February 2009 Archives

swak_smiles.jpgSIBU: Sarawakians, famed for their great smiles, friendliness and hospitality, should preserve these natural traits zealously to ward off the onslaught of 'imported' negative cultures.

Minister of Urban Development and Tourism, Datuk Michael Manyin Jawong, said this "great culture" of the locals must be preserved because, among other things, tourists were attracted to visit the State as it was hard to find such natural smiles and friendly people anywhere in the world.

"Smiles, friendliness and great hospitality are, first and foremost, one of the most important attractions which impress tourists so much that they want to visit this beautiful land of ours.

"Recently, for example, I met a Singaporean and he told me that if you happen to be visiting a longhouse, and you are hungry, you can just walk into any of the bileks (room) and get some food...for free!," he chuckled.

Manyin pointed out that the friendly nature of the locals had been passed down from generation to generation, and as such should be preserved for posterity.

(Article is taken from Eastern Times)

Continue reading Smiles - Sarawak's potent tourist attraction

sbh_fav.jpgWASHINGTON: Sabah, known for its diving, golfing and green tourism, is the favourite Malaysian destination for American tourists after Penang, Salahuddin Mohd Ariffin, Vice-President and Director of Tourism Malaysia in New York disclosed this here Sunday.

"They seem to be attracted to nature, adventure, diving, golfing, and MICE meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions," he said.

"Arrivals of American tourists in Malaysia went up nine per cent to 220,000 in 2008 from 2007 despite the gloomy economic scenario, he told Bernama at the closing of the two-day "Adventures in Travel Expo."

"More than 55 per cent of the American tourists were in Malaysia for leisure, while the rest came for business," he added.

The outlook looks good for the immediate future for the Malaysian tourism market. Tourism Malaysia had projected 15,000 tourists to arrive from the US for January this year.

The number surpassed Malaysia's expectation and it showed an increase of 10 per cent in January 2009 to 17,000 arrivals, compared with the same period in January 2008.

According to research conducted by Tourism Malaysia, most of the US tourists came as independent tourists, 95 per cent of them made their bookings using the internet, while the rest came to Malaysia on travel packages using travel agents.

(Article is taken from NewSabahTimes)

Continue reading Sabah a favourite place for American tourists


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KOTA KINABALU: Borneo still enjoys a friendly and beautiful environment because of its large area of untouched forest, which is a contradiction to a claim by a foreign non-governmental organisation that almost all of its forest has been cleared.

Minister of Tourism, Culture & Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun said such claim was totally inaccurate because it was made by people who had not seen by themselves the real situation in Borneo.

He said this when met after clarifying the matter to Marta Szigeti Bonifert, the executive director of Regional Environment Centre (REC) based in Hungary, at the Luncheon Talk entitled "Transition to sustainability through cooperation" at Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa yesterday.

"I feel happy that today we have the opportunity to explain to Bonifert on claim that almost all forest in Borneo had been cleared or deforested. I had explained to her that in fact, 53 per cent of Sabah has been gazetted as forest reserve and wild parks for near extinct animals.

"The map on Borneo that she claimed to have received from an NGO showed almost all parts of Borneo had been cleared but I dare to say that 80 per cent of Kalimantan has not been explored, what more to say about clearing them for development," Masidi said.

(Article is taken from The New Sabah Times)

Continue reading Borneo's forest largely untouched

Borneo, wet and wild

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By Paul Si

I cannot speak for the rest of the world but 2008 was a good year for me. I got to tick off several boxes on my to-do list, including driving a topless Lamborghini through the hills of Bologna and bit of backpacking in Italy with my wife, all without any work involved. (If it sounds like I'm rubbing it in, sorry.)

But the highlights came towards the end of the year, when I got to indulge to the max in my passion - 4X4 adventure.

There was a bit of worry, initially. It looked like nature was going to pour cold water on my plans to enjoy Sabah's famous Borneo Safari, with a weather alert warning of heavy rainfall towards the end of October.

[Fast and furious action by a Borneo Safari competitor.]

Fast and furious action by a Borneo Safari competitor.
The expected deluge might cause "flash floods and mudslides in low-lying areas and river banks", the met boys warned, in "Sabah's coastal areas and the interior". (Call me an alarmist but wouldn't that description cover the WHOLE state?)

This was to be a homecoming of sort for me because I had lived in Sabah for several years in the early 1990s, and the 1992 edition of the Borneo Safari was my induction into the world of hardcore 4X4 (followed by the inimitable Camel Trophy of 1993).

In this hobby of "challenging nature", rain means tough trail conditions. But that's regarded as a promise, not a threat. It is something to welcome, not to dread.

But, there can also easily be too much of a good thing. Memories were still fresh of the watery disaster of 2007 edition of the Malaysian Rainforest Challenge in Terengganu, forcing participants to abandon nearly 50 vehicles to the rising waters and flee in rescue boats sent in by the authorities.

(Article is taken from TheMalaysianInsider)

Continue reading Borneo, wet and wild

A land lost in time

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IN 1947, a World War II British pilot was heading towards Tawau when he flew over what he thought was a mist-shrouded jungle. But as the cloud dissipated, he found himself encircled by a wall of steep cliffs rising 915m above the jungle floor.

This serendipitous discovery was reported in the Borneo Bulletin in 1953.

However, it failed to generate much interest.

Surrounded on all sides by wickedly steep and forbidding slopes, Sabah's Lost World covering an area slightly bigger than Singapore is unreachable by foot from almost all directions.

The only way in is at the point where the Maliau River - the only one flowing through the area - exits the basin. But even this is guarded by a series of impressive waterfalls and gorges.

Inaccessibility has led to its natural secrets being hidden from mankind for millions of years.

Earlier attempts to scale down the escarpment in 1960, 1976 and 1980 failed, and the explorations were confined to its perimeters.

In 1981, a survey party from Sabah Foundation landed in a helicopter and managed to cut a trail which enabled a 43-member expedition to spend three weeks in the Maliau Basin in 1988.

The expedition opened a Pandora's Box of surprises, unveiling the mystery and beauty of a world untouched by the passage of time; where nature and wildlife coexist in perfect harmony, tucked in what seemed to be the very edge of the world: A Jurassic Park sans dinosaurs.

(Article is taken from TheStar / www.thestar.com.my)

Continue reading A land lost in time

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is taking steps to ensure that the cost of climbing up Mount Kinabalu is affordable to all Malaysians, following outcry over its spiralling costs.

State Tourism, Culture & Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said that they were in discussions with Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL), a private company that manages the accommodation facilities at Kinabalu Park, to offer cheaper packages.

However, he explained that the accommodation rates remain at RM40 for locals and RM60 for foreigners, but the cost rose when the private operators provided a RM330 'two nights/three days' per person package deal.

"The package deal undertaken by the private operators was to discourage tour agents from block-booking the mountain accommodation as if they booked, they have to pay the amount in full," Masidi said yesterday.

However, he said that his officials at Kinabalu Park have asked the private operators not to force the climbers to take the RM330 package deal and have instead urged them to revise their rates.

(Article is taken from The New Sabah Times)

Continue reading Sabah to ensure cost of climbing up Mount Kinabalu affordable

Since 2008, the cost of climbing Mt Kinabalu has skyrocketed, and if you're lucky, you may get a confirmed booking... five months down the line. What's the deal with Malaysia's iconic mountain?

Here's the irony -- climbing Sabah's Mt Kinabalu, whose majestic peak tops out at 4,085m, is relatively easy; trying to wrangle a spot to climb, however, requires a fair bit of doggedness, an open schedule and, yes, money.

In the past year, regular climbers and tourists, both foreign and local, have been flooding the blogosphere, travel forums and media with complaints. Their main gripes are that the climbing cost is astronomical, the waiting list long and the service and infrastructure, substandard.

Even the first edition of Lonely Planet Borneo published last year devoted almost one page to the issues, raising the question: is it worth the hassle?

To climb Kinabalu, the average person takes about four to six hours to reach about three-quarters of the way to Panar Laban (3,270m), stays overnight at Laban Rata, and then completes the summit push before dawn the next day.

Unless you're super-fit and can dart up the peak like the local porters, you'll need to book a dormitory bed or a room at the Laban Rata guesthouse, since camping isn't allowed.

All the lodges on the mountain -- the Laban Rata Resthouse, Gunting Lagadan and Sayat-Sayat huts -- are owned by the Sabah government under Sabah Parks.

In 1998, Sabah privatised the management of the properties, and in 2002, private company Sutera Harbour Resort was appointed to co-manage under the name Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL), with Sabah Parks handling the park administration and collection of fees for conservation, guide, porter and climbing.

To prevent the mountain from being overrun, Sabah Parks limits the number of climbers to 192 people a day. Plus, park rangers enforce the rules on the mountain.

(Article is taken from The New Sabah Times)

Continue reading A price too high to climb Mount Kinabalu

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