the ground and help out.

They contacted FOSTER and booked themselves for a 3-day 2-night volunteer programme and entered Libaran island on a bright sunny morning last weekend, taking a boat from the Sandakan Yacht Club.

On arrival, they were given an orientation of the island and the turtle conservation programme by Honorary Wildlife Warden Harun Haris who has been working on the turtle conservation programme since its inception in 2012.

The group of enthusiastic teachers then proceeded for lunch before cleaning a 200m stretch of the beach. In early March, FOSTER re-launched a year-long community beach cleaning project whereby local Libaran villagers are paid through sponsorship to clean the beach of Libaran on a year-long basis. The teachers helped out on the areas which were not covered by the community project.

By late afternoon, the teachers had completed cleaning the 200m stretch of the beach. Harun then showed the teachers around Taman Hadiah, the turtle hatchery set-up on Libaran island and explaining to them about the hatchery and the operation of the turtle conservation programme. They also learnt how to set up a nest for the turtle in the event that they have to transfer the eggs.

After dinner, they were treated to a video show on the lifecycle of a turtle.

Lights went out early that evening as the teachers waited around for a turtle to come ashore to lay eggs. A turtle actually came ashore at about 2am, recced the land and returned to the ocean without laying eggs. The next day, the teachers continued with their cleaning work which also included getting the “turtle hospital” ready.

This is at sector one of the beach area and by far, it is an area with the most turtle landings. They get the place “ready” by clearing the sand bank and removing any grass from it.

That evening, FOSTER president, Alexander Yee entered Libaran island and joined them for the evening dinner. After dinner, he shared with them the challenges he has faced during the setting up of the hatchery and the future plans. The teachers were responsive with many asking a lot of questions.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Best Kayaking and Rafting in Borneo

White water rafting and kayaking are famous and thrilling outside activities for friends, families, students and even enterprise day out here in Sabah Borneo!

Whether or not you simply want to go with the flow evenly or relaxingly down a quiet river, or kayaking a huge bay, rowing a tiny lake or likely just to sense the adrenaline rush whilst you go down white water rapids, taking up a paddle can virtually be an eccentric manner to enjoy outdoors madness!

Those adventurous activities enhance electricity, flexibility in addition to your cardio health.

Different validated advantages of kayaking and rafting also include burning calories, improves your stability in addition to they may be totally splendid full body workout too!

Those sports are a sort of enjoy which you might no longer need to pass specifically when you are with your loved ones!

They also can be carried out as ordinary pastime, a aggressive sport or a amusing and fun sports whilst you are on vacations.

On the cease of the day, rafting and kayaking continually leave its members yearning and watching for for more.

To appreciate superb views and surroundings of rainforest that Sabah has to give, you could raft or kayak down the rushing rivers in Kiulu and Padas.

First of all, let's recognize what kayaking is. it is using a kayak for transferring throughout a water and is outstanding from canoeing by way of the sitting function of the paddler in addition to the range of blades on the paddle.

What's a kayak? It's miles a boat in which the paddler faces ahead, legs stretched up front and using a double-bladed paddle.

Why is kayaking distinct from rafting is virtually due to the fact typically this activity calls for someone to be in the boat at the same time as for rafting, it commonly includes more human beings in a collection.

The Kiulu and Padas River are extraordinarily popular for his or her thrilling water sports activities sports.

Their river rapids range from 1-4 in terms of degree difficulties. This may provide an fantastic opportunity for each skilled and rookie kayakers to find out their limits.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Best Kayaking and Rafting in Borneo

Kiulu could be next adventure tourism destination

KIULU: “If adventure is your passion then Kiulu is definitely your destination” is the new tagline to promote tourism in this picturesque hinterland just an hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu.

Coined by Kiulu Assemblyman, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture is now mulling with the idea to adopt it for promoting adventure tourism.

The ministry’s secretary-general, Tan Sri Dr Ong Hong Peng visited the area last weekend and was so impressed with the concept that he delayed his return flight to Kuala Lumpur.

“He was supposed to fly back to Kuala Lumpur at 2.30pm but he changed his mind after learning you all were here and this is something we will always appreciate,” said Joniston when addressing participants of the Earth Hour & Kiulu Adventure Voluntourism Programme.

The event was organised by the Sabah Backpackers Operators Association (SBA) and Almacrest Students Backpackers Club (ASBC).

“Kiulu is basically a rural area and we are promoting this place as a model for rural tourism to create a viable alternative source of income for rural folks who rely on agriculture to make a living,” said Joniston, a native of Kiulu.

“We have such a beautiful place and unspoilt environment so we should capitalise on this to get visitors to come and stay here and in this way, we help to improve the economy of the rural folks,” he added.

Joniston who is also the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman believed that Dr Ong’s presence would go a long way towards promoting Kiulu as an adventure destination.


Sabah International Dragon Boat Race to be held earlier this year

KOTA KINABALU: The third Sabah FCAS International Dragon Boat Race 2016 will be held in May with a total of RM74,000 cash prize to be won.

The race will be held at Likas Bay on May 21 and 22 from 6am to 1pm.

Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) president cum event chairman Datuk Seri Panglima Dr T.C. Goh said the federation had set a target to attract 120 teams to join the race this year, which was an increase from 117 participating teams last year.

“We have had inquiries from Shanghai and Xiamen (in China), while a team from Foshan have confirmed their participation,” he said at a press conference here yesterday.

Meanwhile, organizing chairlady Datuk Susan Wong Siew Guen said the federation had decided to bring the dragon boat race forward from June to May for the first time this year with the aim to support the state government’s effort in promoting the tourism industry.

“By holding the race at the end of May, international and domestic contestants will have the opportunity to join and experience the Harvest Festival celebrations in the state.

“This will not only showcase the unique culture of Sabah, but also spur the state’s tourism industry and economy.”

Furthermore, Wong said many international dragon boat races were held in June, thus holding the third Sabah FCAS International Dragon Boat Race at an earlier date would avoid clashes on race days, thereby attracting more participation, especially foreign teams.

“To date, many local, Sarawakian and West Malaysian teams, as well as those from Foshan and Xiamen, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei, and Australia have expressed their interest in joining the race.

“FCAS hopes more foreign teams will take part in the dragon boat race this year and make the event a success.”

The dragon boat race is divided into nine categories, including the coveted Sabah Head of State Trophy for international and top Malaysian men teams (800 metres) that comes with RM10,000 for the champion, RM5,000 for the first runner-up and RM2,000 for the second runner-up.

Other categories are the Sabah Chief Minister Trophy (Malaysian men teams, 800m), Sabah FCAS Dragon Trophy (international and Malaysian mix teams, 800m), FCAS Trophy (United Sabah Chinese Community Associations of Kota Kinabalu constituent members, 800m), FCAS Trophy (Malaysian men team, 800m), FCAS Trophy (mixed teams, 800m), Kinabalu Dragon Trophy (junior teams under 20 years old, 800m), Kinabalu Dragon Trophy (international and Malaysian men teams, 200m) and Kinabalu Dragon Trophy (mixed teams, 200m).

All the winning teams will receive medals as well.

Wong informed that registration for the dragon boat race is now open and the deadline is May 10, 2016.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Wander-lust - The best of Borneo, Kuching

Borneo is one of the favorite destinations of many travelers who visit Malaysia. I totally agree!

I’ve been to many places in Asia, but Borneo will always have a special place in my heart.

From food, friendly local people to music, nightlife, culture, wildlife and jungle – Kuching has a lot more to offer than many other countries in Asia.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to hear the sounds of the sea and the splashing waves, read a book under palm trees, relax and then jump into a swimming pool, but after a week I’m craving for some adventure. Borneo has something for everyone!

When I decided to stay for 3 days in Kuching, the the owner of my hostel convinced me to stay at least 5 days since there’s so much more to discover than jungle/wildlife only. He was totally right! I eventually stayed for almost 1 week.

I’ve spent four days outside the city and three days inside the city of Kuching. You probably won’t expect it – neither did I – but Kuching has a lot of trendy restaurants where they serve top notch food and wines and cafes that come alive at night where locals play the guitar and sing oldies like the Beatles. Definitely my cup of tea:)

‘Let me take you along a journey you will never forget!’

The city of Kuching

Kuching is the Capital of the Sararawak province. The city is well know for it’s style, culture and natural habitat. It might be a small city but it it’s big in it’s venues.

You will see statues of cats everywhere – the city’s name is derived from the Malay word for cat — Kucing. A bit weird in the beginning but you will get used to it.

The city of Kuching has a lot to offer. It’s a vibrant and dynamic city with beautiful new and historic buildings with impressive architecture. The locals are very friendly and warm, you feel at home right away.


1. Cruise along the majestic Sarawak River

Explore the city by boat along the Sarawak River. The Sarawak River, separating the north and the south called, is the best way to view the city.

Relax and take a moment to see the city from another angle. Normally you will pay around RM60 (13 euros) per person when you do a tour via an agency where you share a big boat with at least 15 people.

Tip » I took a small taxi boat where the locals travel with. A lot cheaper – RM 30 (6 euro) for two people – you will get a lot more inside info and you will have the boat all for yourself! You will have to negotiate, but my trip took 1.5 hours and the local guy I had was so lovely. Take a breath and enjoy the calm river while sipping a cold refreshing beer.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Wander-lust - The best of Borneo, Kuching

Curryfrog - In Search of Borneo. Sabah

The incongruity of being on a bus in the middle of Borneo and suddenly hearing Cliff Richard's voice singing "Summer Holiday" as a ringtone on a local guy's mobile phone cannot be overstated.

"Where you from?!"
Again and again, the shout goes out as yet another person sees a couple of white people strolling by.
"Scotland!" We shout back.
"Alex Ferguson!" and a couple of thumbs up is all but a dead cert by way of reply.
Alex Ferguson!
What about John Logie Baird, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Telford or James Watt?
If it's the names of knights of the realm they want to call out, what about Sir Walter Scott or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?

It would appear that the only Scottish legate of notable international standing is a guy whose job was to stand on the sidelines and shout at people playing football while they played football against some other people playing football a few years ago.

Does this say anything salient about the state of Scottish and, by association, British influence in the modern world?

The first time you visit a country, you cannot help but compare it with the image, or set of images which have built up over the years in your subconscious. These images have been absorbed throughout your life by what you read, what you see on TV or in magazines and what you have heard from the media or from other people.The tricks that the imagination plays invariably mean that the image(s) you create are much more 'rosy' than the reality.

Once you visit the country yourself, you need to be prepared to absorb the reality and accept that it will not be as you imagine. You have to prepare to be disappointed.

The media images of Borneo are inevitably of wildlife and jungle. 

The immediate reality once you arrive is of lots of people, in cars and lots of buildings. This is the consequence of travelling on a plane, to a city. Cities are cities. They all have hotels, restaurants, taxis and of course, people. They are all pretty similar once you take into account the cultural differences.

With some cities, such as Kuta on Bali, dig as hard as you can and you never get under the surface and find the image you came with. The reality takes over and you realise that the 'Bali' you were sold does not exist. You have been sold a 'dud'. You are disappointed.

With Borneo, however, you only have to scratch the surface to find, with as much excitement as a schoolboy finally discovering how to undo a bra, that the Borneo you imagine, actually really does exist.

What we know as the island of Borneo is not a country in its own right. The North West facing coastline consists of the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, with the Sultanate of Brunei wedged In between them like a small child squashed in between two fat aunties on a bus. The remainder of Borneo, the greater part, belongs to Indonesia.

Sabah was previously known as British North Borneo. That is until a little local difficulty generally referred to as World War 2 intervened, followed by independence and the rest, as they say, is history.

During the Japanese occupation over 2500 mainly Australian troops, with some British and others were forcibly marched from Sandakan some 250 kilometres to Ranau in the North of Sabah. Many soldiers died during the march. Those who didn't die, and made it to the destination at Ranau were then executed by the Japanese just before the Japanese surrender. Just six soldiers of the 2500 survived the massacre by escaping before reaching Ranau.

The route of the march is signposted on the road which now takes the same course. We are here in the coolest time of the year and we cannot tolerate simply sitting in the stifling humidity, in the shade. Being forced to march 250 kilometres under these brutal conditions doesn't bear thinking about.

The memorial to the troops, in Sandakan stands below a hill, perched on top of which is an English Tea House, built in the colonial style, complete with croquet lawn. A counterpoint to the largely Muslim port town below, with its grimy bus station and noisy streets. 

Actually, Sandakan is not an unpleasant town and the local people are on the whole very friendly and inquisitive.

This is an area of Sabah which attracts official warnings of a high potential for kidnappings and piracy. Some insurance companies refuse to insure travellers in and around Sandakan and all points South. The only signs we see alluding to this threat are the few armed police and occasional couple of soldiers on the streets, but the threat is in reality barely perceptible. It certainly is not one we feel.

We agree with each other that any trip to Borneo should be all about jungles and animals, rather than random acts of lunacy so we book a couple of nights in an 'Eco' camp on the River Kinabatangan, hoping to get a proper wild Borneo experience.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Curryfrog - In Search of Borneo. Sabah

Sunday, March 20, 2016

10 Places in Sabah You Must Visit When You’re There or You’ve Wasted Your Trip

From its concrete jungle city centre to its nature and wildlife treasures beyond- Sabah gives you the best of both worlds! If you didn’t already know, Sabah is a huge state (second largest state in Malaysia) and there’s tons of amazing places to visit there!

So unless you’re on a very, very long vacation in Sabah, there’s only so much places you could cover! That’s why I’ve narrowed down the long list of places to visit in Sabah to 10 must-visit places during your limited stay in Sabah instead.

Sabah Museum
I know, I know. Am I serious? Well, you bet I am! Being a local myself, I didn’t visit the state museum until just recently (yes, guilty!). I was surprised to see how well facilitated it was and there’s so much to see and learn there. The museum is also the best place to go to learn more about the state itself. There’s things from culture and ethnicity to zoology and science and technology!

Filipino Market
Also known as the night market in Kota Kinabalu, this is where you go to get souvenirs. Some of the things you can find there are local handicrafts, fresh water pearl accessories, dried food stuff and seafood products. It’s often crowded at the market but it’s something every tourist should experience once in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

They say Sabah has one of the world’s most beautiful sunsets you will ever experience. Well, they’re right! And one of the most common and popular places to catch the spectacular sunset scene is at Sunset Bar. Picture this: You’re sipping on cocktail while feeling the warm ocean breeze on your face, and you find yourself watching then sun slowly disappearing under the vast horizon. That’s sort of what it’s like, only better.

Desa Dairy Farm, Kundasang
To get there, it will take about 2 and a half hours to 3 hours from KK city. So, you can either plan a day trip to go there or stay the night in Kundasang instead (lots of accommodation around). The Desa Dairy Farm is Sabah’s own little New Zealand. The breath-taking scenery and cool fresh air will make you feel like you’ve entered intoa foreign country (I was fooled too). The cattle farm consists of Friesian cows (the black and white ones) which are the highest milk producers. Also, try their ice-cream. OMG.

Island Hopping
Okay, I say ‘island hopping’ because there’s so many islands here in Sabah but the most popular ones include Sapi Island, Manukan Island and Mantanani Island. So, instead of going to just one of these during your visit in Sabah, you can choose to go island hopping and visit a few at once! Sand between your toes, salt in your hair, island breezes and sun kissed skin. Ah, that’s the life!


10 best food in Sabah you must try or you’ve never been there before!

When you’re on a holiday especially in a foreign country, what should your priority be? Food hunting and eating to your heart’s content, of course!

Anyway, if you’re planning a holiday to Sabah or you would love to visit The Land Below The Wind one day, here’s a list of 10 must-try traditional and local dishes that will send your taste buds on a trip!

A local favourite of the Kadazan-Dusun people, this appetizer is made from wild ginger and has a strong distinctive smell and taste. Some people might not be able to stand the scent but I can assure you, it tastes better than it actually smells! The tuhau tastes sour, salty and has a hint of spiciness to it too, which I must say, is an amazing combination of tastes. It’s usually eaten with rice which usually turn into two or more helpings on my part.

When you come to Sabah, the seafood here is one of the things we’re famous for. You have a wide variety of affordable and fresh seafood to choose from and sink your teeth into! Deep sea fish, crabs, prawns, clams, you name it! If you want to know the best places to have your fill of seafood in Sabah, speak to the locals there and they will gladly recommend you the best.

Tuaran Mee
Named after a district in Sabah, this noodle is one of Sabah’s most loved noodle dishes. Tuaran Mee is handmade egg noodles that is fried and is commonly served with Char Siu, Chun Kien, eggs and vegetables. Today, you can find some halal Tuaran Mee outlets around Sabah too.


Pam Usher - Sepilok, Sandakan, Borneo

After a 2 ½ hr flight with Air Asia, we arrived in Sandakan Airport where we were picked up by a driver from the Sepilok Jungle Resort (SJR).

What interesting accommodation, situated in the middle of a rain forest.

The buildings were cleverly made of wood-looking concrete which of course will last much longer than timber in this high rainfall/humidity area.

In saying that, they have actually had a reasonably dry wet season.

Our room was basic with air-conditioning, bathroom and coffee making facilities.

Along all the corridors were posters with photos of all the local wildlife which was really helpful for identifying what we saw on walks etc.

After the walk around some of the property, taking photos of the fish-filled lakes, beautiful swimming pool and some of the surrounding jungle, we found the restaurant and lounge area where we ordered a refreshing beer.

At dinner, we sat with Kerry and Bill from Melbourne who have done almost as much travelling as us and own an off-road caravan.

We had lots of fun with them as well as another couple, Johno & Jude from Queensland.

It was a laugh a minute between all of us, having a lot of common interests.

Next day after breakfast, we were picked up from SJR for a full day excursion to Sepilok Orang Utan Centre to see orang utans in the forest.

What a fantastic experience that was. The Centre staff emptied a big container of fruit and vegetables on an elevated platform and along came several big animals.

They were fascinating to watch, with all their antics and with their long arm spans of up to 2.6metres often stretched out between 2 trees.

We went to the Centre twice, for the 11.30am and 3.00pm feeding.

In the afternoon, we watched a 9 month old female ‘fall’ out of a tree while she was playing and then go onto jumping close to us for a further play in several different trees. She was ‘as funny as a fit’.

We also watched a 20 minute video on the conservation efforts of the Centre – very interesting.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Pam Usher - Sepilok, Sandakan, Borneo

Saturday, March 19, 2016

I am Aileen - Top Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

A couple of months after I made the decision to quit my job and start a travel lifestyle, I was browsing through cheap flight options with Jonas so that we can plan a quick getaway. During our search, a trip to Kota Kinabalu caught my eye and it quickly piqued my interest.

You see, if you’ve ever thought of Malaysia, I bet that the top destination that comes to your mind is Kuala Lumpur; so for sure, it intrigued me what might be there to see in Kota Kinabalu.

So without further ado, we booked the flights and spent 3 days in this Malaysian city. After days of exploration… I was in bliss. Our whole trip was ‘low key’ and tranquil, but it was clear that Kota Kinabalu can be a charming destination for just about anyone due to the existence of lush rainforests, paradisiac islands, and of course — Mount Kinabalu.
Facts About Kota Kinabalu

  • Kota Kinabalu or KK is perched on the northern west coast of the island of Borneo and it is the capital of the state Sabah (one of two states of East Malaysia).
  • It is actually named after Mount Kinabalu, which is located about 50 kilometres northeast of the city and also the highest mountain found in Malaysia.
  • This is deemed as the largest city in Sabah and it is also the main gateway into the island of Borneo.
  • Islam is the most professed religion, that’s why Malaysia as a whole is fairly conservative. Rest assured, most cities are liberal so you should have no problems wearing shorts for example (and besides, they would understand since you are a foreigner). However, it helps to not bare too much flesh with very revealing clothes or whatnot, most especially if you go to rural areas.
  • The citizens are comprised of Brunei Malays, Bajau, Chinese, Kadazandusun and immigrants who are mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines.
  • The languages used in the island are: Malay, Mandarin, Cantonese, English, and Hakka dialect. (Rest assured, almost everyone can speak English so it shouldn’t be a problem for you as a tourist).

Top Things To Do in Kota Kinabalu

#1: Island hop in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

Named after Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park or Marine Park is comprised of 5 islands and a trip to this area will only take you 15 to 30 minutes by speedboat from Kota Kinabalu. The islands are namely…

  • Gaya: The largest island in the park and the closest to downtown Kota Kinabalu. In here, you can find a lot of hiking trails so it makes for a scenic stroll since it is a dense virgin tropical forest reserve after all. Resorts are also speckled across certain areas, and of course there is one beach stretch that you shouldn’t miss: Police Bay which has immaculate white sand and turquoise waters. Other activities to try are scuba diving and sea walking.
  • Sapi: Located just on the south-western part of Gaya, this also has one of the nicest beaches in this marine park! A lot of tourists flock here to do snorkelling, diving, barbecuing, and even camping.
  • Manukan: The 2nd largest island in the park and arguably the most popular destination for Kota Kinabalu locals. Perhaps because of this fact, Manukan has the most developed tourist facilities. (TIP: for the best beach, go to the eastern part)
  • Mamutik: This may be the smallest island of the five but it is the perfect place to go if you want to escape the tourist crowd.
  • Sulug: This is the farthest island which makes it the most remote and underdeveloped of them all. But cerainly, that doesn’t stop some travelers from stopping by and enjoying the ‘peace’.

NOTE: There’s also an island in the south called as Pulau Tiga that you can travel to if you want to see a mud volcano and if you want to do more snorkelling and coral reef dives.

#2: Visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village

If you want a closer look into the life of 5 ethnic communities present in Sabah — the sea gypsies of Bajau, the rice farmers of Dusun, the fishermen of Lundayeh, the hunters of Murut, and the longhouse-builders of Rungus — the Mari Mari Cultural Village is a definite must-see.

In this village, you will witness a programmed showcase of their various traditional homes as they also present to you their cultural habits, customs, performances, and food. It may deem as a bit touristy, but it’s a great immersion and presentation of the traditional lifestyle of the Sabahan tribes (who currently have mostly turned into modern living).

NOTE: Entrance fee is around $35~ (Php 1,800~) and the tour spans for 3 hours during 10AM, 2PM, and 6PM intervals.