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Malaysia Asia

Malaysia Asia

Malaysia travel blog and website on eco-tourism, nature, hotels and resorts, islands and beaches and also around Southeast Asia.
URL: http://blog.malaysia-asia.my/

Malaysia Asia

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malaysia-asia

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Asia

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2012-02-23 16:12:32

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  • Kuala Lumpur Mayor?s Tourism Award 2017
    The Kuala Lumpur Mayor?s Tourism Awards 2017 came to a resounding finale with the Award Presentation and Gala Dinner Event held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on the 23rd May. The KLMTA 2017 is also organized by the Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau under Kuala Lumpur City Hall, and this year?s event was the third edition of the tri-annual industry awards program. Previous editions were organized in 2011 and 2014. For this years Kuala Lumpur Mayor's Tourism Awards, 650 guests that included Kuala Lumpur tourism industry players, related government agencies and members of the media attended the prestigious event.The guest of honour for the evening was no other than the Minister of Tourism & Culture, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Bin Abdul Aziz. In the Mayor's speech, he mentioned that Kuala Lumpur was ranked as the 7th Most Visited City in the World according the Mastercard?s Global Destination Cities Index for 2016. The city received 12.02 million visitors, an increase of 7.4% from the previous year of 11.19 million visitors, while the total revenue garnered from this volume of visitors in 2016 was USD11.3 billion. Kuala Lumpur Mayor?s Tourism Award 2017 Winners ListMayor?s Award for Outstanding Contribution Tan Sri Datuk Yong Poh Kon Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh Sock Ping Accommodation Category (5-Star Hotel) Platinum Award ? Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur Gold Award ? Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur Accommodation Category (4-Star Hotel) Platinum Award ? Impiana KLCC Hotel & Spa Gold Award ? Ambassador Row Hotel Suites by Lanson Place Accommodation Category (Budget Hotel) Platinum Award ? Tai Ichi Hotel Gold Award ? Sungei Wang Hotel Dining Category (Fine Dining Restaurant) Platinum Award ? Taka by Sushi Saito Gold Award ? Nobu Kuala Lumpur Dining Category (Home Grown Restaurant) Gold Award ? Serai Restaurant Gold Award ? Dancing Fish Dining Category (Food Court)Platinum Award ? Lot 10 Hutong Gold Award ? Quizinn by Rasa Tourist Attraction Category (Family Entertainment) Platinum Award ? KL Bird Park Gold Award ? Aquaria KLCC Tourist Attraction Category (Culture, Arts & Heritage) Platinum Award ? Royal Selangor Gold Award ? Kuala Lumpur City Gallery Shopping Mall Category Platinum Award ? Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Gold Award ? Sunway Putra Mall Medical Tourism Category Platinum Award ? KPJ Tawakkal Specialist Hospital & KPJ Tawakkal Health Centre Gold Award ? Institut Jantung Negara Education Tourism Category Platinum Award ? University of Malaya Gold Award ? Berjaya University College of Hospitality Mayor?s Commendable Award for Front Liners Ms. Lim Hwi Shuen (The Federal Kuala Lumpur)A total of over 500 nominations were received for the 14 categories and subcategories, and only 449 were qualified for the first round of judging where nominee?s submissions were scrutinized and shortlisted for the final round. For the final rounds of judging, the panels of judges conducted site visits and even sampled the products and services first hand.Continuing with the system of voting from the previous editions of the programme, the judges scores made up 95% of the total marks awarded to each nominee, while public voting made up the remaining 5% of the marks. Members of the public were invited to vote for their favourite establishment by logging onto the official awards programme website and registering.Kuala Lumpur Mayor?s Tourism Award: What's Missing? While the KL Mayor's Tourism Awards focuses on the mainstream industry, I have suggested that they include a digital category in 2014, but it was left to deaf ears. Unfortunately, the committee is either not interested or just not bothered about the digital sector. We all know that digital is currently the number one method for tourism around the world, including Malaysia. The key element is how tourist or visitors find attractions, places to stay or places to eat. A good 80% of this comes from online branding and marketing and it is those who are actively promoting these places, that should also be recognized. Even players like Sarawak Tourism and Sabah Tourism have acknowledged digital and online tourism as one of the awards in their tourism awards since five years ago, and Tourism Malaysia also has a category for digital or online, so why can't the Kuala Lumpur Mayor?s Tourism Award have this? We shall see for the next awards. 
    Thursday 25th of May 2017 05:03:00 AM
  • Best Way To Go To Taman Negara
    What is the best way to go to Taman Negara? A common question that is asked by most travellers who plan to visit the oldest national park in Malaysia, I will share with you some of the best ways to get there, all depending on your budget and how fast you need to travel. Before I get into the logistics for Taman Negara, you should know that this massive national park is located only three and a half hours drive from Kuala Lumpur city and anyone can visit this place without prior booking or permits. Taman Negara National Park is open to everyone who is into nature, trekking, hiking or wildlife watching and is Malaysia's premier rainforest destination in the peninsular. Best Way To Go To Taman NegaraAs there are a few ways to get here, and each of them require traveling around three to five hours. I will narrow down the best way to go to Taman Negara National Park in Pahang for anyone interested to visit this fascinating and enchanting rainforest in Malaysia.Taman Negara's famous canopy walkTaman Negara Van Transfers - This is the best way to get to Taman Negara National Park from Kuala Lumpur or KL City. There is a daily Taman Negara van transfer service by Ivy Holidays which is located at Wisma Selangor Complex along Jalan Sultan and they depart at about 8.30 AM daily. All you need to do is make a booking by phone (+6 010 900 8699) or visiting the tour counter on the ground floor of the building. Walk in through the main entrance and it is on your right. The entire journey takes about four to five hours and direct to Taman Negara National Park in Pahang. Ivy Holidays is also offering a package price of RM90 per person, one way, which includes the van transfer and also boat ticket to Kuala Tahan, which is the main gateway to the national park.The van I traveled with to Taman Negara National ParkTravel Time to Taman NegaraVan from KL to Kuala Tembeling - 3.5 Hours Boat from Kuala Tembeling to Kuala Tahan, Taman Negara - 2 hoursTaman Negara Bus Service - There are buses that go to Taman Negara National Park but the only public bus is from the town of Jerantut to Taman Negara, which is three times a day. For those bus lovers, and must travel by public bus, the only way is to take an express bus to Jerantut and then take the local bus to Kuala Tahan.*Important Note - We would like to clarify that bus means 20-40 seat coach buses. Many companies in Malaysia use the term bus when it is actually a tour van that seats from 6 to 10 people. So, when you see a company selling Bus to Taman Negara, it is actually a small van.View from the jetty of Kuala Tembeling, before you take your boat to Taman NegaraTaxi to Taman Negara - This is probably the most expensive option. From KLIA or KLIA2, a taxi or private van will also take about 4 to 5 hours drive to Taman Negara National Park. The price however, is much higher than getting the van shuttle from KL City. A tip is to take the KLIA Express into the city, then take the van transfer to Taman Negara. The price would be anywhere from RM550 to RM750 per van or taxi. However, if you are a family, this could be one option to ease moving around too much. Flights to Taman Negara - This is tricky, but there are no flights to anywhere near here. The closest airport is Kuantan Airport and it takes 40 minutes flight time from KLIA. From the airport, you need to take a taxi or private van transfer which will take about 3 hours. It generally works out to be around the same time therefore I am not recommending this, unless you have lots of frequent flyer miles to spend.Taking a local boat to and from Taman Negara allows beautiful scenic landscapesBoat to Taman Negara - Well, in reality, the only boat service is from Kuala Tembeling town near Jerantut where they have boat service to Taman Negara. There is no other boat service from other towns or from Kuala Lumpur. So, when you see anyone promoting a boat transfer or boat service to Taman Negara, it is from Kuala Tembeling Jetty.They are wooden long boats that seat about 14 to 16 people and has a roof on top. The boat journey is fascinating as you get to see nature at its best along the two hour journey to Kuala Tahan along the Tembeling River. Most overnight tours will have you dropped off at Kuala Tembeling Jetty where you catch the long boat to Taman Negara national park.View of Kuala Tahan town outside Taman NegaraYou can also find out more about the types of Taman Negara tour packages which I have written about. Each of the tours highlight the different days or if you plan to do day trips to Taman Negara National Park. This is one of the premium national parks that has one of the best canopy walks in Malaysia, and is also one of the oldest national park in the world.My trip in April 2017 was an amazing experience using both van and boat as I had booked my Taman Negara tour with Ivy Holidays. They can be contacted at +6 010 900 8699 or via email at marketing (at) ivyholidays.com. You can Whatsapp, Line or WeChat to inquire about any transport or overnight trip here. Even if you need last minute bookings, they can arrange it for you. The next time you want to know what is the best way to go to Taman Negara National Park, hopefully this article will shed some information for you to choose from. Enjoy the journey there and don't forget to take lots of photos. 
    Monday 15th of May 2017 03:30:00 AM
  • Movie Animation Park Studios Ipoh To Open 26 June 2017
    In recent development after a fiasco of delays, the much talked about Movie Animation Park Studios Ipoh will open on 26 June 2017. Known as MAPS Perak, this will be the second theme park in the Ipoh area and will be the talk of town as this joint venture theme park project will feature world class attractions and rides. Movie Animation Park Studios or MAPS Perak, will be the first of its kind in Asia and is in the last phase of its RM520 million development. The theme park director Ramelle Ramli also disclosed that the MAPS Perak has more than 40 attractions and is expected to attract a million guests within its opening year.Entrance to Movie Animation Park Studios in Ipoh PerakMovie Animation Park Studios Perak OpeningThe opening day should coincide with the second day of Hari Raya in Malaysia therefore, you can be expecting a flood of people heading there. The theme park was planned for an opening in last June before it was postponed to December. Delays was due to the management?s decision to enhance the park. The management has also added new attractions the Movie Animation Park Studios which are;HyperspinAsteroid AttackCartoon FactorySmurf LifeWormhole TechnologiesMovie Animation Park Studios Perak is also built on a 21 hectare plot of land in Meru. The park has six zones housing 23 interactive attractions and 15 rides. One of the main highlights is Malaysia?s tallest drop tower ride called Megamind Megadrop, which rises 52 meters before dropping. MAPS Perak park ticket promotionsMovie Animation Park Studio VideoMAPS Park Tickets Season passes purchased earlier will be valid for 12 months after the openingsingle day passes will valid for three monthsMovie Animation Park Studios Perak Map (Click to enlarge)We has published an article about the Movie Animation Park Studios Opening in July 2016, but that was postponed. With the news being official from the mainstream media, we truly hope nothing delays the MAPS Perak opening as it was postponed three times since announcing it in 2015. Right now, you can look forward to the Movie Animation Park Studios Ipoh opening on 26 June 2017. 
    Monday 8th of May 2017 11:17:00 AM
  • Komodo Island Dive Trip Report
    If you have been planning to visit Komodo Island for diving, here is my Komodo Island Dive Trip Report based on my recent dive there in September 2016. For me, this was my second time visiting Komodo Island in 12 months but on my first visit, I did not manage to dive therefore on my second trip in September 2016, I did my inaugural dive at Komodo Island. The main photo in this article was taken by Kiersten during our dive together. Before I go on, this Komodo dive was a very last minute arrangement by Skyscanner Indonesia and Wonderful Indonesia as when our group arrived at Labuan Bajo in Flores, it was finalized just before checking in to the Sylvia Hotel Labuan Bajo. I have also written an article about diving at Komodo Island where all the basic information is shared there and this article will just talk about diving there.In total, I did three dives at Komodo Island which was all arranged by Orca Dive, a trusted dive operator which is very professional and safety being paramount. Their dive boat was a twin 150 hp engine speed boat complete with full top cover and descent was the standard rollback style.The dive boat I used for my Komodo divesPink Beach Dive Site, KomodoMy first dive spot was of course the famous Pink Beach dive site, together with dive buddies Kiersten from USA, Henry from Australia and Jac from Singapore, and the four of us were given the mandatory dive check before descending down. First impression was wow, super clear visibility and healthy coral life. As usual, my descend is always the slowest due to my sinus problem where I have to equalize every meter on my way down.Looking below me at a depth of 10 meters, I could clearly see the rest of the divers with the dive master already exploring the corals. Kiersten was trigger happy with her GoPro, shooting away while the rest followed. As I caught up with them, the pure myriad of colors just kept me in awe as I passed various types of coral life. A beautiful mix of hard and soft corals dominated the sea floor with various types of coral fish swimming around.Our dive master pointed out a spotted blue stingray, moray eel, turtles and some nudibranches or sea slugs. Overall, the landscape was beautiful and picture perfect for those who love underwater photography. Currents were mild during the dive where not much effort was put into finning, and this made the dive very relaxed. Eventually, we surfaced after about 50 minutes underwater with huge smiles on each of our faces.Dive master giving a briefing before going down at Pink Beach Dive SiteManta Point Dive Site, Komodo Next spot was Manta Point, but this was quite debatable due to the off season of Mantas, and since we were already here, the dive master had said that if we were in some serious luck, there could still be a couple of manta rays around, so he left us with the choice, but being a first time for the four of us, why not. Back-rolled and again, a slow descend for me while the other divers were already on the lookout for those majestic manta rays. Well, not quite as they would be found at various cleaning stations, and these were on a flat terrain therefore, you could see far, providing the visibility was super clear. For our Manta Point dive, the visibility wasn't that great as it was just past noon and we were getting about 15 meters. Currents were decent and approaching the first cleaning station, it was empty.Our dive master signaled us to follow him to the next one and to our disappointment, no one was home either. So, throughout the dive, we checked a number of cleaning stations with no luck but corals were pretty and marine life was thriving.After reaching the end, most of us still had about 120 bar left so I decided to do my safety stop and head on up the boat while the others continued to explore the area. On the boat, our dive master was pretty apologetic about not being able to see any mantas, but we had already known that it was a 50-50 chance of spotting them in this time of the year, well more like a 90-10 chance if you ask me. However, it was a great experience overall.The dive master briefing us about the Pink Beach Dive SiteBatu Bolong Dive Site, KomodoThis was a bonus since all of our tanks were still with air, our dive master took us to Batu Bolong dive site as a surprise, which is touted as one of the best dive sites in Komodo Island. He told us that he's taking us to a special place and to sit back and enjoy the ride.Here, a small rock island divides the strong currents that flow into the channel and from the surface of the sea, you could see the sheer power of the currents flowing, which was scary.The boatman had to be extra careful, to position his boat in between the current split and asking about the currents, the boatman told me that if we jumped in, we would be immediately carried away really fast so descending down was crucial as if you got caught in the current, you would just have to wait it out.We were told to gear up for a quick check dive for this site, and our dive master said that you wouldn't believe how rich and beautiful the marine life was down below, so everyone got really excited.After a few good minutes of re-positioning the boat for a safe descend, we back rolled in one by one and quickly descended, following the dive master. On my descend, I could already see the fascinating marine life that hung around the base of the rock island with hundreds, possibly thousands of fish swimming in all directions.Turtles were seen eating off the healthy corals while larger fish were lurking in schools in the deeper areas. Truly, this was a divers haven for photography, and yet, one needs to be extra cautious not to get caught in the strong currents here.With all the excitement going on, I had trouble descending as when I reached three meters, I could not go and deeper, probably due to my almost empty tank with 80 bar. I kept forcing myself to go down, letting all the air out of my BCD and exhaling to the maximum, but I just could not and one thing I learned about diving is that when you can't, don't force it.One of the live on board boats at Komodo IslandSo I decided to surface back to the boat and kept looking down to see the amazing view. However, I did not immediately climb up the boat when I hung on to the ladder, I kept looking down with my mask to see what else was there. In general, there was too much going on and I told myself, the next opportunity I get to come back here, this would be one of the must-dive spots of Komodo Island for me.So there you have it, my little dive report on diving in Komodo Island where I was fortunate to experience three dive sites, well, just two and a brief third site for me. Overall, the feeling is amazing as there was just so much to see here plus there was no sign of coral bleaching during any of my dives. Marine life is simply incredible and for photographers, this is indeed one of the best places I have seen in my years of diving.Komodo Island Diving Video by Kiersten of The Blonde AbroadA post shared by Kiersten ? The Blonde Abroad (@theblondeabroad) on Sep 26, 2016 at 4:13am PDT Huge thanks goes to the team of Skyscanner Indonesia and also Indonesia Tourism as this was part of the Wonderful Indonesia campaign to promote these places to the rest of the world. Skyscanner provides information on the cheapest flights to get via their app or website and for this collaboration between them and Indonesia Tourism, I have to say that this was indeed a smart partnership.I have also written about how to go to Labuan Bajo and also a list of things to do in Labuan Bajo for anyone planning to visit this beautiful place in East Nusa Tenggara. Again, I am just a casual diver and more of a travel writer, therefore this was one of my best diving experiences to date, after diving in Jordan and also diving in Sipadan Island. I hope you enjoyed my Komodo Island dive trip report and if you have questions, please ask in the comment section.
    Friday 5th of May 2017 03:59:00 AM
  • Global Big Day 2017
    This years Global Big Day 2017 is on 13 May and bird watchers or birders from 150 countries around the world will participate as a global team to see what birds are there. This years Bid Day 2017 will be held at  the Yucatán Peninsula, one of the world?s most stunning and important areas for birds.In order to cover the phenomenal bird diversity there, they will be dividing into three teams for the first time ever: Team Belize, Team Guatemala, and Team Mexico. All three teams will be joining forces in a quest to find the most bird species and raise USD$475,000 for conservation.How to Participate in Global Big Day 2017For those interested in participating in Global Big Day 2017, you can follow the guide below as it highlights how anyone can be a part of this. All you need to do is register on the eBird website and put in your count. Birding statistics from the Global Big Day 2017 website (Photo from eBird.org)1. Submit Your Data to eBird on May 13 2017It is very simple. If you submit your birds to eBird they count. Learn how to take part. Don?t worry ? you don?t need to be a bird expert, or to go out all day long. Even a half hour checklist from your backyard will help. Of course, you are welcome to spend the entire day in the field, but know that it is not required! Please enter your data as soon as you can, preferably by Tuesday, May 16, 2017. 2. Visit the Global Bid Day Page for Live Updates and Detailed StatsDuring the Big Day, the main page will be updated. You?ll be able to follow Team Sapsucker in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico ? but more importantly, you?ll be able to track how many species have been seen around the world and in any region of interest to you.3. Organize With Your Friends for Greater CoverageNow is the time to start discussions on local birding discussion lists to make a plan to find difficult species. Learn how to share Global Big Day with others. Try to organize in your home state, province, or even county to make sure teams spread out and find as many species as possible. Put your patch on the worldwide Global Big Day map. Use the hashtag #eBird_GBD for Twitter, Instagram and also Facebook if you can. 4. Join A Global Network of Birders and ConservationistsGlobal Big Day connects a network of people across the world to support a cause that transcends languages and cultures. From the southern tip of Africa to the soaring peaks of Himalayas, and from the Ecuadorian rainforest to backyards in New York ? Everyone is a part of Team eBird, working to understand and conserve the birds we care about.5. Make Your Sightings CountEvery bird that you enter in eBird counts as a part of Global Big Day. However, there are three ways that you can make your sightings as valuable as possible. It is important to note that these are only suggestions?not requirements!Submit complete checklistsKeep counts of the birds that you seeKeep multiple checklists throughout the course of your birding: if you get in the car you should end that checklist and start a new one when you get to the next location.Big Day 2017 (Image from eBird.org)Not sure how Global Big Day relates to you? Global Big Day is a day for everyone who loves birds to make your passion count. Not everyone will find a unique species, and that's absolutely fine. Even if you just have a few minutes on 13 May 2017, there is nobody better than you to put your local birds on the map.For more information, visit the Global Big Day Website. Big Day Malaysia 2017Malaysia has been a part of Global Big Day for a number of years now. One of the main bird clubs of Malaysia who have promoted this event is no other than the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club or SBBC, which is based in Sandakan Sabah where they have encouraged groups of bird watchers to participate on this special day. The Sandakan Borneo Bird Club has also successfully organised the Borneo Big Day where three countries - Brunei, Malaysia and Kalimantan, Indonesia participated in collecting data from the entire island of Borneo. This was initiated in 2015 and again in 2016. For Borneo Big Day 2015, the Sabah portion submitted 53 checklists with a total number of 333 birds. About the writerI am David Hogan Jr, an amateur birder who has been birding since 2007. On occasion, I travel all over Malaysia and other countries for my work in promoting tourism destinations and when I have the opportunity, I will do some casual birding. To know more, see my bird watching articles. I have worked closely with the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club, Tourism Malaysia, Sabah Tourism Board, Sarawak Tourism Board, Indonesia Tourism, Bird Watching Accessories, Malaysia Bird Tour Companies and many other related company, hotel, resort or tour operator. Those who are all set for Global Big Day 2017, all the best and have a great bird count. Remember to add your collected data to the eBird website and if you have any comments or questions, do share them below. 
    Sunday 30th of April 2017 07:24:00 AM
  • Talad Neon Night Market Bangkok
    The new Talad Neon Night Market in Bangkok recently opened in December 2016 and is currently the talk of town. However, this new Bangkok attraction adds on to the number of shopping and entertainment places in the city and is not a permanent attraction. The Talad Neon Night Market currently opens from Thursday till Sundays and from 4.00 PM till midnight only. The good thing is that the night market in Bangkok is located in the main Pratunam district and caters to the hipster and younger generation travelers. No, this is not your Chatuchak Market or Asiatique Riverfront Market where you can find a wide range of items for sale. Talad Neon Night Market offers more lifestyle stalls, booths and containers that sell drinks, snacks, food, trinkets, home ware and trendy fashion. You can find a lot of trending items here and for food, you will encounter the best of Bangkok in terms of street food, fusion and good old Thai food. Think of Art Box Singapore, it is generally the same kind of concept. Scene at Talad Neon Night Market. (Photo by Richard Barrow/Twitter)Talad Neon Night Market BangkokIn total, there are plans to have over 1000 stalls here when it is fully operational and due to social media and wide media coverage, Talad Neon is gaining popularity fast, especially to the Southeast Asian youth. One of the reasons is the location, where many travelers prefer to stay around the Pratunam area of Bangkok and getting to the night market is just 10 minutes walk from Platinum Fashion Mall in Pratunam. Apparently, Talad Neon is also part of the Platinum Fashion Mall group hence there is a special tuk tuk shuttle service from the mall to the market and back from 7-9 PM. But you need to check if the service is still running. The name Talad Neon also means Downtown Night, hence the name. The place is well organized and clean, which is fantastic for tourist. Live entertainment at the night market (Photo from Talad Neon Facebook)What Can You Find At Talad Neon Night MarketAt one glance, it looks like a massive flea market but catering to the hipster lifestyle fashion which includes retro fashion, fusion food and drinks, chill out areas, quick massages and some obscure decorative items. Beer is easily available apart from some festival style foods. The night market is also open from 4.00 PM till around midnight, offering another avenue to continue shopping with a little leisure time. Live music performances are also lined up at selected areas where visitors can just lay back with a cold beer, fusioned juice or the good old iced Thai tea. Bright neon lights literally cover the area making this a festival and lifestyle area. No, this is not the Asian Coachella. Some of the local drinks and desserts (Photo by Talad Neon Facebook)Photos of Talad Neon Downtown Night MarketThere are many photos of this place which are circulating on social media. Go here to see more photos of Talad Neon Night Market. Talad Neon MarketOpening Hours: Thursday to Sunday, 17:00 - 24:00Location: Petchaburi Road, PratunamBTS: Ratchthewi or Chit Lom (10 minute walk from the station)Tel: +66 (0) 2 121 8000Website: https://www.facebook.com/taladneon/Use: Waze or Google Maps to get here by footMap to Talad Neon Night MarketBangkok has been one of the favourite destinations for many travelers and over the years, there have been many new attractions coming up here. If you are headed up north, do pay a visit to the Chiang Mai Night Market as that is also one of the must-visit and recommended places. The next time you visit Bangkok, do explore this place in the evenings after your shopping or sightseeing. Who knows what you will discover at the Talad Neon Night Market in Bangkok. 
    Saturday 29th of April 2017 06:59:00 AM
  • Things To Do In Bario
    If you are planning to travel to one of the best natural places in Sarawak, here is a list of things to do in Bario for those heading here. Located in the Kelabit Highlands, in the north of Sarawak, Bario is home to the Kelabit people who have been living here for centuries. The absolute beauty about this highland town is that it is located 14 hours by road and 45 minutes by flight from Miri city. Bario is well known for their highland rice, salt and pineapples, but due to the remoteness of this amazing place, there is much to do here. What you won't find here are shopping malls, hotels, restaurants or any other modern day city or town facility. This place is one of the most original villages in Sarawak and Malaysia. To get to Bario, the best possible way is to take a flight from Miri city and  there are only three flights a day here. The type of aircraft used is a turbo prop 19 seat Twin Otter plane, operated by MAS Wings. The journey here is another adventure as the plane flies up to around 8500 meters, so you have a beautiful view of the rainforest, hills and mountains along the way. So, what are the things to do in this unspoiled place? Read on.One of the scenic landscapes in BarioThings To Do In BarioBelow is a list of things to do in Bario, catered to just about anyone who plans to visit this amazing highlands. You should also check with the homestay operator about the activities that you want to do as they can arrange for it.Most of the things can be done on your own, but some of them require a local guide, especially trekking or hiking around the highlands. Please note that most of these activities are paid separately when you are there as the main packages cover the food and accommodations. Unless you pre-arrange the Bario package with the activities.Trekking in Bario takes you through an amazing experience1. Trekking in BarioThe best thing one can do is trekking in Bario as there are so many beautiful treks available here. There are simple and basic treks to advance treks depending on the level you require. The beauty about trekking in Bario is that the weather is so cooling, you most likely won't break a sweat while trekking. Some treks are short and simply but the rewards at the end of the trek is pretty nice. Below are a list of popular trekking places in Bario;Korea Hill Trek - Easy (10-15 minutes)Prayer Mountain Trek - Medium to Hard (45-60 minutes)Pineapple Farm Trek - Easy (10-15 minutes)Penan Village Trek - Easy (20-30 minutes)Bario Salt Factory Trek - Easy (15-20 minutes)Pa Ukat Village Trek - Easy (15-30 minutes)Pa Lungan Village Trek - Medium to Hard (4-5 hours)Pulong Tau National Park Trek - Medium to Hard (3-5 Hours)Bario to Bakelalan Trek - Hard (1-2 days)2. Visit a Kelabit Longhouse in BarioThere are a few traditional longhouses found in the Bario areas and some of them are still in the original statuses. Since 2016, some of the traditional Kelabit longhouses have started charging a small fee, around RM 3.00 to RM 5.00 per person to visit the longhouse. One of the most popular long houses is no other than Bario Asal Long House.Inside Bario Asal Longhouse, the first longhouse here3. Bario Salt FactoryActually, this is more of a local homegrown center where local families take turns to process and produce the famous Bario Salt. You need to trek in for about 10 to 15 minutes before you arrive at a shed where the salt is processed and made. A guide is required to bring you here and you can see how the Bario Salt is made and you can also purchase it directly from those making it there. If it rains, the trek can be quite muddy, so take note on this.Cycling in Bario, one of the many things to do here4. Cycling in BarioPersonally, I enjoy doing this the best. Most homestays in Bario offer mountain bike rentals, therefore you can use them to explore this highland village. The roads are very safe here and there is little to no traffic. Cycling can be done individually or in families and there is no available map, so it is pure exploration. See highland paddy fields, traditional Kelabit longhouses, churches and many other natural landscapes while you cycle around Bario.5. Bird Watching in BarioOne of the lesser known bird watching places in Malaysia is no other than Bario. But for those who plan to do some bird watching in Bario, you are in luck as there are quite a number of montane birds to be spotted all over this place. A simple walk around Bario would easily net you 10 to 20 birds and when you go for bird watching treks, you will see much more.Even the famous Dulit Frogmouth was once spotted just out of Bario. There are a couple of bird watching guides in Bario and one of them is Scott Apoi from Nigmat Ayu Homestay. Personally, I have visited Bario five times in the last three years and I can say that I have spotted over 50 species of birds around here.Bird Watching in Bario is highly popular among the birders6. Experiencing the Kelabit Culture in BarioNothing beats learning and understanding the Kelabit culture in Bario and one of the best times to do this is during the Pesta Nukenan or Bario Food Festival , held usually in August every year. However, the locals can arrange a traditional Kelabit dinner complete with a traditional Kelabit cultural dance at one of the long houses.7. Walking around Bario One of the best things you can do is take a walk around Bario, which is relatively easy and there is little or no traffic around here. The best time to do this is also in the mornings, where you see the locals going about their daily chores. In the evenings, it is equally beautiful as children would be seen playing and locals heading home for dinner. The beauty about walking around Bario is that everything is natural and the picturesque landscapes are incredibly beautiful. 8. Visiting a Penan Village in BarioFor those who are into hiking, there are actually two authentic Penan villages found around Bario. While the Penan people are not very hospitable, you can actually engage one of the local Bario guides and trek to their villages. This is purely to visit and observe, that is all. In most cases, it would be hard to communicate as the Penan tribe here are quite reserve and shy. Again, this is purely by luck and you should consult in your guide about this.Jungle Blues Dream Art Gallery in Bario9. Visit an Art Gallery in BarioYes, there is an art gallery in Bario run by artist Stephen and his wife. The beauty about this art gallery in Bario is that it is located in a traditional Kelabit longhouse here. The gallery is also shared with a unique homestay and combined, it is called the Jungle Blues Dream Gallery and Homestay. Artworks are all created and painted by Stephen and put on display around the homestay and gallery.10. Visit the Bario Plane Wreckage of World War IIAn almost well preserved plane wreckage is found in Bario where the RAF plane crashed here in 1964. The plane is in three pieces minus the wings and interior, so you will see a full bodied structure and you can actually go inside the plane. This plane is also a Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer CC.1 aircraft, Registration XP294. You should be careful of the sharp metal edges when doing so.The Bario plane wreckage is located by a local homestay called Nancy Hariss Homestay. The story of the plane crash in Bario is that the Twin Pioneer skidded while trying to land on a wet runway. It ran into a ditch, causing the undercarriage leg to collapse. For aviation fans, this would be quite interesting, otherwise, a great photo opportunity.Bario Plane Wreckage11. Visit the War Memorial of BarioA small war memorial was erected in Bario to commemorate the soldiers and parachuters during the war. Names of the soldiers include Australians, British and local Kelabit people. The Bario War Memorial is located five minutes walk from the main town area and is hard to miss. It is enclosed in a fenced area with a wooden gate and anyone can go in there.12. Visit the mini Bario MuseumA new structure was erected in the main town area for the Bario Food Festival in 2015 and now serves as a mini museum of Bario. However, there are no items on display but more information on the Kelabit people and also important information about the highlands and its unique megaliths found here.13. Catch a Bario SunsetThe best place to see a sunset in Bario is no other that Bukit Korea, a hill located behind the main town center. In between the two row of shops, lies a walk way near the old Bario community center. There is a path that leads up a small hill where you pass a mini pineapple farm and only a 10 minute easy walk up. Once up there, you will see a wooden hut and this is the spot to catch the sunset. Timing wise, best to go up at around 5.00 PM to catch the stunning scenery from up the hill. The sun sets at around 6.30 PM too.The unique Bario Megalith or Batu Ritung in Pa Lungan Village14. Visit the Bario Megalithic StructuresOne of the mysteries of Bario are the many megalithic structures found around Bario. The most famous being Batu Ritong which is found at Pa Umor village, 3-5 hours trek from Bario. Batu Ritong stands at about 7 feet high and the two ton slab is supported by two other vertical slabs. No one seems to know how it was erected or why it was. However, there are many folktales that the guides will share with you. When I was in Bario in 2014, I met some university students who were in Bario to study the megalithic structures, and on asking them how many were there, it was estimated at 300, but only a handful were known.Kelabit Food in Bario, very unique and different.15. Try the Kelabit FoodThis is hands down the most unique experience where you will be guaranteed to try the Kelabit food when you stay in Bario. One of the most organice food experience I have had during my travels, the local Bario food is all farmed, rared, caught or hunter. Vegetables are farmed or taken from the wild, fish is caught from the local ponds and game meat is hunted by the locals.If there is one food type that anyone visiting Sarawak should try, it is the Kelabit Food. The way it is prepared is handed down from generation to generation and is cooked traditionally. If you have the opportunity, do ask for the local porridge or 'Kikid'. For Muslim travelers, it could be a challenge for you, but there is one shop in Bario town that serves Halal food.Map of Bario, showing the various villages around hereIn general, the best time to visit Bario is from December to February or in August for the Pesta Nukenan Bario or Bario Food Festival. The food festival will see the entire Bario come alive with visitors from all the surrounding villages, who participate here for this weekend event.You can see local traditional games being played while for foodies, this is the ultimate food experience where you can taste many different types of highland cuisine. Very unique and highly recommended for any food traveller.Nigmat Ayu Homestay in Bario seen from the paddy fieldBario is not your regular tourist destination, but it is a very unique cultural experience that is located high in the highlands of Sarawak Borneo. Me, as the writer, have been here five times in the last three years and my last trip in March 2017. I never get tired of this place as once I arrive here, I am disconnected from the modern world and go back to how things were, without modernization. You can also read about my journey to the Bario Highlands in Sarawak, which I wrote in 2015.For anyone wanting something different when you visit Sarawak or Malaysia, I would easily recommend you explore this unique highlands. Perhaps, the list of Things To Do In Bario will also make it easier for your visit here and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime. 
    Friday 21st of April 2017 04:00:00 AM
  • Horizon Village Outlets (HVO)
    Another factory outlet in Malaysia called Horizon Village Outlets (HVO) Sepang, will be opening in mid 2018 at Sepang in Selangor. This adds the number of factory outlets in Malaysia to six where the latest Genting Premium Outlets or GPO is scheduled to open in mid to late 2017. Horizon Village Outlets Malaysia will feature 150 retail lots in a luxurious European architecture open styled area of 400,00 square feet and is located about 10 kilometers north of KLIA and KLIA 2 in Sepang. The massive factory outlet in Sepang is also being built in the Serenia City township by Sime Darby Group. The closest factory outlet in Sepang to Horizon Village Outlets is also Mitsui Outlet Park which is located along the way to the international airports. This will be quite interesting as there will be two outlets in a 10 kilometer radius and will offer a good variety of choices to travelers and also local shoppers.Artist Impression of Horizon Village Outlets (HVO) (Photo by HVO)Horizon Village Outlets SepangThe tenants will include well known international brands where a quota of 30% is expected for this. The balance will be catered towards other local brands, food, beverage and entertainment outlets. Currently, there are no super luxury brands mentioned but the international brands include;Kate SpadeMichael KorsLa MartinaVictoria?s SecretGiuseppe ZanottiTory Burch, TumiSwiss Watch GalleryArtisan Village HVOAn Artisan Village will also be the highlight of HVO where they plan to showcase a variety of art, culture and design from all over Malaysia. There will be Malaysian handicraft products and also Malaysian culinary delights that will be something different from the other factory outlets in Malaysia. This unique Artisan Village project is steered to create a unique Malaysian experience, especially for foreigners or travelers visiting HVO.Horizon Village Outlets Malaysia (Photo by HVO)Festival Village HVOA food and beverage section called Festival Village will also be showcasing the unique culinary tastes of Malaysia. Restaurants and cafes serving Malaysian or fusioned-Malaysian foods will be the highlights here. The Festival Village target is to provide a unique customer experience for shoppers who visit HVO, and most importantly, the Malaysian experience.Artist impression of Horizon Village Outlets Sepang (Photo by HVO)Architectural Design of Horizon Village OutletAccording to architects Adam & Associates, they are creating an unique experience for shoppers in the design of this factory outlet. They were quoted in a brochure stating; Horizon Village Outlets (HVO) is designed to exceed customers? expectations and deliver an unrivalled outlet shopping experience. The racetrack circulation design was specifically developed by the architects, Adam & Associates, and has been proven to encourage intuitive wayfinding by the shoppers. It means that the visitor flow is maximised so that each and every shop will have excellent visibility and foot trac. HVO will have the benefit of seven entry points and a corridor width designed to optimize cross-corridor shopping. When combined with the multiple access points and crosscorridor optimization, the racetrack design will maximise the exposure and convenience to the shoppers for all store locations.Layout plan of Horizon Village Outlets (Photo by HVO)Horizon Village Outlets (HVO) Address:Directions: Intersection of the Elite Highway and Putrajaya-Cyberjaya ExpresswayMap of HVO: Google MapsGPS Coordinates: 2.840383, 101.697934Website: www.hvo.com.myAdding to the list of Factory Outlets in Malaysia, this will surely put Malaysia back on the tourism map as one country with multiple factory outlets. Currently, Malaysia is aiming to hit a target of 31 million visitors for the year of 2017 and with the opening of these factory outlets, and also the right marketing strategy, it should not be a problem.Map to Horizon Village Outlets (Photo by HVO)Genting Premium Outlets and Johor Premium Outlets are one of the strongest factory outlet brands that have been seeing a balanced turnout over the years while the others have been seeing more locals visiting them.With Horizon Village Outlets opening in 2018, this will definitely provide travelers and those who enjoy shopping who are visiting Malaysia. The shopping concept will also work well for those who are on their way to the airports after spending time visiting Malaysia. As a traveler myself, I look forward to the opening of Horizon Village Outlets (HVO) in Sepang.
    Thursday 20th of April 2017 04:43:00 AM
  • Cabin Zero Travel Bag Review
    Over the years, I have used quite a number of travel bags which came in small, medium and large units and from time to time, I would have a favourite bag, until I met Cabin Zero. Usually, I travel for short to medium trips as I am not one of those world nomads who travel from country to country forever. I have done that over 25 years ago when travel was pure and original compared to nowadays, so this Cabin Zero travel bag review is to share my happiness in finding the perfect bag for all my travels. Currently, my travels take me around Malaysia and Southeast Asia, occasionally to Japan, Korea or even the Middle East, but my style of travel is usually a to-and-from trip without jumping from country to country. This makes it easier for me to bring either a backpack or check-in bag and backpack, depending on the duration on my trip.Perfectly fitting into any airplane overhead luggage compartmentAlso having to consider, most of my trips take me into the wilderness, especially for nature, flora and fauna, culture, bird watching or the general sightseeing. So, depending on who my client is, I need to consider what type of travel bag to bring along on my trips. Having said that, I always have a preferred travel bag which I use and on the last few years, I was using a sleek waterproof backpack, but to be honest, it was just normal, but practical. You see, I belong to the 40's club and  traveling at this age group, you need a real comfortable bag. This means, something easy to carry around and store on buses, trains or flights. Cabin Zero Travel BagsIn 2016, a fellow traveler had introduced me to this new travel bag brand, which was considered new in my region, called Cabin Zero and I thought little of it. So, as I got tired of my waterproof back pack, I got one of those massive 44 liter backpacks from Cabin Zero in the military green color, and when it arrived, I had a shock as to how huge it was. With a total weight of 950 grams, it looked really large and the whole concept of it being a aircraft friendly cabin bag really impressed me. Yes, this means that the bag can be brought into any commercial flight as cabin luggage, hence the name.Yes, that is me at Bangkok's Don Muang Airport with my Cabin Zero BagSince using it in 2017, this has been my all time favourite bag that I travel with now. In March of 2017, I visited Tokyo in Japan for three days for a quick work trip and Cabin Zero was the only bag that I brought along. This was really hassle free as I did not have to wait for any checked in luggage, speeding up my airport check in process.Then in late March, I visited Bario in Sarawak for four days to do some bird watching and trekking, and I used only my Cabin Zero bag for the entire trip. Everything I needed was packed neatly into the bag and I still had extra space, so I even put in my trekking shoes.My next trip would be taking one of those Taman Negara tour packages where I will explore Malaysia's largest and oldest national park in the state of Pahang. This will see me exploring the rainforest, rivers and also trekking around the national park. Again, the Cabin Zero travel bag will be the perfect choice for my adventure here.Cabin Zero Military 44L bagsWhere to buy a Cabin Zero Bag in Malaysia? This is the big question being asked to me whenever someone meets me during my travels. Well, they do not have an official retail store here in Malaysia, but you can buy a Cabin Zero online from the official website. What's So Special About Cabin Zero?Each bag comes built in Global Luggage Tracker, powered by Okoban. That's pretty cool. And the shoulder straps are thick padded AirMesh which is really comfortable. The outer composite material is actually made from military spec nylon, the real hard stuff. So, I have been using the bag for a number of times and it still looks good.Cabin Zero WarrantyEvery Cabin Zero bag comes with a 10-year warranty, and to sweeten the deal, if you ?like? CabinZero on their official Facebook, they will increase the warranty to 25-years. Now, that's an awesome deal if you ask me.At the end of the day, I am still using this bag for all my travels and so far, it has been a really good experience. As a seasoned traveler for the last 30 years, I have gone through many different travel bags, and this Cabin Zero travel bag review is one of the very rare articles I do for travel products. In other words, the bag is awesome and I am actually happy using it. 
    Wednesday 19th of April 2017 03:41:00 AM
  • Disney Explorers Lodge
    The all new Disney Explorers Lodge will be opened on 30th April 2017 and this will be the third resort hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland. This brand new hotel also comes complete with recreation, shopping, exquisite culinary adventures and Disney entertainment, making this the first adventure and leisure themed hotel in Hong Kong. The 750-room Disney Explorers Lodge gives the resort a grand total of 1,750 hotel rooms, which will greatly enhance the resort?s capability to accommodate more MICE business apart from the general holiday visitors heading to Hong Kong. This will also offer guests an ultimate vacation complete with their legendary service, amazing dining facilities and shopping amenities. Disney Explorers LodgeSo, what can one find at the new Disney Explorers Lodge in Hong Kong Disneyland? The following will highlight some of the unique features of the new resort which explores exotic cultures, destinations and more. The main lobby area of Disney Explorers Lodge1. Disney ExplorersGuests can catch Mickey Mouse the explorer, Minnie Mouse the adventuress, Donald the bird-watcher and Goofy the pilot in the new hotel. There will also be more than 1,000 artifacts that explorers collected from around the world like Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, Mali, Bali, Bolivia, the Ivory Coast and more are displayed throughout the hotel, in the lobby, guest rooms, dining venues, kids? corner and various indoor and outdoor areas.2. Exclusive MerchandiseGuests can collect their own memorabilia to remember their journey of ?exploration and dreams? at The Trading Post. This is also a specially-designed merchandise store in the Disney Explorers Lodge, which stocks an extensive selection of merchandise with more than 20 exclusive items.Inside the Chart Room Cafe3. Epic Dining AdventuresIn total, there are three new restaurants that offer epic dining adventures. In each of the restaurants, cuisine from different parts of the world is served, integrating various cultural elements with the Disney Explorers Lodge theme. These restaurants can cater to 500 guests in a single seating.World of Color Restaurant at Disney Explorers LodgeDisney Explorers Lodge RestaurantsDragon Wind - Decorated with a whimsical dragon kite, serves rural and classical provincial Chinese fare inspired by the five elements of traditional Chinese culture. Guests will be greeted by Disney friends in their brand-new explorer outfits daily during breakfast or lunch. World of Color Restaurant - Once an explorer?s art studio of botany and entomology, brings together the tastes of new and old worlds from far and wide.Chart Room Cafe - This cafe features lighting fixtures that evoke constellations used in navigating voyages, is the place to kick back and enjoy specialty coffee, freshly made sandwiches, made-to-order pastas and homemade gelato.Dragon Wind Restaurant4. Lush Themed GardensFour lush gardens frame the four wings of the seven-story Disney Explorers Lodge hotel, offering each hotel room either a refreshing view of the gardens or the open sea. The gardens, themed after the cultures of Asia, South America, Africa and Oceania, are named after beloved characters from Disney and Disney Pixar animated films who have drawn references from the regions. They are;The South America-themed Kevin Garden is named after the giant bird in ?Up?.The Oceania-themed Little Squirt Garden celebrates the playful sea turtle from ?Finding Nemo?. The Asia-themed Hathi Jr. Garden is named after the baby elephant from ?The Jungle Book?. The African Savannah-themed Rafiki Garden features the wise mandrill from ?The Lion King?.Together with the Dreamer's Spring and the outdoor Rain Drop Pool, the hotel features incredible places to explore inside and out, making it ideal for resort guests to enjoy during a family visit, corporate event or a refreshing getaway from the city.One of the themed rooms at Disney Explorers Lodge ResortStaycation at Disney Explorers LodgeWith Disney Explorers Lodge launching, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is the perfect ?staycation? destination for guests. Guests can enjoy their stay in any of the three hotels with their family and friends. To mark the Disney Explorers Lodge grand opening, special offers will be available to guests, including park privileges with accommodations. Visit Disney Explorers Lodge for more information. Disney Explorers Lodge PromotionsCurrently, there are some Disney Explorers Lodge promotions where guests may enjoy Play and Dine Ticket Combo including 1-Day tickets and a meal voucher, available from now until July 14, 2017. Travel trade partners booking for their guests for two consecutive nights or more at one of the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort hotels can enjoy the ?2 Nights Plus Offer?, valid till December 20, 2017.The above should be more than enough to entice anyone, including me to head back here for another visit. On my last trip to the Hong Kong Disneyland, it was in 2016 and we stayed at the Disney Hollywood Hotel which was a pretty amazing experience. One of the highlights during out stay was in fact the Disney Parade which is not to be missed. Adventure Mickey and Minnie flanked by Disney's Terruce Wang (Left) and Todd Richins (Right) Staying at any of the Hong Kong Disneyland hotels is probably the best thing any family should do as it is convenient to move around. If you stay in Hong Kong city area, it would take around one hour to get here with the MRT Train. You would also have to change trains to get here. We decided to stay at the resort as at that time in 2013, there were the new Hong Kong Disneyland rides and attractions opened. Anyone planning to visit the Hong Kong Disneyland this year should honestly consider staying at this new hotel as there will be lots to see and experience. Plus the Disney characters would also be in full swing, making appearances throughout the day at the new Disney Hollywood Hotel. 
    Tuesday 18th of April 2017 01:48:00 PM
  • Diving at Mataking Island
    Diving at Mataking Island is one of the best dive experiences I have had around Malaysia. While the dive sites here are pretty obscure and non-commercialized, it is truly one of the better dive sites in the entire Sabah. Well, when you put Sipadan Island aside of course. While Mataking Island is well known for being a honeymoon destination, diving at Mataking Island is totally out of this world. From the main photo, you can imagine how stunning the underwater landscape is. Wrecks, rich marine life, colourful coral landscapes, interesting wrecks, and the occasional large fish that come around here will complete any divers wishes and fancies.The post office box on a wreck at Mataking IslandDiving at Mataking IslandOverall, the experience of visiting Mataking Island will allow you to relax as this place is quiet and away from the commercial areas of Semporna and Mabul Island. There is only one resort on the island which is the Mataking Reef Resort, a luxurious resort catering to middle and high end guests. When you book a package at the resort, diving can be included as one of the many activities offered here. Alternatively, you can also add on additional dives or even book a dive to Sipadan Island.  One of the unique diving experiences here is that they have an underwater post box. This means, you can write a postcard at the office, have it sealed in an underwater envelope and when you go diving, they will bring you to the underwater post box and you can post your letter to anyone in the world. How cool is that? For those who do not know how to dive and want to experience this, there is the Discover Scuba Diving or DSD available here. This amazing underwater experience lets you go to a maximum of five meters underwater under the supervision of a dive instructor.Me diving at Mataking IslandMataking Dive SitesThere are five common dive sites around Mataking Island and a total of 33 dive sites for the adventurous divers. Usually for first timers, you will be brought to the common dive sites, which are quite incredible. The Mataking Dive Sites are;House Reef - The most popular site around the main jetty area of the island. The house reef is rich with corals and fishes, so this is one place worth diving. On occasion, you have the opportunity to see a large barracuda here. Bohayan - This site is located on one of the many nearby islands and, as with all sites here, your boat will be the only one around.D'Wall - Five minutes by boat and you will be near Mataking Kecil Island. This wall dive is quite interesting with macro life. Gavin's Playground - A slightly further spot which is around 15 minutes boat ride and rich with fishes, macro and coral life. This is a boat dive spot too. Garden of Eden - The name sounds interesting and it is here that you can find lots of corals, macro and other fishes. The landscape is pretty as well with mild currents at a 25 meter depth.Underwater Post Office - This is a wreck dive and with a maximum depth of 27 meters. But the post box is located at about 20 meters on a cargo ship wreck, which was sunk for conservation purposes in 2006.Scuba diving at Mataking IslandOther diving information on Mataking IslandOverall, the depths for diving here range from 5 to 40 meters, but usually you will go to the maximum of 27 to 30 meters, if you are visiting the wreck. The waters are tropical temperature, therefore you can dive with or without a suit. If you insist on a dive suit, they have shorties and also standard ones with 3mm thickness. For visibility at Mataking, it ranges from 5 meters to 30 meters, depending on the time too. Averaging at around 20 meters is good enough for any diver. Dive certification is from beginner to advance divers. If you are an underwater photographer, you need to inform the dive master and they will bring you to the best locations for this. Posting my postcard at the Mataking Island underwater post boxBest Time To Dive At Mataking IslandJust like any other island is Sabah's east coast, the best time to dive at Mataking Island is from March to November. December and January is the rainy season here, but you can still dive. Just that you need to double check with the resort about this. For the peak season, it will be August. The quiet time for Mataking Island is in February and July as this is the off peak period here, so if you want privacy, these are the two best months.A turtle seen during my dive at Mataking IslandWhat Fish To See At Mataking IslandOne of the most common questions asked by divers is what fish can I see at Mataking Island. Well, you will be in for a treat if you are an advanced diver as chances are you may be able to spot grey reef sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, hammerheads and the occasional whale shark in the north point cleaning station area. However, they are not there everyday and it is purely based on luck. Whale shark season here is from April to June, again depending on luck. Overall for the general divers, the common coral fishes are easily spotted, lots of nudibranches, schools of jack fish, morey eels, barracudas, frogfish, lion fish, squat lobsters, stonefish, cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus, trevally, trumpetfish, batfish and large groupers.The wreck at Mataking Island, 20 to 27 meters deepWhere is Mataking Island?Mataking Island is located about 40 minutes boat ride from the town of Semporna, which is the gateway jetty to Sipadan and Mabul Islands. The island comprises of Mataking Besar (Big Island) and Mataking Kecil (Small Island) which is connected by a wonderful sand bank that shows itself during the low tide. There is only one resort on the entire island and offers you ultimate privacy. Usually couples come here for their honeymoon or anniversary, but on average, you get the more serious travelers staying here. Packages are all in, meaning you pay one price for a full board package at Mataking Island. You can book your Mataking Dive Package from the resort operator. I have also done a Mataking Island review for those who want to see more photos of the island and resort.Mataking Diving PhotosDiving at Mataking IslandThe Mataking Wreck seen from aboveMy Suunto Dive Computer shows 16 meters depth and the wreck at the bottomRemains of another wreck at one of the dive sites in Mataking IslandBack of the main wreck at Mataking Island (Apologies for the lens cover as it was in the way)For divers or diving couples out there, Mataking Island is one of the best dive spots in Sabah and from the photos taken by me, you can see how amazing it is. There are no crowds of divers here which allows the marine life to be as natural as it can be. In a nutshell, this is a beautiful, peaceful and amazing place to have a holiday and dive. For more diving articles, you can read my scuba diving section as I have been actively diving all over the region, including The Red Sea. I have also done diving at Komodo Island in 2016 which is totally incredible. And if you plan to visit Sarawak, here is a list of dive sites in Sarawak to check out.  If you have experienced diving at Mabul Island or Sipadan Island, then this is the next place you should explore as diving at Mataking Island will be one of those experiences you will remember for a long time. Remember to bring an underwater camera as it will be very worth it. 
    Monday 17th of April 2017 11:26:00 AM
  • Regatta Lepa 2017
    This years Regatta Lepa 2017 will be taking place from 21-23 April in the town of Semporna, in east coast Sabah. This is also the 24th year that the unique Regatta has been taking place here. Originally paying homage to the nomadic sea Bajau people, the event hast now been accepted as one of the important traditional and cultural events of Sabah Borneo. The Regatta Lepa is also the most unique sea festival in Malaysia as no other culture has anything close to this. Seeing it take place live is an experience of a lifetime and for anyone who loves traditional cultures plus seafaring, this is one event not to be missed. As I travel all over Malaysia and Sabah, I have personally witnessed this event twice. and the uniqueness of the event is something totally extraordinary. Of you are a photographer, this is one of the best captures of people and traditions, all happening in the sea. A Bajau dancer on board one of the Lepa's during the RegattaWhat is the Regatta Lepa? It is a cultural celebration for the Bajau people of the east coast of Sabah, namely around the Semporna area and its vicinity. The highlight of the Regatta Lepa is no other than the floating boat parade. The Lepa is actually a single mast sailing boat of the Bajau people. During the festival, the Lepa's are decorated in the village colours, complete with a musical troupe and dancers. The music plays while the dancers perform traditional Bajau dances while the boats head to the main Regatta Lepa Square for judging. The overall judging will be based on the most beautiful and colorful Lepa. Come evening, a special Lepa Beauty Pageant is held at the nearby stadium where thousands of locals will witness the process of the pageant and the crowning of the new Lepa Queen. During this session, ministers will convey their speeches while VIP's will be invited and special guest artists will perform a show. A beautiful fireworks display is then followed to close the ceremony. The Regatta Lepa has been running for 24 years where in 2003, it was officially declared as a national festival in Sabah and Malaysia. Regatta Lepa Boats heading for the contest in SempornaWhy Should You See The Regatta Lepa?Basically, it is a one-of-a-kind event that is unique to Sabah. If you are in Sabah or heading to Sipadan, Mabul or islands on the east coast during 21-23 April, you should consider making some time to witness this cultural event at the main town area of Semporna. Below is a list of activities that take place through the three days of the Regatta Lepa in Semporna. Some of the main activities take place in the day, while the others take place at night at the Semporna Stadium. The list is; Lepa Boat ParadeBoat Race (Kelleh-Kelleh Race)Duck Catching ContestSea Tug-of-WarLepa Beauty Pageant ContestIgal-Igal Dance (Traditional Bajau Dance)Lepa Car Contest (Stadium Semporna)Craft & Food Stalls (Around Semporna)Fireworks Display (Stadium Semporna)Regatta Lepa 2017Date: 21 - 23 Apr 2017Venue: Seafest Hotel Area and the Semporna Town Jetty AreaTime: Entire DayA Bajau dancer with musicians on board one of the Lepa boatsWhat to take note during Regatta LepaWith a weekend of festivals and events, hotels, guest houses and lodges will be full. You need to book well ahead to secure a room at any of the accommodations. The best hotel in Semporna is also Seafest Hotel, which is a 3-Star hotel and this hotel will be fully booked with VIP's and state officials. The weather may be humid and hot, therefore, drink lots of water and apply sunscreen. There will also be thousands of people around there, best to be careful with your personal belongings. And if you are exploring Sabah, you can also read this article on where to go in Sabah for 2017. For more detailed information, read my earlier story on the Regatta Lepa in Semporna Sabah which I did in 2012. It highlights everything you need to know about this unique cultural festival and event in Sabah.  Again, if you are by any chance visiting the islands of east coast Sabah, do make some time to experience the unique Regatta Lepa 2017. 
    Sunday 16th of April 2017 09:55:00 AM
  • Souq Waqif in Doha
    One of the must visit places is Souq Waqif in Doha, where you will find the cities best items for sale and the best place to hang out. On a trip to Doha in 2016, I had the opportunity to explore Souq Waqif and I was not disappointed at all. Having visit Doha for the first time in my life, I had never actually visited a real Souq, and this was my first experience here. Souq Waqif has been around for over a century and was originally used by the Bedouin people to trade their wares. In 2004 to 2008, it was given a brand new revamp by the Qatari government, and currently remains as probably the only traditional Souq in the Arab countries. The Qatari architecture and design stands out and makes this place absolutely beautiful. Where is Souq WaqifSouq Waqif is located in the center of Doha City and in the district of Al Souq and between Al Asmakh Street and Al Ahmed Street. Anyone visiting Doha will most definitely be introduced to this Middle East styled market. There is another Souq Waqif which is in the Al Wakrah, and visitors should not be confused with this. Just make sure you tell the people that you want to go to the original Souq Waqif. A landmark is the Pearl Monument or near the Dhow Harbor.A common scene at Souq Waqif in DohaWhat Can You Find In Souq WaqifGenerally, there are quite a lot of things to find at Souq Waqif, namely garments, household items, fruits, spices and handicraft. Local jewelry can also be found and some of the shops even sell traditional Qatari attire and items. For the curious explorer, there are lanes that lead to other parts of the Souq where you may end up at the Gold Souq or even the pet area where all kinds of domestic pets are being sold. For the hipster travellers, there are cafes and boutique hotels located around the main Souq Waqif area, so you can stay here and experience the traditional lifestyle of the Souq. There are lots of coffee shops, local and international, and middle eastern restaurants found around the main area. ATM machines are also available while outdoor cafes line the main cobble street here. Explore a little further from Souq Waqif and it will lead you to the unique Falcon Souq where you can see the traditional falcons being bred and sold. There is even a Falcon Hospital in the area too. Cafes and Coffee Shops along the main area of Souq WaqifBest Time To Visit Souq WaqifThe best time to visit this Souq is in the mornings, before lunch as the entire Souq Waqif closes from noon till around 4.00 PM, then reopens till 10.00 PM at night. In the mornings, the Souq comes alive with locals coming here to buy wares and other items, and it is a beautiful sight to experience. Photos of Souq WaqifBelow are random photos of Souq Waqif taken during my trip in 2016. Each of the photos has its own description. Ladies garments and accessories sold at one of the shopsAlong the main street of Souq Waqif, souvenir stalls by the plentyTraditional Qatari items sold at one of the shopsOne of the traders that sells souvenirs and jewelrySome of the lanes are brightly lit to showcase the vibrant colors of the SouqA beautiful Qatari design building at Souq WaqifTraders inside Souq WaqifThe lanes are filled with all sorts of interesting itemsYou can find traditional costume and attire being sold at the SouqTraditional Qatari plates in vivid colors for saleSouq Waqif DohaAddress: Al Asmakh Street and Al Ahmed StreetGPS Coordinates: 25.288436, 51.533691Opening Hours: 7.30 AM to 12.00 NOON, 4.00 PM to 10.00 PMWebsite: Souq WaqifFor anyone visiting Qatar, this is hands down one of the must visit places in Doha. Especially when you have some free time in the day or late in the evenings, you can easily spend two to three hours just wandering around Souq Waqif in Doha.
    Wednesday 12th of April 2017 10:13:00 AM
  • Sky Mirror Kuala Selangor
    Sky Mirror in Kuala Selangor is one of the latest tourism attractions in Malaysia, but you should know that this attraction only happens twice a month during the full moon and new moon period. This means, if you plan to visit Sky Mirror, you need to check the moon timings before going there.The location of Sky Mirror Kuala Selangor is at Sasaran Beach and is off the coast of Jeram fishing village. There have been many names for this place since being discovered and some call it Mirror in the Sky, Salt Flat of Malaysia or even Salar de Uyuni of Malaysia.Currently, only local Malaysians are heading here to experience this new tourist attraction in Selangor, while some bodies have organised FAM trips to Sky Mirror, hoping to attract neighbouring countries to visit this place.Tours are offered by the locals and also via Facebook (you can search for them), and the price for a day trip here is around RM65 to RM70 per person. This includes the boat trip, packed local lunch, ice cold water and some snacks. Usually, you are done by around 2.00 PM. Sky Mirror at Sasaran, Selangor. Photo by Ayuh Travel (https://twitter.com/ayuhtravel)What is Sky Mirror?Sky Mirror is a name given to reflect a mirror image of the sky on an island that emerges during the full and new moon periods every month. A sand bank emerges creating an island which is shallow with a few inches of sea water that happens from mid to late morning. The effect creates a mirror image of the sky and any subject standing there and this has attracted thousands of locals here to snap those epic shots. The size of this sand bank island is huge, but you should always check with the tour operator on where it ends, as you would not want any unforeseen incidents by exploring too far away. What to Expect at Sky MirrorWell, as anything new will attract people, you should expect tons of people on weekends and school holidays during the peak period. This means, there will be loads of people around Sky Mirror, trying to take photos and so on. If you want your clean shot without the people in the back ground, you need to find a spot away from everyone else. Speak to your tour operator to find out how far you can explore around here. How to Go to Sky Mirror Kuala SelangorFor those driving, Sky Mirror Selangor is located near the fishing village of Jeram, Selangor. You need to drive there and contact the locals about taking a 30 minute boat ride out to Sky Mirror. From Kuala Lumpur or Petaling Jaya, it takes about one hour to one and a half hours to drive to Sasaran in Selangor. A tip is to get here just before 8.00 AM, as the light is best before noon. Use Waze if you are driving and you should pass Kapar after Klang before heading to Jeram. This is also before you reach Kuala Selangor. The trick is to book your boat operator before going here as it can be full when you arrive here, wasting your trip. Sky Mirror Kuala Selangor - Photo by Sue Thang of http://blinkthasn.blogspot.my/Sky Mirror Tour PackagesWith the hype of this place on social media, there are also companies orangising Sky Mirror Tour Packages in half or full day trips. An average price for an overnight trip including a a night at a local homestay will cost around RM350.00 while for a day trip for those self driving, it will cost around RM70.00 per person. For the boat trip from Sasaran to Sky Mirror, it generally takes about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the sea. If it is a choppy day, expect 30-40 minutes boat ride. The boats are also the local medium sized boats that have life jackets and operated by the locals at Sasaran Village. You can also read about places to visit in Selangor which shares some of the many tourist attractions in this state. And for those heading to Kuala Selangor, do check out the Bukit Malawati Hill in Kuala Selangor for a historical adventure. Selangor is the hub of Malaysia where Kuala Lumpur is located inside the state of Selangor and if you fly into Malaysia, you will land at KLIA or KLIA2 which is located in Sepang, Selangor. And for the latest tourist attraction in Selangor, it is no other than the Sky Mirror Kuala Selangor.
    Sunday 9th of April 2017 07:37:00 AM
  • AirAsia X Flights to Jeju
    Jeju should be the next Korea destination for the world class budget airline as soon, there will be AirAsia X flights to Jeju Island in Korea. Currently in April 2017, the airline is in talks with officials from Jeju Tourism Organization (JTO) over the Kuala Lumpur to Jeju direct flights. News reports state that the AirAsia X flights to Jeju Island will most likely take off at the end of 2017, just in time for the winter season. Korea has been one of the favourite destinations for Malaysians due to the popularity of the Korean Dramas and also the promotions done aggressively here in Malaysia by the Korean Tourism Board. Since 2016, Jeju officials have also been promoting this island destination which is located south of Korea. AirAsia X Flights to Jeju IslandReports also indicate that over 5,000 Malaysians have visited Jeju Island in January 2017, which makes this the second largest market after China. The resort island has been one of South Korea's popular destination for a long time, but in recent years, with digital and social media, more people want to visit other places around Korea apart from Seoul. One of the beautiful waterfalls at Jeju IslandJeju has also been in the limelight for international travellers for a long time, but now with the growth of budget airlines, more and more common people want to visit this resort island as many have already visited Seoul, considering that Jeju has more to offer in terms of nature and ecotourism. Jeju also boasts of a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is the Mount Halla Natural Reserve where many people want to see the world famous Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes. Apart from that, there are many natural hiking trails, scenic spots and rich cultures. For more information, you can also visit the official Jeju Tourism Organization website. AirAsia X is a Malaysian long-haul service budget airline that flies to 23 destinations in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa. The airline is also the fastest growing airline in the region offering travelers the opportunity to see the world with affordable prices and hopefully by year end, they will add AirAsia X Flights to Jeju Island. 
    Thursday 6th of April 2017 05:39:00 AM
  • Sunshine 60 Building Observatory Tokyo
    If there is one place to get an amazing view, the Sunshine 60 Building Observatory in Tokyo is probably one of the best places to do this. Located in the Ikebukuro area of Tokyo, this building which was completed in 1978, stands at 239.7 meters or 786 feet high and was the tallest building in Asia back then. Currently, Sunshine 60 Building is also known as the Sky Circus, which gives an additional observatory experience to visitors here. Apart from getting one of the best views of Tokyo here, you can also participate in the other experiences like the Aerial VR, Swing Coaster and Tokyo Bullet Flight at the Sky Bridge area. There is also the unique Kaleido Scape where you can experience all four seasons in a special room that displays cutting edge technology in a mirrored room. On the 58th and 59th floor, there are restaurants with amazing views for those who want to dine in the sky. Enjoy authentic and modern Japanese cuisine with loved ones or friends while absorbing the night view of Tokyo.View of Tokyo from the Sunshine 60 ObservatoryFor first timers to Tokyo, the Sunshine 60 Building is one of the highly recommended places to visit and it takes about 2-4 hours spending time here. You can take the Tokyo Metro and stop at the Ikebukuro Station and from there, take a 10 minute walk to the Sunshine City where the observatory is located at. Around Ikebukuro, there are many shopping areas or you can continue your Tokyo subway journey to Shinjuku, Shibuya or Asakusa.Beautiful video show inside the Kaleido Scape roomView of the Shinjuku in the distance. The observatory offers a 360 degrees view of Tokyo Areas at Sunshine 60 Observation DeckSky Circus TentTenku 251Kaleido ScapeSky BridgeSky PartyCafe Quu Quu QuuSky Circus ShopLooking down  at Tokyo City from the 60th floor of the buildingSunshine 60 Opening Hours10.00 AM to 10.00 PMSame-day ticket sales at B1 ticket counter are from 9:30 AM to 8:50 PMFrom April 21th 2017, same-day tickets are on sale at B1 ticket counter from 10:00~20:50Sunshine 60 Observation Deck Ticket PriceTicket Price: ¥1,800 for adultsSky Circus Website: http://www.skycircus.jp/english/enjoy/The main ticket counter for Sky Circus TokyoFor first timers to Tokyo, you should consider using Tokyo Metro as the best way to explore Tokyo. Why? Because they have promotional subway tickets for 1,2 and 3 days, which saves you a lot of money when traveling around Tokyo. And if you are a Muslim traveler, don't forget that there are quite a number of Halal Japanese restaurants found all over Tokyo. I visited one of them, which is the Naritaya Halal Ramen Restaurant in Asakusa, just near the famous Senso Ji Temple. In a nutshell, the Sunshine 60 Building Observatory in Tokyo is probably one of the best places to get a perfect view of Tokyo city, plus indulging in other activities up here. Next time you visit Tokyo, consider coming here. 
    Friday 31st of March 2017 12:06:00 PM
  • EnerZ Indoor Extreme Park Subang
    An all new EnerZ Indoor Extreme Park in Subang is now open and catering to all extreme sport lovers in the Klang Valley. Those visiting Selangor will also have the opportunity to visit this new extreme park in Petaling Jaya or PJ which is also the largest trampoline park in Malaysia and also Asia. EnerZ Indoor Extreme Park offers over 80,000 square feet of play space, that is suitable for all ages. This extreme park also caters to other events and functions like corporate entertainment, product launches, private events and team-building events. Overall, the owners are making this a one-stop place for activities, regardless of age or rank.If you are visiting Kuala Lumpur or even the Sunway area, and want something different for your kids, this place is actually within the Sunway Lagoon and Sunway Pyramid area, therefore you can just take a taxi here, spend a few hours and then head back to the city area. Wall Climbing at Enerz Indoor Extreme Park in Subang JayaEnerZ Indoor Extreme Park SubangInside the indoor extreme park, you will find many different activities that cater to just about anyone and they are;1. Trampoline ParkTouted as Malaysia's and even Asia's largest trampoline park, there are trampolines, trampolines and more trampolines. Most of them free jump trampolines where all ages can participate in.2. Wall ClimbingFor those with a passion of climbing, there is a 30 feet indoor wall which is complete with ropes and safety equipment needed. Professionally trained staff are there to make sure that you get the job done. 3. Gut BuilderFor fans of obstacle courses, there is a Gut Builder course at EnerZ which is a 3 level obstacle course. In total, there are also 58 specially tailored games focused on building your child?s confidence and problem solving skills in this course. 4. Dodge BallA unique way of playing Dodge ball using the indoor trampolines here. For those who are active and want to try something different, this is it. 5. Ninja WarriorAn activity that lets you imagine that you are a ninja warrior and you can compete with friends in the unique Ninja Warrior game cube. 6. MeltdownJump, duck and dive as 2 padded bars swing from left to right in an attempt to knock you off your platform. Something fun and different for the active people. 7. GladiatorTry the gladiator arena where you can judge your agility and quickness to bring down your opponents whilst at the same time avoid being knocked off by your opponent's jousting stick. Think Gladiator, the movie and imagine you are one.  8. Sky RopesSky Ropes is suspended 7 meters above the ground and is the perfect challenge for those who love adrenaline. Participants are safely harnessed in while attempting 15 obstacles in the sky under supervision of the skilled staff here.9. Badminton For a classic game of badminton, there are numerous courts here to play or practice. Who knows, you could be the next Malaysian badminton champion? Call 011 1500 0055 for Badminton court bookings.Badminton court pricesKids activities at the extreme parkEnerz Indoor Extreme Park Tickets are purchased from their website. Prices vary and come in individual, family and even large group tickets. Currently, the cheapest promotion ticket is;Universal Pass (Off peak) at RM 39.00 per person1 pax for 3 hoursaccess to all games (excluding sky ropes)Peak Period: Weekends, public holidays, school holidaysOff-Peak Period: WeekdaysValid for : 90 DaysMaximum Weight: 110 kgFully transferableTicket prices for Enerz Extreme Indoor ParkEnerZ Indoor Extreme Park Subang Address:Lot 791 Persiaran Subang Indah, Subang Jaya 47500 Selangor. Landmark: 1km from Taipan LRT StationTelephone: +6011 1500 0066Email: info@enerz.myWebsite: http://enerz.my/EnerZ Indoor Extreme Park Operating Hours;Monday to Friday: 2.00 PM till 10.00 PMSaturdays: 10.00 AM till 10.00 PMSundays: 10.00 AM till 7.00 PMPublic/School Holidays: 10.00 AM till 10.00 PMTrampoline fun as the indoor extreme parkMap to EnerZ Indoor Extreme Park In recent years, there have been a number of indoor activity parks and also theme parks opening in the country. If you are into theme parks, check out this article on theme parks in Malaysia which are located all over the country. However, the mother of all theme and activity parks to be opening soon is no other than the 20th Century Fox World Genting theme park which is supposed to open in late 2017 or early 2018.The latest extreme park in Malaysia to open is EnerZ Indoor Extreme Park in Subang, Petaling Jaya. The distance from Kuala Lumpur to here is around 50-60 minutes drive. Alternatively, you can also take the MRT to Taipan MRT Station and then take a taxi here. Or easier is you just use UBER. As the EnerZ Indoor Extreme Park Subang is still new, the place may have a lot of people on weekends therefore, you can call them to get more information.
    Tuesday 28th of March 2017 09:16:00 AM
  • Tokyo Metro, The Best Way To Explore Tokyo
    While many may have visited Japan over the years, I am sure that all kinds of transportation was used for your travels. This article will highlight one of the best way to explore Tokyo with the Tokyo Metro Subway system. For me, having visited and worked Tokyo in 1990 to 1992, I was a frequent user of this main subway system and over the last 25 years, the Tokyo Metro has expanded and improved so much. Connectivity is one of the most important things when you travel any city, and in a metropolis like Tokyo, it is highly recommended to use this. First of all, for Malaysians or Southeast Asians, visiting Tokyo is not cheap, and if you plan to visit many popular places around the city, the easiest and hassle free way to do so is by using the Tokyo Metro. A one way general ticket will cost you around ¥200 per person, which is around RM7.70 or US1.70. Therefore, four stops will easily cost you quite a lot of money. And if you are travelling as a couple of group, the cost gets higher. However, there is a special tourist pass available which can save you loads of money which is the Tokyo Metro subway day pass ticket.Shibuya at night, vibrant and livelyMy Tokyo Metro Exploration in February 2017When I visited Tokyo in February 2017, I was part of the Tokyo Metro's special Pop Culture Tour and I had traveled to a number of popular places around here and by using my Tokyo Metro day pass ticket. My day started in Harajuku, which is probably one of the must-visit areas of Tokyo. Filled with specialty stores and quirky Japanese fashion, this is the place to be if you want to see what's trending in the Japanese Kawaii fashion scene.In general, you would need at least four to five hours just to see the main parts of Harajuku, therefore, if you visit the Moshi Moshi Box, this would be the ideal place to get all the information you need about Harajuku and other districts of Tokyo.Moshi Moshi Box in HarajukuSome of the tourist information in various languages at Moshi Moshi BoxJapanese souvenirs inside Moshi Moshi BoxThe Moshi Moshi Box would also be the best place for first timers to Japan as it serves as a tourist information center and also as a Japanese souvenir shop. The staff here speak English and are ready to assist anyone who needs information on Harajuku or Tokyo. They have brochures and maps in many languages including English, which are all the main tourist areas of Tokyo. Inside Moshi Moshi Box, there is free Wi-Fi available, some Japanese pop culture items and even local popular Japanese sweets and snacks. You can also find information about Tokyo Metro apart from the general tourist places in here.Moshi Moshi Box Harajuku Address:3, 3 Chome-23-5 Jing?mae, Shibuya-ku,T?ky?-to 150-0001, JapanMap of Moshi Moshi BoxAnother popular place that most people would want to visit is Asakusa as a lot of the popular tourist attractions are found here, like the Asakusa Temple or Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo Skytree Tower and the interesting shopping streets packed with great Japanese food restaurants and cafes.Tokyo Skytree seen from AsakusaFamous Suzukien Green Tea Ice Cream Shop in Asakusa. They offer 7 different tones of Green Tea Ice Cream!For Muslims traveling to Asakusa, you should be happy to know that the famous Naritaya Halal Ramen Restaurant is located here, just near the Asakusa Temple. And for those who want to try the famous Suzukien Green Tea Ice Cream Shop in Asakusa, it is also a 3 minute walk from the Senso-Ji Temple or a 10 minute walk from the Asakusa Station.  Of course, no trip to Tokyo would be complete without a visit to Shibuya, the most busiest area of Tokyo. From Asakusa, I took the Tokyo Metro for a 38 minute ride to Shibuya and spent the rest of the evening here. Exploring on foot, I walked west from the main Shibuya station to look for some Japanese pop culture stores. I have to say, those lanes and alleys with smaller boutique shops are quite interesting, compared to the commercial shopping malls.Japan's most famous dog - Hachiko, a statue erected in Shibuya, in honor of this faithful dogThe famous Shibuya Crossing in TokyoFor the Japanese Pop Culture lovers, one place to check out is Beams Japan, a seven-story store that has very unique and quirky pop culture on every floor. The popular Beams Japan store is located in Shinjuku while another is found in Harajuku called Beams Boy Harajuku. Honestly, the items sold here are really unique and very interesting, especially if you are into pop culture.As I stayed in the Shiodome area of Tokyo, the subway ride back was quicker than expected with the station just five minutes walk to the hotel. The Royal Park Hotel Shiodome offers an amazing view of the Tokyo Tower and also Mount Fuji far in the back.When you check in, just ask them for the Tokyo Tower view. At the end of the day, moving around Tokyo would not have been easy if I had not got my Tokyo Metro Subway Day Pass Tickets. It is highly recommended for anyone visiting Tokyo.Beams Japan, one of the very popular Japanese Pop Culture Stores in ShinjukuTokyo Metro Day Pass TicketsTokyo Metro offers these day pass tickets and you can buy them from the Tokyo Metro Information Counter in the subway stations. Just ask the friendly staff and they would most likely point you in the right directions. Some of the staff actually speak English too. The day pass tickets are in the form the 24, 48 and 72 hour tickets which means you can use them multiple times, per person. Tokyo Metro 1 Day Pass - ¥800 (RM31.00 or US6.95)Tokyo Metro 2 Day Pass - ¥1200 (RM46.00 or US10.40)Tokyo Metro 3 Day Pass - ¥1500 (RM58.00 or US13.00)*Children are half pricedThe day pass subway tickets can be used on all Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines in the city.Tokyo Metro Day Pass and GuideWhere to buy Tokyo Metro Subway Day Pass Tickets?You can buy the day passes from the Tokyo Metro Tourist Information counters which are located at the following subway stations in Tokyo;Ginza Station Tourist InformationShinjuku Station Tourist InformationOmote-sando Station Tourist InformationUeno Station Tourist InformationTokyo Metro Tourist Information Counter at Shibuya StationTourist Information Counters are open from 9:15 AM to 17:15 PM, and you need to provide your passport to purchase these tickets. The reason for this is so that they can track how many nationals are buying the ticket, plus they will know that you are in fact a visitor or traveller. For the full list of other places that sell the day pass tickets, you can see the Tokyo Metro Day Pass Ticket Outlets.For more information on this, visit the Tokyo Metro Discount Tickets page as they offer a wide range of other types of tickets like airport to Tokyo, shared subway tickets and others.View of Tokyo, part of it, seen from the Sunshine 60 ObservatoryEntrance to Tokyo Metro Harajuku StationMeet Tokyo Metro at the Matta Fair March 2017 For Malaysians planning to visit Tokyo for the Sakura season or any other time, you can meet the Tokyo Metro people at the Matta Fair 2017 in Kuala Lumpur. They will be having a Special Tokyo Metro booth in the Japan National Tourism Organization booth area in Hall 1 at the travel fair. You can get all the information you need on traveling around Tokyo and not to worry as they speak English and have local Malaysian staff at the booth. With this, I conclude that the Tokyo Metro is the best way to explore Tokyo city and it is hassle free, economical and also the fastest way to move around. Especially with the day passes, it is so convenient, for singles, couples or family travelers. Have a great trip to Japan. 
    Friday 17th of March 2017 03:00:00 AM
  • Tokyo Booth Promotions at Matta Fair 2017
    This Matta Fair March 2017, there will be some promotions held at the Tokyo Booth which is located at the Japan Pavilion in the international hall or hall one. For anyone planning to visit Tokyo, this will be the best place to get all your information about the most popular city in Japan. At the TCVB Tokyo Booth in Matta Fair 2017, visitors will have the opportunity to find out all the information you need about this fast moving city in Japan that most Malaysians want to visit. Even if you have visited Tokyo before, the city is so huge that for the second or third time around, you will still find something unique and interesting to do. Tokyo is so huge, that it has 23 special wards, 26 cities, 1 district, and 4 sub-prefectures and one of the most populous cities in the world. A total of 37.8 million people live in the Tokyo area. Back in history, Tokyo was known as Edo and was a small fishing village. Now, this mega metropolis is one of the most sought after places to visit for just about anyone in the world due to the vibrant Japanese lifestyle, food and culture.Tokyo Booth Promotions at Matta Fair 2017TCVB Tokyo Booth will be featuring two Japanese companies for the Matta Fair March 2017 and visitors will be in for a nice surprise. They are;Bic Camera - BIC Camera is one of the biggest power in consumer electronics and gadgets in Japan, with 39 stores spread all over in Japan especially in big cities. For the Matta Fair March 2017, Bic Camera will be distributing discount coupon to visitors, which is usable when they visit Japan. This would be great for anyone planning to travel to Tokyo, Japan this year.D.O.A Japan - This company manages Japan Panoramic Tours which consists of daily excursion trip around Tokyo. You can find Mt Fuji, Hakone, and Gotenba Premium Outlet packages from D.O.A Japan and for the Matta Fair 2017, they are simply promoting their tours. Visitors can then book their own tours online from the website. Therefore, visiting them will give you more information about this company.Visitors getting information at the Tokyo Booth at Matta FairPopular places include Ginza, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Roppongi and Asakusa but in recent years, much development has taken place bringing new places like Omotesando Hills, Ebisu Garden Place, Tennozu Isle, Shiodome, Roppongi Hills, Shinagawa and Odaiba to be lifestyle and entertainment places. Read about Tokyo Packages at Matta Fair 2017 where I share more information about the Tokyo Booth for this coming March Matta Fair from 17-19 at the Putra World Trade Centre or PWTC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.Tokyo and Japan booths at the Matta FairFor anyone planning to visit Japan, your main port of entry would most likely be Tokyo. There are two main airports in Tokyo which is Narita Airport (Malaysia Airlines) and Haneda Airport (AirAsia X). To move around Tokyo, it is very easy as there Tokyo Metro connects most areas and you can buy a daily subway pass (800 Yen) or even a three day pass for 1,500 Yen. All of the tourist destinations are accessible by trains and by walking, so there is no need to take a taxi around Tokyo.And if you are looking for any Matta Fair deals for 2017, it is best to head to the travel fair as everything would be on sale, especially Japan tour packages and other countries. Even flight tickets to Tokyo would be on sale from various airlines. The best place to get your questions answered would be the at the Tokyo Booth promotions at Matta Fair 2017. Here you will find staff that speak English and even Malaysian staff that work in Tokyo, which can help you with the information needed. 
    Thursday 16th of March 2017 03:30:00 AM
  • Tourist Arrivals To Malaysia
    As interesting as it is, these are the tourist arrivals to Malaysia for those interested to know the statistics. The numbers are taken from the Tourism Malaysia statistics and show the tourist arrivals to Malaysia since the year 2005 till 2016. In 2016, Tourism Malaysia targeted a total of 30.5 million visitors to Malaysia but due to the fall of the Malaysian Ringgit and many other contributing factors, the Tourism Minister had announced that the numbers had dropped drastically to 22 million visitors. The actual numbers have been sourced from the MyTourismData Portal.Currently for 2017, a target of 31.8 million visitors to Malaysia is set and the theme 'Malaysia Truly Asia', will continue to be used to promote Malaysia. This was mentioned by the Tourism Minister to Malaysia, Dato' Seri Mohd. Nazri during an interview with the media in early January.*Update April 2017 - The Tourism Minister had confirmed that the total tourism visitors to Malaysia in 2016 was 26,757,392 tourists with tourist receipts of RM82.1 billion.Visitor to Malaysia at the international airportTourist Arrivals to Malaysia from 2005 to 2016Tourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2016 - 22,056,417 26,757,392 Visitors (April 2017 update)Tourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2015 - 25.72 Million Visitors Tourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2014 - 27.44 Million Visitors Tourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2013 - 25.72 Million VisitorsTourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2012 - 25.03 Million VisitorsTourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2011 - 24.71 Million VisitorsTourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2010 - 24.58 Million VisitorsTourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2009 - 23.65 Million VisitorsTourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2008 - 22.05 Million VisitorsTourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2007 - 20.97 Million VisitorsTourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2006 - 17.55 Million VisitorsTourist Arrivals to Malaysia 2005 - 16.43 Million VisitorsTop 10 Countries Visiting Malaysia 2016Based on the previous year of 2015, there was only the United Kingdom replaced Australia. The top 10 countries that generated tourist to Malaysia in 2016 was;Singapore (6,596,452)Indonesia (1,378,699)China (992,463)Thailand (864,453)Brunei (637,369)India (359,853)South Korea (228,023)The Philippines (220,163)United Kingdom (206,313)Japan (198,693)Update April 2017 - Tourism Minister has confirmed that for 2016, a total of 2,124,942 visitors from China had visited MalaysiaTop 10 Countries Visiting Malaysia 2015For the Tourism arrivals to Malaysia in 2015, the number dipped slightly compared to Visit Malaysia Year 2014 where 27.4 million visitors came, versus 25.7 million in 2015. Out of that, the breakdown of countries is;Singapore (12,930,754)Indonesia (2,788,033)China (1,677,163)Thailand (1,343,569)Brunei (1,133,555)India (722,141)The Philippines (554,917)Australia (486,948)Japan (483,569)South Korea (421,161)Tourist visiting MalaysiaAverage Length Of Stay For Tourist In MalaysiaOver the years, the length of stay has dropped, compared to ten years ago where on average, tourist used to spend from 7 to 10 days, and in 2013, it dropped to about 6.8 days. In 2015, the length of stay for tourist in Malaysia dropped to 5.5 nights. For future, the Malaysian Tourism Minister said that Malaysia had set a target of 36 million tourist arrivals into the country and RM168 billion in receipts by the year 2020. Again, this all depends n how the ministry is going to promote the country. Right now, the currency is at an all time low, but nothing much is being done to capitalise on this. Yes, there have been news reports on the minister saying that tourist should visit Malaysia now due to the low currency here. That is all.For the original numbers of tourism arrivals to Malaysia and more, you can also visit the Tourism Malaysia website for the statistics.Tourism Arrivals to Malaysia in 2015So, are we doing the wright or wrong thing? While the current generation of travelers are onto social media, many other countries have taken advantage of using social media as one of the main platforms to promote tourism. However, for Malaysia, it has been pretty slow in catching up in this area. Why I say this is that when I participated in neighboring countries FAM trips, social media campaigns and trips were created specifically for travel influencers to flood the social media channels with photos and information of the trips.In Malaysia's case, nothing has changed since five years ago. The ministry has engaged an advertising agency, which has no proper knowledge on tourism trends but because it is all about protocol and many other red tape issues.  The agency just hires an in-house team to manage the tourism social media accounts. Let me just say that the people running these accounts have never been to many of the places they promote for Malaysia, so how does this justify when consumers or would-be visitors ask questions, especially if it is in depth?For example, if someone asked the Tourism Malaysia twitter account this interesting question - "Where can I go in Sarawak to see some original or pure Sarawakian ethnic lifestyle?" Do you think they could answer this immediately? Or leave it hanging or even get back after consulting with the client?Technically, I could answer questions like that, all because I have traveled Malaysia pretty extensively. Therefore, this is just one of the examples. What is the point of just showing nice photos of Malaysia without any proper information? This goes to show why we lack in so many areas, that could be actually done in the proper way and generate more interest online for Malaysia.Tourist in Malaysia Perhaps, with Tourism Malaysia closing offices nationwide in January 2017, this could be the start of something new. I would also suggest that the ministry re-look the digital advertising agency's role in promoting Malaysia as they lack the experience in tourism social media. After all, when the travel community is very active online, we should be taking advantage of it, the right way, not the Malaysian way.The directives and approach should be looked into in order to keep the numbers growing to attract more tourist arrivals to Malaysia, not just the Chinese tourist. Having said this, I am just a travel writer who was once aggressively promoting Malaysia from 2008 to 2014 online, and have been in communication with the tourism officials during that time, which I learnt much of why things are the way they are.Over the years, I have also observed and monitored numerous tourism campaigns, decisions and strategies that were supposed to put Malaysia back on the tourism map of the world, but Malaysia being Malaysia, we only seem to look at what's in trend. Meaning if the Chinese were travelling, we would drop everything and just focus on that particular market with an ambition to increase the tourist arrivals to Malaysia. Well, I can only hope for the best in this kind of strategy. 
    Tuesday 14th of March 2017 06:46:00 AM
  • Taman Negara Tour Packages
    If you are looking for Taman Negara Tour Packages, there are quite a few companies selling them from Kuala Lumpur. As this national park is one of the must-visit places in Malaysia, this 130 million year old rain forest is easily accessible from Kuala Lumpur of KL as it is locally called. The journey there takes around three hours from KL city and can also be done on a day trip. Most travelers or backpackers who are visiting Malaysia would surely want to look for Taman Negara tour packages and I am writing this article to help you understand what is available, the pro's and con's, and the logistics of visiting Taman Negara. The largest national park in Malaysia, Taman Negara was established in 1938 and 1939 as the King George V National Park. It was later renamed to Taman Negara National Park after Malaysia received independence from British in 1957. Taman Negara is also shared between three states of Malaysia which are Terengganu, Pahang and Kelantan.A Malayan Tapir seen in the park area. (Photo from http://duuo2014.weebly.com)Taman Negara Tour PackagesThere are a few types of tour packages for Taman Negara National Park and they are offered by selected tour companies in Kuala Lumpur, and also from other states in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is probably the best route to get there too. Please note that all tours are minimum two persons or 2 to go. If you are a single traveler, you can either wait to see if there are others going, and then you can join in. If no one else is going, then you have to pay the two person price. Alternatively, some Taman Negara packages have single-traveler rates, so please ask about this. The Taman Negara tour packages are;Taman Negara Day Trip PackageThis package is suitable for those who do not have the luxury of time and want to visit the oldest national park in Malaysia in a day trip. You depart by van as early as 6.00 AM from KL city and arrive there by 9.00 AM for breakfast before heading into the park for some jungle trekking, canopy walk, a river boat ride and a visit to the 'Orang Asli' or native settlement. After that, you will head back to Kuala Lumpur and be back for dinner around 8.00 PM. Perfect for those wanting to experience one of the oldest rainforest in the world. Taman Negara Day Trip Price:RM 490 per person or ?104 Included: Breakfast & Lunch onlyGuide: English Speaking Nature Tour GuideTransport: Van both ways includedTaman Negara National Park in PahangTaman Negara 2 Days 1 Night PackageThis overnight package is suitable for those who want to spend the night there and not rush. This package include all of the above plus a night jungle walk and a scenic boat journey to the Kuala Tahan main area of Taman Negara. The standard accommodation is air-conditioned, attached bathroom with hot and cold shower. Choice of twin room or dorm is available, but for the dorm rooms, it is shared or common bathroom and also air-conditioned. Taman Negara 2D/1N Tour Package Price:Twin Room: RM 500 per person or ?106 Dorm Room: RM 450 per person or ?95Included: Lunch, Dinner & Breakfast.Tour Guide: English Speaking Nature GuideTransport: Van both ways includedTaman Negara 3 Days 2 Nights PackageThis is one of the popular Taman Negara packages where you can spend two nights and take your time to experience the national park. The first day will be travelling and a boat ride with a night jungle walk. The second day, you will explore the rainforest with trekking to the Taman Negara Canopy Walk. Lunch and dinner is at a unique floating restaurant where local Malaysian food is served. A river rapid boat ride takes you to the 'Orang Asli' settlement and after dinner, it is free and easy. You can also go for the optional night safari on a 4WD to see the nocturnal wildlife here.Taman Negara 3D/2N Tour Package Price:Twin Room: RM 550 per person or ?117 Dorm Room: RM 490 per person or ?104Included: 7 MealsTour Guide: English Speaking Nature GuideTransport: Van both ways includedMutiara Taman Negara ResortTaman Negara 4 Days 3 Nights PackageThis package is for those who want to fully experience Taman Negara National Park. This package lets you stay here for three nights and is similar to the 3D/2N. But on the 3rd day, you have a waterfall visit and also a 3 km rainforest trek, or choose to have a free and easy time to explore on your own. Taman Negara 3D/2N Tour Package Price:Twin Room: RM 550 per person or ?117 Dorm Room: RM 490 per person or ?104Included: 10 MealsTour Guide: English Speaking Nature GuideTransport: Van both ways includedTaman Negara Real Inner Jungle PackageThis package is suitable for those who are Eco and nature lovers. In other words, the Real Inner Jungle package lets you experience living in the rainforest. The tour brings you to a couple of caves where you can do some cave exploration. Then you spend a night at one of the caves and experience cooking in the jungles. Other days, you do some jungle trekking Taman Negara 3D/2N Tour Package Price:Twin Room: RM 550 per person or ?117 Dorm Room: RM 490 per person or ?104Included: 10 MealsTour Guide: English Speaking Nature GuideTransport: Van both ways includedTaman Negara Canopy Walk, one of the longest in the world.Taman Negara Daily Shuttle Service There are also daily transport services to Taman Negara from Kuala Lumpur for those who just need a one way transport there. Departures are 6.00 AM or 8.30 AM from KL with a three hour journey to the national park. Price: RM 95.00 per person one way (?20)Journey: By air-condition van, three and a half hoursWhat to bring to Taman Negara?This is the crucial question. Well, since you are visiting a rainforest, it is recommended that you prepare yourself for all kinds of conditions. As this is a rainforest, you can expect rain on occasion. Apart from that, this is a tropical country, humidity is especially higher in the rainforest. This will help you to prepare for what to bring. Poncho, raincoat or umbrellaBug or mosquito spray or creamWater bottle or energy drinkSlippers, waterproof or trekking shoesSnacks or energy barsDry bag or waterproof phone and camera casingMutiara Taman Negara ChaletsHow to book Taman Negara Tour PackagesThere are a number of travel agents selling these packages and one of the recommended ones are Ivy Holidays, who operates from Jalan Petaling or Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur city. The tour counter location is inside the Kompleks Selangor (Selangor Complex) where the 5 Elements Hotel is located. Another landmark is also opposite the Swiss-Inn Hotel Kuala Lumpur.Ivy Holidays offers daily shuttle service to Taman Negara and also different types of packages to suite your time and style of travel. They have brand new vans, with great interior and comfortable seats while the drivers and guides are professional in all ways when it comes to travelers or tourist. You can contact them via mobile phone, Whatsapp or email and they speak fluent English.Ivy HolidaysContact: +6 010 900 8699Email: marketing@ivyholidays.comInside the 130 million year old rainforest of Taman Negara (Photo by www.fuesseimsand.de)For those who are into nature, outdoors and adventure, you can also read my article on Canopy Walks of Malaysia where most of them are located in national parks around Malaysia. The country is rich with natural attractions as there are more than 20 national parks all over the country. There are hundreds or even thousands of flora and fauna available for any Eco tourism lover. For anyone who has one or two extra days in Kuala Lumpur and does not know what to do, a visit to Taman Negara would be very interesting. Apart from KL City being just like any other city, it is always a bonus to see the real Malaysia by visiting one of the oldest national parks in the world. This article, hopefully sheds some valuable information about the many types of Taman Negara Tour Packages sold for those interested in visiting this amazing place. 
    Saturday 11th of March 2017 01:41:00 PM
  • Theme Parks in Perak
    A lesser visited state in the country has become the talk of the nation where a number of Theme Parks in Perak has opened or is opening soon. Currently there are two main theme parks which have opened for years and another which is scheduled to open somewhere in April or May 2017. Perak, once known as a quite state in Malaysia has turned the tables around by transforming into a tourist destination. The capital of Perak is Ipoh and was once known as a miners town, is only two hours drive from Kuala Lumpur. Nowadays, Ipoh is thriving with activity, namely for the famous Ipoh food and its revamped heritage tourism spots. Travelers now head to Ipoh for day trips or even as a stopover before heading to Penang Island. And with the new theme parks in Perak being opened and many interesting places to visit in Ipoh, this will make Perak one of the must visit states in Malaysia. Theme Parks in PerakThe list of theme parks in Perak are listed below with general information for travelers planning to visit here. The list is also in no order;MAPS Perak or Movie Animation Park Studios PerakMovie Animation Park Studios or MAPS Perak (Photo by www.foodmsia.com)This is the much talked about latest theme park to be opened in Malaysia, however the opening has been delayed since mid 2016. According to media reports, MAPS Perak was scheduled to open in October 2016, but was delayed to December and recently, to March or April 2017. This project, dubbed the star attraction of Perak, will cater to mainly the northern and central region of Malaysia. However, with Ipoh being in the limelight of tourism in the last couple of years, the Movie Animation Park Studios will benefit greatly from this as it is an international theme park. There will be 40 over rides spread out in this 52-acre site, which is huge. The collaboration with DreamWorks is probably the main attraction with popular names like Casper, Megamind and The Broods. Local cartoon hero's like Boboi Boy will also be one of the main attractions here.Movie Animation Park Studios Address and LocationPersiaraan Meru Raya 1,Bandar Meru Raya 3,Ipoh, PerakWebsite: https://www.mapsperak.comLost World of Tambun Theme ParkLost World of Tambun in Ipoh, PerakThis is probably the most popular theme park in Ipoh, Perak where they have been operating for a number of years under the Sunway Group, which owns Sunway Lagoon in Selangor. The Lost World of Tambun is Perak's answer to a massive theme park catering to locals and also foreigners. It is also touted to be the only theme park in Southeast Asia with natural hot springs coupled with an array of attractions and rides.This multi-purpose theme park offers a theme park, water park, night park, petting zoo, amusement park, adventure park, tiger valley and tin valley. The park is also complete with hotels and resorts, shops, restaurants which make this a one stop family recreational park. From Ipoh Town, it is only a 15 minute drive to the Lost World of Tambun.Lost World of Tambun Address and LocationNo.1, Persiaran Lagun Sunway 1,Sunway City Ipoh,31150 Ipoh, Perak Darul Ridzuan,MalaysiaWebsite: http://sunwaylostworldoftambun.comBukit Merah Lake Town Theme ParkBukit Merah Lake Town Theme Park in PerakOne of the pioneer theme parks in Perak is no other that the Bukit Merah Lake Town, located in the Bukit Merak area. This lake town resort is more of a water park and adventure park where you will find a mini water park and a petting zoo in the main area. One unique attraction here is the Orang Utan Island where visitors need to take a boat and visit the island. Orang Utans are rehabilitated here under a private project. A new attraction here is the Laketown Adventure Park which offers a zipline and a kids outdoor course. However, this park has not been maintained to international standards, therefore, you get what you pay for. As an added attraction for those heading to Penang or Langkawi, the Bukit Merah Lake Town Theme Park is located along the main highway north and about 1.5 hours from Ipoh.Bukit Merah Lake Town Address and InformationJalan Bukit Merah,34400 Simpang Empat Semanggol,Perak, MalaysiaWebsite: http://www.bukitmerahresort.com.myQing Xin Ling Leisure and Cultural VillageQing Xin Ling Cultural Park in Ipoh, Perak (Image from Qing Xin Ling website)One of the lesser known unique attractions in Perak is no other than the Qing Xin Ling Leisure & Cultural Village in Gunung Rapat. The Chinese inspired cultural village offers a different kind of experience with a beautiful lakeside where visitor can rent bicycles to cycle around this picturesque place. A mini museum showcasing old memorabilia, quirky rock formations, wall art, fish feeding and a number of other activities are available for visitors. The Qing Xin Ling Cultural Park is also suitable for a day trip to see a different side of Ipoh, at times taking you back into time as the place has also earned the title of Little Guilin due to the beautiful landscapes found here. The Chinese name also translates a Serene Village. Qing Xin Ling Leisure Cultural Village is located between the Sam Poh Tong Cave Temple and Kek Lok Tong in Gunung Rapat area. This is about 20 minutes drive from Ipoh city.Qing Xin Ling Leisure & Culture Village ????????Address: No. 22A, Persiaran Pinggir Rapat 5A,Taman Saikat, 31350, Ipoh, Perak, MalaysiaEmail: michaelcheng8@hotmail.comTel: +6 012 516 1556Website: http://qingxinlingchaletipoh.com.myKledang Saiong Eco Forest ParkTaman Eco Rimba Kledang Saiong in Meru, IpohThis Perak Eco park is located near the Meru area is currently is in operation, however there is not much information apart from media report that indicate that there is a 2 km area available for trekking which is suitable for kids and families. Known locally as Taman Eko Rimba Kledang Saiong, many locals have been coming here for a nature experience. Those into Eco tourism and nature will find the Kledang Saiong Eco Forest Park interesting as there is a very unique Nepenthes Garden found here. Offering 55 different species of pitcher plants or monkey cups from places like Borneo, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, this is touted to be the first of its kind in the world. Taman Eko Rimba Kledang Saiong also covers an area of 2,188ha, and is located near the Jelapang toll plaza and at Persiaraan Meru Utama.Kledang Saiong Forest Eco Park Address:Persiaran Meru Utama,30020 Ipoh, Perak,MalaysiaWebsite: NoneLandmark: Tenby Schools IpohNew Theme Parks Opening in Perak MalaysiaThe below is one of the new theme parks opening in Perak but information or dates have not been announced. However, the Perak government has already indicate that the focus was on opening MAPS Perak before discussing other new theme parks which will bring the number of theme parks in Perak to five or six in the coming years. Water Parks in Perak are becoming a trendQi City Water Park The Qi City Water Park is part of the upcoming RM1.2 Billion Qi City project which is scheduled to be completed by 2020. However, there is no accurate news about the water park at this modern development, but it could be built by the developers or most likely by a third party contractor. The location of Qi City is also at Bandar Meru Jaya, which will also offer an international school, a hypermarket, hotels and resorts. This sums up the current and upcoming theme parks in Perak and hopefully we will get more information to update this article. You can also find out more about other theme parks in Malaysia from my previous article and also water parks in Malaysia which I did earlier. Also, if you are waiting for the Genting new theme park opening, it is slated for late 2017 or early 2018.If you have any additional information, please do share it with me via email or from the comment form below and if you have questions, please do ask. Hope you will find Perak one of the new destinations to visit in Malaysia and enjoy this article about theme parks in Perak, Malaysia. 
    Wednesday 8th of March 2017 07:25:00 AM
  • Awana Skyway Glass Bottom Gondolas
    The Genting Awana Skyway was opened in August 2016 and with a brand new cable car system and the much talked about new feature is the Awana Skyway Glass Bottom Gondolas. This world-class attraction operates from the Awana Station all the way to Resorts World Genting and stops at the all new SkyAvenue Station. This new attraction is also part of the 10-year Genting Integrated Tourism Plan (GITP) where in late 2017, the first 20th Century Fox World Genting Theme Park will open and between now and then, the Genting Premium Outlets or GPO will also be opened at Awana. Many are currently asking when the new Genting theme park opening will be, but there is no confirmation to date as the project was delayed a little. The new Genting cable cars are French-made which is much bigger than the old ones. The new height is 2.1 metres high instead of the previous 1.6 metres, allowing passengers to get in and out easily without worrying about bumping their heads. Special windows and louvers that allow more of the cool mountain air into the cable cars are also fitted in for an unforgettable mountain experience.The new Awana Skyway which opened in August 2016 (Photo from Resorts World Genting)Awana Skyway Glass Bottom GondolasThe star attractions of this cable car system is no other than the Awana Skyway Glass Bottom Gondolas, where visitors can experience a 360 degrees view of the journey up the mountain, passing lush montane tropical rainforest. On occasion, if you are lucky, you can see Black Hornbills flying in flocks, usually in the late afternoons. In total, there are 99 gondolas available for the new Awana Skyway, and out of that, 10 special gondolas come with the glass bottom floors with a seating capacity of six persons. The speed of the cable car system is 6 meters per second and in total, 3,000 passengers can be moved every hour in both directions. The entire journey from Awana Station to SkyAvenue Genting Plaza will also take around ten minutes.Because consumers cannot live without their smart phones, each gondola is fitted with two USB ports to charge your smart phone or power bank during your journey. The cable car makes one stop at the temple before proceeding to Resorts World Genting.One of the glass bottom gondolas of the Awana Skyway (Photo from Resorts World Genting)Awana Station ---> Chin Swee Temple Station ---> SkyAvenue PlazaThe Genting SkyWay was originally opened to the public in 1997 and was South East Asia?s longest and fastest cable car system back then. In total, there have been 4 cable car systems in Genting since the 1970's and the Awana Skyway is now the latest cable car system in the country. Passengers can also bring along one aircraft cabin size bag per passenger on the gondolas. Over-sized baggage can be stored at the Baggage Storage Service located at Level G of the Awana SkyWay building for RM 5.00 per bag for 24 hours. For those who want to bring their over sized baggage into the cable car, a surcharge of RM 20.00 will be imposed. You can also use your Rewards Card to pay for this.Awana Skyway Facts (Facts from Resorts World Genting)Awana SkyWay InformationOperating Hours: 7:00 am until midnightOperating Days: 7 days a weekStandard GondolaTickets: RM 8.00 per personTickets: 5GP for Genting Rewards Card MembersExpress Boarding Pass: RM 40.00 per personAwana Skyway Glass Floor GondolaTickets: RM 50.00 per personTickets: 40GP for Genting Rewards Card MembersAwana Skyway TicketsAwana Station (Level 2, Awana Skyway building)SkyAvenue Station (Level 4, SkyAvenue)Awana Skyway Car Park (8 Floors)Fees: Free for now, but soon to charge4,437 car parking lots633 motorbike parking lotsAwana Skyway Map (Map from Resorts World Genting)How to go to Awana SkywayIf you are driving, taking a taxi or bus, it will usually stop at the Awana Skyway Station. From here, you will continue up with the cable car system to Resorts World Genting. Self driving visitors can park at the Awana Skyway car park, which is considered like the half way point to the top. Why most people park here is because the other half way up can be stressful for your car or bike. However, there are some that prefer to drive all the way up.Awana Skyway GPS Coordinates: 3.4027° N, 101.7817° EAwana Skyway will also be one of the new lively places as the all new Genting Premium Outlets (GPO) is scheduled to open in 2017, which has not had a official announcement but it is scheduled to open somewhere mid year. This will also be the second international factory outlet chain to open in Malaysia after the Johor Premium Outlets (JPO) opened in December 2011.The next time you head up to Resorts World Genting (RWG), do give this new cable car system a try as it will surely impress anyone, especially kids or first time visitors. The Awana Skyway Glass Bottom Gondolas are the main highlight and you should not miss this opportunity when visiting RWG or even when the new 20th Century Fox World Genting Theme Park opens in late 2017 or early 2018. 
    Saturday 4th of March 2017 07:36:00 AM
  • Naritaya Halal Ramen Restaurant in Tokyo
    If you are looking for Halal food in Japan, the Naritaya Halal Ramen Restaurant in Tokyo is one of the highly recommended places to savour traditional Japanese Ramen. During a quick trip to Tokyo in Feb 2017, I was introduced to this small and interesting Muslim friendly restaurant in the Asakusa district. To my surprise, the Halal Japanese Ramen was actually quite close in comparison to the traditional Ramen noodles. Now, Muslim travellers can experience traditional Japanese food at Naritaya Halal Ramen Restaurant, which is located near the famous Asakusa Senso-ji Temple. This makes finding the restaurant easier, and if you come in from the main entrance of the temple, head in and exit through the west gate. For your added information, Asakusa is also the birthplace of traditional Ramen in Tokyo, so you are at the best place to try this. The Halal menu at Naritaya Halal Ramen Restaurant in Asakusa, TokyoNaritaya Halal Ramen Restaurant in Asakusa, TokyoThe Ramen restaurant is so small, that if you don't look carefully, you will miss it. It is a two floor shop where the cooking is done downstairs in an open kitchen and there is a eating counter by the kitchen for those who want a quick fix. Here, Muslim couples or friends will sit and watch the cooks dish out amazing Halal Japanese dishes. Naritaya serves 100% Halal Japanese Food for Muslim TravelersFor larger groups or those who prefer to sit at tables, head upstairs on the narrow staircase where it opens up to a small dining area with four long tables. Each of the tables can seat about six to eight persons. There is also a small prayer room available for those who need to pray. If you wish to do so, inform the staff before your prayers. The food, I will get straight to the point - It is actually amazing! I managed to speak to the owner who is also the chef, and he told me that the entire menu selection offered is provided without any use of pork or alcohol and is certified 100% Halal. Aromatic broiled Halal chicken is used as a substitute for roasted pork fillet and tasting the Halal Ramen, it was almost hard to tell the difference. Trust me, I have also tasted the general Ramen from many other places around Tokyo.Naritaya Restaurant in Asakusa, 100% Certified HalalTo order, you simply slide the door open, go in and order from the staff, who are Muslims, but from Asian countries. So they speak Japanese and English but no Malay. Previously in 2016, there used to be an ordering vending machine outside Naritaya Halal Ramen, where you place your order through the machine, pay for it and it gives you a coupon. It no longer is available when I was there in mid February 2017. The Naritaya Chef's StoryThis Halal Japanese restaurant has been in operation since 2015 and previously, the owner had been running another Japanese restaurant for the last 10 years. Asking him why he decided to venture into Halal Japanese food, he told me that in the last Tsunami and earthquake of Japan, business had been really bad for his old restaurant. The chef (in red) and assistant, preparing Halal Japanese foodThen in 2015, he decided to tap into the Muslim market by opening up a Halal restaurant serving traditional Japanese food. This was also due to the sudden trend in Muslim travelers visiting Tokyo since 2015 and business has been really good till today as this is one of the most popular Halal Japanese Restaurants in Asakusa. In total, there are about 7 other Halal restaurants in the Asakusa area, according to the Chef. Naritaya is also part of a group of Halal restaurants in Tokyo and Kyoto too. Naritaya's Special RamenHalal Beef Ramen at Naritaya RestaurantRecommended Halal Food at Naritaya RestaurantWell, the Special Ramen (1200 Yen) is the most popular dish here but they have quite a number of house specialties to try. One of them is the deep fried chicken or Karage (300 Yen), which is quite good. My friends ordered the Beef Bowl (1000 Yen), which was equally tasty. Another ordered the highly recommended Pokok Pisang Abura Soba (1000 Yen), which also tasted very nice. In general, the soba and ramen noodles they use are quality ones, which compliment the broth and other ingredients. However, due to time constrain, we had to eat and move to our next destination therefore, I could not order more dishes. Halal deep fried chicken (karage) at Naritaya RestaurantLooking around as I was leaving, I saw a group of Muslim travelers at the next table where they ordered many different types of Japanese dishes. A couple of them stood out, which was the traditional Gyoza (300 Yen), Gorogoro Beef Ramen (1200 Yen) and Mazesoba (700 Yen). On the menu of Naritaya Halal Restaurant in Asakusa, you will be in for a treat as they have quite a number of Halal Japanese dishes to offer. While 99% of them are Japanese, you will surely be in for a shock as they are also serving a Naritaka Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is of course Halal. But, seriously... Hainanese Chicken Rice? Oh well, sometimes, Malaysians or Singaporeans will miss home food when they travel, therefore, you can still indulge in this. I was kind of expecting a Nasi Lemak dish, but Chicken Rice it is. Halal food in Tokyo? Try the Pokok Pisang at NaritayaReality CheckI will be straightforward and honest here. Please don't get carried away and order everything on the menu. The portions are very decent as the Halal food here comes in small, medium and large sizes. Why I say this is because of the prices. As a Malaysian, you should know that 1000 Yen is now RM35.00 and when you overdo your order, your bill can easily reach in the hundreds of Ringgit. So, if you are on a budget, please choose wisely and if you are our to splurge, then by all means, enjoy yourself. Naritaya Halal Ramen Restaurant AddressAddress: Japan, ?111-0032 Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa, 2 Chome ???????Hours: 10.00 AM to 10.00 PMPhone: +81 3 4285 9806View of the main street in front of the Halal restaurant in AsakusaHow to go to Naritaya Halal Restaurant in Asakusa, TokyoThere are two train stations in Asakusa, and I would recommend using the Tokyo Metro Asakusa Line to get here as it is interconnected with many other subway lines around Tokyo. Alternatively, if you are along the Tsukuba Line, then it is a shorter walk to the restaurant. Below are the two trains that stop at Asakusa.Asakusa Line to Asakusa Station - The Asakusa Line is Orange Color and when you reach the Asakusa Station, it is a 10 minute walk to Naritaya Halal Restaurant. Tsukuba Express Line to the Asakusa Station - This is another way and and from the station, it is a 5 minute walk to the Naritaya Halal Restaurant. Directions from Asakusa Temple entrance to Naritaya Ramen RestaurantThe nearest landmark is the famous Asakusa Senso-ji Temple, which is just one minute walk away on the West Gate. Another landmark is the Hanayoshiki Theme Park which is Japan's oldest theme park. The restaurant is also the second last stall heading towards the temple. Opposite, there is a well known ice cream and dessert corner shop. So all you need to do is look out for the small sign and the A-board outside. Just for your added information, Japan Airlines offers Halal-certified in-flight meals and you can request for this on your trip to Japan. I found this out as my meal was a Halal in-flight meal on route to Tokyo from Kuala Lumpur. For Muslim travellers heading to Tokyo, I highly recommend getting the Tokyo Metro day pass as it is way much cheaper than buying individual subway tickets for each stop. You can buy them from the Tourist Counter of Tokyo Metro at selected stations. Most of the sightseeing involves moving around from area to area, and using the Tokyo Metro is the best way in doing so. To visit Naritaya Halal Ramen Restaurant in Tokyo, you need to take the Asakusa Line and from the station, a ten minute easy walk. 0
    Friday 3rd of March 2017 07:40:00 AM
  • 20 Things To Do At Avillion Port Dickson
    Many may have heard about this beautiful resort located in Negeri Sembilan, just next to Selangor but did you know that there are easily 20 things to do at the Avillion Port Dickson Spa Resort? Yes, in terms of activities for couples, kids, families or even business travelers, there is quite a lot of things that you can do at this multiple award winning spa resort in Malaysia. Having been around for over two decades, the Avillion Port Dickson Spa Resort consists of 300 rooms, suites and water chalets, ranging from the Water Suites, Water Chalets, Garden Chalets and Garden Seaview Chalets which are sea facing, offering superb views of the Straits of Malacca. This is also the pioneer luxury resort in Port Dickson having being the fist back then.Amazing views from the Avillion Port DicksonFor anyone heading to Port Dickson, you should not miss this opportunity to stay at one of the best resorts in PD, suitable for just about anyone and below is the list of things to do at the Avillion Port Dickson.20 Things To Do At Avillion Port Dickson 1. Avillion Pet FarmFor animal lovers and those with kids, the Avillion Pet Farm offers a large number of animals and birds such as rabbits, baby chickens, peacocks and peahens, tortoises and more.A peacock at the Avillion Aviary2. Aviary at Avillion Housing an amazing collection of various species of birds from South African peacocks to resort-hatched hens, the Aviary at Avillion Port Dickson is a great place for kids and adults.3. Beach VolleyballAnyone who loves sports and beaches is definitely in for a treat as you can have fun participating in some beach volleyball while giving yourself a good workout.Riau Beach at Avillion PD. Photo by www.mypeaceofheaven.com4. Caklempong MusicOn weekends, music lovers  can experience listening to the Caklempong which is a traditional Malay music gong instrument. This is part of the traditional and rich Negeri Sembilan culture which was brought to Negeri Sembilan in the 14th century by Minangkabau people from nearby West Sumatra.5. Cochin Pool (Adults Only)Specially made for adults who want  peace of mind is the exclusive Cochin Pool, which is a lap pool located at the Northern wing of the Avillion Resort. The pool is surrounded by day beds and sun lounges, it is really the perfect refuge for a tranquil afternoon for anyone seeking some self pampering.View of the villas at Avillion Port Dickson6. Fishing and Crabbing at Avillion ResortWhen the tides are low, this is when the crabs come out and guests can experience crabbing along the beach here. When the tides are in, give fishing a try, from the luxury of your sea villa balcony. Alternatively, you can ask the resort to arrange a fishing trip for the serious anglers. 7. Bird Watching at Avillion Port DicksonOver 30 different species of birds are ready to be spotted around the resort for bird lovers. You have the opportunity to spot Kingfishers, Purple-backed Starling, Black-Naped Orioles and many other birds. At the resort, there is a bird feeding platform where you can watch some of the birds feeding. For bird watchers, you should bring your own equipment as the resort does not provide any.8. Avillion Gymnasium Fitness travelers can utilize the Avillion Port Dickson's innovative gym, which is fitted with world class fitness equipment, including a range of cardiovascular machines, treadmills, recumbent bikes, weight machines and free weights.One of the many swimming pools at Avillion Port Dickson. Photo by www.mypeaceofheaven.com9. Village Pool at AvillionA free-form 1.2 meter deep swimming pool which is open 24 hours a day is the place to be for any swimming pool lover. The Village Pool is also set in the midst of the resorts tropical greenery and is suitable for just about anyone. The pool has sections that offers whirlpools for kids. 10. Kids Cabin at AvillionFor families travelling with kids, the Avillion Kids Cabin is not to be missed as it offers a large array of fun features which includes video game consoles, paint supplies, books, DVDs, and toys. A safely padded outdoor playground is also available for those energetic kids.Kids Spa at Avillion Port Dickson. Photo by www.mypeaceofheaven.com11. Avillion Kids PoolFor the kids who love water and swimming, a special Kids Pool is located right beside the Village Pool which is surrounded by abundant greenery. The step-accessible pool features a variety of fittings to ensure that kids are safe while the pool is only 0.9m deep, suitable for toddlers.12. Kids Spa at Avillion ResortEven kids get to experience a spa experience like the adults, but in a very fun way. Choose from massages, hair grooming, make up, manicure, pedicure and some fun henna body artwork where they are supervised and conducted by the resort staff.The lookout point where you can catch the sunset13. Lookout Point at AvillionFor the single or couple guest, the Avillion Lookout Point is the place to be at. Here, deck chairs are places on  the beach where guests can just sit and absorb the beautiful scenery in the Straits of Malacca. Order a cocktail to complete the experience during sunset. 14. Avillion Nature's WalkNothing beats taking a nature walk and here at the Avillion, you can easily do this at the resorts walking path. Guests can follow the footsteps trail that starts from the bullock cart area and take a relaxing stroll while learning about traditional village life of before.15. Avillion Orchid HutFlower lovers will be thrilled to learn that the Avillion Orchid Hut offers a wide variety of tropical Malaysian orchids. See different types of orchids that grow in the rainforest or even the famous Malaysian hybrid orchids that are cultivated here.Beach at Avillion Port Dickson16. Visit Riau BeachA must visit is the Riau Beach which is the main area where you can do all your water sport activities. Apart from that, couples or even families can take off those shoes or slippers and walk the beach in the evening looking for shells and catching the beautiful Port Dickson sunset. 17. Avillion Spice FarmIf you love cooking and flora, the Avillion Spice Farm is the place to be at. Here, you can see and learn about the many traditional herbs and spices used for cooking and healing purposes. Spices you can see here include the world famous Tongkat Ali, Kacip Fatimah, Pandan Wangi, Setawar Halia and Kunyit Sutera.18. Eat, Drink and Be MerryWith six F&B outlets, guests will be spoiled for choices at the Avillion Port Dickson. Choose from the aVi Lounge, Crow?s Nest, Jungle Fringe Karaoke, The Galley Lounge, The Verte and Village Court as all of these places have their own specialty from drinks to food. 19. Water Sports at Avillion Port DicksonMost resort guests love water sports and here at the Avillion Port Dickson, guests can try the non-motorized and environmental friendly water sports offered. Get those muscles working with activities like kayaking and windsurfing. Sorry, there are no motorized water sports like jet skis available.aVi Spa at Avillion PD20. aVi Spa AvillionNothing beats getting a spa treatment during your vacation or business trip, and at the aVi Spa Avillion Port Dickson, you will definitely be pampered all the way. This multiple award-winning spa offers an experience where stillness, simplicity and silence is fused to create an optimum balance of aura and peace.One of the sea villa units at Avillion Port DicksonThe above are the many things that you can do at the resort and I am pretty sure that if you look harder, there could be even more things to do at Avillion Port Dickson. However, these are just the main 20 things and just thinking of staying here for the weekend, it could be a pretty busy and productive weekend. In general, there are quite a number of new hotels and resorts in Port Dickson, but the Avillion Spa Resort has been the pioneer properties here since the nineties. With years of experience under the resort, it goes to say that they have been doing an amazing job with their guests, who have highly recommended this place to others.A beach wedding setting can be arranged by the resortMy travels take me all over Malaysia and also Southeast Asia but at times, I tend to refer to website that can give me a good deal in booking my hotel or resort stays. Previously, I booked my stays through Booking.com or Agoda, but of lately, I have found Traveloka to offer some of the best prices and package deals. Again, it is entirely up to the reader to choose, but nowadays with the stiff competition among the many booking sites, everyone just wants the best deal. The next time you plan to visit Port Dickson or PD, as it is locally called, I would highly recommend you explore what the many resorts or hotels have to offer. Most of them are just decent with less than ten activities to offer, but here, I found a total of 20 things to do at the Avillion Port Dickson Spa Resort. So far, no other property here has managed to top this list. 
    Thursday 23rd of February 2017 06:43:00 AM


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