Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Maslight: Mulu Pinnacles (4D3N) Trip 2017 - Part 1 @Maslight


I've lost count to the number of times I've re-written this post, I can't seem to complete it.  It has been a struggle but I'm gonna make sure I complete this 😂.  To those waiting for this post, I sincerely apologize for the delay.  Post 1 is getting longer hahaha help!

Where to begin?

If you're planning to do the Pinnacles, it is highly recommended to book in advance since there's limited slots available at Camp 5.  Allocate 3 days 2 nights for this tour.  Minimum 3 person per tour.  But if you're going solo, don't worry, they will group you up with other solo travelers :) I'll include a summarize costing for this trip at the end of Part 2 of this post.

The return ticket from Kota Kinabalu to Mulu costs RM295.32 via MasWing and I had booked it early, my trip was 5 days after TMBT.  I don't know what I was thinking when I agreed for that trip but I was excited for it.  I was confident about my recovery haha.  Optimist!

Flight to Mulu

There are 2 available flights to Mulu from Miri in a day and 1 from Kuching.  Flights will transit at Miri for immigration clearance (for at least 20 minutes).

My flight was originally scheduled for a 55 minutes flight but somehow it was cancelled (without notice).  Thankfully, friend had informed me earlier (around August, mind you) I had sort it out with Malaysian Airlines.  So, that's about an extra 30 minutes to Mulu.

How to book?

Booking for your trip is relatively easy.  Here's a guide on how to plan your trip (Mulu Park website is so informative and you can book your trip from there).  You can also make booking via travel agent or tour operator, but it would cost higher (depending on accommodations in Mulu Park (inclusive meals).

The day finally came, thank god my legs felt better after begging my sis to massage it.  Who hates packing? ME! Am always indecisive about the clothes bring and would stack it and only put into the bag almost at the very minute hahahah.  Happens all the time when I travel, struggle to pack was so real.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Maslight: Mulu Pinnacles (4D3N) Trip 2017 - Part 1
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Eris Goes To: Travelogue Borneo - Inside A Kelabit Longhouse in Bario, Sarawak


The concept of communal living may be alien to many of us who live in the city. Our apartments are like tiny cages, our gated and guarded homes a substitute for cells.

For some indigenous peoples in Sabah and Sarawak, however, communal living is the only way of life they have ever known. Long houses have afforded its residents protection, safety and convenience since ancient times, and allows a unique bond to form between family, neighbours and friends.

I had the privilege of staying at one of these long houses recently, on a trip to Bario, Sarawak, where the Kelabit people live. We stayed at the Bario Asal Lembaa Long House, the largest longhouse in the area and home to 23 families.

During our visit, it was like a big party, as not only were the people from Volvo Trucks  there for the official launching ceremony of their CSR projects, so were some research students as well as NGO volunteers. The atmosphere was festive, and reminded me of days when I was younger and everyone would congregate back in our hometown during the holiday season (not anymore since the grandparents died. Sigh)

Dating back to 1958, the Bario Asal Lembaa long house is a living piece of history, where generations of families have lived and died. Elevated on wooden stilts, the building is mostly made from wood and has numerous entry and exit points.

The longhouse is divided into three ‘sections’, the first being the tawa – a long covered hallway that stretches from one end to the other. Used for ceremonies, gatherings and official functions, the space is lined with portraits of the families who live here, as well as historical figures and important community leaders within the Kelabit community.

It felt a bit like a family museum, and I was touched to be welcomed into something so precious and intimate.

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Sunda pangolin now totally protected in Sabah


SANDAKAN: The Sunda pangolin has been upgraded to a totally protected species in Sabah, and joins the ranks of the Orangutan, Sun Bear and several other iconic species found in the state.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said this meant that it was forbidden to hunt, consume or sell pangolins or their parts and offenders could face the maximum penalty as provided for in the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

“The document to upgrade the protection status of pangolins has been approved by the Sabah State Cabinet,” he said in a speech at the launch of a pangolin sculpture at the Sandakan Airport here today.

The text of his speech was read out by Assistant Minister Datuk Kamarlin Ombi, who launched the sculpture built from recycled polycarbonate advertising boards and used bottles.

Masidi said one of the biggest challenges in pangolin conservation was that very little was known about “this highly secretive and elusive creature”.

He said that for millions of years, pangolins have evolved and adapted to enable them to remain undetected and were often found in low densities based on camera trapping studies.

This made them rarely seen and particularly difficult to study, leading scientists to believe this species was in significant danger of extinction, he said.

Despite the existence of wildlife laws in different countries, poaching and illegal trafficking of wildlife species still persisted, he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sunda pangolin now totally protected in Sabah
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Monday, February 12, 2018

Travelettes: A first timer’s guide to Sarawak, Borneo @travelettes


Sarawak is a playground for adventure seekers, wildlife watchers, cultural enthusiasts and foodies.

If this sounds like you, then this corner of Asia won’t disappoint. Here’s my beginner’s guide to this beautiful Malay state, located on the island of Borneo.

Kuching

The capital city of Sarawak, Kuching, is a refreshing change from the fast-paced mega cities of Asia.

Instead of swathes of high rise buildings and concrete, you’ll find crumbling colonial architecture, pungent spice markets, grand mosques and a shady riverside promenade ideally suited for watching the sun set with a cold drink.

Kuching is the starting point for most international travelers in Sarawak. Only a short flight from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, the city has a sleepy stride which is easy to navigate.

Most travelers stay on the riverside in old Malay shop houses that have been converted into quirky, comfortable guesthouses.

A good way to get your bearings is to join a walking or cycling tour. We join the bubbly Farha from Wayang Tours on a culinary and heritage tour of Kuching.

We start by wandering the old streets of Chinatown, popping our heads into the lavishly decorated temples that seem to adorn every corner.

The Indian market is next with its kaleidoscope of brightly colored buildings brimming with vivid fabric shops, spice displays, colorful fruit shops and a vegetable market.

We find a dark alley leading to a tiny mosque where worshippers sit quietly in the shadows. It is an oasis of calm and cool in the midst of the bustling market place.

We can’t help but notice the burgeoning population of cats. Kuching is also known as ‘cat city’ because of the cats bought in by the original Malay traders.

Now there are giant cat statues, piles of kitschy cat souvenirs and even a cat museum; a must for cat lovers of the world.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

John Leathwick: Climbing Kinabalu


Kinabalu, a massive granite peak in Sabah, Borneo, has a summit elevation of 4095 metres, making it the highest point in Malaysia. It has always had an interest for me, mostly because of the international renown in which it is held for its biodiversity; it supports between 5000 and 6000 plant species, making it an important centre for plant biodiversity in Southeast Asia.

However, I had never seriously considered the idea of climbing Kinabalu – it was not only out of reach geographically, but also because of its height – some 1300 m higher than I’d climbed before.

That all changed in the middle of last year, when my sister suggested that we join her and her husband for a trip to Malaysia to visit some old haunts where they had lived and worked, including a reunion with school pupils whom Mike had taught several decades ago. The prospect of a guided tour through Sabah, complete with local contacts was too good to turn down, and we signed up straight away.

But then the tantalising prospect of Kinabalu came to the fore – could we fit it into our schedule? more important, was there still sufficient stamina in a 60+ year old body for such an undertaking? The scheduling question was quickly resolved, and plucking up our courage, we booked for the climb with Amazing Borneo Tours, resigned to having a good time, even if still somewhat doubtful of an ascent to that altitude!

After some less than ideal fitness preparation, we finally arrived in Kuala Lumpur, and after three days of astounding hospitality, food and humidity, we moved on to Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, where our Kinabalu adventure would really begin.

Coming from a New Zealand spring, the heat was opressive, and we wondered how this would play out when it came to walking. With anticipation on the night before, we sorted our gear, gave a case with our city clothes to other party members for safe keeping, and went to bed ready for an early morning call.

The climb begins

At five-thirty the alarm duly cheeped, and we were soon out into the first light of day to where our ride was ready and waiting.  After a couple more pickups, we were on our way, winding out through the early morning traffic, heading north and inland towards the dark bulk of mountain that stood imposingly on the skyline.

Fortunately the higher we climbed the cooler it got, so that by the time we registered at the Park Headquarters, it was a pleasant 20 degrees or so. Once tagged and teamed up with Jimmy, our ever calm and smiling local guide, we were off to Timpohon Gate (1866 m) for a 9 am start to the first day’s climb that would take us to the rest-houses at Laban Rata (3270 m).

At a superficial level, it would be easy to mistake this walk for somewhere in New Zealand, particularly at the beginning – the climate on the lower slopes is not too dissimilar to a New Zealand summer – mild temperatures although perhaps a bit more humid, and a pleasant walk through dense rain forest, with at least some familiar looking genera – Dacrydium, Phyllocladus, and Blechnum to name a few.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: John Leathwick: Climbing Kinabalu
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