Thursday, May 26, 2005

2005 Kaamatan and Gawai e-Cards!

Once again, the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak are celebrating the colourful Cultural Harvest Festival ("Kaamatan" in Sabah; and "Gawai" in Sarawak) to celebrate the end of the harvesting season. e-borneo.com is one of a handful of sites in the world that gives you an opportunity to send a special and unique Borneo indigenous Kaamatan and Gawai electronic cards.

So, please feel free to check out our e-card section and sent an e-greeting to your friends, relatives and loved ones to remind them that you are thinking of them during this Kaamatan/Gawai period.


End Info: Both Sabah and Sarawak have numerous indigenous dialectic groups. Inevitably, all the indigenous communities will have different dates for their 'Kaamatan" or "Gawai" due to the varying dates for their harvesting seasons. "Kaamatan" culminates on 30 and 31 May of each year, which are public holidays for the state of Sabah, whereas, the "Gawai" on 01 and 02 June, which are also an official holiday for Sarawak.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

All Set For Sarawak's Grandest Ever Gawai Celebration


KUCHING -- This year's Gawai (harvest) festival is going global with the participation of several international cultural troupes, making it the grandest ever in the state history.

The festival, formerly known as 'Gawai Tourism Night' (GTN) will this year be known as the 'World Harvest Festival' to give it the international identity.

Several padi-planting countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, will be taking part in the two-day festival, along with the cultural troupes from Sabah, Sarawak, and Kedah.

Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) General Manager Jane Lian Labang said the participating artistes would be given the opportunity to experience the local cultures, such a stay at the long houses.

Jane said SCV and the Ministry of Social Development and Urbanisation would organise charity shows for inmates of welfare homes Thursday.

The highlight of the charity show will be the theme play, entitled 'Wek Jongan' from the Selako community and a special appearance of the 14 finalists of the Miss Fair & Lovely GTN 2005.

On the day of the festival, Jane said, visitors can expect a string of programmes, such as interactive workshops, cultural lectures and concerts by performers from various Asean countries.

The visitors are advised not to miss the Food Fair, the traditional Thailand and local massage and tattoo demonstrations.

The mainly agro-based Dayak community -- Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu -- celebrate the Gawai Festival in June every year as thanksgiving for the bountiful padi harvest.

Courtesy of BERNAMA

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Miri - Harnessing full potential of tourism


Miri as the oil capital of Malaysia, is well-known as the shopping and entertainment destination for visitors from Brunei and the transit point to go to the Mulu National Park world heritage site and the pre-historic Niah Caves.

However, not much is known, outside the division, about the actual tourism assets that are found in the urban metropolis of Miri and its immediate surroundings.

Besides what is reputed to be one of the best sunrise and sunset views in the world, within the city-limits there are also the following:

  • THE largest Taoist Temple in South-East Asia;
  • A WAR memorial that commemorates the first landing point of the Japanese invaders during World War II; and
  • UNSPOILT beaches.

For any other towns or cities, these assets would be good enough to claim to be a major tourism centre but there is so much more here and in the greater Miri division.

In terms of natural assets, Miri division has four huge national parks – the highest number in any of the 11 divisions in Sarawak. Each of the four national parks found in Miri is unique.

The most famous is, of course, the Gunung Mulu National Park which has some of the most awesome caves and underground rivers in the world. It is a world heritage site that saw a Royal Geographic Society exploration in 1977 and 1978 that involved more than 100 scientists.

The park covers an area of 52,000ha and is now a major eco-tourism destination.

Today, Mulu continues to retain the sense of adventure associated with its original exploration through the provision of caving and other such activities. However, the focus is now given to the promotion of eco-tourism activities so as to create an awareness of the significance of the park and its environment.

The Niah Caves National Park is a treasure trove of evidence of pre-historic human settlement. Literally, the park is proof that cavemen existed in Borneo more than 40,000 years ago.

Even today, local Penan tribesmen still venture into the cave to collect edible birds nests and the guano.

The Lambir National Park, covering 6,952ha, has the most diverse flora and fauna composition of any tropical forests in the world but yet it is only a short 30-minute drive from Miri. The park was established on June 26, 1976. It is also reputed to have the most waterfalls within a short distance of each other.

The fourth park in the Miri division is the Loagan Bunut National Park, which is about three hours' drive from the city.

Gazetted as a park in 1990 by the Sarawak government, its star attraction is its lake – the pride of the Berawan community who call it “Loagan” (meaning lake). As the largest natural lake in the state, it occupies 650ha of the 10,738ha park.

The fascinating feature of this lake is its “vanishing act”, which reduces the lake to a huge expanse of cracked mud, especially during an extended drought, usually for about two to three weeks in February, May or June.

Another important asset that Miri has, which has gone somewhat unnoticed, is the unique multiracial and religious composition and international mixture of people that are found here.

Miri town has a migrant population made up of at least 19 ethnic and sub-ethnic native groups and dozens of sub-sub groups created by cross ethnic marriages.

Shell Malaysia exploration headquarters here has an expatriate population from Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia while Curtin University of Technology Sarawak campus has students and teaching staff from at least 25 countries.

Food-wise, Miri has some of the most exquisite bird-nests in the country, with the best quality ones costing some RM5,000 per kg. Some of the best Malay food, Sarawak laksa, cincaluk, Bario rice, super-sweet Sarawak pineapples and the Batu Niah durians can be found here.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam rightly points out that there is much that needs to be done to harness the full potential of what the tourism industry holds in Miri.

“There are a lot of very successful tourist destinations in the world that have so much less compared to Miri in terms of attractions and natural assets.

“We have tourism attractions on land, along the coast, coral reefs in the sea, caves and mountains in the interior and even our population composition is an attraction by itself.

“What we need urgently to do is to package and market what we have. We must be able to sell our tourism potentials more effectively,” he stressed.

Plans have been drawn up to market Miri to a wider audience at national and international levels, he stressed.

Sarawak Tourism Board director for northern Sarawak, Lee Kim Shin, is one of the most vocal when it comes to trying to develop the assets that Miri has.

And he believes that air links from international tourism hubs are of the utmost importance.

Lee, who is Assistant State Minister for Infrastructure Development and Communications, said it is vital that Malaysia Airlines have direct flights from Miri to places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Australia.

He believes that such connections can be arranged by timing these flights with those direct foreign air links landing at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Sabah.

“It is a matter of trying to schedule the international MAS flights. What we hope for is for MAS to fly maybe Tokyo to Miri to Kota Kinabalu or Hong Kong to Miri to Kota Kinabalu.

“It is important that MAS try out these routes so that Miri can have direct foreign links. Miri already has an airport that is big enough to accommodate a Boeing 747, but it is not fully utilised because we do not have access to direct international flights,” he said.

Lee noted that MAS has already increased the seat capacity to Mulu by using Fokkers that can accommodate 50 passengers compared to the previous 19-seater Twin Otters.

Royal Mulu Resort general manager Allen Robinson said Miri and Mulu are like Siamese twins in that whatever happens to one will ultimately affect the other.

“Both are inseparable, thus the tourism potentials of Miri must be developed in tandem with the tourism potentials in Mulu,” he said.

Courtesy of The Star

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

"Sabah Tour Packages" e-Brochure

Sabah Tour Packages e-Brochure


In today's fast moving world, not many people have the time to surf and search for vacation packages.

For this reason, we are delighted to be able to deliver to you the latest tour packages provided by e-borneo.com as well as other related electronic downloads for free. This is intended to save you invaluable time browsing, navigating or searching through the site or on the web for the right vacation package in Borneo and/or information about Borneo.

The e-brochure can be printed out to be read at the comfort of your living room, giving you the luxury to discuss and deliberate with your loved ones or travelling associates on the best destination/tour to take. We sincerely hope that it will greatly assist you in discovering and locating the most appropriate tour destinations and package for your holiday here.

We have started with the Sabah Tour Packages but hope to add more e-brochures as well as e-books in the near term.

Please kindly Click Here to the download page.

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Special Bonus on discounted Sabah pre-designed tour packages in the e-brochure, specially for those who had taken their time to download the document.

MyKad entry to Sabah from June

BY MUGUNTAN VANAR

KOTA KINABALU: It will be a hassle-free entry for Malaysians from the peninsula and Sarawak flying into Sabah via the Kota Kinabalu International Airport from June 1.

The MyKad reading system has been put in place at the airport.

Dry runs were carried out earlier this week and the system will be fully operational from June 1, Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman told reporters after chairing the state Cabinet meeting yesterday.

Sabah’s implementation of the system comes a month after Sarawak launched a three-month trial run on May 1.

Prior to the implementation of the new system, Malaysians from the two places had to produce their passports or fill up an immigration entry visit form to enter Sabah.

Now they just have to hand over their MyKad to the immigration officers who will slot it into a card-reading machine, and a piece of paper detailing arrival dates and personal particulars will be automatically issued.

“It will take about 25 to 30 seconds for an individual to clear,” Musa said.

He said these card readers would be placed at the immigration checkpoints in Sandakan, Tawau and Sindumin in the next three months.

For people bringing in children below the age of 12, the children's details will be put under their parents’ or guardians’ MyKad.

Musa said the state’s powers over immigration remained and the new system was to facilitate travel among the states for Malaysians.

On another issue, Musa said the Cabinet had approved the gazetting of 2,500ha of the upper reaches of the Segama River in the east coast of Sabah as a forest reserve.

He said the move was aimed at preserving the rich forest reserve close to the wildlife sanctuary of Tabin in the east-coast Lahad Datu area.

“The area has the potential to be developed into an eco-tourism area,” he added.

Courtesy of The Star

Royal Brunei fares "among the cheapest" - airline chief


“Royal Brunei Airines' fares are among the cheapest, if not the cheapest, of all medium to long-haul fares being sold in the Australian market,” according to the airline's chief executive, Peter Foster.

Speaking in the airline's Brunei headquarters, Foster said fares being sold by Royal Brunei were extremely competitive and Australian travellers should take advantage of the fact.

“In Brunei , it's the same story. In the UK , it's the same to the Middle East . We are an extremely competitively priced airline, both to Brunei and from Brunei . Our Blue Sky fares are some of the lowest in the region for full-service carriers.”

Blue Sky economy fares apply to flights out of Brunei . They are valid for the rest of this year, only when booked online through the airline's website. They include fares from Brunei to Kota Kinabalu of about A$77, Brunei/Kuala Lumpur of about $A188, Brunei/Bangkok about A$220, Brunei/Surabaya or Brunei/Jakarta about A$252, Brunei/Hongkong about A$284, Brunei/Shanghai about $444, and Brunei/Denpasar about A$252.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Borneo - the most species-rich area in the world!


Scientists map the world for nature conservation. For years, experts have been calling for an improved database that would enable them to develop more effective global nature conservation strategies. Botanists at the University of Bonn have now taken a major step in this direction with the publication, in the Journal of Biogeography, of a world map of plant biodiversity.

Indeed, Borneo's lowland rainforest is the most diverse of all, with around 10,000 plant species. By comparison, the whole of the Federal Republic of Germany contains some 2,700 different native plants.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Clean, Green Brunei Impresses Travel Agents


By James Kon

Bandar Seri Begawan - Brunei's clean and pristine look has managed to impress a group of eight Brisbane travel agents who are currently on a Familiarisation Tour to Brunei sponsored by the Royal Brunei Airlines.

During a luncheon hosted by the Royal Brunei Airlines at the Portview Restaurant, Mr Jim Basedow, Director of Sales and Marketing of Borneo Holiday and Fiona Taylor from Infinity Company in Australia were amazed with the clean and beautiful scenery of many tourist destinations in Brunei.

Speaking on how to market Brunei as a tourist destination to Australians, Mr Basedow told the Bulletin that with RBA having numerous accesses within the Borneo region, Brunei could be a stopover destination together with other neighbouring countries for individual travellers especially golfers.

Mr Basedow was astonished with the scenery of Water Village (Kampong Ayer) and the Jame 'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. He said that the Water Village shows Brunei's own distinct culture and added Australian tourists would be amazed by the lifestyle of the Water Village's residents living in houses built on the river for decades.

Also present at yesterday's luncheon were Nurul Suzainee Abdullah, the Manager Product Development of RBA and Jennifer Y.M Lim, the Regional Controller - Eastern Australia & New Zealand as well as Olivia Teo, Sales Manager of the Empire Hotel and Country Club.

Led by Marissa Williamson of RBA Brisbane Office, the Brisbane travel agents include travel agents from Go Holidays, Global Fares & Conferences, Albatross Travel, Sabah Tourism, Beachcomber, Infinity Company and Borneo Holiday.

The group of Brisbane travel agents, who are staying at the Empire Hotel and Country Club, also visited the Water Village, Royal Regalia, and stopped by at Istana Nurul Iman and Jame `Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Call home from Mt. Kinabalu, SE Asia’s highest point


KOTA KINABALU: Trekkers heading up Mount Kinabalu can now call home via two pay phones located 1.2km below the highest point, Low’s Peak.

Located at the Sayat Sayat station, at an altitude of 3,810m, the phones are also the highest such public facility in the country.

“We expect these phones to be popular among tourists because they can call home to tell their family and friends they are calling from the highest point in South-East Asia. That’s a novelty,” said Ruhia Lawis, Telekom Malaysia Bhd's (TM) public relations manager for Sabah.

She said the pay phones at Sayat Sayat, which were installed late last year, had received good response from Mount Kinabalu trekkers.

Calls can be made using coins or prepaid phone cards and the call charges are the same as those made from other pay phones.

Ruhia said TM had in 1997 set up two pay phones at the Laban Rata rest-house, situated 3,270m above sea level.

All pay phones on the mountain are wireless, and use the radio VHF system.

TM engineers designed special booths for the pay phones at Sayat Sayat to protect the electronic equipment from the wind, cold and moisture near the mountain peak.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, who is Kinabalu MP, is scheduled to launch the Sayat Sayat pay phones in a ceremony at the Kinabalu Park headquarters tomorrow.

At the event, Malaysia Book of Record officials are expected to certify that the pay phones at Sayat Sayat are the highest in the country.

Courtesy of The Star

Friday, May 13, 2005

Borneo's Disappearing Forests


The following is an excerpt from a worrying but excellent article written by Rhett Butler, the author of a book called "A Place Out of Time: Tropical Rainforests - Their Wonders and the Perils They Face" and also the founder of Mongabay.com, a website with the main purpose to raise interest in and appreciation of wildlands and wildlife.


Borneo, the third largest island in the world, was once covered with dense rainforests. With swampy coastal areas fringed with mangrove forests and a mountainous interior, much of the terrain was virtually impassable and unexplored. Headhunters ruled the remote parts of the island until a century ago.

In the 1980s and 1990s Borneo underwent a remarkable transition. Its forests were levelled at a rate unparalled in human history. Borneo's rainforests went to industrialized countries like Japan and the United States in the form of garden furniture, paper pulp and chopsticks. Initially most of the timber was taken from the Malaysian part of the island in the northern states of Sabah and Sarawak. Later forests in the southern part of Borneo, an area beloging to Indonesia and known as Kalimantan, became the primary source for tropical timber. Today the forests of Borneo are but a shawdow of those of legend.

Click here to read the rest of the article

There are also some well taken photos on the site.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Sarawak SEDC gains RM10.8m from tourism


BY JACK WONG IN KUCHING

SARAWAK State Economic Development Corp's (SEDC) investments in the tourism and leisure sector contributed a pre-tax profit of RM10.79mil last year, a jump of more than 40% from RM7.39mil in 2003.

Total revenue from the sector increased to RM93.6mil from RM82.8mil.

Sarawak SEDC chairman Datuk Talib Zulpilip said the corporation had investments in 16 tourism-related projects, including hotels and resorts, a golf course, shopping complexes and tourist centres.

He said the top contributors were subsidiaries Sejadu Sdn Bhd (which owns Crowne Plaze Riverside Hotel and Riverside Shopping Complex), Kuching Hotels Sdn Bhd (which owns Holiday Inn Kuching and Sarawak Plaza) and Sara Resorts Sdn Bhd (owner of Holiday Inn Resort Damai Beach and Sarawak Cultural Village).

These three companies achieved a combined pre-tax profit of RM8.9mil last year.

“Last year, the Sarawak SEDC paid out over RM1mil in dividends while internally funded the refurbishment of its hotels in Kuching and Damai for RM9.75mil,” Talib said in a statement.

Besides the hotels' upgrading, SEDC undertook several new projects last year.

These included a Ledang Spa at the hilltop wing of the Holiday Inn Resort Damai Beach and the development of the Plaza Walk at Sarawak Plaza to cater for international franchises – the Coffee Bean, Kenny Rogers and Roadside Grill outlets. The Santubong mountain trek was also upgraded.

Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, Talib said SEDC had planned for several new development projects in Damai peninsula, where its two beach hotels, Sarawak Cultural Village and golf course are located, in line with efforts to reposition it as a premier tourist destination.

On the drawing board is a resort village bazaar to serve as a centre for commercial activities and a system trails and walkways to link the various tourism properties that will take visitors through the beaches, jungles and mountain streams.

Courtesy of The Star

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Sabah To Promote Tambunan As Gateway To Interior Heritage


TAMBUNAN -- Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman Sunday launched the month-long Pesta Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) here and directed the Sabah Tourism Board to promote this interior town as the gateway to the rich heritage of the state's heartland.

He said the board should promote the district more aggressively, especially to foreign tourists.

At the same time, the Tambunan District Office and other agencies should cooperate by identifying local attractions that could be developed for tourism, he said at the launching ceremony at the Tambunan tamu (traditional market) ground.

The Pesta Kaamatan, celebrated in May each year by the Kadazandusun and Murut communities, is one of the most important festivals in Sabah.

The Huguan Siou (Paramount Leader) of the Kadazandusuns is Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan who represents Tambunan in the State Assembly.

Courtesy of BERNAMA

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