• Overview

    Prior to may 1995, Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA) was an informal protected area in the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve of primary, undisturbed, predominantly lowland rainforest with an outstanding complement of Borneo flora and fauna. It was part of the almost one million ha forest concession assigned to Yayasan Sabah.

    Things To Do

    Danum Valley Field Centre has evolved into one of the foremost rainforest research establishments in South East Asia. The extensive facilities include permanent research plots and an extensive trail system, well-equipped analytical laboratories, computer and email facilities, a library, climatic station data, phenology monitoring data base, trained field staff, vehicles, housing and sports facilities.

    Accomodation

    Accommodation is available in two VIP rooms, seven-bedroom and four-bedroom resthouses and two 48-bed hostel blocks. The VIP rooms and resthouse rooms have two or three beds each and attached bathrooms. Bedding and towels are provided. A nearby campground is also available with water and electricity, for selfcatering visitors.

  • 2 Days, 1 Night

    2-day tour to Danum Valley Field Centre, starting from Lahad Datu. Places on itinerary includes Infapro Project Area and Bukit Atur.

    3 Days, 2 Nights

    3-day tour to Danum Valley Field Centre, starting from Lahad Datu. Places on itinerary includes Infapro Project Area, Tembaling Waterfall and Bukit Atur.

    BRL 4 Days, 3 Nights

    4-day tour to Danum Valley Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL), starting from Lahad Datu. Places on itinerary includes Coffin Cliff, Fairy Falls, Serpent Falls and Danum River.

  • Danum Valley Conservation Area

    Prior to may 1995, Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA) was an informal protected area in the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve of primary, undisturbed, predominantly lowland rainforest with an outstanding complement of Borneo flora and fauna. It was part of the almost one million ha forest concession assigned to Yayasan Sabah. In 1976, WWF-malaysia suggested that the area be declared a national park. The Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA) is a 438 sq. km tract. However, Yayasan Sabah Board of Trustess resolved on November 28, 1980, to leave the area within Yayasan Sabah concession but shall leave it unlogged for the purpose of conservation. Thereafter it is known as "Danum Valley Conservation Area".

    The area would be administered informally as Conservation Area in recognition of its outstanding biodiversity value. To help justify forgoing such a large financial opportunity, the Yayasan Sabah Board of Trustees resolved to make use of Danum Valley for purposes of research and education, which are in line with its charitable mission.

    In 1982, the Interagency Danum Valley Management Committee was established, comprising Yayasan Sabah, the Sabah Forestry Department, the sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Evironment, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and several other agencies.

    The Forest Management Plan for Yayasan Sabah Concession Area was drawn up and approved by the State Cabinet in 1984. Principle to this plan was the designation of two areas as protected conservation areas, one of which being the Danum Valley Conservation Area. In May 1995, the area was declared a Class I (protection) Forest Reserve by the Sabah Legislative Assembly, meaning that it cannot be logged except by decisions of a two thirds majority vote by the Sabah Legislative Assembly. In 1999, Danum Valley Conservation Area was further gazetted under The Cultural Heritage (Conservation) Enactment 1998, as a Cultural Heritage (Conservation) Area.

    Catering

    • Meals are served buffet-style in the rest house dining area (maximum capacity of 70 people).
    • Packed lunches can be provided if ordered one day before.
    • Coffee and tea are available free of charge in the dining area.
    • Drinking water is available in the dining hall.
    • Visitors staying in the hostel or campsite can choose to do self-catering. A stove and gas tank are provided in the campsite, and a stove, gas tank and refrigerator are available in the multipurpose hall and hostel kitchen.

    Communications and Safety

    DVFC is equipped with emergency VHF radio facilities, telephone, public telephone, e-mail and fax.

    The Centre has a first aid kit and a Helipad for emergency evacuations. Visitors are advised to get their own insurance before visiting DVFC.

    Do's and Don'ts

    • Drive and carefully on the road to DVFC. Remember this road is also used by 70-ton logging trucks and other vehicles.
    • Upon arrival, pay careful attention to the briefing given to you by DVFC staff.
    • Please write down your name at the notice board if you are going into the forest without a DV Ranger, stay on the trails so that you don't get lost!
    • Take a water bottle with you in the forest, and torch and spare batteries if you are going out at night.
    • Do not take anything from the forest including flowers, leaves, insects, wood etc. Remember that this is a special protected area and it is our responsibility to care for it wisely.
    • Do not bring a parang or gun. HUNTING IS ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN anywhere in the Danum Valley Conservation Area or Yayasan Sabah Concession Area.
    • Having a responsible attitude and not dropping litter ANYWHERE. All litter should be disposed of in the bins provided at DVFC, or taken home with you.
    • Remember that you are in a Centre where scientists are carrying out research. Please respect this privilege and respect the areas, which are restricted for scientists' use only.

    CONDITIONS OF ENTRY INTO THE CONSERVATION AREA

    Danum Valley Conservation Area is a Class 1 (Protection) Forest Reserve, under the Sabah Forestry Enactment 1968. Please remember:

    • Visitors must have insurance cover that includes emergency helicopter evacuation.
    • Visitors must report to the Manager of the Conservation Area or his representative upon their arrival.
    • Visitors must declare their photographic equipment/cameras upon reporting to the Manager of the Conservation Area or his representative.
    • Visitors must be accompanied by one or more rangers when entering the forest, except in designated "Self-guided Nature Trails".
    • Hunting is prohibited anywhere in the Conservation Areas or Yayasan Sabah Forest Management Area.
    • Firearms are absolutely forbidden.
    • Collection of specimens is absolutely not allowed unless with written permission.
    • There should be no slashing of vegetation or cutting of new trails, unless with permission from relevant officers/staff of the Conservation Area.
    • No graffiti on any surface including but not limited to rocks, trees, signboards or any other structures.
    • Forest fires are real danger and campfires can be lit only under supervision of the rangers.
    • Visitors must inform the Manager of the Conservation Area if they have any health complication that requires special attention.
    • Styrofoam containers and canned foods must not be brought into the Conservation Area.
    • All litter/rubbish must be brought out.
    • Visitors must settle all charges/payments prior to leaving the Conservation Area.
    • Visitors who break any of the above rules will be asked to leave the Conservation Area immediately.
    • Visitors' bags are subject to inspection on departure from DVFC.
  • Danum Valley Field Centre

    To facilitate activities realated to research. Education, training and wilderness recreation, Yayasan Sabah established the Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) IN 1986. Located on the edge of Danum Valley Conservation Area, the Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) is open to both international and local scientists/ researchers, who must first apply in waiting to the sectary, Danum Valley Management Committee.

    Danum Valley Field Centre has evolved into one of the foremost rainforest research establishments in South East Asia. The extensive facilities include permanent research plots and an extensive trail system, well-equipped analytical laboratories, computer and email facilities, a library, climatic station data, phenology monitoring data base, trained field staff, vehicles, housing and sports facilities, a Nature Interpretation and Environmental Education Building and a Nature Discovery Centre, several canopy observatation platforms and towers, and a suspension bridge over the Segama River.

    Flora

    Danum Valley Conservation Area is dominated by dipterocarp tress, with the cnopy reaching a height of over 70 metres in some places. Some 90% of the Conservation Area is classified as dipterocarp forest, with the remaining 10% being low canopy, sub-montane forest mainly found on Mt. Danum in the heart of the Conservation Area.

    Fauna

    The rare Wallace Flying Frog, soft shelled turtles, skinks, vipers, more than 40 species of fishes and a profusion of butterflies, such as the spectacular Rajah Brooke, can be seen, as well as more than 120 species of mammals including 10 species of primates. Notably, the Conservation Area and its surrounding are an important habitat for orang hutan and, due in part to minimal hunting pressure , is particularly rich in other large mammals including the Bornean pygmy elephant, banteng, Malayan sun bear, clouded leopard, bearded pig and five species of deer. Danum Valley also provides one of the last refuges in Sabah for the critically endangered Sumatran rhino. Bird diversity is very high and over 300 species of bird have been recorded, including the Bulwer's pheasant, seven species of pittas, the Borneo Bristlehead and all eight species of hornbill found in Borneo.

    Research

    Research programmes at Danum Valley began in 1982 when the Danum Valley Management Committee was established as a official interdepartmental committee of the State Government ti specifically develop an international collaborative research programme at Danum Valley Field Centre. This lead to the establishment of the "Danum Valley Rainforest Research and Training Programme" that was agreed through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 1984, the signatories being Yayasan Sabah, Sabah Forestry Department and Unversiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (Sabah Campus). At the same time, a supplementary MOU was signed between these agencies and The Royal Society, UK.

    To date over 350 collaborative research projects have been completed or are underway resulting in about 400 publications. Major studies focused on natural forest dynamics, regeneration within artificial gaps, nutrient cycling and the effect of logging on water quality and vertebrate populations, and a long-term research related to climate commenced in 2008 by a consortium of 8 institutions with collaboration from Malaysian universities/ institutions and headed by University of Lancaster, UK.

    International and local researchers who wish to conduct research in Danum Valley must first aplly in writing to the Secretariat of the Danum Valley Management Committee and fulfill all requirements by the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister`s Department.

    The Danum Valley Field Centre not only serves as a research center but also a field-training center for both undergraduate and graduate programmes, as well as environmental education. In terms of research training,over 70ph.D.and Masters Theses have been successfully completed since 1985, with 50% Several past postgraduates of the Programme are in senior positions in agencies or ministries related to rain-forest management or in universities in Sabah. With regard to training of Malaysians and Sabahans in particular, it is a fact Danum Valley is instrumental in helping to produce highly trained/ skilled workforce who are now contributing to the mainstream of activities in the State as some of the research assistants and rangers trained in Danum Valley are gainfully employed in other sectors especially in tourism related industries. Yayasan Sabah can look back with pride in having contributed to science and humanity through this programme.

    Interpretive trails have been set up in the forest surrounding the centre, and environmental education activities include sampling of the nearby Segama River, night walks and bird watching, as well as role play, games and talks by resident scientists .The centre capable of hosting courses and seminars for up to100 participants. Group has included local government and non- government agencies and various overseas organizations.

    Danum Valley Field Centre is also an ideal location for tertiary education, catering for industrial placements and tropical field trips by local and foreign under- graduate and post graduate students.

  • Accommodation

    Trails

    • Self-guided Nature Trail, a 500m-loop trail with numbered posts, labeled trees and an illustrated booklet in Malay and English.
    • Interpretation & Environmental Education trail near the EE building.
    • Over 50km of other marked trails.

    Hostel

  • 2 Days 1 Night Danum Valley

    DAY 01 Lahad datu - Danum Valley Field Centre

    0800hrs Pick-up at Lahad Datu Airport and transfer to DVCA via 4WD or coach. Briefing on the programme prior to departure.
    1030hrs Visit Infapro Project Area and learn about forest regeneration, seedling growing techniques, replanting and carbon ofset principles. For a fee and at your request, you can plant a tree (signboard with your name, name of tree and date planted will be prepared. Fee includes maintenance cost for 5 years).
    1130hrs Arrival and registration at DVCA Reception & Information Building, followed by a tour of the Exhibition Gallery.
    1230hrs Lunch
    1900hrs Dinner served at Resthouse Dining Hall.
    2100hrs "Night Drive" to observe norturnal wildlife OR video show on Danum Valley (If weather permits)
    Overnight at Danum Valley Field Centre, Danum Valley

    DAY TWO

    0530hrs Leave for Bukit Atur and be one of the first to greet the first ray of the sun as it touches the valley.
    0730hrs Return to DVFC. Breakfast.
    0830hrs Check-out. Depart for a 21/2 hours journey back to Lahad Datu Town/Airport.


  • 3 Days 2 Nights Danum Valley

    DAY 01 Lahad datu - Danum Valley Field Centre

    0800hrs Pick-up at Lahad Datu Airport and transfer to DVCA via 4WD or coach. Briefing on the programme prior to departure.
    1030hrs Visit Infapro Project Area and learn about forest regeneration, seedling growing techniques, replanting and carbon ofset principles. For a fee and at your request, you can plant a tree (signboard with your name, name of tree and date planted will be prepared. Fee includes maintenance cost for 5 years).
    1130hrs Arrival and registration at DVCA Reception & Information Building, followed by a tour of the Exhibition Gallery.
    1230hrs Lunch
    1400hrs OPTION 1 - Take a walk along the 500m self-guided nature trail, and get to know the rainforest, marvel at its beauty and experience the pristine ambience of the rainforest as it has been for hundreds of years.

    OR

    OPTION 2 - Trek to the one of the old burial caves of long gone communities. A radio carbon analysis on a child's femur dates back to A.D.1670, while the coffin made of Bornean Iron Wood (Belian) dates back to A.D. 1210.
    1530hrs Return to DVFC (Rest).
    1900hrs Dinner served at Resthouse Dining Hall.
    2100hrs "Night Drive" to observe norturnal wildlife OR video show on Danum Valley (If weather permits)
    Overnight at Danum Valley Field Centre, Danum Valley

    DAY TWO

    0700hrs Breakfast.
    0830hrs Trek to Tembaling Waterfall and marvel at one of the world's oldest rainforest, its rich flora and fauna. The trek takes approximately 2 hours. If weather permits, you may take a refreshing swim in the cold, unpolluted rainforest stream. Ample opportunities for birdwatching. Don't forget to bring along your swimming gear! If weather permits (Picnic Lunch provided).
    1400hrs Return to DVFC and continue birdwatching activities.
    1900hrs Dinner (Rest).
    Overnight at Danum Valley Field Centre, Danum Valley

    DAY THREE

    0700hrs Breakfast. Visit the 33m high Observation Tower, enjoy the majestic view and birding from the tower.
    0530hrs Leave for Bukit Atur and be one of the first to greet the first ray of the sun as it touches the valley.
    0730hrs Return to DVFC. Breakfast.
    0830hrs Check-out. Depart for a 21/2 hours journey back to Lahad Datu Town/Airport.


  • Borneo Rainforest Lodge 4 Days 3 Nights Danum Valley

    DAY 01 Lahad datu - Danum Valley Field Centre

    0755hrs Meet & Greet at Lahad Datu Airport upon arrival and proceed to Borneo Nature Tours office for registration & briefing.
    0930hrs Depart for 2 and a half hours overland journey on gravel road to Danum Valley Borneo Rainforest Lodge. This is the largest protected area of lowland dipterocarp rainforest in Sabah, covering 43800 hectares.
    1200hrs Arrive & Check In at the Lodge. Lunch.
    1430hrs Slide presentation at Conference Room.
    1500hrs Afternoon Trek: Introduction to the forest through "Nature Trails" and tree top "Canopy Walkway" 300m in length and 26m at the highest point, for a close-up observation of the rainforest.
    1900hrs Dinner at the Lodge.
    2030hrs Night Drive in an open-top vehicle in search of nocturnal animals.
    Overnight at Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

    DAY TWO

    0700hrs Breakfast at the Lodge.
    0900hrs Morning Jungle Trek: Trek to the Kadazandusun burial site - "Coffin Cliff" before proceed to "View Point" for a bird's eye view of the area. Descend to the "Jacuzzi Pool" for a refreshing dip.
    1230hrs Lunch at the Lodge.
    1500hrs Afternoon Jungle Trek or go for a relaxing session of 'tubing' down the Danum River.
    1900hrs Dinner at the Lodge.
    2030hrs Night Walk in search of nocturnal animals.
    Overnight at Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

    DAY THREE

    0700hrs Breakfast at the Lodge.
    0900hrs Morning Jungle Trek: Trek to the Fairy Falls and Serpent Falls to experience more of the sound & sights of the Rainforest.
    1230hrs Lunch at the Lodge.
    1500hrs Afternoon Jungle Trek or go for a relaxing session of 'tubing' down the Danum River.
    1900hrs Dinner at the Lodge.
    2030hrs Optional Night Drive or Night Walk in search of nocturnal animals.
    Overnight at Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

    DAY FOUR

    0700hrs Breakfast at the Lodge. Guests at own leisure.
    1200hrs Lunch at the Lodge.
    1330hrs Check Out & depart for Lahad Datu airport (2 and a half hours drive).


  • Tourism trade show to return next year after exciting debut

    The Star Online, Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    SERDANG: After a successful maiden effort, the Malaysia International Tourism Exchange (MITE) will be staged once again from June 6 to 9 next year. Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen congratulated the organisers of the country's first tourism trade show which was attended by about 16,000 visitors. “Since this is the first time something like this is being held, it was a very good start.

    “I was informed that 88 travel packages were sold, and that one tour operator sold RM3.6mil worth of packages. “MITE 2012 is just the beginning and we can expect an even more exciting event at MITE 2013,” she said in her speech read by Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) chief executive officer Zulkefli Sharif.

    Dr Ng added that the tourism industry currently contributed RM1bil a week to the country's economy and efforts like MITE 2012 helped in achieving the ministry's goal of tripling this figure by 2020. The closing ceremony of MITE 2012 at the Malaysia Agro-Exposition Park Serdang last night also featured a concert by local artistes.

    MITE 2012 combined networking among local and international traders in the industry, with a one-stop travel fair for consumers. The four-day event which ends today includes pre-scheduled meeting sessions with the 400 participating traders from 23 different countries and a travel fair which features 500 exhibition booths.

  • 3 factors why investors love Sabah

    New Straits Times, Monday, May 24, 2012

    KOTA KINABALU: SABAH'S political stability, sound policies and focused economic directions are three key factors that have caught the attention of the country's business community. Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president Tan Sri William Cheng Heng Jem said this here yesterday after leading a delegation for a meeting with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

    "Rapid economic development has taken place in Sabah. It looks different and the economic landscape is different," Cheng said, adding that the three factors were prerequisites investors looked for in a country or state.

    "Sabah is rich in natural resources, such as timber, minerals, oil and gas. However, what is important is it takes the right leadership to take the state to greater heights." Cheng said tourism and agriculture, including aquaculture, were doing well in the state and had the potential to grow. "I am also told that Sabah has strong environmental conservation laws. "This is also good in terms of ecotourism."

    Meanwhile, Musa said investors were interested in Malaysia because of the conducive atmosphere, good government policies and stable politics under the able leadership of Prime Minister Dauk Seri Najib Razak. He said the environmental laws on conservation had a long-term positive impact on the overall development of the state.

    "Protecting the forests, phasing out logging and focusing on reforestation means that future generations can once again have tropical rainforests, which had been logged, in 30 to 40 years' time." Similarly, he said a clean and unpolluted environment helped to draw investors to Sabah.

    Citing a United States-based multinational company, Darden Incorporated, he said the food giant had committed about US$2 billion (RM6.3 billion) to develop lobster farming off the coast of Semporna because the water was not polluted.

    "They also told me that another important reason why they chose to invest here was because of the prevailing economic and political stability in Malaysia."

  • RM37.1m for Sarawak tourism projects

    New Straits Times, Monday, May 23, 2012

    KUCHING: Under the 1st Rolling Plan (2011-2012) of the 10th Malaysia Plan, the federal government through the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia has allocated RM37.1 million for the implementation of 50 approved tourism projects in Sarawak.

    Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said to date, 14 projects had been completed, 14 other projects had been awarded to contractors and 22 projects were still at the stage of procurement process (inviting tender and quotation) and most of the 50 projects were expected to be completed by the end of 2012.

    "My Ministry is also coordinating and reviewing tourism project proposals which are to be considered under the 3rd rolling plan of the 10th Malaysia Plan worth RM153 million," he said in his winding up speech at the State Legislative Assembly sitting, here today.

    He said among the projects were Bakam Point-Miri, Bekenu Riverfront-Miri, Miri Tourism Corridor, Heritage Trail Kuching, Botanical Garden-Petra Jaya, Sarawak Museum, Digital Billboards-Kuching and Maritime Museum.

    Johari said his ministry was looking forward to the completion of the jetty at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) to provide unique transportation experience for tourists to BCCK via the river taxi.

    "This initiative gives BCCK the competitive edge amongst other worldwide convention competitors. This project is expected to be completed by the end of this year," he said. Talking on the Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE), Johari said there was growing awareness, particularly amongst developing nations, that business events such as association conferences were an essential ingredient in the economic strategy of a destination.

    He said in order to move up the value chain of the Tourism Industry, my Ministry fully recognised the important contribution of the MICE sector to the economy. This was why the Ministry continued to support the development of convention bids, and the positioning of Sarawak as a business destination.

    "Last year, Sarawak hosted 51 Conventions, Incentive and Corporate Meetings with 14,254 delegates and with a direct delegate expenditure of RM27.21 million," he said. Johari said the total number of bids won last year was 54 with estimated delegates at 24,875 with potential direct delegate expenditure of RM58.30 million up to 2016.

  • Trade fair scheme launched to acknowledge tourism related business premises

    Daily Express, Friday, January 13, 2012 - By Neil Chan

    KOTA KINABALU: City Hall on Thursday launched its 'Fair Trade Tourism Select- An Accredited Outlet' scheme to acknowledge tourism related business premises which implement elements of responsibility and fairness in their business.

    "This means that business premises selected in the scheme have been judged by City Hall to meet all of the terms to enable them to be accredited as responsible businesses," said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun who officiated at the launching.

    "We in the Ministry are pleased with this programme as it will add value to this services and products offered to tourists."

    He said what will happen is that each shop that is accredited will receive a certificate which is then displayed outside the business premises.

    "What this would do is reassure tourists and customers that they will be getting a good service and a fair price as the accreditation is a guarantee that the premises will not charge them an unreasonable price."

    Msidi said this after the launching of the scheme at Kadaiku, a handicraft and souvenir retail outlet in Sinsuran and managed by Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd which was the first accredited tourism related business outlet under the Fair Trade Tourism Select Programme.

    According to him the reason they were targeting tourism related business with this accreditation programme was because they are the frontliners to the rest of the world.

    "They reflect what Sabah is all about to foreign visitors. If we are reasonable and treat them well and we don't 'slaughter' them with high prices then obviously they will keep coming back again and again to Sabah to buy things."

    He said the whole idea is to set a precedent where a business can still make money by charging a fair amount to all the patrons.

    "This has been practiced in Hong Kong and it's doing well for the Tourism industry in Hong Kong.

    Masidi also suggested that once a premise is approved under the scheme and passes a year operations without any issues then its accreditation be renewed on a two year basis.

    Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir added that the shops under the programme will be monitored by City Hall to ensure they abide by the conditions of the accreditation.

    City Hall Advisory Board member and Tourism, Culture and International Communications Committee Chairwoman Datuk Nancy Ho who said the presentation of the accreditation was the first of its kind in the State hoped the business would serve as a good role model as a flagship store for the State.

    "At this point by the end of 2012, we hope that there will be 50 stores(in the programme) dealing in tourism related products," she said.

    According to Ho, the application forms are available for download for the interested businesses at City Hall's and the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Environment websites.

    Also present at the event was Ministry Permanent Secretary Datuk Michael Emban, Sabah Tourism Board Chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin and City Hall Deputy Director cum Programme Organising Chairman Bahari Hassan.

  • 4WD challenge to boost tourism

    New Straits Times, Monday 21 May, 2012

    KOTA KINABALU: In a bid to promote friendship and tourism, more than 150 four-wheel-drive (4WD) buffs completed a 1,100km expedition that covered Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei recently.

    The inaugural Pan Borneo 4WD challenge, with the theme "Heritage to Heritage", was flagged off by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun at Mount Kinabalu National Park on April 29 and ended at Mulu National Park in Miri, Sarawak, on May 4.

    Sabah Four Wheel Drive Association president Edward Lingkapo said yesterday 60 vehicles took part in the six-day expedition. "About 35 per cent of the route were off-road.

    "We also stopped at tourist spots along the way to promote them," he said of their journey, which covered Kuala Penyu, Lawas, Temburong in Brunei, Limbang, Miri and Mulu.

    "The purpose of the expedition was to open doors for 4WD enthusiasts in Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Peninsular Malaysia to get to know each other better." He said the response was overwhelming.

    Lingkapo also revealed that the next Pan Borneo 4WD challenge would be more challenging as the association planned to stretch the off-road route to 50 per cent.

    He added that the association would also play host to the Borneo Safari, one of the oldest 4WD competition in the country, in the final week of October.

  • Pioneering travel industry figureheads discuss the future of business travel

    International Travel Daily News, Friday, May 18, 2012

    The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) announced the speakers for the ‘Luminaries of Travel CEO’ panel to be held on July 24th, during GBTA Convention in Boston, Massachusetts. Trip Davis, President and Senior Associate Dean for external relations of the Darden School Foundation will moderate the panel with leaders of major travel suppliers including Barney Harford, CEO of Orbitz Worldwide, Luis Maroto, President and CEO of Amadeus, and Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International, Inc. The panel is made possible by BMO Financial Group.

    These luminaries will tackle crucial questions about the future of business travel including the changing supplier landscape and the new generation of business travelers. They will engage in an insightful dialogue about technological advances, industry consolidation and growing demands for sustainability shaping the industry.

    “These panelists have a real inside view into the supply side of the travel industry. Their insights will be invaluable for the travel managers, meetings professionals and procurement leaders tasked with managing the important relationships affecting their travel programs,” said Michael W. McCormick, Executive Director and COO of GBTA. “This is one of the marquee panels at GBTA Convention and we’re excited to hear from them.”

    Trip Davis is the President and Senior Associate Dean for external relations of the Darden School Foundation. As an award winning entrepreneur and executive in travel technology and data services, Trip is a visionary and driving force in the travel industry. He built two successful technology services firms which have been enablers of online travel, now the largest ecommerce category. He is the co-founder and Chairman of TRX, a global leader in travel technology and data services. TRX processes travel transaction data from over 400 sources in 50 countries he led the company from a start-up to $110 million in revenue and IPO in 2005.

    Barney Harford serves as CEO of Orbitz Worldwide and director on the Orbitz Worldwide board of directors. As one of the world’s leading online travel companies, Orbitz Worldwide operates brands in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific that generate over US$11 billion in travel bookings each year. Barney previously served in a variety of roles at Expedia, Inc. and led the company’s entry into China, Japan and Australia. He also serves as a board member of LiquidPlanner, an on-demand project management service that is transforming the way organizations manage complex projects; and Orange Hotel Group, a high-design budget hotel chain based in China.

    Luis Maroto serves as the President & CEO of Amadeus. Previously, Luis was Deputy CEO of Amadeus, with responsibility for overall company strategy as well as line management of the finance, internal audit, legal and human resources functions. He has also been instrumental in Amadeus’ return to the stock market with the company’s successful IPO in April 2010. Luis holds a law degree from the Complutense University, Madrid, an MBA from the IESE Business School and further postgraduate qualifications from Harvard Business School and Stanford.

    Arne M. Sorenson is the President and CEO of Marriott International, Inc., a leading global lodging company with nearly 3,700 lodging properties in 72 countries and territories. In his previous role as Marriott’s President and COO, Mr. Sorenson was responsible for the performance and growth of all of Marriott’s worldwide brands and businesses. Mr. Sorenson is chairman of Marriott’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council and co-founded Marriott’s Global Sustainability Council launching Marriott’s rainforest preservation partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation in Brazil.

  • Aussies get a taste of Penampang culture

    Daily Express, January 28 2012 - By Lorena Binisol

    For the past four years since its setting up, Penampang Homestay have played host to many tourism-related activities with the assistance of Tourism Malaysia particularly Sabah Tourism.

    This year was special as it entertained its first Australians who came not only to sample the homestay but to do research on Sabah's cultures and traditions.

    This is something that we can be very proud as Sabahans," said Evelyn Masudal, coordinator of the Penampang Village Homestay.

    They comprised educators including a professor and lecturers from Flinders University in Perth and teachers of primary and secondary schools all over Australia," said Evelyn.

    There were 15 post graduate adults who have undergone their Masters in Flinders University Perth majoring in Asia Studies and are now doing their field trip cum research and they chose Sabah as one of their practical grounds.

    They were brought in by Tourism Malaysia, Sabah branch and accommodation was arranged by Dynamic Tours and Travels.

    They wanted to deepen their knowledge about the variety of cultures and traditions of Malaysia particularly in Sabah.

    All of them were very impressed with the friendliness of the communities in Penampang area.

    They said experiencing homestay is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get to know the real Malaysian people and their cultures.

    "The best way to get to know us is by staying with us here," affirmed Evelyn.

    "I am very overwhelmed with the hospitality with the people here and how they welcome me in their home.

    "Though it is a short time with my host family, we managed to do family things together like having breakfast and sharing stories among the family.

    "It is very educational for both sides as I have picked up a lot of information which I can relate to my research on this particular study I am into now, as well as they (host family) would get information about my country Australia," said Shelly Waldon, a primary school teacher in Melbourne, Victoria who is now completing her research on the cultures and the traditions of the Asia, particularly in Sabah.

    This was her 2nd visit to Malaysia but first time to Sabah.

    "Learning the cultures of Asia has always been one of my greatest passions. It is so important to highlight this subject to our young children so that when they grow up, they would understand more of other people's cultures and be acceptable of others' way of life," added Shelley, who specializes in Science and Environmental Education.

    "For example, I notice there are varieties of traditional costumes you are wearing.

    "I am curious to note whether these represent each of the ethnics identity or are they just another fashion," said Shelley who noted the different designs of the 'gaung moludu' worn by the homestay operators during the gathering.

    And it was later explained by Sylvester Disimon, one of the homestay operators to the curious guests on the different types of 'gaung moludu'.

    "Despite the availability of high tech, we have been ignoring cultural aspects, which I think is very much important.

    "Just look at the migrants coming to my country, it is no longer the European like in the early centuries.

    But it is now more of the Asians who migrate to Australia," Shelley added.

    Shelley further explained that, it is very important for the younger generation to acknowledge the existence of other people's cultures and learn to respect them.

    This way, she said indirectly we are contributing to the world peace and harmony among one another.

    The group leader, Professor Douglas Trevaskies was impressed with the significant cultural heritage which is still very much alive and being preserved well.

    "Monsopiad Cultural Village is one of the interesting places I have visited.

    It gave us a kind of different perspective in discovering the cultural values of your ancestry.

    "It is so important not to lose these values for the benefit of your next generation, so that they will continue preserving it as long as they live," Douglas affirmed.

    "I wish to see and visit more of similar places like Monsopiad in the future, which is good for the visitors like us, especially my 'students', who are currently doing their thesis on Asia Cultures," said Prof. Douglas.

    Clare Selir, 52, a primary school teacher from Mentone Girls College, Melbourne was amazed with the beauty and different cultures of each ethnic group in Sabah. "I must stay here for the whole year in order for me to learn your cultures.

    "There are so many of them and everything is so alive and colourful.

    Just look at your daily living, though we are in the 21st century, you are still preserving some of your ancestral value, like grating coconut using that wooden thing," said Clare who referred to the 'kingkinan' for grating coconut flesh.

    "We cannot ignore the ancestral heritage like what you have now, they are valuable articles, and each of them represents a thousand meaning if you look at it distinctively.

    "What I observe and learn from this visit would be my topics in my class when I get back to my school in Melbourne," said Clare who is now carrying out her indigenous studies for her project.

    "What I observe and learn from this visit would be my topics in my class when I get back to my school in Melbourne," said Clare who is now carrying out her indigenous studies for her project.

    Claire was also passionate about gender equalities, which is one of the subjects she was doing research on.

    "Even your drinks amazed me, like what we had, a glass of 'Teh C' which I never tasted before.

    It was smooth and pleasing to my taste bud. Food alone can take up a lot of my time in studying them, very interesting indeed," added Claire who was fascinated with the different kinds of drinks and food she discovered during her experience staying with the locals.

    Lynn Jennison, from Oakleigh Melbourne who teaches in Dingley Village Primary School in Melbourne had this to share, "My primary school children are so curious about almost everything, they wanted to know what are silk, orangutan, traditional dances, etc all about.

    Therefore, I took plenty of pictures of whatever I can get here, and these would be series of topics I am going to teach them when I get back to work. I have abundant of ideas now after seeing your various cultures.

    Orangutan is another interesting topic for the children too.

    They talk about it every time we touch on jungle animals," Lynn quipped.

    "What we are doing now is all about creating awareness to our children.

    We take cultures as the channel to inculcate in their minds that we can live in harmony despite the existence of so many cultures from different races of people surrounding us," said Lynn.

    Rodney Issel, another teacher from Melbourne excitedly tasted the 'butod' (sago worm) saying, "This worm is nothing new to me.

    Back in my hometown it is called 'grub' which is similar to your 'butod'.

    "The taste can be unpleasant though," said Rodney. He added that though it was a short stay with the family here, the journey was quite informative and there was so much to learn from especially in the cultures aspect.

    "I am always curious about anything-from food, design, tools, anything that has ancestral values.

    It was simply amazing learning your cultures," said Rodney.

    One of the homestay operators from Kg. Putaton, Penampang, Mary Sodong shared that she was pleased with the visits from tourists all over the world.

    So far she has received groups from Holland, Denmark, Japan.

    "I enjoy welcoming tourists from overseas. I am always proud to share with them our cultures such as rubber tapping, paddy planting and butod (sago worm) searching.

    "In return they also share with me their cultures. I feel that I am rich with the knowledge given by these visitors," Mary said. She added that the younger ones would call her 'Mummy' and was very proud it.

    "Lisa Winding and Paula Lindey both from Melbourne stayed with me for 2 nights recently.

    "They were pleased with the simple accommodation I provided for them. Since they are on a study tour doing research on culture, I gave them a lot of information pertaining to our traditions, and hope it will help them in completing their project," said Mary proudly.

    Another operator from Kg. Hubah, Penampang, Boniface Jingulam and Hilda Bisol who hosted Prof. Douglas Trevaskies and wife Julie said that, they are proud to present the simple accommodation and local delicacies to the visitors.

    "I think my guests are pleased with our simplicity.

    They just enjoy whatever is being served to them. It was indeed an educational trip for both sides, for me and my family and especially my guests who are very appreciative," said Hilda.

    According to tour guide, John Prudente, this group of visitors were in the VIP category as they, not only visit Sabah for leisure, but most importantly, they are doing their research on the heritage and cultures.

    "As the outsiders look at our cultures as very significant, all the more, we as Malaysians ought to preserve our legacy.

    "We never know, our cultures might end up at the World Museums someday and be in the history book of the international schools all over the world," claimed John.

  • Free port status good for Penang tourism

    New Straits Times, Thursday, May 17, 2012

    GEORGE TOWN: Penang’s tourism sector stands to benefit if the free port status is restored. Tourism players said if the plan becomes a reality, they expect to see more visitors, establishment of quality hotels and transport services, more direct flights and increased trade.

    "As a free port, Penang will have another selling point, apart from its heritage and food. "People will enjoy good Penang food, better facilities and also lower shopping expenses. We will have an edge over the competition," Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association president Datuk Albert Tan said today.

    Free port status, with obvious spill-over effects in the food and retail business, would upgrade transportation facilities and services in Penang, he said. If vehicles like limousines and buses could be brought in tax-free, operators would not have to invest too much to improve their services.

    Albert said with more investments and more business, the state might also see more direct flights to places like China and India. He said free port status would complement the medical and sports tourism sub-sectors too. "This will be a great thing for Penang and its economy. I hope all industry players will support this plan and push to make it happen," he said.

    Penang Tourist Guide Association president Chin Poh Chin said free port status would make the state a shopping haven for cheaper imported goods like jewellery, chocolates, wine, alcoholic drinks, perfume and cosmetics. She said at present Penang is not an attractive place to shop with the prices for such items higher than other cities

    “Compared to the duty-free island of Langkawi, which is branded as a high-spender and eco-tourism destination, Penang is neither here nor there with the island choked with worsening traffic and high rise developments,” she added. Chin said there was a lack of focus and funds to promote Penang. "We have to buck up and show the tourists that Penang is really a value for money destination. “Free port status will be a great help," she said.

    Penang Chinese Chambers of Commerce Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping said giving back Penang the free port status after 43 years would be a good move for tourism and to increase barter trading with neighbouring countries.

  • Tourism Malaysia hold roadshows in Australia

    New Straits Times, Monday, May 14, 2012

    MELBOURNE: Tourism Malaysia held successful roadshows here and Geelong this week, promoting Malaysia as "an affordable luxury destination". About 145 travel agents and tour operators attended the Tourism Malaysia presentation and dinner at a restaurant here. There was overwhelming response to the roadshow and many had to be turned away disappointed.

    Tourism Malaysia Australia, led by its hard-working director Shahrin Mokhtar, captivated the audience with a colourful and fascinating promotion of Malaysia and its uniqueness. Malaysia Airlines, which supported the roadshow, was represented by its area manager here, Terence Swampillai.

    Earlier in the day, about 40 Australian tourism agents and supporters took part in a golf event at the prestigious Woolands Golf Club, about 15km from here.

    Many prizes were presented for outstanding efforts with the Malaysian consul general here, Dr Mohd Rameez Yahaya, presenting the main prize -- MAS tickets to Malaysia. Rameez also took part in the event.

    Shahrin said there were about 30 people at the Geelong roadshow. "Geelong is a small provincial city, so it was a good turnout," he said. The roadshow will roll into the Tasmanian cities of Launceston on Monday and Hobart on Tuesday. It then swings to Brisbane on May 22 and to Sydney the following day.

  • Tourism Ministry to focus on social media

    The Star Online, Thursday, May 10, 2012

    KUALA LUMPUR: The Tourism Ministry will place increased emphasis on social media to promote Malaysia's tourist attractions. This move was an important step as the traditional methods of advertising and promoting the country's tourist sites were no longer effective, said minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. She said the ministry would review its tourism promotional strategies by increasing its focus on social media to promote tourism activities. “Australia is spending A$150mil (RM465mil) for three years.

    People who come to Malaysia must leave with sweet memories of hospitality, safety and good shopping experience. - Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen “The Philippines spends US$7.2mil (RM22mil) and Thailand is spending 40% of its tourism budget on social media. “In comparison, Malaysia has only spent RM1.8mil on six Facebook campaigns over a year,” she said after opening the inaugural Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference and Awards here yesterday.

    She said a survey in Britain by Travelsat, an international survey group that monitors tourists' experience, showed that 40% of people would travel based on recommendations from friends and relatives. “People who come to Malaysia must leave with sweet memories of hospitality, safety and a good shopping experience. Bloggers can play a vital role in highlighting Malaysia's tourist attractions,” she added. The conference featured experiences from 18 travel bloggers.

    Travel writer Shane Dallas of Australia, who blogs at The Travel Camel, said travel bloggers should write responsibly and be respectful of their host countries and hosts. “There is no need to rant about things that do not go well during your travels. Sometimes, things do not go as planned and there is no need to spoil your trip and someone else's experience,” said Dallas, who has visited 72 countries.

    Malaysian travel writer David Hogan Jr said a travel blogger should always look at things from a positive angle. “Relate your travel experiences and information and produce something that people would want to read.

    “If there is anything unsatisfactory, inform the hotel or tour operator so that they can make the necessary changes. If they do not, you can write a review at Trip Advisor (a travel information website),” said David, who blogs at blog.malaysia-asia.my.

  • Turbulent times ahead for Malaysia Airlines after share swap ended with AirAsia

    Travel Daily News Online, Thursday, May 7, 2012

    Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia share swap is coming to an end as it was recalled by the Malaysian government. The deal was celebrated in August 2011 as a way to put a term to unproductive competition in the Malaysian skies, the share swap helped to reinforce a strong Malaysian airlines’ grouping composed of both carriers. However, the deal -which looked very favourable for both carriers on paper- brought increasing frustration to both consumers and unions. Many voiced their concerns over the supposed benefits of such an agreement. While Khazanah Nasional Bhd (which is the umbrella owner for MAS- took up to 10% stake in AirAsia, Tune Air Sdn Bhd - the company owning AirAsia- acquired a 20.5 % stake in MAS under the share-swap deal.

    Following the August agreement, the first casualty rose with Firefly, MAS own low cost subsidiary when the airline announced abruptly to put an end to its new services between peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo. The airline also left KLIA to only fly out of old Kuala Lumpur Subang airport with its fleet of turboprops ATR 72. Consumers then complaint about reduced competition and consequently rising fares. They put the blame on AirAsia, which had made no secret to look at rationalizing the offer at both airlines.

    In an interview to Malaysian national news agency Bernama in September 2011, AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes indicated that while growth was very much on the agenda of both MAS and AirAsia, it was necessary to strengthen the specificities of both carriers without any overlapping. MAS would then concentrate on premium service while AirAsia would continue to concentrate on the low cost segment. Tony Fernandes however rejected any rumours of merging both carriers. “The key is to remain focused on the respective strengths and the same formula should apply to MAS,” he told then Bernama. Then came the biggest rationalization exercise by MAS, which cut earlier this year up to 12% of its capacities, especially in its long-haul network to stem abyssal losses.

    The carrier lost in 2011 almost US$ 841 million following a profit of US$ 163 million in 2010. Routes cut included Dubai, Johanneburg/Buenos Aires, Karachi, Rome but also Surabaya and regional flights out of Penang and Kota Kinabalu. Regional cuts were likely done with a view to boost AirAsia’s presence in Malaysian secondary destinations. Meanwhile, AirAsia X withdrawal from Europe (London Gatwick and Paris Orly) as well as from New Zealand (Christchurch) could be interpreted as an attempt by AirAsia to reinforce MAS positions in some long-haul markets. Even AirAsia X gives the explanation that it was purely motivated by economic considerations. The rationalisation exercise helped reinforced Malaysian air carriers finances by increasing yields, an effort lauded by the financial community.

    However, AirAsia did probably underestimated Malaysian travellers’ discontent and the the staunch opposition from MAS to the share swap exercise. Unions accused AirAsia to bargain the interests of the national carrier for its own stake. And as soon as the deal was inked, MAS new management's efforts of restructuration rose objection from unions which even met with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to express their concerns.

    The resilience from unions became however so strong that it distracted both Khazanah and Tune Air of focusing on business consolidation. Even plans from MAS to create a short-haul subsidiary with lower costs could not be realized due to Unions’ opposition. Decision was then taken to cancel the share swap. It is then back to square one for MAS which continues to remain fragile due to widening losses and competition in its home market.

    What will then be the consequences? Both airlines vowed to continue cooperation in some areas such as technical maintenance, procurement and oil purchase. But the end of the deal is also likely to ignite again competition on many regional routes. It might be good for the consumer but probably financially disastrous for MAS which could see its losses further dive. At AirAsia, optimism prevails with Tony Fernandes indicating in an interview to the Malaysian daily “Star” that new ventures in Japan and the Philippines will further boost AirAsia’s group growth with additional countries are already targeted. And the government promised to set up a new aviation council to oversee the aviation sector and resolve potential disputes for traffic rights between Malaysia two carriers.

  • Tourism to give Malaysia boost

    The Star Online, Thursday, May 2, 2012

    THE tourism sector has been recognised by the government as a major source of revenue and a catalyst for the Malaysian economic renaissance.

    In 2011, tourist arrivals increased by 137,128 to 24,714,324 compared to 24,577,196 in 2010, while receipts increased by RM1.8bil to RM58.3bil compared to RM56.5bil the previous year.

    In addition, the sector contributed a total of RM37.4bil to the Gross National Income (GNI) of the country.

    Among the top ten tourist markets for 2011 were Singapore (13,372,647), Indonesia (2,134,381), China (1,250,536), Australia (558,411), United Kingdom (403,940), and Japan (386,974).

    Malaysia has premised itself as a diverse tourist attraction that offers world class attractions such as culture & heritage, ecotourism, Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE), shopping, international events and health tourism, which affords visitors from all over the world a plethora of choices to enjoy.

    Realising this potential, the Government, through various initiatives under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) has mapped out a set of deliverables for the Tourism Ministry in order to stimulate sustainable tourism as the nation races to achieve its high-income status by 2020.

    Under the Ministerial Key Results Area (MKRA), the Tourism Minister has been tasked and held responsible for delivering targeted outcomes set.

    The establishment of the MKRAs itself is a transformational change in the way Government delivery is executed. It is a more transparent and engaging process, one which focuses on Ministerial responsibility and delivery.

    The MKRAs and its attendant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are about identifying priorities and setting targets for individual Ministers and their respective Ministries.

    The Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said: “There is still untapped potential within the tourism sector that can provide a viable growth platform for the country.

    “We have set targets via the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan 2020 of achieving 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168bil receipts by the year 2020.” One of the most successful programmes that have been identified by the Ministry is the Homestay programme which surpassed its target of 23% of occupancy rate and achieved a rate of 32%.

    The Homestay programme was conceived to increase the participation of the rural population in the tourism sector. In addition, homestay programme participants procured an additional income of RM15.7mil against the RM14mil target set for the year.

    Ng said: “Participants of the homestay programme have been able to earn a substantial income and the activity has helped to generate more economic activities at the local level for the people. “The focus of the homestay programme is not merely about accommodation but also showcases Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage lifestyle in a unique and interesting manner.”

    The country’s renowned and modern malls are also earning themselves accolades. The international shopping attractions have also earned a place in the hearts of the international tourist community, as evidenced by the growth in shopping spend for the year 2011.

    This was apparent by the Ministry working closely with the private sector to achieve a 30% rate in shopping expenditure against the 29% set under its KPI, resulting in a significant boost to the nation’s economic landscape.

    “Promoting Malaysia as a shopping haven will further solidify the position of our country as a preferred destination to visit, shop, dine and relax,” she said. Also, to further propagate shopping spend, efforts will be intensified to promote Malaysia as a duty-free shopping destination.

    The growth of the tourism sector has also opened up new employment opportunities across diverse industries such as retail, food and beverage, accommodation, transport and handicrafts.

    In 2011 alone, a total of 55,565 jobs were created. For 2012, the Ministry’s target is stretched to 90,542 jobs. Moving forward in 2012, the Ministry is pushing itself to ensure that the sector drives transformation in both the social and economic landscape. There are plans to increase room supply of up to 3,000 rooms with new 4 and 5 star hotels coming into the market.

    The spa industry will also be given a boost with the addition of 300 new local spa therapists under a training programme at two national Centres of Excellence (COEs).

    With more concentrated efforts in capacity building and rating of the spa industry, it is set to contribute RM0.4bil to the GNI of the country. In the coming year, the Ministry’s KPIs also include boosting revenues through enhanced packaging and clustering of international sporting events such as F1 Grand Prix, Moto GP, Le Tour de Langkawi, Monsoon Cup and Autobacs Super Japan.

    The hosting of international events is expected to generate revenue of RM900mil in 2012. Recognising that business tourism is a dynamic developing sphere in the world today, the Ministry is revving up efforts to make Malaysia a prime choice for international world conferences. It is targeted to achieve 45 conference events in 2012 with an economic impact of RM17.6bil.

    Ng said, “Economic diversification and niche tourism activities will characterize the way we move forward for the tourism industry. “We will enhance our promotion and marketing campaigns through our global brand “Malaysia Truly Asia’ celebrating diversity to energize the tourism industry and provide the enabling framework to attract and increase tourist arrivals.”

    She added, “the tourism sector’s immense potential has yet to be fully tapped as further growth can come from innovative tourism products such as the 1Malaysia International Shoe Festival, Malaysia International Night Floral Parade, 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism, Fabulous Food 1Malaysia, Parks & Gardens Tourism, Helicopter Tourism, Bicycle and Motorbike Tourism.

    “We have to constantly develop more tourist-friendly products and services to meet the needs and preferences of tourists and must continue to promote Malaysia through our warm Malaysian Hospitality,” she said.

  • Durian - the 'King' of fruits

    Daily Express, January 28 2012 - By Anthea Phillipps

    DRIVING down to Beaufort the other day, we suddenly realized that after an unusually wet year without almost any fruit, the durian season was finally here and piles of this most famous (or infamous!) of fruits were appearing at the roadside stalls.

    So popular is the durian that it is often called the "King" of fruits but though it is now grown all over South-east Asia, its original home is thought to be Borneo, the only area where truly wild trees have been found, though these are rare, and the durians being sold, whether along the roadside or in the markets, are cultivars, the result of decades of selective breeding.

    The name 'durian' comes from the Malay word 'duri' for thorn, referring to the sharp spiky fruits; and the scientific Durio also derives from this source.

    The well-known cultivated species is Durio zibithinus, the word 'zibithinus', coming from the Italian 'zibetto' for civet, referring to the strong odour. In fact the smell is so pervasive that it is a forbidden item of luggage on aircraft, in taxis and buses and is banned from hotels throughout the region. Nevertheless the Durian has been a favoured fruit since ancient times.

    Burkill, in his "Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula", (1966), states that the Burmese kings used runners to bring them durians, but early western explorers differed widely in their perception of the fruit.

    Over 400 years ago, the Dutch traveller, Jan Huygen van Linschoten, while in the employ of the Archbishop of Goa, (then a Portuguese colony), in India, gave one of the first accounts of the durian.

    Writing in 1596 in his "Itinerario", he said, "�.there is no fruit in the world to be compared with it�.in taste and goodness it excelleth all kinds of fruits�".

    It was to be another 250 years before the explorer Alfred Russell Wallace, famously wrote in his �Malay Archipelago", in 1869, "In Borneo I found a ripe fruit on the ground and eating it out of doors, I at once became a confirmed Durian eater�

    This pulp is the eatable part and its consistence and flavour are indescribable. A rich butter-like custard highly flavoured with almonds � intermingled with wafts of flavour that call to mind cream cheese, onion sauce, brown sherry and other incongruities. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses - but which adds to the delicacy.

    It is neither acid nor sweet, nor juicy, yet one feels the want of none of these qualities for it is perfect as it is. It produces no nausea or other bad effect and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop.

    In fact, to eat durians is a new sensation, worth a voyage to the East to experience." The durian is a small to large tree, with leaves covered in very distinctive silver or golden scales on the underside.

    The large, white flowers are borne along the branches - the round spiky fruits that follow, are so heavy only the branches can support their weight.

    In the evening the air in a flowering durian orchard is heavily laden with the scent of honey that attracts bats to pollinate the flowers.

    The flowers contain large amounts of watery nectar, a delicious drink which the bats lap up, becoming covered in pollen in the process.

    In the morning as soon as it is light, whatever nectar is left is eagerly sought after by bees, especially the giant honey bees, Apis dorsata, which will even explore flowers already fallen on the ground.

    Squirrels, too, have been seen nibbling the nutritious flowers.

    The heavy, thorny fruits generally fall to the ground before splitting open longitudinally to reveal the large shiny brown seeds embedded in the cream-coloured pulpy arils.

    The durian is best eaten at a wayside open-air stall or when bought from a roadside vendor.

    The Chinese say it is 'heaty' and should never be taken with alcoholic spirits. It is, however, a highly nutritious fruit containing large amounts of Vitamin A, B and C as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and sodium; also goodly amounts of protein - almost a complete meal in itself.

    Drinking salt-water from the rind is said to remove both the smell and the 'heaty' effect after eating, and in Sabah, children being given their first taste of durian will often be given water from the rind with a pinch of salt afterwards, to reduce the heatiness and its side effects such as dizziness.

    In Kuching in 1989 it was reported by municipal council officials that during the peak of the durian season, 10,000 durians were consumed daily, causing a thorny problem for the refuse collectors!

    The petals from the flowers are delicious when fried and the seeds can also be boiled or roasted, while the pulp is often made into jams, cakes and even ice-cream. Traditional delicacies such as 'lempuk', a Malay cake and 'dodol durian', a sticky confection of coconut juice, sugar, flour, eggs and durian pulp are still relished.

    The ground-up rind, rich in sulfur, is said to ease heartburn while fresh rind is used to discourage bedbugs and the fruit has long been regarded as an aphrodisiac.

    But this well-known durian is not the only one in Sabah - watch out for Part II next week on the Borneo's less well-known wild durians.

  • Sabah as the bird sees it

    Daily Express, Saturday, February 25 2012, By Chris Maskilone

    SABAH including the majestic Mount Kinabalu was featured from a perspective that has never been documented before in a special one-hour documentary - Shoot for the Sky - premiering on the Biography Channel yesterday (Saturday).

    Making this possible were two award winning photographers - Cede Prudente and Jonathan Wong - whose journey to capture the beauty of Sabah from a paramotor (parachute + motor) were captured in the documentary.

    Besides Mount Kinabalu, the other locations they have chosen included the mangroves on Sandakan coastline, Semporna Islands, the reefs and home of the sea gypsies and Mount Kinabalu for the documentary, which is a joint-collaboration between National Film Development Corporation of Malaysia (FINAS) and GS Productions Sdn Bhd. It was produced by AETN All Asia Networks.

    The story began a couple of years back when the director and founder of GS Productions Sdn Bhd, Julian Shori was looking for an effective way of capturing aerial photography. Among the issues normally associated with aerial photography is vibration and high cost involved apart from being very complicated, he told the Daily Express.

    "So I told Chris Humphrey (Executive Producer, AETN All Asia Network) why don't we tell a story about taking aerial pictures," he said, adding that he knew a photographer from Sandakan who also wanted to take pictures from air.

    Humphrey told him to check with Cede who then told him that he was interested but that he does not know how to fly, said Shori.

    "They (Cede and Jonathan) told us that they actually want to do this coffee table book comprising pictures of Sabah taken from the air but there are several issues, including the fact that using a helicopter is very expensive," he said.

    Shori said taking pictures of Mount Kinabalu using helicopter was also not allowed.

    "So we made preparations É part of the whole journey (in the documentary) was learning how to fly the paramotor," he said, adding that Cede and Jonathan learned to fly the device in Klang in the peninsula.

    According to him, there were "a lot of accidents" and all of them were captured on film.

    But, unlike using other contraptions, he said flying the paramotor was actually quite safe because "if the motor fails then you have the parachute to come down smoothly" although the risk factor has always been the weather.

    After preparing the two main talents to fly, Shori said they did not face much difficulty in securing approval from the relevant authorities such as the Department of Civil Aviation. In fact, the State Government had given them tremendous support particularly when shooting in the Tun Sakaran Marine Park as well as in Sabah Parks.

    Shori said the locations were all chosen by Cede and Jonathan "and we were there only to capture their journey."

    The production crew used 11 cameras to record the duo's experience.

    "You'll see an organic show meaning it is not staged É they have done their best to capture everything from all angles but they cannot predict they can only guide them," said Humphrey.

    Producer Valerie Lew, who is also a founding member of GS Productions, said they had wanted to cover the Kinabatangan River but it could not be done due to some constraints. For one, the Kinbatangan is full of crocodiles and it would be risky if they ended up in the river.

    "I love the islands (in the East Coast of Sabah) É it is so untouched.

    It is one of the diving spots in the world. It is really something that Sabah can really promote," she said when asked of her favourite location for the documentary.

    "For me all three locations had their own speciality and beauty.

    Frankly, Sabah is mind boggling it very beautiful not only its nature but even its people and seafood," said Shori.

    Humphrey who had climbed Kinabalu before said it has always been beautiful to see the sea from above. "It is nice to be reminded of Sabah's beauty," he said, adding that uniqueness of Cede and Jonathan's journey was that they are taking people to look at these locations from a different perspective, which very few people have the privilege.

    "This programme gives you an alternative view of the beauty of Sabah," said Humphrey. For the main talents, Cede, 47 and Jonathan, 27 there were many "mishaps, bad landings, bad take offs "you name it" which are normal in paramotoring and it is the risk that they just have to take during their adventure.

    "One fine morning near Sepilok Forest, we were waiting for good wind to enable us to take off but the desired wind almost never happened so we have to endure on longer runs and many attempts. "After a few failed attempts you get exhausted and running with the 30kg paramotor engine stuck on your back is bound to cause mishap," said Cede.

    "But once you are airborne É it's a great feeling and you look forward to achieve the images you have imprinted on your imagination.

    Then all becomes reality," he said.

    Sharing Cede's sentiment, Jonathan said doing the programme was worth every second of blood, sweat and tears.

    Cede, who had been taking aerial pictures on a helicopter before said taking pictures from the air has its pros and cons. However, using a paramotor, he was able to pilot his way to the intended subjects and at the same time choose the altitude to obtain the desired images.

    Jonathan, who is a landscape photographer said he had always wondered "what would a bird's perspective be like."

    "Being on a paramotor is totally different, the possibilities are endless, and how you compose and expose your creativity levels differs from being in a controlled situation such as in a helicopter," he said, adding that paramotor is also silent giving an advantage to "sneak up" on subjects.

    On why they wanted to do this, Cede said: "From these images we wish to showcase the spectacular view of some places in Sabah and a must to visit. Visitors can always access these locations via the respective government agencies or through tour operators."

    "It's to share the beauty of Mother nature from a different perspective.

    Being up there and conveying my images into an artistic representation of what beauty really is and why we should be conserving our planet is the main goal," added Jonathan.

  • Contacts

    Kota Kinabalu (Head Office)
    Block E, Unit No. 28, 3rd Floor, KK Times Square, 88100, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
    Tel :6088 486 168
    Fax :6088 486 708/718

    Sandakan Operation
    Ground Floor, Yayasan Sabah Group, Jalan Cheng Min/Jalan Mekaran, Sandakan, Sabah, 90715, Malaysia.
    Tel :6089 225 718
    Fax :6088 228 001

    Tour Counters
    1. Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort - +6088 318 208 / +6088 318 208
    2. Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort - +6088 788 313 / +6088 793 313
    3. Novotel - +6088 448 987 / +6088 448 987

    Emergency Contacts
    Mohd Sharuddin Mohd Wali +6016 832 1219
    Liza Lujain +6016 832 1248