Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Video: Sabah celebrates Kaamatan festival

Courtesy: The Star

Tradition runs deep at Kaamatan fest

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman wielded a blowpipe and aimed straight at the bulls eye as a sign to officiate the 2016 state-level Kaamatan festival here.

The blowpipe signifies Sabah’s native hunting methods.

The festival will see traditional sports being played such as mipulos (arm wrestling), momolositik (catapult), rampanau (walking on stilts), terompak gergasi (running with huge wooden slippers), tumutu (paddy processing), migazat dukug (tug-of-war) and monungkava kalabau (buffalo catching using a rope).

Musa said the traditional sports served as a catalyst that could bring people together.

“We can see people from all walks of life getting to know about the traditional sports and supporting their favourite teams while contestants fight in a friendly battle,” he said.

Musa said Sabah’s diverse culture and beliefs were no hindrance to harmony in the state. “In fact, it acted as an agent of unity,” he added.

“We have more than 30 ethnic groups, and the Kaamatan (harvest) festival is one of the biggest celebrations by the natives of Sabah.

“We need to continue supporting events and celebrations such as this and to introduce it to the world,” he added.

Musa, along with his deputy Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the Huguan Siou or Kadazandusun paramount leader and other dignitaries went on to sample traditional food and visited booths after the officiating ceremony.


WWF applauds establishment of Malaysia’s largest marine park in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: WWF-Malaysia applauds the Sabah State Government for establishing Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) off the coast of northern Borneo – protecting almost a million hectares of coral reef, mangrove, seagrass and productive fishing grounds, including more than 50 islands.

TMP gazettement comes after more than 13 years of preparatory work led by Sabah Parks with government agencies, local communities, international partners, and with support from non-governmental organisations including WWF-Malaysia. TMP is a globally significant marine conservation site and WWF-Malaysia is thrilled with this monumental step!

As an important marine area in the Coral Triangle, TMP has immensely rich marine biodiversity with more than 250 species of hard corals and around 360 species of fish, endangered green turtles and dugongs as well as significant primary rainforest, mangroves, and seagrass beds.

However, TMP is threatened by overfishing, destructive fishing and pollution, and the declaration of its gazettement is timely and will allow for a concerted effort to address the pressures to its marine ecosystem.

Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia, Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, said he is deeply gratified by the declaration of TMP and congratulated the Sabah State Government, the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and Sabah Parks for taking the bold steps in the gazettement of TMP, paving and leading the way for the implementation of an innovative marine protected area management in Sabah and Malaysia.

WWF-Malaysia also congratulates the local communities within and around TMP who can now be proud of being part of this initiative.

“I feel proud of WWF-Malaysia’s role, together with other stakeholders, in supporting the Sabah State Government’s journey to gazettement of TMP. In particular, WWF-Malaysia is privileged to have been able to engage and work closely with various local community leaders and groups within TMP in building support for its establishment. Groups such as the Berungus Community, Maliangin Community, the Banggi Youth Club, Kudat Turtle Conservation Society, and the Persatuan Pemilik Kapal Nelayan Kudat (Kudat Fishing Boat Owners Association) have been strong partners in continuing to raise awareness and support for TMP,” he said.

Dr Sharma acknowledged the enormity of the responsibilities that come with the management of an area as large as Tun Mustapha Park. WWF-Malaysia is committed to continue supporting the Sabah State Government in the coming years to operationalise TMP.

WWF-Malaysia looks forward to continue offering technical support to Sabah Parks and working with other agencies, the private sector, local communities and other non-governmental organisations to ensure that a solid management plan is implemented to ensure the sustainable use of resources in the Park, he added.


Kaamatan, a time for joyful celebration and integration

KOTA KINABALU: The Kaamatan festival this year not only marks the end of the harvest season, but is also a meaningful time for the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) community to celebrate unity and integration.

The sentiment is accentuated by the theme ‘Peace and Friendship,’ which underscores this year’s celebration and commemorates the amity observed in Sabah.

Albert Mark Maguring, 43, said that harmony in the State can be seen clearly through the involvement of its various ethnic groups, no matter what the celebration.

“Without camaraderie between the people from all walks of life, there will be no peace, and peace is the number one factor in building a nation,” said Albert, who attended the State-level Kaamatan celebration at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) building here yesterday.

“I agree that through this celebration, we make new friends and meet with old ones that we probably only meet once a year. From there, we foster a stronger bond as we forgive and forget old misunderstandings during the festive season.”

Albert, who is a music lecturer for the Department of Visual Arts and Music at the Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) campus in Keningau, also commended Sabah for being a good example of cultural integration.

He added that Sabah has been recognized nationally as one of the best examples of a 1Malaysia community.

“Aside from Sarawak, Sabah is the best place for tourists from in and out of the country to see for themselves the way a multi-ethnic community lives together in harmony and celebrates this festival.”

As for visitors from out of town, Kaamatan is the time for them to have hands-on experience and immerse themselves in the celebration.

Janet Lenshing, 24, was eager to witness the festival along with her group from the Sandakan Society for the Deaf.

“What intrigues me about this celebration is its unique culture portrayed through craft work, lifestyle, cultural costumes, food and traditional items,” said Janet, who was excited to get a peek into the life of the KDM community.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Colourful start for Kaamatan festival

KOTA KINABALU: A rainbow of colourful and unique native performances were staged and traditional sports were held to mark the beginning of this year’s Kaamatan festival

Hundreds of guests at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) hall were treated to the showcase of Sabah’s melting pot of culture, accompanied by music depicting the sounds of nature from instruments made of bamboo and rattan. 

Outside, cheers could be heard from where traditional sports were held amid the loud music and traders outdoing each other trying to sell their products exhibited in booths in the KDCA compound. 

The scorching heat did not seem to bother visitors as the crowd from near and far grew from as early as 9am Monday. 

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who opened the festival, was amazed at the performances and the support from the people of various backgrounds attending the Kaamatan festival. 

He said Kaamatan should continue to be celebrated because it promotes peace, unity and understanding among Sabah’s various cultures. 

“I appreciate celebrations such as this one because it is something that has been celebrated for many years, since our ancestors’ time, and it should continue and not be allowed to become extinct with time,” he said. 

Huguan Siou (Kadazandusun paramount leader) Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, said Kaamatan is celebrated wholeheartedly by the Kadazandusun and Murut community because of the history behind it.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Simply Nicolas: Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Kinabatangan

Kota Kinabalu (KK)

KK is the capital of the state of Sabah, situated in north-east Borneo and is home to the second busiest airport in Malaysia. Supposedly, around 55% of Sabah is forest, and it’s well known for being home to many species (including many rare species) of monkeys, apes, birds, reptiles and aquatic animals. There are many beautiful islands that border the north and east coasts of Sabah, however, due to threats from kidnapping groups in southern Philippines, travel is not advised to many of them.

I hopped on a bus from the airport, which was a set price of 5RM (so refreshing to not need to haggle), which took me into the centre of town, just a short walk away from my hostel. The place where I was staying was pretty nice and homely, and had a brand new washing machine that was free for guests to use – fresh smelling clothes at last!

I had been dreaming of satay for a few days before arriving in Malaysia, so my first stop for lunch in KK was ‘Yuit Cheong’s’, a local restaurant with a long history that is known for serving excellent, freshly barbecued satay. Sure enough the satay was good (although not the best I’ve had, Singapore retains that crown so far). Non-the-less, I was satisfied, and at 0.70RM (£0.12) a piece, 10 cost me a mere 7RM (£1.20) and I was totally stuffed. I wandered around the town for the afternoon, stopping by the market to buy some  delicious fresh mango and felt very content.

By evening time, I was craving Indian food, so I headed to a nearby place to get my fix. The food did not disappoint, and cost very little at 8RM (£1.37). This meant that I’d spent less than £10 all day on food and accommodation – not bad:)

I spent a few days in KK milling around the small city, eating good food, working on my CV and looking for jobs – the latter part taking a lot of mental power and time.

Before long, I booked a very cheap flight to Sandakan, in order to visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, and the Kinabatangan River. In hindsight, I could have just taken a bus from KK, but the flight was more convenient and was almost the same price as a bus.


When I arrived in Sandakan, my plan was to take the bus from the airport to the city for only 2RM (£0.34). I waited for more than 30 minutes in the hot sunshine, only to be told by some passing cars that there were no airport buses on Sundays. Seemed quite strange, but luckily there were a couple of other people waiting at the bus stop, so we shared a taxi for 30RM (£5).

I dropped my bag at the place where I was staying and as usual, went out to take a look around. It didn’t take long at all to look around and to see that there really was nothing to do there. There were a few small shops and restaurants, and that was basically it. Many of the restaurants seemed to close pretty early, so by around 6pm I was bored senseless. My hostel had satellite TV and a broad selection of DVDs, so me and pretty much everyone else who was staying there opted to stay home and watch a couple of movies.

The next day, I went to visit the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok – around a 1-hour drive from Sandakan by public bus. I went with some guys who were staying in the my hostel, and by mistake, we took the local bus to Sepilok Junction rather than the public mini-van to the orang utan place. Sepilok junction is around 2.5km from the entrance to the rehabilitation centre. Luckily, there were a couple of other tourists on the bus, so we paid 2RM (£0.34) each to get a taxi to the centre so that we would arrive in time for feeding (the bus was 2RM too).


Kuching welcomes first Hong Kong flight

KUCHING: Hong Kong Airlines’ inaugural flight to this city from Hong Kong touched down at Kuching International Airport (KIA) at 5.30am yesterday.

Upon arrival, the plane was greeted with the aviation industry’s ‘water salute’ while taxiing into the parking apron.

The maiden flight took three hours 30 minutes departing from Hong Kong International Airport at 1.55am, with the return flight at 6.20am and arriving at Hong Kong at 9.55am.

On hand to receive passengers and aircraft crew members upon stepping out from the aircraft were permanent secretary to the Ministry of Tourism and chief excutive officer of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), Datu Ik Pahon Joyik and the Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd general manager (marketing) Mohamed Sallauddin Mat Sah.

The maiden Hong Kong Airlines flight HX715 with more than 80 passengers was given a Sarawak traditional welcome with the cultural troupe garlanding passengers with Sarawak beads and goodie bags distributed upon their disembarkation from the aircraft.

Passengers were greeted at the arrival hall with a fanfare from the Twin Lions group and hadrah performers from Kampung Boyan.

Following the inaugural flight, the twice-weekly schedule will be every Wednesday and Saturday.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Kuching welcomes first Hong Kong flight

Moderate but impactful Sarawakiana Carnival at Miri fest

MIRI:  The third Sarawakiana Carnival held on May 20 to May 22 here, although held on moderate scale, achieved its target of becoming one of the signature events during the Miri May Fest 2016.

This year’s event was organised by Pustaka Negeri Sarawak, Miri in collaboration with Miri City Council (MCC) primarily to create awareness and promote the cultures and heritage of Sarawak, besides commemorating Miri City’s 11th anniversary.

“This culture-based carnival, with informative and entertainment segments thrown into the mix, was a crowd puller attracting some 4,000 visitors.

“It was a great success despite being held on moderate scale, as it was intended for once in five years but due to public request we went ahead with the carnival,” said Sofina Tan, the library’s public relation officer to thesundaypost yesterday.

She said besides public participation in activities and visitors coming to the carnival, equally impressive was the increased awareness among the youths on cultures and traditions.

“For example in the Bermukun for the secondary school category introduced for the first time this year, although only four teams participated, but their skills and enthusiasm in performing were amazing,” she said.

The activities held during the carnival were Knowledge Sharing Session: Behind The Making of Sarawakiana Series – Kedayan’s Makan Tahun by Curtin Sarawak’s lecturer Mawi Taip, exhibition on ‘Memories of Los (Lodge) Miri’, Knowledge Sharing Session: ‘Share the Memories – Los Miri’ by ‘Nembiak Los’ (Los Kid) Jamil Bujang, Traditional Dance Demonstrations by the Ethnics of Sarawak, Movie Marathon for Kids and Ethnic Traditional Food Cooking Demonstration Sessions.

There were competitions held for Bermukun (Sarawak Malay metrical verses and lively dance), children traditional song, Sarawak traditional cooking and dish arrangement as well as the Kedayan traditional game of Kuit.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Not a Gypsy Honest: Are we there yet? Mount Kinabalu

A bug the size of my arm has just landed on my arm: Gargantuan and imposing, completely unconcerned by my shrieking, it basks in my noise.

“It won’t harm you,” sighs our guide, Fabian, weary of insectophobics and their endless rain-forest miseries.

How can the cardiac arrest I’m suffering not be classed as harm?!

Then it’s gone, into the verdant abyss of Ranau.

The air, however, is still alive with the calls of these elephantine beasts:  cicadas, katydids, beetles which hiss with the ferocity of wronged Spartans.

None of them perturbed by the chatting, laughing children who snake up the slope in our wake: International School kids, a cacophony of different accents and a chaos of eager limbs, all enthusiastic to reach the summit and feast on the fabled view of Mount Kinabalu.

“Are we there yet?” They chant, “I think I just saw a tarantula! How much further…? Can we stop for lunch now?”

No. I hope not. Not far. Shh – it’s only 9am!

It’s early morning, but already 30 degrees, and we’ve been walking for almost an hour, up Bongkud Hill – through the turbulent greens and miasmas of yellows; colours that could make your eyes melt.

Up, up, up. Each resting place offers a new and pristine vista – clouds which crawl across the landscape below, new shadows of the ascending sun, hushed purples of far-off Tibouchinas.
Scarce, burnished rooftops far below are the only suggestion that civilisation has ever happened.

Is there anywhere more enchanting than Borneo in Spring?

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Not a Gypsy Honest: Are we there yet? Mount Kinabalu

Bornean Frog Race a giant leap for mankind

MIRI: The frog, although not given the same status as the Hornbill in Sarawak which is recognised as the state’s bird, commands considerable attention from the global community.

While frogs are valued as food by humans with many cultural roles in literature, symbolism and religion, its population is said to have declined significantly since the 1950s.

One of the global efforts conceived and coordinated by SAVE THE FROGS! is the ‘Save The Frogs Day’ — the world’s largest day of amphibian education and conservation action.

The objective is to raise the appreciation and celebration of amphibians by people from all walks of life.

Frogs are biologically known as an indicator species and gives scientists an invaluable insight into how an ecosystem is functioning. Because it is both a predator and prey, many animals are affected by it and thus, frogs provide an insight into the health of the ecosystem.

In Sarawak, this year the ‘Save The Frogs Day’ was observed by organising the 5th International Bornean Frog Race held on April 30 at Lambir Hills National Park, Miri, one of the world’s most complex and diverse forest eco-systems.

Fifth International Bornean Frog Race

Listed on the tourism calendar of events by the Ministry of Tourism Sarawak and Tourism Malaysia, the International Bornean Frog Race was organised to draw attention to the world’s declining amphibian population and the urgent need for its conservation.

It was organized jointly by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation and the Faculty of Creative and Applied Arts of University Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).

Among the activities held were talks, workshops, exhibitions and culminating with the ‘Frog Race’, offering a total of RM5,000 in prize money.

The race attracted 103 ‘frogging’ enthusiasts from 12 countries — Malaysia, India, New Zealand, Sweden, US, China, Germany, Pakistan, Japan, France, Holland and Curacao.

“The number of participants for the race had to be pegged down to 100 due to the sensitivity of the frogs and its habitat to mass presence of humans at any one time walking around with flash lights and cameras clicking away for a good two hours of the night,” a spokesman for the organisers told The Borneo Post.

List of Prize winners in 5th International Bornean Frog Race

A total of nine frog species were photographed during the race and only one rare species was photographed. It is the Rough-sided Frog (Pulchrana glandulosa) photographed by Hamir Kiprawi.

He consequently won the Rarest Amphibian Photographed. He also photographed all nine frog species and thus won the category for the Most Number of Amphibian Species Photographed as well as the Best Photo Taken with Mobile Phone.

Winners in the category for Best Photo Taken with DSLR camera respectively were Badiozaman Sulaiman (champion), Phui Chun Hwa (2nd); Yong Hock Chai (3rd); Compact Camera category was won by Wan Nurainie Wan Ismail.

The Special Awards for Most Enthusiastic Participant was won by Muhammad Shavez Cheema while the Conservationist Award went to Lambir Hills National Park (Kamal Abdullah/Januarie Kulis).

For the most number of amphibian species found and rarest amphibian found categories, the winner received RM1,000 and certificate each; while Best Photo via DSLR camera first to third place received RM1,000; RM500 and RM300 respectively plus certificate; for Compact Camera and Smartphone, winner took home RM400 each plus certificate.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Bornean Frog Race a giant leap for mankind

Direct air links key to boosting Miri tourism

MIRI: This ‘Resort City’ is in dire need of good air connectivity to attract more domestic and international tourists.

In acknowledging this, Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin believed that direct aviation links between this city and other major hubs like Kuala Lumpur or Shenzhen and Guangzhou in China could help boost the local economy.

Moreover, he said the airlines companies had a major role to play in this regard.

“Currently, many have lamented the long-haul flights, especially when travelling abroad in which frequent travellers have to use transit flights either via Kota Kinabalu or Kuala Lumpur.

“Our main concern is that such travels waste a lot of time and money — it is really not efficient for business travellers,” he said when met after attending a meeting with officials from Miri Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) yesterday.

Kim Shin, who had approached Malindo Air regarding this matter, also revealed that the airlines company had agreed to provide a once daily return flight plying the Kuala Lumpur-Miri route, beginning this July 1.

“I am happy with the response given by the airlines company, and that this shall be the beginning of better air connectivity between Miri and other places,” he said.

Additionally Kim Shin, who is also Assistant Minister of Land and Air Transportation and Safety, had proposed for MCCCI to establish a sub-committee slated for tackling tourism issues here.

“The MCCCI tourism sub-committee’s role will be compiling information for and tendering proposals to Sarawak Tourism Board (STB). They will also be highlighting key issues that need action. In this aspect, I will be representing MCCCI to urge STB on making the necessary planning and organising events that shall benefit Miri.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Direct air links key to boosting Miri tourism

Mount Kinabalu tragedy remembered

KOTA KINABALU: A memorial dedicated to the 18 people who lost their lives in the Mount Kinabalu earthquake will be unveiled exactly a year after the June 5, 2015 tragedy.

Sabah Parks chairman Tengku Datuk Zainal Adlin Tengku Maha­mood said the memorial had been built at the base of the mountain at an area overlooking Kampung Kiau.

The scenic village was home of mountain guide Robbi Sapinggi, who sacrificed his life to keep other climbers safe on that day.

Tengku Adlin said the memorial would be unveiled by state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun on June 5.

Some 10 relatives of the Singaporean students who were killed or survived in rock avalanches following the magnitude-6 earthquake would be planting trees near the memorial on June 3.

He said the family members would trek up the mountain the following day.

A total of 12 Singaporean students and teachers aged between 12 and 35 from the Tanjong Katong primary school were killed in rock avalanches following the 7am earthquake.

Continue reading at: Mount Kinabalu tragedy remembered

Friday, May 27, 2016

Tun Mustapha Marine Park - Nation's biggest marine park

Kota Kinabalu: The State Government has officially gazetted 898,762.76 hectares in the northern seas of Sabah as the Tun Mustapha Marine Park.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun tweeted the new marine park, Thursday, as being the biggest in the country and the newest conservation initiative carried out by the State Government.

"It's done! Tun Mustapha Marine Park in northern Sabah is gazetted," he said, accompanied by a photo of the State gazette dated May 19.

The park is located off Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas right up to the Straits of Balabac, where the Sulu Sea and South China Sea meet in the northern part of Sabah.

With the declaration, the size of protected marine parks in Sabah now stretches to about two million hectares.

"Efforts to gazette the park have been carried out through consultations with various parties with interests in the area," he said.

The area covers 50 islands and includes the three main ones of Pulau Banggi, Pulau Balambangan and Pulau Malawali with more than 180,000 people living in the coastal areas and islands.

It was earlier reported that such a move was the only means of protecting sharks in the area due to the reluctance of the Federal Government to legislate a ban on shark hunting.

"The area is rich in various marine life and located within the coral triangle covering waters within Luzon Island in the Philippines, Bali in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

"The triangle area has over 500 species of corals that is the habitat of numerous marine life. This includes 243 invertebrate species, 550 fish species, four species of turtles, dugongs, crocodiles and sharks," he said.

As an open marine park, the Tun Mustapha Marine Park will be managed through a collaboration between various bodies involving both government and non-governmental organisations, as well as local communities, said Masidi.


Kaamatan fever heats up as festival draws near in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: The excitement is building as the peak of the annual harvest or Kaamatan festival nears.

Various preparations, from the beautification of traditional houses to holding district harvest queen competition marathons, these are ongoing and many are already attending Kaamatan related events throughout Sabah.

By now, most of the district harvest queens have been selected to represent their areas to compete in the finale come May 30 and 31 as they vie for the Unduk Ngadau title.

It is among the most looked forward to events, with beauties from all districts and sub-districts in Sabah trying to win the hearts of judges and the public with their demure poses, knowledge of Sabah’s traditions and use of their native tongue.

An array of stalls serving local delicacies at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association centre (KDCA) were also set up earlier this month.

It is the site where the state-level Kaamatan festival has been held almost every year and workers were seen busy fixing loose nails and strengthening the structures.


11th Sabah International Folklore Festival rebates and discounts

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Cultural Board will consider offering rebates and discounts to countries which have difficulty in paying the advance fees for the 11th Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF).

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said these rebates will be offered based on their previous record of participation as well as their distance from the State.

"I have discussed with State Cultural Board General Manager Datu Rosmadi Datu Sulai and so far, there are only seven countries who had registered…the participation is limited to 10 groups this year.

"And we realised that favourite participants like Kazakhstan have yet to confirm their participation.

"I was made to understand that among the reasons given were these countries can't afford to pay the advance fee of US$30 for each group member," he said during the launching of SIFF official website at Wisma Tun Fuad Stephens, here, Thursday.

Citing Kazakhstan, Masidi said the group has to take two days to reach Sabah and the implementation of the advance fee made the situation harder for them.

"We are willing to consider giving rebates and discounts to countries which had been consistent in their participation for SIFF.

"This is one of the ways to reduce their burden, especially those who come from far as it will involve big expenses."

He reiterated that Sabah Cultural Board does not gain any profit through the advance fees payment.

"The fees don't pose a significant impact on cost reduction to organise SIFF. We imposed the fees so that participants will take this event seriously.

"Should we make it easier to be participated, then the risks of getting low quality participation is higher.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sabah Bah – Island Hopping at Tunku Abd Rahman Park

Another must do activities when you are in Kota Kinabalu is the island hopping at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.

This time around, as time doesn’t permit us, we only managed to cover 2 islands which is Manukan and Mamutik Island for just half a day.

The marine park is basically a cluster of 5 islands which is Pulau Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik and Sulug and it is accessible via speedboat rides from Kota Kinabalu Town which will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

One thing that you should now is that the departure and the arrival are located at Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal which is next to the Malaysia Royal Custom Department.

There are numbers of tour agents around the terminal and just haggle like a pro to get the best deal of the day.

As for us, we managed to get a deal for a price of RM30 which includes 2 island hopping and a snorkelling gear.

On top of that, we even haggled on the price of the parasailing package for RM120 (for 2 pax).

Another tips, if you wanted to cover and visit at least 3 islands in the Marine Park, start your day as early as you can and be at the jetty by 9am as visitors are required to leave the island by 4pm on the same day.

Besides, you might want to avoid the long lines of tourists looking for boats and packages especially over the weekend.

Pulau Mamutik (Mamutik Island)

After 20 minutes, the boat then stopped at the first island which is Pulau Mamutik.

We were so excited to see school of small fishes at the jetty and it gave us a wide smile on our face upon our arrival.

With the white sandy beach and crystal clear waters beneath clear blue sky, we couldn’t asked for more.


RM10 mln boost for Sabah eco-tourism

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd will contribute RM10 million for the promotion of Sabah as an eco-tourism destination in the next two years.

Assistant Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said this is part of the company’s corporate social responsibility.

Pang reminded that Sabah is a beautiful destination and Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is one of the most beautiful airports in the country. He also commended Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd for its effort to beautify KKIA with its Faces of Sabah artwork which features the 34 races in Sabah.

Speaking to press members at the Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd Green Day 2016 and Aerodarat Services Sdn Bhd Safety and Health Campaign held at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) yesterday, Pang also reiterated that KKIA is expecting the commencement of the Jeju Airlines flight operations from South Korea to KKIA.

“The airline will start operating in July this year,” he said.

Additionally, Yunan Lucky Air will also be bringing in passengers from Kunming, China to Sabah, he said.

“This is a two- to three-year contract,” he added.

Pang also mentioned that tourist arrivals from South Korea and China were on the rise between January and March, this year.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: RM10 mln boost for Sabah eco-tourism

Sabah's Tun Mustapha Marine Park gazetted for conservation

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia's biggest marine park located north of Sabah has been gazetted, promising better protection and conservation.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun tweeted; "Its done ! Tun Mustapha Marine Park in northern Sabah is gazetted."

He also posted a copy of the State Government Gazette under the Sabah Parks Enactment 1984.

The park which measures close to 900,000 hectares is located off the districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas right up to the Straits of Balabac.

With the declaration, the size of protected marine parks in Sabah now stretches to about two million hectares along with the Tun Sakaran Marine Park and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Kudat Sunset Music Fest comes back for its tenth year this June

KOTA KINABALU: The Sunset Music Fest at the tip of Borneo is back for the tenth edition on June 4.

It will be a one-day only performance unlike in the previous years when it was held over two days, said Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

“Since the show is held during the school term holiday, we hope parents will take advantage to bring their children to watch the fest,” Joniston told a press conference at STB office, yesterday.

According to him, the venue has a seating capacity of 800 people and so far some 200 tickets have been sold.

“We expect some 600 people to turn up this year based on our analysis during the previous years on average we have recorded 700 people over two days,” he said.

Aside from enjoying the fest, he said Kudat also have many tourism attractions that the concert goers can explore such as Kampung Sumangkap-Gong Factory, Kampung Gombizan-Honey Bee Farm, Rungus Longhouse, Tamu Kudat and Tinangol Beads Centre.

Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd general manager, Sitti Bahaya Damsal assured that there will be sufficient hotel rooms available to accommodate the visitors to Kudat during the festival.

“This year we have compromised with the district office where they agreed to hold the Kudat Fest after the fasting month.

“Before this, both the sunset music fest and Kudat Fest were simultaneously, thus causing problem for visitors to find accommodation,” she said.

The sunset music fest started as a public performance to promote the local talents and only in 2011, the sales of tickets started, she said.

In conjunction with the sunset music fest, MASwings is offering up to 70 per cent discount on flights to Kota Kinabalu (travel period between May 27 to June 12, 2016).


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Highland Tales In The Heart Of Borneo - Oral history of ancient Borneo now in a book

Shrouded in mist and mystery, the highlands of Borneo is home not only to indigenous folk but also myths and legends harking back centuries.

These stories are often told around campfires in villages, where people gather around the elderly storytellers weaving magic with their words, and reminisce about a time long past but not forgotten.

“When I was young, every longhouse had some sort of a fireplace. We would gather around it every evening to warm ourselves and to listen to stories. Storytelling is part and parcel of our life,” shares John Tarawe from Bario, Sarawak, during a storytelling session and book launch at Silverfish Books in Kuala Lumpur recently.

“My favourite story,” adds Pangiran Salutan from Long Pa’Sia’ in Sabah, “is of the legendary giant Upai Semaring who was tall and very strong. He roamed the lands a long time ago, leaving behind traces of his journey that we still see today, like in the stone carvings scattered around the area.”

It is stories such as these, and many more, that have been captured in Highland Tales In The Heart Of Borneo, a book put together by Alicia Ng, WWF-Malaysia senior community engagement and education officer.

It documents the oral history of the communities of Long Pa’Sia’ in Sabah and Ba’Kelalan, Bario and Long Semadoh in Sarawak, as well as heritage sites and places of interests such as megaliths, ancient burial grounds and settlements.

The book was published by grassroots initiative Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples of the Highlands of Borneo (or Forum Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi Borneo, Formadat) with support from the Forest Department Sarawak, WWF-Malaysia and the Ministry of Tourism Sarawak. Written in English and Malay, Highland Tales comes with a CD highlighting the importance of the highlands as watersheds and water catchments area. The formation of Formadat is also covered in the video.

Interestingly, Highland Tales initially started out as an idea for a pocket guide book. But over time, it transformed into something more substantial, boasting some 24 stories accompanied by maps and colour photographs.

Ng, whose work focuses on enhancing the relationship between WWF and local communities as well as building capacities towards conservation and sustainable development of the local communities’ land, explains how the little idea grew.


Kudat islands suitable for resorts

KUDAT: Minister of Special Tasks Datuk Teo Chee Kang has urged Malaysian investors to build resorts on islands around Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) in view of the tourism potential in the area.

Teo, who is also Tanjong Kapor assemblyman, said the 50 beautiful islands around Kudat were ideal locations to develop holiday resorts.

He said the TMP would soon be gazetted and set to be the largest marine protected area in Malaysia.

Situated in the Coral Triangle marine area, Teo said the beauty of the islands in TMP were on par with those in Kota Kinabalu and Semporna.

Teo added that a film crew from Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) were in Kudat recently to shoot Maliangin Resort and the aquaculture centre on Balambangan Island to promote the tourism industry in the district.

“I believe tourists from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Europe and United States will be attracted to visit the islands if investors are willing to build resorts.”

Teo said that when officiating at a Busking Competition at Sidek Esplande here. The event was organized by the Kudat Education Department, who was facilitated by the Kudat Tourism Action Committee.

He also called on government departments and the private sector in district to work hand in hand with the Kudat Tourism Action Committee to make the Visit Kudat Year a success.


Promote Kaamatan as a tourism product

KOTA KINABALU: The state-level Harvest Festival or Kaamatan can be more than just an annual event that attracts tens of thousand of visitors to Kota Kinabalu by also serving as a platform for promoting awareness among the rural communities about the potential in the tourism sector that they can tap into in their own areas.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan said the one-month Kaamatan festival can be further nurtured and promoted as a tourism product, not just at the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) complex in Penampang where the state-level celebration is hosted every year, but across the State.

He said Kaamatan celebrations hosted in the interior, for example, can be highlighted as tourism products to attract tourists to visit and experience the culture and tradition of the native people there.

“We know that the Harvest Festival celebration is a tourism product, there is no doubt about it. Anywhere in the world, when we visit a country, we would try to enjoy the local culture. It is the same here.

“Such tourism activities however are so far focused mainly in the urban areas and the people in rural areas have yet to benefit from this, despite most of their activities are actually tourism products in nature and can be highlighted. Kaamatan needs to be nurtured and promoted as a tourism product for the people in the rural areas as well,” he said this during a high tea with the media here yesterday in conjunction with the Kaamatan festival.

Pairin, who is also the ‘Huguan Siou’ (Paramount Leader) of the Kadazan Dusun Murut (KDM) community, said the rural communities are now beginning to realize that they can participate more and benefit from the tourism sector, including through cultural activities such as the Kaamatan.

The rural folks, he said, should not be left out and related authorities should reciprocate their intention to take a more active part in better utilising Kaamatan as a tourism product.

Continue reading at: Promote Kaamatan as a tourism product

Monday, May 23, 2016

Bagel and the Slug: Show us yer monkeys - Kuching and beyond

What does Borneo mean to you?

Does the word alone conjure up images of swathes of virgin rainforest? Head-hunting tribespeople? Wildlife on steroids? Most likely all of these things.

Well, surprise! Kuching is none of these things.

Surprising, yes. But disappointing? Not in the slightest.

Despite its not-so-Borneo-esque appearance, Kuching definitely won us over with its exciting food scene, hiddledy-piggledy rows of old chinese shophouses and some of the friendliest, most welcoming people we’ve met whilst travelling.

Oh and the cats. All those cats.

The literal translation of Kuching in Malay is ‘cat’ and residents of the town have certainly taken this to heart, covering the whole city in delightful cat statues and honouring their feline namesakes with an entire museum.

I mean, I think some people might call this kitsch. But only like… really, really generously.

Strangely, it wasn’t the cats we’d come for (I know, shock). We were here for them primates innit, or to ‘do the monkeys’ as it is known locally, at Semengoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

The centre cares for rescued orangutans –  animals who have for example been kept as pets or injured by poachers – and teaches them to adapt and live again in the wild.

They have a huge expanse of wild rainforest in which to roam and play and just generally be orangutans, but food is still left out by the rangers twice a day outside of fruiting season.
The orangutans can come for food if they wish – or not! – so it’s definitely no show or zoo.

In fact, it’s not even guaranteed that you’ll see one on your visit.

However, luckily for us, we came face to face with five of the handsome ginger beasts.

A really incredible experience to meet those so similarly afflicted as myself.

Having spent our first couple of nights in a hostel which was in fact closed (yeah, odd experience), we decided to relocate across town to Marco Polo’s Guesthouse run by Sam and Georgette – a Malaysian couple who quickly rose through the rankings to become ‘Our Favourite Malaysians Ever’ (move over, Heung).

Situated on the lively Padungan Street it also gave us a chance to explore a different area of town, although we did miss our neon 7-Eleven nightlight terribly…


Sunny Interval: Silent in Sandakan

Many confuse Sandakan with Samarkand for no other reason than the names sound similar.

I knew Sandakan as the Land Below the Wind, thanks to the writings of American author, Agnes Keith in the early part of the last century.

Ian knew Sandakan as the location of WWII allied Prisoner of War camps and the start of many forced death marches from Sandakan to Ranau.

Marches of POWs that left only the six who managed to escape alive out of more than two thousand is cited to be the single worst atrocity suffered by Australian servicemen at that time.

We both knew that this was the place to go to explore both the Orang Utan Sanctuary at Sepilok and the wildlife of the Kinabatangan River and that it was two and a half hours away from KL, in Sabah, back on our beloved Borneo.

We flew to Kota Kinabalu and hired a car, driving the five hours or so across the country to Sandakan.

Much of our journey took the Sandakan Death March route.

Breaking for lunch at Ranau, we visited the tea plantation and discovered the poignant Quailey’s Hill memorial to those who lost their lives and that overlooked the lush landscape.

With thoughts of cruelty in our minds we drove the rest of the way in silence, incredulous that such a gentle landscape, peppered with kampong-style houses on stilts, banana, mango, coconut and papaya trees swaying in the breeze beneath a wide blue sky, could have seen such horror.

We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, located slap bang on the waterfront in Sandakan, with a view over the Sulu Sea to a string of islands in one direction and overlooked by Agnes Keith’s house behind.

Sandakan feels stuck in a fifties time warp. Many buildings remain and few, apart from our hotel, rose higher than three or four storeys.

Like I said, it’s a gentle landscape and one that feeds my soul.

Somehow it feels a couple of degrees cooler and less humid here than KL and though Keith claims it lies ‘beneath the wind’, we enjoyed surprising wafts of cool air that crept up unexpectedly.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Sunny Interval: Silent in Sandakan

Graduate Adventures Diary: My fleeting visit to Borneo to see George’s family

When I was about 7 years old, my grandparents took me to Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset. I instantly fell in love with a baby orangutan called George.

Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, these gorgeous primates can be found solely in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra… So there was my decision.

15 years on, I find myself in Borneo to see some of George’s family in their original habitat.

I’ve had just four days here, and as good as it’s been, I don’t feel I need any longer. (That being said, any avid trekkers may well fancy the three day hike up the sacred Mount Kinnabulu. I on the other hand decided to simply admire this from afar… with a cocktail in hand!)

I’ve based myself in Sandakan in the Sabah district, which is central to all of the things I wanted to see.

Oddly there aren’t many tourists around, so sometimes I feel a bit like an animal in a zoo being gawked at, but everyone’s smiling so that’s ok!

It’s a grubby but lively city during the day, but bizarrely everything closes really early, and becomes a ghost town at night, and no one can seem to give me an answer as to why this is.

Too eager to wait, on my first day I went trekking through Kota Kinabatangan, one of the supposedly easiest parts of rainforest to try and spot the baby-faced, ginger primates.

I thought Cairns was humid, but that has nothing on here. Try 80% humidity. Everyone just has to get used to being covered in a perpetual layer of sweat. Charming, I know.

It certainly seemed worth it though when the ranger finally spotted our first (which sadly turned out to be our last!) of George’s relatives swinging in a tree.

It was disappointing that it was our only orangutan sighting, but it’s all down to luck with wild animals, and it still felt pretty cool seeing at least one in his natural, wild habitat.
On my second day I got the bus to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, which takes in orphaned monkeys, provides medical care for sick/injured ones and tries to return them to the wild where possible.

I got to see a few more of George’s long lost relatives in this semi-wild environment (but even still they were quite elusive!)

Later on I had a great afternoon walking around Labuk Bay to see the Proboscis monkeys, which was a brilliant tip from my cousin Emma.

Found only in Borneo, these large pot-bellied monkeys, with even larger noses, are absolutely intriguing.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Born to Travel: Turtle Time on Sabah’s Selingaan Island

We awoke to a similarly excellent birds eye views of Sandakan from our hotel room window. After breakfast we checked out and met our new guide, Joan in the hotel foyer. From there we were driven to the wharf.

After about half an hour waiting all the travellers going to Selingaan (Turtle) Island were allocated to one of three boats and we were instructed to put on our buoyancy vests then off we went for a bumpy boat trip to Selingaan Island.

Well, initially it was quite calm as we passed the moored fishing boats and the stilted houses along the shoreline.

However after about twenty minutes the boat started to bounce from the crest of one wave to the next. It really shook us up.

I was really glad to have taken a ginger tablet after breakfast to help with motion sickness.

After an hour we came into sight of our destination, Selingaan Island. The boat drove right up to the sand and then we disembarked, dragging and lifting our cases with us.

One of the staff met us with a drink and we were briefed on the program for the day, which would be mostly resting, swimming, snorkelling, eating, drinking and waiting for night to bring us ‘turtle time’.

Next we were shown to our room, a few hundred metres from the main building.

From the outside the chalet looked fine but our room was extremely basic – twin beds, an air conditioner and a small bathroom with a toilet, basin and a shower with a sign saying ‘showers available when we have rain’ which was ominous as we had been told there hadn’t been rain for a while.

We decided to take a swim to cool down. The water was quite warm. It was a very hot day in the mid 30s and quite humid. The beach even had its own lifeguard.

After a while it was time for lunch which was just as well as we could sense that sunburn was a real likelihood if we stayed at the beach much longer. We changed and joined the others, about 20 in all for a delicious buffet lunch.

We had a bit of a walk around after that before going back to our air conditioned room for an afternoon nap. ‘Turtle time’ could be just after sunset or any time up to dawn the next day! Lately it had been around 20:30 so we hoped for similar tonight but just in case it was good to be up for whatever time.

We came back to the main building for sunset drink time and a chat with some of the others. Our guide Joan gave us an extensive briefing on what to expect. She was really passionate about the island’s conservation program.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hong Kong's TVB to film Kudat islands

KUDAT: Minister of Special Tasks Datuk Teo Chee Kang personally welcomed and led a film crew from Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) in filming Balambangan Island and Maliangin Island for the TV show ‘Scoop’ here.

The crew members were here to film Tommy Lam Wai Yin and three others who survived 10 days adrift at sea before they were rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.

Lam, Spaniards David Hernandes Gasulla and Martha Miguel, and Malaysian Armella Ali Hasan were reported missing on May 2 when they failed to arrive at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau after leaving Kampung Batu Sirih, Balambangan Island.

The Tanjong Kapor assemblyman promoted the tourism sector in Sabah and Kudat when interviewed by the host of ‘Scoop’, Darren.

Teo hoped that more tourists from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan would visit the state and Kudat.

He said the development potential of Kudat remained relatively untapped and urged more tourists and investors to explore the opportunities there.

Teo also introduced the crew to Tun Mustapha Marine Park, which would be gazetted by the state government soon, and attract more tourists to Kudat.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Hong Kong's TVB to film Kudat islands

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tripfez: Top Tourist Attractions in Borneo

Borneo is a huge island located in the Southeast Asia. The island is shared between Malaysia (Sabah & Sarawak) and Indonesia (Kalimantan). The Borneo island is very much well known for its beautiful rainforests, mountains, caves, orangutans and islands. In this article, we are sharing with you some of the top tourist attractions in Borneo.

#1 – Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu is a majestic mountain that is located in Sabah.

It towers 4095m above northern Borneo. Many climbers and outdoor goers seek to conquer the summit.

It offers a challenging trail, but the view at the top makes it all worthwhile.

For those who wish not to climb it, they can still visit the surrounding area and the foothill of the mountain.

#2 – Sipadan Island

Sipadan Island offers stunning sea view to the visitors.

Plus, its diving sites are also one of the best in the world.

Barracudas, turtles, jacks, and bump head parrotfish are abundant in this area.

The island is rather small, and it takes only 25 minutes of walking to circle the island on foot.

To preserve its beauty and avoid it being crowded by visitors, the government offers a restricted number of visas to the visitors.

#3 – Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center

Orang Utan is very famous in Borneo.

There is a special rehabilitation center that has been built for this endangered species.

Even though it is a research-based center, it still manages to attract many visitors who wish to watch Orang Utan up close.

It is situated 25 kilometers west of Sandakan and is reachable by cars.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Tripfez: Top Tourist Attractions in Borneo

Salud!: Bako National Park – Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

It’s jellyfish season in Sarawak and as we hurtle down the river we slow as we pass numerous small fishing boats filled to the brim with jellyfish.

“It’s a good time of year for the fisherman who live here”, says Sulli, our guide.

Jellyfish are only here at this time of year so it is possible for them to sell them for much more than the fish.

I ask how much they can expect from a boat load. “Maybe 200 Ringgit”. (Approx. USD50).

We are heading out to Bako National Park, one of the first national parks in Borneo and a popular destination in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo.

You need to take a boat to get to this protected area of the jungle.

As the tide is low, we hop out some way into the bay into ankle deep water and walk across the sand to register our arrival.

There are many marked jungle trails on the peninsula and it’s possible to walk these on your own but we have opted for a guide.

At 120 Malaysian Ringgit (Approx. USD30) for a private guide for the two of us for the whole day it’s seems like a bargain.

And it does turn out to be as Sulli is a mine of information.

We take a “path” which leads through the jungle and around a hilly peninsula to another bay.

As we step over roots and clamber up hills Sulli points out plants and viewpoints and gives us a general rundown on life in these parts.


Climbers’ Day to commemorate Mount Kinabalu tragedy on June 5

KUNDASANG: The parents and relatives of Singapore victims who were killed in the Ranau earthquake last year will commemorate the tragedy by scaling to the summit of Mount Kinabalu on June 5.

Sabah Parks Director Dr Jamili Nais said more than 30 Singaporeans would participate in the programme which has also received the cooperation of the Singapore Education Department as the tragedy involved victims who were on a study tour then.

“The programme is still under discussion but it will definitely be held on that day.

We will also invite the mountain guides to commemorate the event,” he told reporters at the Liwagu restaurant here on Wednesday.

Jamili said after the programme the Sabah Parks might also hold a Climbers’ Day to commemorate the tragic event.

Following the recently launched Search and Rescue (SAR) simulation training, Jamili expressed confidence that the 5-hour-53-minute operation by the mountain search and rescue operation (MOSAR) team and other agencies involved had strengthened the confidence of mountain climbers as safety aspects had been enhanced.


Jeju Air to bring in more Korean tourists to Sabah from July

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah could see an increase in Korean tourist arrivals once Jeju Air officially enters the state’s airspace on July 20, this year.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, who announced this here yesterday, is optimistic that the arrivals will increase above 2015’s 138,867, especially with Korea’s positive economic development.

He said the combination of existing major Korean airlines, Asiana Airlines, Eastarjet and Jin Air with Jeju Air would increase the total flights to 28 a week with 704 seats sold daily.

Jeju Air will provide direct flights between Kota Kinabalu and Incheon.

“I think this is a very good development because it gives the space for more tourists from Korea to come to Sabah, and it is our hope, it will boost the tourism in Sabah, specifically and in Malaysia, in general,” said Masidi, when launching the ASEAN-Korea Tourism Capacity Building Workshop.

“This is a good start. I think Koreans know Sabah very well, obviously, but I think there are also Koreans who still need more information about Sabah. Our advantage is that there are many Koreans living in Kota Kinabalu and that makes them feel at home, which I think is an advantage for us,” he added.

However, the minister affirmed that there is a need to expand the promotion of Sabah beyond Korea’s capital and largest metropolis, Seoul.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

The best beaches of Borneo

This guide will provide you with a brief overview of the best beaches in Borneo. Choosing your seaside experience can depend on various factors, you may want to consider geographical location, snorkeling and diving opportunities and FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK) advice. Here I give you an overview of the best beach options to help you make the right decisions for your Borneo holiday.

Borneo’s beaches are mainly clustered in the eastern state of Sabah including Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park’s beaches, Tanjung Aru Beach and Shangri-la's Rasa Ria Beach near the major city of Kota Kinabalu. In the western state of Sarawak there is the rustic Permai Rainforest Resort with a wonderful private beach. Finally there are some incredible choices to the far east of Malaysian Borneo’s coast. In this area of the island though we must consider FCO advice and factor in whether travel insurance will cover your stay in this region.

Sabah Beaches

Shangri La Rasa Ria beach

Pantai Dalit Beach is surrounded by 400 acres of lush tropical vegetation making it the perfect location for beach and nature lovers. The hotel itself is host to numerous amenities, beautiful gardens, and is set right on a private beach making this option ideal for families. There are a vast array of places for food and drink in the hotel and you will not be disappointed by a sunset cocktail at the Sampan Bar.

Tanjung Aru beach

6 kilometres south of Kota Kinabalu near the Shangri La Tanjung Aru is Tanjung Aru beach, a very local area with few tourists and an abundance of restaurants and food stalls in the evening all of a great variety. It’s the perfect place to sample some of the local cuisine, our favourites being the fresh seafood, steaming bowls of Laksa and Roti Chenai. This is a great place to visit if you’re looking to soak up everyday Bornean life.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

A 15-minute speed boat from Kota Kinabalu, Gaya Island is largest of 5 islands with three great resorts – Gaya Island Resort, Bungaraya Island Resort and Gayana Ecolodge. The latter two share a beach, being sister properties, Gaya Island Resort has a rather magnificent setting on its own beach whilst also providing guests with access to a very secluded private beach at Tavajun Bay a short boat ride away.  The sand here is a perfect white colour with crystal clear waters and an abundance of marine life. Here you can also explore Gaya’s vast rainforest and visit the resort’s own marine centre where incredibly knowledgeable naturalists can tell you all you need to know about the wildlife and conservation efforts of the area.

Other surrounding islands that are worth a visit are Manukan, Sapi, Mamutik and Sulug, all beaches that are lined with barbeque stalls teeming with activity, giving visitors a great glimpse into the local way of life. Gaya and Sapi are also excellent places for diving, with the calm surrounding sea being a great advantage.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The best beaches of Borneo