Malaysia travel blog and website on eco-tourism, nature, hotels and resorts, islands and beaches and also around Southeast Asia.
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- Super 4 of Kuala Lumpur
Did you know there is a Super 4 of Kuala Lumpur? Yes, with the recent addition of the Merdeka 118, this mega skyscraper has made it 4 of the tallest buildings in the world, right here in Malaysia.In the last two decades, Kuala Lumpur has been included as one of the skyscraper cities in the world, with several unique world-class skyscrapers and towers.Super 4 of Kuala LumpurKL city, as it is commonly called, is home to four amazing skyscrapers and towers, and I will share with you some of the basic information about these four mega structures that dominate the skyline now.Before I continue, you should also know that Malaysia was put on the world map many years ago because of the Petronas Twin Towers, once the tallest twin towers in the world.A stunning sunrise shot of the Super 4 in Kuala Lumpur by photographer Danny Wong CC.The Super 4 of Kuala Lumpur are Merdeka 118, Exchange 106 @ TRX, Petronas Twin Towers and the Kuala Lumpur Tower, which you can see all four in the main photo above.Merdeka 118 (#4) - Formerly, this megastructure went through three different names, Menara Warisan Merdeka, KL 118 and PNB 118; it is now finally called Merdeka 118 and is a 118-story mega-tall skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. At 678.9 m tall, it is the second-tallest building and structure in the world. (as of Oct 2023)Exchange 106 (#3) - This skyscraper was formerly known as the Signature Tower and is a 453.6-meter-tall supertall skyscraper in the TRX area of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is Malaysia's second-tallest building and Southeast Asia's third-tallest building.The Petronas Twin Towers (#2) - This interlinked pair of 88-storey supertall skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, stands at 451.9 metres (1,483 feet). From 1998 to 2004, they were officially designated as the tallest buildings in the world until they were surpassed by the completion of the Taipei 101 in 2004.Kuala Lumpur Tower (#1) - Often referred to as KL Tower, this is a 6-storey, 421-metre-tall (1,381 ft) telecommunication tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is the world's seventh-tallest tower and Malaysia and Southeast Asia's second-tallest tower, and was completed in 1994.The four skyscrapers that make up the Super 4 in KL. Photo by Tat Wee.Where is the best place to see the Super 4 of Kuala Lumpur?There are several places around Kuala Lumpur where you can try to spot all four skyscrapers on a good day. So, you can try your luck, especially on a clear day or for a sunset shot.Ampang Lookout Point - This is the most famous KL skyline lookout point where you can get a good view of the city day or night. Many locals come here for sunset or night photography of KL, and even I stopped here many times over 30 years ago. Easily accessible by ride-hailing for visitors to KL.Changkat Tunku Lookout Point - The above is one of the best skyline views of Kuala Lumpur, day or night. And it's easily accessible. And if you are a visitor to KL, you can also take a ride-hailing car to get here.Bukit Tunku Viewpoint (Closed) - This used to be the closest lookout point for the KL Skyline, but due to the place going viral on social media, many people came here to take photos and litter the area daily. The city council eventually boarded up this place and closed it down, so do not come here for the skyline view.The Ampang Lookout Point in the day.As I also do some smartphone photography occasionally, you can check out my Merdeka 118 photos taken with my smartphone in December 2021 when they were still building it.ConclusionFor anyone who wants to see or photograph the Super 4 of Kuala Lumpur, the places listed above will provide you with some stunning views and photos.Other than that, thanks for viewing this article and please do share this with your network via Facebook or even through your Whatsapp and Telegram channels.
Monday 2nd of October 2023 12:21:00 PM
- Kiulu Community Based Tourism
In Sabah Borneo, the Kiulu Community Based Tourism or CoBT, is one of the highly sought-after experiences by many travellers due to several factors that are very ecotourism-based.Over the years, Kuilu is one of the well-known destinations, about an hour's drive from Kota Kinabalu and can be visited as a day trip.Kiulu Community Based TourismOver the last decade, Kiuli has become known for its water rafting along the main Kiulu River, the main tourist attraction. I even tried the water rafting here in 2005, almost 20 years ago.Over the years, the Kiulu community has slowly developed several other tourism products here, mainly focusing on the homestay elements in the Kiulu Valley.The new Tourist Information Centre in Kiulu.With proper guidance from selected parties, the integrated community-based tourism initiative in Kiulu was committed to using local resources ranging from accommodation, activities and people.There were courses educating the people here on maintaining unique cultural practices, developing rural tourism through training hosts, and linking homestays with surrounding products or activities.For those who are reading this for the first time, community-based tourism is a special genre of tourism that is conducted by the local village community, where the earnings all go back to the community.This way, it helps to sustain the local villages through various programs organised by the tourism boards, associations, tour companies and even NGOs.What Does Kiulu Community Based Tourism Offer?Over in Kiulu Valley, there is quite a bit of activity available, not forgetting the all-new Community-Based Tourism Centre, which opened in August 2023.This centre is open to everyone, and when you visit here, you can speak to the association members who manage this facility. They will then guide you to the correct facility and accommodation.Water rafting is one of the popular things to do in Kiulu.Kiulu Valley offers;Local Sabahan Homestay ExperiencsKiulu Farmstay ExperienceKiulu Water RaftingQuad Biking in BorneoKiulu Obstacle CoursesKiulu Countryside VisitsTrekking and Hiking around KiuluCamping in KiuluKiulu Abseiling and Flying FoxKiulu Riverside PicnicI will leave it to you to fully explore this beautiful tourist destination in Sabah because if I write everything here, there will not be any element of surprise.Inside the Kiulu Tourism Association office.Where is Kiulu Valley in Sabah? Kiulu Valley is located about 80 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu through some beautiful village roads. It is accessible only via car or bike as there are no buses or trains here.In most cases, visitors who come here either take a tour package from Kota Kinabalu or rent a car and self-drive themselves here to experience the homestay and activities around Kiulu.The welcoming sign when you enter Kiulu town.ConclusionPlease also read my other articles about community based tourism in Sabah, as I have documented quite a few of these places all over the state.And for those who want to experience the Kiulu community based tourism, you can easily book a package through one of the leading tour companies in Kota Kinabalu.You can also book directly through the Kiulu Tourism Association from their Facebook page, as they are pretty active there.
Tuesday 26th of September 2023 01:42:00 PM
- HSS Pocket Park in Kuala Lumpur
The historic heart of downtown Kuala Lumpur has seen significant changes in recent years, with exciting new restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels and event spaces being regenerated and opened by a wave of entrepreneurs redefining the urban experience for locals and visitors alike.Nestled within a cluster of renovated pre-war shophouses known as High Street Studios (HSS) along Jalan Tun HS Lee is HSS Pocket Park - a lush, green oasis where people exploring the area can take a break and escape the heat, noise and traffic congestion.It was intentionally created to balance the burgeoning development of commercial spaces with equally vital public spaces.HSS Pocket Park in Kuala Lumpur?Downtown KL needs more than just hipster cafes - it needs more public spaces,? says Ng Ping Ho, Director of the Kindness of Strangers Hospitality Group, who manages the park for private owners.?We decided to create a park modelled after pocket parks in major cosmopolitan cities worldwide, where urban spaces are reclaimed and transformed into green community spaces. Even though Pocket Park is a privately owned space, it?s open to people from all walks of life.?Recalling the inspiration behind HSS Pocket Park, Ng muses, ?In 2011, on a trip to New York City, I chanced upon the tiny Paley Park tucked between all the skyscrapers. There was a gushing waterfall, tall leafy trees, and people having lunch, reading or taking a break.With the sound of flowing water and sunlight filtering through the trees, it had a stillness that felt like a world away from the bustle of the city. We thought that the time was right for a space like that in KL.?HSS Pocket Park occupies a compact 935 square feet courtyard space within a pre-war shophouse complex called High Street Studios. The row of shophouses was originally a backpackers hostel that closed during the pandemic, converted to a mixture of retail and offices for small independent businesses in 2022. Derived from the original name of Jalan Tun HS Lee, High Street now houses the Kuala Lumpur offices of Think City, independent bookstore Riwayat, popular LOKL Coffee Co, creative Gahara Batik, and Gambus, a music store featuring traditional instruments. Cyclists frequent the park on weekends because there is ample space to park their bikes. HSS Pocket Park was made possible with the support of Think City?s Downtown Kuala Lumpur Grants Programme in 2021, an initiative designed to crowdsource urban solutions that will accelerate the transformation of Downtown Kuala Lumpur as envisioned in the Kuala Lumpur Creative and Cultural District Strategic Masterplan, while strengthening the social and environmental resilience within Downtown Kuala Lumpur.HSS Pocket Park Open Day: 16 Sep, 11am - 3pm.To raise awareness of the park, Kindness of Strangers will be organizing an open day on 16th September 2023.The event takes place during Malaysia Day, incorporating a sense of nostalgia with Malaysian snacks, food stalls and creative activities.Grab a coffee at LOKL Coffee Co, learn more about Downtown KL from Think City, and participate in activities like Face Painting, Batik Painting and book readings.Think City will also be present to share the aspiration of Downtown KL and the Kuala Lumpur Creative and Cultural District Strategic Masterplan.HSS Pocket Park Event Schedule 11am - 3pmRamly Burger and Milo Food StallsKomei Playground BoothWishing Tree with Think CityFace Painting (until 2pm)Traditional Music Demo at GambusBatik Painting Workshop with Gahara BatikLive Painting at HSSTimed Sessions12pm - 12:30pm: Dialogue Session with Think City at HSS Pocket Park1:30pm - 3pm: Book Reading and Sharing by Marina Mahathir, Fatimah Abu Bakar, ChangYoong Chia and Nik M. Fahmee at RiwayatConclusionIf you want to know more about the HSS Pocket Park in Kuala Lumpur this Malaysia Day, just visit 34 Jalan Tun H S Lee and check out this place.For your added information, pocket parks are mini forest parks located within a city and are smaller than 0.5 hectares (1 acre) in size. Read more about pocket parks on Wikipedia.This will give you a much better understanding of what pocket parks are all about and are considered relatively new to our ever-evolving society.
Thursday 14th of September 2023 03:59:00 AM
- New Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)
Having been with the TAT in 1999 after earning a master?s degree in science from the University of Surrey in the UK, Ms Thapanee Kiatphaiboon has held various positions within the organisation, including Deputy Governor for Tourism Products and Business and, most recently, Deputy Governor for Domestic Marketing.New Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)In her recent role as TAT Deputy Governor for Domestic Marketing, Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaiboon initiated various tourism initiatives to help drive Thailand?s economy.Among them included the workation in Thailand, faith and religious tourism routes, and solo travels ? which helped stimulate 151.45 million domestic trips in 2022 ? about 88% of the record year in 2019 ? and generated 641.5 billion Baht.As Deputy Governor for Tourism Products and Business, Ms Thapanee was recognised for her leadership in initiating the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) certification programme that enabled hotels and services to meet specific health and safety standards.The programme became a mandatory requirement for hotels seeking to register as quarantine facilities during strict COVID-19 control measures and also received global recognition in alignment with the WTTC SafeTravels protocols.She also initiated the Special Tourist Visa (STV) scheme to promote the reopening of Thailand, which led to subsequent entry schemes, including Villa Quarantine, Yacht Quarantine and Golf Quarantine, as well as the Phuket Sandbox, which has been recognised internationally as the model for the country?s reopening.Ms Thapanee Kiatphaiboon, the new TAT governor. Photo: ThePhuketNews.comRecognised as a social media and technology-savvy individual, Ms Thapanee has played a vital role in utilising technology and social media in the promotion and development of Thailand?s tourism.Her outstanding achievements in this area include the Google Street View project in cooperation with Google Thailand and the ?Amazing Thailand? social media platforms.As an advocate of Thailand?s tourism, Ms Thapanee has been instrumental in the development of various unique interest tourism products, including health and wellness tourism, yacht and cruise tourism, and community tourism, as well as the ?King?s Wisdom for Sustainable Tourism? project, which won the PATA Grand Awards 2018 in the category of Education and Training.ConclusionIn her earlier years with the TAT, Ms Thapanee Kiatphaiboon was widely recognised for her contribution towards promoting and developing intra-regional travel within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).
Monday 4th of September 2023 07:46:00 AM
- Kopel Kinabatangan Community Based Tourism
One of the recommended localised nature experiences is the unique Kopel Kinabatangan Community Based Tourism in Sabah.As you know, the Kinabatangan River in Sabah is one of northern Borneo's world-class nature and bird watching destinations.Kopel Kinabatangan Community Based TourismIn June of 2023, I took a trip to Kinabatangan. On my way, I stopped at Kopel to understand more about what they offer and how they conduct their special community based ecotourism activities here.To me, community-based tourism is already a class of its own, but discovering that Kopel is more of a Community Based Ecotourism experience was quite interesting. And for added knowledge, Kopel is actually an acronym for Koperasi Pelancongan or Tourism Corporation.The location of the main arrival is under a bridge.The location of the main office is under a bridge and by the Kinabatangan River, which makes it easy to move up and down the river.Kopel Kinabatangan is actually in the Batu Putih district of Kinabatangan, and they operate under one unity cooperative.The place is also surrounded by the Pin-Supu Forest Reserve, classified under a Class VI - Virgin Jungle Reserve (VJR).'The cooperative and group also have a long history of community-based tourism that dates back to 1996/7, when they formed MESCOT (Model Ecologically Sustainable Community Conservation and Tourism).The main office.The new Mandaa homestay project for groups.MESCOT is involved in coordinating the entire project, while the local community started their own organisation called Kopel Bhd in 2003, which implements the projects.Kopel Bhd is also a Community-Based Organisation involving 200 people from the surrounding villages of Batu Puteh.Where to stay at Kopel? There are several original and local homestays around Kopel where you can stay, giving you an actual Sabahan homestay experience. For larger groups, there is a unique and modern accommodation called Mandaa Stay, a village hostel with a medium-sized community and function area. This is wholly owned by Kopel, too.For the adventurous, there is a jungle camp called Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp and the Supu Adventure Camp, catering to pure nature but providing excellent and basic facilities for non-locals.Night walks are one of the activities to spot all sorts of insects here.What can you do at Kopel Kinabatangan?For those interested in community-based experiences while travelling to this part of the world, there are actually several things that can be done here, which include;Replanting degraded forestsRestoring critical wildlife habitat in Pin-Supu forest reserveSite preparation and silviculture, seed collecting and cultivationLake restoration by removing the invasive water weed species Salvinia MolestaApart from the above, visitors can also participate in various community-based ecotourism through the Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp (TREC) and Miso Walai homestay programmes.The many activities being offered at Kopel.How can you contribute to this? Visitors who want to help and contribute can do so in the simplest way possible. All you need to do is book a stay with Kopel and experience their ecotourism products.Then, you can help them even more by purchasing their products, like t-shirts, and volunteering in some of their programs. Just these few simple means will help the community here.A map showing where Kopel Kinabatangan is located at Batu Puteh.Where is Kopel Kinabatangan?Kopel is located in the upper part of Kinabatangan, near Bilit, an area of the river where wildlife tourism activities are conducted.There is hardly any public transport to this place, but a car or van journey will take you approximately two hours from the Sandakan Airport in Sabah.Kopel offers some pickup services in their packages, and you need to double check this with them. Alternatively, public buses stop at Kota Kinabatangan main town, and you must make arrangements to be picked up for a minimal fee.KOPEL AddressJalan Feri Lama, Kg Mengaris,Mukim Batu Puteh, 90200,Kinabatangan, Sabah, MalaysiaOffice Tel: +6 089 551070Website: Kopel KinabatanganThe leading information for Koperasi Pelancongan Mukim Batu Puteh Kinabatangan.If you are interested in this type of unique experience, please check out my other community based tourism places in Sabah, which I have written about.ConclusionFor adventurous tourists, the Kopel Kinabatangan Community Based Tourism experience is truly out of the ordinary and should be experienced if you dislike commercial tourism.Over the last two decades, many ecotourism lovers have taken the challenge to do this kind of tourism here in Sabah Borneo. Now, it's your turn.
Monday 4th of September 2023 04:46:00 AM
- Asian Bird Fair 2023
This year, the Asian Bird Fair 2023 takes place in the city of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, from 14-15 October.The event also happens at the Sabah International Convention Centre, a few minute's drive from Kota Kinabalu or KK.Asian Bird Fair 2023As this is the third time that the Asian Bird Fair is taking place in Malaysia, many are looking forward to this fair due to the sudden interest in birding since the COVID-19 pandemic.For your additional knowledge, the first time that the Asian Bird Fair (ABF) was held was back in 2014 at Langkawi Island. The second event was the Asian Bird Fair 2019 in Kuching, Sarawak.Now, in 2023, we are seeing the third time the bird fair is taking place in Malaysia, which is excellent because it shows Malaysia is upping their game in avian tourism and the interest in this unique genre.Poster from the organisers.Since the pandemic, birders and photographers have grown by the thousands due to boredom and seeking a new hobby and interest.Most of the new post-pandemic birders are mainly bird photographers, which, in a good way, helped fuel the economy in camera and equipment purchases.Most birders and photographers are past the age of 40, and many retirees and this group of birders are the ones that can help the birding industry locally.Of course, there are also the new breed of younger birders out there, but a lot of birding ethics and education needs to be shared with all post-pandemic birders. At the Asian Bird Fair, there will be several talks and showcases throughout the two days, and registered participants will get to experience first-hand knowledge and even a field trip.For non-registered visitors, you can only visit the birding bazaar area, where several local and international vendors will showcase their products and tours.For more information, you can also read my other article on the ABF2023 Program, which highlights what happens for the two days. Otherwise, visit the official ABF website below.Asian Bird Fair 2023 InformationDate: 14-15 OctoberVenue: Saban International Convention Centre (SICC), Kota KinabaluTime: 10.00 AM to 6.00 PMWebsite & Registration: ABF2023The ABF2023 is from 14-15 October in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.ConclusionFor those planning to visit the Asian Bird Fair 2023, I recommend you start making travel and hotel arrangements early.I will be at the fair under Birdwatching Asia with my team to do media coverage and experience this birding event here in Sabah, Malaysia, Borneo. If you see me there, do say hello.
Sunday 27th of August 2023 09:40:00 AM
- Borneo Bird Festival 2023
The Borneo Bird Festival 2023 is back and held from 21-22 October at the Rainforest Discovery Centre or RDC in Sepilok, Sandakan.The two-day bird festival is now its 13th year, attracting bird watchers, photographers and nature lovers to the RDC.Borneo Bird Festival 2023Every October, the bird festival sees more visitors interested in the avian world, and several are picking up the hobby of birdwatching and bird photography.While the festival focuses on several elements of birding and nature, many other non-birding activities are available, like nature walks, conservation talks and a local bazaar.The team members, vendors and participants from last year.Of course, the birding industry players are seen at the main festival grounds, where you will see popular camera and optics brands showcasing their latest products.Apart from them, you will also see several birding-related resorts, NGOs and even wildlife departments taking part in the largest birding festival in Borneo.Often, state tourism boards also showcase their individual products related to birdwatching and other nature products.As for me, I have been participating in and visiting the bird festival here since 2008, and this is the event that turned me into a birdwatcher and photographer.The main activities take place at the bird festival.Activities at the Bird FestivalThe main activities include the Sabah Bird Race and Bird Photography Contest, where you can register at the event or visit the official Facebook page below.Borneo Bird Festival 2023Date: 21-22 OctoberDay: Sat & SunVenue: Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC), Sepilok, Sandakan, SabahTime: 7.00 AM to 6.00 PMMore Info: Borneo Bird Festival Facebook PageThe program for this year's festival in Sabah.ConclusionFor those planning to attend the Borneo Bird Festival 2023, please make your flight and accommodation arrangements as soon as possible; otherwise, limited rooms will be available.Those lodges and hotels around the festival area in Sepilok tend to sell out fast; therefore, if there are no available rooms, you may need to stay in the Sandakan city area or around Mile 4,5 or 6. I will be there as always, and if you see me, say hello. I look forward to meeting old and new friends there.
Saturday 26th of August 2023 06:30:00 AM
- Kedamaian Community Based Tourism
Located around the Kota Belud and Kinabalu National Park area is the secluded and almost-hidden Kedamaian Community Based Tourism project at Kampung Tambatuon.In early May 2023, I was fortunate to visit this stunning rural tourism destination in Sabah as part of my explorations. While here, I managed to speak to one of the homestay operators.Kedamaian Community Based TourismThis incredibly beautiful community-based sanctuary is well hidden away from the main roads of the Ranau and Kinabalu areas.The beautiful Kampung Tambatuon.You must use an application like Waze or Google Maps to get to this beautiful place, but I recommend using the latter as it was recommended to me by a local friend.Once you enter the area, you feel transported to another dimension or go through a time portal. The local windy village road leads you into an unknown place and suddenly opens up to this little valley.You can see the tiny Kedamaian village nestled just next to a river. As you head closer to the village, you start seeing a different side of Sabah.The marking shows where Kedamaian is located.Arriving on a weekday, the place was quiet, but I managed to see one of the owners of the riverside lodges who was clearing up his accommodation. I asked him if I could have a few minutes of his time to ask him some questions.Sabahans are known to be friendly, and over here, in the rural areas, the locals are even more hospitable. The owner invited me to visit his homestay and explained the community-driven program here.Most of his guests are a mix of locals and foreigners, usually in groups that want to experience the local Sabahan lifestyle.Upon asking him in detail, he did mention that most of his guests are second or third-time visitors to Sabah; this time, they want to experience something different apart from the usual city tourism.The age gap is also not a factor as he has received retirees as guests, but most are usually younger travellers aged 25 to 45.Some of the activities are being offered here.Activities at KedamaianSeveral activities are available at Kedamaian, and once you choose your host accommodation, you can arrange the activities with them.The popular activities in Kedamain are river tubing and trekking up to Mount Nungkok (1652m). There is also camping available here.The other activities include general local homestay experiences, including eating local, river fish massage, and even learning some cultural dances or playing the local gongs.Photos of Kedamaian Community-Based TourismBelow are random photos taken around the area for your viewing. Again, I could have managed to spend a night here as I was on a tight schedule. But hopefully, in future, I will get the opportunity.The beautiful Kedamaian River.A simple life in a simple place.The hiking trail up to Mount Nungkok.Local homestay food at Kedamaian.The welcome sign as you enter Kampung Tambatuon.One of the must-do things here is River Tubing along the Kedamain River.A signboard shows what is around the village.Map to Kedamaian Community-based Tourism in Sabah How to go to Kedamaian Community Based Tourism?For anyone self-driving, you can just put Kedamaian into Google Apps and let it guide you here. It will be a relatively easy drive from Kota Kinabalu City. Waze will take you through the mountain roads, which I only recommend if you have a 4x4 vehicle.Otherwise, if you do not drive, I suggest you arrange with a homestay operator or contact a tour agency to inquire about transportation. You also need to ensure you book your stay before coming here, as walk-ins are not recommended.Kedamaian Homestay LodgingSeveral homestays are found in the Kedamaian program, and you can choose which one you prefer to stay at. The best option is to contact them directly by visiting the Sabah Tourism Rural Tourism page. Or you can also call Sabah Tourism at 088 212 121 during office hours.Kedamaian Homestay in Sabah.This is the common area of the riverside lodge.What the rooms look like inside the lodge.The main entrance to the Kedamaian Riverside Lodge.More InformationFor more, you can also read about my Sabah community-based tourism article, where I highlight this genre in general for people to understand.ConclusionIf you want to experience something different around the Kinabalu National Park area, then the Kedamaian Community Based Tourism area is recommended.Remember, this is not your regular tourism place but more of a cultural experience with the local people of Sabah.
Friday 18th of August 2023 01:35:00 PM
- Malaysia International Dive Expo 2024
Scuba divers take note as the Malaysia International Dive Expo 2024, or MIDE 2024, has been officially launched with the dates and venue.This is the second time that the MIDE 2024 event will be held at MITEC Kula Lumpur catering to scuba divers from all over.Malaysia International Dive Expo 2024If you did not know, MIDE 2024 will be the largest scuba diving expo in the region, catering to thousands of divers from Malaysia and worldwide.The organisers are thrilled to announce the 18th Malaysia International Dive Expo (MIDE) 2024 will take place from 7 to 9 June 2024 at MITEC KL.If you missed what happened at the last scuba diving expo, you can check out my article on the Malaysia International Dive Expo 2023 at MITEC Kuala Lumpur.And for anyone who is planning to explore my beautiful country, here is a list of the best places for scuba diving in Malaysia which is compiled by me as a scuba diver.MIDE 2024 Details Date: 7-9 June 2024Time: 10am-7pmVenue: Level 1, Hall 2, Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (MITEC), Kuala LumpurThe poster for Malaysia International Dive Expo 2024.ConclusionFor those planning to visit the Malaysia International Dive Expo 2024, please make your booking arrangements early.This goes to those attending the trade show as a vendor or as a visitor. There are hotels around the area or within the vicinity, so book early and get good rates.
Tuesday 8th of August 2023 06:25:00 AM
- Malaysia Travel Requirement to Europe from 2024
For those planning to visit the EU, there are some new Malaysia travel requirement to Europe from 2024. The European Union has unveiled these new requirements for Malaysians who plan on travelling to any of the 30 countries.Malaysia is among 60 countries currently visa-exempting to enter most European nations. However, from 2024, visitors must obtain travel authorisation from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), which will be linked to their passports.Malaysia Travel Requirement to Europe from 2024According to the EU?s official ETIAS website, the authorisation will be valid for three years or until the passport?s expiry. Upon the passport?s expiry, travellers must obtain a new ETIAS travel authorisation.?With a valid ETIAS travel authorisation, you can enter the territory of these European countries as often as you want for short-term stays, generally for up to 90 days, in any 180 days.Malaysian love to travel to Europe during the year-end.?However, it does not guarantee entry. When you arrive, a border guard will ask to see your passport and other documents and verify that you meet the entry conditions,? it said.Applications may be filled through the EU?s ETIAS website or the system?s mobile app, with each application costing ?7. The EU said most applications will be processed within minutes, but some may take up to four days for a decision.?Please note that this could be extended by up to 14 days if you are requested to provide additional information or documentation or up to 30 days if you are invited to an interview. This is why you should apply for an ETIAS travel authorisation well before your planned journey,? it said.ETIAS travel authorisation will be required from 2024 to enter Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.Europe is one of the trendy destinations for Malaysian travellers.ConclusionFurther details may be found on the EU?s official ETIAS website, or you can inquire with your local travel agent.For those buying via online websites, you should also inquire with the operator about the Malaysia travel requirement to Europe from 2024.
Friday 4th of August 2023 03:00:00 AM
- Sabah Scuba Diving Statistics 2022
Sabah recorded 61,796 divers in 2022, bringing in an estimated RM222.8 million in revenue. The figure comprises 6,411 international divers and 55,384 domestic divers.In 2019, Sabah registered 130,604 international and 7,145 domestic divers, earning tourism-related revenue of MYR21 million.Sabah Scuba Diving Statistics 2022Present were ADEX chief executive officer John Thet; Sabah Tourism Board chief executive officer Noredah Othman; Malaysia dive icon and ADEX diving ambassador Clement Lee; and ADEX Sabah team head Theresa Tham.Sabah Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Environment cum Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board Datuk Joniston Bangkuai mentioned that Sabah is already a popular diving destination, and we are committed to the conservation and preservation of our marine ecosystem.The ADEX Sabah Ocean Partnership Summit 2023 will occur in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.The ADEX Ocean Partnership Summit will support the Sabah government?s ongoing initiatives in ocean conservation and sustainable development.The state government has put in place a range of initiatives to protect the marine environment, including marine parks and sanctuaries, strict regulations on fishing and diving, and education programmes to raise awareness about marine conservation.Joniston said he is also looking forward to welcoming the global ocean community, renowned speakers, professional diving fraternity and attendees, in general, to build a network while sharing ideas and knowledge on the best practice adaptation for the ocean, concluding that the event will bolster the state?s diving industry.Sabah is home to some fantastic underwater macro life.A Treasure Shark was sighted at Pom Pom Island in Sabah.ConclusionOrganised in partnership with the Sabah Tourism Board, the ADEX Ocean Partnership Summit will be held at the Sabah International Convention Centre from 18 to 20 August 2023.ADEX Sabah Ocean Partnership Summit provides an excellent platform to showcase Sabah?s rich marine biodiversity and cultural diversity, allowing visitors to experience local culture and cuisine while taking advantage of diving opportunities.
Wednesday 2nd of August 2023 03:00:00 AM
- How Many Tourists Visited Malaysia in 2022?
For those who want to know How Many Tourists Visited Malaysia in 2022, the tourism ministry revealed that the number exceeded its set target of 9.2 million tourists.How Many Tourists Visited Malaysia in 2022?Malaysia attracted 10 million foreign visitors and generated RM28.2b in 2022 through the Tourism Recovery Framework (TRF) 2.0.Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan said the total exceeded the set target of 9.2 million foreign tourists with RM26.2 billion in receipts during the committee-level wind-up session of the debate for the Supply Bill 2023 for the ministry.Tourist Arrivals to Malaysia by month for 2022.The Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said TRF 2.0 had five main strategic pillars, which are;Supporting the recovery of tourism and cultural businessesRestoring tourism confidenceSmooth international and regional travelRecreating tourism, cultural products and servicesCoordinating tourism with sustainability and inclusivityAfter the post-Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysia finally reopened its border in April 2022. This is after two years of travel restrictions severely impacting the number of tourists coming to the country.The exact number of tourists visiting Malaysia in 2022 is 10.07 Million, while the chart above shows the number of visitors per month.With tourism slowly returning to the country, the government had also announced that there would be a Visit Malaysia Year 2025.ConclusionThose who want to know more can read this article on tourism arrivals in Malaysia since 1970.For this year, the Ministry of Tourism has revealed that Malaysia targets 16.1 million tourist arrivals in 2023, which should be fine. And for tourist receipts or spending, Malaysia is also targeting US$11.19 billion for 2023.
Thursday 27th of July 2023 09:56:00 AM
- Misompuru Homestay in Kudat
In the north of Sabah, a unique community based tourism concept called Misompuru Homestay is found in the Kudat area and is well-known to offer authentic experiential tourism for visitors.In May 2023, I had the pleasure of travelling up north to meet Cobra, the owner and headman of the Rungus community that manages this fantastic homestay. Misompuru Homestay in KudatThe community homestay has a congregation of more than 40 host families from 15 villages, allowing guests several different experiences.Cobra, who has headed this community for over two decades, has been around enough to understand what the visitors want when they choose this unique tourism experience.The entrance to the homestay.While many still think that a homestay is just another village accommodation, times have changed, and now, community based tourism is the next best thing to general tourism.At Misompuru Homestay, you not only get to experience the way of the Rungus people who reside here, but you also get to experience the many daily things done by the locals around Kudat.Several homes are participating in the Misompuru program; therefore, if you are a large group, you will be put at different homestays but will meet up for activities.The concept of living with a host family allows you to communicate, learn and understand the simplicity of life in a village.Cobra (left) with visitors to the homestay.The best part of this program is that all contributions to the homestay go back to the people, not corporations or business investors. The program vets all other related businesses to ensure they are locally owned.Cobra himself is very particular about this, and the community should be the ones that earn instead of outsiders. This is the true essence of community based tourism and how it should be.Mangrove walk activity.What to do at Misompuru Homestay?For anyone planning to visit this beautiful place, there are many things to do here, and of course, the main thing is experiencing the Rungus culture.Cobra can assist you with a wide range of activities that include;Mangrove and Jungle TrekkingRungus Parang MakingVisiting the Gong FactoryVisiting the Bee FarmBirdwatchingCyclingAgro Farm VisitsRubber Tree Plantation VisitRungus Handicraft MakingRungus Beadmaking ExperienceRungus Longhouse VisitRungus Cooking ClassMangrove VisitsTree PlantingRiver Cruise and Crab CatchingBarbecue ArrangementsMisompuru is also an ASEAN Homestay Standard award winner.Things to do around KudatBelow is also a list of things you can do around Kudat while staying at Misompuru.Tajau Laut GuesthouseSecret Place Beach Cafe & Camping GroundG Wonder Khayalan Home Art GalleryBorneo Honeybee CentreTambakan Fish FarmThe Tip Of Borneo - Tanjung Simpang MengayauGombizau Honeybee FarmMaranjak Longhouse HomestayKampung Sumangkap Gong FactoryKampung Bavanggazo (Rungus Longhouse)Kelambu BeachPlease take note that you should make an appointment before coming here. Otherwise, the place may be fully booked, or there is no one around to entertain you.Photos of Misompuru HomestayBelow are random photos from the homestay, each with a simple description.The nature-decorated entrance to the homestay.A Rungus bamboo lamp was made at the homestay.One of the beaches is located near the homestay.A family partly dressed in the Rungus traditional costume.Some of the Rungus traditional food dishes.An interesting rungus squid dish.The bamboo craft was done by the Rungus people.Traditional Rungus fabric weaving demonstration.Traditional Rungus men's costume.The photos above are taken from Cobra's Facebook Page and my camera. Homestays are best enjoyed without knowing and seeing too much; therefore, I leave it to you to go and experience this yourself.The homestay in Goolge Maps.Where is Misompuru Homestay?Misompuru is located about two and a half to three hours north of Kota Kinabalu, and the only way to get here is via road. There are no trains or airports here.You can self-drive there, and for groups who do not drive, you can contact Cobra to make special arrangements for your entourage.For those wanting to drive here, just open up Google Maps and key in Misompuru Homestay, which will bring you here. Waze is not recommended because it will take you through other roads.Misompuru Homestay Contact InformationW.D.T No. 260, Kg. Minyak (Centre),89059, Kudat, SabahTel: 013 8721 765 / 016 8155056 (Cobra)Bookings: Please contact Cobra directlyOne of the signs for the homestay at Kudat.A beautiful sunset at Kudat.ConclusionIf you would like to know more, you can also read my article on community based tourism in Sabah, where I have summarised the places participating.Misompuru Homestay in Kudat is truly one of the different experiences that one should try if you have been curious about community based tourism or even rural tourism.The entire concept of living and experiencing with a local host family is where one can learn more about the place they are visiting. On top of that, you get to experience how locals live, which is priceless.
Thursday 27th of July 2023 08:58:00 AM
- Padas Farmstay in Tenom
For visitors looking for something different in terms of cultural experience, the Padas Farmstay in Tenom is one of the places you can consider.Farmstays or homestays in Sabah are creating interest in a different kind of travel experience as nowadays, more travellers want a little more experiential tourism when they travel.Padas Farmstay in TenomLocated about an hour and a half from Kota Kinabalu, the Padas Farmstay is situated in a secluded area of Tenom and is part of the community-based tourism places in Sabah.While many may think this farmstay concept was built purely for tourism, it is not. The main building was initially a farm workers' quarters which was renovated to cater to this unique experience.Padas Farmstay building.Since 2013, this farmstay's initiation has a unique story of how it came about, and I will leave it to Mr Tham Yau Kong, the proprietor of Padas Farmstay in Tenom, to share this part.As this is purely community-based driven, visitors can also experience what it is like living in the local village of Sabah. Plus, the ethnic people here are also known as the Murut people.The view inside the main building.While the name suggests a farm experience, the entire place is surrounded by a healthy agro-based orchard. Several species of lime trees, coffee trees and other fruits are being cultivated here.Initially, the place was a massive goat farm, but since 2013, there have been a lot of changes in the landscape of this farmstay.What to do at Padas Farmstay?Visitors can experience visiting the main orchard and farm area to see the four different species of lime being cultivated here. There is also a banana and coffee section where real coffee beans are grown.This includes a full-on educational experience about the coffee culture in Sabah, especially when Tenom is well-known for producing the best coffee in the state.The fresh coffee beans in Tenom.Besides the main agriculture farming, visitors can experience the Murut and Malay culture by visiting some of the local villages participating in this community-based tourism program.There are several villages around Tenom where you can volunteer at any of the villages by helping them do something.Cultural performances, plantation visits, camping and trekking, visiting the Rundum Highlands and cooking demonstrations are just some of the choices available.Padas Farmstay is also a multiple-award-winning program, the latest being the ASEAN STANDARD in Community Based Tourism development in Feb 2023.Visitors exploring the farmstay.Packages at Padas FarmstayThe standard 2D/1N Padas Farmstay package is for those wanting a quick experience here. And for those who want to do more community-based activities, you can contact the operators for a detailed package.Rooms are dormitory style, and each room can accommodate 4-8 persons. There are several room types available. And there are currently three air-conditioned dormitory rooms downstairs.Toilet facilities are the communal types which are outside the rooms. The farmstay main building houses all rooming and eating facilities. The main office is also located here.The main building.Where is Padas Farmstay in Tenom?For those planning to self-drive, you can just key in Padas Farmstay Tenom into your Google Maps or Waze App, and it will lead you here from Kota Kinabalu.The journey via car will take about two and a half hours from Kota Kinabalu, and there is no public transportation here. You will need to make special arrangements for transport if you do not drive.The farm stay is located in Kampung Paal in Tenom, south of Kota Kinabalu. All inquiries or bookings must be made through the main office, as listed below. They do not allow walk-ins.Padas Farmstay Contact Information and BookingLot 38, Block E,Jalan Damai Plaza 4, Luyang Commercial Centre,88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.Tel: +60 88 232 821Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more information, you can also visit the official Padas Farmstay website.The office and reception area.ConclusionCheck out my main article on community based tourism in Sabah, as it details all the participating places in the state.Padas Farmstay in Tenom is truly one of the exceptional and exciting experiences that can be done in a few days. Also, visitors will be treated to many things to do while here, not just exploring a farm.
Wednesday 26th of July 2023 09:07:00 AM
- Taun Gusi Homestay
Taun Gusi Homestay is one of the highly popular places to experience a traditional Bajau lifestyle in the main Kota Belud area of Sabah.This beautiful and scenic village is located about 90 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu and offers visitors stunning views of Mount Kinabalu from another angle.Taun Gusi HomestayBranded under the Sabah Rural Tourism project, Taun Gusi is actually the village area's name and is headed by Encik Ismail, who runs the homestay program here.There are currently around 20+ individual village homes participating in this rural tourism program that allows visitors an experiential journey that is truly one-of-a-kind.Receiving the prestigious ASEAN Homestay Award for 2023-2025And if you did not know, Taun Gusi Homestay is also an award winner under the ASEAN Tourism Awards category of the 4th ASEAN Homestay Standard 2023-2025.Located about 8 km north of Kota Belud, this village area is well-known as a paddy farming community of Kudat which is under the Bajau Samah people here.Generally, if you are a city-slicker, this place is unsuitable for you because Taun Gusi is a very local tourism product where visitors get to stay among the local people in the village.The experience includes learning and understanding the way of life of the Bajau people in Sabah, and this is truly one of the best rural tourism products to try.Some visitors choose to just come here to escape the hustle and bustle of city life as things here are so much simpler and easier.Taun Gusi's paddy field plains.What to do at Taun Gusi Village Homestay? This is one of the main questions many people will ask, and I will share some unique experiences visitors can have while staying here. The homestay offers;Visiting Kampung Sngkir Rice Paddy FieldsBajau Parang MakingBajau Horse RidingAzizul River Cruise (Proboscis Monkey & Fireflies)DRB River Cruise (Proboscis Monkey & Fireflies)Kawa Kawa River Cruise (Proboscis Monkey & Fireflies)Visit Saini Kraft at Kampung Pengkalan AbaiVisit Nanamum BeachVisit Cabana Retreat CentreKaranaan View Theme Park (Local theme park)Embo Akil Water Park (Local water park)Kampung Melangkap Ecotourism and CampsitesTegudon Tourism VillageLasau Podi Sightseeing SpotBukit Bongol HikingMantanani Island HomestayTaburan Beach Eco TourAura Raudah Village ExperienceRampayan Laut Beach VisitRunggou Hill Paradise View PointRang Bulan Beach VisitAmirul Traditional Music BuskingLocal Malay and Bajau Restaurant ExperiencesKota Belud Town VisitKota Belud Sunday Market Visit (Wed, Fri and Sun)Visitors at the homestay have a local meal.Therefore, if you stay there for just a few days, you can pick and choose what things you would like to do. Encik Ismail will happily recommend the best things to do at Taun Gusi.A Bajau replica house in the village.On a fun note, they actually shared an interesting post on their Facebook page as follows;8 reasons why NOT to come to Taun Gusi Village HomestayThere are no skyscrapers! Only one majestic Mt. Kinabalu on the horizon.There is no modern entertainment. Only birds singing and frog noises in the morning.There are no luxurious rooms. We only provide basic room facilities with no star rating.There are no malls, big supermarkets and modern shopping complexes. You can only find grocery shops, food stalls and local open-air markets here.Here, we do not have public parks. You can only see green surroundings and huge areas of beautiful paddy fields.We do not serve Western food. We only serve local village cooking, vegetables and local fruits.You can't find any zoo here. We can only take you to a nearby river for river cruises to see if there are any proboscis monkeys, fireflies and birds.There is no swimming pool. We only have rivers with crystal clear and refreshing water flowing down from Mt. Kinabalu.Google Maps shows the location of the homestay and the distance from Kota Kinabalu.Where is Taun Gusi Homestay?This stunning homestay village is located about 90 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu city, and once you reach Kota Belud, just follow Google Maps or Waze.Please contact Encik Ismail to arrange transportation if you need a car. Alternatively, you can also charter a ride-hailing or taxi service to get there.There is a bus or mini-van service from Kota Kinabalu to Kota Belud, but once you reach the town, you must take a taxi to Kampung Taun Gusi village.Signboard showing where the homestay is located.How to Contact Taun Gusi Homestay?As there are several Facebook pages, blogs and booking pages online, the best way is to contact Encik Ismails Taun Gusi Homestay's official page on Facebook.However, it would be best to directly contact Encik Ismail at +6 019 8610 385 via WhatsApp or Phone Call.The room photos at the village homestay.And if you are looking for a more unique experience similar to this, I have written an article highlighting all of the Community Based Tourism in Sabah, which includes Rural Tourism places.Again, this is a special genre of tourism that appeals to those wanting something different when they travel. Visiting another city is just as good as the last city you set foot on.Community Based Tourism or Rural Tourism is gaining momentum as more people are inclined to explore various cultures and experiences when travelling.The official homestay logo from the Ministry of Tourism.ConclusionTaun Gusi Homestay is available on most online booking platforms, and one can just head there to make the booking. Otherwise, those interested can contact Encik Ismail directly, as mentioned above.And for the curious, you may want to know what Taun Gusi actually means. I asked Encik Ismail, and he explained that it was actually a Bajau term.Taun is a large earthenware jar for storing water or rice, and Gusi is actually a forest. So, there is a story behind this; the best is for you to hear it from Encik Ismail in person.
Thursday 13th of July 2023 09:04:00 AM
- Diving at Sepanggar Island, Kota Kinabalu with Dive Borneo Bah!
I must admit, before June 2023, I'd never heard of Sepanggar Island. When I was invited by a friend to go diving at Sepanggar Island, Kota Kinabalu, I was naturally a bit sceptical.Kota Kinabalu has a mediocre reputation as a diving destination, probably due to overcrowding at the more well-known Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. A quick Google search introduced me to Dive Borneo Bah!, a company based in Kota Kinabalu that runs diving operations to Sepanggar. The images of the corals and wildlife found there certainly got me intrigued. I have been diving for a few years, mostly around the Peninsular Malaysia islands of Tioman and Perhentian. Sepanggar would be my first diving experience in Borneo; therefore, I was keen to experience what it could offer. Diving at Sepanggar Island, Kota Kinabalu - trip report We met up with the Dive Borneo Bah team at Jesselton Point at 8 am, and by 8.15, we were ready to board the dive boat. We were led by divemasters Harry and Brian; additionally, we were joined by Mr Johnny Chew, the owner of Dive Borneo Bah.Gearing up for the dive.The entire team was friendly and professional throughout; moreover, they were keen to emphasise safety, responsible diving, and having fun! For this trip, we could only do two dives; therefore, the divemasters chose two dive sites - Clement's Reef for the corals and South Point for macro (and a star attraction - more on this later). Clement's Reef This dive site is located to the north of Sepanggar Island. As we descended, the visibility was pretty good, around 20 metres. The divemasters say the visibility can be as good as 20 - 30 metres, depending on the season. There was a mild current; however, this wasn't a problem as we simply drifted along, making for a leisurely dive.The coral's formations appear healthy. The coral formations were beautiful and healthy with minimal bleaching; marine life was prolific. Throughout the dive, we were accompanied by schools of snappers, fusiliers, damselfishes and wrasses.The divemasters also showed us several porcupinefish, a scorpionfish and a few nudibranchs, including a gorgeous black-and-yellow one they call the 'Pokemon nudibranch'!This stunning Hypselodoris nudibranch was spotted by one of the divemasters. The surface interval was done at a sheltered cove nearby, accompanied by generous servings of coffee and locally-sourced biscuits.The great view of Mount Kinabalu during the surface interval, especially in good weather. South Point As its name suggests, this dive site is located on the southern point of the island. Here we will be focusing on macro, including a fish that has been a star attraction at this place recently.The visibility could have been better than the previous site; however, it was still decent at around 15 metres. There was no current, and the temperature was a comfortable 31?.This Zebra Lionfish was sheltering within a barrel sponge. As soon as we reached the seafloor, we spotted two Zebra Lionfish sheltering in a barrel sponge. A few metres away, three small cuttlefish were huddling near the bottom, well camouflaged.As we moved, the divemaster pointed out interesting animals, including a porcelain crab and transparent cleaner shrimps. Sheltered amongst a rock, we spotted banded coral shrimps, dancing shrimps and a gorgeous electric flame scallop.This tiny porcelain crab was difficult to spot as it hid amongst the anemone.Nice coral formations at South Point.The Star Attraction As dive time was running out, I wondered if we could spot the star attraction. Sure enough, divemaster Brian soon alerted us to the presence of this well-camouflaged bottom-dweller - an orange-coloured frogfish! (I believe this is a juvenile Painted Frogfish)The frogfish was masterfully camouflaged, posing as a piece of sponge or coral on the seafloor. The fish was astounding! Barely bigger than my fist, it has a big upturned mouth and dark spots scattered throughout its irregularly-shaped body.This bizarre-looking fish was slowly 'walking' on the seafloor; moreover, it was swaying its body along with the currents, completing its camouflage act. I was fortunate enough to observe and photograph this fish up close, which was an amazing experience. After the dive ended, the dive team dismantled and packed up the diving gear, and we headed off for the short hop back to Kota Kinabalu.The dive team efficiently packed up the diving gear before heading back. General Information on Diving at Sepanggar Island, Kota Kinabalu Where is Sepanggar Island? Location of Sepanggar Island, in relation to Kota Kinabalu city.Sepanggar Island is located 7 km north of Kota Kinabalu, opposite the naval base at Sepanggar Bay. The island can be accessed from Jesselton Point in the heart of Kota Kinabalu and takes about 10 - 20 mins to get to, depending on the dive site. How to go to Sepanggar Island? Sepanggar Island is easily accessible due to its proximity to Kota Kinabalu. There are multiple flights a day to Kota Kinabalu International Airport from Kuala Lumpur and other major cities in Malaysia; there are also direct international flights from Singapore, China, Hong Kong and South Korea. Accommodation can be found throughout the city, ranging from budget to luxurious 5-star hotels. Likewise, food and shopping options are plentiful and cater to every taste and budget. Jesselton Point (the main jetty of Kota Kinabalu) can be easily reached by car/e-hailing from anywhere within the city; additionally, some hotels are conveniently located within walking distance. Dive Borneo Bah! - The Dive Operator at Sepanggar Only a few operators are diving at Sepanggar Island, and Dive Borneo Bah is the most experienced one. This diving company is owned by Mr Johnny Chew and is based in Kota Kinabalu. Mr Chew is a well-respected and extremely experienced diver and used to be the regional manager for PADI.The company has been running dive operations in Sepanggar since 2018; therefore, they are familiar with the dive sites and animals you may see there. The diving packages offered include full or half-day fun dives, night safari dives, discover scuba dives, and snorkelling sessions. They also conduct PADI Open Water, Advanced and Rescue Diver courses. For further enquiries, kindly contact Dive Borneo Bah directly, and they will be more than happy to assist you. What can you see there?The Two-spot Banded Snapper is an uncommon species; nevertheless, it can be seen here. Despite its proximity to Kota Kinabalu, Sepanggar Island is quite pristine; therefore, it offers the possibility of encountering a kaleidoscope of colourful and interesting marine life:Sepanggar is quite good for macro - you may see seahorses, nudibranchs, reef shrimps, porcelain crabs, lobsters, etc.Interesting bottom-dwelling fish such as scorpionfish, devilfish, lionfish, frogfish, pipefish and several types of clownfish.Sharks - it's possible to see the leopard, bamboo, nurse and cat sharks here; moreover, if you're really lucky, you may encounter a Whale Shark!Cuttlefish, reef squid and octopi.Schooling barracudas, fusiliers and snappers, including the uncommon two-spot banded snapper.Colourful reef fish include parrotfishes, Moorish Idols, butterflyfishes, and wrasses (including the gorgeous Blueside Fairy-wrasse).Sea turtles (Hawksbill and Green).Featherstars, blue starfish, whip corals and barrel sponges.These small cuttlefish were huddling together, well camouflaged. They were spotted at South Point. Dive sites around Sepanggar Island There are at least 18 dive sites surrounding the island, including:Clement's ReefSouth PointJC's RunwayMacro HavenBikini Bottom (yes, this refers to that Bikini Bottom!) Dive sites around Sepanggar Island. Image credit: Dive Borneo Bah!From talking to Mr Johnny and the other divemasters, Clement's Reef is consistently one of the best/favourite dive sites at Sepanggar. When to go? You can go diving at Sepanggar year-round; however, certain times of the year may be preferable:Jan - March: the water temperature is cooler (around 28?); however, this is nudibranch season and the best time to spot the Whale Shark!Apr - early July: this is when the visibility is best, averaging 20m or more.November - February: the monsoon season brings about more rain and decreased visibility; however, diving is still regularly conducted as Kota Kinabalu is not badly affected by the monsoon. Things that are good to knowYou will usually meet the diving team at Jesselton Point. Jesselton Point is located in Kota Kinabalu city centre; hence, it's easily accessible.There are no changing areas at the jetty, so you can either wear your dive clothes beforehand or change on the boat. Bring along towels and a change of clothes to dry up after the dives.The day dives usually start at 8 am, and the night safari dives begin around 5 pm.Lunch is included if you opt for a full-day trip (3 dives). Snacks and hot drinks are included for a half-day trip (2 dives).Dive Borneo Bah discourages single-use plastics; hence, they won't use disposable plastic packaging. This is a good thing!The dive boats are equipped with a first aid kit and emergency oxygen.They carry spare equipment (i.e. spare regulators) on every diving trip.I like that they beforehand request your relevant diving information using an online Google form. This way, everything is ready by the time you meet them. For example, using the form, you can indicate which equipment you need to rent or any other special needs such as food allergies. You can also provide them with your height, weight and shoe size, ensuring everything will fit properly when you arrive.Note that the dive team will set up and disassemble the dive gear for you.Dive Borneo Bah!Contact them via Facebook.Call/Whatsapp: 012 323 0036Dive Borneo Bah! Conclusion In summary, diving at Sepanggar Island is a great way to enjoy beautiful corals, colourful fish and interesting macro wildlife, all within 20 minutes from bustling Kota Kinabalu. It's especially great for those who want the convenience of a big city without compromising the diving experience. Additionally, I was impressed with Dive Borneo Bah operations and professionalism. The friendly and knowledgeable staff also goes a long way! I look forward to diving at Sepanggar with Dive Borneo Bah again in the future. With numerous excellent diving sites and away from the bustling crowds, Sepanggar Island is a hidden gem and one of Kota Kinabalu's best-kept secrets!This article was written by Ashraf Anuar Zaini, a scuba diving birder who writes for Birdwatching Asia.
Wednesday 12th of July 2023 10:22:00 AM
- PATA Announces New Executive Board Appointments
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is pleased to announce the re-appointment of Ms Noredah Othman, CEO of Sabah Tourism Board, Malaysia and the election of Dr Gerald Perez, Vice President, Guam Visitors Bureau, USA, to the PATA Executive Board for a two-year term beginning June 27, 2023.PATA Announces New Executive Board AppointmentsOn the announcement, PATA Chair Peter Semone said, "I would like to first thank Dr Abdulla Mausoom, Minister of Tourism, Republic of Maldives, for his time and contribution to the Executive Board over the past two years.His support and experience were a great asset to us during a critical time for our industry after the pandemic.I would also like to welcome back Ms Noredah Othman and welcome Dr Gerald Perez to the Executive Board. Their proven track record and background will make them a great asset to PATA and our members."Noredah Othman - CEO of Sabah Tourism BoardWith 30 years of experience in Sabah Tourism, Ms Noredah Othman is the longest-serving officer with Sabah Tourism Board. She is responsible for marketing and promotion of the destination.Ms Noredah Othman has held various positions since October 1990 and has served as Deputy General Manager (Support Services) since 2016. Before that, she was the Senior Marketing Manager for the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA markets from 2011 to 2015. She was the Marketing Manager for the UK, Europe and Australia from 2005-2010.Ms Othman, a mother of three children, completed her education in Singapore and started her career as a tourist assistant with the Sabah Tourism Promotion Corporation (STPC), the forerunner of STB, in 1990.Between 1991 and 2005, she was an assistant public affairs officer and later a communications manager. Ms Othman was awarded the PATA Foundation's Executive Development for Tourism (EDIT) Programme scholarship in 2015.Dr Gerald Perez - Vice President, Guam Visitors Bureau, USADr Gerry Perez is a dedicated and accomplished individual who has significantly contributed to various fields, particularly tourism and public service.Born and raised in Guam, he graduated from Fr. Duenas Memorial School. He obtained a bachelor's degree in Forestry and a Master's in Wildlife Management with honours from the University of Idaho. He also holds a PhD in Tourism Development and Public Policy from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.Dr Perez has demonstrated exceptional leadership and success in his private business endeavours. He retired in 2003 as a Travel Retail Executive, overseeing over 500 employees during his 23-year tenure.He is also the proprietor of Micromed Suppliers and has served as the General Manager of the Guam Visitors Bureau. Gerry's outstanding business acumen led to his induction into the Guam Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame in 2017, and he represented the White House Business Conference as a delegate in 1994.With an unwavering commitment to promoting tourism, Dr Perez has been actively involved in various organizations and conferences. He currently serves as the Vice President of the Guam Visitors Bureau and is a founding member of the Micronesia Cruise Association.As a renowned speaker, he has shared his expertise at international forums such as the Beijing International Forum on Chinese Overseas Travel and the SKAL Asia Tourism Congress. Gerry's dedication to the tourism industry is further demonstrated through his memberships in the Guam Tourism Foundation and the Executive Board of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).Beyond his professional accomplishments, Gerry has been actively engaged in civic and government roles. He has served as the Chairman of the GovGuam Retirement Fund Board of Trustees and the Vice-Chairman of the University of Guam Board of Regents.Gerry has also held positions in organizations such as KGTF Public Television, the Bureau of Budget and Management Research, the Guam Economic Development Authority, and the Department of Agriculture, where he worked as a Wildlife Biologist.Ms Othman and Dr Perez will join the other Executive Board members, including;Peter Semone, Chair, PATA;Benjamin Liao, Vice Chair, PATA and Chairman, Forte Hotel Group, Chinese Taipei, Singapore;Suman Pandey, Secretary/Treasurer PATA and President Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, Nepal;Tunku Iskandar, Group President, Mitra Malaysia Sdn. Bhd, Malaysia;SanJeet, Managing Director, DDP Publications Private Ltd., India;Luzi Matzig, Chairman, Asian Trails Ltd., ThailandDr Fanny Vong, President - Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), Macao, ChinaNon-voting members;Soon-Hwa Wong, CEO, AsiaChina Pte., Ltd.ConclusionThe new Executive Board members were ratified at the PATA Annual General Meeting held online on June 27, 2023. For more information, please visit the PATA website.
Sunday 9th of July 2023 02:53:00 AM
- Community Based Tourism in Sabah
While North Borneo is well-known for its general tourism ranging from stunning islands and beaches to centuries-old rainforest, there is also a unique local product called Community Based Tourism in Sabah which many still need to learn about.These types of tourism are usually found in the rural areas or villages around Sabah and are driven by the local community of each place and are sometimes known as Rural Tourism.Community Based Tourism in SabahCBT or community based tourism is also often overlooked by the large companies who just want fast numbers and fast income. But despite the importance, local communities should be more concerned about this kind of tourism. Even today, many tourist destinations, tourism boards, or even tour operators overlook the local people or take advantage by using them as gimmicks and labour for foreign visitors.Some of the communities are quite creative in attracting visitors.By right, the CBT is an initiative to promote sustainability and improve the community's livelihood in a specific area, whether in native land or a self-sustained community area.It emphasises the development and involvement of the people in developing and managing their own tourism products and destinations, including many cultural and ecotourism genres.The good news is that in recent years, Sabah Tourism Board (STB) has been working with local governments, communities, and the private sector to develop these community-based tourist destinations.STB and the Tourism Ministry took that extra step by setting up infrastructure and facilities to improve connectivity and protect these critical tourism assets.The tourism board has also set up Sabah's rural community-based tourism or CoBT program and department where the local communities will learn how to cater to the people who seek to contribute to regenerative and sustainable tourism.Not only that, the tourism board successfully launched the Community-based Tourism Roadshow in 2022, and another one is planned for November 27, 2023, at Kota Kinabalu's SICC in conjunction with the 6th World Tourism Conference.The incredibly beautiful views of the local villages in Sabah.Community Based Tourism and Rural Tourism Places in SabahBelow is a list of the known CBT or RT places found all over Sabah Borneo, clustered into individual districts. There are currently 74 places offering Community Based Tourism in Sabah.Kota Kinabalu Community Based TourismTerintidon VillageKolosunan Eco TourismPinahawon Masakat View & Kolonutan HillHomestay Desa Cinta KobuniPenampang Community Based TourismSinilou Kibambangan Water ParkKamagi Riverside Retreat & RecreationTagal Tinopikon ParkMonsopiad Heritage VillagePapar Community Based Tourism Tagal Kampung KinolosodonKinandukan Hill And Telinting BeachMandalipau White Water View & FishpondSeri Serbang River Cruise & Homestay, BongawanTamparuli Community Based TourismTamparuli Suspension BridgeBeaufort Community Based TourismHomestay Kampung SuasaTambunan Community Based TourismSinurambiMahua WaterfallKeningau Community Based TourismMatanoi Hill, Kampung Matanoi Apin ApinKapayan Recreation ResourcesKiulu Community Based TourismWhite Water RaftingMantob FarmstayPoturidong VillageA traditional Gong maker at Sumangkap Village in the Kuday district.Kudat Community Based TourismThe Tip of BorneoGombizau Honey Bee Farm VillageSumangkap Gong Making VillageKampung Bavanggazo Longhouse (Rungus Longhouse)Tajau Laut GuesthouseSecret Place Beach Cafe & CampingMisompuru HomestayMaranjak Longhouse HomestayTenom Community Based TourismRundum HighlandsPadas FarmstayMarais CenterKinabatangan Community Based TourismSupu CavesKOPEL Batu PutehAgop Batu Tulug CaveOne of the modern over-water chalets is done purely by community-based tourism in Kinabatangan.Kota Belud Community Based TourismTegudon Tourism VillageMelangkap HomestayVillla Valley View Eco TourismLobong Long VillageBorneo Bayau Flying FoxPolumpung Melangkap View CampKadamaian RiverMantanani IslandNohutu Eco-TourismNopungguk HomestayTanak Nabalu HomestayGuas Nabalu HomestayAnyaman Serdang, Kampung Pangkalan AbaiNanamun Rampayan LautParang Making, Kampung Siasai JayaTaun Gusi HomestayKota Marudu Community Based TourismPantai Ria, Kampung TangkolWalai Tobilung Cultural CentreTambunan Community Based TourismGunung WakidTagal Kampung KaingaraanTagal Kampung TikolodTagal Kampung MenserulungNabawan Community Based TourismBatu Punggul, NabawanTuaran Community Based TourismMarais CentreLahad Datu Community Based TourismTambisan IslandMisompuru Homestay is one of the pioneer leaders of Community Based Tourism.Ranau Community Based TourismLombon MarakauArnab Village PurakagisKundasangMesilou Atamis HomestayWalai Tokou HomestayBombon Marakau VillageTukad Gonipis, Tudan VillageTagal Sungai Moroli, Kampung Luanti Pitas Community Based TourismSupirak Island MalubangBerungus Hidden MythsPiniapat HillSipitang Community Based TourismLong Pasia (Lundayeh Village)Semporna Community Based TourismBukit TengkorakMaglami Lami WaterhouseThe writer visited the Sumangkap Gong Village in Kudat.ImportantBecause of CBT's success, many other non-community-based tourism businesses wrongly utilise the name to lure tourists. This is found in highly popular tourist areas in Sabah.If you are unsure about the place, you are advised to contact Sabah Tourism Board's office in Kota Kinabalu by visiting the office in Kota Kinabalu, visiting their Facebook Page, Twitter Page or calling them.The walk-in office address is;Sabah Tourism Board51 Gaya Street,88000 Kota Kinabalu,Sabah, MalaysiaConclusionThe above is an almost complete listing of all the Community Based Tourism in Sabah, and if there are new ones or any that I have missed, do let me know here, and I will add them in.Again, these places are genuinely what Sabah is made of, and for visitors or travellers who want to experience the real Sabah Borneo, you should explore the places mentioned here.And for those who want a unique and different experience, I would personally recommend trying out some of the places listed here. This is something unique about Sabah that is difficult to find in many other places.
Saturday 1st of July 2023 01:42:00 PM
- Malaysia Steam Locomotive Train Experience
Train fans will be pleased to know that a traditional Malaysia steam locomotive train experience will soon be available in 2024 at selected destinations in Malaysia.This news is a bonus in building up to Visit Malaysia Year 2025 as local train operator Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) has joined forces with a local company called Great Leisure Sdn Bhd.Malaysia Steam Locomotive Train ExperienceA news publication announced in early May 2023 that the KTMB Steam Locomotive Train experience will start operating as early as January 2024.The concept will feature a classic passenger train hauled by a traditional steam locomotive and a traditional interior concept that will win the hearts of train tourism fans worldwide.The Tourism Heritage Steam Locomotive Train project is a unique collaboration between KTMB and Great Leisure Sdn Bhd and aims to attract local and foreign tourists to enjoy the beauty of nature along the railway line.A Class 56 steam train engine was seen somewhere in Malaysia.Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth will be the initial destinations for the steam train service before covering other destinations.The follow-up routes will let passengers enjoy the beauty of interesting tourist attractions along the railway line, especially on the forest route from Gemas, Negeri Sembilan, to Tumpat, Kelantan.Great Leisure's MD has also mentioned that the interior decoration of the passenger coaches makes full use of the craft produced by local talents, which is currently about 70 per cent completed.He also mentioned that passenger seats will feature a design concept inspired by legendary Malaysian actors and singers P. Ramlee and Saloma.The Class O 4-6-2 Steam Locomotive. Image from Steam in West Malaysia.Passengers can use the service as a mode of transportation to tourist destinations and the train as a venue to hold any event, including weddings.As for the KTMB steam locomotive train engine, there was no mention, but if I were to guess, it could be the KTMB Class O 4-6-2 steam locomotive, which was highly popular and known as the O Class.It won't be the American-built USATC 2-8-2 trains because those are defunct and probably scrap metal by now. Again I feel it's the O Class 564 series, one of which has been in storage.For more information, please visit the Malaysia steam trains and engines from back in the day, as there is much to learn for the train aficionado.One of the old Malaysia train maps.ConclusionFor now, no official photos or news were released at the time of this writing in May 2023, but once there are, I will update this article. You can also check KTMB for any other information about trains.Therefore, train fans in Malaysia and around the world, you can soon get on the Malaysia steam locomotive train experience and explore Malaysia.
Tuesday 6th of June 2023 03:30:00 AM
- Nautical Tourism in Sabah
After many years, nautical tourism in Sabah has gotten some attention after State Assistant Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai brought this topic up in the media.Sabah is blessed with abundant waterways, which should be tapped for the recreational activities of nautical tourism.Nautical Tourism in SabahAfter a courtesy call from Sail Malaysia at the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) office in Kota Kinabalu, Joniston was positive that any event held in the state would have the potential to bring visitors to Sabah.Sabah's picturesque coastline has fantastic potential for nautical tourists to prolong their stay in the state, which can generate an economic spillover for Kota Kinabalu.Datuk Joniston Bangkua with Sail Malaysia.Joniston has also suggested that Sail Malaysia make Sabah a benchmark to organise their future sailing events and make the state a destination of choice for sailors worldwide. He said;"We should develop Sabah into a vibrant boating culture because we have received many locals and foreigners participating in recreational boating activities. Sabah's picturesque coastline, pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and stunning landscapes, combined with good marines for boat docking, provide a visually appealing sailing experience,The state's niche appeal to host sailing and boating exposition can draw boating enthusiasts and create revenue for local shops, restaurants, hotels, and other service industries.The success in hosting the events can enhance Sabah's reputation as a nautical tourism destination and also generate temporary and permanent employment opportunities for the local community,"The East Yacht Rally Passage passes through Sabah in 2023.Joniston believed the events could also spur investment in local infrastructure like marinas, piers, and boating facilities.Sail Malaysia managing director Sazli Kamal Basha mentioned that Sabah offers stunning bays on par with other well-known sailing destinations for mooring boats or yachts.According to statistics provided by Sail Malaysia, the passage to the East Yacht Rally saw 386 participants between 2008 and 2022, including 24 repeat participants.The list of rally stops in Sabah includes Kota Kinabalu, Kudat, Karakit, Pulau Silingan, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Pulau Tambisan, Lahad Datu, Silam, Bohey Dulang, and Tawau.The East Yacht Rally participants were from Australia, Norway, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the United States, France, Sweden, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.According to statistics, the average tourist stays for a week, but those participating in the Sail Malaysia programme typically stay for two years.The route for the 2023 East Yacht Rally.ConclusionNautical Tourism has been around in Malaysia for a long time now, and in most cases, it is primarily on Langkawi Island, where the infrastructure is yacht-friendly.Sabah also has impressive facilities but has never embarked on this unique genre of tourism. Since January 2023, after Sail Malaysia's visit and presentation, Nautical Tourism in Sabah is now something that could be added to the niche tourism genre.
Wednesday 31st of May 2023 05:32:00 AM
- Pekan Nabalu Tourism Information Centre
As part of the Community Based Tourism in Sabah, plans to set up the Pekan Nabalu Tourism Information Centre are on the way.This is excellent news for the local communities around Nabalu and the greater Kinabalu area, as the tourist information centre will highly benefit local tourism here.Pekan Nabalu Tourism Information CentrePekan Nabalu is a popular stopping point for travellers to Kinabalu Park and an ideal starting point for visitors to explore the area's eco, cultural and agricultural tourism attractions and activities.Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said the tourism centre initiative aligns with plans to organise a Pineapple and Fruit Festival at Pekan Nabalu.With that, the vision of promoting rural tourism in the Kiulu, Kadamaian and Kinabalu areas will complement each other. Joniston also said;"Having the Pekan Nabalu Tourism Information Centre would help promote and enhance the overall tourism experience for visitors. The Ministry has also recognised the significance of Pekan Nabalu as a strategic location and believes that the centre will play a pivotal role in enhancing the tourism infrastructure and offerings in the area.Moreover, CoBT has been gaining momentum with the active involvement of local villagers. The tourism centre can further strengthen this engagement, providing valuable information and services to tourists planning to explore the area?s natural wonders, adventure opportunities, and culture.The tourism centre will facilitate access to nature-based farms, plantations and agro-tourism sites, offering visitors a unique opportunity to learn about local farming practices, participate in fruit picking, and sample fresh produce,?.A beautiful view of Mount Kinabalu from Kndasang.ConclusionFor those visiting Kinabalu in the future, you can soon stop at the Pekan Nabalu Tourism Information Centre once it's opened.There is no set date on when this TIC will open, but it will likely take around one to two years.
Tuesday 30th of May 2023 12:13:00 PM
- Malaysia International Dive Expo 2023 (MIDE2023)
This year, the Malaysia International Dive Expo 2023 (MIDE2023) will take place at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) in Kuala Lumpur.The 17th edition of the Scuba Diving Expo is scheduled for 26 to 28 May 2023 and will occupy Hall 6 at Level 2 of the new venue, MITEC. It was previously held at PWTC or World Trade Centre.Malaysia International Dive Expo 2023This is the largest dive expo in Malaysia for first-timers attending, and the event is bigger than in previous years. Still, it will also cater for the space needed to feature the latest products and services from local and international exhibitors from 14 countries.For the regulars, MIDE2023 has a new venue, and you can expect it to be the most well-attended event in Malaysia. The scuba diving event is well-reputed for its trademark resilience and a wide variety of top dive gear suppliers and international diving packages.MIDE 2023 Poster.Dive equipment vendors are plenty at MIDE.MIDE 2023 expo will feature more than 172 companies from Malaysia and internationally, with visitors from Australia, Brunei, China, Denmark, Estonia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Netherlands, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.At the dive expo, the visit will see and experience the latest and greatest in scuba-diving-related products and services, new lines including sailing expeditions and various watersports.A speaker shares her favourite diving photos at MIDE.MIDE's founder and organiser, Ms Ness Puvanes, said the dive industry is resilient, having bounced back since 2021. Since then, the dive industry has enjoyed more interest, with the community growing. She added that the demand for boating and watersports has never been stronger.Ms Ness also shared that this year is breaking records with the number of exhibitors ? there will be 220 booths set up for the expo.Lucky draw presentation at MIDE.MIDE 2023 New ExhibitorsThis year, the MIDE 2023 will be welcoming 69 new exhibitors, including major associations such as;Malaysian Sub-AquaMalaysian Underwater Hockey AssociationEco District AssociationLangkawi Development Authority (LADA)More and more manufacturers and distributors of sailboats, dive boats, car topper boats, rescue boats & kayaks at the show have also widened the interests of water enthusiasts visiting the expo.Some of the speakers for MIDE 2023.What To Expect at MIDE?Malaysia Airline Flight Discounts - MAS is the official airline partner for MIDE 2023 and offers visitors travelling to KL for the expo a 20% discount on their flights booked by 26 May. The promo code MHMIDE20 must be applied when booking flights through the MAS website.Dive Safety Partner - DAN World is MIDE's official Diving Safety Partner. DAN World offers not only diving accident coverage for divers but is committed to helping enhance diving safety in MalaysiaStaying Connected - Themed "Let's Stay Connected to the Ocean", this year, a major focus will be ongoing conservation efforts to keep the oceans healthy. NPOs will create SOPs for Dive Centres and educate the community on single-use plastic and pollution, the impacts of climate change on the ocean, protected marine life and many more projects.Face-to-face Networking - MIDE 2023 is set to welcome a host of business entrepreneurs, tourism boards, dive agencies, brand manufacturers and distributors who will utilise the platform to network and create new business opportunities and partnerships.A diving talk panel about cave diving at MIDE.Dive Talks - Visitors to the dive show will be hearing from the experts, including TV personalities, who will take the stage to share their knowledge and experiences in the water. Topics include cave diving, underwater photography, marine conservation, health, dive insurance, archaeology and more.Dive Education: By Teens for Teens - A special section on teens taking to the stage to inspire others in the sport and their personal conservation efforts in improving the environment.Scuba Diving Deals & Promotions - Visitors will have a chance to chat with dive operators and tourism representatives; and can take advantage of the wide range of products and services, including many exclusive deals on dive holidays, gear, courses and the latest technologies available today.Prizes to be Won - Visitors who spend at least RM300 will be entered into the Purchaser's Lucky Draw. Collectively, the dive holiday prizes are valued at RM50,000, including a grand prize on a live onboard worth RM22,000 are all up for grabs over the 3-day event.At a previous MIDE event in Kuala Lumpur.Malaysia International Dive Expo 2023 InformationDate: Friday, 26 May to Sunday, 28 May 2023Time:10.00 AM to 7.00 PMVenue: MITEC Kuala LumpurTickets: MIDE WebsiteContact: Tel: +603 79809902 or email at: email@example.com Social Media: FB, IG & TwitterHashtag: #MIDEEXPOMe scuba diving at the Secret Barge dive site in Perhentian Islands.Me having a close encounter moment with a hairy seahorse at Mabul's P1 Dive Site.For the record, I retired from scuba diving in 2018, and my last dive was a 2-week diving trip to Raja Ampat. After that dive, I hung up my diving equipment and called it a day.My last diving article was about MIDE, all you need to know, and that was done in April 2018 before I went to R4 in West Papua.ConclusionFor those who are into scuba diving, you will not want to miss the Malaysia International Dive Expo 2023 or MIDE2023 this May at MITEC Kuala Lumpur.This is undoubtedly the largest scuba diving expo in the country, organised by AsiaEvents Exsic (AEE). The expo expects to welcome more than 15,000 water enthusiasts and generate approximately RM25 million in sales over the 3-day event.
Thursday 11th of May 2023 12:40:00 PM
- RWMF Shuttle Bus Information
Every year, the Rainforest World Music Festival takes place in Santubong, Sarawak, and many people want to know the RWMF Shuttle Bus Information as it is the easiest way to go to the festival.Previously, several companies were handling this, but in recent years, Red Bus from Kuching has been awarded the contract to ferry people to and from the event.RWMF Shuttle Bus InformationThis year, the RWMF 2023 shuttle bus information is similar to the last event. The service starts at 9.00 AM, ends at 1.00 AM, and is operated by BusAsia, a local bus company in Kuching.Those staying in Kuching can catch the shuttle bus, which is on an hourly schedule to Santubong. There are two pick-up locations in the city area, which are accessible from several hotels here.The RWMF shuttle bus stop at Santubong.Again, this shuttle service is free for Rainforest World Music Festival ticket holders and for those without tickets, There are two main pick-up locations in Kuching which are;The Hills Shopping MallPlaza MerdekaWhile the departure point from the RWMF event area is outside the entrance of the Sarawak Cultural Village at Damai Central Parking Area. This is also the main drop-off and pick-up at Damai Central. There are no other stops once you go inside, so please refer to the photo below, as it indicates the pick-up and departure times.RWMF Shuttle Service is free for ticket holders.Shuttle Van Service from Santubong Junction to Sarawak Cultural VillageFor those planning to drive, take a grab or a taxi, you must stop and park at the Santubong junction and take the shuttle van service.If you have a special permit or pass, only then the police and security will allow you in. Otherwise, they will direct you to the side road to park and take the shuttle.There is a fee for the shuttle service, and you can buy tickets from a makeshift canopy tent at the junction of Santubong.The shuttle van service from the junction to the festival entrance.Why take the Shuttle Bus to the RWMF event? Because it is the easiest way to travel from Kuching to Santubong without hassle. The shuttle buses directly access the festival area and stop in front of the RWMF.You can also read further on how to go to the Rainforest World Music Festival, which details the many ways of going to Santubong.A close-up view of the shuttle bus counter outside the festival venue at Damai Central.ConclusionIf you still need to get your tickets, please get the RWMF early bird tickets on sale currently. For first-timers coming to the Rainforest World Music Festival and staying in Kuching city, this is the best way to travel to the festival.The RWMF shuttle bus information provided here will make your travels to and from the event much more accessible. Also, have a great festival for everyone attending.
Tuesday 9th of May 2023 02:23:00 PM
- Best Places for Scuba Diving in Malaysia
If you are a visiting diver to this part of Southeast Asia, here is a list of the best places for scuba diving in Malaysia based on each of the states.Malaysia has long been known as one of the scuba diving destinations in Southeast Asia. However, it still needs to be marketed better worldwide by attending more international dive shows worldwide.Best Places for Scuba Diving in MalaysiaThe trickiest question that most divers will ask would be what kind of scuba diving they prefer, where to dive and what facilities are available. At the end of the day, it all depends on what you want to see or experience during your diving.Some divers only want to see large fish, while others want to see macro life like nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses and other macro life. Most leisure divers enjoy diving into a beautiful dive site rich with corals and fish.The most popular places for diving in Malaysia are also very subjective, but I will list them based on individual states and popularity. Therefore, this list was created to better understand where and what is available for scuba divers planning to explore Malaysia.A map of Sabah showing the popular dive sites.1. Scuba Diving in SabahSabah is currently the number one spot for scuba diving in Malaysia. Why? Because legendary diver Jacques Cousteau made Sipadan Island world famous in the 80s. Sipadan is also known as one of the top five dive sites in the world, ranked by many dive magazines, CNN and even Lonely Planet.Sabah's dive sites are divided into two sides - East Sabah, where you will find Sipadan Island, Mabul Island, Lankayan Island, Mataking Island, Kapalai Island and many other smaller islands. The dive sites here are some of the best in the world, where you can choose leisure diving or muck diving.At Mabul Island, some dive sites are minutes from the resort, so you can imagine how easy it is here. One thing that first-time divers to Malaysia should try is staying at the Seaventures Dive Resort.This unique experience lets divers stay on the world's only diving oil rig resort. The oil rig is parked just minutes off Mabul Island too.A Sargassum Frogfish was spotted while diving on Mabul Island, Sabah.Diving Around Kota Kinabalu - West Coast Sabah is where Kota Kinabalu, the capital, is located. Around here, you can do quick dives at destinations near the city.Popular dive spots include Sapi Island, Manukan Island, Mengalum Island, Mantanani Island, and Tiga Island, the more commercial diving sites.Some divers have made their way up north to dive in Kudat. However, I would not recommend this as diving here for beginners can be cautious due to the rip curls and strong currents.The world's only oil rig dive resort, Seaventures, is located at Mabul Island, Sabah.Diving in Labuan - Labuan Island is famous for wreck diving, and the wrecks are quite far out. Advanced open-water divers and above can dive around Labuan. You must take a ferry from the Kuala Penyu area to Labuan Island or fly there.For the extreme divers, there is Layang Layang Island, which is touted to be one of the best dive sites in Malaysia, where you can spot schools of hammerhead sharks during the season from March to May.Sabah is connected via frequent flights from Kuala Lumpur and many other large cities in Malaysia. No, you cannot take a bus or train to Sabah as it is located on the island of Borneo.A school of large Puffer Fish was spotted during a dive at the Perhentian Islands.2. Scuba Diving in TerengganuLocated on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, you will find some of the most beautiful resort islands. Terengganu is a 5 to 6-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur or a one-hour flight to Kuala Terengganu.The popular islands here are the Perhentian Islands, which come in Perhentian Kecil (Small) and Perhentian Besar (Big).These are one of the most popular scuba dive destinations in Peninsular Malaysia, but they only operate from March to October. The rest of the months are the monsoon season, from November to February.A beautiful nudibranch was photographed by me during a dive on Perhentian Island.Nearby is Redang Island or Pulau Redang, one of Malaysia's best beginner diver spots. The island has a marine park, and diving here is easy and casual.Redang is also well known as a romantic island but can get crowded during the peak season with snorkelers.Another island off Terengganu is Lang Tengah Island or Pulau Lang Tengah, which is less busy but offers decent dive sites. This island is more of a laid-back type of place for divers.Tenggol Island is a smaller island further south that offers some intense diving, depending on the diver. They have simple dive sites and some really challenging ones. There is one dive resort called Tenggol Island Beach Resort which is one of the recommended centres.Dive sites at the islands of Terengganu.For luxury scuba divers, there is the Tanjong Jara Resort (TJR) on the mainland in the Dungun area, and they operate dive trips to Tenggol on request.Other smaller islands, like Gemia Island and Kapas Island, offer independent resorts and diving. You need to book directly with the resorts here.A Banded Sawblade Shrimp, or Tozeuma Shrimp, photographed while diving on Perhentian Island. 3. Scuba Diving in JohorJohor is the state bordering Singapore, and on the east coast of Johor, you will find Tioman Island, one of the very popular dive sites for locals and Singaporeans. Locals generally drive around four to five hours from Kuala Lumpur to spend a weekend scuba diving at Tioman Island, home to over 20 dive operators ranging from budget to high-end.Other islands around here include Rawa Island (Pulau Rawa), which is a private island with its own resort, Pemanggil Island (Pulau Pemanggil) and Aur Island (Pulau Aur) which are more local and not so commercial.Dive sites for Tioman Island.Other less commercialized dive spots in Johor are Aur Island and Dayan Island. Both islands are mostly visited by divers from Singapore and are not commercialized as Tioman Island.Islands closer to the mainland are Sibu Island and Tinggi Island, which has three resorts that offer scuba diving. Mostly muck diving; the best times to dive at these two islands is from March to June.Tioman and other islands here also observe the monsoon season; therefore, from mid-October to mid-February, it is off-season. Some resorts still operate during the monsoon and may offer diving.Sarawak also offers fantastic scuba diving (Photo from Sarawak Tourism Board).4. Scuba Diving in SarawakSarawak is one of Malaysia's lesser-known scuba diving destinations, but two notable spots have been popular in recent years. One in Kuching and one in the resort city of Miri, just bordering the Kingdom of Brunei.However, you should know that diving in Sarawak is less commercial than in other parts of Malaysia; therefore, it can be a little tricky. There are dive operators in Sarawak, but just a handful of them. In most cases, you need to contact the dive centres to check when the weather is good before diving here.Diving in Kuching - Most serious divers come here to explore the many historical dive wrecks in the waters of Kuching. There is also a submarine wreck, but the local dive operators do not recommend this place.I once did a dive at Satang Island, 40 minutes boat ride from Santubong; however, due to the weather, the visibility could have been better and came up sooner than expected. I was getting 2 to 3 meters of visibility, which was terrible. This was during the dive season here and in July 2017. Anyway, I plan to go back and try again.Dive sites of Kuching, Sarawak,Most of the wrecks are World War 2 Japanese wrecks, which are hundreds of meters long. So you must be an advanced open water (AOW) diver to see them.Diving in Miri - This is more commercial, and two dive operators are in Miri. Coco Dive is one of the pioneer centres that organize trips to the many dive sites around Miri.My last dive here was in May 2017, with healthy corals, reef fish, macro life and occasional large fish. I saw a lone Bumphead Parrotfish on one of my dives. Read about my recent Miri dive experience.To get to Sarawak, you must fly from Kuala Lumpur or another larger city. There are many flights a day to both Miri and Kuching.5. Scuba Diving at Langkawi IslandYes, you can dive on Langkawi Island. However, it is less popular than on the east coast or in Sabah. So, if everything else fails and you can only visit Langkawi, you can book a scuba diving package here.A few dive operators in Langkawi offer dive trips to the Pulau Payar Marine Park, which is probably the best place to dive in Langkawi. For serious divers, you can talk to the dive centre about other places to dive around Langkawi Island.Diving in Pulau Payar Marine Park - To be honest, I am yet to dive here, but from reviews and articles, it is said that visibility can go up to 20 meters from April to August. But always best to double-check with the dive operators there.Several divers I spoke to informed me that Langkawi offers decent diving, and seeing photos of Pulau Payar's dive sites, it looks pretty decent, so not all is lost.To get to Langkawi, you can fly from Kuala Lumpur, which takes only an hourTravellingel overland, you can take a bus, train, or rent a car. From the mainland, you can take the ferry across. But it is much faster to fly in and rent a car to move around.The beautiful Pulau Perak or Tukun Perak Island. Photo from www.xnuripilot.blogspot.my.6. Scuba Diving in PerakAmong these lesser-known dive spots in Malaysia, Pangkor Island, Sembilan Island, and Jarak Island are a few of them. Located off the coastal town of Lumut, Pangkor is well known as a resort island, nearest to Kuala Lumpur.Reports state that diving here is generally entry-level, and visibility is decent. Numerous resorts, guesthouses, and homestays are available on the island and the mainland.One or two dive operators also provide dive packages to these islands. One is located on Marina Island, which offers frequent dives to Sembilan Island. There are five main dive sites at Sembilan Island too.Tukun Perak diving photos. (Images were compiled by Pulau Perak Dive Expedition 2014 Video).Scuba Diving at Pulau Perak - Known also as Tukun Perak, this location is one of the very exotic dive sites of Peninsular Malaysia. The island, also known as Fairway Rock, is a sandstone rock that rises from the Straits of Malacca.However, Pulau Perak has situated around 150 km from the Island of Penang and takes about 8 hours by boat. This island is or was used as a military base, as some structures are at the top of the island. In a dive video, Giant Manta Rays were seen swimming openly in the waters here.Visibility is up to 40 meters. Other rare small crustaceans that are rare can be found here too. Tukun Perak sits off the island of Penang but is under the Perak state. Selective dive operators make only specialized dive trips to Perak Island here.Lumut is about a 3.5-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. If you are going to Pangkor Island, you must take the ferry from Lumut. You cannot just go there and try to book a dive, as pre-arrangements must be made with a dive operator.A Pipefish photographed in Mabul by me during one of my dives.7. Scuba Diving in Port DicksonYou can still dive into Port Dickson or PD if nothing else works. Let it be known that this is likely going to end up bad. Meaning visibility could be better here. There are a couple of dive sites in PD, but the best is at the Blue Lagoon area or the 12th mile of PD.Diving in PD requires some serious addiction if you are on a budget. One operator provides 2-dive packages at the Blue Lagoon in Port Dickson. Prices are around RM160 per person, including boat fees and others.I once saw a video of scuba diving in PD, and let me share it with you; the visibility was 1-2 meters. But the macro life here is pretty decent, so there is still hope if you are a macro diver.Port Dickson is only 1.5 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. Once known as the most popular beach destination in Malaysia, on weekends, PD can get really crowded with beachgoers.A nicely camouflaged Stonefish.8. Scuba Diving in MelakaProbably unheard of, but there have been people who have done scuba diving in Melaka with very low visibility. There are currently two places to dive in Melaka: Pulau Undan and Pulau Besar Melaka.One local operator is known to do dive packages which cost RM300 per person, including 3 boat dives, lunch, fees, etc. Best to bring your own equipment, or they can be rented.One of the dive schools tends to bring its open water certification students to Pulau Undan for the open water examination. Contact +6 019 4908677 for diving in Melaka or Port Dickson.The place to depart for diving in Melaka is from the village of Umbai, and it takes about two hours to drive here from Kuala Lumpur.ConclusionThe above is Malaysia's most popular scuba diving destinations and are most easily accessible, except for Pulau Perak and Layang Layang Island. You can also read my other article about scuba diving in Malaysia, as I talk about types of diving and additional information.And if you are visiting during the right time, you can also catch some of the scuba diving expos in Malaysia, which happen in the early and mid part of the year. Usually, these diving expos take place in Kuala Lumpur.Finally, I hope this list of the best places for scuba diving in Malaysia gives you a better idea of your future plans. And if you have questions, please feel free to ask me. I will do my best to help.
Wednesday 19th of April 2023 07:04:00 AM
- KLPF 2023
This year, the KLPF 2023, or Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival 2023, will be held at a new venue after several years at Viva Home in KL city.The new venue is at KL Gateway Mall, and KLPF 2023 will be from 18-20 August, right here near Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, with the theme "We are Family".KLPF 2023This is Malaysia's largest photo festival for photography fans, with thousands of visitors attending over three days. The festival not only showcases photography, but there is also a lively stage show happening daily. At the same time, there is a mini bazaar where vendors sell or promote their items.Last year's KLPF launch event was at VIVA Home Shopping Mall in KL.Over the years, I was one of the activities visitors to the photography event and in 2022, I managed to have my first solo exhibition at KLPF.And if you did not know, KLPF was first organised in 1997, which marks its 26th year of the festival, well, if you include the Covid-19 year, where there was no event.KLPF We Are Family ThemeSome of you may want to know why they chose the theme "We Are Family", and it was mentioned that when photographers meet at KLPF, it feels like we are family.Family represents respect for and appreciation of one another regardless of age, ethnicity, religion, status, capability, skill, talent, etc.In photography, interpretation is always practised in its broadest sense with much inclusivity. With World Photography Day 2023, KLPF invites photographers to celebrate our diversity and show the world "We are Family".The Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival 2023 also invites photographers to submit images for the Annual Theme Exhibition "We are Family".The key people behind KLPF.Who is Participating at KLPF? Because it is photography, you will see various photography genres showcased, usually a well-balanced mix of photography. Regulars are;Independent PhotographersWildlife PhotographersPortrait PhotographersLandscape PhotographersFilm PhotographersBird PhotographyStudio PhotographyWedding PhotographersSchool Photography ClubsCollege and University Photography ClubsPhotography Societies and ClubsKLPF 2023Date: 18, 19, 20 AugustTime: 10.00 AM to 9.00 PMVenue: KL Gateway Mall, Bangsar South,2, Jalan Kerinchi, Kuala LumpurWebsite: https://klpf.com.my/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KLPFMalaysia/My first solo photography exhibition at KLPF 2022.David Hogan Jr Solo Exhibition at KLPF 2022Last year, I had my first solo photography exhibition at KLPF, where I took a massive challenge by using a Galaxy Z Fold4 Smartphone to photograph the UNESCO Caves of Sarawak.This was a difficult task requiring me to handheld my device as there was no allowance for using a tripod or monopod to take photos in the caves.With my passion and dedication towards the first solo exhibition, I visited both Mulu and Niah National Parks in Sarawak to photograph the caves.My mission was to show that cave photography was possible using just a smartphone, and the photos spoke for themselves during the exhibition.Many who saw the photo were stunned that a smartphone could take such amazing pictures with outstanding clarity and detail.Visitors view some of my smartphone photos.Some professional photographers even stopped by and mentioned that with today's DSLR or Mirrorless technology, they could only get the natural highlights and details with heavy editing.This was a rare moment which gave me a massive boost in confidence for my overall photography, which includes smartphone photography and mirrorless cameras.To view those cave photos taken with a smartphone, please see the link in the first paragraph, and let me know what you think.This year, I may have another solo exhibition again at the Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival 2023, and I have not completely decided on my theme.I may focus on bird photography this time, but I am still finalising a suitable destination for this, and it looks like Sarawak is my first choice.The KLPF2023 Poster.ConclusionThe Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival 2022 was the last event held at Viva Home Shopping Mall along Jalan Loke Yew in KL. Now it has found a new home at KL Gateway Mall for 2023.With that, I hope to see you all at KLPF 2023 from 18-20 August and that you will come with friends and family. And if I have my 2nd photography exhibition there, I would be happy to see you at my booth.
Saturday 15th of April 2023 01:26:00 PM
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