Friday, August 31, 2007

Sabah Museum aims to attract more visitors


KOTA KINABALU: The skeletal remains of a 24m Bryde’s whale has been put on display at Sabah Museum.

The exhibit is now the biggest display at the museum.

The remains of the whale were preserved after the mammal, dubbed by locals as lulambu, was found beached off Pulau Gaya near here last December.

“The exhibit is among the museum’s special displays,” Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin said after launching the 50th Merdeka celebrations and 61st birthday exhibition of Yang DiPertua Negri Tun Ahmad Shah Abdullah on Monday.

Continue reading at: Sabah Museum aims to attract more visitors

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Biggest ever Sarawak Regatta with 300 teams


KUCHING: This year’s Sarawak Regatta has been dubbed “the mother of all regattas” with more than 300 teams and nearly 7,000 participants.

Kuching resident Rodziah Morshidi said 387 teams had signed up for the event that takes place on Sarawak River here this weekend, including four from Sabah and one each from Brunei and West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

“Last year, we had 200-plus teams, so there has been a marked increase in the number of teams this year,” she told a press conference.

Continue reading at: Biggest ever Sarawak Regatta with 300 teams

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sabah reveals orchid diversity


Botanists have known for years the plant diversity at one of Malaysia’s key icons, Mount Kinabalu.

Nearly three quarters of the more than 1,200 orchid species found in Sabah, for example, are endemic to the mountain and the 754 sq km park area, about three time the size of Penang island, surrounding it.

The vast diversity of Sabah’s orchids continues to reveal itself as researchers continue to uncover new species of the plant.

Borneo Orchid Society of Sabah (BOSS) president Datuk C.L. Chan said most of the species were “small and uninteresting” and usually referred to as “botanical orchids”.

An exception to this was a ground-growing orchid with “gorgeous” yellow-orange blooms found on the Silau Silau Trail on Mount Kinabalu that botanists recently realised was a new species.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sabah reveals orchid diversity

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RM35mil hotel for Semporna, Sabah


Kota Kinabalu: The Seri Malaysia Group of Hotel will build its first hotel in Sabah at Semporna with the cost of RM35 million, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said Wednesday.

He said the fund had been approved by the Federal Government with State investment arm, Sabah Economic Development Corporation (Sedco) representing Sabah as the land owner in the joint-venture deal.

The mid-range Seri Malaysia Hotel chain was implemented by the Federal Government in the effort to boost up the tourism industry in Malaysia under the Sixth Malaysia Plan.

Together with the Ministry of Finance, the Federal Government has incorporated Rangkaian Hotel Seri Malaysia Sdn Bhd (RHSM) as an agent to manage the mid-range hotel chain project.

Continue reading at: RM35mil hotel for Semporna, Sabah

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Sabah International Folklore Festival


Kota Kinabalu: Five-time champion Latvian folkdance group Marupiese led by Ms Gunta Skuja has confirmed participation at the 3rd Sabah International Folklore Festival scheduled for Sept. 2-8.

The promise is not only "beauty" of traditional Latvian costumes but also "beauty" of dances from seasoned performers who have graced festivals in Nepal, Greece, Germany, Spain, Germany, South Korea, Hungary, England and Italy.

Latvia, especially the eastern shores of the famed Baltic Sea in northern Europe, was said to be settled as far back as 9,000 BC but tribal cultures began to appear only since about 900AD, historians believe.

So, they represent a very ancient culture who will showcase a repertoire of about 10 dances in Sabah such a 'The dance of harvest', 'The little dance' - an ethnographical dance that depicts special techniques of the Kurzeme region with traditional figures and steps.

Continue reading at: The Sabah International Folklore Festival

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Mel Gibson's Danum Valley lift


KUALA LUMPUR: It was a busman’s holiday for Hollywood star Mel Gibson yesterday as he witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the environment.

His presence at the event aimed at promoting conservation at the Danum Valley in Sabah came as no surprise to those who know of his passion for an issue close to his heart.

The Australian-born actor was there to lend his name to the effort by the Petra Foundation and The Royal Society South East Asia Rainforest Research Programme at the Danum Valley Field Centre.

The foundation through its UK-based subsidiary, Green Rubber Global, will support a research, training and environmental education programme at the Danum Valley Field Centre.

Continue reading (incl. pic) at: Mel Gibson's Danum Valley lift

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"The Bounty of Ba'Kelalan" mountain bike exhibition to promote cross-border tourism


By George Francis

MIRI - 'The Bounty of Ba'Kelalan' to be held from Aug 30 to Sept 2 is the first ever mountain biking exhibition to the highlands of Ba'Kelalan, Sarawak and the neighbouring Indonesian village of Long Bawan.

Organised by the Miri Mountain Bike Club (MMBC), the journey covers a distance of 170 kilometres where 24 cyclists will enjoy the myriad sights, sound, colours and cool mountain air of the valleys of Ba'Kelalan and the Long Bawan plains.

The event, also called Ba'Kelalan Mountain Biking Expedition (BKMTB) 2007 is co-arranged by the Borneo Jungle Safari with the support of Sarawak Tourism Board (STB).

STB northern region executive, Michael Lu said, Ba'Kelalan and its surrounding areas offer diversity to the State's range of tourism products.

According to him, a promotional video on the exhibition will be produced by Virtual Malaysia.com, the official e-tourism portal of the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Sandra Tagal, a director of Borneo Jungle Safari said the exhibition provided an opportunity for the development of cross-border tourism under the BIMP-EAGA Joint Tourism Development Cluster Programme.

Among the place the riders will cycle through is the Meligan Corridor crossing Demering which is over 4,000ft above sea-level where they can view both Mount Murud and Batu Lawi, and enjoy the therapy of the natural spa of the Merarap Hot Springs in the Trusan valley.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Saying I do, Saying I do, beautifully at Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort, Sabah


By Anna Vivienne

A perfect romantic wedding is the dream of every woman. We want that perfect gown, the perfect pair of Cinderella shoes, and the perfect bouquet of flowers and of course the perfect setting. The ‘I do’ and the ‘look into my eyes’ look have to be done in a prefect setting.

It can be a soft glowing morning, a blazing sunset, a garden in full bloom or a quiet church. The couples’ parents will also hope for the same, no hysterics with the caterer, no screaming in the washrooms because of napkins or something like that….

In every wedding reception, even the most meticulously planned; there will be flaws and hiccups.

Shangri-la’s Rasa Ria Resort has the perfect solution for couples who wish to enjoy a stress free wedding. A perfect wedding means the right location, with the right ambience and the right settings for the couple.

Personally, my idea of perfect is what suits the couple best. After all you cannot say that a beach wedding will suit someone who don’t like the crashing of the waves and the wind messing up her perfectly coiffed hair.

But for those who love this type of ambience, Rasa Ria has just the place. The beautiful wedding pavilion. Actually, the pavilion looked a little forlorn during one of my visits there. At that time there was no wedding ceremony and it was bare of decorations.

The pavilion is actually readied and decorated like a bride itself when a ceremony is going to be held there. The flowers and vines cover the pillars and every utensil there. Chairs bedecked according to the clients’ requirement are places at the reception area.

After that the wedding ceremony will be carried out with all the trimmings one desire. Since the management created this service for their clients, they have arranged several unique wedding ceremonies successfully.

This includes a Malay wedding held especially for a Japanese couple. Actually they can carry out any type of weddings, including Kadazandusuns and Chinese. The clients only have to tell them and they will see to it that their (clients) hearts desires are fulfilled.


In Rasa Ria, there are two conventional packages you can choose from. There is the “Eternal Love’ packages. This is include the exclusive use of wedding pavilion, services of on-site wedding planner, basic flower arch, bouquet and corsage of for bride and groom, among others.

The other conventional package is ‘Rasa Ria Romance’. Among the items included in this package are use of the pavilion, services of on-site wedding planner, deluxe wedding set up and decorations, as well bouquet and corsages.

There are many more items they include in these two packages.

Just inquire from the management and they will only be too happy to talk to you.

So if you are thinking of saying “I do’ at Rasa Ria’s wedding pavilion, with the blazing hues of a sunset or the gentle sounds of waves lapping the shore in the morning for a backdrop, contact the Resort and get them to arrange for you the perfect wedding.

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites - Sabah Travel and Leisure Guide

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Brunei dancers to take part in 3rd Sabah International Folklore Festival


By Rosli Abidin Yahya

A traditional dance troupe from Brunei will be taking part in the 3rd Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF), which will be held from Sept 2 to 9 in Kota Kinabalu and Penampang.

Dance groups from 12 countries have confirmed their participation, including from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Poland, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The event's highlight will be a premier performance on Sept 5 at the Tun Raffae Auditorium in Yayasan Sabah. Sabah Head of State Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah will be the guest of honour and other distinguished attendees would include the Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Hj Aman.

The dancers will also participate in the SIFF Parade at Anjung Senja fronting the Promenade Hotel in KK on Sept 3 commencing 7pm. Members of the public can enjoy the show on Sept 6 and 7 at Sabah Cultural Centre in Penampang with tickets priced at RM10.

Tickets for the premier performance meanwhile are also available at RM50 and RM20. All tickets can be purchased from the Cultural Board Office at Sabah Cultural Centre's Wisma Budaya in Penampang, Sabah Tourism Board and Sri Pelancongan.

Among the festival's aims are to promote understanding and brotherhood through culture, as well as giving exposure to traditional dances. Performances will be divided into two categories - folk dance and folk music. All participants must be over 16 years of age.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon 2007: Spanish teen wins


Ranau: Spanish teenager Kilian Jornet Burgada beat his more illustrious compatriots including local favourites to win the Men's Open category in the 21st Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon 2007 in two hours, 39 minutes and 10 seconds, Sunday and pocketed US$4,500 as well.

His time was just three minutes shy of the climbathon record of 2:36.59 set by Italian runner Marco De Gaspari in 2003.

However, the 19-year old is still happy that he had won the title considering it was his first time taking part in the Mt Kinabalu climbathon touted as the world's toughest mountain race.

"Yes, I certainly want to come back again next year to race here," he said when met at the finish line near Liwagu Restaurant, Kinabalu National Park, yesterday.

The Pidenes born teenager, who is currently taking up sports trainer studies in France, said he did well when ascending the 4,095.2m high tallest peak in Southeast Asia.

Continue reading at: Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon 2007: Spanish teen wins

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sabah targets 2.3mil tourists this year


Sandakan: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the Sabah tourism industry targeted some 2.3 million tourists this year, generating an income of RM3 billion.

Such expectation could undoubtedly be achieved through the cooperation of all quarters in complementing the Government's efforts, he added.

He pointed out that the Government had allocated millions of ringgit to promote the tourism industry in the State. The people must realise that this sector is among the halatuju and, at the same time, improve their living standard.

Masidi said this while launching the Sandakan Dragon Boat race at the Sandakan Harbour Square, in conjunction with the 50th Merdeka celebration, Saturday.

Continue reading at: Sabah targets 2.3mil tourists this year

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Bubble splash weekend at The Empire Hotel, Brunei

Panoramic view of the Empire Hotel during daytime


Treat your family to The Empire Hotel & Country Club's Bubble Splash featured today at the hotel's 11,000m2 Lagoon Pool from 11am to 5.30pm with tickets priced at B$12 nett per adult and B$6 nett per child.

Exciting games and activities will include a bubble gum contest, rubber bubble chaos, bubble arts & crafts and many more. Games and activities will begin at 2pm. Sunday Splash also features pool inflatable, land bouncers, splash stations, giant floating water trampolines and also a foam party for kids at the Lagoon Pool.

Splash Sunday Brunch at Atrium Café is B$40 adult and B$20 child from 11.30am.

A Splash Tropical afternoon tea is B$20 adult and B$10 child at 3pm.

Sizzling sunset BBQ at Pantai from 6pm at B$30 adult and B$15 per child. The Empire Hotel and Country Club tel 241 8888.

Sunday Splash at The Empire Hotel and Country Club is supported by InnerSpace and Pepsi.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Great escape in scenic Manukan

Visitors arriving by boat
A great view of the other islands near KK

Chalets nestled in a picturesque setting


Para-sailing at Manukan
Enjoying a day at the beach

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Mohammad Abdullah and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.

By Mohammad Abdullah

What is there to do in Kota Kinabalu apart from soaking in the beautiful mountain scenery and shopping?

Well there's always a trip to the many island resorts there. One such island is Manukan, which offers a great escape from much of the stress we endure everyday.

One of the five islands that make up Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Manukan is only 20 minutes by boat from the state capital of Kota Kinabalu.

It offers clear waters and beautiful coral reefs - ideal location for snorkeling, diving and swimming.

This 51-acre boomerang shaped island is the second largest in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park and boasts good stretches of beaches for water-skiing and sea sports. The beaches, however, are somewhat rocky and swimmers should exercise some caution.

There are coral beds on the eastern and western reefs and multicoloured coral fishes abound here.

For visitors looking for more leisurely activities, there is bird watching. Some species to note are the island-dwelling Pied Hornbill and the interesting Megapode. Between September and April, a large flock of terns and other migrant waders can be seen resting on the sandbar during low tide.

However if birds of that sort are not your cup of tea, head down to the beach where there's plenty of featherless birds lying on the sand soaking up the sun.

There is also a small nature trail you can follow along a cool lowland forest where you might encounter a pangolin or scaly anteater or monkeys.

There are also monitor lizards on the island looking for scraps to eat. Though these reptiles are shy by nature, picnickers are advised to be cautious when bringing food along the forest trail.

There is also plenty of colourful local fishes which hover near the surface at the jetty, just waiting for you to feed them.

However, the main attraction of the island is the beach and water sports.

You can para-sail or take a dip in the clear blue sea. Or rent out a speedboat and zoom around the island for some thrills.

For those who have never para-sailed, this is possibly the best time to try it out. It is safe, cheap and fun! You can either ride in tandem or alone. Whichever you choose, it is a great way to view the island from up above.

We didn't spend the night at the island but opted for a day trip instead. However those looking for accommodation can stay in one of the single or double-storey chalets, which overlook the South China Sea and where a spectacular sunset is almost a daily affair.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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Mysterious carvings in Tenom

Sign reads 'Another 660 steps to go before reaching the carvings'. A visitor can be seen taking a rest.
The carvings on one of the rocks portray the image of flora and fauna.

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Ismail Hj Mansor and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.

By Ismail Hj Mansor

Lumuyu Rock which is a half an hour drive from Tenom town still remains a mystery.

It is located on a hill, which was first discovered by villagers of Kampung Ulu Tomani, Tenom in April 1971. They came upon it while clearing a hill for farming. In 1976, Sabah Museum built a shelter to protect the rock carving and in 1979, it was replaced with a new shelter in order to preserve the nine-metre long rock.

Since then, the rock has managed to attract both local and foreign tourists. It has become one of the tourists' hot spots in Tenom. It takes about half an hour to reach the place via a small district called Kemabong.

Efforts have been made to make the place more attractive. Promotional steps are underway in order to popularise the location as a famous tourist hot spot. The route leading to the rock has been improved. Two museum personnel are being stationed to look after the location.

According to the stories related by villagers of Salilir, the rock is six generation old or more than 150 years old.

According to legend, there used to live seven brothers in Kampung Salilir Ulu Tomani, Tenom who possessed supernatural strength. The youngest brother was to be the most outstanding. Kalawon Kelala, who was a very powerful man was particularly jealous of the youngest brother and plotted to kill him.

One day, Kalawon Kelaka managed to kill him and his death was to be announced to the villagers. It was a great lost to them as the younger brother was very helpful to them in flattening the hills by throwing rocks taken from the river.

The six older brothers became so sad and they expressed their sadness by making carvings on the rocks. Day by day, they managed to illustrate their sadness into a carving which are abstract on the surface of the rock that can be found in many formation. Today, no one or even the villagers nearby could interpret the meaning of the carving.

The carving could be in the shape of the face of human showing the hands and feet or in the form of animals or flora and fauna.

Various researches have been conducted by museum personnel but they failed to interpret the meanings behind the carvings. Furthermore, the nearby villagers especially the new generation could not recalled the true story behind the formation of the carvings.

Getting to the rock carvings would be a great challenge to many people. One need to walk up about 28 minutes or 1,535 steps from the main road of Malutut Village where an interesting view awaits visitors. One has to pass by a paddy field and along the way, visitors would be able to find green local vegetation such as rubber tress (Havea varassilliansis), durian trees (Durio zibethinus), langsat trees (Lansium domesticum) and some other local plants inhabiting the surrounding area.

Apart from the old highway between Kota Kinabalu to Tenom via Tambunan, the newly link road between Sipitang to Tenom and Kimanis to Keningau will help visitors access the location more easily.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Special promotion at Sarawak Cultural Village


SANTUBONG: In conjunction with the 50th Merdeka Day celebration, Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) is inviting members of the public to participate in array of fun activities, which will be held at the popular tourist attraction from August 31 to September 2.

Located at the foot of mount Santubong, the village is also offering special rates for visitors during the three-day promotion period.

According to SCV Sales and Marketing Manager Zaini Zainudin, among the activities which will be held include fashion shows, traditional games such as blowpipes shooting, coconut bowling, fishing in a bottle, treasure hunt and quiz.

Apart from that, visitors will also be entertained by cultural shows at the village air-conditioned mini-theatre, where SCV award-winning dancers and musicians present their famous multi-cultural performances.

Continue reading at: Special promotion at Sarawak Cultural Village

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Sabah as Orchid State


Kota Kinabalu: Sabah plans to promote orchid cultivation for export as well as turn the industry into a major tourist attraction.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the State planned to produce high quality orchids and this could be achieved as there were about 1,000 orchid species in Sabah.

"The orchid industry in the State has the potential to become an agricultural-based tourist attraction," he said when opening the Borneo Orchid Show 2007 organised by the Kota Kinabalu City Hall in Anjung Perdana Tanjung Aru. The show is also participated by orchid enthusiasts from Brunei, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan and the peninsula. Nearly 2,000 orchids in 17 sections and 75 classes, as well as 60 cacti make up the show, the biggest so far.

Continue reading at: Sabah as Orchid State

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Maliau's flora, fauna impress study group


Keningau: If the Maliau Basin in the heart of Borneo could attract an increasing number of foreign tourists, there is no reason why Malaysians in Sabah should not want to see more of their State.

This was the view of the leader of a multi-national group who recently visited the Maliau Basin.

He said not many Malaysians are aware of the presence of exotic flora and fauna in their surrounding areas. These species might have gone extinct in developed countries.

The group, comprising 15 Germans, Canadians and Peninsular Malaysians, as well as some locals, aged 25-45 years, recently went on a study tour of the Maliau Basin, after undertaking a 250-kilometre journey from Keningau.

German participant Christoph Haupt was thrilled by the number of encounters he made in the jungle, describing the plants, trees, animals and insects as "unique" considering that most of these species had gone extinct in other developed countries.

Continue reading at: Maliau's flora, fauna impress study group

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VMY 2007 extended to Aug 31 next year


Kuala Lumpur: The Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2007 will be extended to Aug 31 next year under the "One Golden Celebration" campaign, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said Thursday.

He said this was to capitalise on the country's 50th Merdeka celebrations starting Aug 31 which should be a year-long affair.

More major events would also be organised during that period, he said.

Continue reading at: VMY 2007 extended to Aug 31 next year

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Weeklong world folklore festival in Sabah from Sept 2


KOTA KINABALU: The folk dances of 12 countries including Malaysia are among the attractions at the week-long Sabah International Folklore Festival to be held here beginning Sept 2.

Sabah Culture Board chairman Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau said Poland, Saudi Arabia, India, Russia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Latvia, China and Japan had confirmed their participation in the biennial festival.

Continue reading at: Weeklong world folklore festival in Sabah from Sept 2

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sarawak tour industry set for revival


MIRI: International tour operators in Britain have started reinstating Sarawak and world heritage site Mulu National Park into their holiday packages – after a hiatus of almost a year due to uncertainties over availability of local flights.

The move by MASWings to take over the rural air service from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) has already sparked hopes of a revival for the tour industry in the state, said Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) chief executive officer Gracie Geikie.

“We (STB) have received news that a major tour operator based in Britain has already reinstated Sarawak and Mulu into its international tour packages for Asia.

Continue reading at: Sarawak tour industry set for revival

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193 extra Sabah, Sarawak flights when MASWings start ops


MIRI: MASWings will operate an extra 193 flights per week across Sarawak and Sabah when it takes over rural air services in the two states from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) on Oct 1.

Of these, 113 flights per week will be for destinations served by the 50-seater Fokker50 aircraft, while the remaining 80 flights would be in sectors serviced by the 19-seater Twin Otters.

Among the sectors in Sarawak and Sabah that will benefit are Miri-Limbang (from 14 flights weekly to 21), Miri-Bintulu (seven to 21), Miri-Sibu (seven to 28), and Kuching-Bintulu, Kuching-Sibu, Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan and Sandakan-Tawau.

MASWings, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), will also operate flights in sectors not flown by FAX now, such as Kota Kinabalu-Miri and Kota Kinabalu-Bintulu.

Continue reading at: 193 extra Sabah, Sarawak flights when MASWings start ops

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kuching International Dance Festival - Cultural dances to promote Sarawak


KUCHING: Sarawak has great potential to promote its unique and diverse tradition and culture to the whole world especially through its colourful dances that despict the harmony among the people and with the nature.

Chief Minister Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud said this when officiating the Kuching International Dance Festival - Gala Charity Nite at the Civic Centre here.

He was represented by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang at the event which was held to raise funds for SABATI (Sarawak Badan Amal Isteri-Isteri).

"Dance is very much a way of life for all people. It is a celebration of life, an aesthetic expression of our thankfulness, joy and happiness and it despicts the harmony that we have with one and another and also the nature around us and how things co-exist harmoniously despite the differences," he said.

Continue reading at: Kuching International Dance Festival - Cultural dances to promote Sarawak

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MASWings expands link across Sarawak and Sabah


MIRI: MASWings will operate an extra 193 flights per week across Sarawak and Sabah when it takes over rural air services in the two states from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) on Oct 1.

Of these, 113 flights per week will be for destinations served by the 50-seater Fokker50 aircraft, while the remaining 80 flights would be in sectors serviced by the 19-seater Twin Otters.

Among the sectors in Sarawak and Sabah that will benefit are Miri-Limbang (from 14 flights weekly to 21), Miri-Bintulu (seven to 21), Miri-Sibu (seven to 28), and Kuching-Bintulu, Kuching-Sibu, Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan and Sandakan-Tawau.

MASWings, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), will also operate flights in sectors not flown by FAX now, such as Kota Kinabalu-Miri and Kota Kinabalu-Bintulu.

Continue reading at: MASWings expands link across Sarawak and Sabah

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MASWings to replace Fokker 50s with ATR 72 aircraft by 2009


MIRI: MASWings Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) which is taking over the rural air service (RAS) and some of the domestic routes in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan from Oct 1, is expected to replace its current fleet of Fokker 50 with the Avions de Transport Regional 72 (ATR 72) aircraft by 2009.

Managing director, Dr Amin Khan, said it planned to acquire ten aircraft which had the capacity to accommodate 70 passengers each compared to 50 for the Fokker 50.

Speaking at a press conference after a briefing on MASWings operations here, he said the airline also planned to replace the current DHC-6-300 Twin Otter series with the 400-series from 2011 which would be mainly for the RAS operations.

Continue reading at: MASWings to replace Fokker 50s with ATR 72 aircraft by 2009

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Sabah Tea

By Anna Vivienne

Sabah tea is one of Sabah’s very own products. It is acquired from the Sabah Tea Plantation, which is sited in Kg Nalapak, Ranau. The plantation is on a 6,200-acre land, sited at 2,272 feet above sea level.


There is a beautiful rainforest around it, believed to be about 130 million years. The plantation is the single largest commercial tea plantation in Borneo. The tea planted there is the Camelia Sinensis.

Actually Camellia sinensis is just the tea plant, a plant species whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce tea.

Most of us may hear of or talk about White tea, green tea, oolong and black tea and think that they come from different plants’ leaves. They are however all harvested from Camelia Sinensis, but are processed differently to attain different levels of oxidation.

Camellia sinensis is native to Southeast Asia. Nowadays however they are cultivated all over the world especially in tropical and subtropical areas.

The shrubs are usually trimmed to a short four feet tall, at least the ones in Nalapak so that it is easier for the workers to pick the leaves.

There are medicinal values in tea leaves and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine as well as other medical systems to treat asthma, bronchodilator, angina pectoris, peripheral vascular disease, and coronary artery disease.

Sabah tea sold in loose or sachet forms, are available in most supermarkets and grocery shops in Sabah.

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites - Sabah Travel and Leisure Guide

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Sarawak’s rich biodiversity offers promising opportunities


KUCHING - Sarawak's rich biodiversity and its multi-ethnic communities utilising the resources in the forests has resulted in a wealthy accumulation of knowledge on the state's flora and fauna.

This offers promising opportunities for scientific discoveries, said Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at the 2007 Sarawak Nepenthes (Pitch Plant) Summit welcoming dinner here on Saturday night.

"There are untouched territories waiting to be discovered, thus, we look forward to welcoming more scientists and experts to Sarawak to collaborate with us in our various conservation and research projects," he said in his speech read by his deputy Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.

He added that many scientists had carried out their research and have not been disappointed. He hoped that many others would follow suit.

Continue reading at: Sarawak’s rich biodiversity offers promising opportunities

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bako's natural wonders


Do you know that some of the most beautiful rock formations in Sarawak are found at Bako National Park?

Bako, the state’s oldest national park, is about 20 minutes’ boat ride from Kampung Bako. And Kampung Bako is about 30 minutes’ drive from Kuching.

Tucked at the tip of the Muara Tebas peninsular and covering an area of 27.27 sq kilometres, the park is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

A treasure chest of fauna and flora, Bako is home to a wide range of vegetation, including varieties of pitcher plants and wild orchids and unique wildlife like the wild boars and the long-nosed proboscis monkey found only in Borneo.

If you have not visited this famous park before, now, perhaps is the time to do so. You can make a day trip to the park.

Don’t forget to bring along your camera, too.

Besides its interesting plant life and wildlife, Bako has beautiful jungle streams, waterfalls, beaches and trekking trails.

The park also has many fantastically shaped sea arches and stacks with coloured patterns formed by iron deposition.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Bako's natural wonders

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

My trip to awesome Temburong Brunei

Trekking up the 1226 steps to the canopy walkway
Going up the Belalong river in a longboat

High in the tree tops on the canopy walkway

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to Azz and Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.

By Azz

On July 29, I embarked on a journey where I came face to face with nature and the outdoors. Oh well, I'd better bring some chocolate along! Trekking and swimming through the jungles and rivers of Belalong, Temburong, may be a daunting task, but if it's with the most rowdy bunch of co-workers that you've ever worked alongside, it's like putting the "wild" in wilderness. So that's how it was, wild, fun, tiring, shocking, and last but not least, the most unbelievable team-building activity that I've ever been involved in.

Forty staff members and employees of BAG Networks, and of course interns like me, made the 45-minute boat ride from the jetty just off Kianggeh Food court in Bandar to Temburong town at 7.00am. But before boarding the boat, a head count was required to ensure that no one is left behind. To make life easier, all of us were divided into five teams of eight, where I happened to win the coin toss of becoming the team leader.

Our team name, "Team Laksa Mana" ("Where is the Laksa Team") was derived from my fascination with the title "Laksmana" and my mispronunciation of the title. So as all eight members of Team "Laksa Mana" boarded the boat along with the other 32 staff members and employees, I began to wonder if we are all properly prepared for the expedition that we were currently in the midst of. All I brought was a couple of Mars bars, two bottles of water, a mini towel and an extra change of clothes. The others packed pretty much the same things, minus the chocolates.

It took only 20 minutes into the boat ride and I could already see that some people were falling asleep and were bored. So to liven things up, Peter, the leader of the Tech Team at BAG Networks, decided to make everyone join a singing activity. His choice of song was "We Will Rock You" by Queen that was led by him and everyone else joined in by clapping and stamping their feet. When it was my turn, I made everyone sing the "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!" song (it was the only song that came to me at the time). Thank goodness the boat ride was only 45 minutes, because if it were any longer, I would've had to jump overboard due to the lack of melody in our singing, to say the least! After disembarking from the boat at the Temburong town jetty, we straightaway got on the buses that would take us to the organiser's rest house, which happened to be the trip's medic's house! After a quick briefing and a bite to eat, we were all given life jackets before getting on the bus again to head towards Belalong. I was already eating my third Mars bar by then!

The bus ride took around 15 minutes, and after arriving at the drop-off point, we had to take longboats up the river in groups of six. I, along with five others, was unlucky to board a particular longboat, which had a dodgy motor and kept on dying on us every 10 minutes. It was rather annoying because all the other boats that left after us kept on passing us by. After the upstream trip 12km, we finally arrived at the Ulu Temburong national park entrance, and what a sight it was, a huge camping facility where it was built along the river and halfway up the tree line.

From there, we would leave our life vests and trek up to the summit of the Canopy Walkway, which happened to be around 1226 steps from the base of the camp to the entrance of the metal staircase of the canopy walkway. The 1226-step trek up through a sloped jungle required a lot of teamwork and also a lot of support from one another so that no one is left behind. You tend to find out more about your team-mates through teamwork, and I find that you also get to know more about yourself. Like how you handle a team member who complains a lot, slow, or is just a pain in the lower back. We did reach the summit in the end, but not exactly in record time.

Up the 60-metre canopy walkway above the treetops awaited a sight to behold: nothing but dense jungle everywhere and high flying birds. Be careful as you walk up the canopy because the metal rails can get quite hot. How can climbing up the canopy walkway be complete without a few screams and shouts from the highest point of the canopy? It was nice to hear the echoes of my name proclaiming my ascent to the top of Ulu Temburong national park.

The trek down the summit was a lot easier as we took a different and less rough terrain route back down the entrance of the Ulu Temburong national park. It was almost lunchtime and our stomachs were grumbling like mad. But before we could eat our lunch, we had to get to it first. This was where the fun began! We were told that our lunch was somewhere down along the river, and that the only way to get to it was by jumping into the river and floating downstream until we reached a bed of rocks with our lunch on it! So after putting on our helmets and strapping on our life jackets, we jumped in and floated downstream.

Personally, I found it amazing that I was actually floating down a river in the middle of a rainforest. This was a huge surprise for me because initially I thought that we couldn't get into the river due to crocodiles and snakes. But after floating down the river for 20 minutes, there was nothing to be afraid of because there wasn't anything in the water, other than the rocks that we kept on running into. Even though they were smooth and round, they were still rather painful to rub against.

Coming ashore to the bed of rocks after the 30-minute float down stream, lunch was served. After lunch, came a small navigation activity where each team would have to navigate through dense jungle to reach a particular waterfall. Even though each team was given different directions and bearings, we ended up merging as one big team of 40 to go through the dense jungle. Lots of shrubs and of course my favourite "Batang Duri" were in our way of getting to the waterfall. I remember running like a madman towards the waterfall when I saw it from afar, pushing everyone out of the way and jumping into it because it was so refreshing and cooling, especially after the last 30 minutes of trekking through the rainforest. The next activity lined up for us would be another wet one, but that is another story.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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She's top banana at Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary


SANDAKAN, MALAYSIAN BORNEO–Any theatre impresario will tell you that every great show needs a bona fide diva.

Here, in the middle of a rainforest, her name is Noreen. She primps for the cameras if she's in the mood, she can be coy and her displeasure at the driving monsoon rains is anything but subtle. She is a star.

We all stand in a various assortment of rain gear, plastic ponchos and soggy clothes with cameras poised and mouths agape at the miracle of the orangutans, with their inquisitive eyes and incredibly humanlike gestures.

We are an especially appreciative audience given that Noreen and her fellow cast members stood us up earlier in the day. Despite living in a rainforest, orangutans don't much care for the rain either and we learned the hard way that the show must not necessarily go on.

Fortunately, at the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, your admission tickets gives you two chances a day to trek along a raised platform into the forest and watch staff arrive with bags of bananas for these great apes.

Continue reading at: She's top banana at Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

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Malaysia going on tourism blitz in US and Canada


AS a couple, they are the exact opposites. One is the very symbol of Kuala Lumpur’s concrete jungle, the other is the man of the jungle.

But together, they are the biggest “poster boys” for Americans coming to Malaysia. We are talking about the Petronas’ Twin Towers and the Orang Utan.

“The Twin Towers remain our iconic landmark. They know that Taipei 101 has overtaken us. But our advantage is that we have two towers!” said Mohamad Taib Ibrahim, Tourism Malaysia vice-president (New York).

Malaysia’s second best-known “face” among Americans is the Wild Man of Borneo.

“I am often asked ‘can we cuddle them?’, ‘can we touch them?’,” he said.

Americans, he said, preferred to see the orang utan in their natural habitat. They know about the renowned Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan, and the Semengoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Kuching.

“They are more interested to know what we are doing to protect the orang utan,” Mohamad Taib pointed out as the name “Borneo” itself sounded very exotic to the Americans.

Continue reading at: Malaysia going on tourism blitz in US and Canada

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Kudat Coconut fest on September 7 to 9


By Anna Vivienne

KUDAT, located on the northern tip of Borneo will be celebrating the coconut on Sept 7 to 9 Sept this year.

The festival, organised by the District Office in collaboration with Sabah Tourism Board is an annual event to celebrate the coconut industry in that region. This year, the event will be held for three days; Sept 7 to 9.

If last year’s event is to go by, the celebration will start with an exhibition of farm produce by the agricultural ommunity.

There will be various types of food offered to celebrants while handicrafts stalls will do a roaring trade.

Crowds will throng into the Township to participate and witness the various activities lined up for the event.

I believe that there will be various other activities such as the coconut fashion contest where a bevy of beauties sporting attires made from coconut fronds, leaves, fruits and husks vied for the title of “Miss Coconut Fest’.


I believe that there will also be a Dragon Boat race.

Be that as it may, the Coconut Fest in Kudat is a must see event. So if you are any where around the vicinity at this time, drop by with your guests and get ‘wowed’ with the splendour of this festival.

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites - Sabah Travel and Leisure Guide

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Third Sabah International Folklore Festival on 2-9 Sept


KOTA KINABALU: The third Sabah International Folklore Festival will be held from 2 to 9 September in Kota Kinabalu and Penampang.

At least 12 countries including Malaysia will be joining in the celebration and these are Poland, Saudi Arabia, India, Russia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Kazakhstanm Latvia, China and Japan.

As host, Malaysia will be represented by the Sabah Cultural Board and the Arts Club of the Malacca Cultural and Arts Department. Chairman of the Sabah Cultural Board, Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau speaking at a media conference at his office in Wisma Budaya here yesterday, said the event will help promote the state as a tourism destination.

Continue reading at: Third Sabah International Folklore Festival on 2-9 Sept

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Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival: Heeding the call


AT THE Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival last month, it was interesting to see a handful of young artistes playing traditional instruments, or those usually reserved for the older folk. It was refreshing that there is a movement to keep the “old” music alive. And it was good to note that they’ve added a touch of modernity to the time-honoured tunes.

Ainal Bustari of the duo Tabuh Pak Ainal is 18 years old, and has been playing a Bidayuh traditional percussion instrument called the bedung/sebang since he was eight. In Tabuh Pak Ainal, he drums along with his father, Johari Morshidi, who plays the ketebang. Their music ranges from soothing to energetic and infectious, and is influenced by music of the Iban, Bidayuh and Indonesian folk.

On the faster numbers, the teenager would have made any rocker proud with his relentless head-banging. He alternates these upbeat moves with the more exotic ones of Sarawak dance.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival: Heeding the call

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Host of activities for Sarawak festival


KUCHING: Artists, designers and chefs from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines will gather here for the Sarawak Cultural Arts and Craft Festival from Oct 20 to Nov 4.

The festival will include a “Best of Four Worlds Cuisine,” which will showcase food from all four countries.

Organising chairman Gerald Goh said the festival would be held in conjunction with the 3rd Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area Travel Exchange in November.

Continue reading at: Host of activities for Sarawak festival

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Sarawak Regatta lures record of 346 teams


KUCHING: The Sarawak Regatta, a traditional boat race promoted as a premier event in the state tourism calendar, will be grander this year with the highest ever number of teams participating.

The 15-event annual regatta, from Aug 31 to Sept 2 at the Kuching Waterfront, has attracted 346 teams, including one each from Brunei and Indonesia.

“We are targeting more than 50,000 spectators to throng the Kuching Waterfront to watch the paddlers battle for total prize money of RM165,000,” said State Assistant Tourism Minister Hamden Ahmad.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Regatta lures record of 346 teams

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11,000 Orangutans in Sabah now


KOTA KINABALU: Back in the year 1900, the Borneo had about 180,000 orangutans roaming in the wild.

Yet, last year, the Orangutan Population and Habitat Viability Analysis (PHVA) disclosed that there are only 41,000 of the primate left on our island.

Of the total, 11,000 of the population are found in Sabah, located on the northeastern tip of Borneo, of which 62 percent are believed to live outside protected areas, said Sabah Wildlife Department deputy director, Laurentius Ambu.

“About 6,800 individuals are believed to reside outside protected areas, while the remaining are found in Danum Valley (500), Tabin (1,400), Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (1,125), Kulamba (500), Ulu Kalumpang Forest Reserve (150), Crocker Range National Park (180), Sepilok (200), Silabukan (60), Kinabalu National Park (50) and Maliau Basin (40),” he disclosed in his working paper entitled “Living in a Just World of Nature” at the Asia Pacific News Agency Organisation (OANA) workshop on Sustainable Forest Management.

Continue reading at: 11,000 Orangutans in Sabah now

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sabah’s first skating rink opens Aug 18


KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s largest 3S (Smart Skating System) ice skating rink, the first of its kind in Sabah, will officially open at Kompleks Asia City (KAC) on Saturday, August 18.

The 15,000 sq ft skating arena, located on the 4th floor of the complex, has a 4,116 sq ft skating rink, Managing Director of KAC Skating Rink Sdn Bhd Dr Ting Ing Chiew said at a press conference at his office yesterday.

Dr Ting said a Swiss manufacturer was commissioned at the beginning of this year to carry out work on the RM2.8 million project, which is designed and built as a one-stop recreational facility with a snack bar, a pro-shop, vending machines and washrooms.

Continue reading at: Sabah’s first skating rink opens Aug 18

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Malaysia, Brunei to ink pact on Frequent Traveller’s Card


BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Malaysia and Brunei will sign an agreement next month to launch the “Frequent Traveller’s Card” to facilitate travel between the two countries, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

He said the card was a new mechanism agreed upon by the governments of Malaysia and Brunei to solve problems faced by frequent travellers at border check points in both countries.

“The agreement will be signed on Sept 10. I think that this is a very good move and I hope that this mechanism will ensure a smooth passage for frequent travellers at Malaysia-Brunei border crossings,” he told a news conference at the end of his two-day visit to Brunei for the 11th consultation between the prime minister and the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, here yesterday.

Continue reading at: Malaysia, Brunei to ink pact on Frequent Traveller’s Card

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Sabah set aside 240,000ha for Orang Utan conservation


Kota Kinabalu: The State Government has designated the whole of Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves covering an area of about 240,000ha for an orang-utan conservation programme.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, said the move proved that the Sabah Government was committed to preserving the State's wildlife and forest.

He dismissed claims that orang-utan in the State were being threatened by the clearing of forests for the development of the oil palm sector.

"We don't kill orang-utan as the creatures are a very important component of our tourism industry. Killing the orang-utan is tantamount to killing our tourism industry. And we won't do that," Masidi said.

Continue reading at: Sabah set aside 240,000ha for Orang Utan conservation

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sarawak Cultural Arts and Craft Festival 2007


KUCHING: The Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF), Sarawak Handicraft and Souvenir Association and Sarawak Craft Council will organise the Sarawak Cultural Arts and Craft Festival 2007 (SCARF) at Sarawak Tourism Complex from October 20 until November 4 as part of activities for the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 as well to mark the country’s 50th Anniversary of Independence.

Also held in conjunction with the 3rd BIMP- EAGA Travel Exchange, the festival will feature a series of arts and craft related events with the main objective of fostering close ties among arts and craft enthusiasts and entrepreneurs in the region.

Speaking at a press conference here yesterday, Assistant Minister of Rural Development and Chairman of Sarawak Craft Council, Datuk Gramong Juna said the festival would also enhance further existing relationship among EAGA members in the cultural, arts and craft industries.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Cultural Arts and Craft Festival 2007

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Sarawak Regatta Trade Fair 2007 to be held from Aug 31 to Sept 2


KUCHING: Tourism and automobile players in the State are invited to participate in the first grand ‘Sarawak Regatta Trade Fair 2007’ which will be held in conjunction with the forthcoming International Sarawak Regatta here.

Jointly organised by Sarawak Bumiputera Tourism Entrepreneurs Association, Tourism Malaysia and Avid Management, the fair will be held from August 31 to September 2 at Kuching Waterfront, with the theme, ‘The Best of Malaysia.’

The fair has so far attracted 30 exhibitors especially from tourism organisations nationwide.

“Sarawak regatta should be celebrated on a grand scale with extra activities such as trade fair to attract participants from the corporate and business sectors,” said Member of Parliament for Petra Jaya, Haji Fadillah Haji Yusof, who is also the organising chairman of the fairs.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Regatta Trade Fair 2007 to be held from Aug 31 to Sept 2

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sarawak, a wealth of diversity


KUCHING: Sarawak, a land of ready smiles and incredible contrasts beckons visitors with a rich diversity of experiences. Celebrating its 44th independence since 1963, it is filled with people who are charming, fascinating, warm and friendly.

The State's social, political and economic stability have ensured a well-structured development. Sarawak is a land filled with great opportunities and has managed to retain its rich heritage of culture and traditions despite modernisation.

Situated on the north-western coast of Borneo, the land of hornbills, intricate rivers and pepper beckons the visitor with its rich rainforests and the diverse lifestyles of its indigenous people.

Sarawak shares its boundaries with Kalimantan in the south and Brunei and Sabah in the north. It is the largest state, covering an area of 124,450sq km and is divided into nine divisions with the city of Kuching as its capital.

Two-thirds of its land is under rainforest and its population of 1.7 million is made up of 27 ethnic groups. Sarawak is best known for its natural and cultural wonders with the hornbill as the State emblem.

Continue reading at: Sarawak, a wealth of diversity

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Bako National Park at night


The best way to see some of the animals at Bako National Park is to go in a small group on a selected trail at night.

As darkness falls, the park is filled with the sounds of the forest creatures, such as crickets and frogs.

During the Bako 50th Anniversary Media and Press Trip recently, senior Sarawak Forest Corporation (SFC) officer Rambli Ahmad, who is also a plant and animal expert, enthusiastically showed us the park at night.

The first thing he asked us to do was to gaze at the sky and everyone saw the bright three quarter moon!

He said watching the moon in the sky at night in a place like Bako National Park was important as the moon and sea tide had correlation with the eco system on the national park.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Bako National Park at night

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Stunning Lakei island nearby Bako National Park


The legendary island of Lakei, located on the north-eastern tip of the Bako Peninsula, is a place that I have always wanted to visit, and with the Bako 50th Anniversary Media and Press Trip, I received the opportunity to do so. The island’s history and scenery exceeded all the expectations I had, and I highly recommend it to anybody who has the chance to go.

According to our host, who was with the Sarawak Forest Corporation (SFC), the island’s name may derived from the Chinese ‘lakia’ which means ‘native’. Chinese merchants who came from mainland China came to the island of Lakei to trade many centuries ago.

The tranquil boat trip to Lakei, which started from Bako National Park Headquarters, took about half an hour, and on the way there, we were humbled by amazing natural formations of sea stacks.

Unsurprisingly, the boatman slowed down frequently so that all of his passengers could absorb the stunning natural environment, and take photos to remember its beauty.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Stunning Lakei island nearby Bako National Park

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

MASWings fully operational by Dec 1


Kuching: MASWings Sdn Bhd (MASWings), Malaysia Airlines (MAS) subsidiary is on track to take over the Rural Air Services (RAS) in Sarawak and Sabah as scheduled on Oct 1 and expects to be fully operational by December 1, with an average of 200 flights weekly to enhance the air connectivity between the two states.

MAS Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Idris Jala, said MASWings would officially take to the skies with four Fokker 50 (F50) and four Twin Otter aircraft to serve a network of 23 destinations in Sarawak and Sabah as well as the Federal Territory of Labuan.

"Another three F50 and one Twin Otter will join MASWings effective Oct 28 and by Dec 1 the new airline will have a fleet of eight F50 and five Twin Otter aircraft to provide an average of 113 weekly F50 flights and 80 weekly Twin Otter flights," he told reporters after a briefing for the Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, here, Friday.

MASWings, Malaysia's first commuter airlines, would take over the RAS from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) to cater to both the intra and interstate air travel needs of Sarawak and Sabah as well as enhancing air connectivity between the two states and the almost 50 million population of the Brunei-Malaysia-Indonesia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

Continue reading at: MASWings fully operational by Dec 1

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Bruneians welcome Tiger Airways with open arms


By Azaraimy HH & James Kon

The public welcomes the arrival of the second budget airline with open arms, adding that it is always good to have more choices.

Brunei is one of 21 destinations that Tiger Airways will be flying to, with other countries including Australia, India, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Weekend asked public members on Friday on their opinions on Tiger Airways, during which some expressed their concern on the safety and security of low-budget airlines.

Others said they need to learn more about the services on offer before considering the low-fare way of travelling.

"We know fully well that services from a budget airline will not be as good as what Royal Brunei Airlines offers," said Sadon bin Haji Mohd Taha. "Besides safety, one thing Bruneians look for is how smooth the travelling experience is, or the hassles involved."

He also said, "If I were travelling with my family, I would definitely choose RBA since comfort comes first. But if I were alone, a budget airline would do."

Another public member, Didi, said, "If the tickets are cheap, why not? I'm sure people will think about comfort first, then things such as safety and insurance. Since the government gave them the green light to come to Brunei, it must mean Tiger Airways is safe.

"Most people think that budget airlines are dodgy. But there hasn't been a bad incident involving passengers from Brunei flying low budget. There is always risk involved when it comes to air travelling."

Meanwhile, Jimmy said, "It's about time there is a cheaper airline flying from Brunei to Singapore. It think it'd increase the number of locals travelling to Singapore. I, for one, would go for it."

He also said, "There seems to be a lot of charges when opting for low-budget airlines. We never know how much we eventually would be forking out for the tickets because of the volatility of such thing as fuel subcharge.

"I think I speak for many people when I say, when we book a ticket on the Internet, we want to know how much it costs since a lot of us need to work out the budget before going on a holiday."

Source: Borneo Bulletin Weekend

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Friday, August 10, 2007

1,500 turnout seen for Kota Kinabalu sunset jazz event


Kota Kinabalu: Patrons to the inaugural Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival at Jesselton Point from 6pm to 11.30pm tomorrow (Saturday) may come early to watch the spectacular sunset from the destination.

The festival is jointly organised by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu, the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (SPArKS), Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) and Suria Group.

Co-Organising Chairperson, Datuk Adeline Leong said international star performers have started arriving, beginning with Denise Mininfield from the United States.

Continue reading at: 1,500 turnout seen for Kota Kinabalu sunset jazz event

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Borneo Rainforest Cafe opens in Kuala Lumpur


WITH celebrities like Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Sofia Jane, and Diana Danielle making their presence felt at a cafe in Bandar Sunway recently, one would have assumed there was a movie shooting in order.

But it was the launch of the Borneo Rainforest Cafe that drew the artistes, owned by none other than well known celebrity Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina.

Apart from providing tourists the chance to sample a variety of local food all under one roof, the actress herself would be a regular diner at the cafe located opposite the Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel.

“I have always wanted to own a cafe with a five-star concept amidst a man-made rainforest similar to the Borneo rainforest. It has almost all the ingredients thus the name. This is a dream come true for me,’’ she said at the official opening.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Borneo Rainforest Cafe opens in Kuala Lumpur

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sepilok set to become top rainforest centre


KOTA KINABALU: Sepilok, known worldwide as a premier orang utan conservation area, will consolidate its place in the world map once Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi opens the nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to open the centre, some 30km from Sabah's coastal town of Sandakan, on the first day of his two-day visit to the state from tomorrow.

Located within the 4,500ha Sepilok-Kabili forest reserve, the RM6.7mil centre would, among others, enable visitors to experience a walk within a rainforest and its canopy.

Continue reading at: Sepilok set to become top rainforest centre

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sabah Govt mulls allowing only day trips to islands


Kota Kinabalu: The State Government is toying with the idea of allowing only day trips to the islands as a means of ensuring their pristine beauty, State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said.

He said a special committee has been formed under the chairmanship of his Assistant, Datuk Karim Bujang, to draft a policy on the development of islands for the consideration of the Cabinet.

"The committee is looking into this with a view to formulating a policy recommendation and, if need be, we will table it in the State Cabinet. This policy will be made a guideline in future development of all the islands off Sabah.

"We should be looking into the possibility of day trips. In other words, there will be no permanent structures, except some rest areas, on our islands. I believe this is a better way of protecting our islands," he said, after attending the signing of documents between Sabah Wildlife Department, Cardiff University and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) to establish a RM3-million field centre in Danau Girang on the lower Kinabatangan wildlife sanctuary.

Continue reading at: Sabah Govt mulls allowing only day trips to islands

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MAS offers discounts of up to 75% on international destinations


About 300,000 cheap tickets for international destinations, including RM199 one-way to Hong Kong, have gone on sale exclusively on Malaysia Airlines' (MAS) website.

The nine-day promotion until Aug 15 will offer discounts of up to 75% on all MAS' international destinations except Australia and North and South America.

However, travellers would need to plan their trips early as the tickets are only for travel from Jan 16 to May 22 next year.

For destinations in Asean countries, fares start from RM29 to Medan; RM99 to Phnom Penh, Phuket, Cebu and Surabaya; RM199 to Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta and Bandar Seri Begawan; and RM159 to Bangkok.

Continue reading at: MAS offers discounts of up to 75% on international destinations

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort

With inviting beaches, views of sparkling coral islands, and legendary attentive service, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort offers the serenity of a secluded tropical retreat just minutes away from the centre of Kota Kinabalu, in exotic Borneo.

Located on 25 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, the five-star resort offers the best of both worlds. Guests can relax in the tranquility of the resort or explore Sabah, from the ocean to the mountain, the wildlife, soft adventure sports, shopping, tours and culture. The seaside resort, great for the families, honeymooners, or girlfriend getaways is just 10 minutes from the airport, city centre and five beautiful coral islands, convenient for guests to make it a luxurious hub to travel around Sabah.

The subtle blend of natural hues and local Borneo touch decorations in the 495 guest rooms and suites will give guests their own piece of paradise. Different textured fabrics adorn the furnishings and walls while exquisite down-feathered duvets and pillows, hand-tufted rugs and carpets pamper guests in a style that can only be Shangri-La. Guests get total relaxation as the cool ocean breeze whispers through the open window or while enjoying truly inspiring and panoramic views from their private balcony and some even enjoy views of the ocean from their bathrooms.

Horizon Resort Club located on the 5th and 6th floor of the Kinabalu Wing gives an exclusive retreat for the frequent travellers to experience a higher standard of personalised service and facilities. Stepping into the Horizon Resort Club Lounge, guests will experience sheer luxury and comfort with facilities to cater to their every need from the personalised service, complimentary breakfast, cocktails, internet work stations, TV room and even a meeting room.

The resort offers a range of sports and leisure facilities that includes the opportunity to plunge into the all-year-round two freeform swimming pools, indulge in various daily activities at the Leisure Centre, or work out in the Health Club. The more leisurely inclined can enjoy a round or two of nine-hole pitch and putt. Children can even join in wide range of activities at the Kids Club, their own paradise at the award-winning resort.

For total indulgence, guests can retreat to CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La, located at Pulau Bayu, the resort’s very own detached island. Eight island villas with three exclusive for couple offers complete privacy during treatment; or they may meditate at the Yoga Pavilions overlooking the South China Sea. CHI, The Spa is scheduled to open in November 2007.

Some of Kota Kinabalu’s best dining can be found in the seven restaurants and bars in the resort. From luxurious buffet with interactive cooking stations at Café TATU, fine dining at the Italian restaurant, alfresco dining and BBQ at Coco-Joe’s or Cantonese at Shang Palace. And for entertainment there is dynamic live music in the relaxing atmosphere of Borneo Lounge and Blue Note.

The resort has hosted many successful meetings and incentive groups ranging from intimate to large scale from all over the world in their 11 elegant and spacious conference rooms and grand ballroom. Combining the splendour of the tropical paradise with a romantic and idyllic setting, the resort is also an absolutely perfect destination for weddings and honeymoons.

Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort offers the opportunity to discover unique cultural experiences both within the hotel as well as across the local community. That explains why Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort is a luxurious hub to travel and experience in Sabah… a paradise like no other!

For more information, visit the resort website at shangri-la.com/tanjungaru

Source and photos copyright to: Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort

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Construction of Sipitang esplanade boon for Sabah tourism


By Arman Gunsika

KOTA KINABALU - The construction of an esplanade in Sipitang district will not only give the district a major facelift but a new attraction for the coastal town thus bolstering its status as the transit town for visitors from Sarawak and Brunei Darussalam.

The RM10 million project initiated by the State government was launched by Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman on Sunday. The esplanade would cover an area of 452 metres.

Musa expressed confidence that the esplanade would attract more visitors from the neighbouring state and countries, to stop by before proceeding to other parts of Sabah.

This attests to the Barisan Nasional commitment of keeping its promises to bring development to the people, Musa said.

Based on records, there is a rise in numbers of visitors entering Sabah at the border in Sinduman near Sipitang. Last year, there were 104,515 while up to June this year, 59,919 people passed through the border to enter Sabah.

Datuk Musa also officiated at the closing ceremony of the third biennial Sipitang Pesta Gasing and Tamu Besar 2007.

He praised the organisers for a job well done saying it reflected the uniqueness of Sabah particularly in terms of unity among the multiracial and ethnic people.

Musa assured that the State government would continue to support and encourage the organising of such festivals which brings benefit not only to the State but also the local community and the people in general.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Maliau Basin


By Anna Vivienne

We have all heard about Maliau Basin and how it represents a geological catchment’s surrounding the Maliau River.

It is also called Maliau Basin Conservation Area and is located around the centre of Sabah in the Sandakan Division.

It was designated as a conservation area, by the Sabah Foundation in 1981 and several years later, Sabah State Assembly gazetted the basin as a Protection Forest Reserve.

The region features the ‘much talked about’ Mount Lotung, Maliau Falls, and Lake Linumunsut.

Maliau Basin is saucer-shaped, surrounded by cliffs and steep slopes, therefore making it almost inaccessible from most
directions.

The highest point, Gunung Lotung is on the north rim, resembling a cauldron.

Lake Linumunsut is in the northern part of Maliau and was the first site for an expedition held several years ago.

One of the most photographed sites at the basin could well be the Maliau Falls, a very impressive seven-tiered deluge of crashing water.

The diversity of flora and fauna in the basin has been famous since the first expedition was held in 1988.

It was organised by the Sabah Foundation (YS) and WWF Malaysia.

Guests however have to seek permission from the Yayasan Sabah to enter the basin area.

Courtesy of: New Sabah Times 'In' Sites - Sabah Travel and Leisure Guide

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Brunei River Cruise: A River Cruise of Discovery

Migratory birds spotted during sunset
Jong Batu, a small island on the Brunei River

Proboscis monkeys high up on a mangrove tree

Nepenthes rafflesiana, a species of the pitcher plant

Enjoying our cruise along the river

Photos courtesy of and Copyright to NYL and
Brunei Press Sdn Bhd.


By NYL

One of the more popular local tours, the Brunei River Cruise provides tourists hours of wondrous eco-tourism experience among the lush mangrove forests. During one such cruise last week, I met Julia and her two daughters, Fiona and Georgia from Australia. We were accompanied by Danny and Hajah Rina from Mona Florafauna Tours Enterprise.

The first part of our cruise was spent admiring and enjoying a pleasant view of Kampong Ayer and the capital from an open traditional boat. We caught a glimpse of Istana Nurul Iman, the Royal Palace and Jong Batu, a small island on the Brunei River that resembles the keel of a ship.

The most awesome sight to behold as one cruises along this river are hectares of mangroves, one of the most fascinating resources of Brunei. Many species of animals need the mangroves in periods of their life. Ducks, geese and other wild birds stop over at these mangroves during migration. The mangroves offer nursery and breeding grounds for freshwater and marine life, especially crabs and shrimps.

On that bright sunny afternoon, we spotted wildlife such as white egrets, sea eagles, kingfishers, monitor lizards and long tail macaques.

Danny signalled the boatman to slow down. To my surprise, he showed us two species of pitcher plants, Nepenthes ampullaria and Nepenthes rafflesiana, growing near the fringe of the river.

"We only discovered these pitcher plants about a month ago," he informed us.

The N ampullaria has an oval shape, with a wide peristome and a narrow lid turned backwards that never covers the pitcher's mouth while the N rafflesiana with lower and upper pitchers is an unusually variable plant. The only similarities are the shape of the lid and the peristome, which ends in a long neck at the back and is largest just below the lid. In upper pitchers it is characteristically raised in the front part.

Further up the river, a group of proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus), led by a dominant male, was quietly enjoying their meal of fruits and young shoots from a mangrove tree. Upon hearing the sound of our boat engine, he quickly climbed up the tree bringing along with him the rest of the troop, mums with babies, young females and males.

My Australian friends got excited, never had they seen any creature like the proboscis monkey before. They moved to the front of the boat and stared up at the trees. Our boatman, Makim, made a honking sound to attract the monkeys' attention but they chose to camouflage themselves high up on the mangroves, watching us from their vantage point.

Yellowish-brown in colour with a white long tail, the proboscis monkey is a most striking creature. It has a curiously developed long nose, on which account it is sometimes called, Orang Belanda (Dutchman). This appendage, which is almost a caricature of a nose, is only fully developed in the males of the species. Among the females it is shorter, while in the young it is squat and turned up.

We waited patiently for them to come down but they refused to budge. The dominant male monkey whom Makim called "Boss" ignored us completely. We spent some time watching the antics of the younger monkeys as they swung from tree to tree showing off their acrobatic skills.

Sunset and nightfall on the river are almost simultaneous, heralded with extraordinary punctuality by an insect orchestra of cicadas.

With the insects appear numbers of bats of all kinds, among them the " flying fox", a large fruit eating bat, whole companies of which may be observed hanging down from the branches of trees and looking like a collection of half-open umbrellas.

An interesting feature of the river cruise at night is the lightning bugs or fireflies. These are actually beetles and part of a scientific family that contains the largest order of living things. These beetles spangled the dark background with countless fairy lights, some stationary, some moving in graceful curves and some flashing out for the space of a second and then dying.

We caught some of these fireflies and placed them inside a bottle, marvelling at the luminous blue light emitting from their bodies.

The light given off by fireflies during their abdominal flashes is called bioluminescence. Light production in fireflies is due to a chemical reaction that occurs in specialized light-emitting organs, usually on the lower abdomen. The enzyme luciferase acts on luciferin in this organ to stimulate light emission. For adult beetles, it is primarily used to locate other individuals of the same species for reproduction.

Although other insects can produce light, fireflies are the only insects that can flash their light on and off in distinct signals.

All too soon, our cruise along the river came to an end. We were ravenously hungry. We rounded off the evening with a barbecue dinner of chicken and fish at Hjh Faridah & Anak-anak, a local restaurant in Kampong Ayer.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday

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