Friday, November 28, 2014

Borneo to be wild in the Sarawak jungle


Heading into the steamy rainforests of Sarawak is less about getting away from it all than letting it all sink in.

The Italian honeymooners were subdued the morning after the rice wine, after their snores rose all night over the rough wood partition separating them from my companion and me.

Our tattooed Iban hosts had poured homemade tuak from plastic water bottles, as a full moon rose to bathe the jungle in white light, inspiring an insect and frog orchestra. As she’d chug-a-lugged with abandon, I’d grown to like the young woman I’d dubbed the Italian princess, with her straight back, painted nails and chic turban hiding her hair, while mine hung wet and stringy in the humidity.

But I was happy to wave the pair goodbye as they headed off. A fierce thunderstorm had made the brown river surge and swirl and I feared they wouldn’t be able to leave. However, their two-man longboat crew and guide were undaunted by the macho river, which had turned to surf and was hauling giant fallen branches about as if they were matchsticks. Soon, the only other tourists on our stretch of river in deepest Borneo were gone.

My companion and I now had Lubok Kasai Lodge to ourselves. It was a hand-hewn house on stilts with furry bark doors, bamboo slat ventilators and hard rain drumming on a tin roof. No electricity. The only calls, those of nature. To answer these, we would walk gingerly across a raised wet wooden walkway to proud upright toilets, transported here by longboat to cater to Western custom. Beyond that, we were summoned regularly to meals at a separate kitchen and dining area, where the Iban couple showed as much mastery in cooking as they had in steering us in their longboat upriver.

My cunning plan had worked. Holidaying in the crowded northern hemisphere high season, we’d hoped a remote journey in the Malaysian state of Sarawak would yield peace and isolation.

The idea was to find somewhere to purge the phone-checking, list-ticking, diary-flooding mouse wheel our urban lives had become. Somewhere to have adventures and read and sleep and think. Somewhere mind-numbingly hot.

The once-were-headhunters of Borneo obligingly welcomed us into their territory. Malaysian marketing creatives devising sales pitches to tourists like to stress the Ibans’ gory past. Some long houses still display shrunken heads. We shivered over a grey cluster of shrivelled heads dangling from rafters at the Sarawak Cultural Village just outside the state capital, Kuching.

But most of the heads were buried in 1926 by decree of one of the “White Rajahs” from Britain’s Brooke family, which ruled Sarawak for more than a century.

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Labuan marine park dept continues its turtle conservation efforts


LABUAN: A total of 5,628 sea baby turtles were released into the wild, off Labuan waters since 2011, said Department of Malaysia Marine Park Labuan director Anuar Deraman.

The number was of the 7,381 eggs collected mostly in Kuraman Island, one of the three marine parks in Labuan.

“The success in the turtle conservation and protection was after the gazetting of three marine parks, Kuraman, Rusukan Besar and Rusukan Kecil and in collaboration with Petronas Cari Gali Sabah,” he said here yesterday.

He said the marine parks had become the nesting sites for two endangered species of turtles, namely hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys Imbricata) and green turtle (Chelonia Mydas).

To help avoid further extinction of the species, he said the department had developed a turtle hatchling site in Rusukan Besar Island.

Anuar said Kuraman Island had recorded the most number of turtle landing so far this year with ten nests found on the island, while Rusukan Kecil and Rusukan Besar had five and two nests respectively.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bamboo Festival 2014: Native music deserves recognition

 
TAMPARULI: Native music deserves greater recognition as it is an integral part of Sabah’s priceless cultural heritage, said Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

“Traditional music, including the various songs and dances has helped bring people together and forms a vital part of way of life especially among Sabah’s diverse ethnic communities,” he said in his speech at the Bamboo Festival 2014 here yesterday.

The text of his speech was delivered by Kiulu Assemblyman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai who is also Sabah Tourism Board chairman.

He also pointed out that the promotion of native music is crucial to ensure its survival and preservation for the future generations.

Masidi noted that Sabah native music has a distinctive, unique sound which has gained international recognition through various cultural shows.

“It is vital that we give full support to the endeavours in preserving and developing the traditional music,” he said, stressing the need to teach and inspire the young people to play, compose and perform traditional music.

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Miri Film Tourism Association to make Miri a premier film destination


MIRI: Assistant Minister of Communication Datuk Lee Kim Shin called for integrated efforts from all sectors to help make Miri City a premier film destination in the region or at least in Malaysia.

He said the newly set up Miri Film Tourism Association (MFTA) could take the lead in promoting Miri to film makers in and outside Malaysia.

“Film is one of the best ways to promote any destination to attract more people to come. If you follow the Korean movies for example, seeing the beautiful places there through films, could attract people to visit Korea.

In Miri, we have many scenic and beautiful places to visit and also potential spots to make films or movies. Thus concerted efforts including from non-governmental organisations, political parties or business sectors could work closely with the government in developing Miri and make it attractive for the development of the film industry,” he said at the Miri Film Tourism Dinner Show on Tuesday night.

Also present were State Assemblymen for Piasau and Pujut respectively, Alan Ling and Fong Pau Teck, Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Piasau chairman Adam Yii, patron of the Miri Film Tourism Association’s (MFTA) Datuk Abbas Sempurai, the Association’s president and secretary general, Patrick Jay Jay and Beeny Zakariah as well as presidents of various non-governmental organisations including Srimurniyati Cranfield (Miri Petroleum Ladies Association or PWPM).

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AirAsia's relocation to KKIA Terminal One depends on several issues


PENAMPANG: AirAsia’s final decision on whether to relocate operations to the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) Terminal One will depend on several issues that need to be ironed out first.

According to AirAsia Berhad CEO Aireen Omar, there are a few issues that the airline needs to settle among all quarters involved.

“I think when the issues are all ironed out (and) I believe they can be ironed out, we will be more than happy to facilitate,” she said when met at the AirAsia-QPR Coaching Clinic Tour 2014 at SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin here yesterday.

Aireen added: “We will look into what’s best for the whole operation of AirAsia and will it make sense for the whole of the state of Sabah and for our traffic volume. We want to be able to get that right traffic volume in and this is something that we need to look into and we need to see what is best to facilitate that (what is) the best possible way for Sabah and its tourism industry,” she said.

She said this when asked if AirAsia would be relocating its operations to KKIA Terminal One come January 1 next year.

The Federal Government has proposed for AirAsia to operate from Terminal One as it was part of its plan to convert Terminal Two into a cargo terminal.

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