Tuesday, January 31, 2017

First Kuching-Taiwan chartered flight arrive in Kuching

KUCHING: A Taipei-Kuching chartered flight with 150 passengers on board arrived at the Kuching International Airport (KIA) at 6.30am on Saturday.

The chartered flight using a Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 737-800 airliner, was organised by Taipei-based See Mark Travel Services (Taipei) Co. Ltd (See Mark) and flew in from Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, said Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) in a press statement yesterday.

Present at KIA to welcome the arrivals were STB chairman Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik and Group Chief Executive Officer of STB and Sarawak Convention Bureau Mike Cannon.

Passengers on the chartered flight, with See Mark’s general manager Chen Chin Chang also on board, were welcomed upon arrival by a lion dance troupe and were garlanded by a Sarawak cultural troupe as soon as they stepped out from the aircraft.

The chartered flight was part of STB’s marketing initiative in Taiwan with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in Taipei on Nov 4 last year.

The documents were signed by Abdul Wahab with Chen signing on behalf of See Mark and was witnessed by the then Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, who is currently the Chief Minister of Sarawak, said STB in the statement.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Magic Kervan: Sabah – pirates and unprecedented good deeds in a distant part of Borneo

We are back at our favorite Malaysian State Sarawak, but this time for a short period. We stop to eat at the last town of the state – Lawas. The atmosphere is more Muslim than the other towns we passed through. The people from the off-road team treat us to lunch at a very nice restaurant in otherwise not so interesting small town Lawas.

The Malaysian part of Borneo consists of two states – the huge Sarawak and the so called North Borneo, Sabah State.

The two states have had a different history before joining the Malaysian Federation in the sixties, when Brunei was also invited, but the sultan refused. The demography of the states is quite different – they are inhabited by different ethnic groups with various cultures. It is as if the states are two separate countries and the impression is fortified by the border check-point between them where one’s passport is even stamped.

Regarding Sarawak it is still our favorite place in Malaysia though it is in fact very different from the other parts of the country. For us these are the lands of Iban people, crazy tattooed guys, Christians, rich Chinese and thick jungles.

Sabah is more developed and populated than Sarawak and Brunei. On the road villages come one after the other, there are many crop fields, palm plantations and buildings… The scenery resembles much the east coast of West Malaysia. In almost every village there is a branch of the Sabah Catholic Church. The main ethnicity is Kadazan Dusun and like the Borneo Dayak people they love tattoos, drink rice wine, are mainly Christians and used to behead their enemies.

In several hours we reach the capital of the state – Kota Kinabalu, undoubtedly the biggest and most developed city in Borneo. There are many Filipino immigrants who come from the nearby islands. We visit the big central market situated at the coast.

At 9 p.m. Ana comes to take us with her car and this event marks the beginning of a really crazy week in Kota Kinabalu. We go to have dinner at a luxury restaurant and Ana proposes us to sleep at her place instead of the beach.

Ana is a Brunei Malaysian, 26 years old, driving like some mad racer, doesn’t wear a veil, puts on short pants and has an ultra rich boyfriend. This is somewhat shocking having in mind that her grandfather is imam at the mosque.

We eat rice and curries (ironically two times more expensive than at the market in Brunei) and head to an Internet cafe to look up for a map in order to find a place to sleep. At the club we speak to our Pakistani friend Hassan who connect us with a local girl with a couchsurfing.org profile and we set a meeting with her in the evening.

Late at night we go to her place. Her house is in the Malaysian village Kampung located in the outskirts. Most of the houses in the village belong to Ana’s relatives. Her house itself is huge. In it live Ana, her four sisters and brother (some of them are even married and have children) and her mother. Ana accommodates us at her room and she goes to sleep at her sister’s room.

In the next few days Ana amazes us with her hospitality. Every day she treats us and refuses viciously us to pay any bill. Breakfast, lunch and evening we change all kinds of venues: local eateries, luxury restaurants, posh bars. Ana makes us feel like we are some royal guests every minute of the day. She gives us her laptop and buys us many souvenirs. Every single day she asks us if we need our clothes being washed or require anything else.

We go out every morning and visit every single landmark in KK (Kota Kinabalu) – the state mosque, the Sunday market, the beaches Tanjung Aru, the hill Kokol from where one can see the whole city, the festival dwelling Kadazan…


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bring your baby abroad: Traveling Borneo with a baby

Did you know that Borneo is the third biggest island in the world and the biggest island in Asia? Or that the Borneo rainforest is one of the oldest in the world and one of the few remaining natural habitats for the Bornean Orangutans?

I didn’t. All this information was new and exciting to me. And that’s exactly why I love traveling: while traveling you never stop learning and when your journey is complete you are so much richer with all the knowledge and experience you have acquired on the road.

Another important fact about Borneo if you intend on exploring it in depth: it is divided politically among 3 countries: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, so check these countries’ visa requirements beforehand.

Initially we planned to visit all three countries however our plans have changed and we only had a chance to explore Sabah (Northern part of Malaysian Borneo) and Brunei  and that’s what I am going to talk about in the next sections.

Main Attractions

Unfortunately we had a very short stay in Sabah, about 12 days. And in those 12 days we squeezed in a short 2-day trip to Brunei.

What did we have time to do in Sabah?

  • Kota Kinabalu, our arrival destination. Lonely planet description didn’t impress us with its main attractions and since we were short on time we used it only as a transportation hub.
  • Famous Sipadan Island, one of the best dive sites in the world!
  • Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary, wonderful place. So recommend it!
  • Observing wild life up-close by visiting muddy Kinabatangan River. While it is possible to just book a tour from Sandakan or Kota Kinabalu we did it independently and loved it!
  • Sandakan. We used it as a transportation hub again since we didn’t get interested in the sights the city has to offer. We also stayed at the very edge of the city, close to the airport from where we had our flight out to Chiang Mai, Thailand so we didn’t get a chance to see the city at all.
What is still on our to-do list in Borneo?
  • Climb Mount Kinabalu, 4095 m (13 435 feet). We considered this hike very seriously however opted to skip due to few reasons. First, the hike is not the easiest one, around 2 days with the last part being very steep and challenging. We thought it would be too much of an effort to do with an 11 moth old baby. Second, we didn’t find any information whether the baby would be allowed. Third, foreigners are required to pay for climb-permit, insurance and a group guide so it is not a cheap hike at all. On top of that the official Mount Kinabalu site reported a break in trail without any further follow-up whether the hike was reopened or not. Considering all these factors we decided not to waste our time and money and come back later in life.
  • Poring Hot springs. We love hotsprings and if we were to climb Mount Kinabalu we would definitely stop there after the hike. Located in the Kinabalu National Park, is easily accessible by a minivan that runs from headquarters of the park. Besides the hotsprings there are also walking trails, a tropical garden, a butterfly farm and a 41m-high canopy walkway.
  • Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park (TAR National Park). The park comprises 5 wonderful islands and is located at a short distance from Kota Kinabalu. Easily accessible by ferry. The park also offers excellent dive sites. Had to skip it due to our limited stay.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Bring your baby abroad: Traveling Borneo with a baby

The Tuk-Tuk To Paradise: Borneo – Part 1

Hello Borneo, Welcome to Cat City and a Short Stay at the Palace:

After seven weeks we left the Philippines behind, said goodbye to its aquamarine water and sandy shores and flew south to Borneo. Borneo is the third largest island in the world (behind Greenland and New Guinea, with Britain coming in eighth. And before you question my extensive research, Australia is classified as a “continental landmass” and not an island). This very large island is divided into two, with three-quarters belonging to Indonesia and the top quarter to Malaysia. This was where we were heading.

We flew into Kota Kinabalu on the north west tip, and then had a three hour stopover before flying west to Kuching. It was a lovely sunny day outside and Jo suggested we “go outside into the car park and sunbathe”. I said no, and went and had a coffee and read a book instead, whilst Jo grumbled about having “sunshine FoMo”.

We arrived in Kuching at 3pm. After seven weeks of trikes and tuk-tuks and having 20 men descend on us the second we left any airport or port or bus station, the calm nature of the airport taxi into the centre of town was slightly unnerving. We shook this off as we heading into the centre of Kuching. The word Kuching means “Cat City”, and as both Jo and I are massive cat lovers, we were irrationally excited about entering a city of cats.

Kuching made a good impression straight away – it was clean and organised and generally peaceful, and within half an hour we were at the Mandarin Hotel, a small but satisfactory hotel near the river front. We walked to said river front and had a smoothie and noodles as the sun set over the water, the oriental curves of a silhouetted pagoda making the red and orange sky even more picturesque.

We walked along the river front, past stalls of jewellery and paintings, beyond a man with a guitar and young lovers cuddling on benches, the most relaxed either of us had been in weeks.

We ventured into the hawker’s market to grab another meal, but it stank of fish and was too busy to find a seat. We headed to Chinatown, through the instantly recogniseable red arches, but it was nearly empty. One restaurant was doing a roaring trade, but most of the food was gone, so we carried on walking.

There is a huge Chinese influence in the town, with wood carvings and mystical symbols on every street, and colourful lanterns hanging on every doorway and from lamppost to lamppost. And then there were the cats – there were statues everywhere, on park lawns, in the middle of roundabouts, being sold as tourist trinkets in shop fronts and actually living in the flesh, eating leftovers from rubbish bins and skulking in and out of the shadows.

A new dawn and another beautiful day in Kuching. We were up at 7.30 and ate noodles at a local restaurant on the way to the weekend market. We got lost, but we were in no rush, enjoying the coolness of early morning walk before the heat of the day kicked in.

The market was in full flow by the time we got there, selling anything and everything – mangoes and oranges, chickens and chillies, swordfish and new suits. We walked round, bought some fruit, took some photos and then I got a ‘curry puff’.”Mmm that sounds delicious,” said Jo, clearly envious.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The Tuk-Tuk To Paradise: Borneo – Part 1

Saturday, January 28, 2017

8excite: Great Places To Eat In Sandakan, Sabah

While most travelers head to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo Malaysia, only a few venture to other parts of the 'Land Below the Wind' and here to share with you, is a list of great places to eat in Sandakan.

Yes, when you travel, you need to eat, so let me just share with you some of the recommendations of this coastal city in the east coast of Sabah.

Sandakan is well known as a nature city due to the many Ecotourism destinations, namely Sepilok, Labuk Bay, Bornean Sun Bear Sanctuary, Gomantong Caves and the famous Kinbatangan River.
But with any kind of tourism, people must eat, and most visitors to Sandakan would mostly be staying in the city, so here are the best places to eat in Sandakan.

Ikan Bakar at Pasar Sim Sim (Halal)

This old market located about half a mile out of Sandakan City serves probably the best ikan bakar in the east coast of Sabah for many years now. There are two stalls that sell the grilled fish and the notable or recommended one is called Mama Resipi Ikan Bakar who has been serving locals and now tourist some of the freshest seafood around. Her stock is delivered daily and the stall is open for lunch and dinner. Mama Resipi now has three outlets, the other two at Mile 3 and IJM Mile 6. To get here, you just need to ask anyone in Sandakan and they will point you in the right direction. You can also take a taxi here, but make sure the taxi waits for you. Besides the awesome grilled fish and seafood, do try their amazing home made sambal chili.

Address: Pasar Sim Sim, off Jalan Sim Sim, Kampung Buli Sim Sim, 1/2 Mile, Sandakan.

Sandakan Famous Spring Noodles at Restoran 88 Sim Sim (No Pork)

If you have tried spring noodles before, then you must try the famous Sandakan Spring Noodles which is located at Kampung Buli Sim Sim and at Jambatan or Bridge No.8. These noodles are totally one-of-a-kind as they are handmade with their own little secret recipe which makes the noodles really springy and tasty. They serve a mean seafood spring noodle dish, in either soup or dry which is probably one of the best noodles I've tried. Usually, locals come here for breakfast and lunch and we recommend you do the same. They operate as a seafood restaurant as well and the food here is pretty good. As you head down the bridge, their restaurant is on the right side.

Address:  Right Side, Jambatan No. 8, Kampung Buli Sim Sim, Jalan Sim Sim, Sandakan.

Seafood Bak Kut Teh in Sandakan (Non-Halal)

Most people would have heard of the famous seafood bak kut teh around Malaysia, but the mother of all is found here in Sandakan. The restaurant is called Nam Chai Restoran and is located along the main Jalan Leila Road out of Sandakan City. The beauty about this is that from my experience of trying a number of others, Nam Chai tops them all. Order the bowl of fresh sea prawns and the special 'Lai Mung' fish. They also have the normal pork bone and meats as well. Best time to go is just before lunch.

Address:  Ground Floor, Blok D, Jalan Leila, Bandar Nam Tung, Sandakan.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: 8excite: Great Places To Eat In Sandakan, Sabah

Friday, January 27, 2017

Fulbright National Geographic Stories: Senses at Work in Danum Valley

I’ve been in Danum Valley, a protected forest in Malaysian Borneo, for just over two months.

In addition to setting up camera traps in the canopy, I’ve also been setting a ground-level network of cameras, which have to be rotated every few weeks.

Because of this, my field schedule involves a great deal of waiting, punctuated with bursts of intense weeks collecting, resetting, and deploying cameras all over the forest.

Days in the field can be as mentally draining as they are physically exhausting, so it can be easy to just hike in and hike out thinking only about the next step.

As my time in Danum Valley nears the end I made a conscious effort to be a bit more present while making my final collections and appreciate this remarkable place.

I just recovered from a cold, so just a few days ago I couldn’t smell anything at all.

At various times in the forest I could have sworn I smelled anise, camphor, menthol, and on a couple occasions (perhaps swayed by a rumbling stomach), French fries.

Many of the trees in tropical forests produce aromatic compounds used in soaps and perfumes, so my nose might not be far off in some of those cases.

Today on the trail, there is a potent musk in the air.

There are a few piles of elephant dung scattered here and there, but they’re old and mostly grass, a few of them with mushrooms sprouting out – they really don’t smell like anything anymore.

The musk is coming from an animal, however – probably a Bearded Pig, but Malay Weasles can also be quite pungent.

It takes a lot of work to get up the tree. I use a mechanical ascender with little spiked teeth that grip my rope to slide my way up the tree.

Each time I pull the excess rope, I can advance an arm’s length further upward.

The particular technique I use is not the most efficient, but it allows me to go down easily if for some reason I need to make a rapid descent (ants, bees, monkeys, an unnoticed broken branch balancing overhead).

As you rise above the first layer of trees, the sun hits you for the first time all day.

There’s a light breeze and the air almost feels a little dry, a stark contrast from the sweltering humidity of the forest floor.


Annual Miri Country Music Festival returns

KUCHING: The annual Miri Country Music Festival (MCMF) will be held on Feb 25-26 at ParkCity Everly Hotel, Miri.

There will be international band performances, line dancing workshops, barbecue cookout and activities for the whole family.

A press release recently said among the bands is Casual Ceilidh Band, which was formed in 2014 by a group of expatriates in Brunei.

The word ‘ceilidh’ signifies traditional Irish/Scottish social events where people of all ages would gather and dance to Celtic music.

The only known Celtic band in Borneo has also expanded its repertoire with country music, performing all over the region.

Other bands are from Australia, the United States, Miri, Sabah, Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

The MCMF line dancing workshops will be taught by dance instructor and choreographer Julio Ame of Broadway Dance Studio Miri.

Ame, who hails from the Philippines, is licensed under the World Dance Council (UK) in Latin American and Modern Ballroom Dance, and is also a certified Zumba instructor.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

SilkAir keen to bring in arrivals from China and India to Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Tourism in Sabah is likely to thrive this year with a possibility of SilkAir supplementing Chinese and Indian arrivals using its wide network from major cities in China and India.

During a meeting with Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun recently, SilkAir had expressed keen interest to work with Sabah Tourism on contributing arrivals from China and developing the Indian market via Singapore.

Close to 2.7 million visitors from China and India visited Singapore up to November 2016.

Currently, seven airlines fly direct from Chinese cities into Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA). SilkAir operates daily schedule from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu.

“We see this as a huge opportunity to increase our yearly visitor arrivals. We would like to thank SilkAir, which is one of our long-term partners. They have been supporting our destination for more than a decade.


Bright future for budget hotel industry in Sarawak

KUCHING: The budget hotel industry in the state has a bright future and the potential to prosper, said Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development, Trade and Investment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

This, he said, was based on the large number of tourists coming to the state the past two years.

He said statistics from Ministry of Sarawak Tourism showed that tourist arrival to the state from January to November last year was 4,151,231 and 4,517,170 in 2015.

“The number of tourist arrivals (to the state) should become an important information for those operating cooperatives to venture into the budget hotel industry, and an indicator for those operating budget hotels that the future of the industry is brighter,” Awang Tengah said.

He made these remarks in his text of speech read out by Entrepreneur Development and Halal Industry Unit director Samat Juna, who represented him at the closing of a talk on the business potential of budget hotel industry at Imperial Hotel here yesterday, organised by Malaysia Cooperative College (MKM).

The Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment also said that based on the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the state has 169 budget hotels with star ratings of 1, 2 and 3, which gives cooperatives the opportunity to venture into the industry in the state.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

GrrrlTraveler: Borneo Wetlands Tour of Kuching Wetlands National Park | Sarawak, Malaysia

Kuching Wetlands National Park was a 30 minute drive outside of Kuching city center.

At 6,610 hectares of wetlands it was a habitat for locals and wildlife native to Sarawak.

It was late afternoon when we started at the Telaga Ai Jetty.

A quick stop for a refreshing coconut ice cream shake at a nearby cafe and we set off, cruising down the river.

Village houses dotted the inlet of one of the shores.

The waters were known to hold saltwater crocs, yet locals swim in the waters.

Mangrove Trekking in  Kuching Wetlands National Park

Our boat dropped us off at the shores of a beach of Kuching Wetlands National Park.

My guide and Sarawak cooking teacher, Joseph, brought out rubber boots for me.

It made trudging through the high weeds and brush easier, as shrubs were tall and mosquitoes lightly buzzed around.

Earlier on, Joseph prepared me by telling me I should wear long pants (my Northface convertible pants were seriously getting a lot of good usage on this journey) and a long-sleeved shirt. 
You might see anything from proboscis monkeys, silver leaf monkeys, birds and squirrels.

That day many animals were hidden; Joseph showed me other things in the forest.

He pointed out plants that he and villagers might use for survival or practical needs.

He showed me traces of resident animals, who made the wetlands their refuge and hunting ground.


In RM79m Kinabatangan bridge, another human-wildlife dilemma

KOTA KINABALU — A federal government road and bridge project into Sabah’s ecotourism hub of Sukau in Kinabatangan may benefit the local community, however, the RM79 million project will more than likely harm the wildlife, including the endangered Borneo pygmy elephants that roam the area, said the state’s Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming.

Chorusing concerned environmentalists, Pang urged Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and his state Cabinet to review the project, saying it is certain to cause even more wildlife and human conflict and potentially cut off a major income-earner for tourism players and the local community for generations to come.

“The CM and Cabinet might have to relook this thing seriously. They may have decided already on the project but given the seriousness and long-term effects of the project, they need to give it second thought, with new and thorough facts.

“Having been in the industry long enough to know the patterns, it is inevitable that the project will negatively impact the tourism industry which is thriving in the area. I believe that if the state government is presented with the right argument and information, I believe they can be persuaded to relook the situation,” he told a select group of reporters here.

The approved project has still to get an Environmental Impact Assessment report and as such, Pang suggested that it could still be withdrawn in the interest of the public.

“There is no way a project of this sort will not have an impact on the environment, and we have seen the negative impact from human and wildlife conflict in other areas of Sabah,” he said.

Other prominent figures to have expressed concern over the project’s irreparable impact on the environment include Sime Darby foundation chairman Tun Musa Hitam.

The road and bridge project under the 11th Malaysia Plan plans to build a 100m bridge across the Kinabatangan river in Lot 3 of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. It also includes upgrading a gravel road from the Sukau township up to the bridge.

In support of the road-bridge project

According to Sukau assemblyman Datuk Saddi Abdul Rahman, it was supposed to kick off last year, but was postponed due to objections.

The second phase of the project involves a 1km-wide viaduct, which would look like a flyover across the elephant sanctuary area and another 8.5km stretch of road, ostensibly to provide villagers in Sukau closer access to a clinic.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

It’s D’Place for authentic Sabahan cuisine

KOTA KINABALU —  Ever wish you could order coagulated sago, two-week-old fermented river fish and “live” wriggling sago grubs for dinner?

Although they are not exactly comfort food for most people, these are staples in Sabah’s native villages and the star attraction at a restaurant here.

Tourists and even local residents who are looking for a taste of indigenous food now have an easy alternative to trekking through Sabah’s vast lands to find these delicacies.

Sandra Paut, a 24-year-old banker turned chef, got the idea of sharing her Kadazandusun culinary heritage with everybody.

Her restaurant, D’Place Kinabalu, serves traditional Sabahan food, and they’re not just for the novelty factor.

Bringing native Sabahan food experience to the forefront

Food like pinasakan (braised big-eyed scad locally called basung); ambuyat (sago starch powder used as a carbohydrate replacement), and hinava which is not usually available except on special occasions, are staples at her restaurant.

Sabahans throng here for a taste of their childhood, while tourists are grateful for the chance to savour the dishes at their convenience.

Executive chef Paut, who always had a love for cooking thanks to her mother and grandmother, first ventured into the business after working as a credit loan officer.

At 21, she ditched her cushy job at a bank to invest in a restaurant that was doing a mix of Asian, Filipino and Western cuisine in a suburb of the city.

“But one day, some Australian tourists who were looking for a taste of local food came by, and I happened to have some local vegetables in stock, so I whipped up some of my favourite childhood dishes.

“They loved it, and posted photos on Facebook, and soon, more people were asking for the dishes,” she said.

The self-taught chef soon redesigned the restaurant menu to focus on just native food, and it became a popular hit.

Recently, she and her business partners took the venture to new heights by moving to Plaza Shell, right smack in the city centre and within walking distance of major hotels and businesses.

“As much as I wanted to bring the experience of my childhood to everyone, there’s a big difference in recreating that in the city, as opposed to eating in a kampung, but the restaurant can still bring it to everyone,” she said.

A stark contrast to the modern building the restaurant is in, D’Place is decorated to feel like a traditional hut, with plenty of bamboo and palm leaves.

The food is also presented family, or local style, with banana leaves.

“My specialty, or advantage is that I source my ingredients from villages. Growing up there, I know the traditional methods and ingredients, even without professional chef training,” she said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: It’s D’Place for authentic Sabahan cuisine

Sarawak expects more tourists from China this year

KUCHING: Tourist arrivals from China to Sarawak are expected to exceed last year’s record of 38,000.

Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state’s collaboration with major tourism companies from China would help boost the arrival of Chinese tourists to the state.

“We are fortunate to be able to have collaborations with four major companies involved in tourism sector from China,” he told a press conference after witnessing the signing of memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the state government and a group of China based companies.

Abang Johari, who is also Minister of Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture, said the MoU was important and the state government was determined to follow up on it.

He said last year, the state received some 38,000 tourists from China compared to 32,000 in 2015.

On the MoU, he said it was a follow up effort by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to attract investors from China.

Signing on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture was its permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik while signing on behalf of Beijing Glory International Culture Development Co. Ltd was its president Liu Ning.

BTG-Jianguo Hotel Management Co. Ltd was represented by its chief strategy officer Wang Qiang, China Comfort Travel Group Co. Ltd by its vice president Gao Shuoshan and China Express Airlines Co. Ltd its director and vice president Henry Qiu.

The objective of the MoU signing was to explore areas of cooperation and collaboration for investment in the tourism sector in Sarawak.

The scope of the MoU includes assessment of tourism resources and local culture, standard and conditions of the current tourism facilities, current and future capacities of reception an hospitality; managing of existing hotels; redevelopment, operation and management of national parks; building and development of new tourism facilities; and new air routes development and charter flight services.

Beijing Glory International Culture Development Co. Ltd is an international culture company with a wide range of business scope in culture and tourism industry, including tourism and commercial real estate, museum and museum shops, international cultural exchange, restaurants, F&B culture and online tourism services.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Sarawak to ink MoU with tourism consortium from China

KUCHING: The state government is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on air connectivity and integrated tourism investments with the Chinese tourism industry players at the Chief Minister’s Office here today.

Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg who also oversees state tourism, and Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh are expected to witnessed the inking of the documents between representatives of the state government and the consortium of the four Chinese companies comprising Beijing Glory International Culture Development Co Ltd (BGI), BTG-Jianguo Hotel Management Co Ltd (BTG-Jianguo), China Comfort Travel Group Co Ltd (CCT) and China Express Airlines Co Ltd (CEA).

BTG-Jianguo and CCT are the subsidiaries of Beijing Tourism Group (BTG).

BGI is a diversified investment company engaged in the culture and tourism industry. It continues to explore overseas markets in recent years, and Malaysia has become its key development area.

BTG-Jianguo is a top hotel management company in China. Currently there are over 3,000 hotels under BTG, but BTG-Jianguo ranks as the most famous and competitive national hotel brand among them, with coverage in many countries and regions.

The Beijing Jianguo Hotel is the first joint-venture (JV) hotel in China – a significant milestone in the history and development of the Chinese hotel industry.

On the other hand, CCT is the most famous and valuable travel agency brand under BTG. Currently its tourism products cover 193 countries and regions, with almost three million VIP clients.

The CEA is China’s first regional airlines, providing passenger and cargo transportation services. It currently operates five air bases in China, with a fleet size of 25 aircraft – this will reach 54 next year. CEA has opened more than 50 air routes with 70 destinations. Over the past recent years, it has been actively expanding its international business, with Asean being its main direction of development.


Sarawak all out using IT to promote tourism industry

MIRI: Sarawak is going all out using information technology (IT) to effectively promote the state’s tourism products to the world.

Assistant Minister for Sarawak Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the digital way of promoting Sarawak was a faster means to reach out to the world community

“Using the Internet is the fastest way of promoting Sarawak. Gone are the days of promoting Sarawak using pamphlets, now we use digital marketing.

“Therefore, I urge hotels and tour operators to go digital and do their promotions online,” said Lee at the Miri Marriott Resort and Spa ‘Pre Chinese New Year dinner and Chinese Food Review’ recently.

Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting, newly elected president of Sarawak Journalists Association Andy Jong and the resort’s general manager Marc Cosyns and senior staff

including newly recruited chef Khoo Seng Keong who specialises in Chinese dishes, were also present.

Lee added that among the recent efforts to promote Sarawak digitally was a collaboration with the Ministry of Culture China and CCTV-4 (China Central Television channels) a 24-hour Chinese international channel.

He said Sarawak was now known better to the people in China and other world community following the recent documentaries produced by CCTV, during their two-week filming of Sarawak from

Kuching to Mulu in Miri, which was shown in China and worldwide.

Lee said the state could expect exponential exposure once the ‘Blue Tears’ movie, produced jointly with the Chinese authorities, was shown and also the entertainment programme with eight famous Chinese singers today (Jan 21) in Kuching.

He said each one of the eight famous Chinese singers had 2-3 million followers which would make ripple effects in promoting Sarawak.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Safe and Healthy Travel: 3 days in the Kota Kinabatangan Jungle, Borneo

Being on the island of Borneo – Malaysia I wanted to go to the jungle of course! For me that is a given!!

I want to explore all kinds of local activities and when you go search for activities on Sabah, part of Borneo, you find a lot of jungle trips! I got in contact with Tanjung Bulat Jungle Camp and they offered a 3 day and 2 night River Cruise trip on the Kinabatangan River that really was my kind of deal!!

Tanjung Bulat Jungle Camp
Oxbow Lake – Kinabatangan River
Kota Kinabatangan – Sabah – Borneo – Malaysia

The camp is situated next to Oxbow Lake in the middle of the jungle. It is a basic camp with all the necessities like toilets, cold shower, dorm room and private rooms and a great view during breakfast/lunch/dinner over Oxbow Lake!!

At the moment of my booking I was the only one so I got a private tour! Afiq, my guide, picked me up at my hotel in Sepilok and brought me to the camp by car and the last part of course by boat. What a luxury! And it was the last luxury for the upcoming days because we were heading for the Jungle!!

While cruising that first time over the river Kinabatangan to the camp I was eager to see some wildlife.

1st sight within half an hour
The Famous Proboscis Monkey

It didn’t took long before the first Proboscis monkey was visible high in the treetops! First I saw something moving…then they saw us too and they started to jump from tree to tree!! I loved seeing them jumping, without fear up high in those trees!

Mostly you’ll see one…and another one…and another.. That’s because they live together as a family! And that was the case this first sight also. They were jumping all over the place!! I made a short clip of them!

After a while we went on to go to the camp. Getting there I got my private room and as a welcome they had made Pisang Goreng and coffee!!

There was a short briefing on what to expect of this trip, what to do and see. How things work in the camp and what they expected of me.. Just to enjoy myself.

River Cruises – River Kinabatangan

That first afternoon we had a cruise and we went again for some monkeys and looking for birds along the river. We saw a lot of Proboscis again. I love seeing them so I didn’t mind stopping for them again and again. Trying to get some good shots… It is hard to get them on the picture when they are sitting high in the trees. And they are not posing for the picture of course.

We saw a lot birds too! I especially liked the Stork Billed Kingfisher!! I saw it flying all over the place and couldn’t get it on the picture. They are just too quick…and they disappeared in the jungle. Not as the common kingfisher sitting on the riverside, above water and showing themself in full colour.

We also saw those sweet leave monkeys, Langurs. They are very shy and so hard to spot. I can not find a picture of them. I’m sure I tried… but missed them appearently. These were grey and you can spot some other colours of them too!


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Miri Marriott Resort and Spa ready for another exciting year

MIRI: Miri Marriott Resort & Spa is gearing up for another exciting year 2017 after achieving many successes last year like winning the Best Family and Resort Award at Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards Regional Series 2015 – 2017.

Its general manager Marc Cosyns said among the steps taken were holding various promotions and initiatives that include engaging the service of an executive sous chef.

“We got Malaysia’s very own renowned chef Khoo Seng Keong who specialises in Chinese dishes to join us as part of our efforts to provide quality services to clients and to promote Malaysian Chinese food,” Cosyns said at a Pre-Chinese New Year dinner and Chinese Food Review on Thursday night.

Land and Air Transportation and Safety Assistant Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting and newly elected president of the Sarawak Journalists Association, Andy Jong were among those present.

Cosyns said acquiring the service of Khoo was in line with the state’s focus to attract more tourists from the Pacific region, particularly from China and Taiwan apart from the Chinese community in Miri City.

Chef Khoo, 49, from Kuala Lumpur joined the resort on Jan 9.

During his introduction at the dinner, Khoo disclosed that he began his culinary experience more than 30 years ago in Kuala Lumpur at 18 years of age.

His dedication and style have taken him to several countries in Asia including Indonesia and Brisbane in Australia.

After working for several five-star hotels and restaurants, he joined Miri Marriott to lend his culinary creativity and innovation to the Marriott team.

He is responsible for the success of the hotel’s culinary management and operations as well as its food safety management system.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Adventures of Mel and Alex: Climbing Mount Kinabalu on a Budget

Standing at 4095m, Mount Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo is the highest point between the Himalayas to the West and the Maoke Alps in New Guinea to the East. Billed as an ‘unrelenting’ climb by Lonely Planet, witnessing the sunrise from Low’s Peak was one of the first things I read about when we started to plan our travels.

As you’ll already know if you’ve read Mel’s post, Borneo is home to all manner of beautiful scenery and amazing wildlife, with a seemingly endless array of things to see and experience. Kinabalu is a sterling example, differing only by virtue of the fact that it’s all very much on a slope, which is why you might notice Mel is conspicuous by her absence for the following post!

Before I begin, let me make something clear. I am not a mountain climber, nor am I an extreme fitness nut. I like beer, coffee, watching movies and eating the occasional pizza.

 Nonetheless, I like to think I maintain a passable level of fitness, and so you can consider this an ‘average 20-something’s perspective’.

The two-day trip sees you start at the entrance to Kinabalu Park, where you complete all the necessary admin and get shuttled up to Timpohon Gate to begin your ascent. Day one sees you hike for 6km, ascending through 1400 vertical metres, to an overnight rest stop at Laban Rata. In the very early hours of day two climbers then make for the summit, just over 2.5km and 800 vertical metres away, before descending all the way back to the start point at Kinabalu Park HQ.

Accounts of just how “easy” a climb Mt. Kinabalu is vary, with many claiming it’s a breeze (tour operators make a point of telling you they’ve served people from 3 to 87 years old!), whilst others describe it as tough due to the altitudes involved, unrelenting nature of the trail and the pressing timeframes involved. Ultimately, experiences vary from person to person and I met old, young, big, small, smokers and even a man with a crutch on my way up. That said, I couldn’t tell you how many of them made it all the way.

The Climb

Starting Blocks (1,564m Elev.)

Before you get onto the mountain ‘proper’, first you will need to register at Kinabalu Park entrance and get to Timpohon Gate, where you’ll start your ascent.

If you’re staying with Sutera, first step will be to check in for your evening in Laban Rata at the company’s other lodge inside the gate. Any luggage you don’t wish to take with you can also be left here. Then head to the second building where you’ll pay for your permit, insurance and guide. Don’t forget your passport!

Money handed over, I was introduced to our quiet but excellent guide Joseph, who pointed out where we could pick up the packed lunch provided as part of our overnight package and jump on the shuttle to Timpohon Gate at 1,866m.

Ascent to Laban Rata

Take your first steps through Timpohon Gate and low and behold, you’re headed downhill. ‘This should be a doddle’ I thought to myself. That didn’t last long.

You quickly pass Carson Falls, and from then on the first couple of kilometers of the trail consists primarily of wooden stairs, so don’t be skipping leg day! There are a number of huts all the way up the ascent where you can take 5, read about the geology at your present altitude and check the distance remaining.

Between 2 and 4km distance the weather closed in on us and the heavens opened. Wonderfully cooling, but not helpful in keeping anything for the next day dry, so make sure to pack a waterproof cover for your backpack. Having powered through the rain, at about 4km we broke through the cloud cover and were rewarded with our first views down the hillside to the towns below. At this point the trail becomes more strenuous, with the wooden steps replaced by those cut into the rock at wildly varying intervals.


A trip to the tip of Borneo

Have a spare weekend with not much to do? Take a drive to the north of Sabah to land’s end or more commonly known as the tip of Borneo. It is also known to the locals as Tanjung Simpang Mengayau and it’s about 198km from Kota Kinabalu.

Leaving Kota Kinabalu, travel north and head towards Tuaran town (34km). There are a number of roads you could use, but the best would be the coastal road that goes past the Rasa Ria resort.

Once past Tuaran, just keep heading for Kota Belud, which is the next town (49km) and look out for signs to Kudat Town. Along the way, you will pass many roadside stalls selling local fruits, barbecued sweet corn, fried tapioca and banana crisp, which can be either sweet or spicy.

There are also various snacks made from locally grown peanuts. Some are just steamed in their shells, while others are roasted, and some have a coating of garlic flavoured flour batter (a must try) and, of course, the ever-popular peanut brittle. Other stalls sell various baskets, winnowing trays and local handicraft made by the local Rungus people who inhabit the Kudat and Kota Marudu area.

The scenery on route varies as you drive through rice fields, fruit orchards and past local villages. Most the journey is on flat ground with a few low hills, but the road is in a pretty good condition, so it’s an easy drive.

From Kota Belud, it is 119km to Kudat town and should take you just about two hours. There are a number of modern longhouses on the main road to Kudat that you are welcome to visit or you could visit one of the traditional longhouses built for the tourists, closer to the Tip of Borneo.

Keep a look out for the signpost to the Tip of Borneo, it will be on your left if you are heading to Kudat from Kota Belud. Turn in and just follow the signs. Soon you will come to a T-junction with a number of signs and you will notice that they give opposing directions to the tip.

No worries, as all roads lead to Rome … or should I say the “Tip of Borneo” , so take either one as they are both scenic and will get you to your destination .

There are some beautiful deserted beaches as you get closer to the tip, and the beaches here are usually lined with casuarina trees that catch the breeze and make a sort of humming sound.

Continue reading at: A trip to the tip of Borneo

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Proposed cultural, heritage museum in Miri to be ready soon

MIRI: The proposed cultural and heritage museum here will be by ready by June or July.

Curator of Sarawak Museum’s Natural History and Zoology, Dr Charles Leh, said they were now awaiting funds for the development of the museum – which is the existing Miri Resident and District Office (Rando) at Angsana Road.

The complex, which also houses the Islamic Religious Department (Jais) was built in 1912, soon after the first oil well in the country was sunk atop Canada Hill in 1910.

Staff of the complex are expected to move soon to the newly completed Baitulmal complex in Boulevard Commercial Centre, Pujut-Kuala Baram Road.

“Once the complex is vacated we will work on some restoration works and once completed we will put up temporary exhibition for the museum, while we work on the artefacts that could be permanently displayed to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Miri,” said Leh when contacted recently.

He said it would be the first such museum in Sarawak, built in office complex which too has historical value. Thus, it will enhance conservation works on the rich heritage in Miri Division including that in the Bario Highland and the Niah Caves.

Sarawak todate has 13 museums, mostly in Kuching while Miri Division has three – Petroleum Science Museum, Fort Hose in Marudi and Niah Archaeology Museum.

On public proposals that the complex is named as Adenan Square in memory of former chief minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Adenan Adenan Satem, Leh said the museum welcomed the proposal.

“However, we first have to look at the history of the place and the building and thus whatever name given later must have historical link and significance,” he said.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kota Kinabalu needs bigger airport

KOTA KINABALU: Kota Kinabalu needs a new, bigger airport as the influx of tourists will push the existing Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) to its full runway capacity of 13 million passengers annually in the next five years, says Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) executive chairman General Tan Sri Abdullah bin Ahmad.

Abdullah said a study was currently being conducted by the State Government and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), which was expected to be completed in less than a year, while a separate study carried out by Mavcom was almost completed.

“A study is in process now to look into a new site for a bigger airport and it will have more than two runways to cater for the big influx of foreign tourists into Sabah.”

Although Abdullah declined to disclose the exact site for the new airport, he said the location would not be far from Kota Kinabalu.

Abdullah said although the study was still in preliminary stage, the new airport could be completed in four years, or five years maximum once the State Government had decided on the project and obtained endorsement by the Federal Government.

“It will be a loss to the State if the project cannot be completed in time before the existing airport reaches its full (runway) capacity because it is unable to accommodate the influx of tourists,” he said in an interview yesterday.

He said the current capacity of KKIA could be increased from the present 9 million passengers to 12 million passengers per year without major construction.

By constructing an additional building on the available land at the current terminal can further boost KKIA’s capacity to 21 million passengers a year.

However, Abdullah explained that KKIA only has a single runway which could only accommodate up to 13 million passengers a year.

“Although the terminal can accommodate up to 21 million passengers per year if expanded, a single runway cannot take the number of flights of that figure,” Abdullah said, adding that the increase in foreign tourists to Sabah would mainly come from China, as well as from Taiwan and Thailand.


Sarawak Tourism Ministry introduces new initiatives to improve tourism industry

KUCHING: The Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry will introduce new initiatives slated for local tour guides, as part of the efforts to improve the quality and professionalism in the tourism sector of Sarawak.

Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the ministry was looking into new strategies and approaches in keeping up with the present trend of the tourism industry.

As such, a meeting would be held with members of the Sarawak Tourist Guide Association to discuss ways to improve and upgrade the quality of tour guides to allow them serve the needs of the tourists better.

“We cannot follow what had been done in the past; we have to follow the trend whereby expectations of tourists nowadays are very different. As various countries have different expectations, we have to really keep up with the tourism trends of today.

“We will continuously improve, upgrade and at the same time keep up with the present trends in world tourism,” Lee said recently.

He pointed out that tourist guides played a key role in this sector, such as to be conversant on the tourism packages offered, especially on nature (flora and fauna) as well as the local heritage and culture.

He said during the guiding process, tourist guides would be tasked with making the tours both interesting and informative in order for the tourists to bring back good memories about Sarawak.


Hong Kong Airlines to suspend Kuching-Hong Kong direct flight next month

KUCHING: Hong Kong Airlines will suspend its Hong Kong – Kuching direct flight from February 25.

The chief commercial officer/director Li Dian Chun issued a notification yesterday, stating that the management had decided to suspend its Hong Kong – Kuching route.

“We regret to inform you that the decision by the management after internal discussion in the airline planning, the Hong Kong – Kuching v.v. (HX715/6) will be  suspended starting from 25 February, 2017,” said the notice undersigned by Li.

The two paragraph notice did not explain the reason for the suspension.

Hong Kong Airlines has been providing Hong Kong – Kuching direct flight services since May 28 last year after an agreement was signed between Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and Hong Kong Airlines on Jan 21, 2016.

The inaugural flight was on May 28, 2016 and the route was served by a fleet of 174-seat Airbus A320s.

The twice-weekly flights are on Wednesdays and Saturdays and a return trip on the next day.

Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin expressed disappointment over the suspension of the flight.

“I am very disappointed because the initial plan agreed by the two parties was to give it a try for three years.”


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Kuching’s wonderful architecture

KUCHING: The heritage walk at the heart of Kuching city centre is a must for history, arts and culture enthusiasts.

With over 20 historical landmarks to explore, starting with the Tua Pek Kong Temple, opposite the Kuching Waterfront all the way to the Islamic Museum at Jalan P Ramlee some 2km away, one would get to immerse themselves in the life of early settlers and cultures in the city.

Along the route, the heritage trail would guide visitors to learn about early Chinese settlements and the Brooke era dating back over 150 years.

“The Heritage Walk trail has strong potential to be developed into a tourism product for Kuching city, especially to attract Chinese tourists,” Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said after experiencing the heritage walk recently organised by the Sarawak Tourism Board.

He cited the Tua Pek Kong Temple, built in 1770, as the oldest in Sarawak. The temple sits at the foothill of Bukit Mata Kuching and originally overlooked the mouth of a small Sarawak River that has since been land filled, thus ensuring good fengshui features.

Among the main attractions at the trail included the Fort Margherita that was built in 1879 and has been turned into Brooke Gallery.

“Tourists can learn about early Chinese settlements in Kuching at the Chinese Historical Museum opposite the Tua Pek Kong.

“In the Main Bazaar area, we also have the Shang Ti Miao temple as well as the Kueh Seng Ong.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Kuching’s wonderful architecture

'Catastrophic consequences' warning on Sukau bridge

Kota Kinabatangan: Objection to Sukau bridge and road remains hot in view of hard scientific data collected over the past one year or more.

Calling it "a bridge to extinction," Belgian geneticist Dr Benoit Goossens, Director of Danau Girang Field Centre, said in a statement Monday that he sees a spectre of Kinabatangan Corridor of Life ending as a corridor of death.

"It is very anti-climatic, especially because the road/bridge project blatantly contradicts two State-endorsed policy documents on wildlife that vow to stop any further habitat fragmentation in Kinabatangan from major infrastructures.

"In the past 12 months, we have clearly demonstrated with scientific facts and data that the bridge and the road directly impact the wildlife populations, particularly the elephants, orang-utans and proboscis monkeys," said Dr Goossens.

The new public road that will subsequently follow the bridge will cut off the last remaining uninhabited route for elephants near Sukau, which will have catastrophic consequences for both the animals and the people, he argued.

"Major conflicts will arise, deaths from elephant attacks on people, elephants shot dead or poisoned will occur.

"Moreover, we have just lost three bull elephants from poaching. This will increase easy penetration of poachers into protected forests, especially of ivory traders, and increase the pressure on the elephant population in Sabah," said Goossens. He said a combination of a bridge and an aggressive highway will cost Sabah dearly in the eventual loss of one the largest and richest cargoes of wildlife known.

"Everybody knows the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is home to one of the largest populations of elephant and one of the largest population of proboscis monkeys, 800 orang-utans are still roaming free in its forest.

"Are we ready to sacrifice 10pc of Sabah's elephant population located in the most strategic and world famous eco-wildlife destination, 30pc of Sabah's proboscis monkey and 10pc of Sabah orang-utan population?"

Goossens said he found the contradictions that threaten to kill a proverbial "goose that lays the golden egg" most inconceivable.

"At a time when eco-tourism in Sabah is flamboyant and is becoming one of the top sources of income to the State, are we ready to blow this massive opportunity of sustainable source of income for many generations to come?" he asked.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 'Catastrophic consequences' warning on Sukau bridge

Sukau: A bridge to extinction of wildlife

KINABATANGAN: The clearance of private forested land in Sukau to establish an office for the bridge contractor and store heavy machinery for the construction of the proposed bridge-road has left Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens completely distraught.

“Seventeen years ago, the Kinabatangan was called Sabah’s ‘Gift to the Earth’ and in 2005, the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary was created to increase forest connectivity along the Kinabatangan River, protect several charismatic species such as the orangutan, the elephant and the proboscis monkey, some of them becoming, over the years, iconic species for attracting eco-tourists to the state,” explained Goossens.

He pointed out that in the Elephant and Orangutan State Action Plans 2012-2016, which were supported by the government, it was clearly stated that any process that would further fragment the habitat of elephant and orangutan populations such as highways and bridges must be prevented.

Therefore, the proposed bridge and road in Sukau are directly conflicting with the content of those two policy documents.

“For the past 12 months, we have clearly demonstrated with scientific facts and data that the bridge and the road would have a direct impact on wildlife populations, and especially elephants, orangutans and proboscis monkeys.

The new public road that will subsequently follow the bridge will cut off the last remaining uninhabited route for elephants near Sukau, which will have catastrophic consequences for both the animals and the people. Major conflicts will arise, deaths (elephant attacks on people, elephants shot or poisoned) will occur.

Moreover, we will increase easy penetration of poachers into protected forests, especially of ivory traders. We just lost three bull elephants from poaching. Can we decently increase the pressure on the elephant population in Sabah?” he said in a statement yesterday.

According to Goossens, the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is home to one of the largest populations of elephant and one of the largest population of proboscis monkeys, 800 orangutans are still roaming free in its forest.


Kiulu, Tamparuli to be known as extreme sports tourism hub

TAMPARULI: Kiulu and Tamparuli will be known as an extreme sports tourism hub, said Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

The Kiulu Assemblyman said organising the Ruhiang Kiulu Adventure Challenge 2017 (RUKIAC2017) is also part of that effort.

"Through RUKIAC2017 event, we can see an effort to make this area a location for adventure sports and extreme sports as a tourism product has led to fruition.

"The presence of local and foreign participants can also benefit the people especially traders around this area," he said after flagging off the RUKIAC2017 run on Sunday.

Joniston said STB always helped the organisers to promote extreme sports events through their networks at home and abroad in an effort to have the participation of foreign participants.

Meanwhile, Casero Events Director Steve Johnny Mositun welcomed more support from the private sector to improve the organisation quality and quantity of participation of events.

"To make this event at an international level, we welcome the support of private companies and the government not only in terms of the provisions but also labour to assist the smooth running of the event.

"This year, we received support from various groups, including Tamparuli Sub-District Office, Department of Health, STB, Polis Di Raja Malaysia (PDRM), Ararat Sports & Souvenirs Sdn. Bhd. International Technology and Commercial Centre, Penampang, St John's Ambulance and many more," he explained.