Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lonely Planet: Into the heart of Borneo - a guide to Sarawak’s national parks

Home to some of the world’s biggest caves and most diverse ecosystems, superlatives abound when it comes to describing Sarawak’s national parks.

So blessed is this Malaysian state with a wealth of natural wonders that it can be difficult deciding exactly which parks to visit.

To help you make your decision we’ve come up with some helpful pointers about what’s on offer where, using the cities of Kuching (in Sarawak’s west) and Miri (in its centre, close to Brunei) as the jumping off points for some spectacular exploration.

Around Kuching

Flora and fauna: Bako National Park

If you’ve come to Borneo to see rainforest animals in their natural habitats, Bako National Park is the perfect place to start, located less than an hour’s drive from the state capital of Kuching, on a rocky peninsula jutting out into the South China Sea.

The park attracts visitors keen to see its most celebrated residents, the distinctive pot-bellied, red-furred proboscis monkeys, who lounge around close to the shore. But there’s more much more wildlife on offer, with the chance to spot silver-leaf monkeys, cheeky long-tailed macaques, scaly monitor lizards and bearded pigs, who are often seen rummaging around park HQ.

The mangroves here are home to saltwater crocodiles, and as many as 190 kinds of birds have been identified within the park boundaries.

Once you’ve had your fill of the fauna, it’s the flora’s turn to grab your attention – Bako is a wonderfully accessible place to experience almost every type of vegetation found in Borneo. 

From the terminal at Kampung Bako, a 30-minute boat trip takes you to park HQ, from where a range of hiking trails lead through the various terrains, including beach and cliff vegetation, heath forest, mixed dipterocarp forest, grasslands and peat swamp forest.

It’s possible to hike the trails in a loop or arrange to be picked up by boat from one of the park’s hidden coves.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Inaugural Music And Surf Fest @ The Tip Of Borneo To Be Held November

KUDAT: The Music and Surf Fest @ The Tip Of Borneo, Kudat will be held from November 25 to 26, 2017, at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau, Kudat, Sabah.

The two-day event aims to promote the beautiful beaches of Kudat as a tourism destination for outdoor activities and surf culture, as well as to showcase the tradition and customs of the Rungus community.

Kudat is famous for its white sandy beaches, pristine aquamarine waters, and the panoramic views of the sea are a magnificent sight at Tanjung Simpang Mengayau.

“After seeing the potential in promoting Kudat as one of the best destinations to visit in Sabah, we have combined the annual Sunset Music Fest and Surf Festival into one big event,” said Zachary Mobijohn, General Manager of Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn. Bhd.

“This is to enhance the experience of the locals and travellers by allowing them to enjoy in this event and to know what Kudat has to offer,” he said, adding that preparations including a site inspection and a trial of surfing activity has been done by Sri Pelancongan Sabah and the Sabah Surf Association at Simpang Mengayau.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Klias Wetlands eyed for RAMSAR nomination

KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu Wetlands, the first wetland situated within an urban area, has been accorded recognition as a RAMSAR site.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, noted that there was another urban wetland site located in Tokyo that has been given the recognition, but the site was treeless.

“We have mangrove trees,” said Masidi during a ceremony to launch the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands RAMSAR site yesterday.

The arduous process of applying for the RAMSAR nomination for the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands began as a dare made eight years ago by Masidi to the Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society.

The application was approved by the State Cabinet in March 2013, and was subsequently submitted to the RAMSAR Secretariat by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry in August 2016.

Last year, on December 22, the society finally received the long delayed good news that their application has been approved.

The Kota Kinabalu Wetlands has finally been designated as RAMSAR site no. 2290 – the second RAMSAR site for Sabah.

Now, Masidi said, he is eyeing the Klias Wetlands, which was part of a forest reserve and famous for the sighting of proboscis monkeys, for the RAMSAR nomination.

“But we need to engage with the local community because this will entail restrictions and regulations concerning the land use at the area,” he said.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Rare Mount Kinabalu documentary at Borneo Eco Film Festival 2017

KOTA KINABALU: A historical account of the Royal Society’s first scientific expedition to Mount Kinabalu in 1961 will make its digital première on the opening night of the Borneo Eco Film Festival on  22 September.

Mount Kinabalu-North Borneo 1961 features rarely seen archive footage of British and local scientists exploring the lush untouched forests at the foothills of Sabah’s famed mountain. The expedition, led by Professor E.J.H Corner, noted a remarkable cache of new species discovery that provided the impetus to designate Mount Kinabalu as a national park.

Corner and his team started in Poring and explored two key areas of the eastern side of Mount Kinabalu; the Eastern Ridge (but were hindered by the steep precipices of the Pinnacles) and the Pinosuk Plateau. Some of the prominent discoveries include proof of existence of the elusive rhinoceros on Mount Kinabalu and new species of oaks and figs.

The expedition also shed light on the little known biology of endemic plants and animals. In one report, Zoologist J.L Harrison observed that squirrels scampering over the hanging lids and old empty pitcher plants of Nepenthes lowii in search of snail eggs produced ‘gong-like sounds’ that echoed in the forests.

The 35-minute film, shot using 16mm handheld cameras, was recently digitised courtesy of the Royal Society. Originally, the film and audio were separate reels.

“This extraordinary film is a feast for the eyes and soul. We get a deeper sense of appreciation of the wealth of biodiversity and Mount Kinabalu’s cultural significance that had enthralled Corner and his team,” said BEFF festival director Melissa Leong.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Special moments on top of Mount Kinabalu

CONQUERING Mount Kinabalu together was not part of Karen Ping Paren and hubby Desmond Ong’s dream list when they tied the knot on Sept 9, 2006.

Both from Miri had climbed Malaysia’s highest mountain in Sabah before but not as a couple – until National Day this year.

Karen, 36, an information technology officer with Curtin Malaysia first climbed Mount Kinabalu in 2000 during her university expedition; while Desmond, 40, a contracting and procurement manager with Sarawak Shell, has done it with friends twice before – in 2003 and 2010.

Their dream of conquering the iconic peak together came true on Aug 31, 2017. In the wee hours of the morning on that day, the couple made their ascent along with Desmond’s elder brother, Christopher, 41, and mountain guide Mohammad Aidil.

Karen told thesundaypost the climb was a real test of grit, especially after the trails were badly affected by the 6.0 magnitude tremor that took 18 lives – including four mountain guides – on June 5, 2015.

Proposal and preparations

Karen said a few months back, she asked Desmond whether he wanted to climb Mount Kinabalu for the third time – but the first with her – to celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary, and he said yes.

Desmond then invited Christopher who loves adventures, two weeks before the climb and he too said yes despite not being mentally and physically prepared and having no experience scaling the country’s highest mountain.

Regardless, their idea was also to prove that with a strong mindset and a good Malaysian-style breakfast, they could make it to the top.

Both Desmond and Christopher were, in fact, physically fit for the climb – except Karen.

“I trained for two months, going for the Canada Hill or Lereng Bukit Staircase Challenge, weekly hiking at Canada Hill, workouts at Core Reactor PT Studio Miri and joining 5km to 10km marathons in Miri.

“Despite my preparations, strict dieting and previous climbing experience, it was a very tough trek up and I almost gave up half way. But in the end, I’m proud we were able to create a special moment by planting the Malaysian flag at the Low’s Peak, the summit of Mount Kinabalu (4,095 metres),” she beamed.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Special moments on top of Mount Kinabalu

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mount Kinabalu - A journey armed with courage

WHY do people climb mountains? Because it’s there, some would say. Mount Kinabalu in Sabah is no exception. Thousands climb it every year.

In his novel Maskerade, Terry Pratchett writes: “A huge mountain might be scaled by strong men only after many centuries of failed attempts, but a few decades later, grandmothers will be strolling up it for tea and then wandering back afterward to see where they left their glasses.”

It’s an overstatement for sure, but with the number of people that have scaled its heights of 4,095m, it can’t be that hard, no? Having been there over the Merdeka holiday, I’d say that it wasn’t difficult — at least in terms of hiking or mountaineering skills — but it certainly wasn’t easy either.

I made the trip with 20 others in a fundraising campaign called Klimb Kinabalu 2017, organised by the National Cancer Council (Makna). Our group comprised Makna staff, volunteers and individuals connected to the organisation, along with four employees of sponsor AirAsia.

The plan is to reach the summit a.k.a. Low’s Peak on Merdeka Day, Aug 31. Meanwhile, fundraising began on May 19 and will continue until Sept 16.

Unfortunately, I didn’t reach the peak. Despite my best effort I was still too much of a couch potato and I missed the 5am cut-off time at Sayat Sayat (the last checkpoint before the top) by five minutes. But I feel blessed to have made it that far, and I’m already planning to try again.


The Kadazan Dusun people of Sabah consider Mount Kinabalu sacred. And after the 2015 earthquake that took the lives of 18 mountain guides and climbers, I felt there was an extra sense of poignancy to the ascend, as well as wariness.

Death and disaster can strike anytime, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from living their best, healthiest lives.

Chan Chee Kun, 47, from Ipoh, Perak was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in August 2015. On the night prior to our climb, he told us: “I was feeling very low for about six months after that. But then I went through some things and I started to read.

“In one book, the author said, ‘I have this disease and it means I’m going to die. But everybody is going to die sooner or later. Just that my chances of dying may be faster than yours. But perhaps, also, your death may be faster than mine’.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Mount Kinabalu - A journey armed with courage

Mantanani Island may become Sabah's next marine park

KOTA KINABALU: Mantanani Island, a well-known site for recreational diving off Kota Belud, and its surrounding areas have been identified as Sabah’s next potential marine park.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the state government aims to turn 10 per cent of Sabah’s waters into protected marine areas.

He said the government has identified several potential areas to achieve that goal.

“The United Nations has invited us to gazette at least 10 per cent of our ocean and we have gazetted 7.6 per cent, with the current size of protected marine parks in Sabah at two million hectares.

“I’ve asked my assistant minister (Datuk Pang Yuk Ming) to form a committee to look into the possibility of increasing the size of these marine parks so that we can comply with the 10 per cent requirement.

“We have ample amounts of areas that we can eventually turn into parks and we have identified several. This reflects the good conservation policies that the state government has started and continued to implement.

“We are actually looking at Mantanani and we are seriously considering turning (Mantanani) into a protected marine park,” he told reporters after launching the Maritime Environmental Security Workshop 2017 here, today.

Masidi, however, said this would take some time as the plan depends on the government’s engagement with local residents, district office, and other relevant quarters.

He said the ministry is in the midst of preparing the necessary technical requirements before bringing the proposal to the state government’s attention.


Monday, September 11, 2017

UNESCO recognitions are catalysts for ecotourism in Sabah

KUNDASANG: The twin crown jewels of Sabah’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Kinabalu Park and the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve, are catalysts for ecotourism for local communities and paves the way forward to building an environmentally sustainable future.

Minister of Sabah Tourism, Environment and Culture, Datuk Masidi Manjun said the two nature reserves, recognised as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO has enhanced the image of Sabah’s natural wonders which provided immense economic opportunities for local communities through ecotourism.

“The UNESCO status is global recognition for Sabah’s natural wonders and played a vital role in bringing socioeconomic growth for local communities, evident from the mushrooming number of small-scale homestays, handicraft stalls and cafes all along the road to Kinabalu Park,” beamed Masidi.

He said the recognition has placed Sabah on the world map, after Kinabalu Park was declared the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, while the second UNESCO Site named the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve in 2014.

“The way forward to implement conservation frameworks is centred on sustainable development which provides the platform for alleviating poverty, enhancing the livelihood of local communities,” Masidi said during his address at the Malaysia UNESCO Day 2017, yesterday.

With tourist arrivals at all-time high, Masidi pointed out the state’s booming tourism industry continues to grow at 3.4 million tourist arrivals in 2016, generating RM7.25 billion tourism receipts from RM6.61 billion in the previous year.


Sabah tourism grew 10%

RANAU: Tourist arrivals to Sabah grew about 10 per cent between 2015 and 2016, Minister of Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun revealed.

He said arrivals grow from 3.176 million in 2015 to 3.427 million last year, and these figures came from the immigration authorities in Malaysia, Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd and airlines such as AirAsia.

The figures showed that Sabah was a must-visit destination among tourists, he said when officiating Rhythms of Kinabalu @ Ranau at the tamu grounds here last Saturday evening.

His speech was delivered by his assistant Datuk Kamarlin Hj Ombi. The event was organized by the Department of Culture and Arts in collaboration with the State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment.

Masidi said the state government will continue developing the tourism industry by introducing more tourism products especially those from the rural areas. One such effort is the Sabah Rural Tourism Roadshow which was launched in August 2017.

“Environment-based tourism products have been drawing tourists and we are looking forward to growth in the supporting businesses such as transportation, accommodation, food and others.

“The presence of the tourists has also indirectly contributed to improvements in elements of our lifestyle. We hope that elements of our culture will be able to draw more tourists to Sabah.”

Continue reading at: Sabah tourism grew 10%

Sunday, September 10, 2017

RnC Dream: The Dayaks – Headhunters of Borneo

If you think of ‘Dayaks’, you might just picture a headhunter – and you’re not entirely wrong.

Before the heavy boots of traders and imperialists set foot on the immense tropical island of Borneo, the Dayak – or ‘Dyak’ or ‘Dayuh’ – tribesmen were the land’s original heirs. 

Traditionally slash-and-burn farmers or nomadic hunter-gatherers living next to rivers or on steamy mountainsides, the Dayak people deservedly acquired a fierce reputation for their head-hunting practices – or Ngayau.

What binds the Dayak tribes together is a collective belief in Semangat, a supernatural power that dictates the lives of humans, animals and plants. This invisible force is present everywhere: from cut toe-nails to strands of hair, to footprints left in the mud, in names, shadows and even in the water that a human or animal has bathed in.

It is also present in the souls of those who have passed away – and why ancestor-worship is so pivotal to Dayak culture.

Deeply animist before the waves of 19th-century Christianity and 20th-century Islam washed up on Borneo’s shores, the Dayaks also believed that their enemies’ heads held special supernatural powers that were needed to complete complex rituals – from guaranteeing a successful rice-harvest to planting the foundations of a new family longhouse.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: RnC Dream: The Dayaks – Headhunters of Borneo

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Sandakan Food Festival draws large crowd

SANDAKAN: The eight days of food and all things food-related had turned Sandakan into a melting pot of activities, colours and flavours.

The Sandakan Food Festival which started from August 26 until September 2, with a selection of fringe events such as the Amazing Sandakan Food Race, a Bao Mountain eating competition and cooking demonstrations by Ropuhan di Tanak Wagu and Sandakan Master Chef Wahidan, had built up the momentum to the main event at Bandar Kim Fung.

On Merdeka Day and the Hari Raya Haji holidays, the food festival village hosted over 40 stalls, serving over 200 dishes from communities such as the Chinese, Kadazan-Dusun, Malay and even Indian.

The festival drew a wide audience of visitors, including many from out of town. Important guests included Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Musa Haji Aman, who opened the festival village on August 31 and graciously launched the Sandakan Tourism Association mobile app ‘The Sandakan’, covering all things interesting here in this small town.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sandakan Food Festival draws large crowd

Friday, September 08, 2017

No time frame for more World Heritage Sites in Sabah

Kota Kinabalu: No time frame has been set to seek World Heritage status for more sites in Sabah such as Maliau Basin (also known as the Lost World), Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

"The government has constantly evaluated the potential of other sites to be recognised," he told a press conference on Malaysia Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Day at Wisma Tun Fuad Stephens, Thursday.

"We plan to propose Danum Valley, Imbak Canyon and Maliau Basin for World Heritage Site status but first we have to comply with all the requirements and they are strict.

"We are not in a hurry to pursue this…furthermore, the existing laws had recognised these sites as first class forest reserves," he said.

As such, he said, at the moment it is sufficient for the sites to be protected under the law.

Masidi also said, so far, there are no issues which could jeopardise the World Heritage Site status of Kinabalu Park.

"All heritage sites are under constant evaluation (by Unesco) and should there are any issue that affect the status, then we will be informed," he said.

On the 7th Malaysia Unesco Day, Masidi said, Kundasang township will play host for the celebration this weekend (Sept. 9-10).

The event aims to increase the visibility and role of the Malaysian National Commission for Unesco (SKUM) as well as strengthen cooperation between the commission and government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the public.


Thursday, September 07, 2017

4Hoteliers: The Charm of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

If there is one vacation destination in Southeast Asia that should be included on your travel list, Kota Kinabalu is the place., Kota Kinabalu or KK as it is fondly called is one of Malaysia’s flourishing cities.

This place has a lot to offer if you desire an exceptional vacation experience at a reasonable travel budget. There is an abundance of Kota Kinabalu attractions that will certainly fascinate you and make you wish you had traveled here sooner.

Before you take flight, it would be best to book a hotel in Kota Kinabalu ahead of your landing date. Your first objective is to book your stay at a hotel that will serve as the pivot point of your vacation.

Once your accommodation concern is out of the way, you can plan your itinerary and work within your budget.

The Great Attractions in KK

Your itinerary will depend on the length of your stay in KK. Whether it’s a brief getaway or a week-long adventure, you will never run out of things to do in the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state. At any rate, here are just five must-do activities that should add to your travel memory bank.

Take a Tour of Kinabalu Park

A trip to Kota Kinabalu will not be complete without taking a tour of the widely-acclaimed Kinabalu National Park. The park has been declared a World Heritage Site. Its main attraction is the towering Mount Kinabalu. Marvel at the granite dome of this majestic 13,435 feet high mountain.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: 4Hoteliers: The Charm of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Roads and Kingdoms: The Laksa Origin Debate, Borneo Edition

Laksa in Sarawak

I had done a bit of research about Sarawak laksa before arriving.

Not that I was any the wiser.

Depending on who you believe, the most authentic pastes have 20, 30, 36 or even more components, among them garlic and lemongrass, as well as various spices.

It’s often said the first laksa vendor in Sarawak—a Malaysian state on the northwest coast of Borneo—was a Cantonese man who moved to Kuching from Indonesia at the end of World War II.

He gave or sold his recipe to a Cantonese lady, who may or may not have passed it to a Mr. Tan who, in the 1960s, made a fortune selling factory-made “Swallow” brand laksa paste.

None of these creation myths mention the other forms of laksa eaten in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Mr. Tan’s product—and those of the imitators which soon appeared (one called itself “Eagle,” another “Parrot”)—made preparing laksa at home a great deal quicker and less laborious.

Inevitably, it was a huge hit among Sarawakians living far from their home state.


Effective communication helped regain Sabah’s tourism draw

KOTA KINABALU: Effective communication has enabled the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry to overcome negative publicity arising from incidents such as the Tanduo intrusion, kidnappings and the Mount Kinabalu earthquake to regain the State’s popularity as a tourist destination.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, said that these incidents had resulted in a drop in tourist arrivals but stressed that effective communication had enabled the State to bounce back.

“The Tanduo incident in 2013 saw a group of armed men from the Southern Philippines landing in the east coast of Sabah to claim the State and the bloody encounter had gone down in the history of Sabah as her first modern armed conflict,” Masidi revealed.

He said that within a week of the untoward incident, his ministry saw a drop in tourism arrivals to Sabah.

“Tanduo is but a small village in Sabah and is 130 kilometres away from Lahad Datu…nevertheless, the whole world perceived that it was the whole of Sabah (being impacted),” he said in his keynote address at the 11th Global Congress and Conferment Ceremony yesterday.

He added that his ministry worked to improve tourist confidence by simply explaining the matter.

He said the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 also impacted tourism arrivals in Sabah.

“Tourists stopped coming to Sabah, so we explained that flying on Malaysia Airlines was not the only way to get to Sabah … we started promoting Sabah through other airlines,” Masidi said.


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Kiwi Travel Writer: Drumming at a music festival in the Borneo Jungle

The Rainforest World Music Festival has just celebrated twenty years of family friendly fun: that’s two decades of unique, worldwide, musical experiences and talents in the heart of the Borneo jungle.

It started over twenty years when a Canadian, Randy Raine-Reusch, a musician and student went to Sarawak to learn their traditional music.

He particularly became enamoured with the Sape, and this instrument has become an enduring, recurring theme of the festival which is held at the living heritage museum  – the Cultural Village  – just out of Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, Borneo.

A much-loved tradition, that started a few years ago, is the drumming circle led by Drums, and other percussion instruments, are provided for 100 people at each session – and each seat in the circle is highly sought after – and it’s first in first served.

Judy, from Los Angeles, and who was travelling with, was lucky to get a seat – ‘lucky’ as I pushed her into it.


Monday, September 04, 2017

This is Toby: Into the Jungles

I’d never properly been into a jungle prior to this trip and was very excited to experience them.

I wasn’t sure that they were really my kind of thing, I much prefer the crisp air and expansive views from up a mountain than dense, humid vegetation, but in I went regardless; twice.

I was very much a rainforest tourist, heading for a couple of nights, before swiftly retreating back out to civilisation.

Whilst amongst the vines I met scientists that were there for weeks and even months at a time, sampling and studying the climate.

I don’t think I would enjoy that myself, but my short trips were very enjoyable.

I went into two jungles, Danum Valley and Mulu National Park.

I had organised both my trips D.I.Y. style to save on the pennies as going into remote jungle can add up very quickly.

I stayed in the scientists research area in Danum and the parks hostel in Mulu, both had to be booked months in advance as during peak season they sell out very early.

A quick comparison of the two locations would be Danum is rough and ready, whereas Mulu is the luxury jungle experience.

I imagine this is because Danum has a separate area where the fancier places to stay are, whereas Mulu is just one area so I still had the fanciness of the surroundings despite my cheap accomodation.

To get in I either jumped in the back of a van for a few hours or had to fly in, both are pretty disconnected from the world.

As we drove deeper into the jungle, the trees rose up further and further overhanging the road, surrounding you with walls of green, wisps of mist shrouding the gaps between the trunks.

We broke into a clearing where the centre was and I went to sign in – the woman at Danum Valley gave me a shocked looked when I told her I was cooking for myself – apparently not many people are as cheap as me.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: This is Toby: Into the Jungles

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Bears and Beyond: The Wildly Bizarre Proboscis Monkeys Of Borneo!

Orangutans steal the spotlight from other wildlife in Borneo. When people go to Borneo to “see the Orange” they are always mystified, baffled and dazzled by so many beautiful and bizarre creatures that they never knew existed.

The proboscis monkey is certainly at the top of the list. With a giant nose, pot belly, crazy voice box, and several other bizarre features, once discovered they are never forgotten.

Physical Characteristics

There are several features which makes these monkeys extraordinarily quirky.

The local Malay name for this species is Monyet Belanda, meaning “Dutch Monkey” because their huge pot bellies and big red noses reminded them of Dutch colonists in the old days.

The huge belly is actually a big fermentation vat, similar to a rumen, which is full of a soup of microbes that break down the structural cellulose in leaves and turns it into usable sugar.
This “gut flora” also helps to detoxify alkaloids (plant defense poisons) so they can survive on a very low quality diet of leaves and unripe fruits, as opposed to orangutans, gibbons and macaques, which need high quality young leaves of specific trees and fruits.

A proboscis monkey would never eat a ripe banana, if it did, it could die of bloat! 

Another unique and attention-getting characteristic of the males is a bright red penis that is always erect and sweating.

The sweat is a way for excess sodium to be released, which allows them to live in the salty, mangrove forests.


Saturday, September 02, 2017

Janice Horton: Adventures in Borneo - Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

We flew from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan in the Sabah region of Borneo to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to see Orangutans in the wild at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre – the precious home of the last wild Orangutans of North Borneo.

The centre, in 43 square kilometres of virgin equatorial rainforest, was set up in 1964 by an English woman called Barbara Harrison and it was the first centre in the world to dedicate itself to the rehabilitation of orphaned (as a result of illegal logging and deforestation) Orangutans or those that have been displaced (due to being caught and illegally kept as pets). 

Today, as well as caring for young orphaned Orangutans, it looks after dozens of other wildlife species including Sunbears, Gibbons, Sumatran Rhinos, and Borneo Pygmy Elephants.

Walking through the jungle to the feeding stations, we managed to spot some pigmy elephants.

The jungle was so dense that we walked along wooden gantry pathways to keep us above ground level and safe from snakes and other dangers.

All around us the trees were so incredibly ancient and tall and it was a fabulous experience to see both young and older Orangutans swinging through the tree canopy above us towards the food station.


Sabah committed to boost tourism

SANDAKAN: The State Government is committed to boost the tourism industry in Sabah and the involvement of youths in contributing ideas to boost the industry is important, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman.

He commended the Sandakan Tourism Association (STAN) run by youths who had come up with various ideas to attract tourists to the district such as the Sandakan Food Festival and other programmes that promote Sandakan as a tourism spot, nature city, seafood paradise and its environment conservation efforts.

Musa also said that about three million tourists came to Sabah last year.

“The efforts of our youths together with the support of local leaders and other agencies are making a positive development on the tourism industry here,” he added when launching the Sandakan Food Festival organised by STAN and other agencies and associations at Yu Yuan Secondary School parking lot here, on Thursday.

STAN chairman Johnny Lim said the Tourism Ministry and Sabah Tourism Board were involved in making the festival happen.

He said that the event which was held for the first time received around 7,000 visitors on its second day.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sabah committed to boost tourism

Friday, September 01, 2017

This is Toby: Solo around Borneo and Brunei

When the heat of summer rolls into Daegu I pretty quickly start counting the days for an escape to different climates.

This year was down to Borneo and Brunei, to explore the mountains and jungles on the island.

I had the luxury of direct flights from Busan, albeit on a very non-luxury plane, and 2.5 weeks to explore.

I was heading down to Borneo in peak season.

Places in SE Asia that aren’t experiencing heavy monsoon weather in August are few and far between and coupled with school vacations meant that it was going to be busy.

This did mean I had to pre-book most of what I wanted to do and then stick to an itinerary rather than just be able to wander, but with a tight timescale I was okay with that.

It did mean that I could maximise my time doing activities than have to be thinking about where I was going to stay the next day.

I’d booked trips to go hiking up  Mt. Kinabula, Malaysia’s highest mountain, trips into two different rainforests – Danum Valley rainforest and Mulu National Park, and then also spend a couple of nights checking out the oil rich country of Brunei.

Coupled with a couple of nights in various cities and travel time that was my full vacation eaten up.

Funny how you can sum up in an entire trip in a sentence or two, but a lot happened in those two sentences.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: This is Toby: Solo around Borneo and Brunei

Experience culture and food at ‘Taste of Borneo 2017’

MIRI: Preparation is in progress for the culture and food based carnival ‘Taste of Borneo 2017’ at Boulevard Mall’s open car parking compound from Nov 24 to Dec 3.

Organised by Sarawak Chinese Association, the carnival is endorsed by Sarawak Information Centre.

Recently, a team of organising committee paid a courtesy visit on Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.

They comprised carnival advisor Datuk Hii King Chiong, president of Sarawak Chinese Association Ting Pang Soon, organising chairman Harry Lee, Islamic Information Centre CEO Zabariah Matali, Dayak Association of Miri president Serawa Budol, Indian Association Miri president Councillor Karambir Singh, Sikh Association of Miri president Narmal Singh, Malay Association Miri president and deputy president of Federation of Orang Ulu Associations Sarawak,  Malaysia (Forum) Ipoi Datan.

During the visit, Hii, on behalf of the organising committee, handed the chief minister an invitation to the carnival on Nov 25 as guest-of-honour.

The organising committee also invited Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and Consulate General of The People’s Republic of China in Kuching, Fu Jijun as special guests for the carnival’s special opening.

Hii briefed Abang Johari on preparation for the carnival that aims to boost tourism activities and generate income for the business community in the city.