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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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2012-02-23 16:12:32

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  • 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
  • Tokyo Travel Packages at Matta Fair 2017
    If you are looking for Tokyo travel packages at Matta Fair 2017, you are in luck as the Japan National Tourism Board or JNTO in Malaysia will be organizing a massive Japan travel booth at Malaysia's largest travel fair where Tokyo is one of the main highlights here among many other regions and prefectures of Japan. Most Malaysians and Southeast Asians have recently been attracted to Tokyo as one of the favorite travel destinations due to the wide variety of tourism products available all over Japan. Over the years, many Malaysian travel companies have been promoting many different Tokyo travel packages at Matta Fair, and this has increased more awareness about the Land of the Rising Sun. One of the main factors that contributed to this growth of tourism to Japan is how the JNTO has aggressively embarked on providing Halal cuisine in almost all major cities and prefectures of Japan. This includes creating prayer rooms and Halal food guides for Muslim travelers to Japan.Visitors at the Tokyo Booth in Matta FairTokyo Travel Packages at Matta Fair Depending on what you are looking for, there are various types of Tokyo travel packages available from many different travel agents. While the conventional all-in packages are promoted, a majority of the current day travelers prefer to go as Free Independent Traveler or FIT style. This means, they will just buy the attraction or transportation tickets and book their flights or accommodations online. At the Japan booth during Matta FairWhat consumers would do is to visit the Japan Travel Booth to get information and brouchers for various parts of Japan, depending on where they plan to go. At the Japan Travel Booth in Matta Fair 2017, many different prefectures from all over Japan will participate to showcase their tourism attractions. Apart from that, you will see other tourism related companies there like the Japanese Railway companies, JR East, JR West, Theme Parks like Universal Studios Japan and Tokyo Disneyland, Specialized Tour Service Companies and many hotels and resorts from around Japan. This will ensure that the would be visitor gets enough information before visiting Japan. Various booths from all over Japan during the Matta FairTokyo Booth at Matta Fair 2017One of the most popular places in Japan is no other than Tokyo, the capital of Japan and most first time visitors would head here to experience this vibrant city that offers so much. The main airports in Tokyo are also Haneda Airport for AirAsia X Flights and also Narita Airport where Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and other international airlines land at. Upon arrival at any of the Tokyo airports, you will then take a train to your hotel, guesthouse, AirBnB or Ryokan. Moving around Tokyo is also best done with the incredible subway system which connects almost every district.Tokyo offers Muslim travel packages with information available at the Tokyo BoothTokyo Travel Packages Matta Fair 2017If you are interested in visiting Tokyo in 2017, I would highly recommend you pay a visit to the Tokyo Booth at Matta Fair March 2017. Here, you can get most information about Tokyo and its surroundings by speaking to the officers in charge there. You should also know that this is purely an information booth and they do not sell any Tokyo Packages there. For any Tokyo travel packages at the Matta Fair 2017, you should look for those travel agents that sell Japan Packages and book through them. Most of the international travel agents are found in the main International Hall of the Matta Fair, which is Hall 1 and 2. Our tips and tricks on travelling to Tokyo is to research, find out what you want to see and do and then only plan your trip there. Most Malaysians visiting Japan would want to see the Sakura Flowers during the Sakura season from end March to early April, but the trick is to book your flights and accommodation at least six months in advance to get good prices. If you try to book one or two months before the Sakura flower Season, most hotels would be fully booked or whatever remaining rooms would be priced really high. It is always best to check out the various Tokyo Matta Fair promotion packages before deciding on what you want.Visitors getting information on Tokyo from the Matta FairHow Long To Spend In Tokyo?Another misconception is that many people think that you can see Tokyo in 4-5 days, and that is totally not true. Unless you are rushing your trip, even six days is not enough to see Tokyo. So, when tour companies sell Tokyo packages for 3-4 days, it is really a touch-and-go trip. They will most likely take you to a few popular places for a very short time and hop from city to city. Personally, I would not recommend going for this, but to experience Tokyo by yourself as it is a very safe city and the infrastructure is very good. A number of visitors would also choose to do dual cities like Tokyo and Osaka for their Japan trip, and usually this would be a 6-7 day trip, but it could also be quite a rush trip. A better solution would be to do them individually and during different times of the year, to experience the different seasons. However, at the end of the day, it is up to the consumer to choose and as mentioned, it is always best to source out the information for your Tokyo travel packages at Matta Fair 2017.
    Monday 20th of February 2017 05:47:00 AM
  • Best Shopping Malls to Visit in Kuala Lumpur KL
    Not your regular Top 10 list but this is a list of the Best Shopping Malls to Visit in Kuala Lumpur or KL based purely on the popularity of the malls for tourism purposes. Many visitors come to Malaysia in search of some good places to go shopping in Kuala Lumpur or KL, but with so many top 10 list out there, most of them are just plucked from the internet and interlinked to some online hotel booking sites or just for the sake of getting people to click on their links. So, as I have been born and bred here in Kuala Lumpur, and occasionally moving around the city, I can vouch for these shopping malls to visit in Kuala Lumpur as I frequent most of them regularly. In no order, here is the list of the best shopping malls to visit in KL, in the Golden Triangle and also the outer rim of Kuala Lumpur. Again, thee places are purely tourism focused.Berjaya Times Square, one of the mot popular shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur. Photo from www.gowhere.myBerjaya Times Square Shopping MallHaving been around for a number of years, the Berjaya Times Square has moved to be one of the top shopping malls in KL to visit, simply because of the variety of shops available here. You will not find high end brands but more of the local brands and many boutique and speciality shops here. On some floors, you can find some real bargains for ladies clothes and accessories as the shops here remind me of a Bangkok style mall, with lots of retailers and cheap clothes, mostly imported from Thailand, China and Korea. Berjaya Times Square is also one of the multi-concept malls where you can find a huge indoor theme park, a Japanese and Taiwan Street, Hotel and Serviced Apartments which are all housed in one huge complex. Perfect for those wanting a city holiday and very suitable for couples, families or those on business trips. Berjaya Times Square Address;Location: Opposite Melia Hotel and Amoda building. You can exit straight into the shopping mall from Imbi Monorail Station. Address: No. 1 Jalan Imbi, Kuala LumpurTelephone: (603) 2117 3111Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 ? 22:00Suria KLCC, a very popular shopping mall in KL. Photo by www.thousandwonders.netSuria KLCC Shopping MallThis is one of the most famous and popular shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, located underneath the Petronas Twin Towers, you get a two-in-one experience when you visit Suria KLCC Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur. Visitors to this mega mall will find local and international tenants and international department store chains here. The mall is also comparison to many other international mega malls in other countries. The crowds are not only on weekends, but just about everyday. One of the bonus points is that the Suria KLCC is connected to the main KLCC LRT train line. This station is linked to KLCC and also the mall opposite, called Avenue K.Apart from browsing the many floors and the Petrosains Centre on the top floor, visitors can spend a full day here in the mall, or simply going outside to the KLCC Park and also Aquaria KLCC. The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and Mandarin Oriental Hotel is also located just outside Suria KLCC. From Bukit Bintang City Center, it is only a 10 minute walk here. Suria KLCC Address; Location: Under the Petronas Twin TowersAddress: Lot. No. 241, Level 2, Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur City Centre50088 Kuala LumpurTelephone: (603) 2382 2828Website: http://www.suriaklcc.com.my/index.html/Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 ? 22:00Pavilion Shopping Mall in KL. Photo from www.pavilion-kl.comPavilion Shopping Mall Kuala Lumpur The mother of all shopping malls, the Pavilion Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur is a world-class mixed-use urban development and also a multiple award winning mall. The entire project comprises a seven storey premier shopping mall, two blocks of Pavilion Residences, Pavilion Tower office block and the 5-star Royale Pavilion Hotel. With all that mentioned, I can say that this is the place to find top international brands, chic cafes, restaurants and other high end boutique shops. Located in the core area of the Golden Triangle of KL or the BBKLCC, this place pulls in all walks of life, including the shopping tourist. Think Channel, Burberry or Fendi and you can find it here as these are the kind of tenants that occupy the main area of Pavilion. A must visit for any luxury shopping lover and is a five minute walk from the Bukit Bintang Monorail Station. Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Address;Location: Right next to Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur, across the street from JW Marriott and Starhill Gallery. Address: 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Telephone: (603) 2118 8833Pavilion KL Website: http://www.pavilion-kl.com/Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 ? 22:00Low Yat Plaza in Kuala Lumpur, the best place to get gadgets and electronics. Photo from www.wikimapia.com Low Yat Plaza Shopping MallThis is the place to go for cameras, smartphones, IT. electronics and gadgets in Malaysia. Plaza Low Yat has been serving local or foreigners over a decade and is well known as the IT and Gadget Center of Kuala Lumpur. People visit Low Yat Plaza in Bukit Bintang to get their IT items, repairs or upgrades. Whatever is new in the market, you are sure to find it here. Whatever smart phone or gadget launched worldwide, you can find it here first too. There are a total of five floors for shoppers to explore and the location is about five minutes walk from the Bukit Bintang Monorail Station.Having been around for almost thirty years, this one-stop Camera, Smartphone, IT and gadget shop offers supermarkets, chain stores and private vendors and you can most likely get some of the best prices and deals here. Accessories for smart phone, tablets, laptop, desktop and cameras are also found here too. Definitely a must-visit place for any gadget lover. Plaza Low Yat Address;Location: Behind Amoda Building, which is across the street from Berjaya Times Square, and right beside Bukit Bintang Plaza/Sungei Wang Plaza.Address: No. 7, Jalan Bintang, Off Jalan Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang Central,Low Yat Plaza WebsiteTel: (603) 2148 3651Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 ? 22:00Nu Sentral Shopping Mall in Kuala LumpurNu Sentral Shopping MallOne of the new players to enter the shopping mall scene in KL is no other than Nu Sentral, located in the KL Sentral core area. This interesting mall opened in 2014 and is connected directly to KL Sentral, which is also the main transportation hub of Kuala Lumpur. At Nu Sentral, you can find the standard retail shops, cafes, fast food joints and restaurants here but do not expect a lot of luxury brands here.Most travelers or locals would use the mall as a gateway to Brickfields where the main KL Monorail station is located. All train services in Kuala Lumpur and the main Malaysia Railway is found here. For those travelers who are waiting for their trains or even arriving early to take the KLIA Express train to the airport, you can just go over to Nu Sentral to shop or even have some food at the many restaurants and cafes there.Nu Sentral Address;Location: Connected to KL SentralAddress: No 201, Jalan Tun Sambanthan 50470, Kuala LumpurTel: (+603) 2859 7177Website: http://www.nusentral.com/Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 ? 22:00Mid Valley Megamall, one of the successful shopping malls just out of KL City. Photo from www.panoramio.comMid Valley Megamall One of the largest shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur is no other than Mid Valley Megamall, located just ten minutes drive outside of KL main city area. This gigantic mall which opened in 1999 has seen some of the best choices of brands, in terms of general retailers. In terms of shopping, you would most probably spend a lot of time here as the mall is so huge, it takes a lot of walking around.Mid Valley Megamall also has its own convention hall called the Mid Valley Convention Centre and two hotels which are also connected to the mall. However, to get here, you need to take a taxi from the city and avoid coming during peak hours as the place can get really crowded. For tourist coming here, a tip would be to change your money in the city before coming here as the money changers here have really long lines. This mega mall in KL is one of the best overall malls for couples, businessmen and families.Mid Valley Megamall Address;Location: 15 minutes out of KL main city area and 5 minutes from KL Sentral.Address: Mid Valley Megamall, 75, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, 58000 Kuala LumpurTel: (+603) 2938 3333Website: http://www.midvalley.com.my/Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 ? 22:00Suria KLCC, located under the Petronas Twin Towers in KLThe shopping malls in KL mentioned above have been personally visited by me on numerous occasions, hence you are getting exact information. If you are heading out of KL to the suburb of PJ, you can check out my Shopping Malls in Petaling Jaya article which I did previously as this is in the outer region of Kuala Lumpur.There are many other new shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, but I have not listed them as they are still considered new and many are still in the soft period while not all of them are completely occupied. So, to recommend these new malls would be useless, considering that when you go there, the place looks empty, lacking tenants, but I am keeping an eye out to see which are the ones who stand out after the first half of 2017 and update it here.So in the mean time, this article is strongly focused on popular malls that are relatively important to tourist visiting KL and I hope that this list of best shopping malls to visit in Kuala Lumpur provide you with more than enough information. Do ask if you have any questions or feedback and leave them below.
    Saturday 18th of February 2017 07:55:00 AM
  • Bird Watching in Flores
    If you are into birding, then this article on Bird Watching in Flores would be of great interest to you. I visited Flores twice in 2016 and both on a mission to explore this amazing destination which is relatively unknown to the general tourism world, perhaps many may know of Komodo Island as this is currently one of the top places to visit in Indonesia. Therefore, I wrote this article on bird watching in Flores for any serious birders who would like to increase their bird numbers. Before I continue, I would like to confess that I am only a beginner bird watcher as I have been doing this only for the last five to six years, mainly around Malaysia, especially at Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo Island. My birding activities have taken me to many national parks, forest reserves, conservation's, shorelines, islands and highlands. Even backyard birding is on my list at times. In general, I may have seen over 500-600 species of birds in the last five years or so and in Borneo, perhaps around 300 plus birds. As my job takes me to many places, I somehow manage to find the time to do some birding and in Flores, I was lucky to have time to explore some of the birding spots. Flores is located in the east most part of Indonesia, after Bali and Lombok Island and just before Papua Indonesia. To get here, the best possible way is by taking a flight. I would recommend using Skyscanner for flights to Flores as it would narrow down the cheapest and easiest ways to fly here from anywhere in the world. Let us get to the birding in Flores.A pair of pigeons seen at the Komodo National Park on Komodo IslandBird Watching in FloresThere are at least 10 popular spots to do birding in Flores and the best place to start is no other than the town of Labuan Bajo in the west most part of Flores. Labuan Bajo also serves as the main gateway to Komodo Island, where birding is also recommended. There are specialized bird guides found in this town and you can book them by getting in touch with some of the tour companies here. Labuan Bajo also offers some really nice hotels and resorts for your accommodations and the facilities are up to general tourist standards, or birding standards. By saying this, I mean you will not find a Nikon Optics shop in Flores, so please bring all your equipment and spares if you have to. Bird Watching Spots in FloresThe entire island is literally bird-watchable as there is no major development whatsoever being done here. However, there are a few notable places around Flores for bird watching which are listed from Labuan Bajo and heading outwards. This means for those planning a short birding trip to Flores can just focus around Labuan Bajo areas.Dolat Wetlands - Only 4 kilometers south of Labuan Bajo, you can come here twice a day. Spot the Wandering Whistling-duck, Malaysian Plover, Mees?s Nightjar, Sunda Teal, Black-faced Munia, Beach Thick-knee, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Javan Plover, Flame-throated Sunbird, Crakes and Rails among the many bird here.Potawangka Road - East of Labuan Bajo and 10 kilometers from the town area. Spot Bonelli?s Eagle, Wallacean Cuckooshrike, White-rumped Kingfisher, Flame-breasted Sunbird, Zebra Finch, Flores Green Pigeon, Elegant Pitta, Yellow-spectacled White-eye, Black-fronted Flowerpecker, Wallace?s Hanging-Parrot, Black-naped Fruit-Dove, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Green Junglefowl and many others.Komodo National Park - This will be everyone's must-go place when you are in Flores and apart from seeing the Komodo Dragons, you will be in for a good bird watching experience here. Some of the park guides know quite a bit about the Komodo Island birds.The beautiful five colored Munia in FloresLake Sano Nggoang and Nunang Village - Southeast of Labuan Bajo along the Flores Highway to Ruteng. Spot Wallace?s and Moluccan Scops-Owls, Glittering Kingfisher, Flores Crow, Flores Green Pigeon, Pacific Black Duck, Flame-breasted Sunbird, Elegant Pitta, Flores Minivet, Flores Monarch, Golden-rumped Flowerpecker, Yellow-ringed White-eye, Black-fronted Flowerpecker and many more.Puarlolo - East of Labuan Bajo and easy to do as a day trip. Spot  the famous Flores Monarch, Flores Crow, Rufous-backed Kingfisher, Short-toed Eagle, Green Junglefowl, Thick-billed Dark-eye, Flores Hawk-Eagle, Chestnut-capped Thrushes, Russet-capped Tesia, Wallace?s Hanging-Parrot, Rufous-chested Flycatcher and many others.Golo Lusang and Danau Rana Mese Lake - South and East of Ruteng, on route to Bajawa. Spot the Flores Minivet, Golden-rumped Flowerpecker, Pacific Black Duck (lake area), Russet-capped Tesia, Wallace?s Scops-Owl, Black-backed Fruit Dove, White-rumped Kingfisher, Timor Leaf-warbler, Scaly-crowned Honeyeater, Helmeted Friarbird, Pale-shouldered Cuckooshrike, Brown-capped Fantail, Dark-backed Imperial Pigeon, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker and many other birds.Poco Ranaka - East Ruteng near to Lake Rana Mese, chances to spot Bonelli?s Eagle, Chestnut-backed Thrush, White-browed Shortwing, Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch and the Pygmy Wren-babbler.Pagal - North of Ruteng and you can find Elegant Pitta, Wallace?s Hanging-Parrot, Yellow-spectacled White-eye, Flores Green-Pigeon, White-rumped Kingfisher, Ruddy Cuckoo Dove, Brown-capped Fantail and Russet-capped Tesia, which have been recorded around here.Kisol Village - Southeast of Ruteng. Spot the rare Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Brown-capped Fantail, Yellow-spectacled White-eye, Flores Green Pigeon, Flores Crow, Thick-billed Dark-eye, Black-fronted Flowerpecker, Flame-breasted Sunbird, Flores Hawk-Eagle, Moluccan and Wallace?s Scops-Owl, Black-naped Fruit-Dove, Mees?s Nightjar, White-rumped Kingfisher, Elegant Pitta, Flores Crow, Russet-capped Tesia, Chestnut-capped Thrush.One of the sign boards at Kelimutu National Park, FloresKelimutu National Park - Near Ende and Maumere, you can spot montane endemics like Bare-throated Whistler, Flores Green Pigeon, Dark-backed Imperial Pigeon, Crested Dark-eye, Ruddy Cuckoo Dove and Five-coloured Munia. The best is to trek using the general path all the way to the peak. It takes about 20-30 minutes trek up.What Kind of Birds Are Found in FloresBecause Flores is an island and sitting between certain flyways, you can see lots of migrating birds here. But Flores is also home to many endemics like the Flores Crow and Flores Green Pigeon just to name a couple. Check the Flores Bird List below for endemics. Varieties include coastal birds, lowland birds, hill birds, sub-montane forest birds, montane birds, raptors and even unique birds.A Rainbow Bee Eater spotted in Flores, near Labuan BajoBird List of FloresThe bird list below is not complete but better than anything because there is no offical list out there. The birds of Flores list here is provided by Burung Nusantara (http://burung-nusantara.org/) and a bird watching trip report. Note the Flores birds in bold are endemic while from No.1 to No.50 are mostly the star birds to spot.Green JunglefowlOrange-footed ScrubfowlFlores Hawk-EagleWallace?s Hanging ParrotLeaf (Rainbow) LorikeetDark-backed Imperial PigeonBlack-backed Fruit DoveBarred Cuckoo DoveParzudaki?s (Ruddy) Cuckoo DoveBlack-naped Fruit DoveFlores Green PigeonFlores Scops OwlWallace?s Scops OwlMoluccan Scops OwlWhite-rumped KingfisherCerulean KingfisherStork-billed KingfisherCollared KingfisherElegant PittaFlores MinivetFlores CrowFlores MonarchFlores Warbling-flycatcher (Russet-backed Jungle-Flycatcher)Trumpeting (Brown-capped) FantailBare-throated WhistlerChestnut-capped ThrushChestnut-backed ThrushFlores (White-browed) ShortwingPygmy Cupwing (Wren Babbler)Russet-capped TesiaFlores Leaf-WarblerScaly-crowned HoneyeaterWallace?s Heleia (Yellow-spectacled White-eye)Eyebrowed Heleia (Yellow-browed Dark-eye)Thick-billed Heleia (Dark-eye)Crested Heleia (Dark-eye)Golden-rumped FlowerpeckerBlack-fronted FlowerpeckerFlores (Blood-breasted) FlowerpeckerFlame-breasted SunbirdFlores Spangled (Wallacean) DrongoPale-shouldered CicadabirdWallacean CuckooshrikePale-headed MuniaFive-coloured MuniaBlack-faced MuniaScaly-breasted MuniaTimor Zebra FinchBulwer's Petrel (Komodo)Streaked ShearwaterWedge-tailed Shearwater Red-throated Little GrebeRed-tailed TropicbirdGreat FrigatebirdLesser FrigatebirdLittle Pied CormorantRed-footed Booby Brown BoobyAbbotts'Booby Great-billed HeronPurple HeronWhite-faced HeronIntermediate Egret Little Egret Pacific Reef Egret Cattle Egret Javan Pond-Heron  Little HeronRufous Night HeronCinnamon BitternWoolly-necked StorkOriental Honey-buzzardBlack-winged Kite Brahminy KiteWhite-bellied Sea-Eagle Chinese Goshawk Variable Goshawk Brown GoshawkJapanese Sparrowhawk Bonelli's EagleRufous-bellied EagleChangeable Hawk-eagleSpotted KestrelWandering Whistling DuckLesser Whistling DuckSunda Teal Pacific Black DuckBuff-banded RailWhite-browed CrakeWhite-breasted WaterhenCommon MoorhenBlack-winged Stilt Pacific Golden PloverKentish (Javan) PloverGreater Sand-PloverWhimbrelCommon RedshankCommon Greenshank Red-necked StintMarsh SandpiperWood Sandpiper Broad-billed Sandpiper Red-necked PhalaropePomarine JaegerWhiskered TernBlack-naped TernSooty Tern Greater Crested TernLesser Crested TernBrown NoddyWhite-throated Pigeon Island Collared Dove Spotted DoveRuddy Cuckoo-doveBarred DoveGreen Imperial PigeonYellow-crested CockatooGreat-billed ParrotRusty-breasted CuckooOriental CuckooCommon KoelLesser CoucalLarge-tailed Nightjar Edible-nest SwiftletGlossy SwiftletFork-tailed SwiftBlue-tailed Bee-eaterCommon Dollarbird Sunda Pygmy WoodpeckerAustralasian BushlarkBarn SwallowPacific SwallowStriated SwallowGrey WagtailRichards Pipit Pale-shouldered CicadabirdWhite-shouldered TrillerBlack-naped OrioleLarge-billed CrowGreat TitFlyeaterMountain TailorbirdArctic WarblerYellow-breasted WarblerGolden-headed CisticolaZitting CisticolaLittle Pied Flycatcher Black-naped Monarch Asian Paradise FlycatcherCommon Golden WhistlerWhite-breasted Wood-swallowHill MynaHelmeted Friarbird Brown-throated Sunbird Olive-backed SunbirdOriental White-eyeMountain White-eyeLemon-bellied White-eyeTree Sparrow Eurasian Coot Little GrebesSpectacled MonarchAn Orange-footed Scrubfowl spotted at Komodo Island, FloresWhen is the Best Time for Bird Watching in FloresOverall, the entire year is great for bird watching in Flores, but there is a rainy season from December to March and if you don't like the rain, avoid these months. Also, in February, the seas have high waves as it is the peak of the monsoon season, so avoid mid January to mid March. July to August is Komodo High Season, so Labuan Bajo will be pretty crowded and so will Komodo Island. If you do not like large crowds, avoid these couple of months. How Much is Bird Watching in FloresDepending on the type of package you choose, the price of bird watching in Flores varies anywhere from US$1000 to US$2000 per person. A couple of tour companies provide bird watching tours in Flores and for a 7 Day Bird Watching Package, the price is around US$1625.00 per person with a minimum of 2 persons.However, for those who are on a budget, you can also do bird watching in Flores for less than the prices mentioned above. Probably for under US$1000 per person, but it would be mostly around Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Park.If you are visiting this island in East Nusa Tenggara, do read my other article on things to do in Flores as it sheds some information about what else you can do around this beautiful island. You should also read my other article on things to do in Labuan Bajo, as that is the most popular area in Flores.One of the colorful birds spotted just outside of Labuan Bajo, FloresFor me, being a beginner birder, I use very basic equipment for this hobby. My birding equipment is a Nikon D5100 DSLR camera with a 300mm Nikkor Telephoto Lens, an Omicron Barbet RF 8x32 Binoculars, a Cabin Zero Bag and mid range tripod. To date, they have served me pretty well as I travel around quite a bit, therefore I need easy and light equipment.The beauty about traveling from place to place on a short time is that you get to see multiple places, but for the serious birder, this would be frustrating. Well, for my work, I only have very little time to bird watch or photograph, therefore I make the best of what time I have. And this is also one of the main reasons that I travel light, due to my work schedules.Omicron Binoculars, which I use for my bird watching. I have to admit that I do not know most of the birds spotted during my trip here as I did not have the Flores Bird Guide Book. I have ordered it and on my next birding trip to Flores, I will bring it along to identify all the birds. You can also visit my Facebook album on Flores birds, where I have posted more photos there. In general, Flores is one of the new places for bird watching as it is located far from the main commercial Southeast Asia region and closer towards Papua New Guinea. With minor development happening, flora and fauna is still considered to be rich all over the island. And for anyone wanting to do Bird Watching in Flores, I strongly recommend you engage a good bird guide who speaks the local language. 
    Tuesday 14th of February 2017 03:30:00 AM
  • OPPO R9s Smartphone Camera Review
    This OPPO R9s Smartphone camera review is probably one of my rare articles as I hardly do any phone reviews for Malaysia. Anyway, over the years I have been using various smartphones, dating back to the first ever smartphone, the Apple Iphone which I had shipped in the next day after it was released in the USA on June 29, 2007. I had a very good friend send two units over from the US and the joke was on me when I started using it here in Malaysia. Friends laughed at me back then, but nowadays, it is the most important gadget that almost every human must have. Back to the OPPO R9s Smartphone photo review. I bought the R9s on the launch date in January 2017 here in Malaysia as previously, I was using a OPPO F1s and before that, I was a Samsung Note user. Why the change? You may have guessed it, due to the Samsung issues and also how the previous Samsung's heat up on heavy usage and also the high price factors nowadays for branded smartphones. Yeah, I know right, RM3,000+ for a smartphone is a bit too much. Buy hey, it's totally up to anyone. A temple in the Chinatown area of Bangkok. Photo taken with OPPO R9s. All photos unedited. OPPO R9s Smartphone Camera ReviewWhat made me decide to change from the F1s to the R9s? Well, since I started to pay more attention towards my smartphone photography, I wanted to explore this area and many friends and even reviews out there have been quite interesting. In the top of the list was the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus which has been getting top reviews for their camera and Leica lens. So with some free time one early January day, I paid a visit to my regular phone shop and Danny, a good old friend has informed me that OPPO was in fact launching a new model, the R9s which was superior to the F1s and on par with the Huawei P9. His staff had a test unit which they took out the Huawei P9, P9 plus and did a side by side comparison. In the end, the OPPO R9s photo quality was actually a little better than the P9, in terms of realistic colors. Plus the price difference was huge, RM1799 for the R9s versus RM2099 for the P9. So, they say the dual lens on the Huawei is supposed to be a step forward in technology, but again, after doing the general user comparison, I saw no difference. Perhaps for those professional users, there may be but again, a majority of buyers are just simple users like me. OPPO R9s Smartphone Photos Below are photos taken in various places around Bangkok, Thailand in early February 2017 as I paid a personal shot visit here for a quick escape. Instead of lugging my Nikon DSLR, I just brought the OPPO R9s as my main camera to see how it would capture photos. The photos you see below are all straight from the smartphone and not edited at all. I simply resized them for this article, that is all.A Thai Temple PagodaRiver life along one of the rivers in Bangkok Facade of a Thai Temple in BangkokThai Dry Yellow NoodlesThai Tom Yum with Master NoodlesThe Giant Ferris Wheel at Asiatique Waterfront in BangkokThai Duck NoodlesA type of Thai sweet dessertOPPO R9s Specifications:The Oppo R9s is powered by 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor and it comes with 4GB of RAM. Retail price is RM1799.00 in Malaysia. For anyone out there who is contemplating on what your next smartphone will be, please do your own fact finding and it is always best to find a phone that suites your lifestyle. If you are a simple person, then go for something simple and easy, instead of the highest end model where you only use 20% of the smartphone functions. If you cannot live without selfies, then find a smartphone that can cater to vanity, built in beauty mode and a good reverse camera with a huge storage. If your whole life revolves around social media, then get a powerful smartphone to cater to your needs. To me, after a decade of using smartphones, I have been a simple user, taking photos and videos. What matters to me is the battery life, good clear camera, the RAM, processor and storage. Other things do not really matter much but from what I have noticed in Southeast Asia is that most people want to be in trend and have the latest smartphones. Perhaps it is a lifestyle trend, society status or just having too much money to spend. You can also see my OPPO R9s Video Review as I did one in January for YouTube. Let me know what you think about my OPPO R9s Smartphone camera review as I would be interested to hear what people think. 
    Sunday 12th of February 2017 06:48:00 AM
  • Megadeth Live in Malaysia 2017
    After all these years, the time has come for metal fans as Megadeth Live in Malaysia 2017 takes place this 4th May and at Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur. Organised by IME Malaysia, the Megadeth debut performance in Malaysia will see a huge crowd, especially from the outskirts of the city and possibly from as far as neighboring countries like Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei. Megadeth has been around since 1983 and has performed all over the world, being known as probably the worlds most famous trash metal band that ever existed. As part of the Megadeth Dystopia World Tour, one of the stops include Malaysia, apart from also performing in Singapore and Indonesia. Megadeth Live in Malaysia 2017According to Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine, he mentioned in an interview that Kuala Lumpur is one of the places that the would love to play when the band tours Asia. The 2017 tour is also to support the band's latest album titled Dystopia and is their first album in three years. In total, they have released 15 albums to date. Dystopia, he new album which was launched on 22 January 2016, also earned a Grammy Nomination for Best Metal Performance of 2017 and in the first week of release, they sold almost 50,000 units. The new Megadeth album is also listed as one of the 20 Best Metal Albums of 2016 by Rolling Stone magazine. With a total worldwide album sales of 50 million copies in three decades, the band has also earned many accolades and 12 Grammy Nominations. Megadeth's line up currently consist of Dave Mustaine on vocals and guitar, David Ellefson on bass, guitarist Kiko Loureiro and drummer Dirk Verbeuren. You can also get more information on the official Megadeth website. Megadeth Live in Malaysia 2017 Ticket Prices RM428 (Deth Pitt Zone, Free Standing)RM388 (VIP, Numbered Seat)RM358 (Rock Zone, Free Standing)RM288 (CAT1, Numbered Seat)RM198 (CAT2, Free Seating)Seating position for Megadeth Live in Kuala Lumpur at Stadium NegaraWhere to buy Megadeth Live in Malaysia 2017 TicketsYou can get your Megadeth Live in Malaysia tickets from;TicketCharge OnlineWebsite: www.ticketcharge.com.myHotline: +603-92228811 starting from 10th February 2017.Speedy VideoVictoria MusicRock CornerChambers MusicPJ Live ArtsThe Mines Shopping Mall information counter1 Shamelin information counterEden Ultimate (Kuantan)Blonde Brunette (Penang)All ticket prices are inclusive of 6% GST but exclusive of RM4 processing fee.Megadeth Live in Malaysia 2017Date: 4th May 2017 (Thursday)Time: 8.00 PMVenue: Stadium Negara, Kuala LumpurMegadeth Live in Malaysia PosterTraveling to Kuala LumpurFor those travelling to Malaysia to catch the Megadeth Live in Kuala Lumpur concert, you should make your hotel bookings as soon as possible. This is because hotels tend to get fully booked towards the concert date. There are many hotels located near Stadium Negara (National Stadium), which is very close to Petaling Street or Chinatown Kuala Lumpur. If you are staying in the Chinatown area, you can just take a 5 minute walk to the concert venue. Other places include Bukit Bintang and Pudu area, where you can find many other hotels, guesthouses and homestays. However, you will need to take the LRT train, bus or taxi to Stadium Negara. You can walk too, but it will take about 20-30 minutes. KL Sentral, the main train hub in Kuala Lumpur is also located about 20-30 minutes walk, but we advise not to do so and instead take a coupon taxi to your designated hotel or directly to the stadium outdoors. If you are traveling from KLIA airport to Kuala Lumpur, it is best to take the KLIA Express train as it only takes 28 minutes one way. Those driving to the stadium, please not that parking will be quite full, so it is best to park at some of the private car parks outside the stadium. Note that these car parks may charge you around RM50 to RM100, depending on how close it is. From the car park, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes walk to the stadium.Fans looking for the latest updates on the Megadeth concert in KL, visit @IMEAsia on Facebook, @IME_Asia on Instagram, @IMEProduction on Twitter, or @IMEProductions on WeChat. IME will be updating information for those planning to attend the Megadeth Live in Malaysia 2017 concert.
    Saturday 11th of February 2017 10:35:00 AM
  • AirAsia X Flights To Hawaii via Osaka
    The long awaited AirAsia X Flights To Hawaii via Osaka has been officially launched and the four times weekly flight starts on 28 June 2017. This will connect Kuala Lumpur to Osaka and then to Honolulu, making this the first budget airline in the region to enter the Unites States. With the launching of the Kuala Lumpur - Honolulu flights, AirAsia X will be offering fares from as low as RM499.00* from 11 to 26 February 2017 for travel from 28 June 2017 to 6 February 2018. During this offer period, guests wanting to travel in greater comfort can experience AirAsia X's award-winning Premium Flatbed from RM2,999.00*, which will be one of the lowest fares to Hawaii from Asia. These promotional flight tickets are also available for booking on the website only. Please note that the one-way all-in fare inclusive of taxes and fees. Terms and conditions apply.? Subject to Japanese government approval.AirAsia X Flights To Hawaii via OsakaWith the introduction of AirAsia X flights to the US, this will allow Asians to now choose Hawaii as one of the destinations for their vacation or even honeymoon. Hawaii will serve as the main gateway into other cities in the west coast of the US, namely Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Seattle. Flight Schedule for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KUL) to Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL) via Osaka, Japan (KIX)Flight No.FromToDepartureArrivalFlight ScheduleD7 001KULKIX1400 hrs2125 hrsMon, Wed, Fri, SatD7 001KIXHNL2325 hrs1230 hrsMon, Wed, Fri, SatD7 002HNLKIX1600 hrs2025 hrsMon, Wed, Fri, SatD7 002KIXKUL2200 hrs0400 hrsTue, Thu, Sat, SunNote: All times listed are local unless otherwise stated.AirAsia X Flights To Hawaii - Visa QuestionsFor passengers heading to Hawaii and transiting in Osaka, they do not require a Japanese visa during the two-hour stopover, and can return to their seats on the flight after clearing security with any carry-on luggage or belongings. However, you are required to get your US Visa for anyone wanting to fly to Hawaii. AirAsia Fly-Thru ServicePassengers can also make use of AirAsia's Fly-Thru service to connect seamlessly to Honolulu from other cities within AirAsia and AirAsia X?s extensive flight network with just one additional stop.AirAsia Multi-City OptionPassengers who want greater flexibility in travel planning can opt for the Multi-City option, which allows them to spend a few days in Osaka (Japanese visa required) before travelling onward to Honolulu. For more information, visit the AirAsia website.Hawaii is also nicknamed the Paradise of the Pacific, is formed by eight islands located right at the heart of the Pacific Ocean. Famed for its stunning natural beauty and unique indigenous culture, this tropical paradise is the only US state located in the Oceania. Honolulu, the capital city, located on the most populous island O'ahu, is a modern city that boasts island charms, including the world-renowned Waikiki Beach, once the site of vacation homes for the kings and queens of Hawaii.In January, we had issued an article of AirAsia X flights to the US as they received clearance from the FAA. It has only been a month before the multiple award-winning budget airline announced the follow up for the flights. For those wanting to visit the US on a budget, you can now start to plan as soon, AirAsia X Flights To Hawaii via Osaka will start on 28 June, 2017. 
    Friday 10th of February 2017 05:02:00 AM
  • Malindo Air Flies to Guangzhou
    Another new route has been launched where Malindo Air Flies to Guangzhou, China. This new destination for Malindo Air is offering flights starting from RM299 one way for economy and RM699 one way for business class seats. The Malindo Air Guangzhou promotion is on from 6 Feb to 19 Feb, 2017 and the travel period is from 15 March to 30 November 2017. Guangzhou (??), otherwise known as Canton is located in southeastern China and very close to Hong Kong. It is actually only 120 kilometers from Hong Kong and is one of the very popular Chinese cities to visit, for businessmen and travelers alike. Currently, Guangzhou is the third largest city after Beijing and Shanghai. Bubble Tram in Guangzhou. Image from www.cantontower.comNowadays, Guangzhou is well known for being a wholesale capital of southern China and many people from all over the world come here to buy wholesale items. For the general tourist, this city which has a majority of Cantonese speaking people, is well known also for their shopping in general. As for Malaysian, many businessmen and businesswomen head here to source and buy products to be sold back here, as it is the closest Chinese wholesale city to Malaysia. Well, there are other major wholesale cities in China, just that Guangzhou is easier to access. With Malindo Air opening up the Kuala Lumpur - Guangzhou route, this will definitely increase the passengers here and also to help bring in more tourist from China into Malaysia. Currently only one or two other airlines have direct flights to Guangzhou. Now, consumers have more choices with the latest news on Malindo Air flights to Guangzhou. 
    Monday 6th of February 2017 04:59:00 AM
  • Fraser?s Hill International Bird Race 2017
    The Fraser?s Hill International Bird Race 2017 will take place on 25-26 February at one of Malaysia's hill resorts in Pahang. This is one of the pioneer bird watching events in Malaysia which was started in 1988 and is running in its 30th year. In total, over 10,000 people have visited Fraser's Hill for the bird race and festival which also attracts participants and visitors from neighboring countries.Organised by Tourism Pahang, Malaysia Nature Society (MNS), Malaysian WWW for Nature, and Fraser's Hill Development Corporation, this yearly event attracts beginner and professional bird watchers and nature lovers to the highland retreat. The great thing about this event is that it is only about less than two hours drive from Kuala Lumpur, using the scenic route to get to Bukit Fraser as it is locally called. Fraser?s Hill International Bird Race 2017Foe the 30th year of the Fraser's Hill Bird Race, there are some exciting events, activities and contest line up for participants and also visitors. The general bird race is the main event where teams of three persons will race to spot the most number of birds here. Other events include the Fraser's Hill Bird Photography Contest where it is open to everyone. Prizes are yet to be announced, but rest assured, they will be attractive ones. Bird watchers and photographers have the opportunity to try their luck and spotting or photographing the 260 species of birds found in an area of 2,804 hectares of lush tropical rainforest here. Among them, you can find some endemic birds which are rare or extremely rare. Scene at the main square of Fraser's Hill in PahangActivities at the Fraser's Hill Bird Race 2017Bird Race Bird Photography ContestTalksPromotional BoothsBird Race CategoriesBased on the previous years categories for the bird race, they are usually divided into three segments which are;Advanced category: For serious and experienced bird watchersNovice category: For those who just take up bird watching out of curiosity or treat bird watching as an academic hobbyLocal category: For the local residents who know the whereabouts of the birds in Fraser?s Hill areThe Fraser's Hill Bird Photography Contest 2017Fraser?s Hill International Bird Race 2017Date: 25-26 February 2017Location: Fraser's HillWebsite: www.pahangtourism.org.myApart from the Fraser's Hill International Bird Race, there are also many other bird races happening around Malaysia. The next one would be the Kenyir Bird and Nature Quest 2017 which takes place from 25-26 March 2017. Wings of KKB 2017 also known as the Selangor International Bird Race 2017 will take place in April 2017. This is followed by the Borneo Bird Race 2017 and also the Borneo Bird Festival 2017 which takes place in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo. For more information, you can also read my article on Birding Events in Malaysia which highlights all the related events. Those who are into birds, birding or nature, and visiting Kuala Lumpur at the end of February, you should make it a point to drop by or even participate in this years Fraser?s Hill International Bird Race 2017. This would be a great opportunity to see and experience the Malaysian nature scene and also get to know the local birding industry. For those planning to attend this bird race, you should start making our travel arrangements and transportation. See you at the event! 
    Saturday 4th of February 2017 07:07:00 AM
  • Wings of KKB 2017
    The Wings of KKB 2017 will take place from 21-23 April 2017 and this bird watching event in Selangor will be running in the 6th year. You should also know that in 2016, the event took a twist and re-branded themselves as the Selangor International Bird Race. Last year, during the Wings of KKB 2016, an estimate or 700 to 1000 participants were recorded. which is a great number. Participants included bird racers of multiple levels, photographers, attendees and school kids for the explorace. This year, the Wings of KKB 2017 will see another round of bird race through multiple checkpoints that start in the town of Kuala Kubu Bharu or KKB is it is called. The race will proceed to the Kalumpung Hot Springs before ending at Awana Genting which is part of the Important Birding Area or IBA MY10 and is situated 3,000 feet (915 meters) above sea level. In total, bird watchers can spot around 40 different species in the lowlands while up at Awana Genting, there are up to 70 species of birds available. Birds to spot during the Wings of KKB 2017 include Silver-Breasted Broadbill, Red Headed Trogon, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Marbled Wren Babbler, Large Niltava, Black Thighed Flaconet and four Hornbills (Great, Bushy Crested, Oriental Pied and Rhinoceros).The route for Wings of KKB 2017, going through various areas for the Bird Race. Photo by: WingsofKKBBird watchers from Malaysia and around the region are regular participants during the KKB Bird Festival and the numbers have grown over the last five years. The Hulu Selangor council's involvement together with Resorts World and Tourism Selangor have made this event one of the important bird watching events in Malaysia. It also contributes to nature and eco tourism while creating awareness for the younger generation on the importance of birds as part of our biodiversity. Activities during the event includes participation from the general public and also school children. It is also projected to attract families, couples and groups of friends as part of a learning experience. During the event, there will also be booths showcasing various related programs, products and souvenirs. Activities include;Bird Race (Professional, Secondary School and Primary School Category)Bird PhotographyBird SeminarExploraceLast years participants with their birding equipment at the Wings of KKB 2016. Photo by: Travel With E.T.A Wings of KKB 2017Date: 21-23 April 2017Venue: Kuala Kubu Bharu, Kalumpung Hot Springs, Awana GentingTime: 5.00 am till eveningFor those interested in similar events, read this article on Birding Events in Malaysia as it provides all the bird watching events and festivals happening all over Malaysia. The largest and most successful birding event is also held in Sandakan during the Borneo Bird Festival which attract thousands of people yearly. Visitors from as far as the UK, Australia and Europe make their way here to participate in the very interesting bird race, especially for birding on the island of Borneo. As I am an amateur bird watcher and bird photographer, I have been doing this hobby since 2007 but never did make this my priority hobby as my work takes me to many places. I use a basic Nikon D5300 DSLR Camera with a Nikkor 300mm Telephoto Lens and an Omicron Binoculars for my birding. My work has taken me to various interesting places around the region and world where when I get some free time, I will do some basic bird watching. Recently in late 2016, I did some bird watching in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara which was pretty amazing. For bird watchers or bird photographers, the Wings of KKB 2017 will be the premier event happening in the vicinity of Selangor and Pahang, which is only an hours drive from the city area. You can rent a car and self drive to KKB or even stay at Awana Genting Resort if you would like to participate for the Selangor Bird Race 2017. 
    Thursday 2nd of February 2017 12:13:00 PM
  • Travel from KLIA Airport to Kuala Lumpur
    The best way to travel from KLIA Airport to Kuala Lumpur City is no other that using the KLIA Express Train that runs direct and only takes 28 minutes. While there are many other options for travelling from KLIA to Kuala Lumpur, your options are pretty decent. In this article, I will share with you the pro's and con's of doing so as there are travelers who are on a budget, while others may be leisure travelers or even business travelers. Kuala Lumpur city is locate approximately 62 kilometers from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport or KLIA as it is commonly called. The budget terminal, known as KLIA2 is also located just nearby the main airport and a journey by road from KLIA or KLIA2 to KL City will take you around 60 minutes. So, this article was created to give you the options of traveling to and from. KLIA Express Train The KLIA Express Train (KLIA Ekspres) runs frequently and services both KLIA and KLIA2 before heading directly into the city at KL Sentral Station. During peak hours, there re 4 trains running every 15 minutes and off peak hours, three train operate on 20 minute intervals. Train service starts from 5.00 AM and the last train from KLIA is at 1.00 AM. KLIA Express Ticket Counter at KLIA 2 In terms of comfort and security, this is the most recommended transport from KLIA to Kuala Lumpur as things work on time and in of world-class standards. On board the train, guests can use the free 4G WiFi services or simply absorb the beautiful Malaysian scenery along your journey. If you are traveling from KL Sentral to KLIA, you should also know that there is a baggage check in service at KL Sentral for selected airlines like Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Etihad Airways  and Malindo Air. This means, you can just go up to the check in counter and drop your baggage there and then travel to the airport hassle free, allowing you to have more time to explore the shopping and duty free areas. KLIA Express Ticket Price: One Way: Adult - RM 55.00, Child (2-12 years) - RM 25.00Return: Adult - RM 100.00, Child (2-12 years) - RM 45.00The interior of the KLIA Ekspres TrainDiscounts: Get a 10% discount when you buy your KLIA Ekspres tickets online, through the mobile app or the self-service kiosk. Please note that all pre-purchased KLIA Express tickets are valid for 30 days only. Find out more from KLIA Ekspres. The set back - Well, everything is picture perfect when you use the KLIA Express train,except that it does not drop you right at your door step of your hotel or home, for the general travelers. But for the business or luxury travelers, read below. KLIA Ekspres VIP ServiceThere is a KLIA Ekspres VIP Service offered where the service combines the train and limousine service to your hotel, hospital or home. Not only that, you will have a personalised meet and greet at the baggage claim area where you will be ushered to the train. A personalised porter will accompany you on the train to the city station where you will next board an exclusive executive Limousine to your hotel, home or business centre. This is of course, at a premium price for luxury or business travelers.  The price range is anywhere from RM 155.00 to RM 210.00 per person. Add on's are available for second, third and so forth. You can even get a VIP Van Service for persons more than four. Taxi options from KLIA 2 to Kuala LumpurTaxi from KLIA to Kuala LumpurOne of the most popular ways to travel from KLIA airport to Kuala Lumpur is by simply taking the airport taxi. This will allow you to go straight to your hotel entrance or home and the price would vary anywhere from RM 85.00 to RM 150.00, depending on the area or zone you are going to. Also, after midnight, there is a 50% surcharge on top of your main fare for all taxi services. Sounds simple, but let me just share with you the points of this. There are a few types of Taxi Services from KLIA and KLIA 2 which you should know about. KLIA Metered Taxi - This is where you buy a metered coupon from the Metered Taxi Counter for RM 2.00. Then you will head to the taxi bay area where a taxi will pick you up and you will travel using the general meter fair. This KLIA metered taxi service is for up to three persons only. But you must know that if your luggage exceeds the taxi booth, they will not take you and you would have to go in again and book a premier or van taxi, which costs more. KLIA Budget Taxi - This is a coupon based system, where you go to the KLIA Budget Taxi Counter and tell them where you want to go. They will ask how many persons and how many pieces of luggage and also the size of the luggage. Maximum is three persons too. The price is according to the zone or place you are heading too. Again, if there is three of you with three large luggage bags, they will instead give you a premier taxi or taxi van, which costs a bit more. Prices range from RM 85.00 to RM 150.00 per taxi to the main city area. KLIA Premier Taxi - One level above the budget is the premier taxi which can take up to four persons. The price is slightly more but these taxis are spacious. KLIA Executive Taxi - This taxi can comfortable sit up to five persons but the price difference is around RM 40.00 compared to the KLIA budget taxi. Also recommended for business travelers. KLIA Family Van Taxi - This is the best option for large families or groups up to 10 persons. Any larger groups, you would need a couple of these vans. The price per van is around RM 180.00 and above. The set back of taking a taxi from KLIA to KL - Overall, it is the time and price where most people do not want to get caught in traffic, or even risk getting ripped off. It's true, there are still taxi touts operating just as you exit the arrival hall. Therefore, the safest option to avoid any possible situations is to take the KLIA Express Train to KL City. Buses from KLIA to KL SentralBus from KLIA to Kuala LumpurThere are a number of buses that travel from KLIA / KLIA2 to Kuala Lumpur and these are specialised buses that only ply these routes. At the bus terminal of KLIA and KLIA2, you can choose which bus service and where it will stop at. Most buses stop at KL Sentral but there are some that may stop at Kota Raya near Petaling Street or even in Petaling Jaya at One Utama Shopping Mall. Best is to always ask the bus ticket counter about the price and also where the final stop is. There are a few bus services that operate from KLIA to KL Sentral which is Aerobus, Skybus, RedBus and Airport Coach that operate the buses both ways. Each of the bus companies have their bus ticket counters at the lower level arrival halls and you should buy your tickets directly from the ticket counter. Be careful of touts as they are known to be around. For bus connectivity to around Malaysia, you can refer to this article on Bus Terminals in Kuala Lumpur as they will connect the traveler to all cities and towns around Peninsular Malaysia. The article highlights the different bus terminals in KL and which one goes where.If you are planning to stay in KL city, you can also find out the best way to get around Kuala Lumpur by using a simple card system, which is accepted by most public transport systems. The city is well connected, especially the main tourist areas therefore it is much easier nowadays to move around. How long does it take to travel from KLIA to Kuala Lumpur?The KLIA Ekspress takes 28 minutes travel from the airport to KL City.A common question asked by most travelers, and the answer is one hour. This is also based on normal traffic conditions. During peak hours, it can take from 60-90 minutes. If there is a major traffic jam or accident on the main highway, you can expect the journey to be at least two hours, and in this case, many people miss flights or are simply frustrated getting caught in traffic, which is pretty common nowadays in Kuala Lumpur. I would recommend that you always plan to be at the airports three hours before your flight departs. Especially if you are flying international, the normal time states two hours, but better to be safe than sorry. Having said this, I strongly believing in taking the KLIA Express train as it takes only 28 minutes to both airports and not having to worry about traffic or anything else. So the next time you plan to travel from KLIA Airport to Kuala Lumpur, you have the options to choose and the fastest way is still by using the KLIA Express train which takes only 28 minutes. Any feedback or comments, please feel free to leave them below. 
    Tuesday 31st of January 2017 01:03:00 PM
  • SkyAvenue Genting
    The new SkyAvenue Genting and Sky Plaza Genting is taking shape and is planned for the full opening somewhere in 2017. This expansion and project is also part of the Genting Integrated Tourism Plan (GITP) where the Genting 20th Century Fox World Theme Park is also slated to open at the end of 2017 or early 2018.Genting SkyAvenue and Sky Plaza are also going to be the talk of the highlands when they fully open and it is also said that Genting has about 70,000 square feet (sq ft) of food and beverage (F&B) space which will compliment this project. Currently, Sky Avenue Shopping Mall is opened, but still a number of shops are planned to only open this year, plus there is still ongoing work. SkyAvenue GentingIn total, there will be five main floors at SkyAvenue Genting catering to high street, luxury fashion, food and beverages and the main cable car station which is Awana Skyway. Ground Floor - No information yetFirst Floor - Food and Beverage RestaurantsSecond Floor - No information yetThird Floor - Retail OutletsFourth Floor - Awana Skyway Cable Car StationMalaysian Food Street will be one of the tourism highlights where visitors can find most of Malaysia's famous hawker foods in one area. Also to open are internationally renown cafes and restaurants which will be located on the first level of SkyAvenue Genting. Some of them have already started business in January 2017. This brings the total of 32 cafes and restaurants on the first level. Restaurants to look out for include; Burger & Lobster - Halal London based famous restaurantMotorino - Famous Wood-Fire Pizza from BrooklynTampopo - Japanese ramen restaurantDazzling Cafe - Famous cafe in Taiwan serving honey toastCafés Richard - Classy Parisian-style cafeFor retail, there are currently 38 shops on the third floor, with brands like Thomas Sabo, Clarks, Kaufmann, Timberland, Skechers, Under Armour, Calvin Klein, Pandora, L'Occitane, Starbucks Reserve and many others. Various photos of SkyAvenue Genting taken in the last couple of monthsGenting Member Card BenefitsYou should also know that Genting Rewards Card members will receive discounts at restaurants and shops at Sky Avenue Genting. To see what you get, just check with the outlet if there are any special discounts before you buy anything or before you order any food.For more information, you can visit the SkyAvenue Website (http://www.rwgenting.com/skyavenue/)In general, the entire concept of this project is to make one lifestyle and entertainment product and the Genting Sky Avenue is beautifully designed shopping mall in the highlands, targeted towards locals and foreigners. For anyone visiting Resorts World Genting, this concept is created to give you an overall experience in terms of entertainment, leisure and shopping. Right now, everyone is asking when the Genting new theme park opening is going to take place. Since the slight delay in the last couple of years, the 20th Century Fox World Genting theme park is now scheduled to only open very late in 2017 or even in early 2018. Another interesting project to look out for is also the Genting Premium Outlets (GPO) which is scheduled to open somewhere in mid 2017, but nothing is confirmed to date and the last mentioned opening date was in May 2017. This will be the first factory outlet in the highlands of Malaysia and the GPO will be at Awana, which is connected to the Awana Skyway that goes all the way to SkyAvenue Genting. 
    Monday 30th of January 2017 04:53:00 AM
  • Hotels in Labuan Bajo, Flores
    Labuan Bajo is your main gateway to the Komodo Islands and this article on Hotels in Labuan Bajo, Flores highlights most of the hotels here. I visited Labuan Bajo twice in 2015 and 2016 with Tourism Indonesia and stayed at the La Prima Hotel, a 4-star property in Labuan Bajo and also at Le Pirate Bajo, a boutique hotel in town. During my stay here, I noticed that there are quite a number of hotels which range from budget, luxury to even live on board boats so you have a choice when staying here. Before you read the rest, you should also check out my article on How to get to Komodo Island as it gives you a general guide on getting to this amazing island. Note the best way is via flights from Denpasar in Bali as there are three flights a day into Labuan Bajo. You can also check Skyscanner for the cheapest and fastest ways to get here. Anyway, below is the list of Hotels in Labuan Bajo, Flores.Hotels in Labuan BajoLaprima Hotel in Labuan Bajo, one of the places I stayed at4 Star Hotels in Labuan Bajo, FloresBintang Flores Hotel JL. Pantai Pede, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 4 StarPrice from: USD 49.00Number of Rooms: 61WiFi/Internet: Free Wi-FiEmail    : info@bintangfloreshotel.comWebsite: www.bintangfloreshotel.comLaprima Hotel Jl. Pantai Pedeh No. 8, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoPrice from USD 43.00Number of Rooms : 88WiFi/Internet: Free Wi-Fi Public AreaSpaThe Jayakarta Suite Komodo Flores Jl. Pantai Pede Km.5, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 4 StarPrice from USD 54.00Number of Rooms : 71WiFi/Internet: Free Wi-Fi Public AreaSpaLuwansa Beach Resort Labuan Bajo - NTT, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 4-StarPrice from USD 33.00Number of Rooms : 35WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi Scuba DivingSeraya Hotel and Resort SERAYA Kecil, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 4-StarPrice from USD 295.00Number of Rooms : 24WiFi/Internet: Free WifiDivingPlantaran Komodo office in Labuan Bajo town areaPlataran Komodo Beach Resort Waecicu beach, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 4-StarPrice from USD 183.00Number of Rooms : 8WiFi/Internet: No WifiDivingKomodo ResortTanjung Pelinta, Sebayur Island, Komodo, Manggarai Barat, FloresPrice from USD 120.00 ? 230.00 per nightWebsite: www.komodoresort.comBlue Marlin Komodo, located on the main street of Labuan Bajo town3 Star Hotels in Labuan Bajo, FloresBlue Marlin Komodo Jalan Soekarno-Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 3-StarPrice from USD 57.00WiFi/Internet: Free WiFiDivingKomodo Resort & Diving Club Sebayur island komodo, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 3-StarPrice from USD 267.00Number of Rooms : 16WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi DivingSylvia Hotel and Resort in Labuan Bajo, located 10 minutes out of town area and peacefulSylvia Hotel and Resort Waicicu Beach Area, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 3-StarPrice from USD 28.00WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi Lobby AreaPuri Sari Beach Hotel Jl. Pantai Pede, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 3 StarPrice from USD 46.00Number of Rooms : 21WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi L Bajo Hotel Komodo Kasimo Street, no 99, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 3 starPrice from USD 22.00Number of Rooms : 55WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi Waecicu Beach Inn Waecicu Beach, Labuan Bajo, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 3 starPrice from USD 27.00Number of Rooms : 16Along the main road in town, you will see many local budget hotels in Labuan Bajo2 Star Hotels in Labuan Bajo, FloresSelini on the Hill Villas Gang Perikanan Lama No. 77, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 2 StarPrice from USD 42.00WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi Komodo Boutique Hotel Jln. Sernaru-Labuan-Bajo-Flores, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 2 StarPrice from USD 27.00Number of Rooms : 24WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi Hotel Komodo Indah in Labuan Bajo town area. There are a lot of local guest house and budget hotels hereBudget, Boutique Hotels in Labuan Bajo, FloresGolo Hilltop Hotel Jl. Binongko, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 1 StarPrice from USD 28.00Number of Rooms : 10WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi CF Komodo Hotel Jln Alo Tanis, Lamtoro, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoRating: 1 starPrice from USD 17.00Number of Rooms : 12WiFi/Internet: No WifiWaecicu Eden Beach Hotel Pantai Waecicu, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoPrice from USD 26.00Number of Rooms : 10WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi Green Hill Boutique Hotel Jl. Sukarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoPrice from USD 32.00Number of Rooms : 11WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi DivingExotic Komodo Hotel Jl. Yohanes Sehadun, Depan Bandara Komodo, Labuan BajoPrice from USD 30.00Number of Rooms : 11WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi Green Prundi Hotel Jalan Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoPrice from USD 22.00Number of Rooms : 14WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi Hotel Pagi Jl. Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoPrice from USD 21.00Number of Rooms : 19WiFi/Internet: Free WiFi Bajo Komodo Eco Lodge 3 Gorontalo Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoPrice from USD 41.00Number of Rooms : 10WiFi/Internet: UnknownLe Pirate BajoJalan Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Komodo, Labuan Bajo,Price from USD 30.00Number of Rooms: 14Rooftop Sky Bar, Live MusicWebsite: https://lepirate.com/labuan-bajo/Le Pirate Bajo, one of the active and happening hotels in the town of Labuan BajoLive on Board Boat Hotels in KomodoPlataran Phinisi Jl. Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Labuan BajoPrice from USD 1,405.001 Cabin - 6 AdultsDivingLaba Laba Boat Pelabuhan Pelni, Jalan Soekarno Hatta, Manggarai Barat, Labuan BajoPrice from USD 310.002 cabins - 5 AdultsFishingIsland ToursPerjuangan Boat Jalan Soekarno Hatta, Manggarai Barat, Labuan BajoPrice from USD 1,501.003 Bedroom Cabin - 6 AdultsFishing Diving*All the prices above are estimates only, they may be higher or lower, depending on the season and also the availability. You should double check with the website or hotel booking sites for the current price.Cool Corner Backpackers Hostel, located smack center in Labuan Bajo town areaThe above are probably not complete as there are some other new hotels which have recently opened. As I write this, there are probably more hotels being opened too. All of this is due to the extra publicity that has been promoting Komodo Island in the last two years. More people are heading here as this is one of the new destinations in Indonesia to explore. And if you are wondering what else can be done here, I did an article on things to do in Labuan Bajo as well.For divers, Komodo has always been one of the must-dive places in the world and I had the opportunity to experience this in September 2016. Read my article on diving at Komodo Island as I wrote about my dive adventure here and I have to say, this was probably one of my best diving experiences to date.The breath taking view from the main lobby of Sylvia Resort in Labuan BajoFlores is not only popular for Komodo Island and the scuba diving, but also for trekking up Mount Kelimutu, one of the volcanic mountains that has three colored lakes at the top. This is something highly recommended to visit, especially if you are planning to visit Flores, you might as well explore the many other places. One of the growing trends is also the Bird Watching in Flores as there are quite a number of birds to spot here. For more information, I wrote another article titled things to do in Flores which could narrow down what you want to do here.Overall, you can research the hotels and resorts in Labuan Bajo, but let me remind you that not everything TripAdvisor says is gold. I would recommend you do proper research on the type of place you want to stay at. Some are located out of the town area, and some are smack center in town. Hope you have a great time here and this list of hotels in Labuan Bajo, Flores, came in handy for your planning. 
    Sunday 29th of January 2017 08:50:00 AM
  • Nasi Tumpang, a Unique Malaysian Dish
    What is Nasi Tumpang? This popular dish in Kelantan is probably one of the best looking rice dishes found in Malaysia. For any serious foodie traveler out there who wants to explore the Malaysian Food Scene, this is something to try. The word Tumpang translates as hitching a ride, or overlapping and from the style and shape of the rice, you can see multiple layers of dishes compacted with rice and wrapped in a cone shape with banana leaf. This is not your ordinary rice dish as you can find it only in selected coffee shops for breakfast or tea around Kota Bharu.In Kelantan, the locals call this dish in their local dialect which is Nasi Tupe. The origins of this dish goes back to the days where fishermen or farmers wife's would pack the Nasi Tumpang for their husbands to bring it along for their work. The main layered dishes are packed from leftovers of the previous day dinner. During rest time or long working hours, they would open up the cone shaped banana leaf rice and eat as a meal. It is very practical and cutlery is not required, making the Nasi Tumpang easy to consume. I fist encountered eating Nasi Tumpang back in the early 90's when I traveled to Kelantan and some locals introduced this strange cone dish to me. It was also at The White House in Kota Bharu where I was fascinated by the taste and quirkiness of this dish. The locals said that this was a popular breakfast or tea dish and would sellout really fast. Over the years, whenever I visited Kelantan, I would make it a point to explore other places selling Nasi Tumpang. A city style Nasi Tumpang. Photo by Hizwan Hamid c/o www.timeout.com.myOrigins of Nasi TumpangThe main word Tumpang actually comes from the Malay word 'Menumpang' which mean occupying the space together with rice. If you dig deeper into the origins of of this unique and strange dish, it is also shared with Indonesia as they too have a similar dish called Nasi Tumpeng. Just a difference in spelling, but the Indonesia one looks very intriguing as the way it is prepared and served. In Malaysia, the state of Kelantan is home to Nasi Tumpang where recipes have been handed down from generation to generation.In the olden days, Nasi Tumpang was sold in markets and nowadays, it is not easy to find as the process of making it is time consuming and tiresome. How far back this dish goes, no one knows for sure. But it is said that this dish is over a century old. I recently read a thesis paper on this, it was said that due to the painstaking effort to produce Nasi Tumpang, many have left this trade to pursue other easier foods. This is now becoming a loss to the Kelantanese people as it is claimed to be one of the original Kelantanese dishes. In terms of cultures, Nasi Tumpang in Kelantan is served mainly for breakfast and Nasi Tumpeng in Indonesia is served only during important events like wedding anniversary or other important events due to the grandeur of the accompanying dishes. Kelantanese Nasi Tumpang is made from plain white rice while Indonesian Nasi Tumpeng is made from rice with turmeric, which gives it a yellow color.  Indonesian Nasu Tumpeng or Nasi Tompang. Notice the style and color of the rice. (Photo: Unknown Source)Indonesian Nasi Tumpeng or Nasi TompangThe Indonesian Nasi Tumpeng has an interesting history that dates back to ancient traditions of revered mountains as the abode of ancestors and gods. The dish is also served as a form of thanksgiving for the abundance of harvest. During this ceremony, the top portion of the Nasi Tumpeng is cut and given to the most important person. at the ceremony. The word 'Tompang' also translates as making a fist and punching the ingredients into the banana leaf cone. Malaysian Nasi Tumpang preparation method. Image from http://fardiyah.blogspot.my/What is Inside Nasi TumpangMost would be curious to know, buy rice would be the main dish complimented with a variety of chicken or meat dishes. It also depends on the cook what he or she wants to include inside. Most common Nasi Tumpang in Kelantan would be simple rice, serunding (shredded beef, chicken or fish floss), chicken curry, eggs, cucumbers and the unique Gulai Ikan or Fish Curry. ( However, in today's lifestyle world, many restaurants and cafes have come up with their own versions of Nasi Tumpang with prawns, eggs, beef, squid and so on. But at the end of the day, each Nasi Tumpang is unique to the maker as he or she will have their own favourite ingredients in the cone packet rice. How to Eat Nasi Tumpang?While you will be fascinated with the overall look and feel, the big question is how do you eat this? Well, there are two main ways to do this, one where you open up the banana leaf and sample the different layers, accompanied with rice on each layer to fully sample the unique taste. The other is where you open it all up and give it a good old mix up. Where to Find Nasi Tumpang in KelantanA number of places around Kelantan sells Nasi Tumpang, and one of the famous restaurants in Kota Bharu is the White House Cafe, located in town center. Ask any Kelantanese and they would know of this popular breakfast, lunch and tea cafe. Where to Find Nasi Tumpang in Kuala LumpurWhile it is not easy to find Nasi Tumpang around Malaysia, there are some cafes or restaurants that actually make this dish, mostly if they are of Kelantanese origins. One cafe in Kuala Lumpur called 'Nasi Kukus Sentral' at Plaza Sentral in KL, makes this dish. So if you are in Kuala Lumpur and want to try this, head on over there. Each cone is priced around RM7.00 to RM10.00 due to the multiple choices of fillings stuffed inside. Another place to find Nasi Tumpang in KL is at 'The Warung' in Mid Valley Megamall. Here, they have created a masterpiece by making the Nasi Tumpang with 11 layers. Being in a shopping mall and in a proper restaurant, you can taste or experience what eating Nasi Tumpang is like. The Warung is also located on the 1st floor of Mid Valley Megamall and open daily from 8.00 AM to 10.00 PM. We recommend going before lunch to try this. If you know of other recommended places that sell Nasi Tumpang in the Klang Valley, do let me know. If you are planning on visiting Kota Bharu in Kelantan, north east of Malaysia, make sure you ask the locals about Nasi Tumpang and where you can find it in Kota Bharu. This will most definitely be something out of this world and will be a great conversation piece and even a great social media photo. Overall, this is undoubtedly a true Malaysian food dish to try.  
    Wednesday 25th of January 2017 07:35:00 AM
  • AirAsia X Restarts London Flights this Summer
    More good news for travelers as AirAsia X restarts its London flights this Summer after suspending the flights in March 2012. Originally, the long haul budget airline launched the direct Kuala Lumpur to London flight in March 2009 and was doing really well with full load passengers both ways. The main reason for AirAsia X to suspend the London flights were the high operating cost, possibly due to the high fuel prices back then, but after axing the route, there was much talk of the long haul budget airline getting back the route. Many speculated that it was a temporary halt, and expected the airline to resume the London route in a couple of years. That did not happen and speculations were high. During the last four years, AirAsia X has launched a series of new destinations, but in return, also suspending other routes which were shared by the Malaysian national carrier. AirAsia X discontinued their Christchurch route in May 2012 after successfully operating that route for a year. But in January 2016, they connected New Zealand with new flights to Auckland via The Gold Coast, Australia. The airline also launched their AirAsia X flights to Mauritius in May, 2016 and a series of other interesting destinations.AirAsia X London FlightsReturning to London on the summer of 2017 with direct flights out of KLIA2, this is great news for both, Asians and Europeans. The news was also announced by CEO Tony Fernandes in Switzerland in mid January 2017. Tony had also mentioned that Frankfurt was one of the new AirAsia X destinations which would operate direct from Bangkok. The CEO also mentioned that he would hope to have the flight tickets as low as Euro 150 (RM 715.00) to attract Europeans heading to Southeast Asia and vice versa. This is also great news for budget travelers as flight ticket prices are really competitive nowadays. The AirAsia X KL-London flights have yet to be confirmed by the airline, but speculations during the summer period would estimate it to be around June or July in 2017. How many flights a week or what aircraft they are using, is also awaiting the official news from AirAsia. In recent developing news, the long haul budget airline has also announced that the will soon be AirAsia X flights to the US. The airline received their approval from the FAA in early January which makes AirAsia the first Asian budget airline to fly and land in the US. This route, which has not been officially announced, will see Hawaii as the first destination that AirAsia X will fly to. This is purely due to the connectivity from Haneda Airport in Japan, which the airline flies too. As for AirAsia X restarting their London flights this summer, many are pleased with the news, especially for Asians who have their children studying in the UK. This would be a cheaper alternative for them to visit their kids there. And for the Europeans travelling to Southeast Asia or even Oceanic, this flight will make their connectivity easier by landing in Kuala Lumpur and connecting to the next destination. 
    Tuesday 24th of January 2017 12:09:00 PM
  • Tourism Malaysia Closes Offices Nationwide
    Tourism Malaysia closes its offices throughout Malaysia with immediate effect, and this comes as a shock for many people. The main reason behind this move by Tourism Minister Datuk Nazri, is to avoid job duplication with state agencies in promoting tourist attractions within Malaysia.  The closing of the 14 Tourism Malaysia offices around Malaysia will also not involve the termination of services of the staff, but they would be absorbed into the ministry's headquarters and other departments. This bold move is also expected to save about RM6 million in cost annually. The money could be utilized for other expenses and promotions, said the minister. The tourism minister also quoted that every state has its own Executive Councillor for Tourism and the State Economic Unit (UPEN), therefore they do not want a duplication of the tasks between the agencies and the tourism authorities in every state. Tourism Malaysia Closes Offices NationwideWith the closure of the Tourism Malaysia offices around Malaysia, the ministry also plans to create five information offices based on regions. The main headquarters will still be the central region which is the Tourism Malaysia Putrajaya Office. The other new regions are;Northern Region: Tourism Malaysia Penang OfficeEastern Region: Tourism Malaysia Terengganu OfficeSouthern Region: Tourism Malaysia Johor OfficeSabah Region: Tourism Malaysia Kota Kinabalu International Airport OfficeSarawak Region: Tourism Malaysia Kuching International Airport OfficeThis also follows the shocking news on Jan 14, 2017 where the ministry announced that four Tourism Malaysia offices abroad, New York, Perth, Johannesburg and Perth, would be closed with immediate effect following the termination of Malaysia Airlines Bhd services there. This was also huge news in the tourism industry when it was announced just a week before the new news of Tourism Malaysia closing all its offices in Malaysia. The closure of the Tourism Malaysia offices has come as a shock to many people, especially those in the tourism related field and industry. With this new move, it is to show that Malaysia is undergoing a serious tourism restructuring under the leadership of the minister, Datuk Nazri in order to achieve the goal of targeting 30.5 million visitors to Malaysia for 2017. 
    Tuesday 24th of January 2017 08:16:00 AM
  • AirAsia X Flights to the US
    In the latest Malaysian aviation news, AirAsia X flights to the US has been cleared by the FAA on the 24th January 2017. When the long haul budget airline will start flying, it has not been officially announced. However, related media reports had indicated that AirAsia X flights to the UK and Frankfurt will commence in the summer of 2017. AirAsia X is also the first Asian low cost carrier to operate flights to the USA and the the approval from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) allows the airline to fly to any destination in the US. Destinations include Hawaii is one of them and it could be a connecting flight via Japan. This is also huge news for the aviation industry in Asia as it is now getting very competitive in terms of destinations. AirAsia X, Malaysia's leading long-haul budget carrierIn May 2016, we had announced on Malaysia Asia about AirAsia X Flights to Hawaii, where it would connect via Japan. The news did not indicate exactly when, but the AirAsia X flights to US should most likely start in mid to end of 2017. The best is to subscribe to the airlines newsletter to get the latest information on their new destinations and promotions. AirAsia X has been aggressively promoting many new flight destinations in the last couple of years where one of the much talked about new routes was the AirAsia X flights to Mauritius, creating a budget gateway to the paradise islands in the Indian Ocean. There have been many other new destinations for the Malaysian long-haul budget carrier and dreams of visiting far away places are now becoming a reality. Especially for budget travelers, now you can start making plans to visit America as when the AirAsia X flights to the US is launched, there will surely be some promotions tickets. 
    Tuesday 24th of January 2017 06:40:00 AM
  • Himalaya Airlines Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur Flights
    Come February 10, 2017, Himalaya Airlines Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur flights will be launched and the airline will fly five weekly flights. This now makes the number of airlines plying this route to six, including Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia X, Malindo Air and Nepal Airlines who currently fly direct between Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur.  According to Himalaya Airlines, a round-trip ticket on the flight from Kathmandu (Flight H9 890) starts at Rs 25,375 (RM 1656.00), while the  Kuala Lumpur to Kathmandu (Flight H9 891) round trip, flight ticket prices will start at RM 928.00 and an early morning flight where passengers will arrive Kathmandu at about 9.40 AM. The airline has also appointed Carnival Travel and My Golden Lion Aviation as its General Sales Agents (GSA) for Malaysia and Myanmar respectively.Himalaya Airlines Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur Flight TimingsFlight No.RoutingDepartureArrivalDay of the weekH9 890KTM-KUL11:00 PM06:05 AMMon, Wed, Thu, Fri, SunH9 891KUL-KTM07:05 AM09: 40 AMMon, Tue, Thu, Fri, SatVice President for Administration Vijay Shrestha also quoted that the launch of new destinations is part of Himalaya?s commitment to connect Nepal directly with Asia Pacific countries and boost tourism as well as trade opportunities. The airline received its first Airbus A320-214 aircraft in March of 2016 and at the end of January 2017, they will be receiving another similar aircraft which will be fitted with 150 economy seats and eight business class seats. An additional two similar aircraft are also being added at the end of 2017. For more information, visit the official Himalaya Airlines Website. Himalaya Airlines new Airbus A320-214. Photo from www.nepalmountainnews.com. Himalaya Airlines, is a Nepal-China joint venture, established in August 2014. Himalaya Airlines, a full service carrier, started its scheduled flights operations from May 31, 2016 flying directly to Doha, Qatar and to Colombo, Sri Lanka on October 1, 2016.Himalaya Airlines also plans to link various Asian and Middle Eastern cities initially and also to acquire 15 Airbus aircraft, including long-haul A330 wide body jets. The company plans to expand operations to Japan, Korea, Australia, America and Europe by 2022. For now, the new launch of the Himalaya Airlines Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur flights will be something that many local and international travelers will look forward too, especially with the promotion prices offered. 
    Saturday 21st of January 2017 03:33:00 PM
  • Malindo Air KK to Japan Flights
    Good news for Sabahans as hopefully by mid year, there will be Malindo Air KK to Japan flights. This plan to have the direct flights to Japan will benefit both countries as Kota Kinabalu is also one of the top destinations in Malaysia that Japanese prefer to visit. This news was also announced officially by the Sabah State Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming at the Japan Week in Kota Kinabalu. Prior to this, Malindo Air has already been doing charter flights from Tokyo to Kota Kinabalu and the response has been quite good. One of the main reasons for the Sabah charter flights is that Japanese tourist prefer not to transit and fly directly. Sabah has also seen a total of almost 23,000 Japanese visitors to the state in 2016. Apart from the mainstream news of having Malindo Air KK to Japan flights, the airline has not confirmed anything to date. Recently on the 17th of January, Malindo Air launched their KL Sentral Check In Counter and also the Malindo Air Ticketing Office at KL Sentral. During the launching, the CEO Mr. Chandran Rama Muthy announced that Malindo Air has been operating on its fourth year now and has expanded to 41 cities all over Asia and flew over 12 million passengers to date. They currently operate 42 aircraft, 16 ATR72-600 and 26 Boeing 737NG planes. As for the Malindo Air KK to Japan flights, there is no news on what type of aircraft they will be using but rest assured, once the news is out, we will surely share it here. Any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comment form below. 
    Thursday 19th of January 2017 11:25:00 AM
  • Padar Island Video
    This Padar Island Video was created for anyone who is planning to visit this beautiful place located in the Komodo Island National Park in Indonesia. The video shows visitors trekking up the hill and an overall view from the top of the hill. You can see the entire island plus Komodo Island is the far distance. Below is the Padar Island video which was shot and edited by me. Padar Island Video From the peak of Padar Island, you see two bays on each side where the beaches offer different sand textures. In total, there are three types of beaches found on Padar Island, a normal white sand beach, black sand beach and a pink sand beach. However, the journey here only allows you to trek up the hill for the majestic view and not to explore the entire island. It is said that Padar Island is one of the islands that you may find Komodo Dragons, but on my two trips here, I never did see any. To get here, most tours to Komodo Island will make a stop here for about an hour or two. This is usually after you have gone to Rinca Island or Komodo Island to see the Komodo Dragons. But when you reach here, be prepared for a good work out up hill.Trekking up Padar IslandI will be honest and say that it was not as easy as I thought it would be. The first time when I came here in 2015, I only made it up half way, and turned back down. This was simply because of the time limit we had plus my hiking stamina was not there. So, the second time I visited Padar Island in 2016, I was well prepared, physically and mentally.If your health is not that good or have weak knees, I would strongly recommend you do not attempt hiking up Padar Island. However, if you are determined to do so, you can. Just keep in mind that you need to take a very slow trek up.Panoramic photo of Padar Island. Click to see full image. Photo taken with Oppo F1S.How Long Does It Take To Trek Up Padar IslandIn general, it takes about 30 minutes to trek up to the top of the hill. For those not in good shape, be prepared to spend at least 45 minutes to trek. When you reach the peak of Padar Island, you will be rewarded with the best view of the entire island. The first part is a basic trek and caution needs to be observed. Once you reach the halfway point, the trek becomes a little harder and here, you should be cautious as the path has a lot of gravel. I recommend using proper trekking shoes though I see many people using flip flops.Along the trek, there will be areas where many people make a rest stop and also to see the view. The final stretch up will lead you through rock walks and more gravel. The trick is to take your time and be careful. Once you reach the peak, you will be rewarded with a magnificent overall view.The story behind this place is that a few years ago, some people went up and took selfies and also stunning landscape photographs. They then posted it on social media where it became viral and eventually Indonesians wanted to also get this epic selfie photograph on Padar Island.Another selfie trend is that many people brought scarves or flags to hold it up there and have the photo taken. On my last trip up in September 2016, I noticed middle aged locals struggling to make their way up. The best part - they were dressed as if they were going to an event. Basically, they dressed up to get that epic selfie shot once they reached the peak.View from the first hill of Padar Island, this is where the boats stopBest Time To Visit Padar IslandI would suggest going first thing in the morning, before the general tourist start coming up. Plus the sky would be beautifully blue and overall clear. This is where you will get the best photographs and selfie photos. If you come during or after lunch, the sun would be blistering hot and there would be a lot of people. Plus you would have to wait your turn to take that epic shot and there would be tons of people all over your photo. So, fist thing in the morning, head up here, get your photo and then visit Rinca, Komodo Island and Pink Beach.If you are planning to visit this place, do read about how to get to Komodo Island which I wrote about and also this article on what to do in Labuan Bajo if you are staying there. Also, the best way to get here is by taking a flight into Labuan Bajo, Flores. Note that you may require a minimum of three to four days here but I honestly recommend spending at least four to five days in Labuan Bajo to fully experience this place.This trip was an initiative by Skyscanner Indonesia to promote some of the beautiful places around Indonesia. This is a personal travel blog site. The opinions and comments expressed here are purely my own. If you have any comments on my Padar Island Video, I would love to hear them and if you have any questions, please do ask in the comment form.
    Wednesday 18th of January 2017 06:20:00 AM
  • Things to do in Banyuwangi
    This article on things to do in Banyuwangi is written purely for those heading to the east most part of Jawa island and also those going to Mount Ijen. Banyuwangi is a small town on the coast of east Java where from the beach, you can see the island of Bali. Kawah Ijen or Mount Ijen is one of the most popular places here as many come here to trek up this beautiful mountain to see the world famous blue flame. Banyuwangi would be your closest city to the mountain and you would also be staying here at one of the resorts or hotels. For those staying here, I have create a list of things to do in Banyuwangi, especially if you have an extra day or two here. Things to do in Banyuwangi1. Trek up Mount Ijen (Kawah Ijen)At the top of Mount Ijen in BanyuwangiHands down, this is the number one things to do in Banyuwangi as the magnificent blue flame is one of two in the world where you can see it. The trek is a tiring one where you need to depart at midnight to reach the foot of the mountain by 2.30am and then trek up about an hour or so to catch the elusive blue flame just before sunrise. Don't let the word trek fool you as it is not an easy trek by the way. Well, if you are a regular trekker or hiker, this would be easy for you, and if you are like me, not 100% fit, it would be a tough trek up. The park guides will tell you that it is easy, one hour flat ground, one hour uphill. I thought it was that easy, but it was actually one hour uphill and one more hour of 45 degrees hill. So, one needs to be prepared for this trek up to Mount Ijen. There are many tour companies offering the full Mount Ijen Trekking Package, so you simply need to book your tour and make the arrangements with your guide. The 4x4 vehicles will pick you from the hotel and you will travel overland for about one hour to the foot of Mount Ijen, before your briefing and trek up. You can also read my other article on how to go to Mount Ijen. 2. Visit the Baluran National Park Animals seen at the Baluran National Park Savannah in BanyuwangiThough this place is not well known to the western world, the Baluran National Park is actually quite a fascinating place. Why? Because they have a Savannah! Just like those in Africa, after about 30 minutes of driving deep into the national park, you will come across huge plains. The only thing missing are the lions, giraffes and elephants. However, at the Baluran Savannah, you will see the local sambar deer, buffaloes and macaques. This place is a must visit for anyone who loves national parks, outdoors and nature. To get here, you need to engage a tour company that will drive you there, explore the national park and then drive you back. In total, you can spend an average of 2-4 hours or even more here. Imagine, visiting a Savannah, but not in Africa, and in Indonesia.3. Eat at Ikan Bakar Pesona, BanyuwangiThe famous Ikan Bakar Pesona Restaurant in BanyuwangiThere is no doubt that good food is hard to find in Banyuwangi, and for visitors, the Ikan Bakar Pesona is one of the recommended places to experience local East Javanese food. Here, the restaurant caters to tourist and even large groups. A localised menu serving some amazing grilled fish complimented with an assortment of chicken, clams, vegetables and local appetisers. Most of the food is spicy therefore if you cannot take spicy, just let them know.Ikan Bakar Pesona BanyuwangiAddress: Jl.Yos Sudarso No. 46, Klatak, Banyuwangi.Tel: +62 852 5911 63994. Attend the Banyuwangi Jazz Festival 2017The scene at the Ijen Summer Jazz Festival (Image from www.kompasonline.com)There are two jazz festivals that take place in Banyuwangi, the Ijen Summer Jazz Festival and also the Banyuwangi Beach Jazz Festival. However, the Ijen Jazz Festival happens three times during the summer period in the months of July, August and September and you should check the dates out from the official Ijen Summer Jazz Website.5. Kite and Wind Surfing Festival in BanyuwangiFor the adventure and extreme sports lovers, there is a lot of coastline along Banyuwangi and one one of the most popular places for this is at Tabuhan Island. It is here where you can experience Kiteboarding. The island is a flat water paradise that comes with beautiful white beaches and turquoise waters. For wind, the place offers steady winds of 20+ knots from May until the end of October. There are no resorts on the island as they are all located on the mainland along the coast.6. Banyuwangi Batik Festival 2017A model in Batik at the Banyuwangi Batik Festival (Image from www.banyuwangibagus.com)If you are into traditional Indonesian fabrics, the Banyuwangi Batik Festival 2017 should be one of the interesting events to attend. The main highlight is a spectacular fashion show with the latest creations from designers all over Indonesia. However, the batik design from Banyuwangi is very unique with leafy designs. However, the trade mark pattern is called the Gajah Oling and in total, there are over 20 patterns to the Banyuwangi Batik.Note that each district around Indonesia has their own batik designs and the Banyuwangi Batik is one of the special ones. If you miss the batik festival here, you can also find them at some local batik boutiques around Banyuwangi city.7. Surfing at Pulau Merah BeachSome of the massive waves at Pulau Merah in Banyuwangi (Image from www.planetsurfonline.com)Among some of the popular surfing spots in Banyuwangi, Pulau Merah Beach or Red Island Beach which is around 67 kilometers  or three hours away from the city. Here, waves up to three or four meters are common and beautiful barrels the length of 300-400 meters long. This attracts local and international surfers during the surf season and the beach is suitable for beginner surfers as well. If you are a surf traveler, this is one of the places to check out in Banyuwangi and is also close to Bali.Best time to visit Pulau Merah Beach is from April to September and the comparison with Bali is that surfing at Pulau Merah Beach is much more peaceful and the waves are bigger. It is also recommended to rent a car or bike and find your way here. Professional surfers should check out Plengkung Beach and G-Land as these two places are well known too. There are basic hotels, restaurants and a surf school here.8. Stay at the Ketapang Indah Hotel in BanyuwangiThe landscape of the Ketapang Indah Hotel in BanyuwangiOne of the nicer places to stay is at the Ketapang Indah Hotel, which is actually a seaside resort with a beautiful view of Bali Island across the Bali Straits. This hotel offers chalet units in a beautifully landscaped garden atmosphere. Many stay here as this is one of the better accommodations before heading up to Mount Ijen. The Ketapang Indah Hotel also offers a spa and swimming pool and is away from the main city area. In the evenings, just take a short walk to the beach and catch the beautiful sunset behind Bali or you can simply wander around the lush manicured gardens.How To Go To BanyuwangiThe famous Ikan Bakar from BanyuwangiTo get to Banyuwangi, you need to fly to the Belimbingsari Airport or Banyuwangi Airport where local airlines fly here from larger cities around Indonesia. You can also get here from Bali by taking the ferry from Gilimanuk in the west coast of Bali Island to Banyuwangi.The above list is create by me and is part of the Wonderful Indonesia tourism campaign for Indonesia Tourism, where Banyuwangi was one of the beautiful destinations that I visited in Indonesia.The opinions are purely of my own and not of any tourism board. For more detailed information on the Banyuwangi Festival 2017 and the many events that are taking place around here, you should visit the official Banyuwangi Tourism Website. If you have any questions about the things to do in Banyuwangi, do leave them below in the comment form and I will get back to you.
    Saturday 14th of January 2017 06:28:00 AM
  • Samalona Island
    One of the beautiful islands off Makassar is Samalona Island, which is only 30 minutes from the main city harbour and is literally covered in beautiful sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Who would know that a short boat trip out of Makassar lies a couple of beautiful islands including Samalona Island and Kodengareng Keke Island. Pulau Samalona as it is locally called, attracts hundreds of local visitors on a daily basis, and even more during the holidays. But for the international traveller, Samalona Island isn't even heard of, unless you have been asking around, but lately, more foreign visitors have been coming here. The beauty about this island is that it houses a lighthouse, some very basic chalets and a couple of very local restaurants for the tourist. So, what is there to do at Samalona Island? Read below. One of the welcome signs at Samalona IslandSunbathing at Samalona IslandMost island tours in Makassar will bring you to both Samalona and Kodengareng Keke Island which is just another 15 minutes away. Or you can just opt for one of the islands. A majority of visitors prefer to just come here for a beach holiday to suntan, snorkel, picnic or just have a relaxed time. The facilities are basic, toilets, food and drinks but tour operators will bring the required equipment for the guests. Book your tours from Makassar City. Diving at Samalona IslandThe island is actually formed from a cluster of circular coral island with an overall area of 2.34 hectares. The coral reefs of Samalona Island is inhabited by diverse marine tropical fish, large and small while the coral landscape is beautiful and suitable for beginners. For advance divers, there are eight wreck dive sites all over the islands here. However, you should engage a proper dive operator to do diving at Samalona Island. Samalona Island offers water sports like jet ski and flyboardingWater Sports at Samalona IslandFor those into water sports, there are companies that offer jet skiing, flyboarding and even the banana boat on Samalona Island. When I arrived here, I saw someone trying out the flyboard just out of the island and there were a couple of jet skis moving about in a safe area of the island. For those interested in this, yo need to arrange this with your tour operator before coming to the island. A photo of Samalona Island taken from the boatPhotography at Samalona IslandWell, as today's generation is very active on social media, many beginners or even professionals come here to do island photography. Most of the photographers or videographers will bring their drones to do an areal video of Samalona Island as the island is really small. Apart from that, wedding photography and even portrait photography is becoming popular here. Just like the main photo in this article, I took it from the boat before reaching the island. Visitors entering Samalona IslandLocal homestays at Samalona IslandHow To Go To Samalona IslandSamalona Island is about 6 kilometers from Makassar City and it takes about 20-30 minutes to get here. The main departure would be from the Makassar Jetty Terminal in the town area. Chartered boats range from speed boats to larger fishing boats which can seat from 12 to 20 people. The best time to tour the island Samalona is from April to November.The above are just some of the things to do at Samalona Island and on my trip here in September 2016 under Indonesia Tourism for the Wonderful Indonesia campaign, we visited Samalona Island, Kodengareng Keke Island and a few places around Makassar before heading to other beautiful parts of Indonesia. Follow my Malaysia Asia Instagram to see more photos of Indonesia.Read this article about Makassar - Indonesia's Undiscovered Gem which was written by me in 2016. For anyone visiting Makassar, don't forget to visit Samalona Island as you can do it in a day trip, or even visit both islands in one trip. All you need to do is get it arranged by a local tour company in Makassar. 
    Friday 13th of January 2017 09:25:00 AM
  • How to go to Mount Ijen, Banyuwangi
    Those wanting to know how to go to Mount Ijen, Banyuwangi, this article will provide you with some information on one of the most popular mountains to trek in Indonesia. Mount Ijen or Kawah Ijen as it is locally called, is located in the Banyuwangi Regency which is the east most part of Java Island and neighbouring the island of Bali across the Bali Straits. Flying to BanyuwangiThere are a few ways to go to Banyuwangi and the fastest and easiest way is to fly into the Banyuwangi Airport (BWW) using the local Indonesian airlines. Most travelers wanting to hike up Mount Ijen would do this to save time.However, if you are a backpacker or budget traveler, you may travel overland from Surabaya which will take you a cool 10-12 hours via bus. If you are taking an international airline, you can land at Surabaya Airport and connect to Banyuwangi using Lion Air, Wings Air or Garuda Indonesia. From Jakarta, you need to transit at Surabaya before connecting to Banyuwangi. Note the flight timings are not as regular as other popular cities. From Bali to BanyuwangiAnother option is to travel from Bali to Banyuwangi, and this requires overland and a ferry trip which will take you no more than four to five hours. From Denpasar or Kuta, you need to travel to Gilimanuk Ferry Terminal in the west coast of Bali Island, take the ferry service across to the Ketapang Ferry Terminal and you are in Banyuwangi.Gilimanuk-Banyuwangi Ferry Service. (Photo credit www.visitijen.com)Trek up Mount Ijen (Kawah Ijen)The star tourist attraction of Banyuwangi is no other than Mount Ijen and the trek is a tiring one where you need to depart at midnight to reach the foot of the mountain by 1.30am and then trek up about two to three hours or so to catch the elusive blue flame just before sunrise. Most visitors who want to see this blue flame would start as early as 11pm. There are many tour companies offering the full Mount Ijen Trekking Package, so you simply need to book your tour and make the arrangements with your guide in Banyuwangi. You can ask your guesthouse or hotel for this. The 4x4 vehicles and guide will pick you from the hotel and you will travel overland for about one hour to the foot of Mount Ijen, before your briefing and trek up. In total, you will spend about six hours and will be back by breakfast.The scene at Mount Ijen taken at 5.00amThe trick for trekking up Mount Ijen is to sleep early the night before as you need your rest for the trek up. This means, forgoing your dinner and hitting the sack by about 4.00pm and to wake up at 11.00pm. Also, it is best to book a tour from a local tour company as it will be hassle free. Note the Kawah Ijen park entrance is around IDR100,000 weekdays, IDR150,000 weekends. A full tour package per person including the park entrance fees, 4x4 vehicle, guide, torch and mask would cost around IDR600,000 to IDR700,000. Recommended to shop around for the best price in Banyuwangi, and make sure you ask what is included in the price package. For more information, you can also visit the Indonesia Tourism website. The above are the best ways on how to go to Mount Ijen in Banyuwangi and if you have any comments or questions, please do ask them in the comment form below. Have a great trek and happy travelling. 
    Wednesday 11th of January 2017 09:03:00 AM
  • Things to do in Tawau
    What are the things to do in Tawau, Sabah? Many travelers may be asking this common question due to not much publicity on this coastal city on the East Coast of Sabah, Borneo. Tawau (??), the third largest town of Sabah was originally one of the earliest ports of east Sabah being active since the late 1890's. The British had a strong influence with the British North Borneo Chartered Company (BNBC) where trading was one of the main industries here. Tawau is also connected via roads from most cities around Sabah, and the Tawau Airport with direct flights here form Kuala Lumpur and other major cities of Malaysia. While most people would transit in Tawau as the main gateway to Sipadan and Mabul Islands, the airport sits in between Semporna and Tawau, therefore this list of things to do in Tawau was created for general interest, especially for travelers wanting to explore further into one of Sabah's old cities. Things to do in TawauTeck Guan Cocoa Museum in Tawau1. Teck Guan Cocoa MuseumProbably the only cocoa museum in the entire Malaysia which has a complete history on this unique plant and seed that is exported all over the world. The Teck Guan Cocoa Museum which opened in 2004, is about 20-30 minutes drive from Tawau city and is best visited in the mornings. Here, you will be introduced to the world of Cocoa, its origins, processes and what it can be made into. A guided tour by the museum staff will take you to a audio visual room to watch a short video and then one level up to see the original cocoa producing machinery. After that, you will be brought to the cocoa sampling kitchen before finishing your tour at the cocoa products room. For knowledge sake, did you know that Teck Guan Cocoa is exported to the makers of Godiva chocolates? That shows the quality of the local cocoa from Sabah. The Teck Guan Cocoa Museum also provides a special Cocoa Village Stay experience where you can spend a night or two and experience seeing the cocoa plants in their natural habitat while enjoying a special cocoa lunch and a famous Tawau seafood dinner. You need to contact Teck Guan Cocoa Village for this experience. Teck Guan Cocoa Village StayEmail: emas@teckguan.com Ms. Ivy Yap +6 019 883 0173 Ms. Selena Khoo +6 012 801 0228Teck Guan Cocoa Museum Opening Hours:Monday -  Saturday: 9:00am - 4:00pmClosed on SundaysPasar Tanjung Tawau, the largest indoor market in Malaysia2. Tawau Market (Tawau Tanjung Market)Known as Malaysia's largest indoor market with over 6000 stalls, this is one really huge market that sells dry produce and the famous Tawau dried seafood. The Tawau Tanjung Market sits in the main part of the city area and building is so huge, you will not miss it. It is also currently the Tawau UTC Centre which shares the market area. Most Malaysians that visit Tawau will definitely make a stop here to buy the famous dried seafood which is touted to be the cheapest in Malaysia. The ground floor of the market is where you will find the dry produce and vegetable sellers while in the front of the market, you will find kitchen ware and food souvenirs, loads of them. Tawau dried seafood is found on the first floor where you will see about 20 stalls selling all kinds of this dried seafood. You can buy various types of salted fish, dried fish, squid, anchovies, abalone, sea cucumber and even dried sting ray here. For those travelling on flight back, just let them know as they will pack the dried seafood specially for flights. Pasar Tanjung Tawau and the UTC Tawau CenterThe next level is a mezzanine level, which sells fabrics, clothes and local beauty products with some exceptions of toys and general items. Going up to the second level, you will find the local food court with about 40 vendors selling Chinese and Muslim food and drinks. This new food court was opened in October 2016. Finally, the highest level will be the UTC Centre of Tawau. The best time to visit here is also in the mornings when it is lively. Also, if you are planning to buy food souvenirs like the Tawau dried seafood, make this place your last stop before you depart. Pasar Tanjung Tawau AddressAlong Jalan Dunlop and Jalan Persisiran,Tawau City Centre Roundabout,Tawau, SabahStanding to one of the tallest rainforest trees in the world at Tawau. Photo by Wong Chun Xing.3. Tawau Hills National ParkFor nature lovers, the Tawau Hills National Park is one of two parks found in this part of Sabah. Located about 24 kilometers from town, it takes around 30 minutes to get to this 27,972 hectare park. It is also recommended that you engage a tour guide to visit this park, especially if you want to know more about the rainforest flora and fauna here and one of the highlights of the Tawau Hills Park is seeing one of the world's tallest tropical trees. There are camping sites, basic chalets and a picnic area for day trippers at the Tawau Hills Park. Those planning some extreme outdoors can climb Mount Magdalena which is 1,312 meters high and requires two days to reach the summit and back, while the other is Mount Lucia (1,202 meters) and Mount Maria (1,083 meters). There is also the Bombalai Hill at 530 meters high, which is a popular spot to trek up. For waterfall lovers, there is the Bukit Gelas Waterfalls and you can also explore the Sulphur Springs which is about a three kilometer trek from the main entrance. Actually, Tawau Hills Park is quite complete in terms of flora and fauna therefore if you are a hard core nature lover, this is one of the recommended places to visit. There are park rangers to guide you around and a night walk for frogging and nocturnal animals is also available.Birding or Bird Watching in Tawau is mainly done around here as there are many species of Bornean birds spotted here. Serious or casual bird watchers will find this place quite interesting for bird watching as it is said that you can spot six of the eight hornbill species of Borneo here. To go to Tawau Hills Park, you need to either take a taxi (RM 30 to RM 40 one way) or engage a tour company with a nature guide. Unfortunately, not many tour agents sell this product hence I am highlighting this here, hoping that someone would see this and capitalise on the Tawau Hills Tour Packages. Tawau Hills Park Address:Bal Estate, TawauTel: +60 89 768 719 or +60 89 925 719Email: info@sabahparks.org.myAdmission:MyKad holders (18 years and above): RM 3.00MyKad (below 18 years): RM 1.00Foreigners (18 years and above): RM 10.00Foreigners (below 18 years): RM 6.00Tawau Handicraft Centre or Pasar Gantung4. Tawau Handicraft Market (Pasar Gantung)Known as the Tawau Old Central Market or Pasar Gantung (Hanging Market), this attraction now serves as a handicraft market but more clothes and fabrics are seen sold here. When I walked around here in December 2016, there was around 50-60 vendors who were selling pearl jewellery, souvenirs, batik, ladies and men's clothing, kids clothes and a number of other local items. The reason why it's called Pasar Gantung or Hanging Market is simple, almost everything you see in the market is hung high up, probably due to the space constrain. In the same structure, there is also a small food court which sells local Tawau food and gets lively at night. The Tawau Handicraft Market would be one of the places where you can find a lot of imported items from the Philippines and Indonesia, namely the fabrics and pearls but for local tourist, this is a decent place to explore for an hour or so. The walkways are narrow with vendors close by each other and they are not aggressive traders that bother you. Prices are reasonable and you can try your luck to bargain a little. Souvenirs sold at the Pasar Gantung TawauMy opinion for this place is that more emphasis should be put into making the Pasar Gantung or Tawau Handicraft Market into a proper tourist attraction, like the Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market. By doing so, this would help in increasing the tourist numbers to Tawau, but the ministry or council should put in some funding to properly manage this potential spot and create awareness and giving it a fresh new look and approach.  Tawau Handicraft Market Address:Along Jalan Klinik, Bandar Tawau, Tawau.Open: 7.00 AM till 5.00 PMSabindo Plaza, Tawau's first shopping centre. Image from eTawau.com.5. Shopping in TawauI will be very honest here, shopping in Tawau is not something people look forward to, as if there is not enough shopping malls from where you come from? Well, Tawau being on the other side of Sabah is a very local place and currently, there are only two shopping malls in Tawau. One being Sabindo Plaza which has been around since 1999 and is more of a bazaar like concept, and the other being Eastern Plaza, a three story mall which opened in 2009. Eastern Plaza seems to fit the shopping mall concept where they have a supermarket as the main tenant while the first two floors cater to shops selling smart phones, accessories, ladies clothes and also men's fashion. The truth be told, you will not miss anything if you do not visit this place. My suggestion is to explore the Fajar area in Tawau city center as this is the most liveliest and trendiest part of Tawau with many new concept shops, cafes and bakeries. Anyway, most of the popular hotels in Tawau are located around this area too. But for fashion and accessories, Tawau is still not as advanced as Sandakan or Kota Kinabalu. So, in general, Tawau is great for some Sabah food souvenirs or Oleh-Oleh Sabah, like dried seafood. A beautiful sunset in Tawau, taken at the Tawau Waterfront6. Tawau WaterfrontWhen evening falls, you can head to the Tawau Waterfront or Tawau Esplanade to catch the beautiful Sabah sunset. Along the main road of Jalan Persisiran, there are many spots you can choose to watch the sunset and along with you, there will be many locals that come here to enjoy the magical moment that ends daylight. In December 2016, I made it a point to explore the Tawau Waterfront to catch the famous Sabah sunset and well, it was worth it, not as amazing as the ones at the Kota Kinabalu Waterfront, but good enough. Along the waterfront, locals are seen selling freshly cut young mango as snacks so you can give it a try if you like. To catch he Tawau sunset, I chose a spot near the Tawau Ferry Terminal as it was convenient, due to me renting a car and moving around here. The result of the sunset is as you can see in the photo above. Not too bad if you ask me. Tawau Waterfront Address:Along Jalan Persisiran,Sabindo Area, Bandar TawauKam Ling Seafood, one of the most popular seafood restaurants in Tawau7. Eating in TawauThis is probably the top of things to do in Tawau as food here is very Indonesian-Sabah fusion due to Tawau being neighbours to Kalimantan Indonesia. Tawau is also well known for their cheap seafood where you can find some of the freshest seafood around Sabah. There are numerous seafood restaurants in Tawau where one of my personal favourites is located in the Sabindo area, at a place called Kam Ling Seafood in Tawau. Choices of fish, crabs, shells, prawns and lobsters make you think hard of which to order, and what style. But the menu provided is of great help too. One thing Tawau is famous for is the Pisang Cheese, Pisang Coklet and Sanggar Pisang, and is of Indonesian origins. These dishes are all made from bananas, deep friend and coated with cheese and chocolate, and found at a place called Indo Cafe, you can find probably the best Pisang Cheese in Sabah. For locals, this is no doubt, a must-try. And if you have tried it elsewhere, try it here and make that comparison. Another must-try famous Tawau food is the Nasi Kuning Tawau at Restoran Haji Tamrin, who has been running this place for the last 20 years. The Tawau Nasi Kuning originates from Indonesia and locally in Malaysia, they call this dish Nasi Kunyit or Turmeric Rice. The beauty of Restoran Haji Tamrin is that they use raw turmeric and no artificial flavors or ready made turmeric powder to cook their rice, which is accompanied by a choice of chicken, fish or beef with a hard boiled sambal egg.Other well known Tawau food is the original Pork Noodles (San Nyuk Mian), 6 Star Steamboat, Nasi Payau Rice and many others. For more food in Tawau, read my upcoming article on the best food in Tawau, where I experienced some of the highly recommend places in December 2016. The first mosque in Tawau8. Other Places of Interest in TawauWhile there are a few more places that may fit in this list, we are just highlighting it here, just in case you want to explore more. The Masjid Al-Kauthar Mosque, located in the city area is also Sabah's largest mosque which can accommodate up to 17,000 people. This beautiful mosque which cost RM31.5 million and opened in 2004, is also a beachfront mosque with a view of the Cowie Straits.Another beautiful mosque in Tawau is the Masjid Bandar Tawau or Masjid Waqaff Ahmad Bin Daing Mapata, located in the main city area. This mosque was also opened  in 1963 and is Tawau's oldest mosque. A mysterious attraction is the Bell Tower of Tawau, built by a Japanese businessman in 1918, during World War I, it was used by the police guards and rung at intervals. According to history, a bronze bell was used but it disappeared and no one knows where the bell is now, so there is only a six-sided oriental shaped tower standing about six meters high.Food Souvenirs at the Tawau MarketIn general, the above are probably the best things to do in Tawau, after researching and taking to locals, based on my recent trip here in December 2016. Tawau has always served as the main gateway to Semporna to get to Sipadan and Mabul Island, and also Maliau Basin as this is the closest city to catch a flight and then travel overland the the mentioned places. For more information, you can also check out the official Sabah Tourism website. One of Tawau's many roundaboutsIf you want to experience a real Sabahan city and how things were back in the day, Tawau is the best place to do so as the city is developing at a much slower pace than most other cities in Sabah.I love the concept of how you can find old style businesses here and people are friendly and not too caught up with the current modernisation. If you are planning to visit Sabah next year, read my article on Where to go in Sabah for 2017 as it narrows down a number of places for tourism. This list of things to do in Tawau is timely as now, more people are looking for new places to explore and discover, especially in the food tourism side as Tawau offers some pretty interesting local food to experience. A Tawau Food Trail would be great to explore if you are headed here. If you have any comments or feedback, please do share them in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this article for things to do in Tawau and if I missed out anything, let me know. Happy travels. 
    Saturday 31st of December 2016 10:51:00 AM
  • Where to go in Sarawak for 2017
    Sarawak has always been one of the unique destinations in Malaysia and many have always asked this question of where to go in Sarawak, and for 2017, I have come up with this list of places to visit in Sarawak Borneo for first timers or regular visitors. Before I continue, those who do not know, Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia and located on the island of Borneo. Sarawak is also known as The Land of the Hornbill, and is neighbouring Sabah, Brunei and Kalimantan. The only way to visit Sarawak is via flights from various airlines in the region. Sarawak is so huge, that it takes about 14 hours drive to get from one end to the other and many of their unique villages and towns are accessible via flights or logging roads. Rich with cultural and heritage, Sarawak boasts of some of Southeast Asia's most unique ethnic tribes and cultures. The number one thing to do in Sarawak is no other than Eco tourism where there is abundance of it available all over. Your starting city would also be Kuching, the capital of Sarawak or Miri, the resort city in the north, bordering Brunei. Most international and domestic flights arrive at these two cities and you can connect to certain smaller towns and villages using MAS Wings flights. Travel overland is also common here but note the long hours and off road conditions.Where to go in Sarawak for 2017Sibu Gateway in the city area1. SibuAs this year is Visit Sibu Year 2017, much has been planned for this central city in Sarawak. Sibu operates as the main city that caters to the central region and has recently opened up to tourism. However, Sibu is a very culturally rich place and you need to move around and out of Sibu to see this beautiful part of Sarawak. One of the must-visit places is no other than the traditional Melanau village by a river which is undisturbed and showcases the Melanau lifestyle.Malaysia's largest market in Sibu, SarawakIn Sibu city, highlights are the Sibu Heritage Centre which works as a museum showcasing the overall culture and history of Sibu and the ethnic people from around here.In the evenings, the Sibu Night Market in Market Square is an amazing gastronomical experience as you would encounter another side of Sarawak's fascinating food. Sibu is also home to Malaysia's largest market called the Sibu Central Market where you can find over 1000 stalls selling local produce. To go to Sibu, you can fly direct to Sibu with AirAsia or Malaysia Airlines or, you could also take a river ferry from Kuching that takes around two hours. Moving around requires you to engage a tour guide and we highly recommend Hou Kang from Greatown Travel who specialises in Sibu tours.Bario Highlands in Sarawak2. BarioFor probably the best encounter with a cultural highland experience, Bario is the place to be at in 2017. Away from it all, located in the Kelabit Highlands and bordering Kalimantan is a natural Eco village that sits 1000 meters above sea level and is cooling throughout the year. Most visitors that come to Bario seek Eco adventures like trekking, hiking, cycling and generally enjoying things as they were 50 years ago. Nothing much has changed here, hence making this destination ideal for those seeking purity and originality. Read my previous article A Journey to the Bario Highlands in Sarawak for more detailed information.Stay at any of the home stays here as there are no hotels, only family operated homestays which is such an amazing experience. Nigmat Ayu is one of the recommended places to stay in Bario.To go to Bario, the best way is to fly in via MAS Wings from Miri and the flight takes about one hour with a Twin Otter 19 seat turbo prop plane. The flight is an overall experience and you will land at one of the smallest airports in Malaysia. Moving around is on foot or hitching a ride from the locals.Niah Caves, out of Miri3. MiriMiri has always appealed to certain visitors over the years, but in the last five years, Miri has advanced quite a bit in terms of tourism, especially being the gateway to Northern Sarawak. Most of the visitors to Miri come from Brunei or Sabah, but since scuba diving became popular, there has been a surge of adventure tourist heading here. Read more about diving in MiriMiri's city also offers food tourism where you can sample some unique Kayan cuisine and in the old town area, a variety of local hawker food. Sites around Miri include temples, markets, hill top views and some really beautiful beaches. For shoppers, Miri has a few interesting shopping malls like Bintang Megamall and the newly opened Permaisuri Imperial City Mall. A Miri Handicraft Centre just next to Bintang Megamall is your one stop place for all the local ethnic cultures and souvenirs too.View of Miri City from the Miri Pullman HotelMiri is also home to the world famous Borneo Jazz Festival, which is also the region's premier international jazz festival that has been running for 12 solid years. The next Borneo Jazz 2017 takes place from 12-13 May 2017 and at the ParkCity Everly Hotel.For Ecotourism, Miri is also home to some of the popular national parks in Sarawak like the Niah National Park, Lambir Hills National Park and also the Loagan Bunut National Park which is around an hours drive from the city. To visit the parks, you need to engage the services of a tour company who provide driver and nature guides and one of the recommended companies is Brighton Travel and Tours in Miri.To go to Miri, you need to fly in from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Kuching or Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. From Kuching, an overland journey will take you around 11-12 hours.View of the Marriott Resort in Mulu, Sarawak (Image from Mulu Marriott)4. Mulu National ParkOne of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malaysia is no other than the Mulu National Park, where you can find the world renown Mulu Caves. For any outdoor or Eco lover, this is your number one place to visit in Sarawak due to the overall uniqueness of this national park an its surroundings. Long boat travels, cave explorations, nature trekking and abundance of flora and fauna is on top of your menu when you visit the Mulu National Park.Stay at the Mulu Marriott Resort, a luxury retreat located in the middle of the rainforest. Alternatively, the Mulu National Park offers lodging with longhouse dorms or even individual chalets. Outside the park, you can also find homestays and budget guesthouses or lodges.To go to Mulu, the best possible way is to fly in via Kuching, Miri or Kota Kinabalu in Sabah as they have direct flights using a turbo prop ATR72 plane. Flights are one hour long and lands at one of the smallest airports in Malaysia. For the hardcore explorer, you can also take a 7 hour long boat ride through the lush tropical rainforest, passing remote villages and beautiful picturesque scenery.Kuching's Old Town area5. KuchingThe capital of Sarawak and the most popular tourist destination, Kuching offers a laid back city lifestyle, culture and food as the main things to do here. Most visitors will arrive in Kuching and then head out to national parks, animal sanctuaries and also traditional ethnic longhouses or even the Sarawak Cultural Village. One of the recommended place for culture lovers in Kuching is the Sarawak Museum, which is touted as one of the best museums in the world in terms of ethnicity and cultural history.Kolo Mee Noodles in KuchingA walking tour in Kuching city is highly recommended as you can explore the old town of Kuching, take a Sarawak River Cruise and also indulge in savouring the famous Sarawak food around here.Eating in Kuching is one of the must do things as the cat city offers you the famous Sarawak Laksa noodles, Sarawak Kolo Mee, Belachan Bee Hoon, the Sarawak Layer Cakes or Kek Lapis and many other local favourites.Read about eating local food in Kuching which was done by me a few years ago, as it shares some of the popular food in Kuching. For seafood in Kuching, visit this place called Top Spot.Popular places out of Kuching are Kubah National Park, Semenggoh Orang Utan Centre and Annah Rais Longhouse which require you to use a tour company service. In the city, try renting a bicycle to move around as they also have cycling tours in Kuching that take you to local villages. Night life in Kuching is also spread out and the best place in the city to experience this is around Jalan Tabuan area where you can find the trendiest bars, restaurants, clubs and cafes. Carpenter Street is also another road where you can find some nightlife.To go to Kuching, fly in via various airlines from around the region an once there, you can either engage a tour company for your tours or simply explore on foot around the city.Sarawak Sea Stack at Bako National Park6. Bako National ParkTwo hours out of Kuching is the Bako National Park, which is probably the most visited national park in the south. The uniqueness of this place is that it is home to the local bearded pig, proboscis monkeys and many other birds and reptiles. There are two options to visiting here where you can either stay over at the park lodging or make a day trip here.The main highlight of Bako National Park is the trekking and hiking where there are many trails offered, from basic to advanced. Any trekking activities require park rangers to follow along for a small fee. Some beaches are also found along a few of the treks. Before departing the park, ask your boat man to bring you to the famous Sarawak Sea Stack and rock formations which is just nearby the main entrance to the national park.Bako National Park attracts all kinds of visitors, namely Eco lovers, trekkers and hikers, animal lovers, bird watchers and even photographers. The park is managed by the Sarawak Forestry Department and is well maintained.To go to Bako, usually tour operators sell day trips or overnight trips here. Book your Bako tour from any of the tour operators in Kuching city.Siniawan Night Market, photo by James & Sara of http://.karmacuzzies.wordpress.com7. Siniawan Night MarketProbably the hottest attraction for locals in the last couple of years is Siniawan Old Town, two hours from Kuching. The charm of this 100 over year old  town lies in that one main street with original 48 wooden shop houses. And at night, the Siniawan night market main street is closed and dining tables line the streets with Chinese lanterns hung above, giving that traditional food street ambiance which is really hard to come by nowadays.Launched in 2010, Siniawan Night Market was popular with the locals and after getting a lot of attention via social media, more tourist started coming here to experience this old charm. The night market is at full swing on weekends only and food is the main attraction here. Please note that only if you are into food and old towns, this would be a great place to visit. Most tours bring you here just before sunset and then to have dinner. A must try is the pitcher plant rice which is very unique and also the traditional local cakes.To go to Siniawan, you can either self drive here, take a taxi or engage a tour company. The Siniawan Night Market is open from 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm and only on weekends.Rainforest World Music Festival 20178. Rainforest World Music Festival 2017One of the world's most unique music festival to attend is no other than the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017 which takes place from 14-16 July at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong. This three day music festival showcases some of the best traditional and ethnic musicians from around the world and among the highlights are the music workshops that take place in the day.Known also as RWMF, the music festival's home is on the grounds of the Sarawak Cultural Village, which doubles as a living museum where various ethnic groups from Sarawak stay and operate each of their homes in the village. The music festival sees around 20,000 visitors from all over the world attending and is listed as one of the Top 25 Music Festivals in the world to attend by Songlines for six years in a row.If you love music festivals and unique cultures, the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017 is a must attend and you should book your flights, tickers and accommodations as early as possible as they tend to sell out fast. You can choose to stay near the RWMF2017 in Santubong or stay in Kuching city.To go to Santubong, you can take the shuttle service, taxi, public bus and the journey takes about one hour one way.View of the Bario Highlands in SarawakThe above is personally compiled by David Hogan Jr of Malaysia Asia as I have been traveling around Sarawak for many years, exploring new destinations and many places of interest. The list also highlights places are there easily accessible for all kinds of tourist due to the proper infrastructure and facilities.These destinations are also overseen by the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and Ministry of Tourism Sarawak therefore, if you need more information, you can visit the Sarawak Tourism Board website on where to go in Sarawak for 2017. If you have any comments of feedback, please do leave them in the comment section below and have a fantastic year for 2017.
    Monday 26th of December 2016 04:00:00 AM

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