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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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  • Matta Fair September 2017
    Malaysia's largest travel market called Matta Fair September 2017 will take place from 8-10 September at the Putra World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur. Over 1000 booths will showcase the best of tourism and travel in Malaysia and around the world. The Matta Fair September 2017 is also the second fair for this year, as the first one took place in March, and at the same venue. In total, over 100,000 visitors will attend this travel fair over three days here in Kuala Lumpur.Visitors at the Matta September FairMatta Fair September 2017 - What To ExpectVisitors have become so accustomed to this travel fair, that many will wait for the Matta Fair to book their year end holidays. Most of the consumers will survey the destination they want, before purchasing the packages from the various travel agents. As the Matta Fair September 2017 is so huge, there are four main halls dedicated to individual travel destinations. For example, there is a Malaysian Hall, selling all kinds of travel packages around Malaysia. At the Malaysia Hall, you will also find local theme park operators selling entrance tickets or full packages which include hotel stays. Some other tourist attractions will also be seen selling admission tickets.Malaysia Hall at the Matta Fair SeptemberThe ASEAN Hall will feature all the tourism boards and travel agents from the ASEAN countries. You will find Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar and Vietnam booths here. For those wanting to explore the ASEAN countries, this where you should head too. And with this year being Visit Asean 2017, there are sure to be a lot of special deals and packages available. The following hall will be focusing on the long haul international countries. Here, you will find cruise companies, airline ticket counters and tourism boards promoting their destinations.One of the tour companies in the international hallThe main hall will be the largest hall promoting popular destinations like Japan, Korea, America, United Kingdom, Africa and so on. This is where you go if you have been planning that family trip to Japan or Korea. And for the Muslim travelers, you can find some of the best travel packages for those wanting to experience another country and yet have Muslim facilities. Packages include Halal food and prayer rooms with stops for prayers. At Hall 1M, which is the mezzanine floor, you will find the Umrah Packages sold by the Muslim travel agents. This upper level hall is where the main stage area and also the food and beverage area will be located. The hall is just above Hall 1, international hall.Promotions held during the Matta Fair SeptemberMatta Fair September 2017 - PromotionsMost of the promotions offered are only available at the Matta Fair. This means, when you see a package being offered, you will most likely not find it after the event. The most common procedure or tactic consumers will use is to do window shopping before actually buying a package. Example: If you want to visit Japan on a budget, you will start going to the booths that sell Japan packages.Visitors attending the Malaysia Matta FairYou can also visit the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) booth to get more information about where to go in Japan. JNTO does not sell packages, but they provide information from all over the country. They invite different prefecture tourism organizations to come and showcase tourism products for each of their areas. Let's say, you have interest to visit Okinawa, you will have to go to the Okinawa Tourism booth to obtain information about the exotic Japanese Island.Then after you have got the information needed, you proceed to any of the travel agents that sell Okinawa packages, and buy it from them.Indonesia Tourism at the Matta Fair MalaysiaMatta Fair September 2017When: 8-10 September 2017Where: PWTC, Kuala LumpurWhat Time: 10.00 AM to 9.00 PMEntrance: RM4 per person (Below 12 years old, free)Website: http://site.mattafair.org.my/I have been going to the Matta Fair for many years and every year, the fair seems to be getting larger and larger. More people are visiting the travel fair where a majority are those aged 30 and above.However, there has been a dip in travel purchases, due to the growth of the online industry. Many consumers are now turning towards online travel packages, flight tickets and accommodations nowadays and the numbers are growing.A customer getting some quotations on a travel package at Matta FairThere has also been a strong influence of foreigners visiting the Matta Fair 2017 to buy international flight tickets and also travel packages, as it is sometimes a little cheaper. This works well for those who are confirmed to travel on a particular date. For anyone who has not been to Malaysia's largest travel fair, this is a good opportunity to visit the Matta Fair September 2017. Who knows what you will learn or even buy there. 
    Thursday 22nd of June 2017 05:13:00 AM
  • AirAsia Cancels Flight Plans to Europe and USA
    In aviation news, AirAsia has indicated that they will cancels flight plans to Europe and USA. This was mentioned in a series of Tweets from it's CEO Tony Fernandes in June 2017. The news comes to a shock to many as earlier in 2017, Asia's largest budget airline had strongly indicated that the would resume the AirAsia UK flights, and also to branch out into west coast USA, namely to the state of California. One of the main reasons cited was that the group wanted to maintain focus on Asia before coming to any decision for ultra long haul flights. In February 2017, a news report stated that Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, one of the founders of AirAsia indicated that they had serious plans to venture into Europe and west coast USA, namely Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. Tweets from Tony Fernandes indicating plans not to fly to the UK or USABusiness Traveller has also run a report on this as well as Skift, as the news is hot in the aviation industry now. AirAsia X had been flying to Paris and London in 2011, and in 2012, they pulled out of both sectors. It was cited that the routes were not cost effective for the airline, though the flights were full. It is also said that perhaps the airline would consider, if the timing was right and with a more appropriate aircraft.For now, AirAsia continues to fly to most countries around Asia, connecting one another through the AirAsia hubs. AirAsia also flies to Hawaii, via Japan with AirAsia Japan. The Osaka-Honolulu flights are probably the cheapest in the world too. If you have hopes of getting a budget flight to the UK or US, they may be shattered for now, but who knows what the future holds. AirAsia has known to surprise consumers from time to time. But for now, AirAsia has cancelled any intentions to fly to Europe and USA. 
    Wednesday 21st of June 2017 04:15:00 AM
  • Borneo Bird Festival 2017
    The Borneo Bird Festival 2017 will be taking place at the Crocker Range National Park and also in Kota Kinabalu City from 20-22 October. This is also the 9th year that the bird festival is being held here in Sabah and is the largest bird festival in Malaysia.Organised by the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club, the event has seen over 30,000 people visiting the festival over the years. International visitors have also grown due to the marketing programs conduct by the Borneo Bird Club at world bird fairs.This year, the unique venue of Crocker Range National Park was selected to assist in cross promoting tourism and awareness of the largest protected park in Sabah. This is also the first time the event is being held at the national park.Around the park, you can also find the unique Rafflesia Forest Reserve, which is touted to be one of the unique places in Sabah. Crocker Range Park has also been recognized as a Biosphere Reserve by the International Coordinating Council for Biosphere Reserve (CRBR), a program under Unesco in 2014.Birders in action at the last Borneo Bird Festival in Sabah, MalaysiaBorneo Bird Festival 2017As for the 9th Anniversary of the Borneo Bird Festival, a series of activities have been panned throughout the three day event at Kota Kinabalu and Crocker Range National Park.For the Sabah Bird Race 2017, participants will be transferred to Crocker Range from Kota Kinabalu and back. This will be a full day event that ends at 4.00 PM.This year's theme is also "Protect Our Songbirds and Hornbills", is aimed at awareness towards heavy poaching and hunting of these beautiful birds in Sabah. There will be talks specifically for this and everyone is invited.The main venue is at Imago Shopping Mall in Kota Kinabalu City where most of the bird watching products, books, equipment and talks will take place at.The main launching event for the Borneo Bird Festival 2017 will also take place here. There will also be an exhibition of bird photos and children's activities going on at Imago Shopping Mall in Kota Kinabalu.The main event, which is the Sabah Bird Race and Sabah bird photography race will be seeing many participants of all ages taking part, at the national park venue.Omicron Binoculars, one of the participants at the Borneo Bird Festival 2017Another fun activity at Crocker Range will be the guided bird walks, conducted by naturalist and the senior bird watchers of Sabah. This will allow beginners to participate in a walk to spot birds and flora around the park.As the indoor activities will be held at Imago Shopping Mall in city of Kota Kinabalu, you can expect many vendors selling bird memorabilia, books, cameras, binoculars and scopes.Brands such as Omicron, Kowa, Minox, Leica, Swarovski, Nikon, Sony, Canon and more will be showcasing the latest equipment and accessories.Kowa Malaysia, at a booth during one of the bird festivals in MalaysiaOther vendors include nature resorts from around Sabah, bird clubs from around Malaysia and Asia who cross promote their birding activities.Talks by renown naturalist, bird watchers and representatives from non governmental organisations are also one of the highlights during the event in Kota Kinabalu.In general, the Borneo Bird Festival is the best place to get first hand information about the hobby of bird watching and photography in Sabah.A list of Important Birding Areas in Sabah or IBA. Crocker Range National Park is marked on the left side. Bird Watching At Crocker Range National ParkAs Crocker Range National Park is one of the top bird watching spots in Sabah, there are quite a number of endemic birds that can be spotted here. To know more about this, you can view the list of Endemic Birds of Borneo.Crocker Range National Park is well known to be a hot spot for Bornean montane endemics, namely the Bornean Barbet, Bornean Falconet, Bornean Leafbird, Whitehead?s Spiderhunter, several species of Hornbills, the Great Argus Pheasant and many more.Visitors at the recent Borneo Bird FestivalBorneo Bird Festival 2017 InformationDate: 20-22 October 2017Day: Friday to SundayTime: 7.00 AM till 6.00 PMVenue: Crocker Range National Park & Imgao Shopping Mall, Kota Kinabalu CityWebsite: Borneo Bird FestivalCurrently, the website is still being updated and you will find more information somewhere in July or August. If you need more information, you can contact the Borneo Bird Club directly. For those in Sabah, you can also get information from the Sabah Tourism Board office along Gaya Street in KK City. How to go to Crocker Range National ParkHow to go to Crocker Range National Park? Generally, you need to drive there from Kota Kinabalu City which takes you around two hours. There are currently no buses that go directly to the event, therefore you are required to take a taxi, UBER or Grab from Kota Kinabalu.You can also rent a car and self drive to the event as it cost around RM150.00 per day for a basic car. There are many car rental companies found all over Kota Kinabalu city.For those who require more information, you can also visit the Sabah Tourism Board office at Gaya Street in KK City.Manis Manis Resort at Crocker Range National ParkAre There Hotels Around Crocker Range National Park? To be honest, there are only a couple of them. One is called Manis Manis Rooftop of Borneo Resort, which is located at the national park. If you really want to stay here, this is the best place. Other hotels are located in the area of Keningau.There is another resort named Uli Kimanis Resort, which is the other end of the national park, so please double check.Most of the hotels in Keningau are standard budget or basic hotels. We would recommend you look at the hotels to Kota Kinabalu, as the organisers will be providing a shuttle service back and forth for participants and visitors. Please contact organisers about this. Photos Taken During The Borneo Bird Festival A Wallace Hawk Eagle photographed in Sandakan during the last bird watching eventMarshall's and some of the participants during the 2016 Borneo Bird Festival in Sandakan, Sabah Participants from the Borneo Bird Festival at Kinabalu Park in 2015A Scarlet Rumped Trogon photographed at the Borneo Bird Festival in SabahBird Watching in MalaysiaIn 2014, bird watching in Malaysia as looked into by the Tourism Ministry of Malaysia where they are keen in developing this unique hobby and also promoting it to the world.Malaysia is well known for quite a number of species of birds which are found in many different areas of the country. A total of over 780 species of birds is found throughout Malaysia.Wikipedia has a list of birds of Malaysia for anyone interested to find out more as it is quite complete. You can also find both the English and scientific name of the birds of Malaysia.Crested Serpent Eagle circling the Borneo Bird Festival in SabahLittle Spiderhunter, spotted around the Borneo Bird Festival event areaSabah was one of the pioneers who steered birding to where it is today and big thanks goes out to the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club who initiated the inaugural Borneo Bird Festival nine years ago with the assistance of Sabah Tourism Board. Now Bird Watching in Borneo has grown from a niche hobby to a general hobby with many locals and international participants taking part at the many birding events held around Sabah and also Malaysia. The upcoming Borneo Bird Festival 2017 is one birding event not to miss for any enthusiast. 
    Tuesday 20th of June 2017 12:44:00 PM
  • Bird Watching in Taman Negara
    There are a few places for bird watching in Taman Negara for those interested in this hobby. The first thing you should know is that this is a rainforest area, and one of the oldest in the world dating to 130 million years old.This means, you will be doing tropical birding here and the main area for bird watching in Taman Negara is no other than around the park headquarters and its surroundings. However, for the serious birders, there are a few other places which are great for bird watching. Recently in late 2016 and early 2017, there has been a new place which opened for birding, and is a 10 minute drive out of the main area of Kuala Tahan in Taman Negara. Overall, there are over 350 species of birds recorded in the entire Taman Negara area.A group of Hornbills perched on a tree at Taman NegaraBird Watching in Taman NegaraTo do bird watching here, you should know that Kuala Tahan will be your main gateway into Taman Negara National Park. Kuala Tahan is a small village town that offers accommodations, local restaurants, floating restaurants, tour desks and convenient shops. There is no modern cafes, restaurants or shopping malls found here. There are also no ATM machines or pharmacies found here. So, if you need to get any supplies or special items, make sure you get them before you leave the larger cities.From Kuala Tahan, visitors will take the boat taxi service across the Tembeling River into the national park. Read this article on the best way to go to Taman Negara for those wanting to find out how.A Great Hornbill seen at the Mutiara ResortBird Watching Places in Taman Negara Below is a list of places for bird watching in Taman Negara, Pahang which is narrowed down for you. Some of these places are very popular while one of it is a new bird watching spot.If you are looking for Broadbills, Taman Negara is home to many, which include Green, Banded, and Black-and-yellow Broadbills. And if you are a fan of Barbets, look out for the Gold-whiskered and Red-throated Barbets.When you are here, your bird guide would most likely bring you to the popular ones where you can see the most birds. Again, this all depends on luck, weather and timing.Hornbill Valley in Taman Negara, one of the new bird watching spots hereThe list of bird watching places in Taman Negara are;Lata Berkoh (Berkoh Waterfalls) - This is one of the good places in the mornings or afternoons where the journey there will allow you to spot many birds. It is a short ride from the main area of Taman Negara. Hornbill Valley (Lembah Enggang) - One of the very new areas for bird watching in Taman Negara where you can spot hornbills, barbets and many other birds. This location is actually by the main road and about 10 minute drive from Kuala Tahan. Your bird guide will drive you to the area where you alight from the vehicle and do bird watching by the road. Best time is just before 7.00 am and in the late afternoon. A total of 173 species of birds was spotted here on a bird count in April 2017. One of the star birds is no other than the Helmet Hornbill. The Hornbill Valley in Taman Negara is also gazetted as a conservation area.Lembah Enggang or Hornbill Valley in the morningTaman Negara Forest Loop Trail - This is the easiest trail where it loops around the back of the Mutiara Resort. The walkway is boarded therefore it is an easy walk without worrying about leeches or bugs on the ground. Taman Negara Swamp Loop Trail - Another easy trail at the other end of the resort which is also boarded. Walking here requires silence in order to spot the birds in the bush or canopy. At one section, a swampy area is seen where birds are often spotted, but you need to be silent and slow here. Tahan Hide Trail - This trail connects from the Forest Loop Trail and takes you all the way to the Tahan Hide, a loo out point for wildlife. Along the way, birds are spotted in the canopy and mid-canopy levels. Jenut Muda Trail - This is one of the very popular and best trails and is relatively easy. The Great Argus Pheasant is often spotted here along other star birds like the Banded Pitta, Gould's Frogmouth, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Kingfishers, Woodpeckers and many others. Watch for the leeches here though.The Taman Negara Canopy WalkCanopy Walk Trail - This is probably one of the active trails, from the park to the canopy walk. However, there are more birds spotted along the walk, versus the canopy walk as sometimes, there are many people on the canopy walk which distracts the birds. Bukit Teresek Trail - This is the furthers trail at 2.5 km away from the park quarters. However, the journey here will bare fruit as many birds have been spotted at the first part of the trail. The unique Crestless Fireback is also spotted on this trail. Beyond The Batek Orang Asli Village - This requires you to take a long boat ride upriver, passing the popular ethnic Batek orang asli tribe village. The boat ride will take about 20-30 minutes through mild rapids to a spot upriver.Hornbills are often sighted around here among other birds. But to be honest, I am yet to explore this part, therefore I will update this once I have visited this spot. Around The Mutiara Resort - This is the best for beginners as you can do some casual birding around the resort grounds. There is a local resident Great Hornbill by the name of Abu who is frequently seen in the trees around the resort reception area or the park headquarters area.A Coucal spotted along the Tembeling River during a boat tripAlong The Tembeling River - Usually, when you depart Taman Negara, you will take a two hour boat ride down the Tembeling River to Kuala Tembeling, where your van transfer will be waiting to take you back to KL. It is on this boat ride that you will spot a number of birds along the river. On my journey back, I managed to spot broadbills, kingfishers, raptors, swallows, water birds and a few others. The trick is to sit behind the boat nearer to the boat captain, and he can slow the boat down when you want to photograph the birds. And no, he will not stop the boat for you, unless you are the only passenger. Star Birds of Taman NegaraMost bird watchers or bird photographers come here in search of the many star birds of Taman Negara. They are mostly found at most areas while some of them require some serious trekking and just to highlight, you may not see them all in one trip. Perhaps less than half of the birds below. The list of star birds are;Malaysian Rail-babblerMalaysian Blue FlycatcherShort-toed CoucalBlue-winged PittaGould's FrogmouthLarge FrogmouthFerruginous Wood-PartridgeMountain Peacock PheasantCrestless FirebackBarred Eagle OwlBay OwlMasked FinfootGreat ArgusMalaysian Peacock PheasantBlack-and-white BulbulRufous-tailed SharmaRed-legged CrakeStorm?s StorkWallace?s Hawk-EagleBat HawkJambu Fruit DoveRufous-collared KingfisherOlive-backed WoodpeckerGreat Slaty WoodpeckerScarlet-breasted FlowerpeckerTrogonsSome birds spotted sitting on a tree along the Tembeling RiverBest Time For Bird Watching in Taman NegaraFor the avid birder, there are of course the best and worst times to do bird watching. From my point of view, as an amateur bird watcher, the worst time for this is during the school holidays, weekends, public holidays and the rainy season. I would advise to book your visit for a weekday, as the best bird guides would be free and there would be very few people around the national park. This way, you can fully enjoy your birding in Taman Negara without distraction and noise. One of the chalets at Mutiara Taman NegaraWhere To Stay In Taman NegaraThe golden question for birders. Depending on your budget, there are basic air condition rooms from the many budget hotels in Kuala Tahan. Even cheaper, there are homestays available. But for the optimum relaxation, there is the Mutiara Taman Negara Resort.The resort is located in the national park where the park head quarters is. This is luxury in the rainforest and an average room would cost around RM350.00 (USD 80.00) per person, but you know you will get a good nights rest here.Your second choice would be the general guest houses which cost around RM120 to RM140 per room. They are basic, with attached bathroom, hot water and air condition. What is the Weather in Taman Negara?Just to get you in the right attire, the weather in Taman Negara is pretty hot and humid with temperatures around 74°-88°F (23°-31°C).Humidity gets really high in the late mornings and afternoons and expect random showers, unless it is the rainy season from October to January, it is not recommended for bird watching during the rainy season. In general, you need to be as comfortable as you can be. Shorts, T-shirts or short sleeved light material clothes are recommended, along with comfortable hiking or trekking shoes. A hat is optional as you would most likely be in the rainforest under the canopy. What to Prepare For Taman NegaraJust like any other rainforest, you need to have a poncho or raincoat, lots of drinking water, leech socks (if you truly are scared of them), very basic first aid kit, energy bars and insect repellent (the local ones please). Other than that, you will perspire quite a bit, so you may need to bring along a towel or tissue for this.  If you are lugging a bazooka lens with massive tripod, I would recommend you use a comfortable shoulder pad to carry your gear. a good pair of binoculars are recommended as the thick rainforest can be tricky to spot these birds.For me, I use the mid level Omicron Savvy IV HR binoculars to spot birds. They are affordable and very easy to use, as I have brought the binoculars around the world with me. My last trip was to do bird watching in Flores, Indonesia in late 2016.Some of the river birds around Taman NegaraBooking a Bird Watching Tour in Taman NegaraFor those interested, you can make a booking through Ivy Holidays, a specialist based in Kuala Lumpur, who does Taman Negara tour packages, daily transfers, overnight stays and bird watching tours.You can contact Ivy Holidays at: +6 010 900 8699 or email them (transport @ ivyholidays.com) . They offer bird watching tours in Taman Negara with some of the best local bird guides there. There are many other places to do bird watching in Malaysia, while over the years, I have been pretty much active doing bird watching in Sabah and Sarawak, on the island of Borneo.So, for the Peninsular, this place was an eye opener as the many birds spotted was quite interesting. You can also read this article for a complete list of birding events in Malaysia, for the serious birders. My recent trip to Taman Negara was done with the company above where it took a four hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. I stayed at the Mutiara Taman Negara and explored the many places around here.This is also my first time doing bird watching in Taman Negara and it was a fruitful one and after that, I am planning to go back for another round of birding here. 
    Thursday 15th of June 2017 10:19:00 AM
  • Summer Shopping in Dubai
    There are actually many people that want to do summer shopping in Dubai and on my last visit here in May 2017, I was introduced to some of the best shopping malls in Dubai. As this was my first time in Dubai, I have heard raving reviews of the Dubai shopping scene, and this was an interesting indoor adventure for me. Apart from my normal window shopping spree, I was actually very tempted to shop in many places. One of the reasons was that on my last weekend in Dubai, they were having a three day massive sale at the malls, and prices were really attractive at some of the shops. So, if you are planning on a transit in Dubai, I would easily recommend you change that into to one or two day stopover to experience Summer shopping in Dubai. A popular place for Summer Shopping in Dubai is at the Outlet VillageSummer Shopping in Dubai If you did not already know, Dubai is known as one of the ultimate shopping destinations in the world, and for any family or couple travelling here, you should take note of the shopping sales periods, especially the Dubai Summer Surprises Sale. Anyway, let me share with you the list of shopping places I visited in May 2017. Dubai MallThis is the world's largest shopping mall and the number one place to shop in Dubai. The entire mall has a total floor area 5.9 million square feet, therefore, can you imagine walking the entire mall? You would need three days to do so. I stayed at the Address Hotel Dubai Mall and on occasion, I would take an hour or two to explore the massive Dubai Mall. On one of my visits there, the management was kind enough to take me around on a buggy tour of the mall and that alone took about two hours, so you can imagine how huge this place is.Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping mallFor shopping, you would most probably go into shopping-shock as the amount of brands found here is beyond your imagination. There are over 1200 retail shops found here while they have a special concourse area just for luxury brands.Places of interest around the Dubai Mall include Burj Khalifa, Kidzania Dubai, SEGA Republic, Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Dubai fountain, a luxury hotel, massive cinema, 120 restaurants and cafes. Don't forget to visit the Souk in Dubai Mall as it is something out of the ordinary and very interesting. If you have kids, this is one of the perfect places for your family.Overall, I would recommend you take your time to explore the Dubai Mall as it is so huge, chances are you may even get lost here. However, the mall planning is very good as there is information counters found throughout the mall. Here is an interesting fact - A total of 92 million people visited the mall in 2015, surpassing many other world class attractions. Where: Downtown DubaiWebsite: The Dubai MallMall of the Emirates, one of the top shopping places in DubaiMall of the EmiratesAnother mega mall in Dubai is called Mall of the Emirates where you will find 630 retail outlets, over 100 restaurants and cafes, 80 luxury stores and 250 flagship stores. In total, a whopping 2.4 million square feet is available in retail space.This three-storey massive shopping complex combines Arabic and Mediterranean elements, and is well laid out plus beautifully designed. For those who indulge in serious shopping, this mall is one of the highly recommended places to do so.As I explored the mall, I could not help but notice that at one section, they had an area specially for designer kids clothes. Yes, we are talking about Versace Kids, Armani Junior, Burberry Children, D&G Kids, Roberto Cavalli Junior and many more.Branded Kids Shopping in DubaiAnchor stores include the Apple Store, Marks&Spencer, Carrefour, Debenhams and a few others. While the souse is busy shopping, you have the opportunity to bring the kids to Ski World Dubai, which is housed in the mall. A massive snow park is available for you to experience winter here.Food and Beverage is amazingly interesting, with selections of the best cafe's and restaurant chains in the world. Even Asian restaurants like Din Tai Fung is found here while for American fast food, the Shake Shack is also available, and everything here is Halal. Where: Sheikh Zayed Road, Al BarshaWebsite: Mall of the EmiratesOutlet Village in Dubai, one of the best places to shop during the summerDubai Outlet VillageFor the serious shopper, the Dubai Outlet Village is the place to be at. Imagine, international designer brands on 50% discount! Yes, shoes, clothes and accessories from the previous season is knocked down to half price, or even more and this single floor factory outlet in Dubai.I recommend this place because there is no other factory outlet in Dubai, hence you are getting the best of over 100 international brands, ranging from high end designer to world famous brands in one place. Brands like Michael Kors, Hugo Boss, Lanvin, Ermenegildo Zegna. Armani Exchange, Antonio Marras, Juicy Couture, Roberto Cavalli, Gianfranco Ferre, DKNY and many others.Variety of branded shoes on sale at the Outlet Village DubaiFood outlets are equally impressive with local and international cafes and restaurants available. As I walked around Dubai Outlet Village, I noticed a Godiva Cafe and many other lifestyle cafes like Affogato Cafe, Caffe Nero and Ca'Puccino, Chinese food is also available at PF Chang while  Middle Easter brands Awani, Grand Saray will satisfy your craving for local food.The outlet mall is located near IMG Worlds theme park, therefore a great combination is for the wife to shop here, while the husband and kids explore the theme park. Where: Dubai Al-Ain Road (Route 66)Website: Dubai Outlet VillageOne of the massive branded shoes stores at Dubai Outlet VillageSouk Al BaharKnown as and Arabic style shopping mall, this souk offers a lot of traditional and local products. If you are looking for a local souvenir, this is the place to shop at. There are many jewelry shops, carpets sellers, fine antiques, Emirati art, traditional clothing, lakeside cafes and restaurants.To get to this souk, you need to follow the lakeside and find the bridge that connects Souk Al Bahar. My personal tip is to have dinner at Thiptara, a Thai restaurant with an amazing view of the Dubai Fountain. The Thai restaurant comes with a dining area that faces the fountain. There is also a bar area for cocktails, which faces the Dubai Fountain.Where: Lakeside of Dubai FountainWebsite: Souk Al BaharDubai's famous duty free shopping at the airportDubai Airport Duty Free Shopping (DDF)Nothing else comes to mind but shopping when you are at the Dubai Airport. The duty free shopping here is known as one of the best places to shop in the world, and you cannot ignore this. With three main terminals here, each of them has a dedicated duty free shopping area.However, you should know that at Dubai Airport Terminal 3, you will find the largest and most modern duty free shopping facilities here. The main reason is because Emirates flights transit here from all over the world. The shops are open 24 hours and all year long, making it convenient for international travelers  to shop anytime.Selection of champagnes on sale at the Dubai airport duty freePerfumes are the most sold items here at the Dubai Duty Free and you can see the latest fragrances from any brand in the world being sold here. Apart from that, alcohol and spirits, cigars and cigarettes, watches, jewelry, leather goods, clothes, electronics and many other duty free items can be found here.One of the highlights of the Dubai Duty Free Shopping is the lottery that they run, where you purchase a ticket and you could be the winner of a luxury car or even a million dollars. So, next time you transit at Dubai airport, make sure you dedicate some time to explore the duty free shopping here.Where: Dubai AirportWebsite: Dubai Duty Free ShoppingView of Dubai's Downtown area from The Address Hotel at Dubai MallThe shopping places mentioned above were all personally visited by me, therefore this article is based on a real experience. I am very sure there are many other interesting places for shopping in Dubai and with just one trip, I believe I cannot cover all the places.For more information on Dubai, you can visit the official Dubai Tourism website.I will be featuring another story things to do in Dubai during the Summer, so keep a look out for that article. It will feature all the many things to do indoors for any kind of traveler.I do look forward to returning to Dubai, perhaps in the Winter season to see how different the shopping scene is. Another area of interest for me is also the fascinating Jumeirah area of Dubai. For now, this is my first hand experience for summer shopping in Dubai and I hope it comes in handy for anyone visiting Dubai.
    Saturday 10th of June 2017 06:33:00 AM
  • Rainforest World Music Festival 2017 - 20th Anniversary
    This year's Rainforest World Music Festival 2017 will be the 20th Anniversary and it is held at the unique Sarawak Cultural Village. Can you imagine that is has been 20 years of running the RWMF, which originally started in 1997. And for this year, the 20th Anniversary of the Rainforest World Music Festival will take place from the 14-16 July. Branded as one of the must unique music festivals in the world, the setting of this festival takes place in a natural environment of a rainforest in the cultural village. The experience takes you into another world, combined with an array of world music from different parts of the earth.One of the world music performers at last years RWMFRainforest World Music Festival 2017 - 20th AnniversaryFor those who have attended the RWMF before, the good news is that there is something special planned for the 20th anniversary. Many fringe events have been arranged for the three day event, which includes a wellness program, music workshops, kids activities, talks and exhibitions. For the music lineup of the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017, a total of 25 bands and artists will perform at the main stages and workshops throughout the festival. You can expect a well balanced genre of world music from four corners of the earth here.A Whirling Dervish performing at the last RWMFRainforest World Music Festival 2017 Artist / Musicians Line Up1511 O Maliao Maliao Dance Troupe (Malaysia)Abavuki (South Africa)Achanak (UK/India)At Adau (Sarawak/Malaysia)Bitori (Cape Verde)Ba Cissoko (Guinea)Calan (Wales)Cimarron (Colombia)Didier Laloy + Kathy Adam (Belgium)Dom Flemons (USA)Hanggai (China)Huw Williams (Wales)Ilu Leto (Sarawak/Malaysia)Kelele (South Africa)O Tahiti E (Tahiti, French Polynesia)Okra Playground (Finland)Pareaso (Korea)Radio Cos (Spain)Romengo (Hungry)Saing Waing Orchestra (Myanmar)Spiro (UK)Svara Samsara (Indonesia)Taiwu Ancient Ballads Troupe (Taiwan)The Chipolatas (UK/Australia)The Paradise Bangkok Morlam International Band (Thailand)Visitors entering the Rainforest World Music FestivalEvents Happening At RWMF2017Below is a list of events that will take place during the 20th Anniversary of the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017. They are from day to night and throughout the three days. All of the events take place inside the Sarawak Cultural Village, therefore you need to buy the tickets to enter the premises. RWMF Mini Sessions (Formerly Workshops)The much anticipated music workshops will be the main highlights in the mornings and afternoons where visitors can choose which ones they want to attend. The mini sessions will be divided into three main areas of the cultural village. RWMF Theatre Stage PerformancesThis is another popular segment where visitors can attend the theatre stage shows which are indoors, and in the afternoons. Explore the world music in a closed environment where musicians perform unique sounds from their respective countries.A section of the Rainforest world Craft BazaarRainforest World Craft Bazaar 2017As every year, the Rainforest World Craft Bazaar will take place where local and ethnic crafts and jewelry will be displayed and also for sale. The bazaar will see over 30 booths that showcase some of the best native and ethnic work from all over Sarawak. For anyone into ethnic jewelry or crafts, this is where you should be at. There will also be demonstrations, hands-on projects and many other activities taking place in the craft bazaar area of the cultural village. This special segment is organised by CraftHub Sarawak. RWMF Drum CircleOne of the most popular events before the start of the live shows is the Drum Circle. Musicians gather around and perform drum rhythms together with the audience. This interactive show allows visitors to experience the moment with the artist in the open area near the main stage. Shows are at 5.15 PM daily.One of the world music performers during the Rainforest World Music FestivalPustaka Bookaroo For the kids, yes, the kids were not left out as the Bookaroo Library or Pustaka Bookaroo will provide interesting workshops for kids aged 7-12 years old. Held in one of the museum houses, this workshop promises an interactive and exciting for both, parent and kids. Asian Food KitchenA dedicated Asian kitchen will be offered at this year's RWMF where visitors can experience the many types of Asian cuisine from local hawker to fusion dishes. As to what kind of Asian food will be served, well, let us just say it's local and interesting. Definitively worth exploring, if you are a foodie. RWMF Wellness ProgramA special feature for the 20th anniversary is the wellness program where renown speakers will share knowledge and information about the world of wellness. This includes talks, meditation, yoga, personal training, Budokan, Zumba and performances. If you are into the fitness and wellness scene, this program is not to be missed.The crowd at last years Rainforest World Music FestivalRainforest World Music Festival 2017 - 20th AnniversaryWhen: 14-16 July, 2017Where: Sarawak Cultural Village, Santubong, KuchingTickets: Door Sale RM152.00 (RWMF Tickets)For more detailed information, please visit the official RWMF website.One of the local ethnic people of Sarawak pose by a traditional bamboo bridge at RWMFA beautiful sunset seen at Damai Beach, just next to the Rainforest World Music Festival20th Anniversary of the Rainforest World Music Festival 2017I will be attending the 20th Anniversary Rainforest World Music Festival as it is a yearly ritual for me, and every year, I walk away very impressed. If you have been longing for an international level world-class event, this is one of them to attend. If you are not able to attend this, you can also see the other music festivals in Sarawak as they happen on different times in the year.Sarawak is also an amazing destination for travel, provided you love nature, culture and adventure. There are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, incredible rainforest, amazing national parks and fascinating cultures waiting to be discovered. Here is also a list of things to do at the Rainforest World Music Festival, for those who are staying around the Santubong area.Note that the RWMF is located about one hours drive from the city of Kuching, and if you need to travel, you should plan well ahead. There is UBER and Grab available as well. A special shuttle bus service is also provided for a small fee from the city to the event. There are in fact a number of music festivals in Malaysia which you can attend, throughout the year and the most longest and successful one is no other than the Rainforest world Music Festival, which is now the 20th Anniversary since starting back in 1997. See you there. 
    Wednesday 7th of June 2017 11:59:00 AM
  • Sandakan Food Festival 2017
    The Sandakan Food Festival 2017 is scheduled to take place in the city of Sandakan in East Coast Sabah from 26 August to 2nd September. This years theme will be Oceans, Land and Forest and during this 9-day unique food event, you will be able to find some of the best local east coast Sabah food. This culinary event is also aimed at promoting the local food scene in Sandakan where the place is also well known for its nature and adventure. Sandakan is located in the east coast of Sabah where it is accessible via flights from Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur where there are a number of flights that fly direct here via AirAsia or Malaysia Airlines. Those wanting a little extra adventure can even rent a car from Kota Kinabalu and drive overland for about six hours to Sandakan.Traditional Sabah Food in Sandakan - Kadazan CuisineSandakan Food Festival 2017For the Sandakan Food Festival, food travelers or foodies will be in for a treat as there is much to explore, especially the seafood here where many claim it is much fresher and cheaper than in other parts of Sabah. A barter trading and fishing sector, the city is also a morning city where it gets extremely lively from as early as six in the morning till after lunch. As I have been here many times over the last ten years or so, I have tried quite a variety of the local Sandakan food which ranges from Chinese to Malay and even some of the ethnic local favourites and for foodies, the best place to start exploring is of course around the main Sandakan city area.Dim Sum in SandakanTo fully explore the Sandakan food culture, you need to also move around from the city outwards and the way the areas are measured are using miles, therefore Mile One all the way to Mile 32 and a popular area out of the city is no other than Mile Four where you can find lots of restaurants, coffee shops and cafes.Sandakan Food Festival 2017Date: 26 Aug to 2 Sept 2017Venue: Sandakan CitySFF2017 Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/sandakanfoodfest/The Sandakan Food Festival is brought to you by the Sandakan Food Project (SFP) and the Sandakan Tourism Association. The SFP is a very small group of Sandakan citizens with a passion for preserving and advancing the local food heritage in this east coast city of Sabah, Borneo.Photos of Sandakan, SabahSteamboat in Sandakan at Restoran 1Malaysia on Trig Hill (No Pork)Seafood Bak Kut Teh in Sandakan, one of the best in MalaysiaFor Bak Kut Teh lovers, the famous Seafood Bak Kut Teh in Sandakan is something you should try. It's probably the best in Malaysia or even the world. They have been doing this for years and habve perfected the combination of seafood and the Bak Kut Teh herbs and soup.Ikan Bakar Mama Resepi at Pasar Sim Sim, SandakanFor those who love grilled fish, Mama Resepi at Pasar Sim Sim is the place to try it. No one does it better than Mama herself. All the seafood here is delivered freshly on a daily basis and you can choose from fish, crabs, prawns and squid to be grilled.Sandakan City before sunsetIf you visit the Ba Lin Roof Top Bar of Nak Hotel in Sandakan, this is the amazing view of Sandakan City. Truly one of the best places to catch the beautiful Sandakan Sunset with cocktail in hand.Sandakan view from the Four Points Sheraton HotelWhere to Stay in SandakanThere are a few notable hotels found in Sandakan city area, and depending on your budget, you can choose from the Four Points Sheraton Sandakan, Sabah Hotel, Nak Hotel, Sandakan Styles Hotel or the many other budget hotels here. Check this list from Google for hotels in Sandakan if you need more information.If you are exploring Borneo, you can also read about where to go in Sabah for 2017 as I have highlighted the best places to visit around here. This guide would also help you to select the interesting places which include Sandakan. For the Sandakan Food Festival 2017, I believe it will be held in the main town area due to accessibility and also the infrastructure plus all the main hotels are located around here too. For anyone wanting to experience the east coast Sabah food culture, be sure to check out Sandakan City as it is one of the best places to try some of the unique foods from North Borneo. 
    Thursday 1st of June 2017 05:06:00 AM
  • Malaysia Theme Parks: The Ultimate Family Guide
    If you are wondering what kind of Malaysia Theme Parks are available, this ultimate guide is created to assist anyone looking for some family fun. There are actually quite a number of theme parks in Malaysia to choose from, and at different states, there are different kinds of theme parks too.Some of them are basic theme parks while others are world class international ones. Depending on where you in Malaysia, there is always a theme park or water park available for just about anyone. This list will go through the popular theme parks in Malaysia.Malaysia Theme Parks: The Ultimate Family GuideInside Berjaya Times Square, an indoor theme parkKuala Lumpur Theme ParksBerjaya Times Square Theme Park - As Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia, most visitors, local or international will surely visit here. And if you are travelling with kids, you will most likely visit the Berjaya Times Square Theme Park, which is a one stop family entertainment and shopping center. While mummy does some shopping, daddy can take the kids to the only indoor theme park in KL city. Berjaya Times Square Theme Park is located in the golden triangle of Kuala Lumpur and is accessible by the KL Monorail. Petaling Jaya Theme Parks Sunway Lagoon - For those planning to visit one of the largest shopping and entertainment malls in Petaling Jaya or PJ, you would be heading to the Sunway area where a world-class integrated shopping mall is connected to the famous Sunway Lagoon Water and Theme Park. Truly one of the best homegrown brands, Sunway Lagoon is a full fledged water and theme amusement park that caters to the entire family. There is a wave pool, man-made beach and many different rides available here. Kidzania Malaysia - Located in the Mutiara Damansara area where you can find IKEA PJ, The Curve Shopping Mall and Ikano Power Centre is Malaysia's only Kidzania. This wonderland for children is an interactive theme park where they can actually learn while having fun. Parents can leave their kids under supervision and focus on shopping in the area where the other malls are strategically located. Kidzania Malaysia is located about 30 minutes drive from Kuala Lumpur city.Melaka Theme ParksOne of the water rides at A'Famosa Resort in MelakaA'Famosa Resort - Just 90 minutes drive from Kuala Lumpur, you will be in historical Melaka which is a popular day trip tourist attraction. Before reaching Melaka, you can stop at the A'Famosa Resort and Theme Park which is another big homegrown brand. Treat your family to the unique Old West Cowboy Town, Water World and Safari Wonderland. If that is not enough, you can also shop at Freeport Melaka, the first factory outlet in this state. This experience combines resort living, family fun, entertainment and shopping in one trip.Pahang Theme ParksBukit Gambang Resort City - Located nearer to Kuantan is the Bukit Gambang Resort City, which has made its name popular among the local Malaysians. They have the largest Zoo Safari in Malaysia apart from a modern water park, paintball area and a resort which makes this a one-stop family fun center. Recently revamped in the last couple of years, Bukit Gambang Resort is now on par with other water parks and  theme parks in Malaysia. 20th Century Fox World Malaysia - The former Genting Highlands Theme Park is currently undergoing a world class revamp where the first 20th Century Fox World Genting theme park will open here in Malaysia. After much delays, the operators have announced that the new Genting Theme Park will be opening its doors in early 2018, so this is something to look out for. Imagine a world class theme park 2000 meters up in the cooling highlands of Malaysia. Resorts World Genting is only a one hour drive from Kuala Lumpur city too.Johor Theme Parks The Legoland Malaysia Water Park, just next to the theme parkLegoland Malaysia - If you are a huge Lego fan, this theme park in Johor will be your ultimate haven. Legoland Malaysia is the first international chain to open in Asia, and has been attracting visitors from all over the region. They offer more than 70 activities and rides for anyone aged from three years and above. Indoor and outdoor activities are available, including the first 3D simulator ride called Ninja-Go. There is also the Legoland Water Park and Hotel which is all interconnected, and possibly in 2018, there will also be the Legoland Aquarium.Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park - For kids, and those who love Hello Kitty, the Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park is the place to visit. Housed indoors, there are three main sections in this family theme park. The Thistle Hotel is conveniently located just next door, making it easy for families who want to travel here. Plus, Legoland Malaysia and the Johor Premium Outlets is only 20 minutes away. This park is excellent for those with kids under 12 years old, and especially if they love Hello Kitty.Angry Birds Activity Park - Imagine a 26,000 square feet indoor park where kids can let loose. Yes, the Angry Bird Activity Park in Johor is the perfect place to combine lifestyle, shopping and family fun in one visit. Located on the third floor of Komtar JBCC Shopping Mall, this first of it's kind activity theme park offers play pits, climbing area, mini track, toddler's playing area, a themed cafe and also an interesting souvenir shop.Perak Theme ParksOne o the rides at Lost World of Tambun theme park in PerakLost World of Tambun - Over the years, one of the most successful theme parks in Perak is the Lost World of Tambun, which is also owned by the Sunway Group. Located just 20 minutes out of Ipoh city, this water and theme park comes complete with a resort hotel and a variety of shops and attractions. The Lost World of Tambun also brands itself as a theme park, hotel and spa, which is perfect for the family where everyone gets to indulge in something.Movie Animation Park Studios - The latest theme park to open in Ipoh is the Movie Animation Parks Studios or MAPS Perak, which is a world-class theme park. Opening in June 2017, and is a new attraction here, you can be assured that there will be lot of curiosity. The attractions here come in shows, stunts, rides and interactive games which is suitable for kids and adults. MAPS Perak is also a two hour drive from Kuala Lumpur and can be done on a day trip.Penang Theme ParksSome of the natural activities at Escape Adventureplay theme park in PenangEscape Adventureplay - For anyone heading to Penang Island, there is a very unique theme park called Escape Adventureplay located at Teluk Bahang, all the way past Batu Feringgi, which is a very popular tourist area in Penang.This eco-themed concept brings you back to the good old days of childhood and parents who lived in the 80s and 90s, and is the perfect place to let your kids experience how you enjoyed back in the day. Climbing trees, swinging, jumping and crawling is part of the activities here, so you can imagine what kind of fun your kids will have at this theme park which is build around a natural environment. To complete your vacation, stay at the Hard Rock Hotel Penang, which is just five minutes drive away.Genting Highlands used to be the king of theme parks, this is the former outdoor theme park thereThis Malaysia theme park guide is done for those who are wondering which theme park is the best place to visit, especially with the school holidays and also the long weekends that Malaysia experiences from time to time. Overall, there are many theme parks in Malaysia, which include water parks, and it all depends which part of the country you are going for your vacation.Remember, you need to book well in advance in order to get some of the theme park promotions. And for accommodations, it is always better to book ahead to get the best deals. Ultimately, for visitors or even locals traveling around Malaysia, you now have the luxury of visiting some of the theme parks here, where you can plan your family vacation to enjoy the best of the destination and also indulge in some family fun at the many Malaysia theme parks. 
    Tuesday 30th of May 2017 11:51:00 AM
  • AirAsia Cambodia
    According to news reports in May, AirAsia Cambodia is set to be launched in August 2017. This would be the second AirAsia in Indochina after AirAsia Thailand. The reason for this is purely handle an increasing number of air travelers from Malaysia to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville in Cambodia. Cambodia has an open skies policy that promotes Asean connectivity and this in turn allows more goods to be transported and more people to travel to other countries. The news of AirAsia Cambodia also surfaced during a recent press conference in Kuala Lumpur where CEO Tony Fernandes announced a new service from Kuala Lumpur to Sihanoukville city.AirAsia CambodiaSihanoukville beach. Photo from www.www.mekongtourism.orgWith the new service, a total of four AirAsia flights a week from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 to Sihanouk International Airport is scheduled for August 9, 2017. Currently, AirAsia flies a daily service from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.The objective of AirAsia Cambodia is also about connectivity and according to Tony Fernandes, one of the most important aspects is for the people of Sihanoukville to have another option to fly. He also hopes that small businesses can benefit by expanding their businesses into Asean. This is also part of the AirAsia expansion into Indochina where AirAsia Vietnam is also in the works for 2018. For more information, visit the AirAsia website. 
    Tuesday 30th of May 2017 05:05:00 AM
  • Batik Air Malaysia: New Name for Malindo Air
    In Malaysian aviation news, Malindo Air will be renamed as Batik Air Malaysia in the second half of 2017 to align itself with the Indonesian airline currently using the original name. Chief executive officer Chandran Rama Muthy mentioned that the branding change will give the airline a better position in the Lion Air Group that controls both Malindo and Batik Air, and to offer seamless domestic and international service.Batik Air MalaysiaWith this change in name, the airline is positioned to be the international link within the Lion Air group, while the existing Batik Air Indonesia will continue to serve the Indonesian market as a full service airline. Under the new name, the company will promote Batik Air Malaysia brand across the 16 countries which will also help boost Malaysia's heritage and culture. Currently, Lion Air Group owns 49 per cent of Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd, and Chandran owns a 51% stake. Besides Malindo Air and Batik Air, other subsidiaries in the group include Wings Abadi Airlines, Lion Bizjet, and Thai Lion Air which focuses primarily around the Southeast Asian and Asian region.  Currently, Malindo offers interlining services to four other international airlines which are Etihad Airways, Oman Air, Turkish Airlines, and Qatar Airways. with a mission to connect ASEAN and European markets. What the Batik Air Malaysia livery looks likeMain Image from @DafeeTravelGeek (Twitter). Originally, Batik Air Malaysia is supposed to service international routes while Batik Air will focus on the domestic Indonesia routes. The airline currently operates a fleet of 11 ATR72-600s, 11 B737-800s, and 7 B737-900ERs on flights throughout Malaysia as well as to Indonesia, India, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and China. With the new name change of Malindo Air to Batik Air Malaysia, the airline plans to have 30 interline partners and several code-shares by 2018. 
    Friday 26th of May 2017 11:07:00 AM
  • Kuala Lumpur Mayor?s Tourism Award 2017
    The Kuala Lumpur Mayor?s Tourism Awards 2017 came to a resounding finale with the Award Presentation and Gala Dinner Event held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on the 23rd May. The KLMTA 2017 is also organized by the Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau under Kuala Lumpur City Hall, and this year?s event was the third edition of the tri-annual industry awards program. Previous editions were organized in 2011 and 2014. For this years Kuala Lumpur Mayor's Tourism Awards, 650 guests that included Kuala Lumpur tourism industry players, related government agencies and members of the media attended the prestigious event.The guest of honour for the evening was no other than the Minister of Tourism & Culture, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Bin Abdul Aziz. In the Mayor's speech, he mentioned that Kuala Lumpur was ranked as the 7th Most Visited City in the World according the Mastercard?s Global Destination Cities Index for 2016. The city received 12.02 million visitors, an increase of 7.4% from the previous year of 11.19 million visitors, while the total revenue garnered from this volume of visitors in 2016 was USD11.3 billion. Kuala Lumpur Mayor?s Tourism Award 2017 Winners ListMayor?s Award for Outstanding Contribution Tan Sri Datuk Yong Poh Kon Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh Sock Ping Accommodation Category (5-Star Hotel) Platinum Award ? Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur Gold Award ? Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur Accommodation Category (4-Star Hotel) Platinum Award ? Impiana KLCC Hotel & Spa Gold Award ? Ambassador Row Hotel Suites by Lanson Place Accommodation Category (Budget Hotel) Platinum Award ? Tai Ichi Hotel Gold Award ? Sungei Wang Hotel Dining Category (Fine Dining Restaurant) Platinum Award ? Taka by Sushi Saito Gold Award ? Nobu Kuala Lumpur Dining Category (Home Grown Restaurant) Gold Award ? Serai Restaurant Gold Award ? Dancing Fish Dining Category (Food Court)Platinum Award ? Lot 10 Hutong Gold Award ? Quizinn by Rasa Tourist Attraction Category (Family Entertainment) Platinum Award ? KL Bird Park Gold Award ? Aquaria KLCC Tourist Attraction Category (Culture, Arts & Heritage) Platinum Award ? Royal Selangor Gold Award ? Kuala Lumpur City Gallery Shopping Mall Category Platinum Award ? Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Gold Award ? Sunway Putra Mall Medical Tourism Category Platinum Award ? KPJ Tawakkal Specialist Hospital & KPJ Tawakkal Health Centre Gold Award ? Institut Jantung Negara Education Tourism Category Platinum Award ? University of Malaya Gold Award ? Berjaya University College of Hospitality Mayor?s Commendable Award for Front Liners Ms. Lim Hwi Shuen (The Federal Kuala Lumpur)A total of over 500 nominations were received for the 14 categories and subcategories, and only 449 were qualified for the first round of judging where nominee?s submissions were scrutinized and shortlisted for the final round. For the final rounds of judging, the panels of judges conducted site visits and even sampled the products and services first hand.Continuing with the system of voting from the previous editions of the programme, the judges scores made up 95% of the total marks awarded to each nominee, while public voting made up the remaining 5% of the marks. Members of the public were invited to vote for their favourite establishment by logging onto the official awards programme website and registering.Kuala Lumpur Mayor?s Tourism Award: What's Missing? While the KL Mayor's Tourism Awards focuses on the mainstream industry, I have suggested that they include a digital category in 2014, but it was left to deaf ears. Unfortunately, the committee is either not interested or just not bothered about the digital sector. We all know that digital is currently the number one method for tourism around the world, including Malaysia. The key element is how tourist or visitors find attractions, places to stay or places to eat. A good 80% of this comes from online branding and marketing and it is those who are actively promoting these places, that should also be recognized. Even players like Sarawak Tourism and Sabah Tourism have acknowledged digital and online tourism as one of the awards in their tourism awards since five years ago, and Tourism Malaysia also has a category for digital or online, so why can't the Kuala Lumpur Mayor?s Tourism Award have this? We shall see for the next awards. 
    Thursday 25th of May 2017 05:03:00 AM
  • Best Way To Go To Taman Negara
    What is the best way to go to Taman Negara? A common question that is asked by most travellers who plan to visit the oldest national park in Malaysia, I will share with you some of the best ways to get there, all depending on your budget and how fast you need to travel. Before I get into the logistics for Taman Negara, you should know that this massive national park is located only three and a half hours drive from Kuala Lumpur city and anyone can visit this place without prior booking or permits. Taman Negara National Park is open to everyone who is into nature, trekking, hiking or wildlife watching and is Malaysia's premier rainforest destination in the peninsular. Best Way To Go To Taman NegaraAs there are a few ways to get here, and each of them require traveling around three to five hours. I will narrow down the best way to go to Taman Negara National Park in Pahang for anyone interested to visit this fascinating and enchanting rainforest in Malaysia.Taman Negara's famous canopy walkTaman Negara Van Transfers - This is the best way to get to Taman Negara National Park from Kuala Lumpur or KL City. There is a daily Taman Negara van transfer service by Ivy Holidays which is located at Wisma Selangor Complex along Jalan Sultan and they depart at about 8.30 AM daily. All you need to do is make a booking by phone (+6 010 900 8699) or visiting the tour counter on the ground floor of the building. Walk in through the main entrance and it is on your right. The entire journey takes about four to five hours and direct to Taman Negara National Park in Pahang. Ivy Holidays is also offering a package price of RM90 per person, one way, which includes the van transfer and also boat ticket to Kuala Tahan, which is the main gateway to the national park.The van I traveled with to Taman Negara National ParkTravel Time to Taman NegaraVan from KL to Kuala Tembeling - 3.5 Hours Boat from Kuala Tembeling to Kuala Tahan, Taman Negara - 2 hoursTaman Negara Bus Service - There are buses that go to Taman Negara National Park but the only public bus is from the town of Jerantut to Taman Negara, which is three times a day. For those bus lovers, and must travel by public bus, the only way is to take an express bus to Jerantut and then take the local bus to Kuala Tahan.*Important Note - We would like to clarify that bus means 20-40 seat coach buses. Many companies in Malaysia use the term bus when it is actually a tour van that seats from 6 to 10 people. So, when you see a company selling Bus to Taman Negara, it is actually a small van.View from the jetty of Kuala Tembeling, before you take your boat to Taman NegaraTaxi to Taman Negara - This is probably the most expensive option. From KLIA or KLIA2, a taxi or private van will also take about 4 to 5 hours drive to Taman Negara National Park. The price however, is much higher than getting the van shuttle from KL City. A tip is to take the KLIA Express into the city, then take the van transfer to Taman Negara. The price would be anywhere from RM550 to RM750 per van or taxi. However, if you are a family, this could be one option to ease moving around too much. Flights to Taman Negara - This is tricky, but there are no flights to anywhere near here. The closest airport is Kuantan Airport and it takes 40 minutes flight time from KLIA. From the airport, you need to take a taxi or private van transfer which will take about 3 hours. It generally works out to be around the same time therefore I am not recommending this, unless you have lots of frequent flyer miles to spend.Taking a local boat to and from Taman Negara allows beautiful scenic landscapesBoat to Taman Negara - Well, in reality, the only boat service is from Kuala Tembeling town near Jerantut where they have boat service to Taman Negara. There is no other boat service from other towns or from Kuala Lumpur. So, when you see anyone promoting a boat transfer or boat service to Taman Negara, it is from Kuala Tembeling Jetty.They are wooden long boats that seat about 14 to 16 people and has a roof on top. The boat journey is fascinating as you get to see nature at its best along the two hour journey to Kuala Tahan along the Tembeling River. Most overnight tours will have you dropped off at Kuala Tembeling Jetty where you catch the long boat to Taman Negara national park.View of Kuala Tahan town outside Taman NegaraYou can also find out more about the types of Taman Negara tour packages which I have written about. Each of the tours highlight the different days or if you plan to do day trips to Taman Negara National Park. This is one of the premium national parks that has one of the best canopy walks in Malaysia, and is also one of the oldest national park in the world.My trip in April 2017 was an amazing experience using both van and boat as I had booked my Taman Negara tour with Ivy Holidays. They can be contacted at +6 010 900 8699 or via email at marketing (at) ivyholidays.com. You can Whatsapp, Line or WeChat to inquire about any transport or overnight trip here. Even if you need last minute bookings, they can arrange it for you. The next time you want to know what is the best way to go to Taman Negara National Park, hopefully this article will shed some information for you to choose from. Enjoy the journey there and don't forget to take lots of photos. 
    Monday 15th of May 2017 03:30:00 AM
  • Movie Animation Park Studios Ipoh To Open 26 June 2017
    In recent development after a fiasco of delays, the much talked about Movie Animation Park Studios Ipoh will open on 26 June 2017. Known as MAPS Perak, this will be the second theme park in the Ipoh area and will be the talk of town as this joint venture theme park project will feature world class attractions and rides. Movie Animation Park Studios or MAPS Perak, will be the first of its kind in Asia and is in the last phase of its RM520 million development. The theme park director Ramelle Ramli also disclosed that the MAPS Perak has more than 40 attractions and is expected to attract a million guests within its opening year.Entrance to Movie Animation Park Studios in Ipoh PerakMovie Animation Park Studios Perak OpeningThe opening day should coincide with the second day of Hari Raya in Malaysia therefore, you can be expecting a flood of people heading there. The theme park was planned for an opening in last June before it was postponed to December. Delays was due to the management?s decision to enhance the park. The management has also added new attractions the Movie Animation Park Studios which are;HyperspinAsteroid AttackCartoon FactorySmurf LifeWormhole TechnologiesMovie Animation Park Studios Perak is also built on a 21 hectare plot of land in Meru. The park has six zones housing 23 interactive attractions and 15 rides. One of the main highlights is Malaysia?s tallest drop tower ride called Megamind Megadrop, which rises 52 meters before dropping. MAPS Perak park ticket promotionsMovie Animation Park Studio VideoMAPS Park Tickets Season passes purchased earlier will be valid for 12 months after the openingsingle day passes will valid for three monthsMovie Animation Park Studios Perak Map (Click to enlarge)We has published an article about the Movie Animation Park Studios Opening in July 2016, but that was postponed. With the news being official from the mainstream media, we truly hope nothing delays the MAPS Perak opening as it was postponed three times since announcing it in 2015. Right now, you can look forward to the Movie Animation Park Studios Ipoh opening on 26 June 2017. 
    Monday 8th of May 2017 11:17:00 AM
  • Komodo Island Dive Trip Report
    If you have been planning to visit Komodo Island for diving, here is my Komodo Island Dive Trip Report based on my recent dive there in September 2016. For me, this was my second time visiting Komodo Island in 12 months but on my first visit, I did not manage to dive therefore on my second trip in September 2016, I did my inaugural dive at Komodo Island. The main photo in this article was taken by Kiersten during our dive together. Before I go on, this Komodo dive was a very last minute arrangement by Skyscanner Indonesia and Wonderful Indonesia as when our group arrived at Labuan Bajo in Flores, it was finalized just before checking in to the Sylvia Hotel Labuan Bajo. I have also written an article about diving at Komodo Island where all the basic information is shared there and this article will just talk about diving there.In total, I did three dives at Komodo Island which was all arranged by Orca Dive, a trusted dive operator which is very professional and safety being paramount. Their dive boat was a twin 150 hp engine speed boat complete with full top cover and descent was the standard rollback style.The dive boat I used for my Komodo divesPink Beach Dive Site, KomodoMy first dive spot was of course the famous Pink Beach dive site, together with dive buddies Kiersten from USA, Henry from Australia and Jac from Singapore, and the four of us were given the mandatory dive check before descending down. First impression was wow, super clear visibility and healthy coral life. As usual, my descend is always the slowest due to my sinus problem where I have to equalize every meter on my way down.Looking below me at a depth of 10 meters, I could clearly see the rest of the divers with the dive master already exploring the corals. Kiersten was trigger happy with her GoPro, shooting away while the rest followed. As I caught up with them, the pure myriad of colors just kept me in awe as I passed various types of coral life. A beautiful mix of hard and soft corals dominated the sea floor with various types of coral fish swimming around.Our dive master pointed out a spotted blue stingray, moray eel, turtles and some nudibranches or sea slugs. Overall, the landscape was beautiful and picture perfect for those who love underwater photography. Currents were mild during the dive where not much effort was put into finning, and this made the dive very relaxed. Eventually, we surfaced after about 50 minutes underwater with huge smiles on each of our faces.Dive master giving a briefing before going down at Pink Beach Dive SiteManta Point Dive Site, Komodo Next spot was Manta Point, but this was quite debatable due to the off season of Mantas, and since we were already here, the dive master had said that if we were in some serious luck, there could still be a couple of manta rays around, so he left us with the choice, but being a first time for the four of us, why not. Back-rolled and again, a slow descend for me while the other divers were already on the lookout for those majestic manta rays. Well, not quite as they would be found at various cleaning stations, and these were on a flat terrain therefore, you could see far, providing the visibility was super clear. For our Manta Point dive, the visibility wasn't that great as it was just past noon and we were getting about 15 meters. Currents were decent and approaching the first cleaning station, it was empty.Our dive master signaled us to follow him to the next one and to our disappointment, no one was home either. So, throughout the dive, we checked a number of cleaning stations with no luck but corals were pretty and marine life was thriving.After reaching the end, most of us still had about 120 bar left so I decided to do my safety stop and head on up the boat while the others continued to explore the area. On the boat, our dive master was pretty apologetic about not being able to see any mantas, but we had already known that it was a 50-50 chance of spotting them in this time of the year, well more like a 90-10 chance if you ask me. However, it was a great experience overall.The dive master briefing us about the Pink Beach Dive SiteBatu Bolong Dive Site, KomodoThis was a bonus since all of our tanks were still with air, our dive master took us to Batu Bolong dive site as a surprise, which is touted as one of the best dive sites in Komodo Island. He told us that he's taking us to a special place and to sit back and enjoy the ride.Here, a small rock island divides the strong currents that flow into the channel and from the surface of the sea, you could see the sheer power of the currents flowing, which was scary.The boatman had to be extra careful, to position his boat in between the current split and asking about the currents, the boatman told me that if we jumped in, we would be immediately carried away really fast so descending down was crucial as if you got caught in the current, you would just have to wait it out.We were told to gear up for a quick check dive for this site, and our dive master said that you wouldn't believe how rich and beautiful the marine life was down below, so everyone got really excited.After a few good minutes of re-positioning the boat for a safe descend, we back rolled in one by one and quickly descended, following the dive master. On my descend, I could already see the fascinating marine life that hung around the base of the rock island with hundreds, possibly thousands of fish swimming in all directions.Turtles were seen eating off the healthy corals while larger fish were lurking in schools in the deeper areas. Truly, this was a divers haven for photography, and yet, one needs to be extra cautious not to get caught in the strong currents here.With all the excitement going on, I had trouble descending as when I reached three meters, I could not go and deeper, probably due to my almost empty tank with 80 bar. I kept forcing myself to go down, letting all the air out of my BCD and exhaling to the maximum, but I just could not and one thing I learned about diving is that when you can't, don't force it.One of the live on board boats at Komodo IslandSo I decided to surface back to the boat and kept looking down to see the amazing view. However, I did not immediately climb up the boat when I hung on to the ladder, I kept looking down with my mask to see what else was there. In general, there was too much going on and I told myself, the next opportunity I get to come back here, this would be one of the must-dive spots of Komodo Island for me.So there you have it, my little dive report on diving in Komodo Island where I was fortunate to experience three dive sites, well, just two and a brief third site for me. Overall, the feeling is amazing as there was just so much to see here plus there was no sign of coral bleaching during any of my dives. Marine life is simply incredible and for photographers, this is indeed one of the best places I have seen in my years of diving.Komodo Island Diving Video by Kiersten of The Blonde AbroadA post shared by Kiersten ? The Blonde Abroad (@theblondeabroad) on Sep 26, 2016 at 4:13am PDT Huge thanks goes to the team of Skyscanner Indonesia and also Indonesia Tourism as this was part of the Wonderful Indonesia campaign to promote these places to the rest of the world. Skyscanner provides information on the cheapest flights to get via their app or website and for this collaboration between them and Indonesia Tourism, I have to say that this was indeed a smart partnership.I have also written about how to go to Labuan Bajo and also a list of things to do in Labuan Bajo for anyone planning to visit this beautiful place in East Nusa Tenggara. Again, I am just a casual diver and more of a travel writer, therefore this was one of my best diving experiences to date, after diving in Jordan and also diving in Sipadan Island. I hope you enjoyed my Komodo Island dive trip report and if you have questions, please ask in the comment section.
    Friday 5th of May 2017 03:59:00 AM
  • Global Big Day 2017
    This years Global Big Day 2017 is on 13 May and bird watchers or birders from 150 countries around the world will participate as a global team to see what birds are there. This years Bid Day 2017 will be held at  the Yucatán Peninsula, one of the world?s most stunning and important areas for birds.In order to cover the phenomenal bird diversity there, they will be dividing into three teams for the first time ever: Team Belize, Team Guatemala, and Team Mexico. All three teams will be joining forces in a quest to find the most bird species and raise USD$475,000 for conservation.How to Participate in Global Big Day 2017For those interested in participating in Global Big Day 2017, you can follow the guide below as it highlights how anyone can be a part of this. All you need to do is register on the eBird website and put in your count. Birding statistics from the Global Big Day 2017 website (Photo from eBird.org)1. Submit Your Data to eBird on May 13 2017It is very simple. If you submit your birds to eBird they count. Learn how to take part. Don?t worry ? you don?t need to be a bird expert, or to go out all day long. Even a half hour checklist from your backyard will help. Of course, you are welcome to spend the entire day in the field, but know that it is not required! Please enter your data as soon as you can, preferably by Tuesday, May 16, 2017. 2. Visit the Global Bid Day Page for Live Updates and Detailed StatsDuring the Big Day, the main page will be updated. You?ll be able to follow Team Sapsucker in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico ? but more importantly, you?ll be able to track how many species have been seen around the world and in any region of interest to you.3. Organize With Your Friends for Greater CoverageNow is the time to start discussions on local birding discussion lists to make a plan to find difficult species. Learn how to share Global Big Day with others. Try to organize in your home state, province, or even county to make sure teams spread out and find as many species as possible. Put your patch on the worldwide Global Big Day map. Use the hashtag #eBird_GBD for Twitter, Instagram and also Facebook if you can. 4. Join A Global Network of Birders and ConservationistsGlobal Big Day connects a network of people across the world to support a cause that transcends languages and cultures. From the southern tip of Africa to the soaring peaks of Himalayas, and from the Ecuadorian rainforest to backyards in New York ? Everyone is a part of Team eBird, working to understand and conserve the birds we care about.5. Make Your Sightings CountEvery bird that you enter in eBird counts as a part of Global Big Day. However, there are three ways that you can make your sightings as valuable as possible. It is important to note that these are only suggestions?not requirements!Submit complete checklistsKeep counts of the birds that you seeKeep multiple checklists throughout the course of your birding: if you get in the car you should end that checklist and start a new one when you get to the next location.Big Day 2017 (Image from eBird.org)Not sure how Global Big Day relates to you? Global Big Day is a day for everyone who loves birds to make your passion count. Not everyone will find a unique species, and that's absolutely fine. Even if you just have a few minutes on 13 May 2017, there is nobody better than you to put your local birds on the map.For more information, visit the Global Big Day Website. Big Day Malaysia 2017Malaysia has been a part of Global Big Day for a number of years now. One of the main bird clubs of Malaysia who have promoted this event is no other than the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club or SBBC, which is based in Sandakan Sabah where they have encouraged groups of bird watchers to participate on this special day. The Sandakan Borneo Bird Club has also successfully organised the Borneo Big Day where three countries - Brunei, Malaysia and Kalimantan, Indonesia participated in collecting data from the entire island of Borneo. This was initiated in 2015 and again in 2016. For Borneo Big Day 2015, the Sabah portion submitted 53 checklists with a total number of 333 birds. About the writerI am David Hogan Jr, an amateur birder who has been birding since 2007. On occasion, I travel all over Malaysia and other countries for my work in promoting tourism destinations and when I have the opportunity, I will do some casual birding. To know more, see my bird watching articles. I have worked closely with the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club, Tourism Malaysia, Sabah Tourism Board, Sarawak Tourism Board, Indonesia Tourism, Bird Watching Accessories, Malaysia Bird Tour Companies and many other related company, hotel, resort or tour operator. Those who are all set for Global Big Day 2017, all the best and have a great bird count. Remember to add your collected data to the eBird website and if you have any comments or questions, do share them below. 
    Sunday 30th of April 2017 07:24:00 AM
  • Talad Neon Night Market Bangkok
    The new Talad Neon Night Market in Bangkok recently opened in December 2016 and is currently the talk of town. However, this new Bangkok attraction adds on to the number of shopping and entertainment places in the city and is not a permanent attraction. The Talad Neon Night Market currently opens from Thursday till Sundays and from 4.00 PM till midnight only. The good thing is that the night market in Bangkok is located in the main Pratunam district and caters to the hipster and younger generation travelers. No, this is not your Chatuchak Market or Asiatique Riverfront Market where you can find a wide range of items for sale. Talad Neon Night Market offers more lifestyle stalls, booths and containers that sell drinks, snacks, food, trinkets, home ware and trendy fashion. You can find a lot of trending items here and for food, you will encounter the best of Bangkok in terms of street food, fusion and good old Thai food. Think of Art Box Singapore, it is generally the same kind of concept. Scene at Talad Neon Night Market. (Photo by Richard Barrow/Twitter)Talad Neon Night Market BangkokIn total, there are plans to have over 1000 stalls here when it is fully operational and due to social media and wide media coverage, Talad Neon is gaining popularity fast, especially to the Southeast Asian youth. One of the reasons is the location, where many travelers prefer to stay around the Pratunam area of Bangkok and getting to the night market is just 10 minutes walk from Platinum Fashion Mall in Pratunam. Apparently, Talad Neon is also part of the Platinum Fashion Mall group hence there is a special tuk tuk shuttle service from the mall to the market and back from 7-9 PM. But you need to check if the service is still running. The name Talad Neon also means Downtown Night, hence the name. The place is well organized and clean, which is fantastic for tourist. Live entertainment at the night market (Photo from Talad Neon Facebook)What Can You Find At Talad Neon Night MarketAt one glance, it looks like a massive flea market but catering to the hipster lifestyle fashion which includes retro fashion, fusion food and drinks, chill out areas, quick massages and some obscure decorative items. Beer is easily available apart from some festival style foods. The night market is also open from 4.00 PM till around midnight, offering another avenue to continue shopping with a little leisure time. Live music performances are also lined up at selected areas where visitors can just lay back with a cold beer, fusioned juice or the good old iced Thai tea. Bright neon lights literally cover the area making this a festival and lifestyle area. No, this is not the Asian Coachella. Some of the local drinks and desserts (Photo by Talad Neon Facebook)Photos of Talad Neon Downtown Night MarketThere are many photos of this place which are circulating on social media. Go here to see more photos of Talad Neon Night Market. Talad Neon MarketOpening Hours: Thursday to Sunday, 17:00 - 24:00Location: Petchaburi Road, PratunamBTS: Ratchthewi or Chit Lom (10 minute walk from the station)Tel: +66 (0) 2 121 8000Website: https://www.facebook.com/taladneon/Use: Waze or Google Maps to get here by footMap to Talad Neon Night MarketBangkok has been one of the favourite destinations for many travelers and over the years, there have been many new attractions coming up here. If you are headed up north, do pay a visit to the Chiang Mai Night Market as that is also one of the must-visit and recommended places. The next time you visit Bangkok, do explore this place in the evenings after your shopping or sightseeing. Who knows what you will discover at the Talad Neon Night Market in Bangkok. 
    Saturday 29th of April 2017 06:59:00 AM
  • Things To Do In Bario
    If you are planning to travel to one of the best natural places in Sarawak, here is a list of things to do in Bario for those heading here. Located in the Kelabit Highlands, in the north of Sarawak, Bario is home to the Kelabit people who have been living here for centuries. The absolute beauty about this highland town is that it is located 14 hours by road and 45 minutes by flight from Miri city. Bario is well known for their highland rice, salt and pineapples, but due to the remoteness of this amazing place, there is much to do here. What you won't find here are shopping malls, hotels, restaurants or any other modern day city or town facility. This place is one of the most original villages in Sarawak and Malaysia. To get to Bario, the best possible way is to take a flight from Miri city and  there are only three flights a day here. The type of aircraft used is a turbo prop 19 seat Twin Otter plane, operated by MAS Wings. The journey here is another adventure as the plane flies up to around 8500 meters, so you have a beautiful view of the rainforest, hills and mountains along the way. So, what are the things to do in this unspoiled place? Read on.One of the scenic landscapes in BarioThings To Do In BarioBelow is a list of things to do in Bario, catered to just about anyone who plans to visit this amazing highlands. You should also check with the homestay operator about the activities that you want to do as they can arrange for it.Most of the things can be done on your own, but some of them require a local guide, especially trekking or hiking around the highlands. Please note that most of these activities are paid separately when you are there as the main packages cover the food and accommodations. Unless you pre-arrange the Bario package with the activities.Trekking in Bario takes you through an amazing experience1. Trekking in BarioThe best thing one can do is trekking in Bario as there are so many beautiful treks available here. There are simple and basic treks to advance treks depending on the level you require. The beauty about trekking in Bario is that the weather is so cooling, you most likely won't break a sweat while trekking. Some treks are short and simply but the rewards at the end of the trek is pretty nice. Below are a list of popular trekking places in Bario;Korea Hill Trek - Easy (10-15 minutes)Prayer Mountain Trek - Medium to Hard (45-60 minutes)Pineapple Farm Trek - Easy (10-15 minutes)Penan Village Trek - Easy (20-30 minutes)Bario Salt Factory Trek - Easy (15-20 minutes)Pa Ukat Village Trek - Easy (15-30 minutes)Pa Lungan Village Trek - Medium to Hard (4-5 hours)Pulong Tau National Park Trek - Medium to Hard (3-5 Hours)Bario to Bakelalan Trek - Hard (1-2 days)2. Visit a Kelabit Longhouse in BarioThere are a few traditional longhouses found in the Bario areas and some of them are still in the original statuses. Since 2016, some of the traditional Kelabit longhouses have started charging a small fee, around RM 3.00 to RM 5.00 per person to visit the longhouse. One of the most popular long houses is no other than Bario Asal Long House.Inside Bario Asal Longhouse, the first longhouse here3. Bario Salt FactoryActually, this is more of a local homegrown center where local families take turns to process and produce the famous Bario Salt. You need to trek in for about 10 to 15 minutes before you arrive at a shed where the salt is processed and made. A guide is required to bring you here and you can see how the Bario Salt is made and you can also purchase it directly from those making it there. If it rains, the trek can be quite muddy, so take note on this.Cycling in Bario, one of the many things to do here4. Cycling in BarioPersonally, I enjoy doing this the best. Most homestays in Bario offer mountain bike rentals, therefore you can use them to explore this highland village. The roads are very safe here and there is little to no traffic. Cycling can be done individually or in families and there is no available map, so it is pure exploration. See highland paddy fields, traditional Kelabit longhouses, churches and many other natural landscapes while you cycle around Bario.5. Bird Watching in BarioOne of the lesser known bird watching places in Malaysia is no other than Bario. But for those who plan to do some bird watching in Bario, you are in luck as there are quite a number of montane birds to be spotted all over this place. A simple walk around Bario would easily net you 10 to 20 birds and when you go for bird watching treks, you will see much more.Even the famous Dulit Frogmouth was once spotted just out of Bario. There are a couple of bird watching guides in Bario and one of them is Scott Apoi from Nigmat Ayu Homestay. Personally, I have visited Bario five times in the last three years and I can say that I have spotted over 50 species of birds around here.Bird Watching in Bario is highly popular among the birders6. Experiencing the Kelabit Culture in BarioNothing beats learning and understanding the Kelabit culture in Bario and one of the best times to do this is during the Pesta Nukenan or Bario Food Festival , held usually in August every year. However, the locals can arrange a traditional Kelabit dinner complete with a traditional Kelabit cultural dance at one of the long houses.7. Walking around Bario One of the best things you can do is take a walk around Bario, which is relatively easy and there is little or no traffic around here. The best time to do this is also in the mornings, where you see the locals going about their daily chores. In the evenings, it is equally beautiful as children would be seen playing and locals heading home for dinner. The beauty about walking around Bario is that everything is natural and the picturesque landscapes are incredibly beautiful. 8. Visiting a Penan Village in BarioFor those who are into hiking, there are actually two authentic Penan villages found around Bario. While the Penan people are not very hospitable, you can actually engage one of the local Bario guides and trek to their villages. This is purely to visit and observe, that is all. In most cases, it would be hard to communicate as the Penan tribe here are quite reserve and shy. Again, this is purely by luck and you should consult in your guide about this.Jungle Blues Dream Art Gallery in Bario9. Visit an Art Gallery in BarioYes, there is an art gallery in Bario run by artist Stephen and his wife. The beauty about this art gallery in Bario is that it is located in a traditional Kelabit longhouse here. The gallery is also shared with a unique homestay and combined, it is called the Jungle Blues Dream Gallery and Homestay. Artworks are all created and painted by Stephen and put on display around the homestay and gallery.10. Visit the Bario Plane Wreckage of World War IIAn almost well preserved plane wreckage is found in Bario where the RAF plane crashed here in 1964. The plane is in three pieces minus the wings and interior, so you will see a full bodied structure and you can actually go inside the plane. This plane is also a Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer CC.1 aircraft, Registration XP294. You should be careful of the sharp metal edges when doing so.The Bario plane wreckage is located by a local homestay called Nancy Hariss Homestay. The story of the plane crash in Bario is that the Twin Pioneer skidded while trying to land on a wet runway. It ran into a ditch, causing the undercarriage leg to collapse. For aviation fans, this would be quite interesting, otherwise, a great photo opportunity.Bario Plane Wreckage11. Visit the War Memorial of BarioA small war memorial was erected in Bario to commemorate the soldiers and parachuters during the war. Names of the soldiers include Australians, British and local Kelabit people. The Bario War Memorial is located five minutes walk from the main town area and is hard to miss. It is enclosed in a fenced area with a wooden gate and anyone can go in there.12. Visit the mini Bario MuseumA new structure was erected in the main town area for the Bario Food Festival in 2015 and now serves as a mini museum of Bario. However, there are no items on display but more information on the Kelabit people and also important information about the highlands and its unique megaliths found here.13. Catch a Bario SunsetThe best place to see a sunset in Bario is no other that Bukit Korea, a hill located behind the main town center. In between the two row of shops, lies a walk way near the old Bario community center. There is a path that leads up a small hill where you pass a mini pineapple farm and only a 10 minute easy walk up. Once up there, you will see a wooden hut and this is the spot to catch the sunset. Timing wise, best to go up at around 5.00 PM to catch the stunning scenery from up the hill. The sun sets at around 6.30 PM too.The unique Bario Megalith or Batu Ritung in Pa Lungan Village14. Visit the Bario Megalithic StructuresOne of the mysteries of Bario are the many megalithic structures found around Bario. The most famous being Batu Ritong which is found at Pa Umor village, 3-5 hours trek from Bario. Batu Ritong stands at about 7 feet high and the two ton slab is supported by two other vertical slabs. No one seems to know how it was erected or why it was. However, there are many folktales that the guides will share with you. When I was in Bario in 2014, I met some university students who were in Bario to study the megalithic structures, and on asking them how many were there, it was estimated at 300, but only a handful were known.Kelabit Food in Bario, very unique and different.15. Try the Kelabit FoodThis is hands down the most unique experience where you will be guaranteed to try the Kelabit food when you stay in Bario. One of the most organice food experience I have had during my travels, the local Bario food is all farmed, rared, caught or hunter. Vegetables are farmed or taken from the wild, fish is caught from the local ponds and game meat is hunted by the locals.If there is one food type that anyone visiting Sarawak should try, it is the Kelabit Food. The way it is prepared is handed down from generation to generation and is cooked traditionally. If you have the opportunity, do ask for the local porridge or 'Kikid'. For Muslim travelers, it could be a challenge for you, but there is one shop in Bario town that serves Halal food.Map of Bario, showing the various villages around hereIn general, the best time to visit Bario is from December to February or in August for the Pesta Nukenan Bario or Bario Food Festival. The food festival will see the entire Bario come alive with visitors from all the surrounding villages, who participate here for this weekend event.You can see local traditional games being played while for foodies, this is the ultimate food experience where you can taste many different types of highland cuisine. Very unique and highly recommended for any food traveller.Nigmat Ayu Homestay in Bario seen from the paddy fieldBario is not your regular tourist destination, but it is a very unique cultural experience that is located high in the highlands of Sarawak Borneo. Me, as the writer, have been here five times in the last three years and my last trip in March 2017. I never get tired of this place as once I arrive here, I am disconnected from the modern world and go back to how things were, without modernization. You can also read about my journey to the Bario Highlands in Sarawak, which I wrote in 2015.For anyone wanting something different when you visit Sarawak or Malaysia, I would easily recommend you explore this unique highlands. Perhaps, the list of Things To Do In Bario will also make it easier for your visit here and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime. 
    Friday 21st of April 2017 04:00:00 AM
  • Horizon Village Outlets (HVO)
    Another factory outlet in Malaysia called Horizon Village Outlets (HVO) Sepang, will be opening in mid 2018 at Sepang in Selangor. This adds the number of factory outlets in Malaysia to six where the latest Genting Premium Outlets or GPO is scheduled to open in mid to late 2017. Horizon Village Outlets Malaysia will feature 150 retail lots in a luxurious European architecture open styled area of 400,00 square feet and is located about 10 kilometers north of KLIA and KLIA 2 in Sepang. The massive factory outlet in Sepang is also being built in the Serenia City township by Sime Darby Group. The closest factory outlet in Sepang to Horizon Village Outlets is also Mitsui Outlet Park which is located along the way to the international airports. This will be quite interesting as there will be two outlets in a 10 kilometer radius and will offer a good variety of choices to travelers and also local shoppers.Artist Impression of Horizon Village Outlets (HVO) (Photo by HVO)Horizon Village Outlets SepangThe tenants will include well known international brands where a quota of 30% is expected for this. The balance will be catered towards other local brands, food, beverage and entertainment outlets. Currently, there are no super luxury brands mentioned but the international brands include;Kate SpadeMichael KorsLa MartinaVictoria?s SecretGiuseppe ZanottiTory Burch, TumiSwiss Watch GalleryArtisan Village HVOAn Artisan Village will also be the highlight of HVO where they plan to showcase a variety of art, culture and design from all over Malaysia. There will be Malaysian handicraft products and also Malaysian culinary delights that will be something different from the other factory outlets in Malaysia. This unique Artisan Village project is steered to create a unique Malaysian experience, especially for foreigners or travelers visiting HVO.Horizon Village Outlets Malaysia (Photo by HVO)Festival Village HVOA food and beverage section called Festival Village will also be showcasing the unique culinary tastes of Malaysia. Restaurants and cafes serving Malaysian or fusioned-Malaysian foods will be the highlights here. The Festival Village target is to provide a unique customer experience for shoppers who visit HVO, and most importantly, the Malaysian experience.Artist impression of Horizon Village Outlets Sepang (Photo by HVO)Architectural Design of Horizon Village OutletAccording to architects Adam & Associates, they are creating an unique experience for shoppers in the design of this factory outlet. They were quoted in a brochure stating; Horizon Village Outlets (HVO) is designed to exceed customers? expectations and deliver an unrivalled outlet shopping experience. The racetrack circulation design was specifically developed by the architects, Adam & Associates, and has been proven to encourage intuitive wayfinding by the shoppers. It means that the visitor flow is maximised so that each and every shop will have excellent visibility and foot trac. HVO will have the benefit of seven entry points and a corridor width designed to optimize cross-corridor shopping. When combined with the multiple access points and crosscorridor optimization, the racetrack design will maximise the exposure and convenience to the shoppers for all store locations.Layout plan of Horizon Village Outlets (Photo by HVO)Horizon Village Outlets (HVO) Address:Directions: Intersection of the Elite Highway and Putrajaya-Cyberjaya ExpresswayMap of HVO: Google MapsGPS Coordinates: 2.840383, 101.697934Website: www.hvo.com.myAdding to the list of Factory Outlets in Malaysia, this will surely put Malaysia back on the tourism map as one country with multiple factory outlets. Currently, Malaysia is aiming to hit a target of 31 million visitors for the year of 2017 and with the opening of these factory outlets, and also the right marketing strategy, it should not be a problem.Map to Horizon Village Outlets (Photo by HVO)Genting Premium Outlets and Johor Premium Outlets are one of the strongest factory outlet brands that have been seeing a balanced turnout over the years while the others have been seeing more locals visiting them.With Horizon Village Outlets opening in 2018, this will definitely provide travelers and those who enjoy shopping who are visiting Malaysia. The shopping concept will also work well for those who are on their way to the airports after spending time visiting Malaysia. As a traveler myself, I look forward to the opening of Horizon Village Outlets (HVO) in Sepang.
    Thursday 20th of April 2017 04:43:00 AM
  • Cabin Zero Travel Bag Review
    Over the years, I have used quite a number of travel bags which came in small, medium and large units and from time to time, I would have a favourite bag, until I met Cabin Zero. Usually, I travel for short to medium trips as I am not one of those world nomads who travel from country to country forever. I have done that over 25 years ago when travel was pure and original compared to nowadays, so this Cabin Zero travel bag review is to share my happiness in finding the perfect bag for all my travels. Currently, my travels take me around Malaysia and Southeast Asia, occasionally to Japan, Korea or even the Middle East, but my style of travel is usually a to-and-from trip without jumping from country to country. This makes it easier for me to bring either a backpack or check-in bag and backpack, depending on the duration on my trip.Perfectly fitting into any airplane overhead luggage compartmentAlso having to consider, most of my trips take me into the wilderness, especially for nature, flora and fauna, culture, bird watching or the general sightseeing. So, depending on who my client is, I need to consider what type of travel bag to bring along on my trips. Having said that, I always have a preferred travel bag which I use and on the last few years, I was using a sleek waterproof backpack, but to be honest, it was just normal, but practical. You see, I belong to the 40's club and  traveling at this age group, you need a real comfortable bag. This means, something easy to carry around and store on buses, trains or flights. Cabin Zero Travel BagsIn 2016, a fellow traveler had introduced me to this new travel bag brand, which was considered new in my region, called Cabin Zero and I thought little of it. So, as I got tired of my waterproof back pack, I got one of those massive 44 liter backpacks from Cabin Zero in the military green color, and when it arrived, I had a shock as to how huge it was. With a total weight of 950 grams, it looked really large and the whole concept of it being a aircraft friendly cabin bag really impressed me. Yes, this means that the bag can be brought into any commercial flight as cabin luggage, hence the name.Yes, that is me at Bangkok's Don Muang Airport with my Cabin Zero BagSince using it in 2017, this has been my all time favourite bag that I travel with now. In March of 2017, I visited Tokyo in Japan for three days for a quick work trip and Cabin Zero was the only bag that I brought along. This was really hassle free as I did not have to wait for any checked in luggage, speeding up my airport check in process.Then in late March, I visited Bario in Sarawak for four days to do some bird watching and trekking, and I used only my Cabin Zero bag for the entire trip. Everything I needed was packed neatly into the bag and I still had extra space, so I even put in my trekking shoes.My next trip would be taking one of those Taman Negara tour packages where I will explore Malaysia's largest and oldest national park in the state of Pahang. This will see me exploring the rainforest, rivers and also trekking around the national park. Again, the Cabin Zero travel bag will be the perfect choice for my adventure here.Cabin Zero Military 44L bagsWhere to buy a Cabin Zero Bag in Malaysia? This is the big question being asked to me whenever someone meets me during my travels. Well, they do not have an official retail store here in Malaysia, but you can buy a Cabin Zero online from the official website. What's So Special About Cabin Zero?Each bag comes built in Global Luggage Tracker, powered by Okoban. That's pretty cool. And the shoulder straps are thick padded AirMesh which is really comfortable. The outer composite material is actually made from military spec nylon, the real hard stuff. So, I have been using the bag for a number of times and it still looks good.Cabin Zero WarrantyEvery Cabin Zero bag comes with a 10-year warranty, and to sweeten the deal, if you ?like? CabinZero on their official Facebook, they will increase the warranty to 25-years. Now, that's an awesome deal if you ask me.At the end of the day, I am still using this bag for all my travels and so far, it has been a really good experience. As a seasoned traveler for the last 30 years, I have gone through many different travel bags, and this Cabin Zero travel bag review is one of the very rare articles I do for travel products. In other words, the bag is awesome and I am actually happy using it. 
    Wednesday 19th of April 2017 03:41:00 AM
  • Disney Explorers Lodge
    The all new Disney Explorers Lodge will be opened on 30th April 2017 and this will be the third resort hotel at Hong Kong Disneyland. This brand new hotel also comes complete with recreation, shopping, exquisite culinary adventures and Disney entertainment, making this the first adventure and leisure themed hotel in Hong Kong. The 750-room Disney Explorers Lodge gives the resort a grand total of 1,750 hotel rooms, which will greatly enhance the resort?s capability to accommodate more MICE business apart from the general holiday visitors heading to Hong Kong. This will also offer guests an ultimate vacation complete with their legendary service, amazing dining facilities and shopping amenities. Disney Explorers LodgeSo, what can one find at the new Disney Explorers Lodge in Hong Kong Disneyland? The following will highlight some of the unique features of the new resort which explores exotic cultures, destinations and more. The main lobby area of Disney Explorers Lodge1. Disney ExplorersGuests can catch Mickey Mouse the explorer, Minnie Mouse the adventuress, Donald the bird-watcher and Goofy the pilot in the new hotel. There will also be more than 1,000 artifacts that explorers collected from around the world like Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, Mali, Bali, Bolivia, the Ivory Coast and more are displayed throughout the hotel, in the lobby, guest rooms, dining venues, kids? corner and various indoor and outdoor areas.2. Exclusive MerchandiseGuests can collect their own memorabilia to remember their journey of ?exploration and dreams? at The Trading Post. This is also a specially-designed merchandise store in the Disney Explorers Lodge, which stocks an extensive selection of merchandise with more than 20 exclusive items.Inside the Chart Room Cafe3. Epic Dining AdventuresIn total, there are three new restaurants that offer epic dining adventures. In each of the restaurants, cuisine from different parts of the world is served, integrating various cultural elements with the Disney Explorers Lodge theme. These restaurants can cater to 500 guests in a single seating.World of Color Restaurant at Disney Explorers LodgeDisney Explorers Lodge RestaurantsDragon Wind - Decorated with a whimsical dragon kite, serves rural and classical provincial Chinese fare inspired by the five elements of traditional Chinese culture. Guests will be greeted by Disney friends in their brand-new explorer outfits daily during breakfast or lunch. World of Color Restaurant - Once an explorer?s art studio of botany and entomology, brings together the tastes of new and old worlds from far and wide.Chart Room Cafe - This cafe features lighting fixtures that evoke constellations used in navigating voyages, is the place to kick back and enjoy specialty coffee, freshly made sandwiches, made-to-order pastas and homemade gelato.Dragon Wind Restaurant4. Lush Themed GardensFour lush gardens frame the four wings of the seven-story Disney Explorers Lodge hotel, offering each hotel room either a refreshing view of the gardens or the open sea. The gardens, themed after the cultures of Asia, South America, Africa and Oceania, are named after beloved characters from Disney and Disney Pixar animated films who have drawn references from the regions. They are;The South America-themed Kevin Garden is named after the giant bird in ?Up?.The Oceania-themed Little Squirt Garden celebrates the playful sea turtle from ?Finding Nemo?. The Asia-themed Hathi Jr. Garden is named after the baby elephant from ?The Jungle Book?. The African Savannah-themed Rafiki Garden features the wise mandrill from ?The Lion King?.Together with the Dreamer's Spring and the outdoor Rain Drop Pool, the hotel features incredible places to explore inside and out, making it ideal for resort guests to enjoy during a family visit, corporate event or a refreshing getaway from the city.One of the themed rooms at Disney Explorers Lodge ResortStaycation at Disney Explorers LodgeWith Disney Explorers Lodge launching, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is the perfect ?staycation? destination for guests. Guests can enjoy their stay in any of the three hotels with their family and friends. To mark the Disney Explorers Lodge grand opening, special offers will be available to guests, including park privileges with accommodations. Visit Disney Explorers Lodge for more information. Disney Explorers Lodge PromotionsCurrently, there are some Disney Explorers Lodge promotions where guests may enjoy Play and Dine Ticket Combo including 1-Day tickets and a meal voucher, available from now until July 14, 2017. Travel trade partners booking for their guests for two consecutive nights or more at one of the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort hotels can enjoy the ?2 Nights Plus Offer?, valid till December 20, 2017.The above should be more than enough to entice anyone, including me to head back here for another visit. On my last trip to the Hong Kong Disneyland, it was in 2016 and we stayed at the Disney Hollywood Hotel which was a pretty amazing experience. One of the highlights during out stay was in fact the Disney Parade which is not to be missed. Adventure Mickey and Minnie flanked by Disney's Terruce Wang (Left) and Todd Richins (Right) Staying at any of the Hong Kong Disneyland hotels is probably the best thing any family should do as it is convenient to move around. If you stay in Hong Kong city area, it would take around one hour to get here with the MRT Train. You would also have to change trains to get here. We decided to stay at the resort as at that time in 2013, there were the new Hong Kong Disneyland rides and attractions opened. Anyone planning to visit the Hong Kong Disneyland this year should honestly consider staying at this new hotel as there will be lots to see and experience. Plus the Disney characters would also be in full swing, making appearances throughout the day at the new Disney Hollywood Hotel. 
    Tuesday 18th of April 2017 01:48:00 PM
  • Diving at Mataking Island
    Diving at Mataking Island is one of the best dive experiences I have had around Malaysia. While the dive sites here are pretty obscure and non-commercialized, it is truly one of the better dive sites in the entire Sabah. Well, when you put Sipadan Island aside of course. While Mataking Island is well known for being a honeymoon destination, diving at Mataking Island is totally out of this world. From the main photo, you can imagine how stunning the underwater landscape is. Wrecks, rich marine life, colourful coral landscapes, interesting wrecks, and the occasional large fish that come around here will complete any divers wishes and fancies.The post office box on a wreck at Mataking IslandDiving at Mataking IslandOverall, the experience of visiting Mataking Island will allow you to relax as this place is quiet and away from the commercial areas of Semporna and Mabul Island. There is only one resort on the island which is the Mataking Reef Resort, a luxurious resort catering to middle and high end guests. When you book a package at the resort, diving can be included as one of the many activities offered here. Alternatively, you can also add on additional dives or even book a dive to Sipadan Island.  One of the unique diving experiences here is that they have an underwater post box. This means, you can write a postcard at the office, have it sealed in an underwater envelope and when you go diving, they will bring you to the underwater post box and you can post your letter to anyone in the world. How cool is that? For those who do not know how to dive and want to experience this, there is the Discover Scuba Diving or DSD available here. This amazing underwater experience lets you go to a maximum of five meters underwater under the supervision of a dive instructor.Me diving at Mataking IslandMataking Dive SitesThere are five common dive sites around Mataking Island and a total of 33 dive sites for the adventurous divers. Usually for first timers, you will be brought to the common dive sites, which are quite incredible. The Mataking Dive Sites are;House Reef - The most popular site around the main jetty area of the island. The house reef is rich with corals and fishes, so this is one place worth diving. On occasion, you have the opportunity to see a large barracuda here. Bohayan - This site is located on one of the many nearby islands and, as with all sites here, your boat will be the only one around.D'Wall - Five minutes by boat and you will be near Mataking Kecil Island. This wall dive is quite interesting with macro life. Gavin's Playground - A slightly further spot which is around 15 minutes boat ride and rich with fishes, macro and coral life. This is a boat dive spot too. Garden of Eden - The name sounds interesting and it is here that you can find lots of corals, macro and other fishes. The landscape is pretty as well with mild currents at a 25 meter depth.Underwater Post Office - This is a wreck dive and with a maximum depth of 27 meters. But the post box is located at about 20 meters on a cargo ship wreck, which was sunk for conservation purposes in 2006.Scuba diving at Mataking IslandOther diving information on Mataking IslandOverall, the depths for diving here range from 5 to 40 meters, but usually you will go to the maximum of 27 to 30 meters, if you are visiting the wreck. The waters are tropical temperature, therefore you can dive with or without a suit. If you insist on a dive suit, they have shorties and also standard ones with 3mm thickness. For visibility at Mataking, it ranges from 5 meters to 30 meters, depending on the time too. Averaging at around 20 meters is good enough for any diver. Dive certification is from beginner to advance divers. If you are an underwater photographer, you need to inform the dive master and they will bring you to the best locations for this. Posting my postcard at the Mataking Island underwater post boxBest Time To Dive At Mataking IslandJust like any other island is Sabah's east coast, the best time to dive at Mataking Island is from March to November. December and January is the rainy season here, but you can still dive. Just that you need to double check with the resort about this. For the peak season, it will be August. The quiet time for Mataking Island is in February and July as this is the off peak period here, so if you want privacy, these are the two best months.A turtle seen during my dive at Mataking IslandWhat Fish To See At Mataking IslandOne of the most common questions asked by divers is what fish can I see at Mataking Island. Well, you will be in for a treat if you are an advanced diver as chances are you may be able to spot grey reef sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, hammerheads and the occasional whale shark in the north point cleaning station area. However, they are not there everyday and it is purely based on luck. Whale shark season here is from April to June, again depending on luck. Overall for the general divers, the common coral fishes are easily spotted, lots of nudibranches, schools of jack fish, morey eels, barracudas, frogfish, lion fish, squat lobsters, stonefish, cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus, trevally, trumpetfish, batfish and large groupers.The wreck at Mataking Island, 20 to 27 meters deepWhere is Mataking Island?Mataking Island is located about 40 minutes boat ride from the town of Semporna, which is the gateway jetty to Sipadan and Mabul Islands. The island comprises of Mataking Besar (Big Island) and Mataking Kecil (Small Island) which is connected by a wonderful sand bank that shows itself during the low tide. There is only one resort on the entire island and offers you ultimate privacy. Usually couples come here for their honeymoon or anniversary, but on average, you get the more serious travelers staying here. Packages are all in, meaning you pay one price for a full board package at Mataking Island. You can book your Mataking Dive Package from the resort operator. I have also done a Mataking Island review for those who want to see more photos of the island and resort.Mataking Diving PhotosDiving at Mataking IslandThe Mataking Wreck seen from aboveMy Suunto Dive Computer shows 16 meters depth and the wreck at the bottomRemains of another wreck at one of the dive sites in Mataking IslandBack of the main wreck at Mataking Island (Apologies for the lens cover as it was in the way)For divers or diving couples out there, Mataking Island is one of the best dive spots in Sabah and from the photos taken by me, you can see how amazing it is. There are no crowds of divers here which allows the marine life to be as natural as it can be. In a nutshell, this is a beautiful, peaceful and amazing place to have a holiday and dive. For more diving articles, you can read my scuba diving section as I have been actively diving all over the region, including The Red Sea. I have also done diving at Komodo Island in 2016 which is totally incredible. And if you plan to visit Sarawak, here is a list of dive sites in Sarawak to check out.  If you have experienced diving at Mabul Island or Sipadan Island, then this is the next place you should explore as diving at Mataking Island will be one of those experiences you will remember for a long time. Remember to bring an underwater camera as it will be very worth it. 
    Monday 17th of April 2017 11:26:00 AM
  • Regatta Lepa 2017
    This years Regatta Lepa 2017 will be taking place from 21-23 April in the town of Semporna, in east coast Sabah. This is also the 24th year that the unique Regatta has been taking place here. Originally paying homage to the nomadic sea Bajau people, the event hast now been accepted as one of the important traditional and cultural events of Sabah Borneo. The Regatta Lepa is also the most unique sea festival in Malaysia as no other culture has anything close to this. Seeing it take place live is an experience of a lifetime and for anyone who loves traditional cultures plus seafaring, this is one event not to be missed. As I travel all over Malaysia and Sabah, I have personally witnessed this event twice. and the uniqueness of the event is something totally extraordinary. Of you are a photographer, this is one of the best captures of people and traditions, all happening in the sea. A Bajau dancer on board one of the Lepa's during the RegattaWhat is the Regatta Lepa? It is a cultural celebration for the Bajau people of the east coast of Sabah, namely around the Semporna area and its vicinity. The highlight of the Regatta Lepa is no other than the floating boat parade. The Lepa is actually a single mast sailing boat of the Bajau people. During the festival, the Lepa's are decorated in the village colours, complete with a musical troupe and dancers. The music plays while the dancers perform traditional Bajau dances while the boats head to the main Regatta Lepa Square for judging. The overall judging will be based on the most beautiful and colorful Lepa. Come evening, a special Lepa Beauty Pageant is held at the nearby stadium where thousands of locals will witness the process of the pageant and the crowning of the new Lepa Queen. During this session, ministers will convey their speeches while VIP's will be invited and special guest artists will perform a show. A beautiful fireworks display is then followed to close the ceremony. The Regatta Lepa has been running for 24 years where in 2003, it was officially declared as a national festival in Sabah and Malaysia. Regatta Lepa Boats heading for the contest in SempornaWhy Should You See The Regatta Lepa?Basically, it is a one-of-a-kind event that is unique to Sabah. If you are in Sabah or heading to Sipadan, Mabul or islands on the east coast during 21-23 April, you should consider making some time to witness this cultural event at the main town area of Semporna. Below is a list of activities that take place through the three days of the Regatta Lepa in Semporna. Some of the main activities take place in the day, while the others take place at night at the Semporna Stadium. The list is; Lepa Boat ParadeBoat Race (Kelleh-Kelleh Race)Duck Catching ContestSea Tug-of-WarLepa Beauty Pageant ContestIgal-Igal Dance (Traditional Bajau Dance)Lepa Car Contest (Stadium Semporna)Craft & Food Stalls (Around Semporna)Fireworks Display (Stadium Semporna)Regatta Lepa 2017Date: 21 - 23 Apr 2017Venue: Seafest Hotel Area and the Semporna Town Jetty AreaTime: Entire DayA Bajau dancer with musicians on board one of the Lepa boatsWhat to take note during Regatta LepaWith a weekend of festivals and events, hotels, guest houses and lodges will be full. You need to book well ahead to secure a room at any of the accommodations. The best hotel in Semporna is also Seafest Hotel, which is a 3-Star hotel and this hotel will be fully booked with VIP's and state officials. The weather may be humid and hot, therefore, drink lots of water and apply sunscreen. There will also be thousands of people around there, best to be careful with your personal belongings. And if you are exploring Sabah, you can also read this article on where to go in Sabah for 2017. For more detailed information, read my earlier story on the Regatta Lepa in Semporna Sabah which I did in 2012. It highlights everything you need to know about this unique cultural festival and event in Sabah.  Again, if you are by any chance visiting the islands of east coast Sabah, do make some time to experience the unique Regatta Lepa 2017. 
    Sunday 16th of April 2017 09:55:00 AM
  • Souq Waqif in Doha
    One of the must visit places is Souq Waqif in Doha, where you will find the cities best items for sale and the best place to hang out. On a trip to Doha in 2016, I had the opportunity to explore Souq Waqif and I was not disappointed at all. Having visit Doha for the first time in my life, I had never actually visited a real Souq, and this was my first experience here. Souq Waqif has been around for over a century and was originally used by the Bedouin people to trade their wares. In 2004 to 2008, it was given a brand new revamp by the Qatari government, and currently remains as probably the only traditional Souq in the Arab countries. The Qatari architecture and design stands out and makes this place absolutely beautiful. Where is Souq WaqifSouq Waqif is located in the center of Doha City and in the district of Al Souq and between Al Asmakh Street and Al Ahmed Street. Anyone visiting Doha will most definitely be introduced to this Middle East styled market. There is another Souq Waqif which is in the Al Wakrah, and visitors should not be confused with this. Just make sure you tell the people that you want to go to the original Souq Waqif. A landmark is the Pearl Monument or near the Dhow Harbor.A common scene at Souq Waqif in DohaWhat Can You Find In Souq WaqifGenerally, there are quite a lot of things to find at Souq Waqif, namely garments, household items, fruits, spices and handicraft. Local jewelry can also be found and some of the shops even sell traditional Qatari attire and items. For the curious explorer, there are lanes that lead to other parts of the Souq where you may end up at the Gold Souq or even the pet area where all kinds of domestic pets are being sold. For the hipster travellers, there are cafes and boutique hotels located around the main Souq Waqif area, so you can stay here and experience the traditional lifestyle of the Souq. There are lots of coffee shops, local and international, and middle eastern restaurants found around the main area. ATM machines are also available while outdoor cafes line the main cobble street here. Explore a little further from Souq Waqif and it will lead you to the unique Falcon Souq where you can see the traditional falcons being bred and sold. There is even a Falcon Hospital in the area too. Cafes and Coffee Shops along the main area of Souq WaqifBest Time To Visit Souq WaqifThe best time to visit this Souq is in the mornings, before lunch as the entire Souq Waqif closes from noon till around 4.00 PM, then reopens till 10.00 PM at night. In the mornings, the Souq comes alive with locals coming here to buy wares and other items, and it is a beautiful sight to experience. Photos of Souq WaqifBelow are random photos of Souq Waqif taken during my trip in 2016. Each of the photos has its own description. Ladies garments and accessories sold at one of the shopsAlong the main street of Souq Waqif, souvenir stalls by the plentyTraditional Qatari items sold at one of the shopsOne of the traders that sells souvenirs and jewelrySome of the lanes are brightly lit to showcase the vibrant colors of the SouqA beautiful Qatari design building at Souq WaqifTraders inside Souq WaqifThe lanes are filled with all sorts of interesting itemsYou can find traditional costume and attire being sold at the SouqTraditional Qatari plates in vivid colors for saleSouq Waqif DohaAddress: Al Asmakh Street and Al Ahmed StreetGPS Coordinates: 25.288436, 51.533691Opening Hours: 7.30 AM to 12.00 NOON, 4.00 PM to 10.00 PMWebsite: Souq WaqifFor anyone visiting Qatar, this is hands down one of the must visit places in Doha. Especially when you have some free time in the day or late in the evenings, you can easily spend two to three hours just wandering around Souq Waqif in Doha.
    Wednesday 12th of April 2017 10:13:00 AM
  • Sky Mirror Kuala Selangor
    Sky Mirror in Kuala Selangor is one of the latest tourism attractions in Malaysia, but you should know that this attraction only happens twice a month during the full moon and new moon period. This means, if you plan to visit Sky Mirror, you need to check the moon timings before going there.The location of Sky Mirror Kuala Selangor is at Sasaran Beach and is off the coast of Jeram fishing village. There have been many names for this place since being discovered and some call it Mirror in the Sky, Salt Flat of Malaysia or even Salar de Uyuni of Malaysia.Currently, only local Malaysians are heading here to experience this new tourist attraction in Selangor, while some bodies have organised FAM trips to Sky Mirror, hoping to attract neighbouring countries to visit this place.Tours are offered by the locals and also via Facebook (you can search for them), and the price for a day trip here is around RM65 to RM70 per person. This includes the boat trip, packed local lunch, ice cold water and some snacks. Usually, you are done by around 2.00 PM. Sky Mirror at Sasaran, Selangor. Photo by Ayuh Travel (https://twitter.com/ayuhtravel)What is Sky Mirror?Sky Mirror is a name given to reflect a mirror image of the sky on an island that emerges during the full and new moon periods every month. A sand bank emerges creating an island which is shallow with a few inches of sea water that happens from mid to late morning. The effect creates a mirror image of the sky and any subject standing there and this has attracted thousands of locals here to snap those epic shots. The size of this sand bank island is huge, but you should always check with the tour operator on where it ends, as you would not want any unforeseen incidents by exploring too far away. What to Expect at Sky MirrorWell, as anything new will attract people, you should expect tons of people on weekends and school holidays during the peak period. This means, there will be loads of people around Sky Mirror, trying to take photos and so on. If you want your clean shot without the people in the back ground, you need to find a spot away from everyone else. Speak to your tour operator to find out how far you can explore around here. How to Go to Sky Mirror Kuala SelangorFor those driving, Sky Mirror Selangor is located near the fishing village of Jeram, Selangor. You need to drive there and contact the locals about taking a 30 minute boat ride out to Sky Mirror. From Kuala Lumpur or Petaling Jaya, it takes about one hour to one and a half hours to drive to Sasaran in Selangor. A tip is to get here just before 8.00 AM, as the light is best before noon. Use Waze if you are driving and you should pass Kapar after Klang before heading to Jeram. This is also before you reach Kuala Selangor. The trick is to book your boat operator before going here as it can be full when you arrive here, wasting your trip. Sky Mirror Kuala Selangor - Photo by Sue Thang of http://blinkthasn.blogspot.my/Sky Mirror Tour PackagesWith the hype of this place on social media, there are also companies orangising Sky Mirror Tour Packages in half or full day trips. An average price for an overnight trip including a a night at a local homestay will cost around RM350.00 while for a day trip for those self driving, it will cost around RM70.00 per person. For the boat trip from Sasaran to Sky Mirror, it generally takes about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the sea. If it is a choppy day, expect 30-40 minutes boat ride. The boats are also the local medium sized boats that have life jackets and operated by the locals at Sasaran Village. You can also read about places to visit in Selangor which shares some of the many tourist attractions in this state. And for those heading to Kuala Selangor, do check out the Bukit Malawati Hill in Kuala Selangor for a historical adventure. Selangor is the hub of Malaysia where Kuala Lumpur is located inside the state of Selangor and if you fly into Malaysia, you will land at KLIA or KLIA2 which is located in Sepang, Selangor. And for the latest tourist attraction in Selangor, it is no other than the Sky Mirror Kuala Selangor.
    Sunday 9th of April 2017 07:37:00 AM
  • AirAsia X Flights to Jeju
    Jeju should be the next Korea destination for the world class budget airline as soon, there will be AirAsia X flights to Jeju Island in Korea. Currently in April 2017, the airline is in talks with officials from Jeju Tourism Organization (JTO) over the Kuala Lumpur to Jeju direct flights. News reports state that the AirAsia X flights to Jeju Island will most likely take off at the end of 2017, just in time for the winter season. Korea has been one of the favourite destinations for Malaysians due to the popularity of the Korean Dramas and also the promotions done aggressively here in Malaysia by the Korean Tourism Board. Since 2016, Jeju officials have also been promoting this island destination which is located south of Korea. AirAsia X Flights to Jeju IslandReports also indicate that over 5,000 Malaysians have visited Jeju Island in January 2017, which makes this the second largest market after China. The resort island has been one of South Korea's popular destination for a long time, but in recent years, with digital and social media, more people want to visit other places around Korea apart from Seoul. One of the beautiful waterfalls at Jeju IslandJeju has also been in the limelight for international travellers for a long time, but now with the growth of budget airlines, more and more common people want to visit this resort island as many have already visited Seoul, considering that Jeju has more to offer in terms of nature and ecotourism. Jeju also boasts of a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is the Mount Halla Natural Reserve where many people want to see the world famous Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes. Apart from that, there are many natural hiking trails, scenic spots and rich cultures. For more information, you can also visit the official Jeju Tourism Organization website. AirAsia X is a Malaysian long-haul service budget airline that flies to 23 destinations in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa. The airline is also the fastest growing airline in the region offering travelers the opportunity to see the world with affordable prices and hopefully by year end, they will add AirAsia X Flights to Jeju Island. 
    Thursday 6th of April 2017 05:39:00 AM

Malaysia Asia Stats

Daily Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Average 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.2
Today 0 0 0 0 0 0
Yesterday 0 0 0 0 1 1
June 21 2 2 0 0 0 0
June 20 0 0 0 0 0 0
June 19 0 0 0 0 0 0
June 18 0 0 0 0 0 0
June 17 0 0 0 0 1 1
June 16 0 0 0 0 0 0
June 15 0 0 0 0 0 0
June 14 0 0 0 0 0 0
Highest 5 5 0 0 3 26
Weekly Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Average 0.8 0.8 0.0 0.0 1.4 1.4
This Week 2 2 0 0 1 1
Last Week 0 0 0 0 2 2
Week 23 0 0 0 0 1 1
Week 22 2 2 0 0 1 1
Week 21 0 0 0 0 2 2
Week 20 0 0 0 0 2 2
Week 19 0 0 0 0 0 0
Week 18 2 2 0 0 2 2
Week 17 2 2 0 0 1 1
Week 16 0 0 0 0 2 2
Highest 8 9 0 0 9 30
Monthly Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Average 4.5 4.6 0.0 0.0 7.1 9.7
This Month 4 4 0 0 5 5
Last Month 4 4 0 0 7 7
April 17 6 6 0 0 11 11
March 17 4 4 0 0 9 34
February 17 6 6 0 0 19 20
January 17 4 5 0 0 7 7
December 16 6 6 0 0 2 2
November 16 6 6 0 0 5 5
October 16 0 0 0 0 2 2
September 16 5 5 0 0 4 4
Highest 20 20 0 0 19 34
Unique PVs Total PVs Unique In Total In Unique Out Total Out
Overall 504 528 0 0 219 256

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