Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sarawak Rainforest World Music Festival to feature tai chi for wellness


KUCHING: The upcoming Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) from July 14-16 will feature tai chi sessions as part of its wellness programme.

In a statement yesterday, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) said the sessions will be hosted by the Sarawak Shenlong Tai-Chi Chuan Society led by instructor Lai Cho Sin.

Open to all ages and any level of physical fitness, the tai chi sessions will be held in the mornings of the three-day festival at the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) festival ground.

Tai chi is a mind-body exercise classified as a martial art, with principles of relaxation that can be applied in daily life.

Thanks to its low-impact and slow movements, tai chi is not taxing on the body.

The Sarawak Shenlong Tai-Chi Chuan Society was established in 1988 under master Wu Kuo-Chung.

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BeyondTheOffice: Mt. Kinabalu, You May Have Won the Battle, But If I Were Fitter, I Could Maybe Win the War


Mount Kinabalu

At 2am this morning the sky was clear, the stars were out and it seemed almost ashame to let a mountain with a crying problem defeat me.

So, with the help of a dry pair of pants (courtesy of our guide) and borrowed plastic bags to cover my socks in an attempt to keep my feet dry, I joined our group and trekked toward the summit.

We hiked in the dark for three hours, the ultimate sneak attack, somehow hoping that the mountain didn’t notice 105 headlamps pointed her way, or a 210 feet clamering about on what I can only assume was her chest cavity.

Miraculously, after pouring her heart out yesterday, she was feeling in a generous mood and rewarded our climb with ridiculously gorgeous views – she let every one of us trample on her rocks, pull on the ropes whose lines were drilled into her, and then scramble up her head to take pictures.

Incidentally, this was not a quick invasion – half way through the ropes bit, I thought my arms would give out, and by the time we got to the peak, we all needed to stop every five rocks. The invasion was more the “let’s plod along and see how we go” variety.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

BeyondTheOffice: A Message to Mt Kinabalu, Regarding a Truly Terrible Hike


Dear Mt. Kinabalu,

You may be the highest peak in South East Asia and maybe you’re used to hearing people say how beautiful you are, and how your views are stunning – but sometimes you need to hear from the people who you beat down, whose will power you took so easily, as though it were a muffin from a buffet table.

I’m sure on a normal day, hiking the 6km (as the crow flies) up to the lodge would be doable, and beautiful. It would be a day filled with clouds, giant trees, sunshine and sweaty people.

But, this was not a normal day – today you decided to pour out rain as though this were a rainforest plagued with a drought and you had one day to fix the problem.

Today was the day you made me question my faith in dry bags and anything sold as “water proof”.

Today was a day that would have had weathermen named “Storm” out in giant yellow ponchos to report on the extraordinary amount of rain and interview the 105 climbers on whether (ha) the rain was a factor in them being cold: “do you think you would be this cold if it werent raining nonstop for five hours?”

And then say, “now, back to the studio, where it’s dry as a hay stack in summer.”

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Sarawak - Always a welcoming state


THREE months ago, Eunice Sandi-Moyo led a delegation comprising members of the Zimbabwean industry and tourism players from the province of Bulawoyo to Malaysia to explore potential business collaborations.

The provincial affairs minister, together with her entourage, made a pit stop in Sarawak to search for an “indigenous set-up of cultural tourism” module, which perhaps, could be applied in Bulawayo, which is the second largest city in Zimbabwe.

Sandi-Moyo’s group did not know what to expect when they arrived at Kuching International Airport as the trip was their first to the Land of the Hornbills.

“All I see are wonders, including the warmth of the people here,” she said at a dinner hosted by the state government in conjunction with her visit on March 17.

All this while, she had only heard about and adored the greenery of the forests and richness of Sarawak’s biodiversity from advertisements on television and in magazines.

Her appreciation of natural resources was understandable as Bulawoyo is also the gateway to Matobo National Park — a 44,500ha reserve housing the Matobo Hills rock formations and stone age cave art, which were recognised as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Site in 2003.

She also spoke on the richness of the diverse cultures in Sarawak, which she concluded after the group’s visit to the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong and a handicraft centre in Petra Jaya.

“What is great about your state is you keep welcoming. There is so much that I want to say.

“We are so amazed that we want to be the ambassador to those who have not visited the state before,” said Sandi-Moyo in calling for collaborations between Sarawak and Bulawoyo to promote tourism in both places.

Sandi-Moyo’s views on Sarawak had been expressed by many international and local figures, who were impressed with the state’s natural treasures and its racial integration among people from diverse cultures.

Among them was 1Malaysia Foundation trustee Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who acknowledged that the integration of various ethnic groups had helped to develop the state in many sectors, including tourism.

“Apart from Sabah, Sarawak is a good example of what the people can do to bring about greater integration and unity in helping to promote moderation.”

Lee said this was among the reasons that compelled the foundation to declare Kuching the first “City of Unity” in the country.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Sarawak - Always a welcoming state
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Only 5 pct flew international from Kuching International Airport last year


KUCHING: Only 5 per cent of passengers using Kuching International Airport (KIA) last year flew from the airport to an international destination.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad Kuching senior manager Mohd Nadzim Hashim said the other over 4.5 million passengers travelled from KIA to a destination within Malaysia.

As such, he explained the airport had difficulty getting operators to run stalls at the international departure hall.

“I can understand the frustration of these international travellers once they are inside the holding room, so much so when they are looking through the glass wall, noticing all the activities occurring at the domestic departure hall,” he said during a tour of KIA for The Borneo Post yesterday.

He was commenting on complaints that international flight passengers were not allowed access to many shops, eateries, and toilets available to domestic passengers.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

BareFaceFettle: North Borneo Sunset Dinner Cruise in Sabah


North Borneo Cruises offer the first of its kind dining experience onboard a cruise ship that takes you on a scenic route along Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park islands and KK City Waterfront.

For those planning a trip there and not sure what to pack in your itinerary, believe us, this is a MUST-DO!

If you have been to Sabah and not heard of North Borneo Cruises, allow us to tease you with these:

* Sumptuous buffet spread (need we say more?)

We love the wide variety of international buffet spread available onboard.

Besides the yummy local delicacies, there is a great selection of salad and protein picks for the health conscious.

Thumbs up for the satisfyingly appetizing dinner!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

AngeeTheDiva: 5 Things I Did in Kota Kinabalu


Kota Kinabalu…what can I say? 

It is quite an interesting place…

It reminds me a lot of Honolulu, just a lot smaller. 

It is a city with traffic and trash and all that, but there are hoards of tourists and it has that laid back vacation all the time feeling.

Honestly, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. 

I was there for a quick trip, so I missed a lot, but, I’m happy to share 5 Things I Did in Kota Kinabalu.


1. Mari Mari Cultural Village.

Sabah is home to more than 40 different tribes, all with different language, culture, and history. 

At the Mari Mari Cultural Village, you get to experience 5 of the largest tribes. 

The village features traditional houses, food, crafts, costumes, and dance of each tribe. 

You walk around the village with a guide who explains a bit about each tribe and answers questions. 

You also get to taste something in each place, like raw honey, rice wine, and some sweet treats.

At the end of the tour, there’s a dance performance and a buffet style lunch. 

It’s definitely a must see if you visit Kota Kinabalu. 

The village is about 45 minutes from the city center, so you will need your own transportation or book with a tour company.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: AngeeTheDiva: 5 Things I Did in Kota Kinabalu
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Sarawak in negotiations with AirAsia on proposed LCCT


KUCHING: The state government is in negotiations with AirAsia Berhad to pave the way for the construction of a Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in the city.

Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the negotiations “are now in the process” but he cannot disclose any information yet.

“We are now in the process of negotiations with AirAsia,” he said when asked if there was a plan to build an LCCT here when met by reporters after attending a function at SK Rakyat in Satok yesterday.

Abang Johari said the site for the proposed LCCT had “more or less” been identified but it was “not confirmed yet”.

Asked whether he could disclose the proposed site, he replied: “Near the airport (Kuching International Airport – KIA) lah.”

On June 8, Minister of Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said he was in favour of having an LCCT if the proposed facility could facilitate the growth of tourism industry in the state.

“If a separate LCCT building could expedite and facilitate the growth of tourism industry in Sarawak, of course it would be good to have it,” he said.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

BeneathTheMeadow: Kota Kinabalu ¦ Mantanani Island


This is my second time to Kota Kinabalu (a.k.a. Sabah), most of my trips are circling around Southeast Asia and the most common thing you can find there are tropical islands.

Kota Kinabalu is a developing city, hence the living pace is really slow and chill, which is a perfect place for vacation.

The Mantanani Island we went to is quite different from all the other beaches I have been to before, fewer people and watersports, more silence and relaxation.

The blue sky and the clear water is a perfect match, surely is an eye candy.

The water is very see-through but not as many fishes compared to beaches in Phuket.

In Phuket, you can see fishes when there is water, they will come in groups to bite you, thinking you as food.

However, I am a snorkeling-lover so we took a speedboat away from the island to explore the sea anyway.

There are many fishes once the sea level reaches around 10m and they are all very fascinating.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: BeneathTheMeadow: Kota Kinabalu ¦ Mantanani Island
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Trans Borneo expedition to cover three countries


KOTA KINABALU: Trans Borneo, the ‘mother’ of all 4×4 events in Borneo is back and this year, it will be held from August 13 to 27.

Organised by North Borneo Explorer Sdn Bhd, Trans Borneo 2017 which carries the theme ‘Into the Heart of Borneo (The last frontier)’ will see participants travelling all three countries on the island of Borneo.

Organising chairman Anuar Ghani told a press conference that the road adventure will start from Sabah, crossing into Kalimantan Utara and Kalimantan Timur before moving westwards across one of the last frontiers in Borneo, from Malinau to Ba’kelalan in Sarawak.

The objectives of the event includes promoting travel and tourism within the three countries’ region in Borneo especially to promote the potential adventure tourism in east Kalimantan to international audience.

“We also aim to strengthen relationshop between the three countries as well as among the BIMP-Eaga members,” he said adding that the event will also challenge men and machine against the great outdoors while enjoying adventure.

According to him Trans Borneo 2017 is also promoting culture, history, adventure, agriculture and nature in Borneo Island.

“We will have among us, a media team from Australia who will be filming the event for a television outdoor series. They are thrilled to know that the route we will be taking is the Death March trail. So they will incorporate the historical part of the event into their program.

“They will also be visiting the war memorials in Kundasang, Sabah Tea and Sandakan where there will be a ceremony to commemorate the death march,” Anuar said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Trans Borneo expedition to cover three countries
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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sarawak government keen to promote Rainforest Fringe Festival


KUCHING: The state government is keen to add to Sarawak’s calendar of tourism events to make Sarawak a more lively place.

Speaking at a press conference in his office yesterday, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah hoped for more such annual events in Sarawak which is rich in arts, culture and nature.

Presently Sarawak’s annual Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) attracts tourists from around the world, but the government is promoting a new festival that can do the same, namely the Rainforest Fringe Festival (RFF) to be held at the The Old Court House, Sarawak Tourism Complex.

“RWMF has proved to be a success and I think it’s time for us to introduce another festival. This year the RFF will be held in the heart of Kuching city,” he added.

According to Karim, RWMF is a music festival while RFF promotes and celebrates Sarawak arts and culture, artists and artistes.

He believes the inaugural RFF will be a platform for Sarawakian artists and artistes to showcase their talent.

“RFF will reflect Sarawak’s rich identity when it is held here (in Kuching) next month from July 7 to 16. Those interested in arts and culture should take time to check out this festival,” he said.

He believes Sarawakians have a lot to offer in terms of arts and culture, and the state government welcomes anyone wishing to promote them.

The highlights of the RFF next month include an evening concert that features an eclectic mix of Sarawak’s local talent as well as an array of homegrown artists to present their work at The Old Court House, Sarawak Tourism Complex.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Norina Summers Journey: Best of Borneo


We traveled Kota Kinabalu, Gunung Mulu national park and Kuching.

With the “Best of Borneo” I want to tell you why I liked Kuching and its surrounding best!

You find all the attractions linked to homepages that will help you to plan your trip.

Kuching

We stayed in Le Nomade Hostel & Cafe and we can highly recommend it!

The accommodation is very cozy and nice, quiet but central.

You can walk to Bishop’s gate and Carpenter road.

There’s great street art to be found around the corner.

Waterfont and shopping malls are also close by.

Check out the Black Bean cafe – it became our absolute favorite for a strong local coffee, iced or hot!

We took hundreds of pictures in the Orchid garden.

The entry is free and it is very beautiful and peaceful there!

You should bring a book and sit down somewhere in the garden.

By the way: any small boat can bring you to the other side of the river for 1 Ringgit!

You find the orchid garden just behind the government building (the special golden one).

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Norina Summers Journey: Best of Borneo
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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Action plan to protect clouded leopard in Sabah to start in 2018


KOTA KINABALU: A 10-year action plan to protect the Sunda clouded leopard is likely to be implemented in 2018.

According to Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) director Dr Benoit Goossens at the closing of a three-day workshop on how to protect the species yesterday, they will be preparing the draft skeleton on the action plan and will be submitting the final draft to the Sabah Wildlife Department which will then be presented to the State Government for endorsement.

“We are likely to launch it by 2018,” he said.

He added that their objective is to ensure the clouded leopard continued to exist in years to come and are preserved.

At the same time, he also hoped that the public would become more aware of the clouded leopard, which is presently the least known cat in the world.

He added that Sabah has five wild cats, one of which was the clouded leopard.

“It is the biggest cat in Borneo,” he said.

Benoit also said that it was imperative that Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) continued on with their enforcement activities as the cats were vulnerable to illegal hunters and poachers.

Among the recommendations made during the workshop were the study on the impact of domestic dogs and cats that were brought in by hunters to the jungle, on the clouded leopards.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

MummyOnTheRun: A Romantic Hideaway at the Tip of Borneo


Hotel Location: Hibiscus Beach Retreat is a collection of two one bed chalets, one called Clifftop and the other called Treetop, situated at the Tip of Borneo in Kudat, the most northerly village in Borneo and just a 10 minute drive to the Tip of Borneo.

If you are visiting the Tip of Borneo and are wondering where to stay, you should check out Hibiscus Beach Retreat. 

We stayed in Treetops, a one bed chalet (with a day bed and pull out bed so it can accommodate up to four people) in the most stunning location.

Our taxi dropped us off at the bottom of a small pathway into the jungle vegetation.

I could hardly fathom that there was accommodation just a three minute ‘trek’ away.

But there was… nestled within the lush green jungle with the music of the wildlife mixed with the roar of crashing waves (we couldn’t see the sea at this stage but we could hear it).

It’s a three minute walk to its own white sand private beach, shared only with the other accommodation.

Room: Treetops is a chalet comprised of one large room with a double bed (with mosquito net), a daybed and a roll out extra bed.

It has a tiny kitchen with a fridge, toaster and kettle and an equally tiny but modern bathroom with a shower, loo and sink.

The chalet has a decent sized balcony with two sun loungers and a table with four chairs.

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Samalaju Resort Hotel in Bintulu a must-holiday destination


SAMALAJU: Samalaju Resort Hotel is a beautiful four-star hotel located by the shoreline of the Samalaju Industrial Park and a must-holiday destination in Bintulu.

When visiting the resort yesterday, BAT7 was mesmerised by the hidden gem that has existed since 2014, overlooking the natural and stunning views of the crystal clear blue South China Sea.

This tropical hidden paradise resort is about one hour’s drive from Bintulu or two hours’ drive from Miri City.

BAT7 was told that hotel can also  pick  visitors  from  these two towns  but arrangement has to be made first on the pickup point.

The hotel has a total of 175 spacious and contemporary rooms, consisting of 148 hotel guest rooms and 27 chalet rooms.

Out of the 148 hotel guest rooms, a total of 134 units are superior room, 12 units are deluxe room and two are executive suite.

And of the 27 units of chalet room, 18 are Chalet Room and nine are Chalet Premium Room.

The chalet units come with a living room and kitchenette for guests who like to prepare their own food and enjoy the comfort of the tropical resort like their own homes.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Concerted efforts needed to save remaining Sunda clouded leopards in Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: There must be more concerted efforts made as Sabah’s Sunda clouded leopard numbering between 700 and 800 in the wild, is now threatened by human activities.

In this context, Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) has taken the lead role supporting the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) in preserving the leopard.

YSD has been supporting the DGFC since April 2011 with a total commitment of RM3.96 million over a period of six years, to conduct research on three species- Proboscis monkey, Sunda clouded leopard and Bornean banteng.

In her speech, YSD Chief Executive Officer, Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin, said: “Yayasan Sime Darby is very supportive of these important environment conservation causes and since 2009, we have committed RM131 million under our Environment pillar to support not only initiatives but also crucial research in revitalizing as well as sustaining our ecosystems and the susceptible species that depend on them.”

YSD project chief, Muzdalifah Mohd Yasir who delivered Yatela’s speech at the Clouded Leopard International Workshop and Conference, here yesterday, said it is extending a support of RM1.46 million to support the cause and save the Sunda clouded leopard from extinction.

Muzdalifah also added that the Sunda clouded leopard research has had a very encouraging start.

“Four clouded leopards has been collared to assist in spatial research on the effects of multiple landscape features on their movement in fragmented and protected area within the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary,” she said. Meanwhile, SWD official, Mohd Soffian Abu Bakar said that all the protected Sunda clouded leopards can be tracked and observed frequently via satellite collars attached to the animals.

“On our part, we (Sabah Wildlife Department) also visit schools around the Kinabatangan area and we also do an exhibition field trip to create community awareness,” he said.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

BizarreGlobeHopper: The Best of Borneo in 2 Weeks: Itinerary for Orangutans, Pygmy Elephants, Snorkeling, and Jungles


Squeeze the highlights of Borneo into an adventurous 2-week itinerary. Explore the last stronghold of Bornean primary rainforest – the real jungle – in Danum Valley, make a record in orangutan spotting on tranquil river cruises along Kinabatangan, unwind on a secluded paradise island snorkeling with turtles, visit orangutan sanctuaries, and indulge in Bornean cuisine and cultural treats in the charming cities.

Along the way, you can choose between world-class hiking, snorkeling, and wildlife spotting – or just opt to sit back and enjoy the sceneries. This two-week route maximizes the chances to find funny-looking proboscis monkeys, orangutans and rare Borneo pygmy elephants in the wild – astonishingly, we saw the latter three times!

The pace is leisure, so following this 2-week itinerary will set you to relaxed vacation mode. But at the same time, you’ll pack in a lot in terms of truly experiencing all the different flavors of Borneo. Let’s take off!

Sepilok: Introduction to Borneo with Orangutans, Sun Bears, and Giant Flying Squirrels (2 nights)

Sepilok is a perfect spot to start your journey, as it allows you to avoid starting and ending your trip in Kota Kinabalu. When time is short, every night counts! Internal flight from Kota Kinabalu (where your international flight lands) to a nearby coastal city of Sandakan takes just 45 minutes, and from there it’s just less than 30 minutes’ taxi drive to Sepilok.

But why Sepilok? Choose a resort that is tucked away from it all and a room facing the rainforest and sleep away your jetlag. Wake up to the sounds of exotic birds and enjoy breakfast outdoors while spotting monkeys in the trees.

Then head to the world-famous orangutan sanctuary to witness semi-wild red-furred cousins swinging to the feeding platforms for their lunch. Still not completely charged up? What about visiting orangutan nursery and watching babies wrestling and chasing each other?

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

MummyOnTheRun: Family Holiday Bliss at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, Borneo


After visiting Kota Kinabalu for two nights, we decided to stop off at the Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort, less than an hour away from KK and en route to Kudat and the Tip of Borneo, our last stop before heading home.

We had a fantastic start to our holiday at the Shangri-La in Bangkok and so we had high expectations for our two nights at the Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort.

Situated amid the lush tropical vegetation and crystal clear seas of Pantai Dalit, the resort comprises of 499 rooms and suites.

It’s split into two sections – the Garden Wing and the Ocean Wing.

We had an Ocean Wing room with a gorgeous room, the biggest bed I’ve ever seen and a day bed.

The best bit about the room is the balcony with its gorgeous beach views.

It’s a spacious area with a love seat, a table and chairs and an oversized bath with the best view of the stunning sunset.

Customer service plays a massive role in my high expectations of the Shangri-La.

The Rasa Ria didn’t disappoint.

The staff members were friendly, attentive without being intrusive.

Everyone says hello with a smile and eye contact when passing and many greeted us and the kids by name.

It was very impressive and as a result we were made to feel part of the family, which is an instant winner for me.

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New dive site discovered at Vernon Banks in Labuan


LABUAN: Labuan could well be the next underwater paradise for scuba divers from all over the world with more unique dive sites being discovered, including the latest one the Vernon Bank dive site’.

The new dive site,  located over 40 nautical miles off north Labuan was first discovered about five years ago by an engineer turned boat operator Ahmad Nasir Othman, 60,  who has been taking anglers there.

However, it was  Clement Lee, and his diving colleagues who explored the pristine reef for the first time in April 2017.

The Labuan born Lee, 65, is the Tourism Malaysia Ambassador for the diving segment (2017-2019) and is an internationally renowned diver as well.

Based on his observation there, he believes the dive site has the potential to be on par with other popular scuba dive sites across the globe.

“The new dive site has its own uniqueness compared with other internationally renowned dive sites and it is certainly a great site to be explored,” he said  adding that this new dive site is different from the much sought after dive sites of Sipadan and Mabul islands in Sabah when it comes to the marine species and underwater landscape.

The Vernon Bank is stated in the old British admiralty charts and publication and the site has a number of rare marine species like the porcelain crab, fishes like the bubble Goby and the colourful Nudi branch among others.

Vernon Bank’s uniqueness

Under good weather, with a twin engine 115HP boat, the journey to Vernon Bank from the Labuan marine jetty takes about one and half hours.

“I did not discover the Vernon Bank site but we heard of it many months ago. Hence, we have been planning to dive at the site since last year with our diving team.

“Yet we had to postpone our intention many times due to our tight schedule and the weather.

“Me and the other divers including Miri based Co.Co.Dive general manager, Ross Kelly, and the diving centre’s Labuan-based manager Roy Jak Ngau finally reached Vernon Bank on April 26 and again on May 1.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: New dive site discovered at Vernon Banks in Labuan
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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Festival of Wildlife in Danum Valley, Lahad Datu


KOTA KINABALU: Naturalists including film producers and award winning photographers are in Sabah’s Danum Valley, in Lahad Datu as they arrived earlier this month for the inaugural Festival of Wildlife .

Over 30 wildlife enthusiasts have been in Danum Valley since June 4.

Chris Breen, founder of Worldwide Wildlife, a company specialising in wildlife related tours, said the delegation was excited to see what Sabah, particularly Danum Valley, had to offer.

“We heard so much about this pristine virgin forest filled with flora and fauna and cannot wait to see and experience for ourselves what it has to offer.

“We have similar programmes globally and each time, we want to find iconic places that truly have prime wildlife.

“We cannot wait to see what all of us can get here, be it ideas for painting or sculptures, amazing photographs or just the experience of being in a virgin forest of Sabah,” he said at a cocktail reception here.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Festival of Wildlife in Danum Valley, Lahad Datu
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Friday, June 09, 2017

Alvinology: Cats, Orangutans and Kolo Mee: 8 things to see, do and eat in Kuching, Sarawak in Malaysia


Old colonial buildings and modern towers line the diverse and laidback city streets of Kuching, the riverside capital of Sarawak in East Malaysia, just one and a half hour direct flight from Singapore.

Some folks said the name of the city was derived from a tropical fruit called “Mata Kuching” (cat’s eye fruit), widely available in Malaysia and Indonesia.

But much has also been said as to how the city got its name – Kuching means “cat” in Malay language and the city is littered with dozens of cat statues at every corner. Like the cat statue (pictured below) seen at the entrance of Chinatown in Kuching.

But the city began its roots as a trading post that was built by a British man called Sir James Brooke, the first white rajah (king) who ruled Sarawak from 1842 until he died in 1868, at the age of 65.

Visiting Kuching tells me of a time that’s quieter and calmer as the city is not congested with traffic and high rise buildings.

From glorious street foods to long walks along Sarawak River taking in the views of fishing boats, old houses and 19th century landmarks, Kuching is a laidback city with small town rustic vibes and friendly locals who love to tell a story or two to travellers who have arrived in their home.

What to see: Ethnology Museum, orangutans, crocodiles

Located at the top of the hill along Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, the Ethnology Museum was built in 1891 and renovated in 1911, and is regarded as among the oldest museums in Southeast Asia. Here, the spotlight is on Borneo’s incredibly rich indigenous cultures. On the upper floor, the exhibits include a full-sized Iban (an ethnic of Sarawak) longhouse, masks and spears. On the ground floor, which I toured, is an old-fashioned display of a small collection of natural history. On display were stuffed animals from the local area such as birds, snakes, orangutans, cows, tortoises, and more.

When in Sarawak, visiting our red head friends at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is a must where you will find Borneo orangutans (“man of the forest” in Malay language) spotting red hair. The sanctuary is half an hour’s drive from Kuching city and another 10 minutes on foot.

Here, the orangutans are semi-wild which have been rescued from captivity and trained to survive in the surrounding forest reserve. The rehabilitated animals roam freely in the rainforest and often return to the centre at feeding time. It’s advisable to know there’s no guarantee the orangutans will come out to say hello. Note that the best months to visit are between March and August when food is scarce and they leave inner forest to hunt for food.

However at feeding time, there’s a good chance some may venture out for food. There are about 104,700 Bornean orangutans left in the world, according to World Wildlife Fund.

At Semenggoh, there are 28 of them. I was lucky to spot four Bornean red heads up close in their natural environment and element – swinging from branch to branch, feasting on bananas and even spotted a mother feeding her baby.

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Can the mountain forests in the Heart of Borneo be saved?


The forests covered by the Heart of Borneo initiative are very important to three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

The area refers to the mountainous centre of the great island of Borneo. The forests here have indeed fared far better than in the lowlands and coastal areas (where the challenges of deforestation are well known) – that’s the good news so far.

Heart of Borneo covers the deep interior areas of Brunei, the Indonesian province of Kalimantan, and the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

In 2007, there was a historic declaration by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei to conserve an area designated as the Heart of Borneo. Since then, considerable work has been carried out under this initiative by the three governments and their local and international supporters, including WWF.

In conjunction with World Environment Day on June 5, WWF-Malaysia and WWF-Indonesia released an executive summary of their upcoming publication titled Environmental Status of Borneo 2016. This provides an overview of the environmental issues in Borneo that can be widely shared to gain collective support to save Borneo’s forests.

Borneo is home to a great diversity of plant and animal species, with rich resources for the livelihood of 11 million people. This includes one million indigenous peoples who inhabit the area called the Heart of Borneo, which lies in mountainous, hard-to-access upriver areas. These people have sustainably managed the natural capital here for centuries.

“This World Environment Day is a good opportunity to draw attention to the state of the environment that we are passing onto generations to come,” said Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma, executive director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.

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Thumbs up for a Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) for Kuching


KUCHING: The proposal to construct a Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) here has received support from Minister of Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

He said an LCCT could help to facilitate the growth of the tourism industry in Sarawak.

“If a separate LCCT building could expedite and facilitate the growth of tourism industry in Sarawak, of course it would be good to have it.

“I do not have any detail on this yet. I need to check. If there is, it should be under the purview of the federal government unless the state government decides to be involved,” he said when contacted yesterday on AirAsia Berhad chief executive officer Aireen Omar’s recent statement that Kuching International Airport (KIA) had almost reached its capacity of five million passengers.

Abdul Karim said the ministry and other tourism industry players had to go the extra mile to ensure there are more flights for Sarawak.

“We have to work harder and bring in more flights and connectivity lest any buildings like this will come to waste and be a white elephant.

“Of course if we were to use present number of flights to and from Kuching as a guide, the present KIA is sufficient to handle the volume. But the state government and my ministry are hoping for an increase in tourist arrivals in the coming years. Thus the planning for an LCCT is appropriate.

“I am (in favour of an LCCT) if it could bring more benefits to Sarawak and the general public,” he said.

He added that Sarawak targeted to receive five million tourists this year compared to 4.6 million tourists last year.

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Thursday, June 08, 2017

The Wedding Vow: Top 15 Things to Do on your Kota Kinabalu Honeymoon


Have a peculiar honeymoon at the historical city of Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu. The city is known for its magical rainforests and overwhelming hospitality. It will also captivate you with its distinct and alluring culture and tradition.

The magnificent diversity of the features of the city is beyond the expectations of its citizens and tourists. There are a lot of various things you can do in the city and it’ll definitely be worth of your time so cherish every moment and create delightful memories. 

Top 15 Things to Do on your Kota Kinabalu Honeymoon


1. Soar the highest mountain in Southeast Asia

In every honeymoon, there must be a challenging adventure to complete your honeymoon. If you want a roller coaster ride of emotions that will set you in every phase of happiness, It is one of the famous tourist attractions in the city that will fulfill your soul, heart, and mind.

So take the risk and start a healthy lifestyle by climbing the mountain of hope and see the fantastic view of the city under the clouds.


2. Experience the massive luxury at the best-rated resorts

The main purpose of some tourists in visiting the Kota Kinabalu is the grandiose resorts that offer leisure and excellent service to the customers. Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru and the Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria are the great epitomes of the wonderful resorts in the city.

These resorts attract thousands of tourists in a year. Their facilities are suited for all kinds of guests and the crew was very appraisable for their friendly and welcoming attitude towards the customers.


3. Adventurous Island Hopping at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Create timeless memories while touring the different exotic islands in Kota Kinabalu. Island Hopping refers into visiting the group of islands that are connected to each other. These islands are Sapi Island, Gaya Island, Mamutik Island and Manukan Island.

Jesselton Point is located at the center of the city and a 15-minute speed from there will take you to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park’s marvelous islands and you can see the unique qualities of each island. It is well-known for its serene and peaceful and most especially, the convenience it brings to the visitors.

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Sabah cultural dance group to represent Malaysia again


TENOM:  The Sabah United Tobilung Association (Tobisa) Dance Group from Kota Marudu made history when it was chosen to represent Malaysia in the World Cup Dance final competition for the fourth time since 2014.

This is the best achievement of this dance group which managed to maintain its performance at international level, said Tobisa deputy president Jaiping Minsu here yesterday.

Jaiping, who is also the Tenom District Council executive officer, said this would be the fourth time that the Tobisa dance group would represent Malaysia in the World Cup Dance final competition to be held in Germany.

He said in 2014, the competition was held in Portugal where the Tobisa dance group secured two gold, four silver and two bronze medals, while Marius Manoel was the recipient of the Judge Award.

He said in 2015, the same competition was held in Romania where the group won one gold and three bronze medals and was also awarded the Chairman’s Choice List Awards and Most Outstanding Group.

He said in 2016, the same competition was held in Jersey and the group earned two gold and one bronze medals and the Best National Solo Overall and Judge Award were given to Mohd Amerul Amir.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Kota Kinabalu hotels’ occupancy rate at least 80%


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) president Datuk Seri Winston Liaw yesterday encouraged foreign investors to invest in the tourism industry in Sabah, including building more hotels.

He said all hotels in Kota Kinabalu were operating at not less than 80 per cent occupancy rate.

“In the next two to three years, our hotel rooms will not be sufficient.

“In fact, there is not enough hotel rooms already due to increasing number of direct flights from China to Kota Kinabalu,” Liaw said during the launching of Asia Pacific Taiji Wushu Convention 2017 here yesterday.

Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai was the guest of honour for the launching of the convention.

Two years ago, Liaw said the east coast of Sabah was perceived as unsafe.

Today, he pointed out that 80 per cent of passengers flying from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau were Chinese tourists.

“Tourists have to make reservations for resort accommodation in Semporna and Tawau two to three months in advance or there will be no rooms left.”

He added that there used to be peak travel seasons for China tourists travelling to Sabah in the past, namely the Chinese New Year festive period and from July to August.

“The peak or non-peak periods for Sabah tourism are becoming less obvious now.

“But hotels in Kota Kinabalu are running at least 80 per cent occupancy rate.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Kota Kinabalu hotels’ occupancy rate at least 80%
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Chinese incentive groups enjoy Sabah’s hospitality


KOTA KINABALU: Some 2,000 Chinese delegates from Perfect Group, China’s top five direct selling companies experienced the Sabah’s hospitality.

The visitors who came from various parts of China including Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen ended their four-day and three-night incentive tour to Kota Kinabalu attending a sunset dinner at the foyer of Sabah Foundation building on Monday.

The groups began arriving in the capital on June 3, before flying off to Kuala Lumpur for a grand gala dinner, after visiting the islands, river cruising and experiencing Sabah’s homestay.

Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) chief executive officer Datuk Zulkefli Sharif disclosed that the incentive groups have contributed to the country’s economy as over RM242 million of tourism receipts were generated last year.

“I think we need more Chinese incentive groups coming to Malaysia especially to Sabah,” said Zulkefli.

And in the next two years, he said the Sabah International Convention Centre will be ready and it can provide a venue to cater for big groups.

“As there is a strong commitment in the arrival of visitors from China, the government has set a target to attract three million visitors from China to Malaysia this year.

“We sincerely hope when all the distributors return home, they will become the ambassador of Sabah tourism and will bring in more friends and families to visit this beautiful state of Sabah,” called Zulkefli.

Perfect Malaysia president Dato’ Woo Swee Lian who spoke earlier has suggested the distributors from Perfect China to serve as an ambassador to promote the tourism of Sabah when they go back to their respective provinces.

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Travel Bosing - Kirongulad Water Fall Tambunan, Sabah


Have you been to Mahua Waterfall in Tambunan? It is beautiful right?

Would you like to see more about Tambunan? Have you heard about Kirongulad Waterwall? No right!

It is a hidden gem located ar Kg Tikolod Tambunan.

Yes, Kg Tikolod is famous with Ginger and Traditional Music but recently we have discovered this beautiful waterfall, nearly 30 Metres.

Believe or not? Time for you to discover by your self.

It is not far from the town, around 20km?

I would like to recommend this beautiful waterfall for adventure seekers out there.

To go there, you need to drive 1.5 hours from Kota Kinabalu to Tambunan town.

And another 15 minutes to Kg Tikolod Tambunan (Jalan Keningau).

Well, the road is paved but going to the waterfall starting point, you need a 4 wheel drive.

But don’t worry, you can park your car at the kampung area and the villagers can send you using ‘Pikap’ car.

It is 4-wheel drive car (RM5 per person).

Please  drive slowly and keep an eye on the roaming dogs, buffaloes, chickens and duck, belongs to the villagers.

They don’t even bother about approaching cars.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: TravelBosing - Kirongulad Water Fall Tambunan, Sabah
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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

AirAsia’s Kuching-Pontianak flight boosts Sarawak tourism


KUCHING: AirAsia celebrated its inaugural flight from Pontianak, Indonesia to Kuching with the arrival of its plane at Kuching International Airport (KIA) at 1.50pm yesterday.

The plane was greeted with a ceremonial two-hose ‘water salute’ while taxiing into the parking apron and as passengers disembarked, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah alongside Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin and AirAsia Berhad chief executive officer Aireen Omar were on hand to welcome and present them with ethnic motif scarves as well as goodie bags.

Abdul Karim described the direct flight as another milestone in the development of tourism in Sarawak as connectivity served as one of the state government’s prime areas of concern in the industry circle.

“I have just returned from Guangzhou, China and the feedback I received from the industry players there was that direct air connectivity into Sarawak is the major critical success factor if we want to put tourism as our main contribution towards our economy,” he said in his speech.

He added that the addition of the Kuching-Pontianak route, with seven times weekly direct flights, is indeed a boost for the state which looked forward to more connected and services routes between Kuching and Pontianak as the segment of its medical tourism as well as connecting flights are set to grow and expand.

Abdul Karim also noted that as a reciprocal initiative, the state government will work together with AirAsia to develop this route and that the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) is currently working together with the AirAsia team on several promotional activities to excite the market and to help sustain the flights focusing on Pontianak and beyond.

“We are also hoping that AirAsia could bring us to many other destinations in this region as well as other parts of the world such as direct flights coming in from China, Taiwan or even Korea.”  Aireen disclosed that the inaugural flight from Pontianak to Kuching recorded a load factor of over 80 per cent passengers on board.

“Within a short time of our sale, we were able to achieve that 80 per cent so I’m sure there’s a lot more we can achieve from now onwards,” she said.

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Kuching International Airport (KIA) reaching its full capacity


KUCHING: The Kuching International Airport (KIA) has almost reached its capacity of five million passengers per year.

This was disclosed by AirAsia Berhad chief executive officer Aireen Omar who proposed that the international airport here be expanded to bring in more connectivity to the state.

“I think the current airport facility (KIA) is reaching its full capacity already because last year it has reached almost five million passengers and the capacity of this international airport is five million per annum.

“So I think we need to start looking at how to expand the airport now in order for us to realise our plans in bringing more connectivity,” she told a press conference after joining Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah in welcoming passengers from the inaugural AirAsia flight from Pontianak, Indonesia to Kuching at KIA yesterday.

Aireen was responding to a question on whether AirAsia’s plans to have a dedicated low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in the state was still in the pipeline.

She pointed out that the world’s best low-cost airline has long-term plans to contribute towards the development of Kuching and Sarawak as a whole.

“We have our plans for the next five, seven and even ten years or so and we definitely need to start, working on this.

As a start what we can do immediately is whatever existing destinations we already have in our network, we can connect these routes into Kuching so that Kuching can have more direct flights.

“Apart from that, we can also look at the depth of direct flights and whether we can have more frequencies of existing routes while also expanding into new routes,” she explained.

She also suggested expanding beyond Asean countries in view of good traffic demand coming from North Asia and Australia among others.

“In order to speed this dream into reality as soon as possible, it will be fantastic to have an LCCT in the state. It is something we have always discussed with the state government and we look forward to the progress of this discussion,” she said.

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Mount Kinabalu guides continue to practice safety measures, caution


RANAU: To ensure that the mission of Mount Kinabalu climbers to reach its peak runs smoothly, the ‘malim gunung’ or mountain guides continue to emphasise on safety aspects and heighten caution.

Among the security measures carried out include providing briefing and reminding the climbers to adhere to the regulations and instructions of the mountain guides.

According to Rasinah Rasin, 40, one of the 12 female guides of Mount Kinabalu, she and her friends always took precautionary measures and were prepared to stop the ascent to the summit of the highest mountain in Southeast Asia if conditions did not permit it.

“For instance, if it rains, the climb would be discontinued. Thus, the climbers need to accept the decision and listen to the instructions of the ‘malim gunung’ for their own safety,” she told Bernama at Taman Kinabalu, in Kundasang, near here on Monday.

Rasinah also pointed out the importance for climbers to equip themselves with essentials such as jackets, food and medication as early preparation in the occurrence of an emergency midway of the ascent.

She added the Mountain Search and Rescue (MOSAR) was always ready to provide emergency assistance to climbers as well as helping them to climb down until Timpohon Gate.

MOSAR was formed by the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department following the occurrence of an earthquake in Ranau measuring 5.9 on the Richter Scale, on June 5, 2015 that had taken 18 lives, including four mountain guides who were on Mount Kinabalu during the incident.

Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the tragedy.

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Monday, June 05, 2017

Travel The World: Borneo, Malaysia


Borneo, Malaysia

We decided to go to Borneo (Malaysia part) for a long weekend in October as there was a public holiday in Singapore.

Friends of ours had gone there and told us about the Orangutan rehabilitation centre and turtle sanctuary so we decided to check it out.


Getting there

On the way there we flew Air Asia Singapore ? Kota Kinabalu ? Sandakan.

We took the last flight into Kota Kinabalu (2.5 hour flight) and the first flight from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan the next morning (50 min flight).

We would recommend avoiding this if possible, as there’s nothing to do for one night in Kota Kinabalu.

On the way back we flew Kota Kinabalu ? Kuala Lumpur ? Singapore with Malaysian Airlines and this was much better as the stopover in KL was just a couple of hours.


Sandakan

Upon landing in Sandakan we considered renting a motorbike to get to the hotel, to enable us to have freedom to drive around after but it turned out to be quite far away (about 45mins drive).

The bike rental place in the airport offered to rent us a car for a couple of dollars a day, even though we didn’t have our driver’s licenses on us (they really don’t care there), but we didn’t want to risk being caught without a license so we took a taxi.

We ended up getting taxis everywhere in Sandakan as they weren’t very expensive.

We stayed at Sepilok Nature Resort (~40 USD per night), which is right next door to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

The hotel was in the middle of the nature, with a restaurant and lounge bar/cafe overlooking a small lake (where snakes and water monitors reside) and gardens.

The rooms are in individual chalets with floor to ceiling windows that give you a view of the lake / vegetation.

The homemade pizzas (with interesting options, such as pumpkin crust pizza) were delicious and felt like a godsent after a long day.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics & Vid) at: Trav3lTheWorld: Borneo, Malaysia
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Borneo Jungle Diaries airs today on Scubazoo TV


KOTA KINABALU: A new online series, Borneo Jungle Diaries, showcases Borneo’s incredible wildlife and the scientists trying to save them.

Deep in the heart of Sabah’s jungle lies a remote facility, the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).

In this isolated and wild location managed by Sabah Wildlife Department and Cardiff University, a dedicated team of young Malaysian and international research scientists hope to unravel the mysteries of the Kinabatangan jungle.

With a combination of field-developed gadgets and traps using state-of-the-art tracking technology, they work to accomplish the important mission of DGFC to safeguard Kinabatangan’s most enigmatic animals through monitoring, learning and understanding.

“Borneo Jungle Diaries investigate life behind the scenes at the field centre,” said Dr Benoit Goossens, Director of DGFC and a lecturer at Cardiff University.

Aaron ‘Bertie’ Gekoski, known for the Borneo from Below and Borneo Wildlife Warriors online series, follows a different scientist at DGFC and animal per episode.

“As we tag a Sunda pangolin for the first time ever, we gain intimate insights into the behavior of nocturnal primates, track a herd of elephants, and much more,” explained Goossens.

“The first episode will be released on Scubazoo TV (scubazoo.tv) and DGFC Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Danau- Girang-Field-Centre- 147476775319983/) this afternoon at 4 pm, local time, in conjunction with World Environment Day. Don’t miss it.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo Jungle Diaries airs today on Scubazoo TV
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Sunday, June 04, 2017

Art To Travel: Borneo jungle adventure


Brunei was only the beginning. The real adventure began after a long trip to eastern Borneo: Sabah.

I left Bandar Seri Begawan early in the morning to get on a bus that would bring me to Kota Kinabalu.

The trip takes around 8 hours predominantly due to 8 immigration controls.

Brunei kind of has a weird shape so you leave Brunei, enter Malaysia to go back to Brunei and finally leave it – if that makes sense.

Eight stamps later we were on the road through beautiful beautiful borneo.

The whole area around Mt Kinabalu is national park so I didn’t get tired of watching the rain forest around me.

I originally planned to have a look at KK before I flew to Sandakan at night, but when we arrived it rained in torrents, so I had no choice but spending the time at KK airport.

From Sandakan it’s a 20 minutes drive to Sepilok, where I stayed at coolest eco hostel ever, you should check it out: Paganakan Dii Tropical Retreat.

I had the huge open dorm by myself and woke up with the sun in my face.

I rained pretty bad ever since I left Brunei so I was kind of worried about what was yet to come…

The next morning I went to the Sepilok Orang-Utan sanctuary.

They open two times a day for two to three hours, when they feed the monkeys.

It is not a zoo so there is no guarantee you actually see a lot of the cute animals with the bronze fur.

I really liked the facilities since it was basically natural rain forest with one circular path.

The majority of orang-utans I saw were around the building of their so-called nursery.

This is where the freshly arrived orang-utans live and get trained.

The concept of the sanctuary is of course to reintegrate sick or orphaned orang-utans back to nature.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: ArtToTravel: Borneo jungle adventure
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