Monday, May 31, 2010

Gawai Dayak - A special day for fair maidens and suitors

SOME 50 years ago, Gawai Dayak would double as a festival of love. Bidayuh bachelors would search for a maiden to take as their life partners in between the merry-making.

Bei Aled -- one of the last few Bidayuh men who could chant old Gawai Dayak rhymes called birayun to serenade the girls -- said back then, it was not uncommon for a young man to a marry a girl at the end of the three-night Gawai Dayak.

"Gawai Dayak was then not just about celebrating a bountiful harvest but also to provide an opportunity for young men to find their mates and start a new life through courtship, or nyagam."

He said Gawai Dayak would start at 8pm and would last until the next morning.

"A boy would try to court and serenade the girl of his heart," remembers the 74-year-old from Kampung Sebintin in Serian District.

"Once the gongs, canang and drums were beaten, Gawai Dayak will start with the elders shouting, 'Tara, Tara, Eeeeeiiiiiiiii Oooooiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii,' repeatedly.

"Everyone, young and old, would be seated at the veranda of the longhouse to greet guests and visitors.

"The maidens, too, would slowly appear from their bilik, under the watchful eyes of their parents, topless.

"So, each young man would try to outdo each other to win the heart of the prettiest girl, or kumang, of the village."

Continue reading at: Gawai Dayak - A special day for fair maidens and suitors
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Gawai Dayak - Day to remember their ancestors

GAWAI Dayak is a harvest festival celebrated by the Dayaks -- comprising all of Sarawak's indigenous tribes -- with offerings of traditional delicacies and tuak (home-made rice wine) made to the gods of rice and prosperity.

It dates back to 1957 and was gazetted as a public holiday on Sept 25, 1964 in place of Sarawak Day. The first official celebration was on June 1 the following year.

To many Dayak youngsters, Gawai Dayak may simply mean another public holiday for merry-making.

But for Wilfred Syed Pilo, 45, Gawai Dayak is a day to remember his ancestors of warriors and headhunters.

"Family members may have their own beliefs and faiths but we remember our ancestors and their sacrifices as without them, we would not be what we are today."

On the day, it is a ritual among the elders in the family to give offerings to the dead through the miring ceremony and to ask for prosperity and good health.

"I would always seek in my prayers that I will be strong to face any future undertakings," he said.

Pilo said most Sarawakians would catch up with family and friends over large meals and drinks.

Continue reading at: Gawai Dayak - Day to remember their ancestors
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Gawai preparation starts with the brewing of tuak

The aroma of ‘tuak’ tickles the nostrils, filling the air with a sense of anticipation, signalling the arrival of the Gawai — a festival which marks the end of the harvesting season.

The Dayaks celebrate the Gawai annually on June 1, a thanksgiving day for the bountiful harvest and a time to plan for the new planting season.

How this traditional wine tastes depends largely on who brews it.

Made of fermented rice with yeast and sugar, tuak-making is the domain of the womenfolk who have to observe a myriad of rituals and taboos to ensure a fine tuak.

Just ask Simai Linggi, an old hand in tuak-making, who has been brewing tuak and observing all the do’s and don’ts religiously every year for the last 20 years.

This 47-year-old housewife and mother of three from Kampung Lebor, Jalan Gedong, about 75km from Kuching, was taught the art of tuak-making by her mother and grandmother when she was in her 20’s.

She will proudly tell you hers is a ‘family recipe’ and something she would not talk about.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Gawai preparation starts with the brewing of tuak
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival tickets now on sale

KUCHING: Tickets for the upcoming Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) 2010 are now on sale at Visitors Information Centres in Kuching, Sibu and Miri and online at rwmf@eclipsecomm.net.

According to a press release, tickets are priced at RM110 for single entry and RM300 for three-day passes.

Children under the age of 12 will receive a 50 per cent discount.

The festival is expected to attract more than 22,000 weekend revellers, of which 60 per cent would be from outside Sarawak.

According to a spokesman from the Sarawak Tourism Board, the festival received numerous enquiries, especially from overseas and ticket sales are expected to pick up this week.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival tickets now on sale
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Tadau Ka'amatan Celebrations - Grand Finale


Date : 30 - 31 May 2010

Experience Ka'amatan Festival

Come, taste and see Sabah’s wealth of culture and tradition this year as the month-long Sabah Fest returns in celebration of Sabah’s natural charms!

With this year’s theme, ‘The Legend of Arung Salamiah’, Sabah Fest 2010 kicks off on May 1st 2010 with a two-day Cultural Extravaganza show at the Magellan Grand Ballroom, Sutera Harbour Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, starting at 8.00pm.

This year’s Sabah Fest celebration is based on one of the many legends of Semporna entitled ‘Arung Salamiah’ which has been orally passed down throughout the generations. Witness exciting cultural dances and traditional musical performances such as the Panansang performance, a ritual healing dance performed by both male and female dancers for a healing ceremony called Magkalamat; the Zepen Suara Siam, Lumumbai, Dang Mangalai, and the Magunatip—the Murut warrior bamboo dance.

There will also be handicraft-making demonstrations by the respective ethnic groups. Don’t miss the opportunity to see skilled craftspeople at work during the handicraft exhibition and get a chance to purchase hard find items, from hand-woven baskets to intricately carved Sea Bajau lepas (wooden boat replicas). Love tasting new food? Grab the chance to sample Sabah’s traditional favourite delicacies such as bambangan and hinava, as well as scrumptious local cakes such as pinjaram and kuih cincin.

Sabah Fest continues with ‘A Cultural Experience at the Sabah Museum Heritage Village’. The Village is a replica of the traditional houses of various tribes found in Sabah, all built as one ‘village’. Here, you can interact with the various tribes, watch them perform traditional dances and taste their local delicacies. There’s plenty to enjoy for the young and old, including bamboo-stilt walking (a traditional pastime of the Kadazandusun people), slingshot contests and a fishing competition, to name a few. There will also be rarely-seen rituals and rites performed by healers and priestesses.

We welcome you to Sabah Fest—come and celebrate Sabah’s natural charms!

Sabah Fest is brought to you by the Sabah Tourism Board and its wholly-owned subsidiary Sri Pelancongan Sabah, under the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah. For more information, please contact Susan Shahira (Event Manager II) at +6088-232121 or e-mail shahira@sabahtourism.com.

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism
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Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Kaamatan and Gawai Harvest Festival 2010



Once again, the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak will be celebrating the colourful Cultural Harvest Festival ("Kaamatan" in Sabah; and "Gawai" in Sarawak) to celebrate the end of the paddy-harvesting period.

"Kaamatan" culminates on 30 and 31 May of each year, which are public holidays for the state of Sabah, whereas, the "Gawai" or "Gawai Dayak" on 01 and 02 June, which are also an official holiday for Sarawak.

e-borneo.com would like to wish all Kadazans, Dusuns, Muruts, Rungus, etc. as well as the Ibans, Bidayuhs and all Dayaks (note: Dayak is a collective name for the native ethnic groups of Sarawak) a Happy and Safe Harvest Festival.

Our office will be closed from today, Friday, 28th May 2010 (which is Wesak Day, also a public holiday) until Tuesday, 1st June 2010.

For travel and related requests, do note that all your e-mails enquiries may be replied to during this holiday period (depending on priority and/or importance) but earliest confirmation can only be processed on Wednesday, 2nd June 2010 (working hours +0800 GMT MYT).

Any inconvenience caused is very much regretted.



Warmest Regards,

Management and Staff
E-BORNEO.COM TOURS & TRAVEL SDN BHD (862652-M)
[ Travel Company of e-borneo.com ]

Lot No. 7, 2nd Floor, Block C
Lintas Jaya Uptownship
88200 Penampang
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Malaysia
Tel: +6-088-722606
Fax: +6-088-727606
URL: http://www.e-borneo.com/

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival tickets on sale

TICKETS for the upcoming Rainforest World Music Festival are now on sale at Visitor Information Centres in Kuching, Sibu and Miri.

Priced at RM110 for single entry and RM300 for a three-day pass, the tickets are also on sale online at rwmf@eclipsecomm.net

Children aged under 12 years will be given a 50% discount.

Come rain or shine, the festival is likely to attract more than 22,000 weekend revellers of whom 60% are expected from outside Sarawak.

A spokesman for Sarawak Tourism Board, the festival organiser, said yesterday that there were numerous enquiries especially from overseas and ticket sales were expected to pick up this week.

“We are looking towards another great year,” he said, adding that this year’s festival would be enhanced by the economic recovery in Europe, the United States and Australia.

Twenty music groups representing all the world’s continents will take to the stage with two Sarawak-based groups performing in this rare weekend threat.

Confirmed in the line-up this year are Reelroad’b (Russia), Novalima (Peru), I Beddi (Italy), Braagas (Czech Republic), Bisserov Sisters (Bulgaria), De Temps Antan (Canada), Minuit Guibolles (France), Layatharanga (India) and Farafina Burkina Faso (Mali).

Continue reading at: Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival tickets on sale
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Positive change in Sipadan

SEMPORNA: The 2010 Sipadan Island Marine Park Scientific Expedition discovered a positive change around the island that will help preserve the island as one of the best scuba diving destinations of the world.

The main focus of the expedition, from 26 to 30 April, is to check on the changes in the surroundings after the government barred resort operators there from continuing with their activities five years ago and restricted the number of daily visitors to 120 ever since.

The move to curtail human activities there came about after the Sipadan Island was gazetted in October 2009 under the Parks Enactment 1984 and the island is now under the care of a statutory body known as Sabah Parks.

The expedition organised by Sabah Parks brought together 49 researchers from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Fisheries Department, the Mineral and Geosciences Department, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and from Sabah Parks as well.

Sipadan Island is located in Sulawesi Sea outside the Sunda Shelf which means it is an island of its own that was created by volcanic activities. Sipadan Island covers an area of 16.4 hectares while its reefs cover 208 hectares – 1.4 long and 1 kilometer wide.

Positive impact

The head of the expedition committee, Nasrulhakim Maidin from Sabah Parks noted that the initial studies indicated positive impact on the marine flora and fauna – turtles, fishes, reefs and sea weeds.

The positive impact is also visible in the quality of freshwater from underground and sea water around the island.

“The government’s move to evict the resorts from the island and restrict the number of tourists seems to being paying off,” he said.

“The marine and terrestrial life and the environment in Sipadan Island is now in good condition, thanks to the decision taken by the government” he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Positive change in Sipadan
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Sarawak Targets 3.6 Million Tourist Arrivals This Year

KUCHING -- Sarawak has target 3.6 million tourist arrivals this year, a nine per cent increase from the 3,280,656 visitors in 2009, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Geroge Chan said Wednesday.

Dr Chan, who is also the state Tourism and Heritage Minister said in the first quarter of this year, Sarawak performed well with an encouraging growth of 5.16 per cent in visitor arrivals.

"Statistics released by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) showed that world-wide international tourist arrivals grew by seven percent in the first two months of this year.

"The ministry remains rather cautious in its overseas marketing campaigns and will stay vigilant as many factors beyond our control can still jeopardise the pace of recovery," he said in his winding-up speech at the state assembly here Wednesday.

Dr Chan said domestic arrivals have shown a marked increase of 34.24 per cent, with visitors from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah increasing by 24.28 per cent and 49.09 per cent respectively in the first three months of this year.

He said foreign arrivals for the first quarter of this year was not that encouraging, down by 7.68 per cent as compared to the same period last year.

"We are confident that arrivals will grow as we are not at the start of the peak period, with our regular international activities like the Miri International Jazz Festival, World Harvest Festival and the Rainforest World Music Festival.

"Other major events are the Sarawak World Interhash and several international conventions," he added.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Targets 3.6 Million Tourist Arrivals This Year
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

500,000 visitors to Sabah's National Park and rising

Ranau: More than half a million people visited the National Park last year and the number is expected to increase as the district has many more tourist attractions.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said about 252,254 people were recorded coming to Kinabalu Park and another 278,300 to the Poring Hot Spring last year.

"I am sure many were not recorded and if the actual number could be obtained it would show an encouraging rise in the number of visitors to the district," he said at the Ranau Kaamatan Festival celebration at the Community Centre, Sunday.

Pairin, who is also the Infrastructure Development Minister, urged residents in the district to find ways and take advantage of the situation.

Continue reading at: 500,000 visitors to Sabah's National Park and rising
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Brunei expect more Korean tourists

By Achong Tanjong

Brunei is expecting more arrivals of Korean tourists in light of the better economic times. In 2009, the arrival of Koreans fell due to the world financial crisis. With their currency dropping by 40 per cent, they were forced to stay home because travelling became too expensive.

This was yesterday revealed by Brunei Tourism CEO Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed during the opening of the three-day Asean Tourism HRD Programme at Orchid Garden Hotel.

The programme is part of the Asean overall strategy, which includes the Asean plus three (Japan, China and Korea).

"Japan has had an Asean-Japan Centre for many years now. That is why we, in Asean, are encouraging China and Korea to set up similar centres. This will allow Asean to identify opportunities and work closely with Korea and China," he said, adding that the programme is in the commission of the Asean-Korean Centre.

Part of the activities is to go around every Asean city to explain to stakeholders (including hoteliers and travel agents among others) what Korea is all about as a country, its people and its culture. This will allow others to better understand them. Indonesia is next on the list after Brunei.

"This is very good and it is all about human resources development," said the CEO, who added that Korea is one of Brunei's target market.

In regard to relations between Brunei tourism and Korea, he said that the Sultanate enjoys good relations. This is evident in the fact that despite Korea being a country that the Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) does not fly to, it still has 'force arrivals' to Brunei.

"Imagine if RBA had a stop over in Seoul, there would be even more (Korean visitors)," he said.

The Asean-Korea Centre and Brunei Tourism is holding the three-day training programme which is designed to help Brunei tourism industry professionals to further improve service provided to Korean tourists.

The Asean Tourism Human Resources Development Programme from May 24 - 26 will provide training courses on Korean tourism, Korean culture and manners, and basic Korean language. It will be delivered by Korean experts.

According to a press release from Tourism Brunei, the number of Korean tourists visiting Brunei had decreased recently due to the global economic crisis and discontinuation of chartered flights.

However, there is high potential for growth of Korean tourism in Brunei as the country rebounds rapidly from the recession.

The Korean tourism lectures will closely look into Korean outbound tourism trends as well as how to market Korean tourists. With the Korean culture and business manner sessions, participants will gain tips on how to provide services that are especially attuned to the needs of Korean tourists.

Korean language trainings will allow tour professionals to learn basic Korean phrases, which will help better accommodate Korean customers.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Sabah's protected wildlife under threat of extinction

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s protected animals are under threat of extinction, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

“Take the Sumatran rhinoceros for example. If urgent steps are not taken to rescue and consolidate their fragmented populations, our generation might be the last one to see wild rhinos alive in Sabah.

Considered one of the world’s rarest mammals, he said there are only around 30 to 40 of the species remaining in Sabah.

“They survive in fragmented forests, in some cases probably only one rhino in a whole forest reserve,” he said at the opening of the International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference (IPOSC) 2010 here, yesterday. The text of his speech was delivered by his deputy Datuk Ellron Angin.

Masidi said another protected mammal, the Bornean elephant, was also facing heavy conflict with humans and pushed into pocketed areas, mostly near newly-opened estates.

The smallest of all Asian elephants and of the rarest of its subspecies, it is estimated that there are only 1,500 to 2,000 Bornean elephants left.

“Fragmentation of their habitats due to forest conversion further compounds their problems. This is crucial in cases where animals are confined in pocketed areas and habitat is no longer available and sources of food are limited or no longer suitable,” he said.

The Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus morio), another charismatic and endemic species under threat in Sabah, is also facing similar fate due to loss and fragmentation of habitats.

Masidi noted that although there were still around 11,000 individuals, Sabah have lost an outstanding 90 per cent of its orangutan populations in less than 200 years.

“The rescue and translocation of the species has become an urgent matter to maintain genetic flow among isolated populations thus preventing inbreeding and further localized extinction of this great ape,” he said.

The rhinos and orangutans are among the six mammals with totally protected status, the other four being sun bear, proboscis monkey, clouded leopard and dugong.

Continue reading at: Sabah's protected wildlife under threat of extinction
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Monday, May 24, 2010

Gawai Dayak Unity Night showcases the 1Malaysia spirit

THE Gawai Dayak Unity Night held at Kingwood Resort in Mukah here was a true manifestation of the 1Malaysia concept.

It was attended by more than 700 guests including many non-Dayaks who travelled on the unpleasant Selangau-Mukah road to get there.

Jemoreng assemblyman Abu Seman Jahwie congratulated organiser Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) Mukah branch as the event showcased the Gawai spirit although there are not many Dayaks in Mukah.

“While celebrating Gawai in the 1Malaysia spirit, the Dayaks must preserve their culture as it represents their identity,” he said.

Abu Seman, a political secretary to the Chief Minister, was representing State Assembly Speaker Datuk Seri Awang Asfia Awang Nassar at the function.

Organising chairman Philip Kubu said that SDNU’s annual Gawai Dayak gathering in Mukah started in 2005, but it was not held last year due to unforeseen circumstances.

Continue reading at: Gawai Dayak Unity Night showcases the 1Malaysia spirit
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Malaysia ranked 9th most popular destination by UNWTO

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has ranked Malaysia the ninth most travelled destination in the world last year, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She said although 2009 had been a difficult year for tourism globally, it was a good year for the Malaysian tourism industry.

“The Malaysian tourism industry contributed RM1 billion per week to the economy in 2009, providing employment to over one million Malaysians.

“It is the government’s commitment to ensure that the Malaysian tourism industry continues to flourish and to provide the best tourism experience to tourists from all over the world,” she said in her speech at the Colours of 1Malaysia 2010 programme at Dataran Merdeka here, Saturday.

The programme, an annual event organised by the Tourism Ministry, was opened by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

Also present were the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tuanku Nur Zahirah, and Information Communication & Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

Continue reading at: Malaysia ranked 9th most popular destination by UNWTO
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wind and Fairy Caves of Bau offer secrets of the dark

By NYL

Wind Cave and Fairy Cave. The names spark the imagination. Carved by water out of the soft limestone over millennia, these caves lie in a narrow belt which extends from the Kalimantan border to the southwest of the town of Bau, some 35 km by road from Kuching.

On an overcast day accompanied by occasional showers, we explored the two caves. Wind Cave, about 3 km outside Bau, was our first stop. Just as we arrived at the park headquarters, the sky opened up and fat raindrops thundered down us. We walked on, glad in a way for the cold drops of water, a change from the stifling humid heat of day.

When Sir Hugh Low visited the cave in 1845, he was told it was the habitation of dragons and evil spirits. The tales of dragons probably originate from the noise the wind makes when blowing through the cave. It can sound eerie especially inside a pitch black cave.

In recent times, the cave has been developed by the State Forestry Department, and has become a tourist spot with a plank walkway, baruk-like rest huts and other facilities. Its entrance is reached through a short trail.

A breeze from the bowels of the cave ruffled our hair and rustled leaves as if welcoming us.

Our guide told us we had to keep to the paths and walkways. He pointed out the prominent rock formations seen along the way.

Known as 'speleotherms', they are caused by deposits of minerals on cave floors, walls and ceilings brought by water seeping through the porous limestone. It can take 150 years for a rock formation to grow just an inch!

Stalactites hang down from the ceiling as stalagmites try vainly to reach up to them.

Where they meet, columns stand proudly. Stalactites and stalagmites are formed from water dripping down from the cave ceiling. A steady stream would form squat, dumpy stalagmites, slow drips get you thin, fragile and pointed pairs.

As we walked in the eternal twilight, the chirps of bats and the click of cave swallows echoed in the gloom. Mounds of guano had piled up beside the path infusing the air with the stink of ammonia.

A little stream flows through the cave out to the river. Its cool water is ideal for swimming and the beautiful natural surroundings make it a perfect setting for picnics and barbecues.

Six kilometres down the road and a few minutes' drive from Wind Cave, lies Fairy Cave, the largest cave entrance in the Kuching area.

According to the Bidayuh tribe who live in Bau, the cave is believed to be the home of fairies, as well as the stone people from the legendary Kapur village.

The cave is also of great significance to the Chinese people who live in the same town and who have erected shrines in the cave.

Until about 30 years ago, visitors had to trek through the jungle for half an hour before scaling the rocky cliffs to reach the entrance to Fairy Cave. Nowadays, access requires a bit of exertion but is safe and is by way of concrete steps rising about 100 feet with a further set of wooden steps to the main chamber.

The cave is huge and impressive with plenty of light streaming in. This has led to the growth of plant life inside part of the chamber. There are also lots of bats, swiftlets, cave frogs, numerous insects and even cave crabs.

A stalagmite structure at its entrance is said to resemble Kuan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. At about three metres in height, it resembles a woman dressed in classical Chinese robes, complete with hat, looking down benignly upon worshippers.

Inside the main chamber concrete stairs and walkways have been built to give access to the various parts of the cave. The beautiful view that one can see, up from the entrance of the cave, of the valley below, with its forest and fields is a wonderful relief after the climb.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Sunday
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

382ha of riparian area in Sabah to be revived for proboscis monkeys

Kota Kinabalu: PPB Oil Palms Berhad, a member of the Wilmar Group, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the State Government on a Riparian Management Project to rehabilitate 382 hectares of riparian area along the Segama River, the State's second longest river.

It was sealed during the Regional Forum on "Enhancing Forest Ecosystem Connectivity and Corridors within the Heart of Borneo" held on Oct. 26 last year.

According to a statement, Friday, the project is meant to restore and enrich habitats for the Proboscis Monkey and also for the abundant wildlife in the riparian area.

The Proboscis Monkey, endemic only to Borneo, an IUCN Endangered threatened species, a CITES Appendix 1 species and a Sabah Totally Protected species has become an important flagship species for conservation, as well as an eco-tourism attraction in Borneo, possibly even of parallel importance to the orang-utans.

There are said to be over 150 proboscis monkeys inhabiting along the Segama River in Sabahmas Plantation, Lahad Datu, where this important project is taking place.

Hence, efforts to enrich and restore their habitat using indigenous tree species will make a big difference to these primates.

Continue reading at: 382ha of riparian area in Sabah to be revived for proboscis monkeys
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Miri International Jazz Festival - Simply blown away

The Miri International Jazz Festival, celebrating its fifth anniversary, was an experience to remember.

THE legend waited in the wings as his band introduced themselves on stage.

Sitting patiently in a wheelchair looking seemingly old and frail, it was almost a stretch to believe that the 75-year-old James Cotton could muster up enough strength to even walk on stage, let alone perform. After all, this was a man who could barely speak during the morning’s press conference.

Then again, they don’t call him the Superharp for nothing. Once his band – The James Cotton Blues Band – were done introducing themselves, Cotton rose from his wheelchair, raised his harmonica to his lips, and the most gorgeous, joyful sounds began to flow from it. For close to an hour, he beguiled us by coaxing the most wonderful sounds and music from that tiny mouth harp.

By the time he was done, James Cotton Superharp – blues harmonica legend, Grammy-award winner, Blues Hall of Famer – had turned the Miri International Jazz Festival (MIJF) from a solidly entertaining jazz festival into a mind-blowing celebration of the blues.

Yes, you got that right, a blues band rocking the stage at the Miri Jazz Festival. But before the jazz purist in you starts crying foul, consider this: Cotton himself admitted that although he was a blues man through and through, jazz itself originated from the blues. So if you look at it that way, the festival was actually going back to the roots of jazz, which means he really wasn’t that out of place after all.

After all, how does one define what jazz is? The great Louis Armstrong once reportedly said: “If you have to ask, you will never know.”

If you were at the festival at the Parkcity Everly Hotel grounds last Friday and Saturday, you wouldn’t have needed to ask at all. Unlike last year’s festival, which many complained sounded more like a world music festival than a jazz festival, this year, the organisers took pains to select a line-up that was more standard jazz fare, albeit with a slightly eclectic edge to it.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Miri International Jazz Festival - Simply blown away
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The Green Connection Aquarium and Discovery Centre KK Sabah

The Green Connection Aquarium and Nature Discovery Centre is the latest attraction in Kota Kinabalu.

The Green Connection has just opened with a 20% discount - an amazing and exciting aquarium and discovery centre, just outside the Kota Kinabalu city centre - Jalan Tuaran Km 2.5 (Taxi or catch any bus to Tuaran)

The Green Connection Aquarium is an eco theme park, a unique tourist attraction and educational facility in Sabah, featuring over 500 native species from 9 major habitats, providing guests with the opportunity to journey around the ecosystems of Borneo and explore the vast biodiversity contained within them. In a nutshell, The Green Connection Aquarium offers the eco-treasures of Sabah. You can now have the opportunity to see the best of Borneo Biodiversity and aquatic life.

Not a Zoo - no mammals - but lots of other stuff, snakes, scorpions, sharks, rays, coral, fish.

Best times are 1-2 pm for feeding time. Hand feed a shark, wear a snake as a scarf or stroke a turtle

The Green Connection will be open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

More info www.aquaticakk.org or the green connection on facebook
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Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart will be in Sabah May 23

Celebrity lifestyle guru Martha Stewart will be promoting Malaysia to her two million fans.

Stewart, who arrived on Wednesday, is expected to tweet about her visit to Malaysia.

“Stewart will tweet on interesting tourist destinations, local cuisine and also traditional crafts that she sees in our country throughout her stay here until May 26.

“This will introduce our country to people around the world.

“Not many (Americans) know where Malaysia is but as an international icon in the United States, it is our pleasure to have her help promote our country to the world via Twitter,” said the Prime Minister's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor after Stewart paid a courtesy visit on her at her residence here yesterday.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart will be in Sabah May 23
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sabah, Sarawak To Lure 120,000 Singapore Tourists In 2010

Sabah and Sarawak which are aggressively marketing their tourism products abroad, hope to lure about 120,000 Singaporean tourists to the two Borneo states by this year.

The tourism boards of the two states joined hands Thursday with Tourism Malaysia in Singapore, led by its local director Zalizam Zakaria, in organising a seminar and travel mart for over 50 Singapore travel agents here.

About 20 travel agents and hoteliers from Sabah and Sarawak participated in the events promoting the nature and adventure attractions, which are in abundance, in the two states.

The Sabah delegation was led by the Sabah Tourism Board Assistant Marketing Manager Simon Jr Jalin and Sarawak, by the Sarawak Tourism Board Marketing Director, Benedict Jimbau.

Simon said Sabah hoped to increase its Singapore tourist arrivals to between 42,000 to 45,000 this year from the 40,000 recorded last year, by luring them to its fascinating Mount Kinabalu, forest and nature reserves as well as sea and diving spots.

Continue reading at: Sabah, Sarawak To Lure 120,000 Singapore Tourists In 2010
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KK Jazz Festival - Jazz, and all that jazz

When a jazz festival was mooted by the Society of Performing Arts of Kota Kinabalu (SPArKS) three years ago, nobody wanted it. The Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu thought it could use it to raise funds for its community projects. The response to it surprised the organisers: more than 1,000 people bought tickets of 50 and 100 ringgit ($16 and $32) for the three yearly jazz shows.

About 240,000 ringgit was raised for the Rotarians’ projects and SPArKS. Now in its fourth year, Masidi Manjun, minister of tourism, culture and environment, is thinking of turning it into a month-long festival to earn money from tourists.

“Our city will become the centre of world music,” he said on May 18 in announcing this year’s jazz festival scheduled for June 18 and 19. It will be held at the roofed tennis court of Sutera Harbour Marina Golf and Country Club in Kota Kinabalu. “We want to showcase world music. We’re not talking just about jazz, but a month of all kinds of music including classical, hip hop and our cultural music.”

Mr Masidi, who is a fan of Malaysia’s jazz queen Sheila Majid, feels that such a festival will spur local business. “People will be flocking to our city,” he says. “They will dine in our restaurants, sleep in our hotels, buy our handicraft and visit other places in Sabah.”

Continue reading at: KK Jazz Festival - Jazz, and all that jazz
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sabah may introduce 'month of musical festivals' tourism package

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah may soon introduce another tourism package - a month of musical festivals.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry is currently looking at the possibility of developing such a package to be included in the State tourism calendar.

Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun disclosed this during a press conference in conjunction with the 4th edition of the KK Jazz Festival, which will be held in the city on June 18-19, here Tuesday.

"We are looking at it (the package). This is not only for jazz but also other genre of music, eventually we will have a whole package of music shows in Kota Kinabalu," he said.

Apart from helping to promote Sabah through music, he said having this will also help to boost the interest in music among more Sabahans apart from providing a platform for those with musical talent.

On the KK Jazz Festival, he said interest and support from the local community has been growing since it was first introduced.

The two-day event is to be held at the Covered Tennis Court, Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club.

The festival promises to be another ground-breaking experience with a great line-up of artistes, a series of pre-festival fringe events, workshops as well as a jazz talent search.

KK Jazz Festival is an annual fund-raising jazz extravaganza organised by the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) with the support of the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (SPArKS).

Continue reading at: Sabah may introduce 'month of musical festivals' tourism package
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Traditional Gawai harvesting tools on display at Kuching Pullman

SARAWAK Museum Department is currently holding a month-long exhibition in conjunction with the Gawai Dayak festival at the lobby of Pullman Hotel in Kuching.

The exhibition, which is being held in collaboration with Pullman Kuching, will last until June 15. It aims to introduce the traditional tools used by the natives to plant and harvest padi in Sarawak.

Twenty-five artifacts such as Tanggol (sun hat), Baka (basket), and Chapan (winnowing basket) are among the items on for display.

Sarawak Museum director Ipoi Datan, who officiated at the launch yesterday described the event as a positive effort towards increasing the awareness of visitors to Sarawak about the state’s cultures and heritage.

“The lobby exhibition acts as a preview of what visitors can expect from the museum.

Continue reading at: Traditional Gawai harvesting tools on display at Kuching Pullman
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AirAsia offers a million free tickets

Low-cost carrier AirAsia is giving travellers a reason to cheer - the airline is giving away a million free seats starting today.

The booking period for the “Free Seats” promotion begins today until Sunday, for travel between Jan 3 and May 8 next year.

Customers can choose from 130 destinations to 20 countries including India, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and China.

The promotion offers various “all-in fares” which are applicable for one-way travel inclusive of airport tax, with certain terms and conditions.

AirAsia's regional commercial head Kathleen Tan said many enquiries had been made on the airline's social platform about the promotion.

Continue reading at: AirAsia offers a million free tickets
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Sabah International Museum Day on May 16-20

Kota Kinabalu: The State-level celebration of the International Museum Day 2010 will be held on May 16-20 at the State Museum here.

Themed "Museums for Social Harmony", various programmes have been lined up, with the Museumthon on Sunday marking the start of the celebration that saw students and the public taking part.

On May 17, a goodwill dinner would be held at the museum, while an official launching would take place in the afternoon on the following day at the museum's compound, followed by a programme with the public at Kampung Babagon at 1pm.

On the same day at 2.30pm, a "Black on White" workshop regarding art using charcoal would be held at Kinabatangan Room simultaneously with "Knowing Reserve Bank and Your Currency" talk by Kohila Yanasekaran and Ahmad Abd Rahim at Wacana Ilmu Room at the museum.

On May 19, the public are invited to take part in traditional games starting 8am at the museum's compound, while at 11am, Kohila and Ahmad will continue with their talk, followed by a talk on "The Art of Looking After your Art" by Josephine Atkinson at Wacana Ilmu Roo.

In the evening at 7.30pm, there would be goodwill bowling event at the Centre Point bowling centre.

Continue reading at: Sabah International Museum Day on May 16-20
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World Harvest Festival 2010 kicks off at tHe Spring

KUCHING: Nur Hanie Syafira was crowned Miss Spring Time Mitsubishi World Harvest Festival (WHF) 2010 yesterday after she charmed judges with her beauty, talent and intelligence at the Miss Spring Time Mitsubishi WHF 2010 competition held at tHe Spring shopping mall yesterday.

Nur Hanie, 18, who is also the winner of another subsidiary title Miss Trendy Hills WHF, walked away with RM500 in cash, a sash and a flower bouquet presented by EON Automart Sdn Bhd Manager Simon Wang.

The first runner-up went to 18-year-old Ummu Khansa, who received RM300 in cash together with a flower bouquet presented by Jimisar Autotrade Sdn Bhd sales manager Tan Yik Siong.

Ummu was also the winner for Miss Talent WHF that was held on May 2 at the Old Court House, Kuching.

The second runner-up went to 20-year-old Khairunnisa Ismadi who received a cash prize of RM299 and a flower bouquet by tHe Spring’s advertising and promotion assistant manager Aida Abas.

The event was jointly sponsored by tHe Spring shopping mall and Mitsubishi.

It is one of the subsidiary titles for the Miss Fair and Lovely beauty pageant that will be held in conjunction with WHF 2010 at the Sarawak Cultural Village from May 29 to 30.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: World Harvest Festival 2010 kicks off at tHe Spring
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sabah Government backs tourism development in Pitas-Bengkoka

PITAS: The State government fully backs the efforts of the local authorities in Pitas and Bengkoka to promote local tourism which will create more local job opportunities and serve as a source of income for the people while giving impetus to development in the district.

“In this context the State government is fully behind the local authorities in their pioneering efforts to exploit the tourism potential in this locality for the purpose of generating revenue and raising income,” Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman said at the launch of the Pesta Bengkoka 2010 here yesterday in conjunction with the Pitas District Level Harvest Festival.

His speech was delivered by Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Agriculture & Food Industry Datuk Haji Yahya Hussin.

Musa said he appreciated efforts to develop Pitas as a new tourist destination as reflected in the theme of the celebration which was “Pitas the New Tourist Destination”.

“The beauty and uniqueness of its natural environment combined with the ethnic diversity, cultural variety and customs makes me confident that Pitas will emerge as a popular tourist destination,” he added.

Continue reading at: Sabah Government backs tourism development in Pitas-Bengkoka
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Romancing the Rajang

You could picture yourself in wild, headhunting Borneo as you travel up the Rajang in the MV Orient Pandaw, a 19th century steamer.

Steaming off in the 1860s, the opulent brass- and teak-trimmed riverboats owned by the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company dominated the waterways of South-east Asia nearly a century ago. During this time, royalty and viceroys, as well as top-hatted gentlemen and genteel ladies alike, travelled in paddle steamers described by Rudyard Kipling in his poem Road to Mandalay.

After a five-decade hiatus caused by World War ll, the company was revived in 1995 and again began operating luxury river voyages on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin in Myanmar.

In mid-2009, expeditionary Pandaw cruises began in Malaysia’s largest river, the Rajang. From its source in the highlands of central Borneo, the Rajang flows for some 563km before emptying out in the South China Sea. Along the way, it passes Sibu, an important commercial centre in Sarawak and the departure point of the MV Orient Pandaw.

After landing in Sibu’s small airport, my wife and I were graciously met by Pandaw staff and whisked off to the docked vessel. The following nine days spent with 53 like-minded travellers aboard a new river cruiser built to replicate a 19th century colonial steamer proved to be culturally stimulating and totally relaxing.

Fitted out with modern conveniences, including a theatre for lectures and films and a spa and fitness centre, the 30-cabin MV Orient Pandaw provides maximum comfort in a remote corner of the world.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Romancing the Rajang
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Friday, May 14, 2010

More Singaporeans visit Sabah last year

KOTA KINABALU: A total of 38,948 tourists from Singapore visited Sabah in 2009, more than double that of the previous year.

According to the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) website which lists tourist arrival figures from 1998, the 2009 figure was the first that surpassed the 20,000 mark.

STB has not explained the phenomenal increase. Tour operators attributed it to the open sky policy that allows low-fare airlines such as Jet Star, Silk Air and Air Asia who, together with the regular-fare services provided by Malaysia Airlines, offer at least five direct flights to Singapore daily.

“With their generally higher income and an exchange rate favouring the Singapore Dollar, the Singaporean tourists find our holiday packages, our resorts and the seafood that they love very affordable,” said a tour operator based here.

But when Minister of Industrial Development Datuk Raymond Tan met with Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo in Singapore recently, the discussion was more on how Sabah can derive more economic gains from the island republic whose GDP per capita exceeds US$35,000.

“The Singapore-Sabah ties are under-explored,” Yeo said, and he invited the Sabah government to carry out investment missions to Singapore to create wider awareness about investment opportunities in Sabah and attract Singaporean tourists.

Continue reading at: More Singaporeans visit Sabah last year
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SDB is the main sponsor for KK Jazz Fest

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Development Bank (SDB) Berhad will partner the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu (SPArKS) and Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) to organise the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival 2010.

SDB's partnership in this significant event is as main sponsor.

By rendering its financial support, SDB concurs with the noble aim of the KK Jazz Festival to tap and groom local talents and subsequently contribute to the cultural development in Sabah.

Among the aims of the festival is to attract tourists to Kota Kinabalu.

The intended objectives of the festival chime with the focus of SDB as a Development Financial Institution, in offering a wide range of services to foster a strong and healthy corporate participation towards Sabah's growth.

Running strong in its fourth year, the KK Jazz Festival would be held on June 18-19 at the Covered Tennis Court at Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf and Country Club.

This year, the festival promises to be another groundbreaking experience with a great line-up of artistes, a series of pre-festival fringe events, workshops as well as a jazz talent search.

The KK Jazz Festival is an annual fund-raising jazz extravaganza staged in the picturesque Nature Resort City of Kota Kinabalu, bringing together a musical melting pot of talents from around the world.

The festival was initiated in 2007 with the aim of promoting Kota Kinabalu in the international musical scene.

Continue reading at: SDB is the main sponsor for KK Jazz Fest
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saving paradise: the Heart of Borneo

The rainforests of Borneo and the seas of the Coral Triangle are two of the most spectacular and important places for wildlife in the world. That is why this year, WWF’s leaders have gathered in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah on the northern coast of the island of Borneo, to address how best to protect this fragile planet for the people and animals that share it.

Although we are spending three days meeting to discuss all aspects of WWF around the world, from Earth Hour to the Living Planet Report, fundraising to the world financial crisis, we cannot forget that right outside the door are the very places that have survived thanks in no small part to WWF.

The Tunku Abdul Rahman marine national park was established in 1974, the result of one of the very first WWF-Malaysia projects, and is immediately offshore to the north of where we are staying. I was lucky enough to sit next to Ken Scriven, now Vice-President Emeritus of WWF-Malaysia, at dinner on Monday evening. He helped found WWF-Malaysia back in 1972, and I heard about the adventures and challenges of those early days.

WWF-Malaysia still faces challenges, but as one of the most successful WWF offices it is now a highly respected and successful organisation. Today, the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine national park provides not only a safe place for marine life but a thriving marine tourism industry with divers and snorkellers, bird watchers and people who just want to sit on the beach, visiting and providing much needed income to local tour operators.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Saving paradise: the Heart of Borneo
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Kaamatan best avenue to unite people

Kota Kinabalu: Pesta Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) provides the best avenue to unite the people of various races and backgrounds in the state, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said.

He said the festival not only feature cultural events but also various other programmes involving the cultures and traditions of the people in the state.

"Through these programmes, we will be able to see up close our cultural heritage apart from giving opportunities to tourists to experience the state's unique traditions," he said when opening the Kota Kinabalu Pesta Kaamatan in Lintasan Deasoka here Wednesday night.

He said the festival, celebrated throughout the month of May, would also help spur the tourism industry and encourage growth in the services sector.

Continue reading at: Kaamatan best avenue to unite people
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Showcase of Sabah culture

This year’s Sabah Fest promises to be an exciting month-long celebration of fun, food, music and dance.

NOW is the time to visit Sabah as the state welcomes visitors to its annual Sabah Fest, a month-long celebration of fun, food, music and dance that culminates in Tadau Kaamatan or harvest festival.

Tadau Kaamatan is a thanksgiving festival to the rice god or bambaazon by the Kadazandusun and Murut.

The festival brings together all 32 ethnic groups in the state. Lihing or rice wine, brewed over the last one year, is freely consumed while dance, song, food and beauty contests complete the merriment.

Like previous years — Sabah Fest has been held over the last 20 years — this year’s festival kicked off with a music and dance extravaganza at the the Grand Ballroom of the Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort and Spa. It was launched by Sabah Governor, Yang Di Pertua Negeri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah. The two-night event also included a handicraft exhibition and sales which featured local handicrafts such as bamboo musical instruments, pandanus baskets, wooden boats, beadworks, woven material and weaponry. Various indigenous groups in colourful traditional garbs welcomed visitors to the exhibition in the foyer.

This year’s music and dance performance titled The Legend Of Arung Salamiah involved 500 performers and musicians from the Kadazandusun, Bajau, Orang Sungai and Murut ethnic groups.

The stage was a dizzying display of lights, sounds and musical beats as the dancers, musicians, actors and actresses played out their parts.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Showcase of Sabah culture
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Powerful blues to amaze jazz audience at Miri Jazz Festival

Miri International Jazz Festival will live up to its International flavour with blues legend, James Cotton taking the stage this year.

Now in his 66th year in the entertainment business, one of the all-time greats of the blues harmonica and most likely the last of the original Chicago musicians who played and recorded the most exciting blues music ever, James Cotton's history reads like a veritable musical who's who.

American blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter who is the bandleader for the James Cotton Blues Band - was born on the first day of July 1935 in Tunica, Mississippi.

His reputation has certainly elevated to be one of the best of the modern Chicago blues stylists, being recognised for his powerful and precise harp playing.

Orphaned at the age of nine, he was raised by Sonny Boy Williamson and quickly became his protégé. He lived and travelled with Williamson, eventually, assimilating many of his signature licks. While he played a few instruments, Cotton is famous for his work on the harmonica. Touring as a teenager, Cotton began his professional career playing the blues harp with Howlin' Wolf's band in the early 1950s.

Early December 1954, as an adult - Cotton began his 12 year association with Muddy Waters, when Waters passed through town looking for harp players before forming his own band.

James Cotton Blues Band members are; Thomas Holland - guitar, Noel Neal - bass, Kenny Ray Neal - drums, Harrison Allen Jr - Guitar and of course Superharp himself James Cotton.

To date, he is a Grammy Award winner, an inductee into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006, an inductee into the Smithsonian Institution in 1991, and the winner of countless WC Handy Blues Awards.

Cotton, as his friend's call him, has shared the stage with BB King, Johnny Winter, the Allman Brothers, Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Sam and Dave, The Grateful Dead and a long list of others.

"I'm a blues singer and harpist. But no matter what genre you stick it in - rock, blues, soul, jazz - it is still a dance and party music. Many times people come expecting sad music - I like to change their minds 'bout the blues. I also want to let them know where I'm coming from, so I mix the older things in that young audiences might not know. I feel like, I got to teach the blues, to carry it on - James Cotton." (allaboutjazz.com)

James Cotton's powerful blues harmonica has amazed audiences around the world. Together with his band he will perform in the festival on Saturday night. This is a rare treat to listen to a legendary artist whose name is already in the history books.

The 5th Miri International Jazz Festival this year to be held from May 14 - 15 at ParkCity Everly Pavillion will feature Cotton with seven other international bands namely: Amina Figarova Sextet (Holland), Ricardo Herz (Brazil), Mellow Motif (Thailand), Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder (USA), SimakDialog (Indonesia), Norbert Susemihl's New Orleans All Stars (Denmark/Germany/USA) and Jeremy Tordjman (Switzerland), promising to spice up the night for festival goers.

Festival tickets are priced at RM60 (BND26) per day for adults while tickets for children between three and 12 years old are priced at RM30 (BND13) per day. For ticket booking, contact Freme Travel Services at: +673 3335025/35 (Kuala Belait), +673 3228171-4 (Seria), +673 2234277-9 (BSB) and +673 4260520/1 (Tutong). Booking/enquiries also possible via email: holidays@freme.com .

Tickets are also available at Visitors' Information Centres in Kuching, Sibu and Miri, Sarawak.

MIJF is supported by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, Ministry of Tourism and Heritage, Sarawak, and Tourism Malaysia.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Royal Brunei Airlines leases six 777s from SIA


By Azlan Othman

Royal Brunei Airlines yesterday released details about its fleet renewal programme, announcing the agreement to lease six Boeing 777-200ER aircraft from Singapore Airlines.

The national carrier will be replacing its current Boeing 767-300ER aircraft with the 777-200ER aircraft.

The first aircraft is set to arrive on May 26, while the next five will arrive between June and September this year.

Each 777-200ER aircraft will seat 30 business class and 255 economy class passengers. Both cabins will be equipped with RBA's skyshow in-flight entertainment system with personal screens for each passenger. The entertainment options will include video and audio on demand and a selection of video games.

RBA's first 777-200ER will be flying to London via Dubai during the third week of June this year.

Details about the lease agreement were revealed during a signing ceremony yesterday at Royal Brunei Recreational Club. RBA was represented by its CEO Robert Yang, while Singapore Airlines by its CEO Chew Choon Seng.

RBA Chairman, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, members of RBA's board of directors and senior management and a delegation from Singapore Airlines witnessed the ceremony.

Introducing the Boeing 777-200ER into RBA's fleet is part of the airline's plan to renew its fleet and expand its operations. In addition to a higher passenger and cargo capacity than the 767s, the much-improved 777s will enhance RBA's ability to grow its revenue base.

Commenting on the agreement, Mr Yang said, "The support that RBA has received from Singapore Airlines brought this partnership beyond a pure lease. Under the lease terms, selected support programmes provided by original equipment manufacturers to SIA are also provided to RBA to cover the aircraft engines, auxiliary power unit and other selected components."

He added, over the next three years, RBA would be renewing its fleet, preparing it with better products offering for its customers and positioning itself for a growing network.

Searching for six planes with the same seat configuration, in excellent condition and competitive lease rate was a challenge. Bringing in six wide-bodied aircrafts of B777-200 ER and retiring the B767s has materialised, thanks to a strong, helpful and very understanding aviation partner.

In just a few months' time, RBA needs to replace its entire wide-bodied aircraft fleet while at the same time stay in business. Pilots and cabin crews need training while the in-flight products need to be enhanced and the engineering side has a lot of work to do.

By this September, all the six 777-200ERs will be part of the RBA fleet and by early November this year, the current B767 aircrafts will be returned to its rightful owner. No doubt, the negotiations were tough and engaging. But throughout the series of meetings, there were no backlogs. SIA was very professional in its approach and both sides found a common ground to workout in quick time.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Singapore Airlines said SIA would deliver the first 777-200 ER on May 26, followed by two more units in June and one each in subsequent months. By the end of September, RBA will be operating six 777-200 ERs.

The 777s form the backbone of Singapore Airlines current fleet and accounts for two out of every three aircrafts they fly. Until recently, Singapore Airlines operated the biggest number of B777 in the world with 77 units in all.

The aircraft type is proved to be reliable and efficient, comfortable and popular among passengers with useful cargo capacity. "I am confident that it would be a very good fleet for RBA's network and that you will be pleased with its performance," he added.

However, even the best airplane requires proper maintenance and Singapore Airlines has well-established reputation in the airline industry in this regard. SIA's subsidiary company, SIA Engineering has set up joint ventures with original equipment manufacturers, he added.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

WWF meets in Borneo to chart conservation strategies

KOTA KINABALU: A strategy to get governments to reduce carbon emissions is on the cards as Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) delegates from across the world sit down in Borneo to discuss conservation strategies and challenges.

WWF International director-general James P. Leape said the threat to climate change has not abated as global carbon emissions continues to grow though last year's Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change had helped to highlight the issue.

“WWF hopes to find ways to work with governments, civil society and businesses to take a low carbon emission development path,” he said in interview here ahead of the five-day closed-door conference themed “Biodiversity, Footprint and Our Future”.

Some 150 delegates comprising key conservation leaders from WWF offices all over the world are attend the meeting hosted by WWF Malaysia that began Tuesday.

Participants are expected to discuss conservation strategies and challenges in delivering conservation programmes.

Continue reading at: WWF meets in Borneo to chart conservation strategies
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It's now Gawai Dayak with a difference

AS SOCIETY develops, with an ever greater emphasis on modernising lifestyles at the expense of traditions, there are ways to keep centuries-old cultures relevant.

Take the annual Gawai Dayak festival for example, which celebrates the end of the padi harvesting season and is essentially a thanksgiving occasion.

“Gawai has always been a celebration of good harvests, and at the same, to seek blessings for better times ahead,” Singai Sarawak Research and Development Movement Association (Redeems) president Datuk Peter Nansian Ngusie said.

“Of course, today, a large percentage of our communities no longer plant padi. The better educated ones are now professionals working in offices. In that sense, for many, Gawai Dayak is now celebrated with a slightly different mindset.”

In a way, the festival's celebration is representative of the fragmented progress of development within Sarawak's native communities.

Celebrations at villages close to cities and towns have taken a more contemporary tone. Some have incorporated various western influences like drinking beers, wine and whisky alongside the more traditional tuak, the indigenous rice wine.

Continue reading at: It's now Gawai Dayak with a difference
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Above and Below, what Lurks in Mulu Caves, Borneo?

Gunung Mulu National Park in the Sarawak Region of Malaysian Borneo is home to some of the world's most interesting caves. More than 200km of caves have been explored and more explorations continue to this day, deep into the mountains of Borneo.

In a world of easy access, Mulu remains a relatively inaccessible place, which makes that much more attractive to those who venture to this part of Borneo. A flight from nearby Miri is the easy way to get here. A multi-day longboat ride and challenging trek through the Borneo forest - trying to avoid leeches along the way - is the more rewarding, and recommended experience.

Upon arrival at Mulu there are dormitory and luxury accommodation options, with Royal Mulu Resort being base camp for most people who decide to venture to the world famous Mulu caves.

The caves here have been called the most spectacular on earth and are still largely unexplored. For the ones that have been explored, excitement and, well, some creepiness await.

One cave in particular attracts daily crowds. It is Deer Cave. Once deer roamed freely here at the entrance, however today it is the flying, and crawling, residents that get all the attention. The entrance is the largest cave entrance anywhere in the world. It is so immense with plenty of penetrating light that you forget you are in a cave until you venture deep into the darkness. The roof of the cave is almost always at least 100m high, so if you're claustrophobic, this is one cave you can probably feel comfortable exploring.

Continue reading at: Above and Below, what Lurks in Mulu Caves, Borneo?
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Lun Bawang festival to bring cheer to Lawas

LAWAS, a sleepy town in the northern tip of Sarawak, is set to come alive from May 30 during the three-day Irau Aco Lun Bawang or Lun Bawang Festival.

Held annually for 23 years, the festival this year is organised by Sarawak Lun Bawang Association in collaboration with the Limbang Resident Office and the Tourism and Heritage Ministry.

This edition promises a three-day extravaganza showcasing the unique cultural heritage of the Lun Bawang community, said organising chairman Willy Liau.

Apart from booths featuring handicraft and food, there would be sport events, a ngiup bas and suling (bamboo musical instrument orchestra) competition, cultural parade, nightly live music and dance shows.

“The highlight will be the Ruran Ulung (maidens) and Padan Liu Burung (warriors) pageants,” he told a press conference in Kuching.

Liau said that various Lun Bawang villages in Lawas, Sabah, Brunei and Indonesia had been invited to participate in the festival.

Continue reading at: Lun Bawang festival to bring cheer to Lawas
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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sabah Fest - Turtle shell orchestra at Sabah Museum Heritage Village

Kota Kinabalu: Almost every visit to Sabah Museum's Heritage Village during the ongoing Sabah Fest 2010 seems to yield surprising new cultural elements.

The latest "bomb shell" has to be the use of turtle shells as musical instruments - a string of eight shells in the kulintangang of the Paluan, a sub Murutic tribe that hails from Sook.

Everybody in the kulintangang fraternity uses brass but the Paluan use the land (forest) turtle shell and this sets them apart.

For the Daily Express which has been reporting extensively on cultural matters, seeing a turtle-shell kulintangang was also our first.

And the only reason we got to know this was because of Judeth John Baptiste, Assistant Senior Research Curator. Most visitors who venture into the Murut replica house would come away missing this specific piece of information, for two reasons.

First, the Paluan group won't tell anybody because to them there is nothing unusual since this is an age-old tradition going back how long nobody seems to know.

Secondly, the guys beating the kulintangang for the frontline dancers are placed right at the dark background behind the lansaran trampoline platform.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sabah Fest - Turtle shell orchestra at Sabah Museum Heritage Village
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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Pesta Bengkoka, Pitas


Date : 14 - 16 May 2010

Held in conjunction with the district level Harvest Festival celebrations, this colourful annual event showcases Pitas and its appeal through a unique Bagong boat display and cultural performances. Visitors can also witness the crowning of the Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Queen) and partake in various activities including sea sports.

Further Information:

Organiser : District Office of Pitas
Contact Person : Mr. Sapdin Ibrahim
Telephone : +6088 615760 / 615767
Fax : +6088 615521
Email Contact : Sapdin.Ibrahim@sabah.gov.my

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism
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Sabah Fest - Real life demo of cultures a hit


Kota Kinabalu: Tourists throng a mock Bajau Kubang wedding Friday afternoon as though they were magnetized by a powerful attraction at the Sabah Museum's Heritage Village as the Sabah Fest real life demo of Sabah's diverse ethnic cultures hots up.

They first waited patiently by the lakeside outside the Bajau House long before the wedding procession began and when it began, cameras clicked and flashed away as the eager crowd surged.

The most dramatic sight and certainly the most photographed part was seeing the groom being lifted and carried all the way to the bride's house, followed by resplendent maidens carrying gifts and accompanied by a cacophony of music.

"Yes, the groom is the hero of the day in a Bajau Kubang wedding and that's why he is carried at the head of the procession," noted Judeth John Baptiste, Assistant Senior Research Curator of Sabah Museum.

On the unique elements of Bajau Kubang wedding, Judeth said:

"The unique part is the special gong beating to welcome the groom as well as guests."

"But gong beating known as 'Titik da ilau' actually begins early in the morning well before the ceremony," she said.

"Both the bride and the groom would do a body cleansing rite in their respective homes, which depicts good-bye to an old era and a passage to a new chapter in life," Judeth said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sabah Fest - Real life demo of cultures a hit
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Sabah Tourism Upcoming Event: Kadazan Wedding Ceremony Display


Date : 15 May 2010

Have the chance to witness a traditional Kadazan wedding with ceremonies such as the Miohon Pinisi, the exchange of vows by the couple which will be done by the traditional bobohizan (high priestess) and the rest of the wedding ceremony rites.

Further Information

Organiser : Monsopiad Cultural Village
Contact Person : Monsopiad Cultural Village
Telephone : +6088 774337
Fax : +6088 761680
Email Contact : info@monsopiad.com

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Sabah Tourism
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Friday, May 07, 2010

Wooed by Sabah's unique living cultural heritage

Kota Kinabalu: Tourists from Russia and Penang couldn't stop raving about Sabah's unique living cultural heritage on show in conjunction with the Sabah Fest 2010, at Sabah Museum's Heritage Village.

"It is very interesting and stimulating experience because I am looking at a life style which is totally different from what I know in Russia," said Moscow hailed teen, Julia, in her first trip to Sabah with her parents.

"There is nothing like this we know of in Russia," said Julia, through her interpreter, Oleg, after emerging from the Rungus long house where they saw women donned with massive leg and neck brass coil accessories.

Lucky Julia got the treat of her life because her father, Vicheslav, decided Sabah was where he wanted to go to celebrate his wedding anniversary to his wife and brought her along.

Penang hailed professionals, Josephine Chan Le Lyn and Ooi Bee Hoon, were equally spirited in their comments.

"This is a very good experience for tourists," said English teacher Josephine cum an Administrative Manager at Disted, Penang.

"It brings the culture closer to the visitors and also shows Sabah has such a rich melting pot of cultures," she added.

"Their traditional costumes are very nice with intricate designs and from the beads alone you can see all their endlessly different ways of using them," Josephine said.

Continue reading at: Wooed by Sabah's unique living cultural heritage
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Miri Jazz sneak peak

THE Miri International Jazz Festival happens next weekend in Sarawak. But if you’re in the Klang Valley, you can get a taste of this diverse festival with two free performances from Jeremy Tordjman Project (Norway) at the Laundry Bar, The Curve, Damansara Perdana in Petaling Jaya Selangor tomorrow (9pm) and the Apartment in KLCC on Saturday night (8.30pm).

Led by guitarist Jeremy Tordjman, the band plays fusion jazz and world music with a strong African influence.

The 33-year-old Tordjman travelled through Africa in his childhood, immersing himself in the continent’s music and traditions. Initially a self-taught jazz guitarist, he now studies under Gilles Renne in the CIM, a reputed jazz school in Paris, where he also lives and plays.

These upcoming Jeremy Tordjman Project preview showcases also double up as promo roadshows for the Miri International Jazz Festival. You can also find out more about the festival and purchase tickets from the Sarawak Tourism Board booths at Laundry Bar tomorrow and the Apartment on Saturday.

Continue reading at: Miri Jazz sneak peak
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Proposal to turn Brooke Dockyard in Kuching into museum

SARAWAK Tourism Federation’s Heritage Development Committee proposes to transform the historical Brooke Dockyard in Kuching into the State Maritime Heritage Museum.

The Brooke Dockyard was established in 1912 during the reign of the second White Rajah of Sarawak, Charles Brooke.

It has undergone a few organisation restructuring since then, and in 1977, Brooke Dockyard became a fully-owned government statutory body under the BDEWC Ordinance (Cap. 100).

Brooke Dockyard has now firmly established itself as a leading marine engineering entity in Sarawak with active involvement in the oil and gas, shipbuilding, ship repair, bridges infrastructure and onshore manufacturing sectors.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Proposal to turn Brooke Dockyard in Kuching into museum
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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Display of living heritage at Sabah museum

Kota Kinabalu: Drop by the Heritage Village at the Sabah Museum ground between now and May 9, and chances are that you get an eager welcome dance from the authentic ethnic groups brought in from all corners of the State for the Sabah Fest 2010.

For instance, the Bajau House sprang to life with a limbaiyan dance from a tall, petite Bajau Kubang maiden from Bumbum Island, Semporna, who was quickly joined by a middle aged man swinging to the steps of the sayaw dance, the moment visitors drew near.

"Please don't mix us up with the Bajau Laut, we are not Bajau Laut (sea gypsies)," the male dancer told Daily Express, indicative of the pride and sensitivity each sub-ethnic group of the diverse 32 ethnic groups attaches to their distinct ethnic identity.

"The limbaiyan dance is a very graceful, very soothing and very gentle dance that blends with their music," noted Judeth John Baptiste, assistant senior research curator with the Sabah Museum.

"Small wonder it is often performed as a welcome dance and at social functions, although it was associated with rituals in the past," Judeth added.

Costumes-wise, the maiden dancer's elaborate royal purple blouse with contrasting yellow pants drew instant attraction. "Typical of the Bajau Kubang people, they are very vibrant and adaptive," said Judeth.

Hence Sabah's jumble of ethnic groups ignites little conflict but rather exhibits great traditional tolerance which stimulates interest and admiration far and wide and this message of harmony is encouraged by the Sabah Fest.

"Sabah's brand is diversity," according to Sitti Damsal, General Manager of Sri Peloncongan Sabah Sdn Bhd, the main organisers of the Sabah Fest.

Continue reading at: Display of living heritage at Sabah museum
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