Thursday, March 31, 2011

BIMP-EAGA hailed as most mega diverse region in the world

KOTA KINABALU: The Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Phillipines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) has been hailed as the most mega diverse region in the world.

In a statement yesterday, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said the ministers responsible for the BIMP-EAGA’s tropical rainforests and marine resources gave this recognition at the one-day Conference on the Heart of Borneo and Coral Reefs in Temburong, Brunei Tuesday.

In a joint statement, the ministers of the four-member countries said the two ecosystems of forests and coral reefs were interconnected and good strategies and plans were currently being implemented including maintaining the ecological corridors joining the terrestrial and marine biodiversity.

“The ministers agreed that their respective national action plans would form the basis for the development and conservation of the two ecosystems and recognised the importance of collaboration efforts among member countries in the areas of common interest such as in eco-tourism and research and development,” it said.

Meanwhile, Secretary Luwalhati R. Antonino, MinDA Chair and Philippine Signing Minister for BIMP-EAGA, said the role of the business entities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and local government units in the conservation of the seas, oceans, forests, and species in the coral triangle should not be forgotten.

Continue reading at: BIMP-EAGA hailed as most mega diverse region in the world
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Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort opens new water play area

KOTA KINABALU: Shangri-la's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa (STAR) yesterday unveiled its new water play area.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman officiated the launch during a ribbon cutting ceremony held at the area.

Also present at the ceremony were the wife of the Chief Minister, Datuk Hajah Faridah Haji Tussin, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, Yayasan Sabah director Tan Sri Khalil Datu Jamalul and STAR general manager Andrew Steele.

The resort’s communication manager, Samantha Siow, said in a press statement the new play area replaces the children playground and consists of areas dedicated for toddlers, teenagers and an interactive area for all ages.

Guests can come and enjoy theme park quality waterslides for adults and children measuring a total length of 100 meters, she said.

Additionally, the area also comes with water battle stations with water balloon launchers, and a 2,000 square meter swimming pool with tapered shoreline for children and a Jacuzzi and infinity pool section for adults.

Coco-Joe’s, the resort’s beachfront restaurant, is now a contemporary beach barbecue restaurant and bar, reflecting its new name, “Coco-Joe’s Bar and Grill”.

Continue reading at: Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort opens new water play area
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Royal Brunei Airlines service to Melbourne takes off, to fly four times weekly

By Azaraimy HH

Brunei Tourism's "Window on Brunei" initiative would benefit from the four-times weekly services to Melbourne, the CEO of Brunei Tourism, Sheikh Jamaluddin told the Bulletin last night just prior to the inaugural Royal Brunei Airlines' (RBA) new Brunei-Melbourne route.

The newly launched BWN-MEL route operates on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday on RBA's B777 aircraft flights BI53 and BI54.

RBA's inaugural flight to Melbourne departed Brunei International Airport at 10pm last night and was scheduled to arrive in Melbourne, Victoria today, at 7.55am in Tullamarine Airport, Melbourne. The return flight from Melbourne BI54 is scheduled to depart Tullamarine Airport today at 1.40pm and arrive in Bandar Seri Begawan on the same day, at 5.40pm.

Travelling aboard the maiden flight was a delegation from the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources led by Dato Paduka Dr Hj Amin Liew bin Abdullah, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.

Also among the delegates is the CEO of Brunei Tourism, Sheikh Jamaluddin.

"The launching of Royal Brunei Airline's direct flight to Melbourne will strengthen the relationship between Australia and Brunei Darussalam - not just within tourism and trade but also in, hopefully, the education sector," RBA's Deputy Chairman, Mr Dermot Mannion said. "The recent years have seen an increase in Brunei students' interest to studying in Australia - this direct flight to Melbourne aims to make it easier for students and their families to travel. For passengers bound for London from Melbourne, we provide transit options in Brunei and Dubai."

The Australian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam, Mr Mark Sawers congratulated Royal Brunei Airlines on the momentous occasion.

"This new service is certainly welcome news to travellers both as a direct stop or transit option," said Mr Sawers. "Not only tourists will enjoy the new link but students and business associates will find this direct flight option a very timely convenience."

Ms Josie Abdullah, the Australian Trade Commission's Manager for Brunei and East Malaysia, also travelled on the inaugural flight to facilitate business meetings for Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources officials and as well as the Brunei International Chamber of Commerce representatives.

"The Victorian Government, Tourism Victoria and a number of key allies in Australia have been very supportive in putting together a work and visit programme," she said.

Customers can book flights with RBA through travel agents, by visiting the RBA Melbourne office at Level 10, 45 William Street, Melbourne Victoria, 3000, Australia or by logging onto the RBA Website at www.bruneiair.com.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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RM470,000 facelift project for Matang Wildlife Centre

KUCHING: Upgrading project amounting to RM470,000 is in progress at Matang Wildlife Centre as part of an ongoing effort to upgrade the facilities there.

According to conservation manager Abg Abdul Mutalib Abg Tajudin, the main scopes of works for this project are upgrading of the customer service centre, which include the park shop, interpretation centre, audio visual room and meeting room, upgrading of the camping sites and picnic spots and also external works on the trails and walkways.

“Proposed scope of works under the 9th Malaysia Plan in ‘Package A’ for 2011 include the maintenance and upgrade of one unit of hornbill cage, two units of deer enclosure, one unit of mixed bird cage, one unit of stork, owl and eagle cage and also one unit of pig-tailed macaque enclosure,” he explained.

He shared this information during a product visit and briefing organised by Tourism and Heritage Ministry at the Centre here yesterday.

A total of 40 members of Sarawak Tourism Federation and representatives of various travel agencies were in attendance.

They were joined by permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik for a tour of the jungle trail there.

Mutalib also informed in the briefing that there is more to come for proposed scope of works for Package B (2012) under the 10th Malaysia Plan.

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Sabah Homestay Association eyes RM3.7 million in receipts this year

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Homestay Programme is expected to remain bullish this year, where RM3.7 million in receipts are projected from the 16 programmes involving 209 houses in the state.

Sabah Homestay Association president, Jeffry Yahya, said this year, it expected the receipts to increase by at least 50 per cent from last year’s target of RM2.5 million.

“Last year, we were ranked number one in Malaysia. To date, we have seen a 35 per cent increase compared with the first quarter of last year. So we are off to a good start.

“The increase is seen in the number of participating tourists and receipts recorded,” he told reporters after the launch of ‘365 Days Celebration with Homestay Sabah’ brochure here yesterday.

He said only one or two homestay operators here were affected by the Japanese earthquake as the majority of them catered to European market.

On the claims by Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen of the existence of illegal homestay operators, Jeffry said this happened a few years back because there was no official Homestay logo.

He said the association has the logo now and starting this year, it would be easier for tourists to identify between a genuine and illegal operator.

Earlier, Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Seri Dr Tengku Zainal Adlin, said last year, 17,558 tourists, both local and foreign, had a taste of the ‘kampung’ lifestyle through the homestay programmes.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sabah Homestay Association eyes RM3.7 million in receipts this year
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Plans afoot to form green belt between Kinabalu Park and Crocker Range Park

A forested corridor is being planned to link Kinabalu Park with Crocker Range Park.

THE success of Bundu Tuhan folks in preserving their own tract of green will figure largely in a novel scheme being undertaken by Sabah Parks.

Villagers in Ranau, Sabah, are being encouraged to establish their own community forests, too, the way the Bundu Tuhan people have done. The idea is that when these parcels of greenery are combined, they will form a green belt linking two major wildlife sanctuaries – Kinabalu Park and Crocker Range Park.

Both parks sit on the Crocker Range but are no longer contiguous as farms and settlements have sprouted within the 10km of land between them. This results in the parks becoming fragmented and isolated from each other, which effectively reduces the size of habitats and subsequently, the viability of animal and plant populations.

Last March, Sabah Parks commissioned ERE Consulting Group to study ways and means to create a forested corridor. One hurdle that stands in the way is land utilisation around the parks. Though chunks of forest remain, many people have lived there for generations.

“Most of the land within the identified corridor, though stateland, is also within native customary land and traditional village boundaries. We cannot create new parks or forest reserves (to form the corridor), so the way to go is community forests,” says ERE environmental consultant Randolph S. Jeremiah.

The consultants have met the people of 31 communities living within the boundaries of the proposed corridor, to explain the plan. “The community must first agree and be willing to do this,” says ERE managing director Dr G. Balamurugan. “Most are agreeable, though some are sceptical and fear that their land will be taken away.”

He stresses that the corridor will not be just about wildlife. “This is why we call it an ‘ecological link’ and not wildlife corridor as it is more than just for wildlife movement. Migrating wildlife will help disperse seeds. Protecting the corridor will also protect water supply and ensure the community’s continued use of the forest.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Plans afoot to form green belt between Kinabalu Park and Crocker Range Park
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Royal Brunei Airlines inaugural flight to Melbourne tonight

The inaugural flight by Royal Brunei Airlines to Melbourne, Australia will commence tonight, March 29. Four flights per week are scheduled, according to a press release.

The additional services to Melbourne will further strengthen the people to people links between Brunei Darussalam and Australia in education and tourism while also providing a valuable opportunity to further strengthen business links between both countries.

The Australian High Commissioner, Mark Sawers, indicated that the additional flights would provide greater accessibility to students and prospective students from Brunei Darussalam intending to undertake educational studies in Melbourne.

The Australian High Commissioner further emphasised the opportunities to further strengthen business ties between Brunei Darussalam and Australia by leveraging the existing strong business links between both countries to further develop new investment opportunities.

A delegation from the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources will be joining the inaugural flight as part of a working visit to Melbourne and Canberra. The delegation will be led by Dato Paduka Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources. Also joining the working visit are the Chairman and Executive Members of the Brunei International Chamber of Commerce. The Austrade Senior Business Manager, Josie Abdullah, will accompany the delegation on their working visit to facilitate dialogues with both government and the private sectors.

The Australian High Commission would like to acknowledge the assistance provided by the Brunei High Commission in Australia and the assistance of the Victorian Government, Tourism Victoria and Austrade Visits Team in supporting the working visit.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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Sarawak Tourism Board selling Sarawak’s nature to lure Aussies

KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) hopes to tap into Australians’ love for adventure and nature by bringing them to Sarawak.

Tourism Malaysia, Sydney director Shahrin Moktar said that many Australian tourists have been flocking to Sabah in search of sun, sea and adventure.

“We want them to look into extending their stay to include Sarawak,” he said yesterday during a press conference after the launch of a business matching session between Sarawak and travel industry players from Australia and New Zealand.

Sarawak is one of the top five destinations in Malaysia, besides Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Sabah and Langkawi, and local tourism players were putting all efforts to boost its rating.

Record showed that 580,000 Australians visited Malaysia last year and had contributed RM2.4 billion to the tourism industry. Out of that number, roughly 17,000 had visited Sarawak.

“This year, we are targeting 660,000 Australian tourist arrivals in Malaysia,” Shahrin said.

A group of 25 product managers from Australia and New Zealand travel fraternity met with local industry players yesterday to establish products and services they can promote back home.

STB aimed to promote Sarawak as a destination for those who appreciate what nature has to offer them.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sarawak Tourism Board selling Sarawak’s nature to lure Aussies
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Sarawak Tourism Board to launch e-portal to assist tourism SMEs

KUCHING: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) will be launching an e-portal to help small and medium tourism stakeholders put their products online.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan said that the e-portal is expected to be ready in May.

“This is a transactional portal where people can look at products and pay for it online,” he told reporters yesterday.

As far as stakeholders are concerned, there will be no cost for them to use the portal, he added.

“They can simply put up their products online, which could be reached on a global network; through the Internet and purchaseble with credit card,” he added.

This will make it possible for travellers to buy package holidays or tourism products and services in Sarawak from anywhere in the world.

Rashid pointed out that travel agents have not really embraced technology.

“More and more people are booking holidays from the comforts of their home or office. No need to go to ticket office or travel agents,” he said.

Continue reading at: Sarawak Tourism Board to launch e-portal to assist tourism SMEs
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Monday, March 28, 2011

Dragonair upbeat about Sabah Tourism

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s inbound tours are set for a rebound following the Japan’s quake. Cathay Pacific’s marketing manager, Yeoh Boo Leong, was of the view that tourists from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong who had cancelled their plans to that country, Sabah offers an appealing alternative.

Dragonair, a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific, operates five flights weekly Kota Kinabalu- Hong Kong. On average, it enjoys 80 per cent passenger load in this route.

Dragonair is well-placed to boost Sabah tourism as it is voted ‘Best Airline – China’ for six consecutive years, as well as ‘Best Regional Airline – Southeast Asia’.

According to Anna Choi, Dragonair’s manager for Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei, last year it was voted ‘World’s Best Regional Airline as it marked its silver anniversary.

“China is one of Dragonair’s biggest markets. The connections that Dragonair has in terms of networking in China are very good,” said Yeoh, adding that it is very convenient to connect their flights to Sabah’s capital.

From Taipeh, the airline has 19 flights daily to Hong Kong while it plies the Kaoshiung route four times a day, thus the connecting flight is less than two hours.

“Sabah’s pristine nature – its rainforest reserves, Mount Kinabalu, diving spots – is the only one of its kind in the world. This makes it a destination of choice from various parts of the world where Cathay Pacific operates,” Yeoh continued in his optimism of Sabah.

He reasoned that Sabah offered value for money for those who seek to relax and far from their normal environment. As far as the route to Kota Kinabalu is concerned, he said there was no low season – only shoulder to peak.

Earlier in her welcoming address to top performing agencies at the company’s dinner, Choi informed the industry players that Dragonair had restored its services to Changsha, Chongqing, Chengdu, Nanjing, Wuhan and Xiamen, operating 400 flights a week to 17 mainland China destinations. Flights were also added to Bengaluru, Busan, Kaoshiung, Phuket and Shanghai, besides Kota Kinabalu five times a week to Hong Kong.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Dragonair upbeat about Sabah Tourism
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Firefly identifies new hub users

Firefly is targeting air travellers from the southern region, Singapore, Batam and transit passengers in Sabah and Sarawak as the main users for its southern hub here.

Managing director Datuk Eddy Leong said with Iskandar Malaysia progressing well, the airline expected air travel to pick up in the long run.

“We foresee great potential for growth in the leisure and tourism sectors in Iskandar which, in turn, will require better air linkages between Senai Airport and the region,'' he said on Saturday.

Leong was speaking to local and foreign media at the launch of Firefly's southern hub at Senai Airport by Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Abdul Majid.

The airline is placing two 162-seat B737-400 aircraft at the airport, with two daily flights from Johor Baru to Kuching beginning May 19, and to Kota Kinabalu from June 16.

He said Kota Kinabalu could also serve as a gateway to Johor Baru for passengers from Australia, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Manila and Tokyo by leveraging on MAS' flights between Kota Kinabalu and these cities.

Continue reading at: Firefly identifies new hub users
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pullman Kuching forges ahead to expand its business exposure

KUCHING: One of the leading five-star business hotels in the state, Pullman Hotels and Resorts (Pullman Kuching) will be expanding its business exposure, not only within the domestic but as well as the European market this year. The property is managed by an international hotel operator Accor Group.

Eric Tan, who has been with the Accor Group for the past nine years, is current heading the task as the general manager for Pullman Kuching, having taken over from Fabrice Mini in January 2011. Tan has been in the industry for the past 18 years.

“In 2010, the management team as well as the hotel has concentrated mainly on setting up the hotel as a brand including pre-opening and fine-tuning activities as well as getting the right people for the job. More or less in 2011, we managed to stabilise most of the areas in the hotel. One of the major tasks we had was to get Pullman Kuching known domestically as well as in Asia,” Tan told The Borneo Post in an interview recently.

He further said that his immediate objective for this year was to expand the exposure of the hotel, not just within the domestic market but as well as the European market, which he highlighted as an important key point to the hotel’s growth in the industry.

“We are currently working very closely with the European regional office to promote this hotel and this area as a tourist destination. Cooperation also comes closely from regional offices in Thailand, Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta, China as well as Hong Kong,” he added.

According to Tan, the top feeder market for Pullman Kuching was mainly Singapore, Japan, Australia and the UK. “The area that I want to work on is mainly on the leisure side, which includes leisure as an individual or leisure as a group. I would like to go one step further into the foreign market. This will generally improve the traffic flow into Kuching and at the same time the neighbouring cities around the state.”

The hotel itself is also well-known as a conference hotel in the state. One of its biggest achievements last year was to secure an international conference, the 19th Malaysian Urological Conference which was held in October. With this success, it has managed to secure a few more conferences in 2011, 2012 and all the way up to 2014.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Pullman Kuching forges ahead to expand its business exposure
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Pre-Gawai celebration in Miri as part of MayFest 2011 activities

MIRI: The 7th Malam Gawai Dayak 2011 Miri celebration will be held in conjunction with this year’s Miri MayFest 2011.

The annual celebration on May 14 will be held early evening around 6pm at Rh Vincent Sujang, Lusut Jaya 5 Off Taman Tunku.

The event organiser was headed by Miri Iban community leaders Pemanca Wilson Siang Lim and Penghulu Randi Elon.

Federal Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui is the ‘Tuai Pengabang’ (guest-of-honour).

He has been the guest-of-honour for the past Gawai celebration in Miri where Sibuti MP Ahmad Lai Bujang and Lambir incumbent Datuk Aidan Wing are expected to attend the ceremony.

The Gawai celebration venue is normally rotated among the Iban longhouses and settlements in Miri sub-urban.

Various programmes will be inserted during the celebration such as the revival of tortoise race after a two-year lapse, including Tuak-tasting, blowpipe competition and Keling-Kumang contest.

The evening will kick off with a ‘miring’ ceremony, followed by dinner and traditional performance such as ‘Nyarau Ranyai’.

Continue reading at: Pre-Gawai celebration in Miri as part of MayFest 2011 activities
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Sabah Fest 2011: Pa'pakang, the Odyssey of Seven Brothers

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Sabah Fest 2011: Cultural extravaganza in store

Kota Kinabalu: First started as a street parade, Sabah Fest 2011 enters its 23rd anniversary with a cultural extravaganza themed "Pa'pakang, the Odyssey of Seven Brothers" scheduled on April 30 at Sutera Magellan Grand Ballroom, said Sitti Damsal, General Manager of Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd, Thursday.

A public premier show follows on May 1, starting at 7pm. Sabah stands out as the richest State in terms of ethnic and cultural diversity which, however, is often hidden, in deep interior of far-flung coasts or even islands.

Which raises the question: How to make this proud and exclusive heritage visible to the world.

The answer is an annual Sabah Fest which congregates all 32 indigenous groups in one place, dressed in full traditional costumes with a maximum display of their variant cultural elements - such as dance, music, cuisine and handicraft.

Because it is more than two decades old, Sabah Fest has gained a good measure of maturity, with a quality show that comes along with it.

Year in and year out, the big 'do' still surprise visitors and even locals, when they actually see the sharply contrasting depth and extent of ethnic possibilities as organisers take pains to extract real indigenous ethnic groups from their original village roots and concentrate them in one place each year, for a musical theatre style hour-long production based on Sabah's many legends.

As Sabah Tourism Board Chairman, Tengku Datuk Dr Zainal Adlin, has put it: "The beauty is not necessarily in colourful costumes but ethnic authenticity."

Add a unique traditional tolerance to ethnic diversity, Sabah brands itself positively to the outside world who often say they like what they see.

Legends may not be historical facts but they nevertheless tell stories around which musical directors can cast diverse ethnic groups like contrasting characters in one single production.

So the story of this year's legend centres around seven contentious sons of Nunuk Ragang Chief of Tompios, who coveted a mystical stone called Pa'pakang. But only one wins - Aki Lintobon, the youngest son, who succeeded in retrieving it from the river bottom. Being covetous, the brothers fought for ownership of the stone.

Continue reading at: Sabah Fest 2011: Cultural extravaganza in store
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

MASwings to offer 48-hour sale for Sabah, Sarawak

KUCHING: MASwings will be offering its first 48 Hours Sale special fare promotion on its network in Sabah and Sarawak from as low as RM16 for one-way travel from Miri to Mulu.

This 48-hour sales promotion will be made available online on March 26 and 27 for travel period from March 29 to September 30.

The promotion represents a discount of up to 85% off the normal full fares with a two-day minimum advance purchase.

Under the promotion, passengers from Kota Kinabalu will get to enjoy fares from RM26 to Lahad Datu, RM25 to Sandakan, RM39 to Bintulu, RM40 to Sibu, RM33 to Mulu, RM23 to Labuan, RM28 to Tawau and RM30 to Miri.

Those from Sandakan and Miri will also enjoy fares from RM19 to Tawau and Bintulu, respectively.

From Miri, passengers will be able to enjoy fares from RM19 to Bintulu, Limbang and Labuan whereas from RM26 to Sibu.

From Kuching, the fares offered are from RM39 to Bintulu and Miri, RM25 to Sibu and RM40 to Mulu.

Continue reading at: MASwings to offer 48-hour sale for Sabah, Sarawak
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Project Borneo 3D: An Action Movie

A ground-breaking 3D-action movie about saving the orangutan in Borneo was recently initiated by an Australian-based company. Award-winning Queensland production company Virgo Productions, in collaboration with National Geographic Entertainment, is making this 3D Action documentary entitled Project Borneo 3D. The idea for the project was born when a Microsoft online poll revealed deforestation and climate change as the number one concern amongst young people.

Cathy Henkel, (The Burning Season, The Man who Stole my Mother’s Face) will produce and direct Project Borneo 3D: An Action Movie, to be shot by acclaimed cinematographer Don McAlpine (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, Wolverine) and Paul Nichola (Cane Toads: The Conquest 3D). This project is groundbreaking in a number of ways, one of which is the way it's being financed, which is essentially through social capital markets and private investors, as well as corporate and business sponsors and crowd funding. These are ambitions usually reserved for Hollywood blockbusters, but apparently there are more similarities between Project Borneo 3D and Avatar than just specially devised technology.

Project Borneo is currently looking for 10 adventurous, passionate and courageous leaders (aged 18 - 35) to feature in a 3D film and a 6-part TV series. These 'real life action heroes' will live in the jungle in Borneo for 5 months, work with acclaimed scientist Dr Willie Smits and Orangutan Outreach, and report to millions of young people across the globe, connected via Microsoft's Partners in Learning and the social action network, Taking ITGlobal, which runs the DeforestACTION campaign. They will cohabitate, rehabilitate rainforest and construct the largest orang-utan sanctuary in the world – all while starring as action heroes in the 3D film.

The location for the movie will primarily be at the Marakei area in Sintang, a district in the interior of West Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, where much of the original forest has already been cut or burned down. The Marakei area is close to the border of Sarawak, Malaysia Borneo, and consists of an ex-logging area.

Applicants has to upload a 90-second video clip to the company via the site anactionmovie.com explaining why they want to go to Borneo and what contribution they have made to the environment. No previous experience in film-making is required although people who actually care about the planet and have done something in the past to demonstrate that are preferred. It was mentioned that a place for one Australian, one American and one Chinese action hero in the film had been guaranteed. Submissions have been extended to 10 April 2011 due to popular demand. The final 10 recruits will be announced on 1st May 1 2011, and filming commencing 1st July 2011.

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The danger of orangutan extinction

The orangutan — or “man of the forest” in Malay — is Asia’s only great ape. It ranks among the world’s most endangered species, confined mostly to the forests of Sumatra and Borneo. For more than four decades, Orangutan have attracted scientists from all over the world, generating a wealth of information on the primate’s behavior, genetics and culture.

Unfortunately, such research has not been able to provide enough protection for orangutan from the many threats they are facing.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched a new national orangutan conservation plan in December 2007 on the sidelines of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Bali. The plan presents the first specific and enforceable agenda for protecting the nation’s disappearing orangutan and outlines a wide array of initiatives to bolster the wild population of orangutan.

The government has issued new regulations to help protect the orangutan from habitat destruction. But these measures have so far been insufficient. The success of the plan will depend on the ability to rally people from a wide range of institutions, including NGOs, local communities and government agencies, such as the Forestry Ministry, to have the same vision on orangutan conservation.

Orangutan have extremely slow reproductive cycles and need extensive home range to support their dietary needs. Hence, the slow reproductive cycle, coupled with a high mortality rate, can take a heavy toll on the orangutan population in the wild. Many experts believe that the orangutan population is already in decline and therefore maximal efforts should be channeled toward halting their demise.

There are several essential factors threatening the existence of orangutans: Habitat loss due to changes in land use, forest fires, illegal wildlife trade, and to some extent also because of human’s need for food.

How do these threats affect their population? Can orangutans survive under these circumstances? The fact that deforestation is rapidly accelerating, due in part to the increasing demand for palm oil, which has placed an even bigger threat on orangutan conservation.

Orangutan usually need about 900 to 4,500 hectares of forests in order to find food and to mate. Over the last several decades, reports from the field suggest that conflicts between humans and orangutan are increasing. When plantations encroach on orangutan habitats, the animals become confined and are forced to eat whatever is available. There have been records of orangutan eating oil palm and causing significant damage — hence the reason why orangutan are perceived as pests. Orangutan are expendable nuisances in the eyes of plantation holders.

Continue reading at: The danger of orangutan extinction
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Borneo Jungle Safari organises new route for expedition 2011

MIRI: Following the success of the 4×4 wheel drive expeditions to central ‘kelapang’ for the last two years, Borneo Jungle Safari (BJS) has extended the route with more exciting and challenging off-road obstacles and scenery.

For this year, the expedition is dubbed ‘1 Borneo 4×4 Wheel Drive Expedition 2011’.

Chairlady of the organising committee, Rona Sultan said the expedition, scheduled from May 29 until June 3, is the first of its kind ever to be organised by BJS.

“This expedition is fully supported by Ministry of Tourism and Heritage Sarawak, Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and Sarawak Tourism Board (STB),” she stated when chairing the organising committee meeting at BJS office in Centrepoint Commercial Centre on Sunday.

Rona added the objective of the expedition was to allow the participants to explore the diverse and wonders of the real and most exotic parts of Borneo through Sarawak, Brunei, Sabah and Kalimantan.

“This 1Borneo expedition would offer the participants extra ordinary exploration of the wild, and it is the journey itself that truly counts. Main highlights for such extreme sport are of course the Sarawak northern region potential rugged terrain,” she remarked.

The event is also designed to nurture the spirit of adventure, teamwork, and safari skills as well as promoting the local tribal unique culture and lifestyle.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo Jungle Safari organises new route for expedition 2011
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Feature Borneo Hotel: Promenade Hotel Tawau

Located at Kuhara, Promenade Hotel Tawau features business-class accommodation in the center of Tawau Division in Sabah. The hotel is the only 4-star business class hotel in Tawau. Besides being the tallest hotel in Sabah (standing at 16 storey high) and having the largest ballroom in the state (with a maximum seating capacity of 1,300 persons), Promenade Hotel Tawau also houses the biggest and only comprehensive gymnasium at its Leisure Centre on the 5th Floor. The hotel is located adjacent to Eastern Plaza Shopping Centre, the biggest shopping center in Tawau. The hotel, close to the town center, features rooms and suites with four-star amenities that cater to both leisure and business travelers. Guests staying here can enjoy great accessibility to places like Tawau Hill Park, Shan Sui Golf & Country Club, as well as world-class diving sites like Sipadan and Mabul Islands.

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Sabah’s history from 1946 to 1963 needs documentation

KOTA KINABALU: There is a need for more local historians to document what happened in Sabah from 1946 to 1963, according to local historian Professor Dr Danny Wong Tze Ken.

This was because no documentation was carried out during this period of 17 years, Wong said in his keynote address at the Sabah Society’s 50th anniversary dinner on Saturday night.

While there were documentations like the work of Tan Sri Herman Luping and the late Datuk James Ongkili to refer to, there was not much else because historians have not started working on this period, Wong said.

Therefore, more Sabahan historians needed to do research on Sabah’s history, especially about time after the World War II, Wong said in his address entitled “Recent Development in the study of Sabah’s history”.

He began with the colonial era and the Chartered Company days which to the locals was the beginning of social transformation from tradition to modernity.

“Many began to attend schools and those who received modern education moved on to occupy white-collared jobs. This is an important transformation that was suddenly taking place. So by the time the Japanese army came in 1942, a sizable number of locals have been educated and then formed the nucleus of a group of elite that would emerge after the war as an alternative to the traditional elite that was based on lineage and family,” he said.

According to Wong, the Japanese occupation ended the Chartered Company rule in Sabah. However, despite its importance, the knowledge of this period was very sketchy.

There were some publications on this period but still insufficient to provide a larger and clearer picture, he said, adding that the lack of information on the war was of course caused by the massive loss of lives that happened during the closing stage of the war.

“With the destruction, many individuals as well as collective memories were lost. Most of what we know today were information about what happened during the war collected from archives abroad to reconstruct the history of that period,” he said.

Wong also pointed out that the attention on the war had been drawn to the plight of the allied prisoners of war (POWs) who were interned in Sandakan and the Death March.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Land Below the Wind by Cruise

One of the joys of taking a cruise is stopping in exotic ports of call about which you know almost nothing. Such was the case when, during a recent cruise from Bali to Manila, I found myself deposited on the shores of Sandakan, a port city on the island of Borneo in the Malaysian state of Sabah, and couldn’t resist exploring.

Set amid lush tropical rainforests, these days Sandakan is most famous for its eco-tourism — there is an orangutan rehabilitation center, rainforest discovery center and Turtle Islands Park, all in or around the city. What I didn’t know before I spent a day exploring the city, however, is that it has a rich, fascinating colonial history that has left an indelible imprint.

By the end of the 19th century, Sandakan was one of the wealthiest towns in the region thanks to its timber. A group of British businessmen that had bought the land from the sultans of Brunei and Sulu established British North Borneo in 1881. Sandakan was named the capital in 1883, and, by the mid-1930s, the city was said to be home to the highest concentration of millionaires anywhere in the world.

Driving through the streets 80 years later, I found this rather hard to believe — many houses to the left and right of the main road seem neglected and run-down.

There are plenty of coastal fishing villages completely built on mangrove stilts, where one house can be home to three generations, crammed in one or two rooms.

“In earlier times, it was mostly fishermen and sea gypsies who lived in these villages,” said Ayrul, my tour guide. “They spent most of their time at sea. They believed in an old saying — the sea is for the living, while the land is for the dead. They only came to land to bury the dead.”

Nowadays, however, it is not only fishermen living in these quarters. The cheap accommodations have lured other townsfolk to settle there.

Sim Sim fishing village, which faces Sulu Sea, is a wild jumble of lodgings. There is electricity but no sewage system and no privacy whatsoever, it seems. The tiny houses’ walls are so thin that if someone watches television, their neighbor next door can follow the plot of the whole show without a single glance at the screen.

Simple eateries are scattered throughout the village, where the mostly Chinese inhabitants hunker down for a quick bowl of noodle soup or engrossing games of mahjong — a favorite local pastime, according to Ayrul.

The wealth of Sandakan vanished during World War II, when most of the city was destroyed in bombings.

But if one takes a closer look, there are still traces of a rich colonial past to be found throughout town, including many surprisingly well-preserved buildings.

St. Michael’s Anglican Church, first established in 1888, is one of the few buildings in Sandakan that survived destruction during the war. The roof was damaged, but the foundation stood firm during the bombings.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Land Below the Wind by Cruise
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AirAsia expected to keep word on KKIA Terminal 1

Kota Kinabalu: Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri hopes AirAsia will stick to the written decision conveyed to the Transport Ministry "that they will move their flight operations to the Terminal 1 at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).

He said the terminal, with the state-of-the-art facilities, could fulfil all the needs for commercial flight operations and cater to the needs of up to 14 million passengers.

Abdul Rahim said the transfer of AirAsia's operations to Terminal 1 would provide better flight connectivity to the passengers.

It could also avoid passengers from missing their flight and reduce the cost burden on the passengers in hiring taxis to go to Terminal 2 or being trapped in traffic jams while on transit flight, he said here, Saturday.

Furthermore, he said, all the design and facilities at Terminal 1 such as the aerobridge had been provided as required.

As such, Abdul Rahim said, there was no reason for AirAsia not to move to Terminal 1 which he believed would not adversely affect operations but would probably lead to greater efficiency.

Continue reading at: AirAsia expected to keep word on KKIA Terminal 1
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Cheaper overseas flights hurt domestic tourism

Kota Kinabalu: Cheaper popular overseas destinations are taking the shine away from domestic tourism, especially with more very low-cost travel packages.

State, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, said while this was good, it gives people a chance to travel to popular places at a very low cost, it also posed a challenge in the effort to attract more domestic tourists to Sabah.

"For example, even going to London nowadays only costs about RM199 and even RM99, I mean how to beat, because going to Tawau costs over RM300," he said.

"But I believe over time, people will look at the quality of travel.

We are talking about travelling within Malaysia, which I must admit has not reached the desired level," he told reporters after he officiated at the opening of a three-day Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) Fair 2011 at Suria Sabah Mall, here, Saturday.

Masidi also said the Ministry will be going on a rather aggressive tourism campaign to sell Sabah in Peninsular Malaysia.

"We are working with radio stations, we are talking to a few other agencies in KL with which we can work together to bring in more West Malaysians to Sabah for holidays," he said.

"I think what has not been communicated is the quality of products we have in Sabah. I think it is about our ability to tell them (West Malaysians) what we have to offer in Sabah," he added.

He said over the last year there has been a marginal increase in tourists from West Malaysia to Sabah, about 3 per cent.

Masidi, in his speech earlier, also mentioned that the Ministry wants to attract more tourists from southern China.

"We hope in the not too distant future, Malaysia Airlines or any other airline would assist in this effort by considering to provide a direct flight between Beijing and Kota Kinabalu, as well as to Shanghai," he said.

On travel tours to Japan being cancelled following the earthquake-tsunami disaster, Masidi said there have been requests made locally for rescheduling of tours to Japan.

Continue reading at: Cheaper overseas flights hurt domestic tourism
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kampong Ayer: A tale of two villages

By NYL

The identity, character and uniqueness of Bandar Seri Begawan are enshrined in the historical significance of its vintage buildings. In the case of Brunei's famed Kampong Ayer or Water Village, these vintage buildings are the wooden houses, built on stilts over the Brunei River.

Described by early European travellers as the 'Venice of the East', Kampong Ayer has 36 kilometres of walkways mainly supported by concrete columns decked with metre-wide timber piles.

Walking on the boardwalk after the joyous National Day celebration, the sights and sounds around me evoked a poignant feeling of yesteryear. I was heading back to Mile 1 Jalan Tutong where my car was parked but I was in no hurry. With the patriotic spirit still inside me, I lingered a while longer at the water village.

From the walkway that runs along west from the Yayasan Complex , I strolled to Kampong Tamoi Tengah, one of the more popular places for visitors in the water village.

There, one can get good views as far as the copper-domed Masjid Kampong Tamoi, an elegant mosque on the water's edge.

To promote Kampong Ayer as a tourist destination, houses have been converted into homestay concept lodgings for visitors, which would provide another source of income for the locals.

One of the residents who has been living there for more than 40 years, showed me around the village.

He recalled the incident when his house in Kg Pg Tajuddin Hitam was completely razed in a fire, but because he has too many fond memories of the place, he decided to buy another house just a stone's throw from his previous one.

From Kampong Tamoi Tengah, I continued my stroll along the wooden walkways to Kampong Bukit Salat.

I hung around the riverbank.

The tide was low with long stretches of exposed mudflats which attracted marshland birds lured by fish and mangrove swamp creatures.

Fiddler crab burrows abound here with many tiny crabs coming out of their hiding place in search of food. A shoal of tilapia fishes gulped in air at the surface, probably due to lack of oxygen of the water.

Rather less pleasant was the pollution in the water around the houses, all too apparent at low tide, and large number of migratory egrets and monkeys, scavenging for food.

The houses here are generally older than the ones in Kampong Tamoi Tengah though efforts have been made by the residents to brighten up the place.

A closer look reveals a state of neglect in the village infrastructure - dilapidated houses, rotting wooden walkways and stilt supports, irresponsible dumping of rubbish and remains of burnt houses.

To preserve Kampong Ayer for future generations, it is hoped that the relevant authorities will take immediate action to fix the sad state of matters in the water village especially in Kampong Bukit Salat. Otherwise, the nation's river-dwelling origins and the soul of Bandar Seri Begawan may disappear forever from our memories.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin Weekend
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Sabah Focusing On Potential Tourists From Southern China

KOTA KINABALU -- Sabah will embark on aggressive efforts to bring in tourists from Southern China, identified as the next potential market due to the booming economies of the cities there.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the potential high-end tourists or the more prosperous Chinese were centred in the regions of Shanghai, Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

"Shanghai is fast becoming the city of the world and of course everybody knows Hong Kong is the country's financial centre.

"If you look at economic development also, it is concentrated at Shenzhen," he said after launching the Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) Fair 2011 here today.

He said the Sabah Tourism Board had always conducted promotional activities with their partners including airline companies and tour agents at these destinations and would continue to do so.

Masidi said that although Beijing was also considered as another potential market, there were no direct flights connecting the city to Kota Kinabalu at present.

"So, when we talk about high-end tourists we also have to make sure connectivity. We can't spend so much effort promoting in a place when there is no air connectivity.

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Sarawak tourism has much to offer post-trauma Japan

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) said there will be tourism opportunity afforded to post-trauma Japan, said STB president Dato Rashid Khan.

He said Malaysians do sympathise with Japan when the nation faces challenge due to the current disaster and people must do something positive to alleviate their emotional distress. In fact, it is not true that tourism players could not help in such a scenario, he clarified.

One way STB can help is to prepare good tourism and homestay packages for the survivors in Japan so that they would come over to Sarawak to get peace of mind.

On top of that, the survivors can experience the tranquillity and serenity of Sarawak forest and rivers and its scenic beauty, said Rashid during a press conference to announce an educational, training, culture and research-related MOU at TUC Lakeview Campus in Subang, Selangor yesterday.

Rashid said: “Sometimes it would be good for people to be far away from the disaster site which they had experienced and seek peace of mind, tranquillity and serenity which Sarawak can offer to tourists.”

He said there is opportunity in any crisis but the question is whether tourism players can tap them with their creativity and innovation.

On the MOU, Rashid said TUC has made the right move to collaborate with STB because they would be setting a benchmark for other institutions to follow. But he said the terms for TUC would be exclusive and not be applicable to other institutions in the case if there were future collaborations with other institutions. The STB-TUC collaboration was to value-add students’ achievement and also the institution’s reputation and that both organisations were set to enjoy a win-win solution, he said.

According to the MOU, students would undergo internship with STB, especially during the Borneo Jazz Festival in Miri in May and Rainforest World Music Festival in July.

Rashid said in the last Borneo Jazz Festival (BJF) in Miri, it garnered around RM7 million tourists receipts (or worth of economic spin offs to the industry) and they are expecting a tourist receipts of around RM10 million during the next BJF in May.

Continue reading at: Sarawak tourism has much to offer post-trauma Japan
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Friday, March 18, 2011

MASwings to revive KK-Mulu sector

KUCHING: MASwings will revive the Kota Kinabalu-Mulu sector by introducing a direct non-stop Kota Kinabalu-Mulu-Kota Kinabalu service, effective March 27.

“With the increase of tourist arrival into Kota Kinabalu, after its introduction as Malaysia Airline’s Eastern Hub and the commencement of direct services from KK-Haneda and KK- Kaohsiung on 15 November 2010 as well as KK-Perth on 15 Jan 2011, we believe the route will be able to meet the demand of many tourist arrivals into Kota Kinabalu continuing their journey to Mulu” said head of commercials Azlan Awang Tanjong.

Over the past month, the traffic growth from Kota Kinabalu to Mulu via Miri has increased substantially.

The introduction of this direct service is a clear commitment to assist the Government of Sarawak to make Mulu more accessible and reachable to many tourists, he added.

MASwings has been active in promoting Sabah and Sarawak worldwide through our Malaysia Airlines offices and are working alongside both states’ tourism bodies.

In addition to that, MASwings has also organized various familiarization trips for several media bodies in Peninsular Malaysia to have a first hand stay and adventure experience in Mulu.

Prior to the introduction of the direct services, tourists have to travel from Kota Kinabalu to Miri before taking a connecting flight from Miri to Mulu, which took them almost one hour 50 minutes including transit time.

The direct service will take approximately 50 minutes and the reduction in time will allow tourists more time to explore Mulu to the fullest.

The non-stop flight from Kota Kinabalu to Mulu and vice versa will operate three times a week on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

The flight from Kota Kinabalu will depart at 12.30pm and arrive in Mulu at 1.20pm, whereas the flight from Mulu will depart at 1.45pm and arrive in Kota Kinabalu at 2.35pm.

In conjunction with the direct service, MASwings is offering special promotional fare which is on sale from now till March 21.

Continue reading at: MASwings to revive KK-Mulu sector
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Sabah Seaside Resort - Tempurung Lodge, Kuala Penyu

An interesting article (with lots of photos and even videos) written by David jr of MalaysiaAsia blog:

Seaside Resort in Sabah, called the Tempurung Lodge is one of the best kept secret or true hidden gem of Sabah Borneo. This amazing unique place is located just two and a half hours from the capitol, Kota Kinabalu and is situated deep inside the village of Kuala Penyu with no other resorts around. The rustic Tempurung Lodge is also perched up on a hillside with magnificent views of the South China Sea.

Tempurung Lodge is run by Yanti and Frankie for the last ten years and has been one of the best isolated and romantic places for many couples and families seeking a true beach side holiday minus the crowds. If you love seclusion with breath taking sunset views and an amazing empty beach, this is definitely the palace you should be at. For the record, Tempurung is Malay for a piece of a coconut.

Getting to Tempurug Lodge was pretty simple as Arleen offered to drive me there from Kota Kinabalu and on arrival here, I did not expect such a beautiful place hidden away in the middle of nowhere and absolutely private. After parking the car by the beach, the first thing that welcomed me was the authentic wooden staircase that lead up to the lodge and reception area.

I honestly swear that the natural surroundings here were stunning with blue skies and sea breeze blowing from every possible direction. The colours of the greens against the blues were out of this world as I walked up the wooden stairs to the reception of Tempurung Lodge.

At the reception, we were given a glass of chilled orange juice and a nice cold towel by the local Sabah girls who work there. There was only one other couple staying there on my visit so the entire place was just dominated by sounds of the waves breaking on the shore and the ambient nature sounds.

I was then ushered to my room where I had to continue back on the wooden walkway to the highest point where the main rooms were. A large wooden balcony sits up top before entering the hall and rooms. This balcony has some serious views and can easily hold 20-30 people. Imagine having your seaside wedding or private party here!

Continue reading (Incl. Pics & Videos) at: Sabah Seaside Resort - Tempurung Lodge, Kuala Penyu
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

The last of Sarawak's White Rajahs

The extraordinary story of the Victorian adventurer who subjugated a vast swathe of Borneo

Few things frightened the Dayak warriors of Borneo, who were infamous for the gruesome custom of head-hunting. But on a December day in 1912, a series of thunderous booms reverberated across the island’s misty swamps and sent them racing towards the shelter of their huts.

Many feared they were about to endure the wrath of the gods or at least a severe storm. But it was in fact a man-made cacophony, a 21-gun salute to announce the birth of a male heir to the throne of Sarawak, the small jungle kingdom on Borneo’s western coast.

The baby whose arrival was so celebrated that day was not, as might have been expected, one of the Dayaks, Malays or Chinese who made up Sarawak’s population of half a million.

Indeed, Anthony Brooke could hardly have been more British. Born thousands of miles away in England, he would later be educated at Eton and Oxford. Yet as far as the people of Sarawak were concerned, he was royalty.

Since 1841, his father’s family had taken it upon themselves to rule this remote region as their private empire. The White Rajahs, as they became known, had the power of life and death over their subjects, not to mention their own constabulary, flag and postage stamps.

Anthony, too, would go on to govern Sarawak. In fact, this bizarre and extraordinary dynasty — known as much for its eccentricity as for its benevolent rule — only came to an end this month when he died at the age of 98.

The family had come to power thanks to Anthony’s great-great-uncle James Brooke — a man so swashbucklingly adventurous that Errol Flynn once proposed to play him in a film about his life.

Born in Benares in 1803, he was the son of an English judge who worked for the East India Company.

As a young man he joined the Bengal Army, waging war against Burma as the British Empire sought to expand, but his dreams of glory ended abruptly when in 1825 he was shot in the most intimate part of the male anatomy.

During an understandably long convalescence, aided in true Empire fashion by daily cold baths, he began reading books about the Far East.

This later inspired him to lead the crew of a vast 142-ton sailing ship on a voyage to challenge Dutch control of southern Borneo.

His arrival in Sarawak in 1839 was timely. The region was controlled by the Sultan of neighbouring Brunei who was then facing a rag-tag uprising by local Malays.

He offered Brooke sovereignty over Sarawak if he could lead the Sultan’s army to victory against the rebels and the Englishman with a taste for lunatic danger quickly obliged.

As the newly-appointed Rajah, Brooke took charge of what amounted to 3,000 square miles of swamp, jungle and river, much of it populated by the Dayaks.

They marked important events in their lives by taking the heads of other people in the community. If a Dayak husband failed to present a human skull to his wife after the birth of a child then it was feared that the newborn would meet with illness or even death.

Likewise, no young Dayak warrior ever went courting without first donning an animal mask and skins and ambushing a fellow Dayak, often a woman or child from his own community.

He then made his intended a present of his victim’s skull.

Such acts were outlawed under the many new laws which James Brooke introduced to civilise Sarawak.

Continue reading at: The last of Sarawak's White Rajahs
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BIMP-EAGA Tourism Initiative To Capitalise On Borneo's WW2-Related Events

KUCHING -- A regional tourism initiative spearheaded by the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines-East Asean Economic Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) is expected to attract more tourists to Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan, especially for World War Two (WW2) commemorative events, beginning this year.

Sarawak Tourism and Heritage Ministry permanent secretary Datuk Ik Pahon said today the relevant agencies from the two states and Labuan would discuss such a collaboration next month to give tourists from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom more choice to attend WW2-related events through the Borneo Heritage Trail.

"It will be a Borneo circuit and I am confident that by this November, more friends from outside Sarawak whose parents may have also been involved and took part in the fighting in WW2, will be able to stay here longer and contribute towards the enrichment of our shared historical heritage," he said when opening the Wartime Heritage Exhibition 2011 at the Sarawak Arts Museum, here.

He said ongoing tourism promotions on wartime-related events and historical heritage sites, including the Heroes Monument in Kuching, Sandakan Memorial Park and Labuan War Cemetery, were fragmented.

Another site was the former prisoners-of-war campsite at the Batu Lintang College here, which houses a mini museum, and where overseas visitors, among them Australian groups, came to see the place where their forefathers were held captive during the war, he said.

Continue reading at: BIMP-EAGA Tourism Initiative To Capitalise On Borneo's WW2-Related Events
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Kota Kinabalu unveils Zero Kilometre landmark

KOTA KINABALU: The city unveiled another landmark yesterday in the form of a Zero Kilometre (0KM) plaque which is the first in the country, in front of the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) building.

The plaque bears an illustration of Mount Kinabalu and the Borneo Orchid, which is Kota Kinabalu’s official flower with a motif surrounding the design known as the Nantapuan, a traditional Murut pattern.

Made of bronze, it also includes the four cardinal points to help with directions.

The design of the plaque was the work of the Landscape Department of the City Hall and financed by the STB and City Hall.

The idea for the 0KM mark was suggested by the Sabah Institute of Surveyors Malaysia (ISM) in conjunction with its 50th anniversary.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman was represented by Minister of Tourism, Culture & Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun at the unveiling ceremony yesterday.

Musa commended the City Hall, STB and ISM for the collaboration and was happy to note another addition to the array of tourism products in Kota Kinabalu.

“It is important to make sure that all our services are of quality and we must from time to time, continue to improve them so that tourists are happy with their visit to the State and Kota Kinabalu,” he said in his speech read out by Masidi.

Continue reading (incl. Pic) at: Kota Kinabalu unveils Zero Kilometre landmark
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rare birds found at Imbak Canyon

KOTA KINABALU: Rarely sighted birds – the likes of the Red Naped and Scarlet rumped trogons, the White Browed sharma and the Oriental Bay owl – are among those captured and recorded by scientists participating in the 10-day Imbak Canyon Scientific Expedition.

The expedition took place between November 25 and December 5, last year.

One of the participants, Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) officer Titol Peter Malim, said that they had recorded all of the 71 birds said to be found at Imbak Canyon Conservation Area or ICCA.

However, he opined that the checklist of birds that could be found at ICCA was incomplete and more inputs were needed.

His argument is that Sabah has in its record 540 species of birds, thus signifying that there should be more.

He also said that there are but a few individuals in Sabah who are capable in identifying birds.

“In the (state) government, I can name only three people. One of them works at the Sabah Parks while two are attached with the Sabah Wildlife Department in Lok Kawi,” he said.

Due to this, there is a need to increase staff (government) capacity in bird survey, he said.

His survey area took place in Tongod, which is one of the biggest districts in Sabah.

Continue reading at: Rare birds found at Imbak Canyon
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Nominations for 4th Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Award open

KUCHING: The 4th Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Award (2009 to 2010) is now open for nominations.

Entries submitted are either by self nomination, related associations, organisations, agencies or submission by any members of the tourism industry.

Organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Heritage Sarawak biennially since 2003, the award is to express appreciation to individuals or organisations who contribute towards the development of the tourism sector in Sarawak.

“The gala night will be held on Oct 1 at the Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching (BCCK) where the guest of honour is expected to be our Chief Minister,” said Tourism and Heritage permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik during the official launch by the Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan yesterday.

He also said that the award is to recognise the achievement of tourism players as well as creating a culture of excellence, creativity and quality services.

Ik Pahon also said that the award is to acknowledge the role of the media, travel writers and photographers in the tourism sector who will be vying for the total prize money of RM40,000.

He further explained that the award will be divided into ten categories with six new sub-categories.

The first award said Ik Pahon will be the ‘Minister’s Award’ for creativity and innovation while the second category is the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Tourism Industry’ award -open to the private sector association.

The third category according to Ik Pahon is the ‘Outstanding Hotel and Accommodation Service providers’ which is further divided into the ‘Four and five-star’ category, ‘Two to three-star’, ‘Three to one-star and Orchid rate’, Lodging House (Bed and Breakfast) and Homestay.

The fourth award will be the ‘Outstanding Tour Operators (inbound)’ while the fifth is the ‘Outstanding Tourist Guide’ which is divided into ‘city guide’ and ‘nature guide’.

Continue reading at: Nominations for 4th Sarawak Hornbill Tourism Award open
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Hilton Kuching’s weekday buffet lunch promotion

KUCHING: Diners looking for a gratifying buffet lunch experience in a classy environment yet with affordable price, should head down to the Hilton Kuching for its ‘buffet lunch promotion’ on weekdays.

The buffet menu changes daily with a fusion of Asian and Western cuisines.

From the salad station, a fresh selection of greens with condiments and dressings provides a healthy start, whilst some of the light appetizers offered are poached fish platter with wasabi mango salsa, Cajun fish fillet platter, BBQ chicken salad with tomatoes, spicy local favourites such as ‘Begedil Ayam with Sambal Cili Hijau’, or ‘Kerabu Ayam with young mango’ and more.

For something heavier at the main dishes menu include Krean style braised beef with ‘Kim Chee’ and broccoli, chicken piccata with tomato relish, Hanoi style stir fried chicken with cauliflower along with other continental varieties.

At the Malay corner, diners can also look forward to delicacies such as the traditional Malay must-have dishes namely ‘ayam asam pedas’, ‘daging rendang’, ‘fish head curry with ladies finger’, ‘ayam goreng berempah’ and ‘gulai tulang daging’.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Hilton Kuching’s weekday buffet lunch promotion
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Urgent need to save Imbak Canyon, Sabah



Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia's last bastion of rich biodiversity - Imbak Canyon - needs to be conserved urgently for future generations.

Dr Waidi Sinun, Yayasan Sabah's Conservation and Environment Management Division Manager, said the Imbak Canyon probably represents the last opportunity for the State Government to conserve an area that is pristine, rich in biodiversity and unique in terms of geological and geomorphologic attributes.

With a total area of about 30,000ha including two ridge-top virgin jungle reserves, the canyon makes a significant contribution to the coverage of protected areas in Sabah.

"It is the last remaining contiguous area of unlogged lowland dipterocarp forest left in Sabah, a truly priceless heritage," he said at the Imbak Canyon Scientific Expedition Seminar at Promenade Hotel, Monday.

In order to manage such an area effectively, he said one of the first agenda is to conduct inventory and research on the biodiversity found therein.

The expedition from Nov 25 to Dec 5 last year has done just that, he said.

But the time the scientists spent in Imbak Canyon was simply inadequate, he said, adding that within five days they were there, they identified more than 50 plants with medicinal values, many of whom are used extensively by the locals to treat illnesses or common sickness.

"There are many things in there that are not found elsewhere in the State such as the diversity of medicinal plants," he said.

He said that there were also plants normally growing at 1,000m above sea level such as those in Mount Kinabalu and Crocker Range which were found growing at 600m above sea level in Imbak.

"That is why we have geologists and botanists to look at why this is soÉand if they can find out why, then Imbak will become more special than other areas," he said.

All this, he said, makes it even more crucial to conserve the flora and fauna-rich Imbak Canyon. Dr Waidi also said the expedition was very important because Imbak Canyon was only made into a conservation area in 2004.

Immediately after the rainforest there attained the conservation area tag, he said Yayasan Sabah took the initiative to engage Academy Sciences Malaysia (ASM) with the inking of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

"Historically we learn from what we did in Danum Valley in 1980.

Now we have the opportunity to do something in Imbak that would be very much flavoured by local scientists," he said.

The work in Imbak, he said, is not meant to compete with what is being carried out in Danum but merely as a cooperation to achieve the common goal.

Imbak, he said, is not only beautiful and diverse but more importantly, it also has the social element that Danum Valley does not have.

Mount Kuli where the scientists carried out their expedition has never been explored, he said.

"New species there have already been collected but many are still waiting to be identified."

Continue reading at: Urgent need to save Imbak Canyon, Sabah

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Yayasan Sabah (Sabah Foundation)
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28 new orchid species discovered in Imbak Canyon



KOTA KINABALU: A 10-day expedition to the Imbak Canyon, Sabah’s last untouched lowland rainforest has yielded 28 species of orchids that have never been recorded in the state.

Sabah Foundation group manager for conservation and environmental conservation Dr Waidi Sinun said researchers had also found 50 species of medicinal plants in the 30,000ha conservation area which is slightly larger than Penang island and located some 250km from the city.

He said this at a seminar on the 10-day expedition there which was opened by Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor here yesterday.

The expedition from Nov 26 to Dec 5 last year, involved more than 100 local researchers.

It was jointly organised by the Foundation along with ASM, Sabah Parks, the state Forestry Department, WWF Malaysia and two universities.

Dr Waidi said the Imbak Canyon would soon join Sabah’s other pristine conservation areas – the Danum Valley and Maliau Basin – as a research area for biodiversity.

He added that the foundation, which was responsible for managing the area, was planning to build a research centre and several satellite camps at Imbak Canyon.

Continue reading at: 28 new orchid species discovered in Imbak Canyon

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Yayasan Sabah (Sabah Foundation)
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A new reserve in Borneo raises hope for displaced orang utans

THEIR black eyes peer from the slats of wooden cages, hundreds of orang utans orphaned after their mothers were shot or hacked to death for straying out of Indonesia’s rapidly disappearing forests in search of food.

No one wants to get them back into the wild as much as Birute Mary Galdikas, who has devoted a lifetime to studying the great red apes, now on the verge of extinction.

And for the first time in years, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, thanks to a Hong Kong-based development company’s plans to protect a 91,000ha peatland forest along Tanjung Puting National Park’s eastern edge, in Kalimantan, Borneo.

“The problem has been finding a safe place to release them,” said the 64-year-old scientist. “Many are ready to go right now.”

A half-century ago, more than three-quarters of Indonesia, a sprawling archipelagic nation spanning the width of the United States, was blanketed in plush tropical rainforest. But in the rush to supply the world with pulp, paper and, more recently palm oil – used in everything from lipstick and soap to “clean-burning” fuel – half those trees have been cleared.

It is here, in scattered, largely degraded forests, that almost all the world’s 50,000 to 60,000 orang utans can be found. Another 1,500 live in a handful of crowded rehabilitation centres, many of them rescued after their mothers were killed.

Fadhil Hasan, the head of Indonesia’s palm oil association, denied plantation workers were intentionally killing orang utans to protect their crops from raids, saying villagers involved in the illegal wildlife trade pose the greatest threat to the apes.

“Sure, maybe it happens occasionally,” he said. “But the businessmen who run these plantations, and their workers, understand that these animals are protected.”

Young orphaned apes can’t be released directly into parks like Tanjung Puting – home to 6,000 orang utans – because of a 1995 decree that prohibits the release of ex-captives into forests with large wild populations, primarily over fears they’ll introduce diseases like tuberculosis.

But the small patches of trees that remain are inadequate for their breeding needs and massive appetites. In the wild, the giant apes spend almost all of their day looking for fruit, consuming up to 20% of their body mass.

“We manage, just barely, to give them what they need for adequate lives,” said Galdikas, as a dozen caretakers lift shaggy, young orang utans from their sleeping cages so they can spend much of the day frolicking in trees and the brush below. “The problem is that it’s just barely.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: A new reserve in Borneo raises hope for displaced orang utans
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Bukit Tengkorak, Semporna - Sabah's New Tourist Attraction


The development of the Bukit Tengkorak Archaeological Site Museum in Semporna has recently been completed.

According to Datuk Pounis Guntavid, Sabah Museum Department Director, the museum has been filled with artifacts which were found in the surrounding area over 3,000 years ago.

This volcanic rock cave located 500 feet above sea level is an important archaeological site in Malaysia that has high prehistoric value.

The preservation of this historical site is part of the National Heritage Department's RM4.2 million project which aims to boost the local tourism industry.

Other areas of interest to the Department include Mansuli in Lahad Datu and Tingkayu in Kunak.

Source: Sabah Tourism

NOTE: Photo Copyright to Semporna District Office, Sabah
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Nabalu Town: A gateway to the rest of Sabah

By Rahmat bin Haji Abdul Rahman

The town of Nabalu in Sabah, which is famous for being a central stop for travellers heading to Kundasang, Ranau, National Park or the east coast of Sabah, was established in the 1980s.

When making frequent trips to Sabah, it is wise to have a stop in Pekan Nabalu when on the way to the east coast.

The last two decades has seen many changes, especially in regard to economic and infrastructure developments on Mount Kinabalu.

When in KK, it would be best to venture out early, (around 7am) as the city becomes quite congested. The new town bus station situated in Inanam is about 10km from the city.

You could take a bus here, provided you make enquiries with the bus driver first, whether they go to Inanam. It is easier to take a taxi, but it may cost you a little bit more.

If you stay at a hotel that provides its own shuttle bus to the bus station, you can also use its services.

If you choose to pick a Mount Kinabalu climbing package from travel services, it is very likely that they will provide transportation.

Tourists get to meet the friendly people of the indigenous Dusun, Kadazan, Rungus and Lotud ethnic tribes.

Pekan Nabalu is well-known as a place for tourists interested in buying cheap souvenirs.

You can haggle as much as you want to but you need to learn tactics in regard to how you can bargain with the locals. If you purchase a lot, you can get a huge discount. In fact, suave customers will call it a 'steal'.

It makes one think of a mini yet well-organised market targeting both locals and more specifically, tourists from overseas.

Some of the souvenirs were genuinely crafted and weaved by the local ethnic tribes who live on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu.

There are also other items ranging from food and fruits to spices and handicrafts. Besides handicrafts, there are also stalls selling food and beverages.

There are spices and honey in bottles, as well as packets of local red and black rice packed by the locals, bearing no commercial labels.

Shifting cultivation covers most of the hills in the area and at Km 33, the roadside stalls of Pekan Nabalu are well stocked with local produce.

This is a regular tourist stop where good-quality handicrafts can be purchased as well as the deliciously nutty flavoured brown hill rice - a specialty of the area, mixed together with extra sweet pineapples.

The restaurants are clean and well-organised, even the wash room was cleaner than expected!

One of the young shop owners, a teenage girl treated us very nicely with discounts and free gifts!

It was also observed that the T-shirts purchased here were nowhere to be found in the city of Kota Kinabalu (not even at the famous Filipino Market or Sunday Market) and most importantly they were cheap.

Sitting amidst sheer tranquility and fresh air, the spick-and-span surroundings that characterise the town centre makes Nabalu the ideal stopover for local and foreign visitors who crave nothing but scenic nature.

The village is cradled in the mountains and agricultural activities abound in surrounding areas.

Tourists can handily stop at the handicraft stalls in Nabalu and buy fruits to bring back.

There are various types of craft sold in these outlets including key chains, bracelets, clothes, hats, traditional musical instruments, bags and local fruits such as durian type N24, mangosteen, rice and others.

Take nothing but photographs and fond memories, leave nothing but footprints and smiling faces.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
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