Monday, January 31, 2005

Tambunan Rafflesia Centre, Sabah

The centre located in Tambunan, is about 65km from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. It is an education centre for the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world. There are twelve species in the world of which four are found in Sabah. It is a rare destination to learn the unique biology of this parasitic flower, to hike in the cool mountain trail in search of the blooms and buds. It is a one in a lifetime experience to actually witness the bloom of a Rafflesia.

Click here for more tour information.

Rafflesia at Tambunan

Copyright © 2005

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Brunei's Kampong Ayer revival

Kampong Ayer, the world renowned unique water village of Brunei Darussalam, will soon have its past glory and socio-economic standing revived while its inhabitants are being assured of a much better quality of life in the days ahead.

Extensive plans in improving the status of this much-loved settlement are now underway and some of which were revealed during the 'Seminar Serantau Kampong Ayer' that opened yesterday in the Capital.

The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Paduka Awang Haji Adanan, opening the Seminar on the Water Village at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), said the government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam is always attentive and fully concerned over the facilities such as infrastructure and housing conditions in Kampong Ayer.

The three-day seminar, bearing the theme, 'Living Heritage: Challenges and Continuity' as a strategy to make Kampong Ayer a national heritage, is organised by the Academy of Brunei Studies, UBD whereby some 13 local as well as overseas speakers are among the 300-odd participants.

A committee on Kampong Ayer Redevelopment Plan was established to outline policies and direct the improvement of basic facilities and rearrangement of housing in a more organised manner, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs added.

This is to ensure a more comfortable and harmonious Kampong Ayer with safer living conditions and at the same time to preserve the traditional way of living with the principle of 'Kekitaan' or togetherness that exists within a village community, he continued.

Pehin Dato Paduka Awang Haji Adanan also expressed his concern on the impact on Kampong Ayer by factors such as the three major fire incidents there, and the introduction of the National Housing Scheme, contributing to a drastic decline of its residents from 35,000 to now 15,000.

He highlighted several issues of concern such as conservation, renovation and planning in the physical, social and cultural, economic, safety, cleanliness and communication aspects.

On safety, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs touched upon the need to tackle the problem of fires, incidences of infants drowning, and anti-social activities like crime, drug abuse and trafficking.

Serious thought should be given to sanitation in Kampong Ayer such as sewerage system and garbage disposal that can tarnish the area, pollute the waters as well as damage the water ecosystem, he said.

Highlighting casualties in boat accidents in Kg. Ayer, he also called on alternatives for a better communication system.

On the physical aspects, the water village's infrastructure needs to be fully or partially reviewed as well as basic amenities.

He also said social and cultural norms could be enhanced as well as cooperation in religious, community and all aspects of living in a nation.

As for the economic aspect, its unique identity should be maintained while Kg. Ayer adapts modern ways. Thus, the Deputy Minister hoped that the issues raised will be food for thought for both locals as well as international intellectuals and presenters taking part in the seminar, to discuss and formulate a positive resolution on Kampong Ayer.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

Saturday, January 29, 2005

RBA introduces advanced purchase fares

Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) is introducing new advanced purchase fares in an ongoing bid to offer better value and service to its customers.

Customers can take advantage of this offer by purchasing tickets at least two months prior to departure date. This initiative was introduced by the airline to encourage Brunei passengers to plan their travels early.

Among the return economy fares on offer are B$135 for Kota Kinabalu, B$380 for Jakarta, B$455 for Hong Kong, B$870 for Brisbane/Sydney and B$1,195 for London.

"We have noticed that customers tend to make last minute bookings and end up disappointed when they are unable to secure any seats," said Mr Chua Chin Hwa, RBA's Head of Sales. It is hoped that these new fares will motivate customers to purchase their tickets early, continued Mr Chua Chin Hwa.

Advanced purchase fares are only valid for departures from Bandar Seri Begawan commencing April 1 onwards. This new offer is subject to certain terms and conditions.

These fares can only be obtained by booking directly at Royal Brunei Airlines' office or through travel agents.

Courtesy of: Borneo Bulletin

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sipadan: No change in Govt stand

Kota Kinabalu: All the structures on Sipadan Island, except those used by the security personnel, must be removed by tour operators by end of this month, said State Secretary Datuk K. Y. Mustafa.

He said the tour operators would have to move their bases to either the nearby islands or in mainland Semporna since there is no change in the Government's stand on the matter.

Speaking to reporters after handing over contributions to the Malaysian Tsunami Disaster Fund at Wisma Innoprise in Likas here Wednesday, Mustafa said the State Government had forwarded the appeal from tour operators to the Federal Government but the "decision stays".

It was reported that the deadline for the operators to move out was on Dec 31 last year. However, it was learnt that the authorities had given them another three weeks until Jan 21 this year since the operators could not meet the deadline.

It was learnt that the Semporna District Council would be called in to demolish the structures if the operators concerned still fail to meet the deadline given by the authorities.

Nonetheless, Mustafa said none of the six tour operators was going against the Government's decision and that they were giving their full cooperation despite an earlier challenge in court by four operators.

"All of them are giving their full cooperation. Of course they do face problems (but) where it is practical we would address together," he said, adding that he believed the operators challenging the decision were being practical, just like the Government.

"It is for Sabah's interest and not so much for one (or two) companies," he said.

As decided, Sipadan Island would be under the Sabah Parks, while the security is under the Federal Government, he said, adding the Government and the security forces would continue to monitor the situation in Sipadan.

The decision for the six tour operators to vacate the island was made two years ago by the special joint Federal-State Committee co-chaired by the Chief Secretary and State Secretary, aimed at safeguarding Sipadan's pristine environment.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman was reported as saying that people can only visit the island, a world-class diving site, for day trips.

Sipadan Island shot into the limelight in 2000 for the wrong reasons when an Abu Sayyaf group stormed the island and kidnapped more than 20 foreigners and locals.

Since then, the Government had issued a directive to limit the number of people to 80 into the island daily. Malaysia's sovereignty over Sipadan Island was upheld by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 2002.

Meanwhile, to a question, Mustafa said so far he had not received any report on any outbreak of dengue fever in Sabah.

"We normally get the latest information and the relevant agencies such as the Health Department has taken steps to make inspections in areas such as Kinabatangan, but so far it is under control in the urban areas," he said.

Courtesy of: Daily Express

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Wild About Borneo

Here's an interesting article for your reading pleasure from Patrick McDonald courtesy of The Advertiser, a daily newspaper from Australia about Sarawak Malaysia Borneo in particular:

AT first, you hear only their calls. The rest of the jungle goes quiet in anticipation, adding to the air of suspense as deep bellows echo through the rainforest for kilometres. Like a scene from an old monster movie, treetops in the distance begin to buckle and sway.

Branches creak and groan under the weight of an unseen force crashing through the foliage.

And then you see them: just silhouettes against the leafy canopy to begin with. Trees the height of office buildings, but as slender as saplings, bend to catapult them forward as elongated, hairy orange arms reach out to grasp the next vine.

These are the orang-utans of Sarawak, and this daily ritual is part of their rehabilitation into the wild. It is also just the first of many incredible, close-up encounters with nature which await in the wilds of Borneo.

Click here for the full article

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Hotel Updates for Tsunami-Hit Region

For the convenience of those who are travelling to this region for leisure or for other purposes, here's an Asian Tsunami Hotel Update on the status and condition of the hotels/resorts in several tsunami-affected areas.

Information include which accommodations are closed due to the catastrophe, which ones are slightly damaged, and which ones are not affected at all. The update also provides information on which neighbouring areas that are literally untouched, such as the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as Brunei Darussalam, and Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.

We hope to update the info periodically.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Tips for Mulu Caves Leisure Visit

For the standard Mulu Caves leisure tours (either 2-day or 3-day), it is advisable for you to reach Mulu in the morning (latest just before midday) so that you have enough time to check in the hotel and unpack before starting your tour of 2 standard showcaves (usually Deer and Lang) on the first day.

For a 3D/2N or longer tour, if you can't make it to Mulu earlier, do ask the travel operator to fit in the visit to the 2 caves on day 3, that is, if your flight is after midday. But since Mulu is a real natural wonder, do make it a point to arrive early on day 1 and leave a bit later on the last day so that you can really enjoy Mulu, Sarawak to its fullest.

* Click Here for more info on Mulu Caves tour.

Copyright © 2005

Saturday, January 01, 2005

A New Year, A New Hope, A New Beginning

As we ushered in the New Year 2005, the images of 2004 are mostly of destruction and devastation. The continued unrest in Iraq, the unrelenting Al-Queda-led terrorist threats, the senseless killings at Beslan, Russia, and just a week ago, the worst natural disaster tragedy in modern history.

In retrospect, the Asian Quake and Tsunami catastrophe, which killed over 130,000 people and counting, should be seen on a positive note as some freak of nature sent down upon us by God as a wakeup call for mankind on the pointless need to destroy threaten and destroy one another. Isn't it enough that we are all living in a fragile world under the constant threat from the forces of nature?

What we have seen so far is that in the face of near annihilation caused by a nature destructive force, people from many nations regardless of race, religion and creed can come together and work as one to overcome destruction, grief, and suffering. Together, mankind work hand in hand to prevent any epidermic outbreak and further lost of innocent lives.

The Tsunami Tragedy had in effect put a stop to the decades long war in Sri Lanka between the government and the Tamil Tiger, wipe out mounting separatist conflicts in the Indonesian province of Aceh, and diffuse any rising religious tension in Southern Thailand. The disaster has in fact, brought us closer together.

As we try to make more sense out of this unprecedented tragedy, many may have blamed God for this unfortunate incident. But we only have ourselves to blame if we, the lucky ones who can celebrate the New Year with our loved ones in the comfort of our living room, did not do anything to help lessen, the plight of the Tsunami victims.

The least we can do is say a little prayer this New Year for the deaths, the dejected, the hungry, the injured, and the missing, or make some donations, no matter how small that may be.

In spite of everything, it is important that we share the view that this New Year brings a New Hope and hopefully, a New Begining to world peace, unity and stability. Together, we can (and must) bring about a positive change for mankind in 2005.

We at extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by the earthquake and tsunamis. The impact of this catastrophe is felt not just in the tsunami-affected nations but also around the globe. We are gratified that the world community is coming together to coordinate and assist those most desperately in need. We are sure many of you share our concerns for the fate of those still missing, the families of the victims, the homeless, the sick, and the complex humanitarian relief efforts that continues to unfold.

A very Blessed New Year to you and your family.

Best wishes,

The e-Team - Borneo Travel and Trip Advisor

Copyright © 2005