Sunday, March 01, 2015

Kuching Wetlands an eco-legacy for tourists too


KUCHING: The Kuching Wetlands National Park (KWNP) is gaining popularity especially among tourists, with an estimated four to five tourist boats visiting the area daily.

According to Pantai Damai assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, the 6,610-ha sanctuary located 15 km from the city centre is host to a variety of inhabitants such as crocodiles, Irrawaddy dolphins and proboscis monkeys which have been recorded in KWNP.

“The uniqueness of KWNP is an important tool as a marketing point to promote KWNP to the outside world,” said Dr Abdul Rahman.

He was speaking at the state-level World Wetlands Day at KWNP yesterday.

“Apart from being the habitat to various species, the wetlands also act as a natural sponge that traps and slowly release surface water, preventing floods,” he said.

Dr Abdul Rahman said the new generation, particularly youths, must be well informed on the importance of wetlands.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Visiting Sabah Tea Plantation and Facing My (Non Tea Related) Fears


The thoughts that go through your head when you are terrified of heights but doing something that might kill or cure you are overwhelming. When in Sabah, despite signs saying something like “just please don’t do this if you are afraid of heights, ok? OK?!”, I kept schtum and did a very high and very wobbly rainforest rope walk anyway. I have had a year of trying to conquer my fears (doing the worlds longest island to island zipline in Sabah was another one), and forced myself.

It started well. Until I put my foot on the narrow plank and realised just how wobbly the bridge was. Very very very wobbly, and I started to wobble mentally too. But I put both feet on and clutching the rope sides for dear life, I walked on. Someone got on behind me – SUPER WOBBLE – and I started to panic but I curtailed it and thought THIS IS OK! THIS IS OK! In a completely manic way. I reached the end of the first bridge. Just two more to go. Easy, right? Right.

The second bridge was fine. Ish. When I put my foot on the third bridge, I could see the end, and I thought, I have done it! But then I looked down. 30 metres into the rainforest. I noticed all of the whirring and squealing, every animal, insect and bird appearing to do their bit to add to my sense of complete and utter panic.

OH MY GOD. I imagined the bridge swirling with me on it, then me spinning to the ground. And then I caught hold of myself, and I walked, my heart pounding, my breath shallow but I did it. I bloody did it! And I am here to tell the tale. Fear faced, a little piece of my brain quietened for a bit. What next? We will see.

What to do when you have just terrified yourself to within an inch of your existence, what do you do next? Why, head to a Sabah Tea Plantation for lunch! Why not? Sabah Tea is a beautiful tea plantation nestled in the folds of Mount Kinabalu. The drive there is spectacular.

The clouds whirling around the mountain, said to be protected by the souls of the dead of Sabah. Locals, many of whom previously were animists (some still are), are very respectful of Mount Kinabalu and the jungle. They believe that the souls guarding the mountain and the area in general can trap you, make you lost and ensure that you die, if you don’t.

There is a lot of sad history here, it was witness to a brutal death march at the hands of the Japanese army at the end of World War 2 where 2,345 allied prisoners of war died. Incredibly, only 6 survived. The Sabah Tea Plantation shows a documentary about this in the room where they serve lunch, overlooking the rolling fields of tea, and Mount Kinabalu.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Borneo Jazz celebrate its 10th birthday


SARAWAK, Malaysia – Year 2015 marks the tenth anniversary of the Borneo Jazz Festival in Sarawak. The two-day exciting festival of Jazz music will be celebrated on Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9 in the Resort City of Miri.

The organizer, Sarawak Tourism Board proudly presents the best performers’ lineup promising the festival to be a hit celebratory note by bringing back favorite performers from the past years from different countries to celebrate a decade of Jazz by the sea.

The performing bands will cover a wide range of jazz genre from all over the world. From the local scene, “All The Best”, a five-piece ensemble with Miri-born Syafiee Obe Hairunie, who is also the conductor of the Kuching SONS Jazz Orchestra to lead the local challenge. It parades contemporary jazz with a twist of Malaysian flavor with added Latin rhythms.

Favorite international performers on stage this year will be one of the most on demand jazz pianists from the Spanish Blues scene, Lluis Coloma, boogie-woogie at its most inspired. Louis Coloma at the piano will dislodge all the keys with great big happy smile.

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band from the United States of America, sparkly exhilarating and featuring exuberant traditional brass band from the rich jazz traditions of New Orleans. The Dirty Dozen revolutionized the New Orleans brass band style by incorporating funk and bebop into the traditional New Orleans jazz style.

From Perth, Western Australia, Diamond Dave and The Doodaddies are a four-piece Chicago style Blues Band offering a solid selection of uplifting grooves covering swinging shuffles, soul, boogaloo, ‘cry in your beer’ blues and more.  The Doodaddies proves not only that the roots of the blues are strong and far reaching, but the future of the blues is bright.

Jump4Joy, the Swedish high energy entertainment with a strong New Orleans flavor brings their music kind of feel-good energetic toe-tapping sounds from the stage.

Mo’Blow from Berlin, Germany, is more towards energetic spicy groovy funk. After hearing Mo’ Blow you will think differently about their country of origin because Germany is not exactly known as the home of soul and funk jazz.

Other popular jazz band listed for this decade of celebration is The Nylons, a cappella jazz group from Canada. They are well known for their dazzling harmonies and slick stage performances.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Borneo Jazz celebrate its 10th birthday
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Sabah upbeat on medical tourism


KOTA KINABALU: Medical tourism is a growing market in Sabah with the potential to attract Chinese tourists as they are familiar with the culture and Chinese language here.

KPJ Sabah Specialist Hospital chief executive officer Mohd Azhar Abdullah said KPJ complemented the government’s effort to attract tourists here.

For instance, the central marketing staff at KPJ tagged along with government agencies or business groups on road shows overseas to promote Malaysia, he said.

“Sabah has great potential for people to holiday and recuperate from their health problems,” Mohd Azhar said, adding the medical tourism promotion efforts were mostly targeted at countries in this region, including the Middle East and China.

“Chinese tourists are a big potential market because they are used to our culture and a lot of our people speak Mandarin.

“We are looking at the Middle East also, the Arabs,” he said in an interview during the lion dance performance organized by the hospital in conjunction with Chinese New Year here yesterday.

He said the KPJ hospital was as good as hospitals overseas, providing quality healthcare services at affordable prices.

“We are comparable to other hospitals in the region, such as Singapore. Whatever they have in Singapore, we have it here,” Mohd Azhar said.

He disclosed that a fair number of doctors at KPJ Sabah Specialist Hospital are locals, while some who are not locals are married to locals, which enabled the hospital to understand the local setting.

Continue reading at: Sabah upbeat on medical tourism
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

20th Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari to be a grander affair


KAPIT: The 20th edition of the Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari on April 10-12 is expected to be a grander affair.

Kapit Resident Fedrick John George said for the men’s open category, the top six cash prizes are RM3,000, RM2,500, RM1,500, RM800, RM700 and RM600 respectively, while those who come in seventh to 10th will receive RM500 each.

For the men’s closed, freestyle, women’s closed and paddle boat categories, the top six cash prizes are RM2,000, RM1,500, RM1,000, RM700, RM600 and RM500 respectively, while those who come in seventh to 10th will receive RM400 each.

The prize for the best decorated raft will be decided later.

“This year the first leg of the Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari is from Rumah Alan, Sungai Sekeroh Oyan, Mujong on April 11 and on the second day, the flag-off is from Rumah Weng, Nanga Sempurau, Sungai Mujong, Baleh River to the Kapit express passenger terminal,” he said during a recent meeting on the race here.

Side events planned include the Kapit Fest, mini regatta, traditional games, exhibition booths and the sale of handicrafts, as well as mountain bike challenge and big bike show.

The mini regatta under the Kapit Division Power Boat Association will involve 18hp tunnel boats, 30hp tunnel boats and 40hp tunnel boats.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: 20th Baleh-Kapit Raft Safari to be a grander affair
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