Friday, December 22, 2017

Original Travel: Your Child's First Expedition - Borneo

Once your children have reached the slightly scary 'tweenage' years of 9-12 years old, you can start veering toward the ever more adventurous holidays, for instance, their first expedition. 

We think that Malaysian Borneo provides adventure-a-plenty for little explorers; this is the land of wild orangutans, pygmy elephants, butterflies the size of dinner plates and ancient rainforest that is even older than Dad (yes, THAT old).

We can arrange private nature guides - essential to ensure that any trekking is perfectly suited to little legs - and be sure to build in some beach time to unwind after all that jungle excitement.

Plus, the kids' well-used wildlife checklists will provide some serious braggability at next term's show and tell...

Canopy Capers

Nippers with a head for heights will love exploring the canopy walkway in the heart of the Danum Valley.

The series of (very sturdy) bridges and platforms are suspended 100ft up, at their highest points, and look our over the 130 million year old jungle canopy.


Commemorate the year end with a feast at Sabah Hotel, Sandakan

SANDAKAN: Sabah Hotel has “cooked up” some promotional line ups during this festive season at Plantation CafĂ©.

“What better way to welcome the Yuletide season, bid farewell to 2017 and usher in the New Year than a beautiful feast with loved ones at Sabah Hotel,” Director of Sales Nur Idayu Bujang disclosed to New Sabah Times on Thursday.

“Our promotions includes Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner and Christmas Buffet Dinner which features mouth watering selection of Charcoal Grilled Whole Lamb, Roasted Christmas Turkey, Beef Wellington, Baked Whole Salmon, Smoked Salmon and Stalls,” she added.

This is available on both evenings from 6.30pm to 10pm at RM 108 nett per Adult, special discounts for Senior Citizen (60 years and above) and Child (5- 12 years old) at 25 per cent and 45 per cent respectively. Santa and Santarina will make a special appearance to bring candies and joy.

Christmas goodies including Ginger Bread Cookies, Christmas Cakes, Puddings, an assortment of Pies and Chocolate selections are now available for purchase at lobby lounge until 31 Dec 2017. 

Avoid the hassle of preparing for roast items and place an order of your choice – Roasted Christmas Turkey at RM 498 nett per Bird and Succulent Roast Leg of Lamb at RM 398 nett per Leg, Nur Idayu said.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Critical Wildlife Corridor in Borneo Secures Safe Passage for Pygmy Elephants

Rainforest Trust and its local partner in Borneo, HUTAN, announced a critical land purchase at the juncture of the Kinabatangan River and a tributary that is a major pinch-point for migrating Pygmy Elephants in Sabah.

“This small but strategic property safeguards a major pinch-point for migrating Pygmy Elephants in Sabah,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman.

“This property is one of the most important river crossing points between two protected areas and was at risk of being converted to an oil palm plantation, which would have greatly hindered the passage of over 100 Critically Endangered Bornean Pygmy Elephants.

In fact, in 2016 I had the pleasure of witnessing a family of Pygmy Elephants crossing from this very property that was for sale.”

In an effort to provide a connected landscape for the region’s species, Rainforest Trust’s local partner is working to protect the Kinabatangan Corridor, which links wildlife reserves and provides orangutans and elephants with safe passage in one of Malaysia’s most beautiful tropical rainforests.

This land within the corridor was sought by the oil palm industry, making its protection all the more critical.


Batik Air to fly direct from Jakarta to Kota Kinabalu

KOTA KINABALU: Batik Air will start flying direct from Jakarta Soekarno – Hatta International Airport (CGK) to Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI) twice a week following its successful inaugural flight yestrday.

Kota Kinabalu was chosen as its new destination as part of the plan to expand its international network.

Early this month, Batik Air flew to two new Indonesian destinations, Silangit in North Sumatra and Labuan Bajo on the Island of Flores in East Tenggara.

Managing director of Malaysia Airports, Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, said the new flight route would benefit both countries well.

“We are happy to see yet another airline adding Kota Kinabalu as their destination after the consolidation of operations under one terminal back in 2015.

“Based on our records, total passenger traffic movements in BKI have experienced good growth registering 7.3 million from January to November 2017, increasing by 11.2% over the same period last year.

“In fact, international passenger traffic movements have seen even more robust growth. During the same period, BKI registered 2.3 million international passenger traffic movements, an increase of 22.1% from last year.

“We are glad to see this increase, especially after our pledge in the last two years to further support the development of tourism in Sabah by intensifying efforts to promote Sabah as a destination,” said Badlisham.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Lite Backpacker: How to Dive in Borneo on a Budget

Heading to Malaysia and want to do something adventurous? I suggest going for a dive in Borneo, in particular the island of Mabul. The diving in Borneo is spectacular, the water is warm and clear, the wildlife is plentiful and the people are friendly.

If you are a dive enthusiast or just a lover of all things in the ocean then I can’t recommend Borneo enough! It was an amazing experience and one of my all time favourite places to dive, but there are a few things I wish I had thought/known to ask before I left. Hopefully this post can help you plan your own Borneo dive adventure.

Where did I dive in Borneo?

I stayed on the island of Mabul which is off the coast of Semporna and is where most people stay when they dive the world famous Sipidan reef. Unfortunately, because I didn’t get my act together quickly enough, I wasn’t able to dive Sipidan, but the dive spots around Mabul were amazing in my opinion (though obviously I cant compare them to Sipidan).

Is it safe to dive in Borneo?

First things first, never take chances with your safety. It isn’t worth it. There is a travel warning on most of the dive areas in Borneo, in particular Sipidan, due to pirates from the Philippines. I strongly suggest doing your own research to work out if you are comfortable traveling and diving in the area.

At first I was concerned about how many people said they weren’t going to go due to the travel warning, but the more I dug, the more I discovered that there was still a large volume of tourists visiting the area with no harm coming to them. Doing the percentages, I would be safer diving in Borneo than I would be walking the streets in London or New York.

While there, I felt nothing but safe. I can’t imagine how a pirate would be able to kidnap you. I stayed on the island of Mabul which is the launch pad for Sipidan and there was always a Malaysian navy boat in sight.

Not to mention that most of the dive sites were within eyesight of the island, which is densely populated, therefore any pirates would be seen approaching from a long way off. I had zero worries for my safety from pirates… hurricanes maybe, pirates none.

You need to make your own judgement by doing some research, but if you were to meet me on the road and ask for my opinion, I would say go for it.