Category Archives: Vacation

Sabah, Malaysia Borneo – An Emerging Tropical Island Vacation

The Malaysian state of Sabah, located at the northeast corner of the island of Borneo, is well positioned to offer a unique tropical island vacation flavor with a difference.

In fact…, with a very big difference.

There is more to Sabah than the sunny tropical weather, beautiful white sandy beaches, tropical island setting, clear crystal waters, and rich ocean and marine life.

Unlike the Caribbean islands or most tropical island vacation destinations in the world, Sabah offers a complete array of activities from adventure and nature to wildlife on top of a world class tropical beach vacation.

What makes Sabah, Malaysia Borneo a unique tropical island vacation spot?

Given its unique geographical advantage where within 76,115 square kilometers (or 29,388 square miles or slightly smaller than the US state of South Carolina), you can…

Oran Utan* laze around in white pristine and unspoiled tropical beaches

* conquer the highest peak in South East Asia

* encounter wildlife in their natural habitat

* admire the largest flower in the world

* lay back and enjoy the sun and water at international standard and luxurious tropical resorts

* appreciate the culture of the colorful indigenous peoples

* rough it out in controlled adventure vacation sites

* brave the river rapids on a white water rafting adventure

* be one with nature in the world of million years old rainforests

* dive into some of the world’s best underwater wonderlands

* explore the underwater cave of the world’s only mushroom-shaped world class dive spot

On top of the above, traveling around Sabah is also easy and relatively cheaper, and the locals are helpful and friendly.

Most of the tropical wonders of the world, from ocean deep to mountain high, can be found right here in sunny Sabah. You don’t have to travel far and wide to savor the best tropical attractions, saving you invaluable time and money to stay put in just one tropical vacation destination.

You can actually experience Sun, Sea and Sand, Forest and Mountain in less than ONE hour – that is, if you utilize a helicopter service.

If you are planning for your next tropical island vacation, or thinking of exploring a new and exciting tropical vacation destination, please explore Sabah personally to find out why it is an ideal choice for your dream tropical island vacation.

About The Author

E-borneo.com ( http:/
/www.e-borneo.com
) is a leading Borneo travel gateway, trip advisor, and tour intermediary for the best custom/full-package vacation deals to Malaysia Borneo. Check out some of Sabah’s top tour packages at http://www.e-borneo.com/travel/tours/sabah.html or for more info on Sabah, please http://www.Borneo-Tropical-Vacation.com.

Rafflesia’s New Eco-Tourism Package For Endau-Rompin, Pulau Sibu

Adventure, nature and leisure – these attractions await holiday-makers in the ‘Rimba Trail’ tour package spanning the Taman Negara Endau-Rompin rainforest and an island getaway in Pulau Sibu.

This three-in-one package is part of Rafflesia’s efforts to promote eco-tourism and it has received support from the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board.

Tourists will be taken to the centuries-old forest reserve of Endau-Rompin on four-wheel drive vehicles from Kuala Lumpur to Segamat, Bekok, Kampung Peta and Tanjung Leman where they will pass through secondary and virgin jungles, logging areas and oil palm plantations.

They will also cross over Sungei Selai, a shallow but sandy river.

Visitors will stay in Kuala Jasin, a base camp for such outings in the Endau-Rompin rainforest. The main activity in Endau-Rompin will be jungle trekking, river crossing and a dip at the breathtaking Upeh Guling or Buaya Sangkut waterfalls.

‘That’s the adventure and nature part.” said Abu Bakar Mohammad, general manager of Rafflesia Vacation (M) Sdn Bhd, adding that visitors will have an Orang Asli guide as well.

For leisure, visitors will be transported to Pulau Sibu Besar, off Johor, which is just about 25 minutes way from the Tanjung Leman jetty. In Pulau Sibu,they will stay in the comfort of the Rimba Resort, which overlooks the South China Sea.

The package is tailored in such a way that tourists can enjoy a total relaxation in the island hide-away of Pulau Sibu Besar after an arduous adventure in the jungle.

While in Pulau Sibu, they can choose optional packages for fishing, going round the island and snorkelling.

Abu Bakar said Rafflesia has arranged a package for foreign tourists consisting of a three-night stay in Endau-Rompin, another three nights in Pulau Sibu Besar dan two nights in Kuala Lumpur.

The package for locals costs RM829 per person and comprise a two-night stay in Endau-Rompin and another two nights in Pulau Sibu. This local package is inclusive of the 4X4 drive from Kuala Lumpur up to Tanjung Leman in Johor, boat transfer to Pulau Sibu Besar, the return journey from Tanjung Leman back to Kuala Lumpur.

It also covers meals, camping equipment, accommodation on twin-sharing basis in Rimba Resort, personal accident coverage during the trip.

Taman Negara Endau-Rompin Supervisor Ramli Bachok said the national park, which covers about 49,000 hectares, only takes in 3,000 visitors annually. Only 10 percen
t of the forested area is op
ened to the public.

The park is closed during rainy season from November to December for safety reasons.

Ramli explained that once there is a sudden downpour, some of the areas in the park could be flooded within minutes.

The national park can only take a maximum of 200 visitors at a time so as not to upset the ecological balance of Endau-Rompin while preserving it as a national heritage, he said.

Of special interest in Endau-Rompin are the flora which cannot be found elsewhere in the world

MALAYSIA: An Asian Retirement Paradise

Asia’s best-kept secret for expatriates, Malaysia has a vibrant mix of foreign and indigenous tribal cultures, creating a veritable melting pot of peoples, traditions and religions.

A sizable enclave of foreigners (Brits, Americans, Australians, and Canadians) live full time or maintain holiday homes in Malaysia, and you’ll find that just about everybody speaks English, since its compulsory in local schools.

Not only are three world-class playgrounds (Thailand, Bali, and the Philippines) all within a few hour’s travel from Malaysia, but with miles of white sand coastline, tropical islands, and beachfront property galore, it has all the makings of a fairy-tale setting.

Despite being the capital of a developing nation, Kuala Lumpur is a modern cosmopolitan with clean streets and sidewalks and every modern convenience to found in New York or London. Home to the tallest building in the world, there are also FedEx and UPS offices, international banks, English cinemas and bookstores, western-style supermarkets, French and German bakeries, Chinese, Indian, and Italian restaurants, gourmet coffee, Cuban cigars, Internet cafés and some of the best shopping in the world!

One of the few things that lend a "Third-world" feel to the capital are the open-air night market, where local merchants peddle everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, to meat and fish, to exotic animals and traditional handicrafts.

All the major newspapers are available at newsstands, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. Cable and satellite TV provides access to a wide variety of English-language programming, including CNN, the Discovery Channel, Filmnet and many more.

Despite the local Muslim population not drinking alcohol, Kuala Lumpur has some of the liveliest nightlife in the region and there are more than a fair share of clubs and bars, where tourists, expatriates and locals alike mingle and party. Though the official religion of Malaysia is Islam, great tolerance is shown for other religions, with many beliefs being represented and their adherents practicing openly, including Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists and Jews (the nearest synagogue is in neighboring Singapore).

Compared with other major Asian cities (Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong, for example), Kuala Lumpur is downright cheap. Even in the over-priced tourist spots you can get a good meal for two for around $20. Outside of these places, a 3-course meal for two with all the trimmings, including drinks, will set you back no more than $10…a doctor’s visit $8 to $15 and live-in domestic help $200 a month.

Rental properties are readily available and not overly expensive by American or European standards. The cost of 2-bedroom rental apartments begins at around $225 per month, with 3-bedroom houses starting at $35,000. Naturally, comparable housing in expatriate communities or the luxurious suburban homes that date from British colonial period can set you back considerably more.

Other properties recently on offer include:

A 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 725
-square-foot apartment with
a dining room, a kitchen, ceiling fans, a walk-in closet, and parking, costs $45,215.

A small two-story bungalow with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a kitchen, a living room, and a dining room going for $35,700.

A penthouse apartment, close to downtown, with a sea-view and a 350-sqare-foot terrace. It comes fully furnished and has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a kitchen, and a dining room. The asking price? $75,000.

A spacious 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 2500-square-foot condominium with a large living room, an elegant dining room, a fully equipped kitchen, and a pantry, for $125,250.

Though there are expensive restaurants and accommodations, there’s simply no reason for you to check into a five-star hotel when you can stay in a clean, friendly hotel in the city center for $40 a night where every meal costs less than $5 per person.

CRIME-FREE AND FOREIGNER FRIENDLY

Of course, cheap living shouldn’t be the only deciding factor when choosing a new home. As well as being very affordable, Malaysia is safe.The government’s real no tolerance policy means street crime is virtually nonexistent.

The Malaysian government, through its "Silver-Haired Program," offers expatriate resident retirees extremely attractive benefits. Outside of nationals of Israel and Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), the program is open to citizens of most countries. To qualify, you need only be over 50, show you can bring a guaranteed income of about $1300 per month into Malaysia (or open a savings account in Malaysia with $40,000), and have a local sponsor (which can easily be arranged).

Penang, a small island off the northwest coast, has been called the "Pearl of the Orient" and its beaches are a favorite tourist destination. The coastline is also dotted with many small, quiet seaside villages. The tropical rainforests and jungles offer many opportunities for exploring lush mountains, trekking through the jungle, or even taking a riverboat safari. The bountiful sea surrounding Malaysia provides for some of the best scuba diving and fishing anywhere in the world (Malaysia’s seas are home to the Black Marlin, tuna, mackerel, sailfish, barracuda and a host of other species).

PRACTICAL BENEFITS

Medical care is good, with excellent hospitals and clinics in all the major towns. Doctors speak English, and the majority gained their qualifications in Western Europe or North America.

Although foreign residents must arrange private health insurance, visiting tourists who have an accident are entitled to free emergency treatment in public hospitals. A consultation with a private doctor in most cases will cost just $8 to $15.

When it comes to banking, management methods and the range of services offered closely follow the British model. Plus, most major world banks have full-service branches in Malaysia.

Many expatriates living here off investment income keep their cash growing tax free in Labuan, an offshore tax haven administered by Malaysia, and then bring into the mainland what’s needed for living expenses. Labuan is also perfect for anyone looking for a private, offshore bank account, a tax-free corporation, a trust, or other offshore structures.

Led by Malaysian Airlines, the national carrier, the island is served by many major airlines, linking it the world through its international airports. A good network of modern roads covers the distances between towns, and Malaysian telecommunica
tions are among the best i
n the world.

If you’ve ever thought about living overseas, you owe it to yourself to investigate Malaysia.

About The Author

Copyright 2005 by Shannon Roxborough

Shannon Roxborough is an international lifestyle expert with close to 20 years experience. He has helped hundreds of clients with overseas living, retirement and travel matters. Visit his website at: www.TheGlobalLife.net

askinternational@aol.com

Kelah: The “king” of fish

ikan kelahThe "king" of the river fish – the "kelah" or Golden Mahseer – takes three years to grow to a size of three kilogram! To grow to 8 kg would take some 40 years, depending on its environment and food sources.

The kelah (scientific name "Tor Tombroides") which is also known as the "empurau" in Sarawak and Mahseer in India, can be found in several main rivers in the country except Perlis.

The prize fish which can fetch RM100 per kg, is now scarce as its population has dwindled either because of over-fishing or destruction of its habitat brought about by erosion.

Anglers would have to persistent enough to trek into the upper reaches of the rivers to hunt for this game fish that foreigners call the "Malaysian Golden Mahseer".

Among the places where anglers still go for the thrill of landing the fish are certain pools in the rivers of Taman Negara near Jerantut, like Sungai Tahan, Sungai Kenyam and Sungai Tembeling.

Sungai Nenggiri in Gua Musang is also a haven for these much sought after freshwater fish that can fetch a good price at fine dining restaurants in the country.

Sadly these Malaysian masheer (or tambriodes) faces extinction and efforts are underway to protect this endangered species.

Among other rivers, the Sungai Tahan which flows for about 55 km from its source in Mount Tahan to meet with Sungai Tembeling in Kuala Tahan, is said to be the fish’s main home.

With pools of five to 15 metres deep, its water darkish, swift and punctuated with waterfalls and rapids, the river is the natural habitat of this game fish which loves to hide and play among the many sunken logs and rocky banks.

To ensure that the species does not suffer the same fate as those in other areas, the authorities had since 2000 gazetted that river as a reserve where no fishing by whatever means is allowed.

With the ban, they are free and safe in Sungai Tahan. However, because its reproduction and growth rate is slow, the fish is said to be scarce and elusive.

As a result, the Wildlife Protection and National Park Department (Perhilitan) with the cooperation of Usains Holding Sdn Bhd, a research wing of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), had created an Ikan Kelah Sanctuary in Sungai Tahan.

Head of the
project, Professor Dr Eddy Ta
n, 57, said the idea of the sanctuary was mooted in early 1980s but they were able to realise it only in November 2001 after securing a RM5-million allocation under the 8th Malaysia Plan.

He said Sungai Tahan was chosen for the sanctuary because it is the natural spawning ground of the fish. Although fishing is outlawed for the whole river, the sanctuary project is confined to a pool area called "Lubuk Tenor", named after the Tenor river nearby.

Fringed by fruit trees such as guava, "neram", "temarih" and "ara" which are among the favourite food of the fish, the pool with a depth of four metres and the size of a badminton court, is about 40 minutes by boat from Kuala Tahan.

Dr Eddy said the research work was more of observation and study rather than scientific research because it did not disturb the fish.

"By this approach, we do not catch the fish by hooks or nets to gather data. Measurement of weight and size is through observation.

"Probably because we do not frighten them, the fishes in Lubuk Tenor appear to be more tame," he said.

Although men are their main enemy, the kelah in Lubuk Tenor are not exactly free from danger. "The kelah fry are food for another game fish, the `subarau’ while those weighing one to two kg are the preys of "toman" (or the snakehead) and tapah," he said.

One of the research work is to "persuade" the fish in the upper and lower reaches of the river to make Lubuk Tenor their home.

Jamalluddin Hamzah, 59, a founding member and former head of the sanctuary project, has many interesting tales to tell not only about how they "persuade" the fish but also how they convinced the local people around Kuala Tahan to appreciate and help make the project a success.

"When we first started, several of us had to go to the pool three times a day to scatter the food pellets made of seeds – morning, noon and evening," he said.

Jamaluddin also sounded a bell to call the fish when they scattered the food. "At first, only the lampam fish were attracted to the pellets. But three months later, several kelah weighing between one to three kgs were seen rushing for the food," he said.

After a while, they stopped using the bell and the fish would rush for the pellets whenever they are thrown into the pool.

And their efforts seemed to work because they have seen 40 to 50 of the fish in the pool, each weighing from one to five kg.

Jamaluddin said the villagers initially thought they were mad, wasting government money by feeding the fish in the river.

Dr Eddy said without the cooperation of the villagers, it would be difficult for the project to succeed. In this connection, they held several talks with them on the importantance of preserving these national treasures.

Students from schools around Kuala Tahan were brought to Lubuk Tenor to see how the kelah can be tamed and fed.

"After seeing for themselves how the wild fish can be tamed like those in the aquariums, the local people now realise the importance of the sanctuary project," he added.

Apart from the villagers, the project also involved the Orang Asli of the Batek tribe who live in Taman Negara.

"Almost 25 percent of the workers at the sanctuary come from this tribe. Now, the villagers and the Batek are acting as the eyes and ears of Perhilita
n in case anglers come to p
oach in the prohibited area," he said, adding that there has been no cases of poaching so far.

The sanctuary project is now a tourist attraction in the national park which is helping the local economy. The number of visitors to the park has increased from 50,000 in the 1990s to 66,000 last year.

Lubuk Tenor itself receives an average of 100 visitors a month since 2002.

According to Dr Eddy, the kelah can live up to 100 years which means that they can be passed on from generation to generation.

Based on the experience at the sanctuary, he believes that the fish can be reared in aquariums and exported like other aquarium-reared fishes.

They had in fact reared the fish in glass tanks in another sanctuary in Sungai Relau in Gua Musang, Kelantan, where the fishes were successfully trained to suckle liquid food from a feeding bottle after six months.

For diehard anglers, they still have the chance to experience the fight of the game fish in another pool found recently by the management of Taman Negara and Unisains, that is, at Pos Melantai 2.

A five-day and four-night package costing RM1,000 per person is now available to anglers and they come with experienced guides, boat rides, food and lodging.

To get to Pos Melantai 2, the anglers would have to take a boat ride of about an hour from Kuala Tahan, before continuing their journey by canoe and trekking through jungle trails for another three and half hours.

Anglers however can only catch and tag the kelah before releasing the fish back into the pool.

Dr Eddy said from his observation, there are 40 to 50 of the fish in the Pos Melantai 2 pool and the biggest ever landed, weighed 8.7 kg.

Those interested in the fishing package can contact Anjung Kelah, Taman Negara at 09-2664527.

Meanwhile in Sungai Nenggiri, The Kelantan State Government has taken the lead and has agreed in principle to gazette a catchment area covering three river tributaries to establish a kelah conservation area. It covers 800ha and involves more than 20 villages along the Nenggiri, Puian and Perian rivers like Kampung Setar, an orang asli settlement in the area. The conservation project includes the forest and riverine resources that will be protected from external threats. However, local communities will be allowed to continue harvesting limited resources on a sustainable level.

One of those involved in the project is Shariffuddin Budin, 45, the managing director of Titiwangsa Heritage Sdn Bhd.

Titiwangsa Heritage was given a five-year concession (from November 2003) by the Kelantan State Government to develop the area for recreational fishing, to undertake conservation works and to assist in the promotion of the area’s eco-tourism.

Two years of perseverance paid off when a watershed along Sungai Nenggiri was declared a conservation centre for the fish by the State government with endorsement from the Fisheries Department. It is one of the State’s first centres for research and re-stocking of the species.

Titiwangsa Heritage has enlisted the help of Prof Dr Azmi Ambak, an expert in freshwater fish conservation at Kolej Universiti Sains dan Teknologi, Malaysia (Kustem), as well as University Putra Malaysia Resource and Environment Economic Valuation specialist Prof Dr Mohd Shawahid Othman.

Shariffuddin said although the fish can be found in a few other rivers, their sizes are smaller compared to those found in
Sungai Nenggiri.

< p>“We are especially keen on kelah as a source to attract anglers to boost tourism in Gua Musang,” he said, adding that world-class anglers paid thousands of dollars for the masheer in Cauvery River in India where the fish is dubbed the King of Himalayan River.

“The biggest catch recorded at Gua Musang was 27kg; the fish was released back into the water as part of conservation purposes,” said Shariffuddin who has 15 years experience in handling kelah.

Shariffuddin believes Sungai Nenggiri has the potential to become a world destination for anglers who want to land trophy-sized catches of more than 10kg.

As part of efforts to create awareness amongst anglers and to attract tourists to visit Sungai Nenggiri, Titiwangsa Heritage organised the “Catch-and-Release Kelah Challenge 2005” from April 24 to June 3 with the cooperation of Kustem and the Fisheries Department. Winners received cash prizes, trophies and certificates.

The challenge was limited to only nine groups with one group comprising six anglers per week taking part. Fish caught were tagged for research purposes and then released.

Sungai Nenggiri, which flows from Cameron Highlands in Pahang to the lower reaches of Sungai Bertam in southern Kelantan, also teems with other freshwater species such as the baung, temoleh and ornamental fish like the arowana as well as udang galah.

The quality of the river water has, over the years, gradually deteriorated. Uncontrolled deforestation due to land clearing and timber harvesting activities upriver threaten the habitat of these precious species. In addition to the threat from logging, poachers also resort to deadly methods of fish harvesting using bombs, poison and electrocution method. If these activities are not checked, we might as well just say goodbye to the kelah and all its cousins!

A Quick Guide To Climbing Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

The majestic and awe-inspiring Mount Kinabalu is one of the premier destinations for thousands of visitors to Sabah, Malaysian Borneo each year. Kinabalu National Park, a designated World Heritage Site, boasts an estimated 4,500 species of plants which includes 1,500 species of orchids, 77 of which are endemic to Kinabalu, Nepenthes pitcher plants, and the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world.

The Park also supports 289 species of birds and 290 different types of butterflies. Besides being the highest peak in Borneo and the whole of South East Asia (between Irian Jaya and the Himalayas to be exact), and the youngest non-volcanic mountain in the world, Mount Kinabalu is extremely climber-friendly and compared to other much lower mountains around the world, Mount Kinabalu is an ideal first mountain for novice mountain trekkers to conquer.

gunung kinabalu

The standard climb up Mount Kinabalu is via the Kinabalu Summit Trail at Kinabalu National Park (~1,560m above sea level). The first ascent is from the starting point at Timpohon Gate, about 4km or 30 minutes drive from the Kinabalu National Park Headquarter.

If you prefer to start the ascent on Day 1, it is advisable to arrive at the Park late morning the latest or else, depending on the weather, the Park may not allow you to do the first ascent due to hazardous condition (i.e., the fog may be too thick by late evening causing visibility problems and/or the trail may be extremely slippery).

 Most climbers prefer to stay overnight at Kinabalu National Park upon arrival to not only acclimatize to the altitude but also to enjoy the magnificent flora and fauna at the Park before the "assault" on the next day/morning. The first ascent is from Timpohon Gate just after the Power Station up to the mid-summit Laban Rata Resthouse (or more popularly known as the 11,000 ft or ~3,873m).

You will first follow the crest of a narrow ridge that dips down onto the main slopes of Mount Kinabalu itself. A little further on, you will reach a scenic waterfall known as Carson’s Falls, named after the first Warden of the Park. Don’t forget to take a sip and fill your water bottles with the fresh natural mountain water.

Conservatively, it should take a normal fit person an average 5-6 hours to reach Laban Rata. Participants at the annual Mount Kinabalu Climbathon competition went all the way up to 13,400ft (4092.5m above sea level) and back in 2 hours. But it is not really about how fast you can reach the top. It is about the experience of trekking pass different vegetation zones from Oak and Chestnut to mossy and eventually to alpine type of vegetations, and observing the rare and exotic flora and fauna
on the way up.

Bes
ides the heated Laban Rata Resthouse, the other option for climbers is to stay at the unheated mountain huts.

There is actually another accommodation option at the so-called VIP Lodge, which is more expensive compared to the others and also, more difficult to secure (i.e., only two such units available). After a short night rest to recharge your battery, the second and more grueling phase will commence early morning on Day 2, at about 2 am to 3 am.

The second ascent will be from the mid-summit all the way to the summit, which is called Low’s Peak, named after the British colonial officer Sir Hugh Low, supposedly, the first person to conquer Mt. Kinabalu. The ascent should normally take a few hours but it is much more challenging than the initial ascent due to the thinner air near the summit.

But near the peak on the granite portion of the ascent, there will be a thick nylon rope laid down to mark the route so that climbers will not get lost in the fog. You can use this rope to pull your tired body up.

Although, to reach the summit is already an achievement, it is best to target, if possible, to reach the summit just before sunrise to catch the awesome sight. If you reached too early, it will be too freezing cold to wait too long for the sunrise.

On a good clear weather, the sky seemingly turns from black to red then orange and finally gold as the sun appears. When daylight breaks, you will truly feel that you are standing on top of the world. You can see as far as Kudat and even Sandakan if the weather permits.

One important tip is to make reservation early. Given the popularity of the Mount Kinabalu climb nowadays, it is advisable to book at least 3-4 months in advance (or even much earlier during the peak season usually around mid-year) to avoid any disappointment.

This is mainly due to the limited accommodation at the mid-summit (i.e., Laban Rata Resthouse, Mountain Huts or the VIP Lodge). In the event that there is no accommodation at the mid-summit, the climb will not be possible as strictly stipulated in the National Park’s rules and regulations.

Additionally, a mountain guide is compulsory. In essence, Mount Kinabalu is relatively an easy mountain to climb. There is not much risk of acute mountain sickness at the first phase of climbing. Given climber-friendliness of the mountain, conquering the mountain must be high in your list of "activities to do" if you were to visit Sabah.

For the average fit person, a visit to Borneo will not be complete without conquering Mount Kinabalu.

About the Author

e-borneo.com is a Borneo travel gateway, trip advisor, and tour intermediary for the best and cost-effective custom/full-package Borneo holiday deals to Malaysia Borneo and Brunei. Check out one of the Mount Kinabalu tour itineraries at http://www.e-borneo.com/travel/tours/eb-kk14.html or visit http://www.e-borneo.com/ for more tour options.

Borneo – Exotic Island Paradise

SABAH is Malaysia’s premier nature adventure destination situated in the northern tip of Borneo Island, the third largest island in the world. Sabah is popular for its wildlife conservation attractions, rain forest, surrounding nature and islands, beach resorts, tropical white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and its warm and friendly people. If you are thinking of visiting Borneo, these places of interest and activities will whet your appetite!

Mount Kinabalu

Let me begin with my favorite place and definitely not to be missed if you are visiting Borneo, Mt. Kinabalu (4,093m). It is the summit of Borneo and the tallest mountain in South East Asia. This mountain is sacred to the locals. Thousands from around the world have trekked to its peak. At the feet of this mountain is Kinabalu National Park, a botanical paradise where rare plants are found: rare orchids, nepenthes pitcher plants and the rafflesia, the largest flower in the world.

Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

If you haven’t heard yet, the most popular native of Borneo is the Orang Utan. The world-famous Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre enables visitors to come in close contact with these amazing animals. This sanctuary allows visitors to witness an exciting conservation programme in action. Set in 43 square km of beautiful rainforest, the sanctuary helps once captive Orang Utans learn to fend for themselves in the wild. Watch how these orphaned Orang Utans being taught to climb, and then go to a platform where you can witness them coming in from within the forest for their daily meals of milk and bananas.

Danum Valley Rain Forest

If nature is close to your heart, then this next destination I am going to introduce you is a must visit, Danum Valley. Danum Valley is nestled deep in the rain forest of Borneo where nature is at its most pristine. As you travel deeper and deeper into the jungle, you will suddenly come across a magical paradise of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL), erected overlooking the magnificent setting of the Segama River and flanked by tall hill ranges. BRL is an impressive resort, designed by naturalists and built on stilts using traditional timber materials, and has the comfort of a 3-Star Hotel. I totally recommend Danum Valley to those who yearn to see wildlife in a primeval Borneo rainforest – the rare Sumatran rhino, proboscis monkeys, Orang Utan, elephants and over 275 species of birds.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Island Park

When you think you have enough of sightseeing and you want to take a day’s break idling around to charge your energy, then I suggest you tak
e a 30-minute boat trip to T
unku Abdul Rahman Park. The park is made up of five beautiful islands and is a well-known sanctuary where peace and tranquility prevails. The tropical white sandy beaches are ideal for relaxing and tanning. The crystal clear water is fantastic if you fancy snorkeling or watching the sea lives and corals. The park is also a great spot for a BBQ picnic under the long hours of golden sunshine. Other activities include windsurfing, fishing, parasailing, kayaking and bird watching.

Golfing Holidays

If golf is your sport, then try the numerous high quality golf courses in Sabah. One of the courses as described by its designer – “I had to create a masterpiece by combining the natural splendor of the mountains and the seas, with ingenious architecture, and create a first class championship course to provide an enjoyable, yet challenging game for top professional golfers and amateurs alike" – Graham Marsh. Enough words said for the quality of golf courses here.

White-Water Rafting

For the true adventure seeker looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity, Sabah offers some of the most exhilarating thrills in the world. My scariest experience, only because I am not a good swimmer, is white-water rafting down the Padas River (a grade-3 river). Whilst trying to negotiate the rapids along this raging river for a distance of about 5 kilometers, do enjoy the breathtaking view that the surrounding rain forest does offer. However, be warned, don’t take your eyes off the rapids and waves too long!

Scuba Diving

Off the North Eastern coast of Borneo lies a tiny jewel of an island, Sipadan, with a marine ecosystem so perfect and unique that it is world renowned as one of the best dive spots in the world. Sipadan Island rises as a pristine Coral Sea mount, 650 meters from the floor of the Sulawesi Sea. This pinnacle off the eastern coast of Borneo is an oceanic magnet for marine life. As soon as you enter the crystal clear waters of Sipadan Island, you’ll understand why you have endured a journey that has taken you halfway around the world. As you begin to descend into this tropical water, you’ll also understand why the World Wildlife Fund says, "No other spot on the planet has more marine life than this island."

 

About The Author

Walter Rajah is owner of Exploration Borneo Tours. Visit his site at http://www.explorationborneo.com for more information and images of Borneo – The Exotic Island Paradise. Check out all the travel packages to Borneo and subscribe to EBT Travel Newsletter for the latest events, travel news, Borneo articles and cheap deals!

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Malaysia courting honeymoon couples from Italy

With an amazing 300,000 couples getting married every year in Italy, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (Tourism Malaysia) is courting them to spend their honeymoon in Malaysia.

Tourism Malaysia Milan office director Mohd Nasir Kushairi said Malaysia must capitalise on this big and lucrative market as a survey showed that Italians spend an average of five billion Euros (RM23.3 billion) a year to get married, with the honeymoon trip an all-important part in the expenditure.

Mohd Nasir said going on honeymoon was perceived by Italians as the second-to-none way of starting up a new life, so the couple relied quite heavily on a travel agent’s professionalism.

“On the average, they spend Euro 3,000 (about RM14,000) for honeymoon, excluding air ticket. Their popular destination is the Mediterranean which has beautiful beaches and warm weather,” he told Malaysian journalists who were here to cover Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s visit to Italy.

Mohd Nasir said Malaysia could tap the honeymoon market as it had similar attractions like the Mediterranean including beautiful islands like Pangkor, Langkawi and Tioman as well as Sabah.

He said a survey conducted by travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller showed that 76 percent of the newly-weds resorted to a travel agent’s guidance for their trip while 24 percent planned the trip on their own.

More interestingly, 37 percent chose group-tours, long-haul destinations being preferred by 51 percent with Europe attracting 40 percent, while 25 percent picked Italy.

The survey also showed that destination accounted for 91 percent of the choices, followed by the quite complex combination of stay-holiday and a tour (69 percent), price (69 percent), travel agent’s advice (60 percent), and the brand-name of the tour operator and their promotional campaign (46 percent and 40 percent respectively).

Mohd Nasir said Malaysian tourism players should not miss the opportunity as the country had began to attract Italians since Malaysia Airlines brought tourists from Milan through chartered flights from December last year to April this year.

In the first five months of this year, 8,194 Italians visited Malaysia compared to 5,257 in the same period last year while a total of 12,872 came in 2003.

“Many of the Italians like beaches and eco-tourism. That is why they like to go to Langkawi and Sabah as it offers beaches, extreme sports activities like climbing mountains, scuba and diving,” he said.

He said if the honeymoon market was capitalised, Malaysia could see year-long tourist arrivals from Italy as May was considered a wedding season while tourists also travelled during summer in July and August as well during winter between November and January.

Mohd Nasir said several activities and programmes had been lined-up by Tourism Malaysia’s Milan office to promote the country in Italy as well as surrounding countries like Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“Tourism Malaysia picks Milan as its main office for Italy due to its strategic location. Furthermore, this is the backbone of Italian economy and travellers are from this region,” he said.

Furthermore, many European companies involved in the fashion industry were based here and when the affluent travelled, they spend an average of 2,000 Euros (RM9,300), he said.

He said Malaysia’s entry into the world of Formula One and the hosting of the Le Tour de Langkawi cycling championship had generated wide publicity for the country in Italy.

“And capitalising on this, we sponsored a local cycling team who have won several championships. It brought huge mileage for us,” he said.

Mohd Nasir said Tourism Malaysia also conducted regular seminars for travel and tour operators while familiarisation trips to Malaysia for tourism players and media were held throughout the year.

He said with all the promotional activities in place, the number of tourist arrivals from Italy, with a population of 57 million, was expected to increase by 20 percent this year.

Besides that, Balkan countries which had recently joined the European Union were being targeted as they offered long term prospects, he added. – Bernama